Kindles, Sonos and electronic books!

I was a very early adopter of the Kindle. I took one all over the world. It is a great product. I still have one. The ability to have my entire library of books in one place is awesome. It allows me not to buy books anymore. Now, I just have them on my Kindle. (I still buy them, but don’t have to have a place for all those physical books!) The amount of desk and shelf space saved by that simple answer is beyond amazing. Around the same time I started using a Kindle, I was also using Audible. Audible is interesting because you can get the same books on Kindle (Amazon owns both). You can read and listen at the same time. For me, I use audible books when I am communicating with my car.

Recently Sonos, a wireless speaker system for your home, released their new Audible play component for the Sonos speakers. You can have Alexa play Audible books as well. I won’t spend any more time on that; it is just interesting to see the various online streaming integration services as they all come together.

Integration is the future of IoT, home automation, and entertainment. I promise!

I use my iPhone as the primary Audible listening device (I have many more books on the Kindle than I used to). For me, the value now is I can listen to my audible books, and read books on my Kindle wherever I am.  Books, words and being able to enjoy both represent something important for me. In part because I have written blogs, books and other things for years. Partly because for a little more than a year of my life, reading was the only entertainment I had. The integration of Mobile to more and more technology is something that I welcome. The future is integration!



The importance improving Virily!

One of the things that I know, remember from my helpdesk days is that the flood of calls about issues was sometimes really difficult. I started in the helpdesk world in the days before high-end phone systems. A phone system allows you to record messages for users (yes, we know this system is down currently). That reduces the number of calls, the noise, the helpdesk has to deal with overall. The fewer calls on the same issue, allows other issues (much smaller call volume) to move forward faster. (The image is of my gifted Rune PeorD, the gift coming from another Virily user Anastasia Vsplyshka.) (the link takes you to the original post on Virily!)

As a technologist, and former helpdesk person, I would like to personally offer to help consolidate some of the technical issues we have here on Virily and present hose (with numbers of users impacted) to the Virily team. This will help them, the editors and technologists of the Virily team to respond to the issues faster. Fewer requests make the responses less and hopefully allow for better interaction between us, the content creators, and the Virily team the content curators.

Based on that, please respond to the issues that impact you the most here on Virily. I will compile the issues, and post them as a technology blog. I will also share them directly with the Virily team so we can start the process of coordinated site improvement. My grandfather used always to tell me “if you ask who owns a problem, it is probably your problem,” I am no longer asking about problem ownership, I am thinking about ways we can improve the situation. Please comment and share the issues you have. I will compile them and to Virily. If I reply to your comment with a number simply note that represents the number of that comment you are (1 means you are the first, 22 means you are the 22nd with that issue).


trying to help!

of drones, ROVs and wandering…

The meanderings of my posts lately are not on purpose. I find myself thinking about various things over the course of the day, so I guess it is last thought first blogged! First off in fairness I do wander a lot, because in part that is the job I have. In part, I wander because there are some things I am interested in. My father always said, “be a lifelong learner.” I truly believe that is the way to be and strive to continue learning. It is why I spend a lot of time focused on the art of the possible, but also looking ahead. What is possible today but expensive, could be easily found and cheap in just a couple of years.

I do from time to time talk about the pain of early adoption. I truly loved the Giroptic product, but realize now it was ahead of its market. It is really hard for a technology when it gets ahead of its market. The reality of markets is that without one, companies fail. With one, companies can thrive. But if you miss the market window, you can end up crushed while waiting for the market. Giroptic, a great product was ahead of its market.

This boating season there are a couple of coming technologies that I find exciting. There are two ROV’s coming, (remotely operated vehicles) that I can’t wait to arrive, due later this spring. The ability to see below the surface of the water is always something that is intriguing, at least it is for me! Using an ROV/Drone to see where I currently can’t see is something I find incredibly interesting. I use it to see damage on my roof, pictures under the water and images of people from above.


wondering what I can see

Innovation to “failure ‘vation’”

The fastest way to fail is to build something that doesn’t work. The second fastest way to fail is to build something that is overpriced. Both of these modes of failure frequently occur in Crowdfunding, stores, and flea markets to name a few places. Many more I am sure where these happen as well. The reality of process is always that you have to be careful what you are building, why you are building it, and what you are selling it for.

Innovation is a tricky game, in part because there is guessing involved. No one has the knowledge of the market, supply chain and “consumer” to the point where everything they release leaps off the shelves. Most companies can point to many failures over the years. The original digital assistant from Microsoft was called Bob. The next was called Clippy. While Clippy and Bob both failed, they made the overall potential for Cortana (the new digital assistant from MSFT, better).

The question you have to ask yourself as you, the innovator, begins to build your product is the problem I’m solving more than one I encounter. You see that becomes the market, if it is a problem that 1000 people have, then there a market, 999 people to be exact (since you are the one building it and are most likely part of 1000). No company ever launched and got 100% of the potential market. That means in fairness you will be able to reach 300 or maybe 400 of the 1000 people. That is the sad reality of markets.


great ideas need great markets!

