June 13, 2013
Start-Up Iceland Event Draws Iceland's President & Attracts American Thought Leaders
Hackathons are fairly common in Silicon Valley and while they're starting to pop up in pockets around the world, Iceland may not be a place that immediately comes to mind when you think of start-up geek fests.
Reykavik, Iceland's largest city and home to two thirds of its 320,000 people, recently held a Hackathon in conjunction with Start-Up Iceland, an event committed to helping local entrepreneurs build a thriving start-up ecosystem in the country.
Started by serial entrepreneur, angel investor and Greenqloud CEO Bala Kamallakharan in 2012, Start-Up Iceland has not only grown in size in just one year, but attracted top notch angel investors from the states, as well as European and American entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
TechCrunch's John Biggs presented, as did American venture capitalists Brad Burnham from Union Square Ventures and Foundry Group's Ryan McTyre and Jason Mendelson. To top that list, Iceland’s US Ambassador Luis E. Arreaga and the country's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson thought the event was important enough to show up to address the more than 300 attendees at the beautifully designed conference center HARPA in the city center.
In true start-up conference style, the event kicked off with an UnConference led by Joshua Kaufmann and a Hackathon, held at the University of Reykjavik, where geeks gathered together to cook up some innovative ideas.
The Hackathon was free and open to students, hobbyists, professionals and frankly anyone who likes to hack on cool code and be creative.
Startup Iceland Hackathon participants were asked to create and present hacks around the central idea that the world is undergoing drastic cultural, climate and economic shifts that impact global business.
As the founding organizers mission suggests: "Strengths lie not within avoiding catastrophe but in planning and mitigating problems before they arise. We can accomplish this by understanding the needs of the business community, anticipating the hurdles and creating proactive solutions." Well said.
Above, locals present their ideas to attendees and a panel of judges and below, Seattle Angel Conference's John Sechrest moderated a session.
Below the Hackathon finalists pose with American thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
Winners and finalists receive acknowledgement on stage.
The winner of the Hackathon was GreenQloud Automated Server Balancer, which is a collection of scripts that manage and change attributes to a GreenQloud hosted server depending on the load.
Simply put, when a user's server is idle, only one system is running. Once the load gets to a specific point, a new system is activated, which allows for consistant performance across the board without wasting so much power. Lower Power usage, lower wasted dosh.
While green energy may be enviromentally friendly, it's not unlimited, so their notion is that you should only use what you need. With their approach, you can efficiently waste the least amount of power with enough performance to do what you need.The team was awarded $1,000.
Below, Bala does a fireside chat style interview with Ryan and Jason from Foundry Group.
The UnConference presented a host of great ideas, which were far more varied than what you'd find in technology hubs in the United States, largely because many of the needs and problems that locals need to solve on a Nordic Island are unique.
Some of the ideas included angel investing in Icelandic start-ups, the role of big companies in the start-up ecosystem, women's role as investors, entrepreneurs and consumers, cultural barriers between those who have money and those who don't, the value of mentoring, bootstrapping, what can be gained from a Pan-Nordic collaboration, growing Icelandic tourism through better customer service, attracting talent to Iceland and the importance of having a start-up friendly government policy.
Kudos to the Start-Up Iceland team and everyone behind the scenes who made everything happen, from the Hackathon and UnConference, to the more formal Start-Up Event at HARPA, which included a VIP dinner and the President's speech.
I first heard Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson speak at PopTech, an annual event in Maine I've had the pleasure of attending and being involved in over the years. His presentation style is very warm and inviting and once again, he brought that quality to the stage. Below he gives a touching and inspiring talk to attendees.
The video of his talk below.
My takeaway went beyond the fact that Iceland now has a thriving and growing start-up community as demonstrated by Start-Up Iceland and the level of support for the event. Icelanders have resilience and dedication to making things work regardless of what is thrown their way.
Consider what the country went through in 2008 during their financial crisis and how as a nation, they came out the other side as committed and united, able to move forward with a team and “can-do” attitude, something every startup needs to not just survive but thrive.
The fact that Iceland is a small country can be used to their advantage. Icelanders help each other out, share and cross pollinate ideas and don't give up easily. Smaller communities in the U.S., such as Boulder and Portland also implement more of a sharing and caring mentality, something Silicon Valley could use a bit more of. As Foundry Group’s Jason Mendelson commented on a panel, “in Silicon Valley, it’s more like every man out for himself.”
We have a lot to learn from Icelanders and I felt fortunate to meet some of the early entrepreneurs who are helping to make Iceland grow and thrive as a global player in the entrepreneurial world.
March 21, 2013
Al Gore on the Environment, Healthcare, Guns & Democracy at #SXSW
I've met Al Gore a few times now over the years and have heard him speak about a dozen times, maybe more, particularly since he became so entrenched with technology while he was in office and after the fact. It should be no surprise that he was in full form at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year on the main stage in Austin in a fireside chat with WSJ's Walt Mossberg.
Those of us who know his agenda and his passion for climate change were waiting for him to dive full force into his 'green' agenda, which he did towards the end of his talk. They started with the digital revolution, appropriate given the "Southby audience." Print media are devastated he said, which is a very old discussion in the world of social media, where SXSW is the Queen Bee conference that takes such discussions to the next level...and this one started eight or so years ago.
That said, mainstream consumers in small towns are still reading newspapers and while they all may have a cell phone, they don't necessarily all use it to get their news. He refers to the 'now' economy as a 'stalker one,' where kids are even wearing 'chips' and being tracked by governments.
"I hope this stalker economy will create a gag reaction," he said. Gore suggests that we're seeing a shift in power that is bigger than what we've seen in 500 years. He also brought up Asia and how China will quickly surpass the U.S. as the largest economic power in the world.....because of that concentration and shift of power, 93% of extra income has gone to the 1% who are in power.
He added, "that's an economic fact," and then went onto say, "while our country is in serious trouble, it doesn't mean I'm not optimistic," but in order to take that power back, he suggested that "we as a country need to TAKE democracy back." Democracy as we know it he asserted, has been hacked. Said Gore, "Our OS (operating system) for the U.S. is our constitution."
He noted that earlier in this career when he was part of the 'system,' they'd spend about 1% of their time raising money versus the 5 or so hours a day today. While modern democracy has never been perfect, the will of the people did drive policy he believes. He said, "Congress is incapable of passing any reform of any significance unless its passed through special interest groups." Mossberg referenced Shapiro's The Last Great Senate at this juncture, reaffirming just how much has changed between the mid 1960s and the 2013 Congress of today. While the world knows about his hunger to educate the world about the negative impact of global warming, it's not as if Gore wasn't convicted and passionate about a number of other topics and issues, including healthcare and the NRA.
On healthcare, he reminded us that the federal government is the biggest purchaser of medicare and medicaid and if that's the case, then "why can't government negotiate like big corporates can to bring the costs down for American citizens?" That received a huge applause from the audience, no surprise given how many of us have been and continue to be screwed by insurance company premiums, wopping high deductibles and taxes. It would be impossible for guns not come up given the random and shocking killings this year in schools, small towns and beyond, and so when it did, Gore was not shy about how he felt. He scratched his head.
"C'mon, the NRA is a complete fraud. A lot of people belong to it, I used to belong. It is financed by the gun manufacturers and the organization has puppet strings. Same thing with the Smoker's Alliance." I wish they spent more time there frankly. On overall growth, Gore suggested that we should no longer use DGP as a guide for economic policy since it doesn't take externalities into account, like a negative one such as pollution or a positive one such as investment into a city in core areas such as mental health, music, culture, education, all of which counts as an 'expense,' not an investment. "They don't take into account future benefits of that investment in a city or region," said Gore. He threw out a few stats demonstrating just how far behind the U.S. is in so many areas including social and economic growth. He said, "We have worse upward social mobility than Tunisia and Egypt. Inequality is growing in the U.S. and so much of it is because our tax code is ridiculous." Hear hear Gore, go go go, not that these kinds of pep talks ever change anything back in Washington. People I know who were Middle Class are now in a struggling Working Class and those who were Working Class are either now working 100 hour weeks destroying their family life and health or on the streets.
