Author Archives: Michelle Lentz

I am admittedly immersed in the Apple ecosystem. Everytime I try to climb out (buying Win 8 products or a Chromebook), I still get sucked back in. One of the things I can’t stand about Apple’s current GUI on their OS and iOS is the use of skeumorphism.

In a nutshell, skeumorphism is taking something digital and making it look like paper. For instance, the Notes app is designed to look like a yellow legal pad written upon with a black marker. The iCal app has “leather-bound” edges. Apple’s Address Book looks like, well, an old-fashioned address book.

Image from apple.com

Wired.com points out today that Apple is on a hiring spree. With Steve Jobs gone and Scott Forstall ousted, we’re entering a new era of design under Jony Ives.

“The early days of Buy Levitra the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad perhaps necessitated skeumorphic design to acclimate users to new apps and programs that accomplished tasks in new ways. But it’s no longer needed. The concept of the desktop and the graphical user interface isn’t foreign anymore. We’re grown comfortable with the swipes, double taps and myriad other gestures that can dismiss applications or open up shortcuts in the blink of an eye.”

Apple is hiring senior software engineers to help re-imagine the graphical user interface, someone to develop new APIs and frameworks (iOS) and even someone to help give Siri a personality.

Brilliant design doesn’t happen overnight but here’s hoping, infused with new ideas and creative energy, Apple can eventually move away from the skeumorphism that looks to the past and moves into the clean lines and gesture-based design of the future.

For me, the biggest part of any Super Bowl is usually the commercials. I remember the year of Pets.com, along with a lot of others, where the bigger the ad and the investment, the bigger the impact. Of course, pets.com died a quick death after that, as the bubble burst for everyone. This year, the advertisers expect you to be multi-tasking the game, with your head in your mobile device or laptop just as often as you’re staring at the larger screen.

This year, advertisers are taking quite a different tact in their Super Bowl ads. Not only are they releasing ads ahead of the game on YouTube and client web sites, but they’re integrating social media into the campaign. According to Ad Age, Audi of America believes that “chatter  about Super Bowl ads begins to fade between 24 and 48 hours after the game is over.” Therefore, if you release the ad early, you’ll get more bang for your buck – a longer tail of discussion.

I’m not so sure. I prefer being surprised by the ad during the Super Bowl. I think the surprise maximizes the impact.

Here’s a list of some of the ad buys, their release dates, and their integration into social media (courtesy of Ad Age):

 - Anheuser-Busch got a twitter account for the first time on January 28. One of their ads, with the Clydesdales, will feature a foal. A-B has been soliciting names for the foal on Twitter.
- Audi posted three versions of its potential ad, each with a different ending, and let fans vote on which version they’d like to see run in the Super Bowl. The final spot appeared on YouTube on Jan. 27.
- Kia and Hyundai both pre-released their ads this week as well. Although I’m trying to avoid pre-released ads, I saw a space panda in a clip for Kia’s and I’ve since watched it. It’s hormone hgh damned cute.
- Axe pre-released their ad on Jan 28 and is running a contest (online of course) for some lucky group to fly into space.
- Coca-Cola released their ad on Jan 28. The ad features a contest, or game. In the ad, three teams are racing to get a Coke. The ad ends on a cliffhanger and viewers vote online for their favorite team. The ad featuring the “winning” team will air immediately after the Super Bowl.
- As usual, Dorito’s ran a contest for viewers to submit ads, with the winning ad appearing in the big game.
- Go Daddy has one ad that they’re keeping a secret and one that was released on Jan 25.
- Lincoln, of all brands, has an ad that incorporates ideas solicited by Jimmy Fallon via Twitter.
- Oreo, celebrating their 100th anniversary, is releasing an ad that shows fans of cookie vs filling. The neat thing (other than being a 100-year old brand)? They’re including a campaign on Instagram as well.
- Pepsi has been asking customers to submit photos and those will be used in a spot. Additionally, you’ll be able to sign up online to get a free soda.
- RIM, er, Blackberry has their first ad. According to Ad Age, “A social-media campaign to run alongside commercial will include promoted posts on Twitter and sponsored stories on Facebook.”
- Toyota is running an ad with Kaley Cuoco as a genie. The ad features a photo of a consumer chosen from an Instagram and Twitter campaign using the hash tag #wishgranted.
- Disney Pictures is running a spot highlighting the new Oz: The Great and Powerful film. After the commercial airs, one of the witches from the film will overtake the Disney web site.
- Wonderful Pistachios is running an ad featuring Psy. Fans can upload a photo of them getting “crackin’ Gangnam Style” with pistachios and potentially win a 12-month lease of a new Mercedes Benz.

