A Time To Be Small

I have always wanted to start a podcast. Tonight, is my attempt at publishing something. It is just a sample of the stories that I want to share and explore.

Sometimes, you just have to shut up and fucking ship something.


How Does Snap Keep Doing It?

Google Glass was something that I was ravenous for. The product eventually became dead and Google learned a lot from that experiment. I had the privilege to try out a pair for a weekend. The experience was just kind of strange. It didn’t feel natural at all but, on the other hand, there were a few things that were certainly forward thinking about that type of device.

Out of nowhere, Snapchat rebranded last week and is now a “camera company.” They also announced a brand new piece of hardware called “Spectacles.” Finally, something different and a company that is willing to take a chance on something. Just a few weeks ago, watching the Apple Event, I was hoping they would take a chance and release something that would wow and surprise us. A device or service that takes a real chance and tries to be something different.

When you first look at the Spectacles, they almost look like a joke. The oversized sunglasses come in a variety of bright colors and have cameras at the corners of each eye of the glasses. From, a hardware point of view it is an interesting device. The sample content looks like something that GoPro would make. The device is priced at only $130 and when you compared it to a Google Glass, it almost ten times cheaper.  

Live Stream

Facebook Live, Periscope, and Musica.ly are just some apps that are pushing live video into the mainstream. Even with the fact that these glasses can only record 10 seconds at a time, they are going to be huge with young people. They are priced right and will tap into something.

I think it is going to be interesting to see what people can do with them. They could work with the GoPro crowd as well.


Google Just Mainstreamed VR

Google had a big event last week. It announced a slew of new products including a new line of phones, new Chromecasts, and a new Google Home Speaker. But the big announcement out of Google was a more in-depth look at the Google Daydream specs and the Daydream viewer headset. Google alluded to a number of partners at launch including HBO, Netflix, and the MLB.

The thing that really caught my attention was the VR viewer. It looks like one of the most polished products out of Google in a long time. It looks like it was not a rushed product or a half-baked idea.


If you ever used Google Cardboard or even Oculus, you know how uncomfortable they can be and how difficult it can be to get in and out of the device. Google Daydream looks like it was designed for ease of use and something to quickly pickup. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of adjusting and lining things up. There doesn’t seem to be a need to remove your case from your phone to load it in. There is also room for you to keep your glasses on.


VR, until this point, has been something that just been too dorky and just for the dedicated. Samsung’s Gear VR started to open that up and show that we can use our phones to become the brains of our VR content. We don’t need to get a $3,000 computer and spend an extra few hundred dollars on a headset.

Google Daydream is giving me a lot of reasons to make a jump to a Pixel Phone to be able to use this VR.


What Is The Point of Google Allo?

Every day, there are always two tabs open on my computer. The first two things I open are Todoist and Gmail. I do most of my communicating with the outside world via Gmail and Hangouts. I also have my Google Voice number send messages and voicemail into Hangouts. I still use Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp for some communication but I would say that I am a heavy Hangout user. It was always an app that made sense; a real time chat inside Gmail where you can continue the conversation on your phone. The product worked well for my needs. However, it was lacking some things in terms of the modern messaging apps. It didn’t have the latest movie stickers like you could get on Facebook or the apps inside of iMessage.  

Months back, Google announced two new messaging apps – Duo and Allo. They were essentially video chat split out into its own experience and all other chats into their own app. The splitting made sense and is something that a lot of people do, including Apple. But during the whole announcement, Google never mentioned Hangouts, what it was going to do and how it was going to fit into the chat ecosystem.

As with all Google products, I was excited to try Duo and Allo. I had the latest Nexus and I basically use Google everything so why not? Duo was released first and it was a good video chat program. I hardly ever video chat but with the first test, it was fine and fast. If you video chat a lot, it makes some sense to use as you can jump in and out of calls faster than anything I have seen.

Just yesterday, Allo came out on iOS and Android. I had a number of concerns about the product going into launch but, hey, it’s Google. I got a lovely little notification because I preregistered on the Play Store.

When, you first boot it up, the signup process is fast but I had nobody in my contacts that had the app or using it yet, so it was a ghost town with the Google Assistant

The Savior

The Google Assistant is basically Google’s chat bot. Think of it as a text version of Google Now. You can have it answer all kinds of questions and do tasks for you. I set a calendar event, was able to search through some emails, and looked up some local restaurants.