And. then there's a wealthy Silicon Valley which seems to be numb and oblivious to how the rest of Americans actually live and think. I know - I live there. Gore asserted that we need to find ways to communicate with other and more effectively in a way that restores democracy.
"We need to TAKE BACK AMERICAN DEMOCRACY," he said firmly to a packed room in the main SXSW auditorium. And, since he couldn't wait to get to climate change, he finally migrated there but softly starting with garbage suggesting that we toss garbage into our 'country' as if its an open sewer, filling up the 'sewer' of gaseous unhealthy waste that is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
With 53% of the country in drought, he also suggested that this shift we've been seeing is also related to global warming. Like garbage, like open sewers, like car fumes and everything else we've leaked into this environment without a care for the consequences, he threw out another alarming stat: we've seen $110 billion in climate disasters alone.
On the upside, he claimed that the investment in solar and wind is rising and the more we invest here and use it, the cheaper it will become, making it more inexpensive for us to rely on solar than coal, gas and oil over time. In order to get there however, he said that we need to reverse organizations, not people. Yes, organizations AND government Al.
Photos by Renee Blodgett.
March 05, 2013
TEDActive 2013: Bubble Guns & Global Conversations on Lawns & Haystacks
As a long time TEDster, I had never been to its offshoot, an event that happens simultaneously every year called TedActive. It's essentially TED, but less expensive and less bells and whistles.
Since it is held a couple of hours from the main event, the speakers are obviously not on-site, however you do experience them through a satellite feed, which includes views of the audience, the main stage and the impact the speakers have on that audience in real time.
For years, TED has something called the 'simulcast' room, which is where you can view the talks in a separate room on a 'screen' not far from the main room.
Why some people love hanging out in the 'simulcast room' rather than the main room is that it allows them to quietly chat in the back, or type away on their keyboard if they have work to get done.
OR, if you're an A++ type who is simply too digitally connected to sit still with nothing but an old fashioned notebook among 1,000 of your "closest" friends, simulcast is the way to go.
All of TEDActive is a bit like that, except that the main room resembles TED's main simulcast room and TEDActive's additional simulcast rooms, which are even more casual, feel like a cross between a silent and creative experiment at a progressive university and an adult's playground.
In some of the rooms, there were tables with paper cut outs and magic markers if you wanted to jot down your ideas in "color" using "scraps". This year, they also had a 'banana' theme and while I still don't know what was behind it, it was oddly amusing to continuously bump into two guys who didn't know each other, yet both of their lives depended on bananas.
From bananas and spirited drinks to cut outs and designs, we moved to species and the Internet in a nano-second.
An idea was thrown out there by four respected illumaries in different fields: Diana Reiss, Peter Gabriel, Neil Gershefeld and Vint Cerf. The question was: could the internet also connect us with dolphins, apes, elephants and other highly intelligent species?
In a bold talk, the four of them came together to launch the idea of the interspecies Internet.
There was a 'creative' lab' where Andy Cavatorta set up an exhibit that combined technology, robotics and music.
In that same space, a few of us were inspired to get creative at two am, not long after a martini sipping session where we ate blueberries with M&M's and talked science fiction to young MIT types.
Did I mention that I'm a sucker for fur vests, colored lights and 3D science fiction glasses? And in case you're wondering, yes we were posing.
There was creative energy at the final pool party as well, which included wild hats, squirt guns, funky pants, and bananas of course, all set on a whole lotta grass against a beautiful mountainous desert in a place called LaQuinta you may never have heard of unless a TED Conference happened to be breezing through. Here we consumed some R&R, sunscreen and bubbly whatever.
Speaking of grass, we also had a little lawn time with TED 2013 Prize Winner Sugata Mitra. Known for his work in education research, Mitra won $1 million TED Prize to build his School in the Cloud.
He invited the world to embrace child-driven learning by setting up something he refers to as Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) and asked the TED audience for help designing a learning lab in India, where children can “embark on intellectual adventures.”
While people were expanding their creative "juices" in whatever way they could, creative "things" were in place at the lab for people to play with and take in...
Below is a fabulous woman I met by the "so done right" coffee and tea bar set up in an area called the Quad, where we gathered on haystacks and picnic tables for lunch most days. She 'wore' her commitment to eco-living and seemed to have a different name each day. If I recall, she was Cool Carol the day we exchanged TEDities.
One of the things I loved about TedActive was its combination of youthful and international energy. Below, I'm with the curator of TEDx Bordeaux Emmanuelle Roques.
With 72 countries on-site, I had 'curious' conversations, all of which had global perspectives, with folks from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, England, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, China, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Malta, Lebanon, Palestine, UAE, Turkey, Germany, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Israel, Belgium and Uganda.
And, those are only the ones that immediately popped into my head without diving into my business cards or the TED mobile app.
If that's not your thing, then the Active experience is a more laid back way to experience TED where you can still stretch your brain, discover new ideas, be inspired, get your creative juices flowing, get off the grid for five days and have 'unique' conversations that make you think differently, then give it a shot.
Personally, there is always someone I know on the main TED stage every year, often more than one, and many more people I have known, worked, played and cried with for years attend the main event. The other thing you're more likely to get at the main TED event is an overdose of "intellectual high."
Comedian Julia Sweeney had the audience in stitches as she made references to her peeps, you know, the Nobel Prize Winners, Scientists, Authors & Inventors that were part (so not) of her everyday world from TED.
Accolades and titles aside, I've never been one for labels and titles: none of them -- celeb labels, CEO labels, soup labels, hair product labels or shoe labels.
Whether you're into them or not, labels and titles are in abundance at TED, all there to expand their mind, gather new ideas, and many later find a way to contribute to something they were exposed to at the event. I must admit, if I were only a little more "label, title and accolade savvy", it would certainly make the Oscars easier to understand.
While we're on the topic of labels and great design, I'd be remiss if I didn't include a shot of some of Yu Jordy Fu's fabulous design work. I found her fascinating.
Later, a random encounter led to an interview with Upstart Business Journal's Teresa Novellino, a TED virgin, over lunch. See her article here, which takes an entrepreneurship angle. I wouldn't call myself a groupie, but I am most certainly a fan of what TED represents: spreading great ideas, innovation, inspiration and helping the world become a better place through a collective effort.
I'm also a huge fan of the in the between stuff that happens before and after all the organized formalities that events "do," to throw people together. When there's space and time and the 'tossing' is cast aside, real magic happens. Incredible dialogues happen. Life changing observations form. Relationships emerge. New initiatives are created.
And, as a result, 'collective' conversations away from your 'collective' and 'individual' conversations in your daily worlds, make you think about the world differently.
In that moment, an idea sizzles, or more importantly, an old way of thinking gets shattered which brings me to an oldie but a goodie, one of my favorite Helen Keller quotes:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one opening before us." -Helen Keller
Conversations like these remind you that there are always opportunities in front of us but so often, we're asleep and miss the silent intro.
I had another observation from hanging out with such a 'global 'tribe' over the course of five days. The early American "drive" seems to be getting replaced by more of a laissez faire attitude that no longer induces self ignition. See my write-up on Rescue America, a book released last year by Chris Salamone, that fixates on this shift.
Full of historical and philosophical references, he creates clear and specific connections between the loss of our founding values and the current challenges facing our nation. What is necessary, he suggests, is a fundamental shift back toward a national embodiment of the three primary leadership qualities that sustain all lasting human institutions: gratitude, personal responsibility, and sacrifice.
