How I Used Social Media to Buy a Car

Wow, my first post since moving to San Diego and it only took 52 days to do it! That’s pretty horrible, I must admit. Here I thought moving to a new city would inspire me to be more active in my photography and blogging. Nope. Turns out moving and starting a new job means you have next to no free time. When you do find yourself void of responsibilities, all you really want to do is relax with your iPad and new season of Nikita on Netflix. Perhaps I’m projecting a bit… Clearly I really love that show.

For all the years I lived in San Francisco I never owned a car. It just wasn’t necessary. I walked almost everywhere in that city, and loved it. It was a healthy way to get around and it allowed me a little time to myself. When I needed to go further than a say a mile, I’d take the Muni. And despite what many of the locals might say, we have a stellar mass transit system.

My apartment had a Walk Score of 98 and a Bike Score of 95. My office had a Walk Score of 92, a Transit Score of 100 and a Bike Score of 89. Basically I had the world, just steps away. San Diego, well it isn’t quite the same here. Continue reading

Leap Motion + Fleksy is Genius Typing in the Air

A post showed up on Engadget this morning that caught my eye.

Laser projected virtual keyboardsSo 2004. These days, tech firms are dreaming up completely invisible typewriters, or at least Syntellia is. By marrying a Leap Motion sensor with its own Fleksy predictive keyboard, the company has created a system that seems to let you type on thin air

Yet another crazy-cool thing coming out of SXSW this year. You might say I predicted this. Last week I wrote posts about each of these companies and how I was excited about the work they are doing. I ended my Leap Motion post remarking on the promising future the miniscule device has. I suggested it could read sign language and allow people with arthritis to control computers without the joint pain, to control of a television without a remote.

Then, in my Fleksy post I suggested ways Fleksy could make the move out of touchscreen devices and incorporated into computers. I wrote specifically how it could be used to speed up typing and allow a dramatic increase in accuracy.

But what I neglected to put together was what would happen if Fleksy worked with Leap Motion. Well, turns out they were already thinking about this and have announced Fleksy integration with Leap Motion, and it’s pretty brilliant. Imagine controlling your AppleTV with the Leap Motion, swiping in the air through videos and songs. When it came time to do a search in the Netflix app, you’d have the ability to simply type in the air using Fleksy integration instead of the traditional, and painfully slow, method of input with the AppleTV onscreen keyboard.

I’m not sure if I’m a genius for thinking abstractly of these two ideas or dense for not thinking of combining the two. Either way I’m even more looking forward to the delivery of my Leap Motion. Apple being the silo that it is, we might have to work with some XMBC hackers to get the above integration working but it would be worth it.

Amazon Killed the Internet

Tonight, these sites and perhaps hundreds more died. At least temporarily.

The Internet was ablaze (almost ironically) tonight when a massive storm on the East Coast caused a power outage that affected Amazon’s “Amazon Web Servicescloud server system. AWS is what power so many sites and services these days. It’s their reliability, scalability, cost and speed that have so many startups jumping to their system.

Tonight became Survivor – Startup Edition

However, tonight highlights what happens when you rely on a single fail point. What’s the adage? “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Well tonight it was a single Amazon server location’s power outage that has many of the most popular sites offline. Amazingly, Twitter is not one of the sites shutdown.

 

Once the power is back on, or once Amazon starts shifting bandwidth and syncing servers, all of these sites will be back up and running. What’s disappointing is that even though Amazon has tons of servers all over the country, it only took one power outage to cripple their system.  Continue reading

Netflix Axes Qwickster Killing Plan to Split

After only a few weeks since their announcement of Netflix breaking off into two services (one for streaming and one for DVD/game rental), the company has decided to axe the new Qwickster service. I like to think Netflix read my blog post Netflix’s apology uncovers something much worse a few weeks ago.

I’m glad they are doing this. In my previous post, I highlighted why this would be a terrible idea based on a few factors, the most important being the ease of use. The breaking apart of Netflix into two services could double the number of steps it takes to rent a movie. For a company known for its simplicity, this didn’t make sense. Continue reading

Netflix’s apology uncovers something much worse

This morning I, along with 23 million others, received an email from Reed Hastings apologizing for keeping everyone in the dark about the changes afoot at Netflix. These changes weren’t simply the price increase for DVD + Streaming use, it also includes a total rebranding and restructuring of the company.

Now Netflix, as far as physical media goes, will be called Qwikster. Yes you will be able to get games as well as DVDs in the mail now but it will be a totally different site which does not connect to Netflix at all. Netflix will become solely the streaming service. The names are explained as follows.

Netflix because they are Internet flicks aka interNET FLIcksX versus Qwikster because its QuWIcKSTER. Not only is the name stupid, but breaking this once great company into two for nearly any reason is stupid. Seriously though, Qwikster is a horrible name. It sounds like a Napster clone.

You will now receive two bills each month, one for Netflix and one for Qwikster. We still don’t know for sure of stock owners’ situation. They originally held stock in a DVD mailing fulfillment company. Then they owned stock in a DVD mail fulfillment and video streaming company. Now they own stock in a DVD and games mail fulfillment company and a separate video streaming company.

Finally, why this change is truly horrible? Check out the new process for renting a DVD.

It can now take up to twice as many steps to rent a DVD in the mail if streaming is not an option. Instead of it all being under one roof, Netflix.com, you will have to first search Netflix and then search Qwikster. You will also have to have the two completely separate memberships and will have to manage two distinctly different movie queues.

This is the most insane part. Netflix, what were you thinking? Reed Hastings, how did you create such an amazing and innovative company only to pull a HPCompaq-Palm, AOL-Time Warner and drown it with obstacles, barriers and complications?

In a modern world where everyone else is scrambling to catch up to Netflix in both subscribers, available content, streamlining and awareness; Netflix just gave everyone else in the game a massive boost.

Oh and let’s not forget the ten years of branding and name recognition we have with Netflix. Qwikster has now become yet another company and service that will have to be re-explained to the masses.

“Qwikster, it’s like the old Netflix only now it’s really like the new Netflix but you have to wait a few days to enjoy your movie.”

What were you thinking? Am I alone in this? Is this not just a horrible mistake? 

The British Invade Walmart

This video reminds me of the first time my uncle went to a Walmart. After a few years living in Denmark, and probably a decade in the Cayman Islands, he somehow managed to escape the entire idea of a “Super Walmart“.

Watching my uncle go on a buying spree was hilarious. In a matter of minutes it seemed our shopping cart was full of the sorts of stuff only someone new to Walmart would choose.

What they sell tires here? Oh yeah, just a few aisles from the shotguns and bedroom sets. But don’t forget the milk!

By the way, do we even call them “Super Walmart” or “Walmart Supercenters” anymore, are they all now just, “Walmarts?” That’s a scary thought. It’s like how “super” sizing something just became cute as “Biggie Size”. Pretty soon instead of obese we’ll be “Biggie Sized”.

I love these guys. Liam, Charlie, Alex and the rest of the gang from Chameleon Circuit. There is just something about British humor always gets me.