OTHER COOL STUFF...

  • I FEEL THE NEED….THE NEED FOR SPEED

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

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    Over the weekend I visited the Google Fiber Space….a “store” created by Google to showcase the future of the internet here in Kansas City.  As you have probably already heard, Google will be rolling out a next generation internet service in KC that promises internet speeds 100x faster than what you experience today (you’re probably getting around 5-10mbps at your home…Google’s service is just shy of 1,000mbps).

    As I’ve postulated before…there’s still a big challenge in determining what you’ll do with all of that speed.  Google’s Fiber Space attempts to answer that question with demonstrations of the services they’re providing but also inspiring the minds of innovative Kansas Citians.

    • TV over Fiber – This is the primary use case that Google has showcased….and not truly a surprise.  When people think about faster throughput, video is always in the conversation…I was personally shocked that Google was able to sign agreements with the major content providers and I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to deliver some value added services over the top (i.e. click to buy the shoes in a TV show, highlight the players on your fantasy football team, instantly search for the song being played in the background, etc…)
    • Video Chat – In the Fiber Space, Google has set up a nice living room area with Cisco video conferencing equipment.  During my visit, the video chat was set up between us and a dietician at the KU Med Center.  She was helping some of the Fiber Space employees look up calories for their lunch at Chipotle, helping them make the best decisions between all of the ingredients of a burrito bowl.  I wasn’t terribly impressed, but the thought of watching a Husker Football game in a Google Hangout with my “Nebraska” circle gave me goose bumps.  Though my brothers and I will most likely always be separated by a few hundred miles on football Saturdays, the idea that we could watch a game together in high quality video was thrilling.
    • Gaming – Obviously more bandwidth will allow for better quality online gaming and Google was even showing off OnLive’s on-demand gaming service (at the time of this post, OnLive announced massive layoffs and was purchased.  Their future seems to be in question….or waiting for a quicker rollout of high-bandwidth providers like Google).  Streaming games from the cloud means potentially never renting or buying a game again…you want it, you got it… straight to your TV (or other internet enabled device).
    • Cloud Storage – Google’s equipment comes with a HUGE 2TB hard drive for storing all of that HD quality content from your TV, but also an insane 1TB of storage space in the cloud.  The fact that fiber gives you insanely fast upload speeds means that theoretically you could store a TV show, movie or more up in the cloud and pull it down to other devices (i.e. tablets, laptops or phones) when you want to catch up….whether or not content providers will be cool with this is still TBD.
    • ??? – Who knows….that’s the most exciting part of all this.  Enthusiastic technologists, Kansas Citians and fellow nerds (with far more talent than I) will be coming up with crazy new ways to consume all of this bandwidth…..they always do.  Considering that we never could have imagined how we would use all 2MB on a floppy disk back in the early 90’s, I’m sure we’ll find ways to constrain 1,000Mbps in short order

     

    A few minutes ago, I received confirmation that my neighborhood has made the cut and within the next year they’ll start wiring KC up with this super fast internet.  As I prepare myself for the next generation internet boom I’m SUPER excited to be on the leading edge of whatever is coming next!

  • HAVE FUN!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Life Lessons, Other Cool Stuff...

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    In late 2007 I sat in a quiet auditorium on the Sprint campus.  I had been to a handful of these “all-employee meetings” before but the anticipation in the room was palpable…a rough merger, AT&T had a new phone from Apple that was flying off of the shelves and Sprint had a brand new CEO.

    Dan broke the tension in the room by taking his sport coat off and throwing it against the podium.  He explained that he realized a sport coat was the expected dress code for someone in his position, but he didn’t want to wear it.  We were in a tough spot and he had to rally the troops with the punchline centering around what he called the “Sprint Imperatives.”

    Dan went through the list below and explained what each one meant to him and why they believed they were crucial to our success as a company.

    • Do it now
    • Delegate and empower
    • Be accountable
    • Focus on customers
    • Demonstrate teamwork and camaraderie
    • Compete like winners
    • Develop
    • Innovate
    • Act with integrity
    • Have fun

     

    While I couldn’t disagree with any of them, the last one stuck out in my head because of one more small gesture as he closed his comments for the day.  Sprint had always been fairly rigid on the “business casual” dress code but he said that he was going to wear jeans tomorrow [Friday] and we were welcome to as well.

    The tough thing about imperatives is that they’re just words unless you find ways to put them into practice.  While Dan’s gesture of the change in dress code seemed small, it started to tip our culture in a brand new direction (that benefit was later extended to allow us to wear jeans any day of the week).

    Today marked a brand new high point in the “Have Fun” cultural imperative…a block party to celebrate our Q2 earnings, marking another milestone in our turn-around story.  At 3pm, directors and VP’s were tasked with serving cups of Boulevard Wheat beer and food to employees on the main courtyard in front of the executive building.

