Category Archives: Tech

basic_glass

On April 15, Tax Day no less, you can take your spare $1500 and you too can own Google Glass.

Normally via “invite only” and slightly harder to get, the Google Glass Explorer program is being opened up to the entire United States on Tuesday. Starting at 6 am PT / 9 am ET, you can shell out $1500 to get your own. While I personally quibble with the idea of throwing down $1500 for a beta product that will be completely changed in 1-2 years based on feedback and interaction, I do see this as a step forward from Google’s perspective. After all, the more people out there (and especially outside of the Bay area) who are wearing Google Glass, the less alien it seems to everyone else. Eventually, perhaps, seeing someone wearing Glass won’t inspire either curiosity or fear and will just be accepted. But $1500 for a beta product? I’m not so sure of that.

You can sign up now to be reminded the minute the Glass program opens to the public. You must be 18, with US residency and a US shipping address. The sale is for one day only, so get them while they last. If you do decide to be a Google Glass Explorer, then follow their list of Do’s and Don’ts. You don’t want to be a Glasshole.

Twitter is getting a lot more like Facebook. In an effort to retain users who don’t necessarily know what to do with Twitter once they sign up (ie, most people) and in order to separate the signal from the noise, Twitter is rolling out a new look and feel. Initially, only new users and occasional celebrities seem to have the new format. I found it on actor Channing Tatum’s Twitter profile.

Twitter's New Look and Feel includes a large cover image

Twitter’s New Look and Feel includes a large cover image. Click to view full-size image.

Large cover image: Similar to Facebook, Twitter has gone for a simplified layout, including a white background and a large cover photo. I haven’t yet found the dimensions of this photo, but it’s pretty large.

Three column format: The flotsam and jetsam have now been separated into three columns. Your profile photo and bio are moved to the left-hand column. When scrolling up, your profile photo jumps into the always present menu bar.

Menu bar: A menu bar at the top of the stream allows you to view tweets, tweets with photo and video, followers and more.

Pinned tweets: You can now pin a tweet to the top. In this example, there is a pinned tweet from Feb 7, and the rest of the tweets are more recent. This is sort of an extension of your profile bio, in that you can share what you’re about in a single tweet.

Subpages have card formats. Click to view the full size image.

Subpages have card formats. Click to view the full size image.

Subpages: Subpages, such as Tweets with Photos and Video or Following are now displaying in a card format, which is similar in form to Pinterest. I suspect because all of this information is extremely visual, the card format is the best mode of presentation.

Popular tweets are called out. Click to view the full-size image.

Popular tweets are called out. Click to view the full-size image.

Popular Tweets: Tweets that are retweeted, replied to, favorited and just generate a lot of interaction appear in a larger font within your stream. Again, this is an effort to separate the signal from the noise. That said, I find the stupidest things I tweet often get the most interaction, for no discernible reason. We’ll see how this works out.

Again, the new format is slowly rolling out to everyone over the next few weeks. If you haven’t had a Twitter account before, this is the time to grab it with the new format immediately. The rest of us just have to wait.

Cheers!

By yesterday I thought I’d had enough of sessions. That said, I started the day at a session on How Open Licensing is Transforming Design. I went because I have a vested interest in Creative Commons and copyright on the web, but also because I was too lazy to stand in line to see Mindy Kaling. I’m thrilled I went, as I learned about things like The Noun Project and how Autodesk is licensing all of its training content under a CC-Sharealike license. It’s good stuff.

Autodesk Embraces CC

Autodesk Embraces CC

From there, I again lost interest in sessions and ended spending a good part of my day observing and talking to people. On Saturday, I saw a session by Kristina Halvorson, who spoke about how marketing has gotten out of control and there is more emphasis on the tools than strategy. On Sunday, I sat at a table across from some young marketing folks from HBO’s Game of Thrones and watched everything Kristina said happen in front of my eyes. There is a lot of out of control marketing here at SxSW. Some of it is very effective. Some of it is ridiculous. For instance, I watched these folks count their retweets excitedly and take silly photos in hopes those would be get more retweets. There was no effort to engage the retweeter or acknowledge that, really, only 7% of Americans are actually on Twitter.

On the other hand, Chevy is here with a fleet of 40 Chevy Volts that are filling the taxi/Uber void in Austin this week. Most of the drivers are from an interactive agency in Boston that represents Chevy. The folks are friendly, funny and helpful, which is pretty great considering they are driving folks around in a strange city. My favorite was Tim, who was in a Twitter “war” with other drivers. They’re all having a great time and the influx of free rides have really made getting around Austin easier – especially in the rain on Saturday. The Chevys are quite effective as far as marketing – I’m hyper-aware of them, I know they can help me, and at this point, I can even tell you a little about the Chevy Volt.

