Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Home

Thanks for coming. I've moved everything over to
It's the best place to Check out everything I do.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Listen (Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 4)

For me, Listen is the most meaningful ep of the season so far. The idea that it's not about The Silence or some other new threat but that the Doctor's vulnerability is the actual antagonist is the sort of introspective and emotional conflict we need to understand the new visage of this character.

It's worth noting that not unlike Catherine Tate's depiction of the companion Donna-- one is never confused about the relationship between this Doctor and Clara. Amy, Martha, and Rose all entertained some aspect of a crush; which was often a source for comic relief (tragic and unrequited love in Martha's case really). These ladies; Donna and Clara; manage to offer extreme comedic circumstances that are free from sexual tension during parts of the story that focus on exploring not the untold secrets of the external universe, but those untold secrets of the internal continuum that is the Doctor's character.

The only question is-- what was the thing sitting on Danny's bed?!

Many of us are wondering about that. I've always though it important for storytellers to leave audiences with questions but Doctor Who is unusually good at providing answers that leave us far from feeling spoon-fed so there may yet be follow-up on that point. The thing that mattered the most about that bed-sheet covered carrier was how Moffat used an actor under a blanket-- a symbol of childhood emotional security-- to showcase extreme fear in a being that has in the past stood up to so much more obviously frightening things.

Recall that Moffat gave us the Weeping Angels and The Silence. This invisible monster could have been another one of those baddies - which we would have no doubt welcomed - but instead it was not an "enemy" but his constant companion-- Fear. This sort of revelation seems only deliverable by the Impossible Girl. Truly fantastic.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday afternoon

I sit and stare at you Maple Tree, 
as your shiny leaves rustle
in the late summer wind.

While they bob and weave
In the easterly breeze,
I sip on a bitter local ale
and gaze past your dance
As the Sun bathes these noble Flat Irons
In it's serene late afternoon display

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where Tech & Tastes Diverge

If there's one site I really enjoy, it's The Wirecutter.


What makes them different from other technology sites is the way they use the "meta review" (A review of a product with significant findings based on other people's opinions of a product) to determine what the "best" item of a particular segment is.

The idea's great- if you're looking for something simple, The Wirecutter can save you a lot of time and energy researching one item or another. But every once in a while it's clear that the people that they're working with to write the reviews of products are out of touch with my opinions (happens all the time) along with the opinions of many of my colleagues.

Such is the case with the Garmin Vivofit fitness tracker. For The Wirecutter, Garmin's new fitness tracker unseated the Fitbit One device they once called "The Best Fitness Tracker" because :

"There’s also a “move bar” that flashes red anytime you’ve been inactive for too long—a feature we, along with other reviewers, found highly motivating. It is currently the only fitness tracker that combines these features with the added benefit of never having to be hooked up to charger. Unfortunately, since the Vivofit relies on disposable battery power, the display is not LED or backlit for low-light conditions and the current mobile app/desktop software is still pretty basic. But we have four words for you: one-year battery life."

This is a description of a device that I would never want. We'll go from the bottom up--

1. Battery Life. A year is great. But having to:
  • Go to a jeweler to get the device re-sealed after you've replaced the battery isn't worth it.
  • Find the exact-right battery to replace the current battery with isn't worth it. 
  • Pay a high premium for that via Garmin's site (or anyone else's site since they know it's the only batt to work with the device) isn't worth it. 
Where those hassles are concerned I'm OK with needing to charge my Fitbit One every now and then. Especially because I don't think the fact that I have to charge the device every two weeks makes it a hassle.

2. Software. I don't want basic software. Fitbit gives me an excellent desktop (Web) and mobile (app) experience. It's robust, functional and far from basic. In a world where Google Fit and Apple's Health Kit API suite and Health app are showing the mainstream just how sophisticated wellness software can be, taking a step back on the software side doesn't make great sense. Ecosystem is everything and Fitbit's built a pretty good one. On the other hand, Garmin's disappointed. Garmin should have been a leader in this space and on both the software and hardware side they've been consistently behind. Their track record doesn't give me a lot of confidence that they'll ever get the software right.