What I noticed at TedActive was how many people showed up from other parts of the world embracing all three.
The notion that the "west" knows how to lead is something Americans do incredibly well. Many are good at doing it and even more are really good at giving the perception that they're good at doing it. My grandparents and parents generations learned that there were less boundaries than the countries they left behind, and were taught that hard work and education pays off.
In other parts of the world, boundaries are overcome through great sacrifice and taking personal responsibility to change the status quo, which can come in the form of political oppression, rapes that are brushed under the table, or worse.
TED speakers and attendees from other parts of the world are great examples of where and how they embrace gratitude, personal responsibility and sacrifice in their daily lives.
Take a look at this year's Yu Jordy Fu, who is not afraid to push boundaries, incorporating "raw beauty" and "love" into her design, art and architecture.
OR, how violinist Ji-Hae Park uses her music to reach people’s hearts. "There are no boundaries,” says Ji-Hae Park on the TED2013 stage. While TED may be a lofty place to perform, she also plays at prisons, hospitals and restricted facilities. She talks about her time when she was depressed and how changing your perspective through music transformed how she viewed music but life itself.
OR, how Lakshmy Pratury with tears in her eyes, talked about the importance of keeping the Delhi rape alive, also reminding us that theres a new kind of revolution happening in India where the youth is breaking down the concept of a leader.
OR, how Hyeonseo Lee made sacrifices to get her family out of North Korea. As a woman who saw her first public execution at age 7, she endured a famine in the 1990s, one which killing an estimated million people. At the time, she didn’t have the frame of reference to understand the government repression going on around her but was later caught by the Chinese police.
Someone had accused her of being North Korean, and she was subjected to brutal tests of her ability to speak Chinese. Every year, countless North Koreans are caught in China, sent back, tortured, imprisoned, publicly executed, and now she is in Long Beach talking to thousands of people who can make a difference with their voices, blogs, connections, social media call outs and their wallets.
Then, there's the Ugandan artist & teacher Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire, who I hung out with at TedActive. He became the first City 2.0 Award recipient of 2012 in Doha Qatar, at the TEDxSummit, which I attended last April.
Tusingwire's big idea is to use waste materials to create a movable amusement park for children living in slums of Kampala.
He is using his award to grow his community, grow an woman eco-artist loan program already supporting 15 women to develop their business ideas, and expand the amusement park from a single plane-shaped sculpture made of recycled plastic bottles into a permanent park. I loved his energy, not to mention his visible sense of sacrifice, personal responsibility and gratitude.
A few of my tweets from the week:
- Humans have made a huge hole in nature! We CAN bring back species we have killed &must repair the damage says Stewart Brand@longnow #TED2013
- .@rodneyabrooks shows off his latest #robot Baxter on the #TEDstage - http://ow.ly/i/1Ayqz #robotics #factories #China #education
- .@bonovox_ shares updates from his activist work & latest #HIVstats:Child mortality down w/7256 kids being saved each day#health #TED2013
- #Education is not about filling buckets, it's about lighting fires says Stuart Firestein! http://ow.ly/i/1ABun #TED2013 #TedActive
- Edith Widder shows #squid video: We've only explored 5% of our#oceans! http://ow.ly/i4Scx + http://ow.ly/i/1ABE1 #TED2013 #TedActive
- Brazilian @SalgadoSebasti shows his strongest B/W images at#TED2013 http://ow.ly/i/1ABSF #photography #rainforests #TedActive#eco
- Cities are living systems but #technology has always been part of "the city" asserts @SaskiaSassen at #TED2013 - #TedActive
- #Kenyan Richard Turere (13 yr old inventor) & LionLights 2save his familys cattle on TED2013 stage 2day http://bit.ly/KybBhL #TedActive
- Its not about making learning happen,its about letting it happen@sugatamitra who subscribes2 self organizing learning #educator#TED2013
- Creative ideas from @ideasandaction @mabuzeinab@justwardah @tedxyouthTbird in #PalmSprings this AM:http://ow.ly/i/1AW5L #TED2013
- Bowmaker @dongwooJANG uses bows 2explore his cultural heritage & create a metaphor for his perfect world #TED2013#TEDActive #design #Korea
- #Music is what restored my soul, changed my perspective & set me free says #violinist. Let music #heal your heart says Ji-Hai Park#TED2013
- Martin Villeneuve aka #MarsEtAvril designs the instruments inspired by a woman's body & the #photographer they both love. #TED2013
Another interesting international 'observation' was what was absent and what was wasn't. A latin band played on one of the nights and I was astonished that my partners on the dance floor were not Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean or Peruvian, but German, French, Middle Eastern and Italian.
In fact, the Best Dancer Award for TEDActive from a 'partner perspective' goes to Mohammed Abu Zeinab from Qatar who is apparently half Palestinian and half Lebanese. Go figure...and he rocked it to Latin music of all things.
P.S. he even wore funky clothing the rest of the week.
TED reminds you that nothing in your world is really aligned the way you 'think it should be.'
It made me wonder what Wallace Stegner, Oscar Wilde, Tolstoy and Doris Lessing would make of TED talks. Would they be overwhelmed? Would they be able to make sense of the over digitized, over connected world we have created?
Someone who can make sense of it is AutoDesk's Jonathan Knowles who showed up for half of TedActive, wearing fabulous, fun and bright colored socks.
Having just migrated from PC to Mac, I was somewhat sad and somewhat ecstatic that our conversation would end up being largely tech support in nature. Two hours later, I was fully equipped with Mac tricks and tips, though I'm still far less efficient on a Mac than I was on my old trusty Lenovo.
I couldn't help but get a chuckle over one of his tweets shortly after he arrive in Palm Springs.
Lunch at #TED2013 versus Lunch at #TEDActive #maybeExaggerateAbit: pic.twitter.com/IV3PoVIG8J
Although excessive, I must admit, we did in fact have a lawn party with picnic baskets, sandwiches and cookies in 80 degree sunshine, the last time we'll likely do such a thing given that TED's new location is in Canadian Vancouver and Whistler next year.
Occasionally, you hang out with people you know and work with: below with Andrew Carton of HAPILABS.
And as always, they had a TED gift bag, which was a backpack made by Target this year. I went for the Explorer bag, which seemed appropriate given that one of my many hats is a travel editor. This of course included a stuffed elephant from World Wildlife Fund, which I named Gambia, and a gift card from Inventables (thx Zach), among umpteen other things. My pals over at TripIt also included a free year subscription and there was a GoToob Bottle from HumanGear I couldn't quite make sense of since the top didn't seem to stay on, which is a disaster for a traveler.
On the last night of TED, I headed back to Long Beach to have drinks and dinner with old friends and musician Amanda Palmer who performed this year, showed up and shared a few tunes with our intimate group, something which has become tradition for as long as I can remember. (the dinner part, not the Amanda part)
And at the end of the evening, there's always room for a little girl bonding or whatever it is we do that makes us feel feminine and human and connected and just fabulous being together. Below: former TEDPrize winner Jehane Noujaim, who is working on The Square, a film about the Egyptian Revolution, Amanda Palmer, Lakshmi Pratury, Renee Blodgett and Amy Robinson.
International flavors came out once again as Reggie Watts killed it on stage at the end of Ted Active with new sounds I hadn't heard before from him. I remain a fan!
Suddenly I found myself lifted up into the crowd and then over it, my body being passed from hands to hands....a remarkable experience especially when you realize that each set of hands are likely from a different continent.
How cool I thought as I looked beyond the crowds below me as people bumped together, swaying to the hypnotic music that extended beyond us into the lofty palms that give Palm Springs its name.
