Why I backed the Pebble Time

Say what you will regarding Apple potentially/likely/already dominating or otherwise killing all competition in smartwatches, Pebble found 50,830 people (at the time I’m writing this) to contribute over 11 mil to the next Pebble. And no matter how you slice it they can’t all be “Apple Haters” or even “just android people”

In fact most Pebble owners I’ve met have been iPhone owners, many i know backed Pebble Time as well.

I think the success (I suppose 11mil, and 50 thousand plus backers is as good as any metric) of the Pebble Time is definitely in part due to Apple. All the rumors, sneaks, and baseless guesses, and all around hype around the Apple Watch have brought smart watches much more into the public eye, that’s good for everyone in the space.

Will Apple sell buttloads of watches, of course they will. Developers will all want one or two, because they’ll need devices to test on, whether they wear it or not who cares. Those who buy everything Apple makes will also buy one or two. Lots of others will flock to buy this amazing new watch (or gadget, depending on perspective)

I’d guess many of the 50,830 Pebble Time backers will also buy an Apple Watch. I won’t be (immediately) among them, but many will I’ve no doubt.

First why I bought a new Pebble. I’ve got a Pebble now, in fact I backed it the first time. I love it. I love watches, unlike so many sudden new watch wearers, I’ve worn a watch since i could tell time. I own a dozen watches, my most expensive easily cost more than the mid level Apple Watch. I don’t buy or wear shit watches. The Pebble isn’t the most pretty of things, but it’s a good watch. Tells time, date, weather (depending on face) and when I’m in more social settings and grabbing my phone isn’t acceptable, it tells me there’s something I should see (after lots of tweaking with notifications to get it right), or who’s calling without grabbing my phone.

The Pebble does most of the things I want, and it looks like will be adding the last thing I need. More interactive notifications. This assumes Apple exposes that API in WatchKit, I haven’t looked. Being able to send a few canned replies to things is a great feature. If I was a voice memo person, the mic would be cool, maybe it’ll be cool for Siri things, I dunno. Color E-Paper is awesome, color with 7 day battery life, very awesome. One of the things I love about my Pebble is not worrying about nightly charging. When I first saw “color” I thought, ok one color at a time or something else, but the fact that it’s many, is impressive. From the pics and video it’s not as vibrant as the AppleWatch, but that’s fine with me.

Pebble has also done an admirable job of future proofing. The first gen Pebble will get many of the features shown in the Pebble Time kickstarter video. Not all, but many. The current model has things that at launch weren’t active, but are now, like an accelerometer. They team behind Pebble has made sure that the watch i bought in 2012, not only is functional in 2015, but is still getting features. That’s kind of important in watches. Watches aren’t a buy-n-replace annually thing. My Hamilton is over 10 years old, and runs great, looks awesome. It needs a new battery every few years. My Citizen eco drive, is almost 15, runs like the day i got it. I’m not certain (at least for gen 1 and 2) that AppleWatch will have that ‘feature’.

Detractors often complain about the Pebble’s non classy looks, i can’t argue that. I have much MUCH nicer watches in my collection, and was tempted by the Pebble Steel just for a nicer appearance, but wasn’t ready to commit the funds for the same Pebble as I own, but wrapped in metal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eventually want an Apple Watch. Despite my overall love of things Apple, I’m not often pulled in early, and frankly the first gen gear is usually sub par.

First iPhone, not amazing and quickly surpassed by the 3. I didn’t buy a used first gen until we moved from iPhone OS, to iOS.

First iPad, not amazing, and quickly surpassed by the 2. Not terrible at all, but meh. I got mine on the first day, waited anxiously, and was done playing with it in 30 minutes. Things got better FAST, and I love my iPad Air 2. But in hindsight, should have waited for iPad 2.

Is there any reason to think the watch won’t be the same? That the first model will not be very powerful (we already have rumors the battery will be lucky to last a day), or very water resistant. Do I want to buy a new device for another $300-$400 in a year? Do I want a device that in 2-3 years (if that) won’t get new features? By the second or third year of the Apple Watch, it’ll be something to truly want.