Of running beta products, or NOT!

I don’t consider myself to be a normal technologist. I understand that I go beyond what normal is quite often. It has to do with my interest in what is next. One of the first things I did when I left Microsoft was to join the Microsoft insiders club. The club gets you the latest build of Windows ten early. I have two machines I update to the newest builds and two machines that I leave at a more stable build. The other computer in my office is my work PC, that is always at the recommended OS my company has selected. More for compatibility and also from the I need my work computer to function every single day.

The same I’ve found is true of my phone. I don’t jailbreak or have my phone operating on beta versions of the operating systems. I did that for years, no more. I cannot tell you how many times a day I need my phone, its more than 10. I do not want it crashing because it is the 2 pm bug. I live on my cellular phone.  It is part of the process for me, from car phone to headsets when I am walking around, to be able to connect and communicate. Therefore, a beta OS on the phone doesn’t work for me.

It is funny sometimes when I think about the way things used to be (all beta) and the way things are now (two of five machines beta). I know most people don’t have five computers, and frankly, most of mine are not state of the art (and one comes from work). I am an IT person, after all, PC’s and technology are what I do.

If I had, as a teacher all those years ago, the tools I have now, I would have probably stayed a teacher. I was always looking for ways to integrate technology into what I was doing in the classroom. It was frustrating for me to always be 5 or more years behind. Not, by the way, because teachers didn’t care, rather that there was no money.



The reality of crowdfunding

In the land of abandoned technology, there is a huge number of things that once were that now aren’t. Devices that rose, and then fell quickly. I would love to say I don’t have a lot of those devices, which I always pick the next big thing. I don’t miss, but sadly I do miss. A couple of the painful ones for me in the past year include 15 Indiegogo campaigns that have disappeared off the face of the earth. While I am saddened when a company delivers but then has to close its doors, I don’t consider that a failure, The failure’s come from Indiegogo. I also know my barrage of blogs is impacting Indiegogo, I’ve gotten two refunds from long-silent campaigns in the past month. Only 15 more to go.

I wouldn’t, by the way, keep posting this if Indiegogo even had something resembling customer service. They are great, when you reach out and looking up things you can’t find in your profile, but useless when it comes to interacting with long silent campaigns. If you log into their site, they now have a disclaimer, that crowdfunding is a risk. Crowdfunding is a risk. I agree with that. But with three Kickstarter campaigns that have died, versus 15 on Indiegogo, I don’t buy it from IG. I have backed Kickstarter projects at roughly a 2 to 1 rate over Indiegogo, and other than one interesting project has not backed a single Indiegogo project this year.

I wrote a post earlier this week, about the difference between innovation and market. The market is the potential for your product to be sold. Innovation is the great idea you have. The reality of innovation is the reality of market speed though, not the potential market, but the real market. I suspect the next thing will be the concept of crowdfunding insurance. Insurance would be where your pledge to a project is guaranteed by an insurance policy. Based on my experience, they would have paid out three times for Kickstarter and many more times than that for Indiegogo. In fact, I suspect based on risk an insurance company would never allow Indiegogo campaigns to get the insurance.

The reality of future tech is you have to take risks. The reality of risks is you have to be happy when all is said and done.

I am happy as a Kickstarter backer. I am embarrassed by my former affiliation with Indiegogo.


crowdfunding is the future, Indiegogo is now in my past…

of smart whiteboards and chalkboards…

One of the things that I have chased after in the past few years is the concept of a smart whiteboard. I have a product I love (SmartKapp) hanging in my basement that allows me to use whiteboard markers and share that crawling digitally. I have also used, and still have the eBeam products. I use them on the big whiteboard that has moved upstairs and the two Ideapaint whiteboards we painted on the wall. I have an electronic whiteboard on my iPad as well. It is very useful, and I use it all the time.

The concept of whiteboards represents both an interaction and a bad communication anti-pattern. One of the easiest ways to seize control of a meeting is to grab the marker and head to the board. But static meetings in a room with a whiteboard aren’t the only way people need to interact. Certainly, the SmartKapp gives you the option of using the physical whiteboard as does the eBeam and still share those via Skype or Webex. But there are meetings as well, that are wholly online and again don’t support the concept of meeting dominance.

You need a device (I use the surface book for this) that allows you to interact both with the computer, Web meeting and other users at the same time. Not one person dominating the board as a static picture, More of the global concept of share, interact and save.  The future of work for many professionals will be work where you are, not work in a specific office. Yes, there are jobs that will always require physical presence. But there are jobs that won’t be remote of course (Hi, I am your doctor, I am 3,000 miles away but don’t worry). Those jobs that operate remotely will require better remote meeting capabilities.

Interesting, I still miss chalkboards. My first classroom as a teacher was lined with chalkboards on 3 of the 4 walls (the last wall was windows). I miss that.


days of old…