Gowalla, Hear My Cries!

This post was inspired by three things.

  1. My addiction to social media/location based social networking
  2. A few annoyances with the Gowalla system
  3. A post by Dave2 (aka @blogography) about his similar complaints.

Check out Dave’s post at Blogography. This post started as a comment on his blog before it became this blog post.

For those who didn’t go to Dave’s blog first and those who haven’t heard of Gowalla, here are the basics.

Connects to Facebook and Twitter to allow you to check-in to your favorite locations, let your friends know you’re there and get cute little awards for doing it! I’ve got 111 stamps in my passport and 12 pins so far.

Unlike some other location-based social games/systems, Gowalla is 100% user generated.  Your favorite coffeeshop not listed? Just add it.  It uses the GPS in your iPhone (and soon the Android) to locate you and create the location.  This is genius and one of the major reasons I went to Gowalla.  But there is a problem.

At least part of the problem has to do with Gowalla itself.  If I put myself two blocks away from The Bean when I commissioned that location to Gowalla… everyone needs to be in proximity of where it was commissioned, not actually where it is.

This happens to me a lot.  People seem to mark the location of places from their car, after leaving the restaurant or store.  Probably because they get better GPS outside and to keep from being annoying to their friend who is w/o iPhone or doesn’t get Gowalla/Twitter, etc.  You know the type.

I feel like Gowalla could greatly improve this by making the boundary somewhat fluid.  If 10 people are trying to check in to the same location a few meters away, or maybe even a couple of blocks away, maybe move the landmark or make the boundary pull out to those locations.

This Starbucks location is a great example of how this could work.  At this particular Starbucks location, customers often spread out down the street, drinking their brew on the patio space.   This becomes especially true for locations that don’t fit the normal, front door, layout.  If you check in at the west door of Macy’s the first time, will you be able to check in at the east door another time?  I know Gowalla increases the size of check-in spaces to provide for this flexibility but it doesn’t seem to be smart enough, to me.

What about editing checkins from people in cars or people that are just plain lying?  A number of times I’ve seen locations on Gowalla that simply don’t exist.  I should be able to report them, or if they do exist, move them.

It’s all about crowdsourcing.  Let the users fix these problems simply by checking in or hitting a “Report this Location” button.  Easy peasy!

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Willkommen nach Frankfurt!

After about ten or eleven hours of travel, from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain then back to Saudi Arabia to connect to another flight (for real) I am in Frankfurt Germany.  Oh yeah, but first I met this awesome girl from Tel Aviv who is now my Facebook friend (social media for the win!) who got lost along with me in the airport, through a series of horrible directions from airport workers…  We finally made it to our fork in the road.  She was gate 13, I, gate 15.  Since she was going to Isreal, a known terrorist-ridden country with hundreds of years of historic terrorism, suicide bombings, religious cleansing she had her very own special security screening system to go through.

Oh and since I’m from America, coming from Saudi Arabia, I got my own round of fun.  Taken to my own private room, they gave me the full one over.  When all was said and done, I made it to my gate and here I sit.  For the next several hours…

But don’t worry for me too much.  I got a great cappuccino, an authentic german pretzel (which was meh) and a couple of hours of T-Mobile Internet for the small cost of $22 (hella expensive).

Oh did I mention they are jamming, like blasting, Beyonce and David Guetta.  That’s pretty fabulous haha.

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The Amazon Kindle is Magic!

I would like to thank all those that provided me with tips on which books I should get for my mother for Christmas. Living in Saudi Arabia, getting American books can be a bit difficult at times.

My dad and I thought, what better gift than an Amazon Kindle to solve this problem?! With new latest version she will be able to use Wispernet, even in Saudi Arabia, to buy books, get the latest New York Times and sync her reads between her Kindle and perhaps her iPod Touch. Pretty amazing technology we have these days.

It’s this sort of ubiquitous wireless internet and background syncing that will prove to the victors of the future. It will form the backbone of future operating systems, from the desktop to the tablet to the phone. I’ve already setup something like this for myself, combining systems like Dropbox, MobileMe and SugarSync with my iPhone, laptops and iMac. Amazing to think of how far we were away from this technology just a few years ago.

Ah, but I digress, back to the Kindle.

I got lots of recommendations on how to properly give the Kindle as a gift and especially on recommendations for books based on my description of my mom through Twitter.