Also, (of course this is speculation) the Apple Watch won’t have a ton of things I care enough about to warrant it over a Pebble. Sending morse code messages to people… cute. Useless unless my friends or wife have an Apple Watch.

health sensors, neat. I’m sure I won’t hate that info, but at the same time i don’t care that much. I care about steps, active minutes each day, all data I get from lots of sources.

Don’t get me wrong either, I’ll want to see and touch my friends first Gen AppleWatches. I’ll want to play with them and see how great they are, but I’ll be happy with my Pebble (and then Pebble Time) for a few more years I think.

I’d say my Pebbles will be welcome additions to my watch box, but in 7 days they’ll be powered down husks…

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

Event Consulting

I just wrapped up RWDevCon, which by all measures was a huge success. Kudos to Ray Wenderlich and his amazing team.

I handled logistics, and Ray’s team put together an amazing two days of tutorial based content.

For my part, things went well I think. Nothing too crazy came up with the hotel, the other group didn’t interfere with us at all. We didn’t run out of food, or have a projector crap out :) All win’s

This was my first “conference consulting” gig. I really enjoyed it and think I gave great value to the client (Ray).

I’m really excited to help make other events in the community awesome!

Also, I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined the AltConf 2015 team, so that’s gonna rock! I’ve sponsored, and volunteered in the past and this year I get to have a more direct role, which I love.

See you at AltConf! Or any of my 360|Conferences events; 360|intersect, 360|iDev or [360|iDev min] :)

 

I broke up with Verizon for 1 reason only

This.

And not even so much because they won’t be doing roll over data (which i find insulting as a customer. Even ATT found a way to do it that they liked, and wasn’t out of line with their goals). But the attitude of that executive.

“If you want better treatment for the money you spend, we don’t want you as a customer, go fuck off and die”

In the past changing networks was a nightmare. I remember number porting taking as much as 48 hours, this time it took 10 minutes. I remember when porting wasn’t an option at all, now it’s tremendously easy, the new carrier can do it all, i didn’t have to call Verizon, didn’t have to go into the store, etc. A few bits of info, and we were AT&T Customers.

I overlooked Verizon’s transgressions because their support was always very nice (except in store, where I was lied to twice at two different locations) and helpful. Their twitter support team is amazing, and single handedly kept me a customer a few months ago when i was ready to leave.

It’s one thing (not a good thing) to pull crap like the super cookies, etc. While i think that’s lame, it wasn’t so lame I couldn’t live with it. The network was strong, i had bars where ever i needed them.

But to come out directly with the attitude that me and my $187 a month were of no value because how dare I assume the data I pay for should be mine to use the next month. Yeah that’s new, i wasn’t expecting them to jump right in and was prepared to wait months for it, if they had said it was coming. But the attitude of that executive, was the final straw.

So now me and my 3 devices are AT&T subscribers. We also save $57 a month, which ain’t bad either. If you’re Verizon, I highly suggest you leave. You’ll get better prices and a network (whether you choose T-Mobile or AT&T or even one of the more fringe players) that wants your business and appreciates it.

Bye Verizon.

“This hotel internet is amazing” Said No One Ever.

“This hotel internet is amazing” Said No One Ever.

As much as I’ve enjoyed hosting my events at Marriotts, and as much as I’ve enjoyed staying at Marriotts (all but one hotel on my recent Hong Kong trip were Marriotts), this move by Marriott is likely going to keep me away, at least as much as possible. Certainly for events.

Marriott apparently is taking their dislike of customers to the next level. Surprised? No not really. I am surprised they’re so bent on this course of action that despite the $600k fine, they’re pressing forward trying to get the FCC to change it’s rules. First they tried being sly about blocking people from using their own hot spots, then they got busted. Rather than mea culpa and move on, they’re upping the stakes.

Since their FCC filing (please go leave a comment) being found out, they’ve tried to clarify that they don’t want to hose hotel guests, in fact they only meant they wanted to hose conference organizers and attendees. Oh that’s better…

Apparently suddenly (despite my having never heard of it happening) Marriott is very concerned with cyber security at conferences held on property. Something about protecting children too. The only issues I’ve ever seen at conferences with regards to wifi, is it generally sucking. I’ve never heard of any attacks against the hotel, the conference (It’s organizer or attendees) or any type of child porn ring popping up on premises.