Behind me were the non-swayers sipping drinks and networking in their respective courtyard corners. In the foreground, I spotted Jill Sobule not far from the stage, and then there was Reggie performing in all his eclectic glory, surrounded by a fusion of pinks and hazy midnight hues and I wondered for a moment if it was all just a dream.
Also see some of my individual blog posts from TED 2013 this year, including:
- Four Ted Speakers Who Appeal To Our Sensory Selves
- TED2013 Prize Winner Sugata Mitra's Wish for Education: "School in the Cloud"
- Ugandan Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire Empowers & Engages Children Through PLAY
- Jordy Fu, Creator & Artist: Create Love Through Design
- Brazilian Photographer Sebastiao Salgado Shares His Story at TED2013
- Rad Hip Gardener Ron Finley Wants to Greenify Inner City Neighborhoods
- Saskia Sassen on the Value of Imperfect & Incomplete Cities at TED2013
- Inspiration at TED2013: From Music & Healing to Endangered Species & Mobile Electric Vehicles
- Dan Pallotta: Think About a Charity's Deams, Not Their Overhead
Photo Credits: All visibly on-stage photos of speakers from the Ted Blog, the shot of Renee and Emmanuelle taken by Teresa Novellino, Yu Jordy Fu with her artwork shot from her site, all other shots by Renee Blodgett.
February 21, 2013
Windows vs Mac: Step Out of Your Tribe & Call It What It Is
Of course you have, probably more often than you care to because the market or the media put the pressure on and next thing you know, you're on a new version, a new platform, a new operating system all with new chargers, new software and new rules and behaviors and JUST when you thought you were actually becoming productive. My early write-up on the transition barely touches the iceberg.
In my most recent laptop research, I learned that I would have to pay more to stay on Windows 7 in a new laptop environment than if I went for Windows 8, while tried and 'true' in some early reviewer's eyes, I didn't think I should be forced 'into' a new platform before I was ready and certainly not have to pay more for an older version than a newer one. Where does that apply elsewhere in life? Isn't that sending a reinforcing message to its users? (translation: force is used when love isn't already there to takes its place).
What happened to let the product speak for itself and if the newer version shines which ultimately it should if they did their job right, people will pay more to upgrade?
Bottom line: don't force customers to an environment they don't 'choose', particularly your loyal long-term users. The other culprets who don't get this: legacy-minded companies Verizon and Comcast. Can you imagine Zappos, Dell or Virgin forcing such atrocities on its users?
Forward wind the clock six weeks. I was about to bite the bullet and go for the latest Lenovo, where frankly I've been happy 2x over when I got persuaded to go Mac by a friend who I wouldn't classify as a typical Apple fan boy.
Truth be told. I'm a creative. I'm an artist. I may be a visionary in how I look at business and my client's business and portfolio, but at the end of the day, how I think of the world and respect "it" is through an artist's eyes.
And so, getting pressure from major CEO pals who run start-ups, VC firms and beyond, I thought, t'is time (aka isn't it F-G time?) I migrated to a Mac like so many others in the world of which I subscribe (the one where entrepreneurship meets creativity and the arts?) After all Renee, didn't Herbie Hancock and Gregory Hines (both part of the Apple's evangelism program at the time) tell you insistently 15 years ago to get on a F-G mac within a month of knowing you and how you think?
This part is true: I THINK like a Mac, but I WORK like a PC. In other words, my ideas are MAC-like and my productivity and efficiency are PC-like.
While it's never been truer that I AM an artist, I am a creative and I FEEL the world more than I program it, which ultimately makes me more a Mac user than a PC one, what's even truer, is that I'm obsessed with efficiency and "getting shit done."
I'm in multi-tasking mode constantly. It's true that I've balanced a checkbook, taken two calls, and closed a mega deal in my CAR all at the same time. A lot of entrepreneurs have also done the same and done so, more than once.
It's also true that I've been known to carry on a very 'present conversation' with someone over a four hour period and while on the phone, also worked out, painted a hallway, done the dishes and the laundry and watered my garden. As long as I stay away from a screen that demands my brain and attention, frankly I can multi-task in a way that serves, not deters.
As soon as a screen is involved, I am in conflict with "continuous partial attention" (see Linda Stone's work in this area: she really gets it....I wish more people did).
What's scary is when I googled an image for the term, a photo of me came up in the top ten.
And while the above image may tell part of the story, the below image of three friends together for an evening out who are likely not 'truly' present with each other or with anything on their mobile device screens either, depicts a truer story.
In the midst of my PC to Mac conversion, my gut said DO NOT DO THIS! A handful of people who knew me well also said DO NOT DO THIS. Someone I dated for all of 3 months but 'understood' the way I processed the world (mostly because he processed information the same way) said DO NOT DO THIS. Later, I earned that the President of my new company processed information exactly the way I do.
When he made the PC to Mac converation, he spoke of three years of hell after migrating to a Mac world as a heavy Outlook user and how things still aren't efficient and don't work for him.
Nearly two weeks later and more hours and lost productivity time than I care to share, I learn that there are ALL sorts of limitations for the Mac Outlook user. Here's my point.
For the Mac Fan Boys:
1. I like my MacBookPro. In other words, I get the value-add. It's clean, the icons are pretty, it's got a helluva brand, the operating system is more secure and it's damn easy to search for anything using a simple button click.
2. Mobile: my iPhone is awesome. While I miss my Blackberry from time-to-time because I churn out SO much email, texts, tweets and more, the more visual and navigational screen on an iPhone makes my life more interesting and efficient because 'search' outweights text over the long haul. Bottom line: it's a mobile world where I don't need to be as efficient pr as fast as I do on my desktop. On my desktop, if I don't become insanely more efficient because of an app or a process (the words insanely efficient are important), then there's no reason to 'go there.'
3. Visual Ecstasy: Your bottom of the screen icons are pretty. As a visual snob, I GET the appeal. It's pretty, you're pretty and your simplicity is addictive.
4. Photography: as a photographer addict, I've migrated over to Lightroom and Photoshop in a Mac environment. I'm told that some of the cluginess that I dealt with in Outlook for the Mac will dissipate in my all Mac environment. In other words, Adobe loves Mac mroe than the PC and just performs better there evne though it supports both. GREAT knowledge to know when you're considering the facts and both sides.
THE QUESTION IS: Who Are You?
When people ask me about Canon versus Nikon or Apple versus Mac or iPhone versus Android or Window or Hulu versus blah blah blah, isn't the real question always: who are you and how do you spend your time? What do you care most about?
Sorry folks but as much as I AM a creative and an artist, and I GET and appreciate Apple in so many ways (see my Steve Jobs obit write-up), HOW I primarily spend my time is getting shit done. I do that primarily through:
3. Photoshop and Lightroom
4. Groupmail (A Dublin-based company who doesn't yet support the Mac but I love their app, their team and how they think)
5. Filemaker (I have been loyal to them for years and there's a reason for it)
And sure, Microsoft Word and Excel are a close 6 and 7 and there are a zillion apps that follow. SnagIt rocks and I can't say enough great things about it but I can use SnagIt on a PC and a Mac and there's no glitch on either OS, although frankly I prefer their UI on the PC. Why? It's more efficient!
I wish my professional world looked more like this:
And, while it doesn't resemble this sad image as an hourly existence, my career centers around deadlines, stress and fast turnaround more than it does a serene four hour work day on the grass or the beach.
If you're a power user, which I am:
1. Outlook for the Mac restricts the SIZE of your PSTs or whatever the hell they call PSTs in a Mac environment. While I'm on the most powerful MacBookPro you can buy including the top of the line solid state drive, with an extra 750 gig drive to boot, sub 1 terabyte horsepower. I also went with RAM of 16 versus a sad 4 in my old Lenovo which albeit slow, was able to handle Outlook more efficiency (by a lot) than this mega MacBookPro that I spent a fortune upgrading to.
