Chill Out Y’all, it’s Just Instagram “Ruining” Itself Again

All this talk today about Instagram adding video and how that is going to ruin it reminded me of all the talk about Facebook acquiring Instagram and how that was going to ruin it. It didn’t just in case you were wondering. Also it reminds me of that Instagram added Android devices and how that was going to ruin it. Hell, remember when people remarked that Instagram changed some filters and how it was going to ruin it?

justex07 Justin Scott on Instagram

Let’s go over that again.

  • Did filter changes ruined Instagram? — No
  • Did adding Android ruin Instagram? — No
  • Did Facebook’s acquisition ruin Instagram? — No
  • Will the addition of video ruin Instagram? — No

Instagram adding video is not an Instagram decision. It isn’t about expanding features within the app answering a feature request from its 100 million users. It’s simply about Facebook’s continued battle with Twitter as the dominant social network.

Instagram-Is-Not-VineThey battled over acquiring Instagram, Twitter lost. Twitter births Vine as a response (6 seconds long video service, no filters) so Facebook’s natural response is to add video to Instagram (3 to 15 seconds long video with filters). This just a week after Facebook added hashtags, a Twitter staple, to their network. Don’t even get me started on URL shorteners, Google+ and “firehoses.” Continue reading

MetaWatch Strata, a Smart Watch for Nerds by Nerds

I’ve had the MetaWatch Strata for a few weeks now and thought it was about time that I share some thoughts on it. But first I’ll answer the question you’re probably asking, “What the heck is a ‘MetaWatch?'” It’s a smart watch, a watch that connected via bluetooth to your iOS or Android phone. “Oh so you mean a Pebble watch?” No. I mean a MetaWatch.

That is the MetaWatch I have, the Olympian Blue with Digital Camo Band. I’ve had mine for just under a month and I can confidently say that it has changed my life for the nerdier (and maybe even for the better).

MetaWatch was brought to life and into our lives via a successful Kickstarter campaign. It wasn’t quite as successful as the Pebble Watch campaign, not even close really, but it was a success none-the-less. In all honesty I don’t know why so many people got so excited about the Pebble. It got over $10,000,000 in Kickstarter funds and a second round of $15,000,000 after the campaign ended.

Pebble raised over $25,000,000 and yet they had issues getting them to customers. Meanwhile MetaWatch raised just over $300,000 and they were shipping to customers a month later. That’s impressive. Also the MetaWatch is both dorkier, cooler and just overall a better watch than the Pebble. I’ll never understand why Pebble won the money race. Continue reading

Fleksy is Revolutionizing How We Tap to Type

Recently I joined the co-working space WeWork here in SOMA San Francisco. I wrote a post on what inspired me to join a co-working space and what specifically brought me to WeWork over the competition, namely The Hatchery, NextSpace and PARISOMA. In that post I wrote how I wanted to start profiling the companies I find especially impressive that share this workspace with me and in particular, Syntellia, the team behind Fleksy.

Fleksy Logo

Ever dreamt of an auto-correct system powerful enough to work even when you don’t look at the screen? Enter, Fleksy… Featuring Syntellia’s patent pending technologies, Fleksy uses the familiar QWERTY layout, coupled with probably the most powerful text prediction engine out there.

After I wrote that post, Bill Rappos, UX Design at Syntellia, waved at me from his office (it’s literally on the mezzanine right in front of me) and came down to talk about Fleksy. That alone is reason enough to work in a space like WeWork! Let’s find out what Fleksy does and how it might revolutionize how you tap to type on your phone and tablet.

Fleksy KeyboardFleksy is a free software keyboard for mobile devices (currently a universal iOS app but Android is in beta) that uses an incredibly smart, predictive typing algorithm to assist in tapping out text on touchscreen devices. It’s so good that you can miss every letter and it will more than likely guess what you meant to type. This should not be confused with the sometimes hilariously wrong autocorrect found in the iPhone. Fleksy is so good, I was able to type the text above without even looking at the screen. Continue reading

Enter to win a ZAGGSparq 2.0!

Here’s some fun news! The people at ZAGG were kind enough to offer me five, yes FIVE, ZAGGSparq 2.0 units to give away! The ZAGGSparq 2.0 is one of the latest gadgets I reviewed and one that I absolutely love.

Win a ZaggSparq 2.0

You can check out the review here. To get the details read on. Continue reading

ZaggSparq 2.0 Review

Around a year ago, Ryan bought a Samsung Epic™ 4G Android phone which, at the time, was pretty much the coolest phone in town, at least on Sprint. He loved it for its bright screen, slide-out keyboard and 4G data speeds. That last part had even me jealous. My iPhone 4 was blown away by the data speed on the Epic 4G.

ZaggSparq 2.0
ZaggSparq 2.0

Problem was, the battery life on this phone was dreadful. It got to the point that his phone was only getting a few hours of standby power. Even with 4G turned off, and the supposedly incredibly efficient AMOLED screen, battery life was abismal. So when Zagg had a 50% off sale on just about everything on the site, I picked up a ZaggSparq 2.0. Continue reading

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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These Are Not the Droid (effects) You’re Looking For

Over the last few weeks, Verizon has subjected anyone in front of a television with some pretty interesting commercials.  Kind of… Clovererfield/Transformers-esque.

I’ll go ahead and post one here for your enjoyment.

And then of course, the original advertisement.  Anti-Apple much?  I’m definitely an Apple Fanboy at this point and you might expect that I would be pissed that Verizon would put out such a commercial.  Not really though because it seems to me that it’s about time Apple’s iPhone got some real competition and if that’s the Droid, then bring on the ads.

So there you go, Verizon + Motorola + Google Android = DROID = iPhone Killer.  Fantastic. Competition is good! Apple will again begin pushing the limits on what a phone can do.  Maybe go after those attacks about no flash, only 2mp camera, etc etc.  Meanwhile, since the DROID phone is so closely tied to  Verizon and the iPhone to AT&T, maybe we’ll see some benefits there too right?

AT&T has horrendous 3G coverage around the nation, especially when compared to Verizon.  That’s an obvious first step on AT&T’s part.  How about cost?  I pay my iPhone bill every month and every month I think… wow that’s a lot of money.  I bet with the DROID phone, Verizon will go after AT&T’s bottom line.  Make their DROID plans significantly cheaper than the iPhone.  Any amount over $10 is a dramatic difference, if they were $30 a month cheaper I might even be tempted to switch!  Better 3G coverage and cheaper monthly plans?!

Well, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan was wrong.  Competition doesn’t fuel the benefits he and other “Reaganomics” economists promised.  For the most part, the DROID cost of ownership is exactly the same as the iPhone with only one plan cheaper.  By how much? By a massive $0.01!

Chart created by Nicole Lee from

Wow that’s disappointing.  When you break down the differences in price which is only in the text message options, it becomes a total wash.  The DROID is cheaper for the small text message plan (250 vs 200 messages) but for the high end the iPhone is better (5000 vs unlimited).  Guess I’ll stick to my iPhone.

UPDATE: Turns out Verizon plans to charge $15/month for access to Exchange on the DROID, something A&T doesn’t charge for on the iPhone. So if you, like me, use Exchange on your phone, turns out the iPhone is $180 a year cheaper, $360 for the length of the contract which is around or more than than the price of getting out of your contract with either carrier!

Let’s get a bit political.  The Republicans are saying that natural competition between insurance companies will decrease the price of premiums and increase the availability of coverage.  Well, not so true as seen here.  When companies are in collusion with each other to keep prices at a certain point, they have no real reason to undercut the competition.  Ugh.

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