I loaded up the Kindle with four books and one audio book of my favorite audio books.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is one that I started while on the plane. You might think, wow, using the gift you’re giving your mother for your own?! Well, how else to make sure it works? Just like how she used to eat one of my candies or part of my dessert at a restaurant to “make sure it wasn’t poison.”

This book, recommended to me by @MaryMG, so far is just incredible. Within the first several pages I found my eyes tearing up. Didion has a sensational way of turning ordinary words into a phenomenal, emotionally rich story.

I can’t wait to read more of this book. Experiencing the Kindle has convinced me that it’s something I need to invest for myself. A slick eReader that makes reading more enjoyable and easy than I’ve ever known it to be.

Sure makes some twenty-four hours of travel more exciting, less annoying. And the girl in front of me who refuses to give me any legroom, your constant seat adjustments might keep me from watching any inflight movie or using my laptop but it certainly will not keep me from enjoying a good book!

Oh and for the complete reading list:

  • David Rackoff – Fraud (audiobook)
  • Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Malcolm Gladwell – What the Dog Saw: And Other Stories
  • Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Peter Mayle – French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew

The first three I strongly recommend. I”m about half way through The Year of Magical Thinking, I enjoyed Fraud when it came out a few years ago (anything David Rackoff does is worth a read or listen) and Malcolm Gladwell has never disappointed, really exited about his latest book, a compendium of his library of articles.


Mom absolutely loves her new Kindle and the book selection we (me and all my Twitter friends chose!)

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Phoebe’s Birthday

I’ve never known someone that could turn what would be an ordinary birthday into the multi-day even with the grace and poise of Phoebe (@fotofobe).  Twitter messages, text messages, Facebook events… It all built up to one hell of a birthday celebration.

From a night of drinking at McNally’s, to a fun birthday breakfast at Cafe Berlin (@cafeberlin) to managing to take advantage of every possible “free on your birthday” promotion to an amazing, FedEx’d cake from her mom.  What a fun birthday, even for those not turning a year older!
The highlights for me were the birthday breakfast at Cafe Berlin where they gave her a Birthday Bear pancake in leu of the usual Birthday Red Pepper and the cake her mom mailed to her.  Wow, it was delish!

I can’t wait for Phoebe’s next birthday celebration, I just might have to fly to wherever she is next year for the festivities.

What a fun birthday, even for those not turning a year older!

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In Case You Missed It 4

Moving my site from PiczarPhoto to the new address (www.justinmoorescott.com) and moving the pictures over (still a work in progress) has been a pretty big ordeal.  However, the new site has some really fun features and the navigation is much faster.  I hope you can get a chance to go over there and check out the newest pics.

This week alone I’ve uploaded around ten new pictures.  Ten pictures that never made it to PiczarPhoto!  These are new to everyone, even me to some degree.

Again, thanks for visiting, giving me feedback and being awesome.  It’s what keeps me taking pics and updating the site!  Oh, and last week I sold my first print.  It was such an awesome feeling.

Catch you around!

The Proposal

This trip to Raleigh to meet with my hopefully new client was a good one.  We presented our proposal to board members and it went off without a hitch.  We were all a little nervous that the projector wouldn’t work, that the computers might glitch up…  Just about anything could happen.

We arrived at the restaurant where we would later show of our presentation, set up the computers, screen and projector and just sat tight for a bit, going over the presentation one last time and making a few last minute changes.

The members arrived around 7:00 and I was pleased to meet them.  Most all of them were very familiar with my mother who has worked for them for about seven years.  She has since retired and it has kind of been up to me to take her place.

Big shoes to fill for sure.  It makes me the third generation in our family to work for this client and for the first time in over 15 years we have competition.

Our proposal detailed how we would take the client from print and television advertising and into the digital revolution utilizing sits and services like GoogleAds, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress Blogs and several other options including Twitter and Woopra.

This was almost all foreign to the board.  While a couple of board members have their own websites, most stopped at having an email address, which they may or may not know how to work.

Explaining each of the aspects of the proposal, even something with the name Really Simple Syndication (RSS) was anything but simple.

In the end I think they really dug the ideas we presented, mixing the usual print and television advertising with new media advertising.  Only time will tell.  It could be as soon as July 15 that we know where their votes are headed but as late as August.

Wish me luck!

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