I also learned that there are other restrictions. Not only does it handle power sized files poorly, but you can't do some of the most basic functions a power user needs to do -- regularly such as file emails in folders and subfolders. A friend of mine is still suffering from this after his PC to Mac Outlook migration three years later.
I didn't want to do a post like this because frankly someone might lump me into a PC or a Mac camp or none of the above (a naysayer and just bitter about technology), which is so unfair.
I expect that as the years go by (have been in this industry for 25 years now), I would become more efficient not less, happier, not less so, more integrated, not less, more organized, not less so (do you konw that you can't integrate mailboxes from several emails in a Mac environment unless they're all on IMAP and even then, it's clugy). In a PC environment, it works and has done so flawlessly for me for 10+ years. I expect smart curation and smart organization - technology that helps automate me not the other way around.
I'm forced onto Google Docs because the industry says I MUST. I had a client give me a wink and a bravo that I responded to something in Google Docs recently saying "Renee is finally on Google Docs." Really?
I've been on it for years but frankly I don't choose to use it as my default because I don't find that it makes me more efficient. I'm sorry, call me a naysayer, but bottom line, EVERY decision for me comes back to more efficient. If the system, process, app, mobile device or platform doesn't make me more efficient, why go there?
I want less time away from my PC or Mac, not more. I want to be less tethered, yet more connected and more efficient. Moving into 2013, shouldn't we be thinking about THIS GOAL as away to improve our productivity so we ultimately improve our lives and how we spend it? Remember the visual?
Think about it Apple fan boys and Microsoft addicts: if a solution doesn't allow you to spend MORE time with your kids, loved ones and friends, then why sign up? VCs, please, the same question applies given the kinds of things you invest in and don't.
While I love my iPhone and even though I SO get Blackberry addicts, I realized I navigate the web more than I thought and therefore the iPhone wins in the end despite the insane number of texts and tweets I do on a mobile device. That said, the same case CANNOT be made for email.
Email needs to be efficient and while some people may argue and complain and go to great lengths ditching Outlook, it has worked solidly for me for over a decade.
Sure, it crashes occasionally (not as much as Mac has in a 7 day period) and sure, it's not always as fast as I want it to be (it's faster than other email programs I have used or server-based email) over the long haul.
Bottom Line: if you're a power user (I had over 90 gigs of Outlook data that was originally brought over to the Mac - and did NOT work), STAY in a PC environment, one which supports productivity addicts. These are the folks, like me, who find productivity and efficiency their life blood even above and beyond simple search, beautiful icons and tighter security.
I USE FOLDERS. And I use them a lot.
I CARE ABOUT ORGANIZATION and it needs to be micro-managed. I'm sorry but I deal with countless entities, companies, non-profits, organizations, conferences, events and individuals (for the latter, I have about 30 categories. You?)
I need simple drag and drop into folders, from and to and I don't want to think about rules or objections. I need it to work and I need it to work FAST.
I am a data hog. If you have a lot of files: megafiles and subfiles, then don't go to Mac, at least not if you're coming from Outlook. There may be other viable options for you if you start native on a Mac, but bottom line, tell your IT guy HOW you spend your time and how you spend MOST of it.
Sure, I love my time in Photoshop and Lightroom and frankly, will likely find that I'll be better off on the Mac moving forward than in my PC environment. Photography is fun for me and while I do spend a lot of time on it, it doesn't make or break my business. Email does. Welcome to my life!
So, Apple fan boys, as much as you may be in love, call it what and like it is. If someone is a power user and needs to process the kind of VOLUME I do, which I'm told is the level of a head of sales for a large enterprise company and maybe more, Mac ain't your best friend.
If you need efficiency, power, support, integration and beyond, Microsoft and Outlook is still a more viable option. While my friend keeps repeating like a broken record, "it's not the Mac," my argument still sits: I'm ON a MAC, aren't I? One that is almost 10x faster than my six year old Lenovo and yet the environment where I spent 95% of my time (Outlook) performed BETTER and FASTER there than it does on my Mac.
The only difference is that I'm on a Mac and one that is 10x faster at that.
So while you want want to argue that it isn't the hardware and the hardware may be a fast purring leopard-like machine, I don't FEEL or EXPERIENCE that if I spend 95% of my time in Outlook, where Mac performs pretty badly compared to my old thinkpad that is on its way out.
If you're running a business (Sorry, but I do) if you're not ONLY thinking about productivity and efficiency, then can we please stop the conversation now? I don't have the time to talk icons, pretty pictures, search and image as much as they all matter to me.
I need to get shit done and SO, after an entire week LOST (and I mean LOST), my Outlook is now set up an older version of Outlook on the PC side of my Pac via Parallels and once again, it's running and my business is no longer DOWN.
As much as you've pained me over the years, thank you Microsoft. I'm more efficient in your world.
While it's not over yet, and I remain inefficient in the Mac world, there are some tools and people behind the tools who have made sure I didn't jump of a roof in frustration:
- Doug Free and his team at Microsoft for commitment to old fashioned PR as we knew it and looking after me, Microsoft's Technical Support Team which surrpised me 3x in a row (they did an amazing job, including Ryan in Seattle who isn't on staff but deserves a raise)
- John Uppendahl and David Spackman at Parallels. John convinced me to move to Mac because I could still have my Windows fix if I needed to (I never knew how important this would be: I have learned so much through both of them, including tips on how to be efficient in both worlds)
- Ken Eddings from Apple who helped me decide which MacBook would work best for me also in some insane hour when no one should be working (can you give this man a raise already - he SO deserves it. Really guys - open your eyes to what kind of employee he really is).
- The Twitter team at @MicrosoftHelps who responded the best they could although it was a much more complex situation. Oddly @Outlook didn't respond at all and my main issue was with them. As much as I'm an Outlook addict and 10+ year user, they're obviously NOT on the #socialmedia bandwagon. C'mon guys, get with the program.
- Adobe: they've been great despite my cries and agony. These guys clearly care and their team have gone to great lengths to ensure I'm ultra happy with Photoshop and more importantly, Lightroom, which remains my "bible" for photo editing. They dealt with my stress levels and venting with grace and I remain a fan.
Image credits: vendor websites, Amazon & Get stuff done image: Wikivillage.
February 18, 2013
Filemaker & Filemaker GO, Great Solutions for Mobile Warriors on the Move
Most people I know either live in an enterprise world or a start-up world, so when you talk about contact management and databases, they're either on SalesForce or Oracle or they simply use Outlook or MacBook iContacts. Sure, there are plenty of CRM systems that cater to the smaller business owner but they're not as widely used as the larger, more expensive corporate tools and when most of what we need is built into our OS or Office for free, why bother?
I've been a Filemaker fan for awhile now, so long ago I recall first using it in the nineties in a Mac environment, at a time when Macs only came as fat boxes, not notebooks.
Filemaker has so much more functionality that meets the eye. The downside of more traditional databases is that there are all sorts of mapping rules that you need to abide by or your data gets lost or simply doesn't come over. The upside is the depth and breadth of what you can do.
With FileMaker Pro, you can literally drag-and-drop Excel data into FileMaker Pro to get your data over and manipulate from there, or you can get a l'il more techy and build a custom database for your unique needs, including mobile templates.
I created one for my iPhone 5 in about an hour with a little tech help; once you get going, you can change fields and colors on the fly within minutes for the desktop or mobile environment. BTW, they have basic "starter" custom templates if you choose not to build your own, but if you have fields that are personalized for your business, why not go the custom route and create something for your specific needs? remember, you only need to do it once.