There was a lot of interesting hooks into other Google services and it is just scratching the surface. Google can add support for Drive and Google Keep, but the assistant is going to be the big thing out of this.

Messaging should be universal. That is what Facebook gets right. It is on every device and it just keeps adding features to the core product.

One And Done

I have only used Allo once since it was launched. It is one of the rare Google products that has upset me. I wish this stuff were available to me in other products and across the Google ecosystem. I would love to be able to pull up the assistant when using other Google apps or have an Android feature like a chat head that would allow me to access this and truly start to make this an assistant.

It is going to be something to watch but there is nothing here yet.


Did You See The Game On Twitter?

Tonight, I am watching sports on Twitter on my Amazon Fire TV. Earlier this year, Twitter won the rights to stream 10 NFL games. The games are premiering this week and this has started Twitter down a road of live content. They have slowly beefed up their live offerings, most likely to get prepared for the NFL Season, but there was a problem with the discovery of these videos. I feel like I didn’t know about a lot of the content unless someone was tweeting about it.


This summer, I watched both the RNC and DNC conventions stream live on Twitter. The experience was actually enjoyable on the mobile app. There was something cool watching the conversation fall in while watching. It would great to be able to either be able to minimize the video or play it in the background while you interact with something other than the app.

The Game

The Jets/Bills game last week was streamed by two million people and watched by something like 50 million people on TV.

This is a step into something different and into something new for live sports. Live sports is one of the hardest things to watch if you cut cable. The NFL is especially tough to watch because it is big business. It also has a number of exclusive deals with companies and the TV deals just bring in new numbers.

This Twitter deal feels like an experiment but doesn’t feel like a natural fit. I know that the day after the game I heard people ask “Hey, did you see the game on Twitter?”  

It is exciting to see companies make these deals that open up the content more and don’t put them behind walls.


The Future Of Cars Is Not So Far Away


Uber finally introduced its self-driving cars to the world. They were rumored to have been working on this technology for quite some time but I don’t think we have ever seen it until today. Uber has a small fleet of cars in a few neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. This type of automation has been in Teslas for quite some time now and Tesla even just released an update.

This Uber trial feels like something different.  I have watched a lot of videos of people using the Tesla Autopilot but this was that next step into not owning your own car.

I must say,  when I first watched this video, the first thing that came into my mind was this felt like cars that are available to you 24 hours a day that will drive you on short trips.

Making Car Owning Option

Could this make owning a car something that becomes optional? Could this make people have one-car households and supplement transportation with Uber rides? There are some towns where travel is just a giant pain in the ass. This could allow us to rethink transportation once we get to a certain level of sophistication with this technology. I know we are far off from this utopia where software drives us around but, you have to admit, this is exciting and it’s fun to think about how this could change our lives.

There are some things about not having to worry about car ownership that would be a giant pain reliever for people.


Safety is going to be the biggest question as this technology develops. The first crashes of any level are going to be covered by the news and talked about heavily. That is what makes the small trials Uber is doing in Pittsburgh so important. Being able to get this thing on the road in real world situations is only going to help with the software development and find issues or any potential problems.


Just this weekend, a person from Lyft said that the majority of rides in about five years will be from self-driving cars. The technology is not going away. We might think that these things are far away but things rapidly change and technology is evolving faster than ever.

Just image one day in the future you will be able to call an Uber and just sit in the back and enjoy some Netflix. There may or may not be a driver in the car.


Alexa, How Much More Do I Have To Run?

Pebble is always one of those companies that I think are underrated, as they really the whereabouts on a lot of interesting things over the last number of years and were the first to market a wearable that is interesting, looks good, and had some sort of functionality to it.

This year they took to Kickstarter to launch their new watches. They released a new product called the Pebble Core. The Core is a new type of wearable that seems to be a frontrunner. It looks very small from the mock-ups. It has a 3D radio built in and you can use apps like Spotify to play music. As you can imagine, it looks like there’s some GPS function as well.

This, to me, is a lot more interesting than any other watches The connected watch is something that has a lot of the stuff we’ve wanted for a long time with battery life considerations and what not. There have only been a handful of watches. This item is actually really low priced.

I don’t know if anyone has ever run with one of those armbands that hold your phone but it is a giant pain in the ass. It’s something that I know I never wanted. Running with Fitbits are nice for the tracking part but having the connectivity with it but you know being extremely little bit that you know. This is just a fascinating product and I can’t stop thinking about some of the use cases.