Free Chevy "Taxis" at SXSW #chevysxsw

Free Chevy “Taxis” at SXSW #chevysxsw

The Exhibit Hall opened yesterday as well, and that was overwhelming in its sheer size. It combines film, interactive and music and no stone is left unturned. I only got through half of it yesterday and I need to go back and check out a few more things today. As privacy and data have been big themes here at SxSW this year, Ghostery really stood out to me as a great browser plug-in for knowing who is tracking you at any point in time.

A View of the Exhibit Hall

A View of the Exhibit Hall (click to enlarge)

Additionally, I’ve got a list of startups and apps to check out, including Pond5 (photos), Push to Start (lawyers for startups), Jelly speakers, Pollstar Pro, Moverio (Epson’s version of Glass) and many more. Fodder for future blog posts, I suppose.

Today it’s Edward Snowden, brought to us via a Google Hangout (yes, really) over 7 proxy servers. I need to see a few more things in the Expo and then I head home.

 

What is my impression of day 2 at SxSwi?

WET.

Sometime around lunch yesterday, the rain really started to come down. While it didn’t dampen spirits, it certainly sent everyone scurrying inside. There is nothing like 30,000 people all squeezing into the Austin Convention Center. To say it was claustrophobic was an understatement. I even tried my usual Paypal lounge hangout to find it overcrowded.  I can only imagine the frustration of the marketers, many of whom had tents or events outdoors. After all, who wants a soggy grilled cheese, even if it is free?

Endless Outlets in the PayPal Lounge at SxSWi

Endless Outlets in the PayPal Lounge at SxSWi

We spent most of our time in sessions yesterday, both good and bad. I’m a bit frustrated myself though. I have a short attention span and, honestly, a limited bandwidth for educational sessions. I feel like I should be exploring and experiencing. While I’m back in sessions today, the exhibit hall is also opening. I find that to be far more interesting than a bunch of folks talking at me. From a different perspective, I’m often a speaker at events in my own industry. When I speak at conferences, I rarely attend other sessions. Spending a few days attending sessions has made me want to change up my own presentations and make them more interactive. Basically, I’m bored with people talking AT me and I don’t want to do this to anyone else.

A MindMap of a Session from ImageThink

A MindMap of a Session from ImageThink

I also have a friend who has managed to win 2 free 3D action figures of himself. Other people walking around with Pebbles, GoPros, or Microsoft gadgets they have won. I think it’s time I see what’s out there. A Pebble, for instance, would be ideal.

Some non-session highlights from yesterday, though, include a milk bar (strawberry!) and Oreos at the Oreo tent, free strawberry waffles at the UrbanSpoon truck, and an iPad-controlled robot at one of the many Deloitte outposts.

Random Freebies and Oddities at SxSWi

Random Freebies and Oddities at SxSWi

So today my goal is to explore the expo hall, see what’s new out there for Apps and gadgets. I already heard Deloitte has a competitor to Google Glass, so who knows what else we might see …

As we settle in to the chaos of around 30,000 people gathering into Austin’s tiny downtown area… just as we get comfy, and snug as a bug in the bed, so comes the rain! Now we have a jumble of umbrellas stabbing at us as we jump puddles and sprint from building to building. Seriously, Austin… you’ve got a road problem with all these puddles! The downpour hasn’t dampened spirits nor stalled the food trucks, though, so all is good.

We're SXSX stars, bitches!

We’re SXSX stars, bitches!

On Day 2, we attended sessions, hid out in the PayPal lounge to charge our gadgets and recharge our minds, and hit up with friends to share tips on how to actually get into the “hot” sessions and trending parties. A lot of chatter erupted around Julian Assange’s Skype-cast from his mancave in the Ecuadorian embassy. It seems like the hipsterati wasn’t too impressed with what he had to say.

We decided to catch Julian on a web stream instead of waiting in line to get in, and instead, hit some of the design sessions. Most of those focused on “next gen responsive” design strategies for supporting the myriad of screens we’re faced with everyday. The consensus was that basically if you’re a content designer nowadays, you’re pretty much screwed! From big screens/billboard to wearable devices you gotta make your content work everywhere. Whew! Good luck. And you’ll need to take a few classes to up-level your skills. Although Google is screaming about the “post-mobile world”, most of what we were hearing was people still struggling with 1990s style websites. So maybe it’s not as bad as everyone thinks.

One of the best speakers of the day was by Kristina Halvorson, a content strategist. She begged and pleaded with today’s marketing folks to stop firehosing us with meaningless jargon and to really, really, please start focusing on what people really DO with brands. It was a refreshing rant to hear amidst a sea of “content marketing strategists”. She got a little Tweet-hate for it, but I’m glad she was so bold as to speak out against the status quo.

And yes, shortly after, we hit the Oreo “Trending Vending” machine to print us a fresh Oreo cookie! Viva Texas! Now, go away rain, the last thing you want in Austin is damp, smelly hipsters clogging the hotel lobbies!

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