3. The display is not LED or backlit for low-light conditions. Huh? How can a technology enthusiast, who's bent on using the wrist-based wearable device want to lose ground in this category. The lack of low-light access means that yes, you might be able to wear it inside of a movie theatre without bothering someone else, but other than that, I'd like to see my data anytime I want.* 

4. The move-bar seems interesting. But honestly, if I'm locked in thought or otherwise focused elsewhere, a vibration would be best. Fitbit doesn't provide a random vibration but others do. A flashing bar? That's just not good advice!

Now the Wirecutter does include an honorable mention for the Fitbit One, but given the hyperbole about the Vivofit being "he Best" from The Wirecutter, a brand that's so quickly become esteemed, I'm left confused. It's either the dreaded Clickbait or just bad advice. Either way, I'm left feeling disappointed. Especially since this Garmin device, at $130 is nearly a third more expensive than the well thought out Fitbit One's $100 price.

When I joined The Drilldown it was because Andy offered me an opportunity to get to the truth of the matter about the day's tech. And since its launch, I'd always thought that The Wirecutter was on the same mission. Now I'm forced to re-think that. It's a little like losing a friend.

*One might remark "Well, the Jawbone UP doesn't include any display!." The difference here is that Jawbone made a distinct stylistic choice, paired to a fantastic piece of mobile software. If I'm going to wear something with the visual heft of providing me (and apparently anyone else next to me) with a readout, then it better provide that information on request - regardless of whatever light I'm in.

**A version of this article appeared on The Drill Down on June 25th, 2014.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bill Wyman and Michael Jackson, the Pale King

On the eve of his most awesome final tour, we were all shocked with the way the King of Pop slipped away from us in the night. A good friend gave me a hard copy of Bill Wyman's powerful summary of Jackson's rise and fall. That means something because these days it's rare thing to receive more than a link from someone sharing content.

Wyman links Jackson's music with our struggle as Americans to get along and to fit in-- and how the King of Pop both dealt with and represented that struggle. If Jackson's life impacted yours at all, it's available at The New Yorker's website and well worth the read.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You on Woo Woo?!

Adobe's recent ad is hilarious.

It does a great job of satirizing the marketing panic that occurs when conventional and digital product owners chase the always shifting online populace, but it also does something else-- it supports Bevel creator Tristan Walker's recent statement that the African American "community is the most culturally influential demographic in the world."

When the corporate leader declares "we need an ethnically ambiguous Woo Woo mascot!" he does so as an acknowledgement that he wants to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

While it's just a silly commercial, in this regard, it unfortunately mirrors all too well some of the places I've worked at. It begs the question-- Why not appeal to the same wide audience when it comes to hiring practices? Build a team that represents your target demo rather than picking up a tip while eaves-dropping on an elevator conversation or acting on unverifyable outside data. Bringing together diverse opinions nad life experience also allows companies to act on a key piece of advice from the most powerful corporate entity in the world: "[to]build the products that [they] want to use [them]selves."

It's not easy, but it's often worth it. Diversity of social class, of sexual orientation, culture,race, etc. could expose valuable opportunities that your competitors, stuck in the mud of 'sameness' could pass by.

Think about it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"The Community Deserves Better"

Tristan Walker on Bevel:

"When you consider that the community is the most culturally influential demographic in the world, the community just deserves better."

Bevel is the first brand out of Walker & Company. It's a shaving system designed to allow men of colour-- men with curlier, coarser hair, to be able to shave without suffering from razor bumps and other issues associated with products made primarily to serve other hair and skin types.

Walker formerly lead business development at Foursquare. From tech to grooming? Weird right? Not when you consider that his Bevel brand  is a technology hardware company that solves a problem for about 20 million people in the US with a combination of durable and consumable goods.  Now that's a solid user-base-- especially at around Father's Day or Christmas Time.

The company philosophy is focused on building brands that solve problems like razor burn, vitamin D deficiency, hyper-pigmentation, and the age-old problem of natural-hair transitioning.

We look forward to it.