For the traveler on the go, Filemaker's iPhone app is ideal. Free to download, you can view any of your data from your Filemaker database on your mobile phone. Whille I don't need some of the more complex business features that Filemaker GO offers on a regular basis, if you're in sales and marketing or a business owner, you can use the app to tackle any business task on your iPad or iPhone. You can go quite deep if you wanted to, such as the ability to display current inventory levels from a warehouse with colorful, eye-catching charts on your mobile phone.
You can even update your project status by sending Excel files or PDFs in a few taps, close sales deals on the road by instantly capturing digital signatures, collect research data in the field by recording video and audio and adding the files directly to your database. And how cool is this ? In the medical world, docs can even swipe through medical records in the emergency room. In other words, the database offers more in-depth capabilities and features than initially meets the eye.
You can connect to databases hosted on the Filemaker Server or Filemaker Pro via a local wireless network or over Wi-Fi or 3G. All changes are instantly updated in the hosted file. This makes it easy to share information with others you wan tto share information with when on the road while traveling or as a small business with your team.
With Filemaker's latest version, you can also publish your databases to the web in a few clicks. You can share that database with others on your team via the web, create surveys, registration sites, customer feedback forms, and more.
I remain a huge fan of Filemaker on the desktop (Mac or Windows - have tried them both). What's great is how flexible and platform compatible they are - Mac, Windows and Mobile. I run Parallels on a MacBookPro and can launch a file in either environment without a compatibility glitch. Even cooler is their iPhone app which allows me to access not just the data but all the information that is mapped to it via its complex or simple fields (depending on how you set it up), all while I'm on the road.
Their tech support ACES it too btw. They went the extra mile to make sure that I didn't just understand the features, but how to customize my fields and use Filemaker GO flawlessly from both my Mac and Windows environments.
January 24, 2013
My Top 12 Picks for CES 2013: From Speakers & Robots to Accessories & Backpacks
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month was once again a flurry of new products and as always, I felt as if I was constantly surrounded by pitches of TV flat screens, new speaker designs, casing, docking stations, chargers, dancing robots, iPhone accessories, surround sound substitutes, and more. What stood out was the increasing number of vendors participating in the Digital Health pavilion this year.
Clearly, the marriage of technology and health is increasing at alarming speeds, with products and solutions aimed at helping consumers take charge of their health by collecting and analyzing their own personal data, something that wasn't available to us even ten years ago.
It was no surprise that Fitbit won a Best of CES award, a product which tracks your fitness and has been on the market for awhile now. It's inevitable that the health and wellness category is primed to explode in the coming year.
As for other categories? Sure, I'm a geek, but I'm a female geek who loves great design and rich colors. I'm always a sucker for products in luscious colors - the problem with so many of these products is that they're created and designed by men, so often our choices are limited to neon green, bright girly blues and pinks, or red, black and white.
If women designers were behind more products, I'd imagine we might actually see a high end stereo system in an eggplant purple, burgundy or an olive green, something that wouldn't clash with our sofas, curtains and painted walls. I spoke to four speaker companies about this conflict and guess what? Weaving a color design into a living room hadn't even occurred to them.
As a traveler and writer, most of my top picks were focused on products that would be useful for the mobile warrior, often lightweight, reasonably priced and compact.
Degauss Labs Earphones
The SPKRS Series is a line of earphones by Degauss Labs that is focused on top notch sound quality. They tout that the bass is amazing (I haven't received them yet but did see them purr on the show floor). In its price range, SPKRS are durable and comfortable.The all aluminum housing absorbs vibrations and preserves the sound quality. The housing is coated with a special technique making the housing as matte and clean looking as the rest of the earphone, rarely found on metal housed earphones. They feature an enhanced acoustic design that helps music sound smoother.
SPKRS comes in a variety of carefully selected AND fun colors. SPKRS is UNIVERSAL and works with Apple iPhone, and the latest version of Android phones from Samsung, HTC and Sony. Windows phone by Nokia is also supported.
Ranipak Backpacks & iPad Cases
I loved the slick design of Ranipak's new Y.U.M.C. Series. Great for travelers on the go, there are tons of pockets and great colors (particularly liked the eggplant).
All products are done in a great European design with a global appeal.
HyperJuice External Batteries
One of the funkiest designed products I accidentally came across were the HyperJuice external batteries for Apple MacBook, iPhone, iPad, iPod and USB products. Behind the products is Sanho Designs, which design, manufacture and market IT accessories with a focus on Apple accessories, portable power and storage.
Their product brands include: HyperJuice - External batteries for Apple MacBook, iPhone, iPad, iPod, USB products, HyperDrive - Portable digital data storage products for Apple devices, digital cameras, memory cards, HyperShield - Cases, stylus pens and other accessories for Apple devices, and HyperThin - World's thinnest most flexible HDMI cables.
For travelers, their products are a Godsend, particularly for those who carry more than one digital product with them like me. Let's just say I can't wait to test out the HyperJuice Mini, Micro and PLUG and I have a feeling, I'll be a prolific user. The company also is smart about design...and they offer a number of rich and fun colors.
SwitchEasy offers some stylin' products for the iPad and iPhone as well as great compact keyboards, ideal for the digital traveler. They offer iPad cases and iPod Touch cases in a number of designs and rich colors.
Their mission is to provide more reasons for PC users to "Switch" to a better digital lifestyle through our innovative little add-ons.
See below for the Safekey Keyboards Protection, which I plan to try out soon on the road. To the left of the keyboards is one of many beautifully styled iPad cases they offer.
Edifer offers a few speaker options that are perfect for those on-the-go.
Sound To Go PLUS is all about portability - they do an all-in-one micro speaker with re-chargeable Lithium battery. Encased in a brushed aluminum chassis, it features 2 channel stereo with 2 full range 1.25" drivers on each channel (magnetically shielded). It also features a built-in 'Class D' amplifier and a 3" x 1.25" oval passive radiator, which means someting to those in the audio world.
GeoPalz, creators of the first decorative pedometer for kids, introduced the ibitz PowerKey for children and ibitz Unity for parents to its suite of products. With ibitz, a family’s electronics are powered by physical activity. Each ibitz connects wirelessly to select Bluetooth 4.0 phones, tablets and laptops to track physical activity. For kids, the ibitz PowerKey converts physical activity into “keys” that unlock rewards, while the ibitz Unity for parents tracks the overall progress of family health goals.
The ibitz PowerKey for kids not only unlocks access to games and apps, but also allows each user to maintain the health of their own GeoBotz virtual pet character within their app.
Foldable Rubber Keyboards by Chin Fai
Chin Fai has a host of incredibly useful rubber roll up keyboards which are bluetooth enabled, a seriously must-have companion for any traveler.
They also have a host of brightly colorful rubber products which encase iPhones, iPads and other devices to help protect them against wear and tear - you can even drop your product encased by one of these and it protects the outer layer and edges of the device.
HAPIfork, the world's first connected fork that slows down how fast you eat received a substantial amount of attention, so much so that the booth was always full of broadcast cameras, producers, doctors, health afficiandos and people who have lost weight or were looking to...among other eager enthusiasts.
While (full disclosure), I am involved in the company, it is on my picks list because it is a product I was excited about even before their launch and a reason I decided to jump on board. There is no other product like it on the market and for someone like me, who travels incessantly and never seems to have time for a 'slow' meal, it makes for a perfect "throw-it-in-your-bag" utensil which not only will help me slow down how fast I eat on the road, but track it on my desktop and mobile phone as well.
HAPIfork received so much buzz, we had to turn away opportunities knocking on our doorstep because we were limited with only 3 prototypes on the show floor.
I think the "smart" HAPIfork struck a chord with people because it's such a device that can modify your behavior, prompting you to slow things down, thereby eating less, which is better for your overall health and well-being in the short and long term.