    As I looked around, I saw pockets of employees talking and laughing, Dan was making his way around the crowd chatting up random employees, I even took the time to tie up some loose ends with a co-worker.  Most importantly, there was an abundance of smiles and it felt good.

    “Have Fun” is the most important of all the Sprint Imperatives and you should be taking it just as seriously in your workplace.  You could spend a lot of time speeding up process, empowering employees, thinking about customers first or innovating….but if your employees aren’t having fun, EVERYTHING will fall flat.

  • INSTAGRAM IN THE REAL WORLD…CONTINUED

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

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    I posted a while back on how Instagram uses others to make their product even more valuable and addictive.  In that post, I covered a few services that help you take your cool digital shots and turn them into magnets, coasters, coffee cups, t-shirts, etc….

    I was a BIG fan of the magnets from Sticky Gram (BUY SOME…they’re great!), but recently decided to take the plunge on a bigger item.  I was delighted when I discovered the company CanvasPop who claims to have cracked the code on enlarging your Instagram pictures into a 12″ or 20″ square canvas print using their PicturePerfect technology.

    Sure enough, I just received my first print from them today and it was EVEN BETTER than I expected.  The colors were accurate, the quality of the canvas was great and the image quality was superb.  I’ll be ordering more from them and you should too….

    http://www.canvaspop.com/print-instagram

    Don’t forget to go check out my thoughts on how Instagram’s open strategy is helping them win…even though it would appear that they’re giving up on a lot of revenue by allowing others to build on their platform for FREE.

  • HEY GOOGLE…BLOW MY MIND

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

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    It’s day one of Google’s I/O conference and developers from around the world who work on top of and around some of Google’s hottest assets (YouTube, Chrome, Maps, TV, Android and so many more.  In short….a really concentrated mass of geeks) gathered in San Francisco.

    My only ask of the day was for Google to blow my mind…..and after sitting down this evening to catch up on the day’s activities, mission accomplished:

    1. Android – with mobile being so close to my heart and soul, this was obviously something I was looking forward to.  They jumped the competition in voice recognition, added offline capabilities to Google Maps, added in location awareness and mobile logic capabilities (as I’ve been hoping for), enhanced the usability of widgets and home screen layouts, re-invented notifications and probably most importantly…..made more efficient use of those really powerful processors to make Android more responsive with Project Butter.
    2. Google Play – In what was a somewhat under-hyped portion of today, the Play store saw some significant updates moving even more of the content we all consume into a cloud-based iTunes eating infrastructure.  Magazines and TV Shows were added to the list but I would have to say the fact that you can now update/delete apps over the air probably stole the show for me.  For those who haven’t seen it yet, pushing an app from the cloud to your phone is cool, managing updates and deleting completes the experience
    3. Nexus 7 Tablet – in what many are calling the Kindle Killer, Google announced their $200, 7″ tablet.  With the power of the Play store behind it, you can definitely see some real potential with this…..will getting the OEM bloatware off the devices make this tablet shine?
    4. Nexus Q – interesting….not sold on the price point yet ($299).  This snazzy device gives you the ability to stream content from your device into your stereo system and the ability to watch videos on your TV.  Apple’s step forward in DLNA technology with “AirPlay” was definitely the right direction, this seems to have some promise as well….oh, did I mention that it also connects to the  Play store??  Seeing a theme here?
    5. Google Glass – in what was a surprise today, Sergey Brin popped up on stage to give an impromptu (yet staged), yet awesome demo of Google Glass.  We got to see a live hangout being conducted by a few sky divers floating above the Moscone Center in an airship. Before you knew it, they were jumping out of the blimp headed toward the roof top, taking you along for the ride.  From their safe landing atop Moscone, they handed a package off to some stunt bikers who JUMPED a gap in the building and met up with some guys who took the package and RAN DOWN THE SIDE of the building.  Waiting with open arms were two more stunt bikers who rode through the lobby and on to stage, handing Sergey the package containing a Google Glass prototype (that they announced would be available for developers in 2013 for $1,500 (watch the entire video here)

     

    For obvious reasons, the Google Glass demo stole the show.  That kind of showmanship always gets my attention and was a cool way to wake the audience up and show them the product in action.  As a mobile geek…..the subtleties of this demonstration are what got me excited.  Seeing these things in action in a real scenario with real people in the real world was interesting and I started to see a true connection as alternative modes of communication (Google+ Hangouts/video chat) and this revolutionary hardware come together.  Am I fearful that text messaging and circuit switched voice calls are headed the way of the dodo bird?  Can the current carrier mentality meet the demands of new age devices like this??