A new feature popped up on my Facebook Messenger for iPhone app today. I can now call people, over either wifi or cellular, from the Messenger app.

According to The Verge, this feature started rolling out to US  that the feature began rolling out to US users today, and requires no update through the App Store.  All those rumors about Facebook developing a phone didn’t come true, but they did apparently add calling to their app.

To make the call, open your Messenger app on your iPhone. Select the person you wish to call and then click the small “i” in the top-right of the screen. The resulting dialog gives you an option for a free call – but only if the person is listed as available and online. There is no voice mail in Facebook, you know.

Phone Free from Facebook

As The Verge points out, “It’s also a huge step for Facebook — which with a single feature emerges as one of the largest communities of VoIP users in the world.”

This option is so far only available in the US and to iPhone users, not Android, although that is hopefully coming soon.

A year ago I killed off my Netflix subscription in favor of on-demand through cable, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It’s worked pretty well for me, but now I may have to reconsider.

Netflix just inked a deal with Warner Bros for exclusive online rights to several shows, including RevolutionPolitical Animals, Longmire, 666 Park Avenue, the new Kevin Bacon thriller The Following, and older shows Chuck, Fringe, and The West Wing, and “potential future shows”.

Netflix also announced in December a deal with Disney that includes Disney classics and new Disney live-action and animated features, covering Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Disneynature.

During the recent election, I marathon-watched all the seasons of The West Wing on Amazon Prime, so this deal may hit Amazon in some key spots.  When Netflix lost their Starz deal last February, then followed that with some inane business moves, I pretty much wrote them off. These two new deals are definitely making me pay attention again.

While Netflix is once again becoming a player, the online content area is now becoming a battlefield. Yesterday HBO secured a 10-year deal with Universal to exclusively the truth about electronic cigarettes carry their content for TV, online and mobile platforms. The deal is actually a renewal, but the expiration date wasn’t until 2016. Basically this keeps the content off of Netflix and scores a win for a pay-cable station.

Additionally, Amazon has recently signed a deal with A&E to up their Amazon Prime content.

Are you watching online content? Is it in addition to cable or supplementing? I admit I don’t have a fancy cable package because Comcast’s Xfinity online service gives me access to shows, such as those on TNT, for which I don’t have a cable subscription. Additionally, Hulu lets me watch most (not CBS) of my favorite shows whenever and wherever I want, although there does seem to be a certain selection only accessible from my computer and not a mobile or other device. Finally, I’m using Amazon Prime to catch up, commercial free, on shows like Downton Abbey, The West Wing, Stargate SG-1, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Each online service provides something different for me but all of them can be accessed from my networked Blu-Ray player, my Tivo, or my Apple TV.

 

A few days ago, the NY Times released this video (that refuses to embed), which was actually captured on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. It’s a nice moment, because it reminds us that there are enough of us out there to help conquer hate – and we can use the Beatles to do it.

In the video, Pastor Terry Jones is espousing incorrect and offensive rhetoric about Muslims in Times Square. People Online Blackjack around him argue, but in the end it’s one guy who raises his voice in “All You Need is Love” who shuts down the speaker. Amazingly, the entire square joins in, singing the Beatles.

I thought it was a wonderful thought for today, the day before Christmas and smack in the middle of the Holiday Season.

No matter what you celebrate, I hope it’s wonderful!

All You Need is Love