What really happens is hotel internet is usually not awesome. Conference attendees often choose to spend their own data to stay connected. As an organizer I hate it when that happens, but am glad my customers have an option and a choice. I’d be severely pissed off if that weren’t the case, because the hotel chose to block access.

I can only think of one scenario where this type of behavior wouldn’t be abhorrent, and that’s if every hotel invested in the infrastructure to deliver amazing network connectivity to their customers and guests. While undoubtedly some have, most have not.

Oh and while Marriott is busy trying to screw it’s customers, Hyatt is getting rid of the stupid uncharge associated with guest internet access.

I hope either the FCC makes a decision (ideally the right one) or Marriott backs off their plan. Just pay the fine, move on guys.

2014 in review.

I know, everyone does one, blah blah. This is mine. Read it or don’t :) But I think 2014 was a pretty big year personally and professionally. It saw me recover from a massive blunder in 2013 to the tune of about $80k. It saw me cancel my first event, and sign on to do event consulting on an event I’m excited about. It also saw lots of travel, and bonding with friends near and far.

Things that happened in 2014:

  • Once again helped organize Denver Startup Week
  • Helped organize and run GoCode CO 2014
  • Cancelled 360|intersect 2014
  • Recovered from 360|Stack 2013
  • Held what’s likely the last 360|Flex
  • Helped organize AltConf 2014
  • Brought 360|iDev back to downtown Denver. Sold out a month in advance
  • Held a successful and the first of many [360|iDev min] in beautiful Greenville SC.
  • Spent 10 days in Hong Kong with my Pal Tom.
  • Spent a week in Amsterdam with my amazing wife and friends (Mike, Judy and Samuel)
  • Took on my first event consulting gig
  • I found awesome people to take on Ignite Denver

All in all not a bad year, some ups, some downs.

Denver Startup Week, as always was a great pleasure to help organize. It’s a week long celebration of the entrepreneurial side of Denver, that’s growing each year. It’s an exciting time to be in Denver, and I’m thrilled and thankful to be a part of such an amazing community and City.

GoCode CO is the first of it’s kind, multi city, multi month civic hackathon. Organized by the CO Secretary of State, it was a big pleasure to be asked to be a part of the team that executed this event. On top of being involved in all the primary events I was part of the team that ran the Fort Collins hack weekend. It was great, I worked with a member of the Sec. State and got to spend a weekend in the basement of OtterBox. GoCode is back in 2015, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be involved. Oh and the winning team? From Ft. Collins… not that I had anything to do with it, but since I was on team FoCo, i get bragging rights :)

360|intersect 2014, was the biggest fail of my professional life. I had a line up of amazing people (some I knew, some I hadn’t yet met in person) ready to share their passions, but I couldn’t get people interested. Several things worked against me, so I learned and am excited for 360|intersect 2015.

360|Stack 2013 was a dud. It was 2013’s big fail. I didn’t make it clear what it was about, I moved my focus from Flex too soon, and as a result an event I had planned for hosting about 300, hosted 100 (40 of which where speakers). I started 2014, owing 80k to the hotel we hosted 360|Stack at. Not a great way to start the year. I also learned that community doesn’t always support.

360|Flex 2014, was not an experiment, but was exploratory. Was there enough interest in what was left of the Flex community to do a Flex focused event. While it didn’t lose money, it didn’t make any, and while my heart is with the first event I ever organized, and what was the flagship of 360|Conferences, i decided that 2014 was probably it for 360|Flex. We brought it back for a last hurrah and everyone enjoyed it, but I think that’s it.

AltConf 2014 is something I love. In 2013 I sponsored with money. In 2014 lacking much spendable cash, I sponsored with my time. I volunteered the entire week; helping set up, being the safety monitor, and generally making myself useful. AltConf started (IMO) as a thing that existed along with WWDC. Something you could come to if you didn’t have a WWDC ticket (or if you did) but wanted to be in San Francisco that week. AltConf is now it’s own thing, the team behind it has worked hard to bring in amazing speakers, and provide an amazing (free) event for folks and really while it still happens during WWDC week, that’s more of an “oh yeah WWDC is this week too”. I go to SF that week now, to be a part of AltConf.