    Not yet…..but soon enough.  I can remember my first trip to NYC as a kid.  There were businessmen in suits running all over the place with these huge bricks sucked up to their ears, SHOUTING to someone on the other end.  The next time I went out there (after college) it was the urban hipsters walking with their heads down…not staring at the pavement but at their keypads, vigorously typing away at their keypads sending text messages to others like them.  Last time I went (a year ago), EVERYONE was staring into the screen of their iPhone.  Taking pictures, Tweeting, checking for places to eat, getting directions and every once in a while….making a phone call.  The world is changing and these glasses look crazy, but what I saw today blew my mind.  As a carrier, we need to be ready to support the ULTRA bandwidth needs of the future….because it’s coming.

    And…..that was day ONE folks.  Tomorrow should be full of more fun!  Check it out live if you have time to spare.

  • MOBILE LOGIC

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

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    Microsoft this week announced a cool new project that came out in beta called on{x}.  While this isn’t the first application to apply “If __ then __” logic to mobile (check out the winner of the ORIGINAL Android developer contest:  Locale), it definitely strikes me as a step forward and validation of mobile logic to automate tasks .  The interface is minimalistic (similar to other Microsoft projects of late*), fairly simple to learn and easy to apply some basic rules to your daily life in a few different ways:

    Basic:  Show me the weather the first time I unlock my phone every morning

    Advanced:  Automatically launch the music application when I’m driving

    Custom:  (possibilities are endless here….as long as you can write a little java script) Automatically check into my favorite restaurant when I’m eating there….I really want to become the mayor but I keep forgetting to use Foursquare!

    Much like it’s predecessor, it’s very cool, but I’ve found the app to be a little impractical due to the impact on your battery life (over 15% of my battery consumption throughout the day….unacceptable).  While that is a concern now, I fully believe that some sort of modified “Moore’s Law” in battery tech will bring us batteries that last a month (probably longer)…..

    When concern over running processes are a thing of the past, how will your mobile lifestyle adapt to the “always on” capability of functions like GPS, Network, Barometers, Thermometers, Accelerometers, Gyroscopes, DLNA, Biometrics and more???

    What if:

    -Your devices could sense other connected devices around you and elegantly pop messages/phone calls/information to that connected device (i.e. pop up a text message in the corner of your big screen)

    -Your devices could detect the presence of other people around you (i.e. you have a friend over, so don’t pop that text message because it has sensitive information)

    -Your devices could tell you about that person sitting next to you, how you know them, people you both know, similar interests, what you talked about the last time you sat on this couch

    -Your devices tell your house that you’re not coming back any time soon so it locks the doors, shuts off the lights and arms the security (but turns on a light inside and flips on the TV when it detects an un-recognized presence outside)

    -Your devices could sense that it’s 6:30, you haven’t checked into a restaurant or grocery store and the fridge at your house is telling it that it has no food…..you need to hit the store pronto!

    The possibilities are endless and it’s interesting to watch Microsoft start to dive into this space…..what would you do if your device could provide some menial intelligence and automate certain parts of your life?  What would you do with all of that free processing space in your real brain?!

     

    *Full disclosure….I believe that Microsoft has been making some killer moves over the last decade and we haven’t even seen the beginning of what they’re capable of.  As the iPhone and Google have seemingly kicked their ass in mobile, they have quietly made big moves in the living room (XBOX), hardware technology/peripherals, voice, messaging and also still happen to own a majority of the computers in the world.  Should be interesting to see what they do with their war chest.

     

  • VINTAGE BIKES AND CRAZY STUNTS

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    My buddy called me up on Sunday to see if I was interested in heading over to the vintage bike show at the downtown airport…  This friend has been looking for a motorcycle this year and as always, I’m down for a chance to peer pressure another person into the biker gang!

    We arrived to some of the most beautiful classic bikes from some of the top brands (Triumph, Ducati, Honda, Harley, BMW and more).  It was a blast to walk up and down the aisles, catching a glimpse of these extremely well taken care of classics….some of them still sporting a dealer invoice from the owner’s original purchase.

        

    That in itself blew my mind….I can’t think of anything that I’ve purchased lately with the thought: “I really need to hang onto this for 30 years so I can show it off in near perfect condition in 2032”

    In addition to the beautiful classics, we had the chance to see Chris “Teach” McNeil (the BMW factory stunt rider) and both his F 800 GS/S 1000 RR in action.  Stunt riders have always fascinated me, but this guy DEFINITELY pushed both of those bikes and the small amount of space he was given to the limits.  The amount of skill, practice, dedication and injuries this guy has endured surely could fill a long afternoon of stories….but he was a pure joy to watch as he made these 300-400lb bikes look like an extension of his body.

        

    Check out my full album of pictures on my Facebook page HERE