Action Camcorders by Astak
For under $300, you can get one of Astak's action camcorders, which comes with a 170 ultra-wide angle lens that supports 1080p HD video recording. You can shoot 8 megapixel photos hands-free and there's a built-in LCD screen, which includes real time display and video playback. The nice thing for adventure travelers, is that there's waterproof housing which goes down to 197 feet or 60 meters. I could have used this handy device when I was swimming with baluga whales this summer in northern Canada.
It also comes with a rechargeable lithium battery and has four recording modes: 1080p 30fps, 720P 60fps, 720P 30fps or WVGA 60fps. It connects via a USB 2.0 and has a built-in microphone. Additional sports accessories are also available. I haven't tested it yet but hope to do a more extensive review if and when I get product in hand.
House of Marley Headphones
I was running to get to an appointment and House of Marley's booth stopped me dead in my tracks. Creative, compelling, and loaded with well-designed noise-canceling headphones in fabulous colors with a deep, rich sound. Their headsets are the culmination of natural materials and technology coming together to make beautiful music.
Stainless steel, leather and high-quality recycled aluminum blend to create a striking, sophisticated look. And the performance meets that look. With battery powered noise-canceling headphones, it reproduces an intimate, authentic sound that lets you truly feel the music.
I can't wait to test these out!
Mizco's iPad, iPod, iPhone Accessories
From Mizco, I came across the iEssentials products. For around $30, they have a 2-in-1 Car and Wall Charger that lets you charge two devices simultaneously, whether you're on the road, in your office or at your home.
I also loved their Diamond Cases for iPhone 5. Their cases are form fitting, so they fit snugly around your phone and includes embedded rhinestones for additional style. Unlike so many products of this ilk, they come in richer non-pastel colors. What I loved most was how durable they felt in my hands.
Moneual Robot Cleaner
Another product I'd love to test out and use is the Robot Cleaner by Moneual, which I saw a demo of on the show floor. A high performance BLDC Motor outputs stronger suction, and is powered by the latest long lasting Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery.
Great for both hard floor and carpeted floor surfaces, the vacuum's mop attachment can be attached for hard floors, allowing for vacuuming and mopping to function at the same time. Twin side brushes allow for a wider, effective cleaning width to brush debris towards the main brush for collecting.
The vacuum can cover up to 1,200 square feet on one charge, depending on clutter, as maneuvering around clutter may impact cleaning time. Additional specialized cleaning modes include corner, shadow, and scheduled cleaning. It even has the ability to return to the charging dock after a cleaning session!
January 24, 2013 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Health, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, Travel, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
January 18, 2013
Integrating HAPIness Into Your Life: Reflecting on the HAPIfork Launch
Another CES has come and gone and the HAPIfork is now officially launched. While I’ve attended hundreds of trade shows, probably 20 CES’s and launched dozens and dozens of products over the years, this launch was different.
In the course of one week, HAPIfork, the first connected fork that helps you slow down how fast you eat, garnered media attention from outlets on every continent except for Antarctica and I expect that will come soon given the hype.
People tweeted about HAPIfork from about 80 countries and wrote about it from 73 more. In less than two weeks, nearly 10,000 tweets mentioned #HAPIfork from around the world.
From Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, The Today Show, Dr. Oz, World News Tonight to USA Today, the WSJ, Rolling Stone, Jay Leno, the Colbert Report, Huffington Post, Techcrunch, Scientific American and CNET, HAPIfork was brought the world’s attention.
Frankly, given that I think like as much like a journalist as I do a marketing pro, I knew HAPIfork would be hot. After all, it has a lot of unique selling points.
First, it’s a handsome looking gadget with a clean design that comes in five fun colors.
Second, it is unique in what it does: helps you slow down how fast you eat.
Third, it was developed by the French, a country known for enjoying their food and taking long meals.
Fourth, there hasn’t been an innovation to the fork in….I don’t know, perhaps since the invention of the fork itself?
What I didn’t anticipate was how fast HAPIfork’s “hotness” would accelerate, particularly at a show like CES which shows off thousands of new products and innovations from around the world. In other words, it’s a crowded show to make a new product from an unknown company in the U.S. truly shine.
So, what is the sensation really all about? HAPIfork addresses an emotional issue we all have as humans - eating. As a woman, I’ve dealt with issues around weight and eating fast since I was a teenager and there probably isn’t one person who can’t relate to both at least on some level.
While I’ve never been heavy and come from lankier family stock than not, as a teenager and in my twenties, there was a lot of pressure to be thin largely because of the way the media flashed images of models the size of toothpicks. For men, the pressure may not be as acute, however whether it’s for “image” or peer pressure, maintaining our ideal weight isn’t easy for most of us.
And, at the end of the day, it’s not healthy to be overweight and it doesn’t get any easier as we age. In addition to known benefits of having a healthy diet, eating the right food can change your energy levels, your mental attitude and reduce if not eliminate the cravings you once may have had, e.g., starchy and processed foods with excess amounts of sugar.
While I’m not a dietician or a doctor, I celebrate health benefits from a cleanse once a year and notice positive differences in my body when I eat a more alkaline diet. While eating unhealthy food and too much of it is an obvious known issue, what we don’t pay as much attention to as a society is how FAST we eat and the impact it has on our consumption.
When we eat slower, we consume less calories (roughly 11%), we improve our digestion and decrease issues related to gastric reflux. If you’re over the age of 35, ask yourself how many TV ads you remember seeing as a child on antacid products and how many you see today? It ‘feels’ like there’s an antacid commercial on the hour.
HAPIfork is unobtrusive. When you are eating too fast, you’ll receive a gentle vibration, reminding you to slow things down. Some people argue that they don’t need a fork to make them eat slower and can do it on their own. While some people may have that level of discipline, there are thousands of others who need a little help.
We all know people who are so disciplined; they're the people who find themselves at the gym seven days a week. There are others who fare better with a trainer and others who can’t stick with a program at all.
Think of HAPIfork as a personal coach which can prompt you to slow down one aspect of your busy schedule: your meal.
For me personally, the busier my day, the faster I tend to eat and so a $99 investment in a device that can help modify that behavior is a no brainer. Reality check: Apple charges close to that for a plastic adapter cable that merely charges a laptop.
And, let's not forget the countless other plastic gizmos that are priced above $99 in places like Brookstone, airline magazines, TV advertorials and beyond, that don’t help improve your health.
The second issue that HAPIfork touches on is behavior modification, which is important if people want to see improvements in their health or anything for that matter.
Consider This: a coach asks you to work out for 60 minutes a day and yet when you start off, you can’t even make it past 15 minutes without huffing and puffing. In the back of your mind, you think “this is impossible,” and feel like quitting. What if he came back to you and said, “start off with 20 minutes a day for three weeks and then increase it to 30 minutes a day,” and so on. Suddenly you feel that this might be possible after all, you start to see some progress even if its small. Now, how do you feel?
Consider This: you’re a smoker and while your Uncle John quit cold turkey and your family is hounding you to do the same, you don’t seem to have the same willpower as Uncle John. And so, you start to wear the patch and chew the gum so you can reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke a day. Suddenly, your one pack a day is down to four cigarettes a day and then ten a week. Now, how do you feel?
Enter the world of behavior modification and the impact that even slight shifts in behavior can have on your overall health and well-being. Slight behavior modification can lead to moderate and/or dramatic behavior modification over time.
HAPIfork offloads your eating patterns to an online dashboard which you can check on a daily or weekly basis, data you can also access from your phone (Windows 8, iPhone and Android).
The dashboard shows a percentage of how much faster you are eating than you should, so as you slow down, you can see that number improve over time.