DC Alexa integration is also interesting as it was a silent attempt to take over the world. Alexas has voice commands during a run or some sort of fitness activity of any type. Your phone is going to be huge. It’s going to be something that is pretty interesting.

Connected devices are different than their own devices. End of hardware devices heats up as we say Google to launch. We will get more details in a couple weeks with their own digital system. Amazon starting to connect a lot of different third-party devices is the biggest. Being able to check your weather and traffic on your run before work; it keeps you productive during your run. It’s pretty interesting.

The Core lasts 20 hours with the single charge and it only cost around $100.  Another thing that people seem to somehow get right but no one seems to copy a really good battery life in their products. I’ve been a Pebble user for quite some time and after a number of years, I can tell you that the battery life is still really impressive. I’ve seen some pretty poor performance in some testing and I’ve used some other products.

The device should be released early next year and it will be interesting to see if anyone tries to go after this market.


Material Design Was The Best Thing To Happen To Android


Six years ago, I bought the beauty you see. It was my first foray into the Android ecosystem. I had an iPhone 3 something-or-other before this device, but for the last six years, I have been solely working with Android on my phone for a daily driver.

Apps on Android have always been the second-class citizen to their iPhone counterparts. I would always cringe when I would try out a new app and see iPhone UI elements pop up. It happens way more than you’d think. Then there were apps like this:


Look at those buttons and input fields. I know it was a different time back then, but the experiences on the apps were all so scattered and random. It was even worse than just a browser website. It was just a “whatever” kind of feeling.  Those grey buttons made me want to become a designer. I didn’t know what they were supposed to look like, but they gave me such a reaction.

Then came Material Design. Material Design, in some cases, caused this copycat mentality. Everything used some of these boilerplate UI elements and apps all started to look the same; slide out menu on the left and a floating action button on the bottom with some buttons that had the cool wave function when you would press on them. Things felt great to use, but it was like what happened when people found bootstrap. Everyone had a bootstrap grid with those buttons on their websites.

Apps That Go Above

There was a period of time where it was all the same, but that was ok. We went from the gray buttons to higher standards. I want to call out some apps that handle the material design really well.




Trying To Get 5% Better Each Day

Is there something that has always been on your to do list? Have you always wanted to do something and it just has been sitting on your goals sheet year after year? Podcasting has always been one of those things that interested me. I have always been told that my writing is very conversational and that I am a good story teller. I always wanted to play around with this medium. So, naturally, I decided that I needed to buy an expensive microphone to start this. I found a microphone that would be good for podcasting and I ordered it. I recorded one really nervous and unplanned podcast on it. Naturally, it has sat on the shelf every day since.

The last few weeks, I have been stuck in a rut with my writing and haven’t been satisfied with what I have been doing. My wife had a great idea to walk around with my phone and do some speech to text on some ideas. Apparently, I need to buy something to get anything that I want done. So, I ordered a lapel microphone for my phone so I could walk around and start recording.

Next, I needed an app to record myself. I make everything so difficult. The setup that I found was using this group messaging app, Roger, that has IFTTT support. I can easily talk and the output raw mp3s into a dropbox folder.

So, every morning I started to record some audio. There was plenty of just horrible recordings. My favorite one was when I was whispering for no reason. It was like I didn’t want my cat to hear me speaking.

You can’t be afraid to suck. You have to spend time getting the junk and the bad out. The suck is going to happen and don’t let anything stop you. Find the fastest way to get something done and get one finished in whatever you are working on. Then worry about getting the nicer equipment and the better software.

We must never forget the adventure time quote, “Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”


Smart Everything

Did you know that you can buy both a smart container for your eggs and a smart toothbrush to get stats on your brushing? We are about to start the next wave of products and services that integrate into our lives even more. It started with food and transportation, but the process is only going to get deeper and deeper.

The integrations can be something like a smart tooth brush or a smart mirror; there have been a number of post lately about some hackers putting raspberry pi into a smart mirror.

There is an episode of Black Mirror that shows a young man waking up to a full amount of data being processed at him during his morning routine. At the rate of increased innovation and technology developing, we will make all of this fiction become a reality.

We are also entering a time when it is almost an inconvenience to use a laptop or computer. If there are experiences you can’t achieve on your phone, there seems to be something broken. The phone is going to become the main hub of our lives. It is going to power future virtual reality apps and experiences.