360|iDev 2014 in Downtown Denver. This was a big deal. It’s not that we didn’t like downtown it’s that downtown is expensive. We had used the same venue that while great, wasn’t downtown, for a few years. The time came to make a change. Almost a leap of faith, would enough people come, to justify the much higher costs associated with being downtown? Turns out, yes. 360|iDev sold out a full month in advance. We’ve sold out the last 3-4 years, but usually only a week before, sometimes only a day or two before. This year we spent the last 30 days focused on making the event great, vs. selling tickets. It was a bit freeing.

[360|iDev min] have been a mixed bag for us. We went to Vegas a few years back, it was meh. Nothing specific was wrong, just not the place for us. This year we tried going someplace we’d never been. Greenville SC. It was great. We had an amazing line up of people who spoke at 360|iDev in Denver and folks who hadn’t so the content was fresh and meaningful. It went great. So great we’re working on the 2015 version. It’ll be better than 2014! Stay tuned!

Hong Kong is a long ass flight from Denver. That said the trip was worth all nearly 30 hours of travel. What an amazing place. You can read about my trip here, but suffice to say for this post, it was time/money well spent. Tom is one of my best friends and it was a great chance for us to re-connect and hang out.

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places. Helped by the fact that three people I adore live there. Nicole and I spent my birthday in Amsterdam. The upside of going in February, no tourists. It was amazing and not crowded with americans :). The downside, it’s cold. it’s winter, LOL. Sadly all we got was rain, no snow. It was worth packing the extra layers though. Any opportunity to hang out with Mike and Judy and Samuel I’ll take. Spending 10 days in a foreign place with my awesome traveling companion and wife Nicole was also pretty great. I can’t imagine us not traveling together.

RWDevCon is my first time doing event consulting. It’s gonna be a great event, i’d say grab a ticket, but it sold out already. Ray and the raywenderlich.com team are great, the content he’s got planned is amazing. I’m excited to run this event!

I started Ignite Denver in like… 2009? I honestly don’t know, we’ve done some 20 events so far. Ignite Denver was the first Ignite event in Colorado, and up until this year I’ve been the head of the organizing team (sometimes that team was just me and Nicole). I’m super stoked that folks like Terry Cabeen, Dan Stones et. al. are involved and want to take Ignite Denver to the next level. I’m excited to attend Ignite Denver and not be the sole driving force behind it continuing. I’m immensely proud of Ignite and the stuff we’ve done, it’s only gonna be more awesome in 2015.

All in all, a busy year. Not without it’s challenges, but a good year. I hope yours was good, or at least didn’t suck too bad. I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for us all. See you there!

One more Stylus review

So I’ve done a few of these. Right now (and this one may be the one) I’m in love with the Dotpen stylus. It’s really nice!

IMG_0622The thing that drew me to it initially was the tip. I can’t stand those big nubbin stylii that have a nub that obscures what I’m doing. My other stylus has a fine point as well, and the Dotpen has a finer point!

On top of the fine point, I liked that the point was protected by a cap, like a pen, and that there was a shirt clip. Not that I’ll be clipping it to a pocket, but in my bag it’s easier if the stylus is clipped in. The cap is a nice feature as I tend to obsess about the fragility of the point. IMG_0624

 

 

The other plus (yes there’s more plusses than minus’) AAA batteries!!! The thing I hated the most about my True Glide, it takes AAAA batteries. I didn’t even know those existed, and they’re rare enough that they cost a fortune. Well a relative fortune for batteries. I can get a few eLoop AAA’s and be all set.

There’s only two draw backs to this great stylus.

The power button is right where you grip the stylus. I’ve accidentally turned it off a few times. It’s not a major issue as it just clicks on and off (this isn’t a BT enabled stylus, those are nice, but I’ll take universally useful over app by app useful).

The second draw back is a bit more severe. It’s noisy. My True Glide Apex has a soft rubber nib, and the Dot Pen uses a hard plastic. For casual use it’s not really that big a deal, but for taking notes, it’d be a deal breaker. I’ve more or less come to terms with not taking hand written notes on my iPad so that helps, LOL. However the little bit of art doodling I’ve done, it’s pretty clickie. Not terrible, but you’ll notice the sound and hear it.

Noisy nub aside, this is a very nice stylus, and works great on the iPad Air 2. If you’re in the market for a nice fine point stylus that isn’t a “smart” stylus, I definitely recommend the Dotpen