The great thing about the data is that you can either choose to keep it private or share with your family or even a doctor who may be working with you on an overall dietary program.
When we start to see incremental improvements in our scores, we can feel not just a sense of ‘hope,’ that yes, we can actually do this, but empowerment.
With empowerment comes changes in behavior and with those changes, comes a healthier and I’d argue, a more integrated and holistic self. The more awareness we have about our habits, the more we can feel empowered to change them based on information we have personally captured.
After all, it’s your body and we only have one in this lifetime. Why not treat it right? It’s harder to do when we don’t realize just how badly we abuse it on a daily basis, whether that be less sleep than we should be getting, smoking, consuming processed food or eating too fast.
I am excited to be working with the HAPILABS team because of how we can help empower others to take control of their health and take control of their lives. If you were at CES, you may have heard HAPILAB’s CEO Fabrice Boutain walk around with his finger up in the air and saying “Join our HAPIrevolution” with a smile on his face.
If you weren’t in Las Vegas, you’ll see and hear that sentiment in our literature, on our website and at the core of the HAPILABS team across three continents. If you ever run into anyone on the HAPILABS team, you’ll bound to be affected by the contagious HAPI energy and desire to help people turn their health and well being into a positive force.
The goal here is not just to launch a fork, but a way of “being and thinking” about your health. In this HAPIrevolution, our hope is that together, we can raise the awareness and take charge of when we eat, what we eat and how fast we eat.
Help us help you so we can collectively reduce the rising numbers of growing disease and obesity in the U.S. and around the world.
Photo Credits: Screenshots from HAPILABS, woman with food from Sara Beyer/Flickr, slow eating and digestions panels from SlowControl, group shot taken in booth on my trusty Canon 7D. Voltaire image from Chanty Elise Designs.
January 08, 2013
HAPILABS Introduces HAPIfork, World’s First Smart Fork, at CES
CES kicked off this week with CES Unveiled, the official media event on January 6 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
HAPILABS, a company focused on well-being in every aspect, whether that is achieved through fitness, diet, your sleep or how you eat, showed off their new HAPIfork at the event. Their goal is to make it easy for people to take control of their HAPIness, health and fitness through applications and mobile connected devices.
The world’s first connected fork that helps you lose weight by eating at the right time and at the right pace is also showing this new smart device at the Showstoppers media event on January 8 at the Las Vegas WYNN Hotel and all week at Digital Health at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The smart connected device, which has a crisp, elegant and clean design, was created by French engineer Jacques Lepine. The HAPIfork will be available in five colors when it hits the market this year: blue, green, white, black and pink.
This smart fork knows how fast you’re eating and helps you slow things down using a patent-pending technology. By eating slower, you can improve the way you feel after every meal, enhance your digestion and reduce your weight.
When you are eating too fast, HAPIfork sends you gentle vibrations and indicator lights so you are aware of when you’re not eating at a pace that is optimal for your health, allowing you to slow down without a disruption to your meal or conversation.
All of your HAPIfork eating data is transmitted to your online account when you connect your HAPIfork to your computer via USB or your smart phone via Bluetooth. This flexibility means you can monitor your health improvement at home or on the road from a mobile device.
You can choose to keep this information private or share some or all of this data with friends who are supporting you, your health and lifestyle.
The complete suite, which will be priced at $99, will include the HAPIfork Device, an Online Dashboard, which stores and reviews your eating-related data and helps you track your progress meal after meal, a Mobile App which allows you to follow your stats from your mobile device, a Online Coaching Program for tips and tricks on eating smarter and healthier, and an Online Social Game, designed to motivate you to implement your new habits with your loved ones.
Below, HAPILABS CEO Fabrice Boutain shows a HAPIfork and HAPItrack prototypes in Paris this past December.
Disclosure: I am a consultant for the company.
January 8, 2013 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Conference Highlights, Events, On Health, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 21, 2012
The Roku Box: The Perfect & Easy Way to Stream Content
Streaming. So many of us are doing it now to get our content, yet folks like my sister or friends from other parts of the world I keep in touch with through old fashioned email and yes, even sometimes social networks, don't stream. It's not their normal way of viewing or listening to content.
Roku has come up with a way to make it easy for anyone to use. Their mantra or at least one of them is: streaming made simple. With over 150,000 movies and shows instantly available, Roku delivers various titles to match your mood. Using Netflix, you can see up to 1080p HD video or TV shows through Hulu Plus. There are also hundreds of free movies from Crackle or the latest Hollywood releases on Amazon Instant Video. There’s also access to premium services like HBO GO and EPIX, available via participating providers.Roku delivers more than movies and TV shows as well. In the Roku Channel Store, you get instant access to the best selection of streaming entertainment available – over 600 channels, which includes live sports, music, photo and video sharing, games, international programming, radio, tech news, non-tech news, podcasts, cartoons and more.
They also have a great one-stop search feature, where you can find your favorite movies and TV shows all from one place – no matter if they're on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video or Crackle. For example, you can search for a title, keyword or actor. Once you find what you’re interested in, all you have to do is select a channel it's on, and you're ready to start watching.
December 16, 2012
Mobile Loco Brings the Best of Advertising, Geo-Location & Branding to the Mobile World
Held last week in San Francisco, the MobileLoco event merged the best of geo-location, advertising, branding and the mobile world.
Run by serial marketer Mark Evans, the event aspires to dive into the brand, advertiser and mobile convergence in the context of the Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) marketplace.
The discussions revolved around what this convergence means for big brands, consumers, SMBs and the mobile and location industry.
On-stage, we heard from the likes of Andrew Mason of Groupon, Benchmark Capital's Bill Gurley, Banjo's Danien Patton and the Mobile Engineering Lead of Airbnb Andrew Vilcsak. Other voices included Bloomberg TV's Cory Johnson, Google's Don Dodge, Nextdoor's Nirav Tolia, Postmates Bastian Lehmann, Foursquare's Holger Luedorf, Micello's Ankit Agarwal and others.
Above: Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon
Client inTooch partnered with MobileLoco so users could easily and seamlessly exchange contact and social network information on the fly. A free mobile app for iPhone and Android, attendees could network that much faster and more efficiently using the app rather than have to exchange business cards or manually add Twitter and Facebook 'handles.'
Above: Steve Brehaut, Renee Blodgett, Julien Salanon
Since geo-tagging is built in, the inTooch app tracks where connection requests are made and will link all connection requests to the location, in this case the Mobile-Loco event in San Francisco, CA. When users browse through their connections, they can see all the connections they made at Mobile-Loco.
There were other cool products there too. A group out of Japan from Daq was on-site showing off their creative iPhone and iPad IRUAL cases. I find that most cases are pretty bland, come in plain colors or are frankly too tacky. Then there are those specifically targeted to the 13-18 year old market, but what happens if you don't fall into any of those categories? I loved their designs specifically aimed at women - from soft and feminine to daring and electric.
Then, I had a demo of DigitalGlobe, who apparently did a deal with MapBox on the same day. Mapbox, which is a provider of open source solutions for designing and publishing maps via the cloud, chose DigitalGlobe as their commercial and earth imagery provider.
Users can now incorporate DigitalGlobe's high-resolution satellite imagery as their maps' base layer for added quality and rich detail. The result can be quite beautiful, especially compared to the bland offerings today.
Then I went back in time to my speech recognition and natural language processing days. I saw a nifty demo from a group who call themselves SpeakToIt. What they do? Develop talking personal assistants.
The SpeaktoIt Assistant is a virtual buddy for your smartphone that answers questions in natural language, performs tasks and notifies you of important events. The Assistant is meant to save you time and make communication with gadgets and web services easier and less stressful.
All photos by Renee Blodgett.
December 16, 2012 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, Magic Sauce Media, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, Social Media, TravelingGeeks, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack