Category Archives: Random

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Denver will be ugly in 10 years.

I love the Denver Infill blog because it keeps me in the know on what’s going on in Denver better than anything else, at least as far as construction. I also HATE it.

I hate it because it celebrates one thing (reducing the number of ugly parking lots, which is good) without ever bothering to turn a critical eye to what’s replacing them, which is bad. I made the mistake of reading the article linked above, and then reading the comments. Actually the article is fine, it’s the standard, “yay one less parking lot” celebration. The comments make me sad for the future of Denver as a cool place to live.

Jack says, “If you all think this is ugly, then you obviously have not traveled much.” Interesting as  I’ve traveled a fair bit, domestically and internationally. So many cities have amazing architecture everywhere. Apartments are lovely to look at, sky scrapers are a wonder. Old buildings are celebrated and incorporated into design. Then i come home to Denver and throw up a little in my mouth.

The building that will replace a parking lot in Arapahoe Square is ugly, it’s not nice to look at, unless you’re comparing it to an empty parking lot.

If you’re familiar with Denver’s current building boom, you can guess what it looks like. Take a guess.

Did you say, lots of right angles, lots of brown and earth tones? maybe some glass mixed in? You’re right. It looks like every other 5 story bloc that’s being built or has recently been built in Denver. Every building built in Denver, especially our apartment blocs have been the same. I kid you not, look at the Douglas, Modera RiNo, Denargo Market, Broadstone RiNo, the one linked above, etc. Sure one might toss some brick in. Maybe one has black iron railings and the other silver, but they’re giant squares of boring color, every one of them.

I’m as excited as the Infill bloggers about reducing our surface parking lots (Though the city is being short sighting not building a public parking garage) but I really wish there was a little more thought put towards design, so that Denver doesn’t end up one big brown square.

Ten years from now, when there’s no parking for downtown events, and the “skyline” is five story brown squares, we’re all going to wonder what went wrong. At least we’ll have the Denver Infill blog as a record.

You don’t need someone to lose, so you can win

In fact, ‘winning’ is a lie. This struck a serious chord with me.

I’ve never cared much about money. I understand it’s value, i know i need it, but don’t really care how much anyone else has compared to me. I’ve never cared about sharing my salary (stupid that it’s so “secret” in corporate culture), or telling someone how much my house or car cost, because they’r not symbols to me. I don’t care if your house cost 2x what mine did or half what mine did. I need a car, i bought the car we agreed was a good one. Same with our house, we didn’t buy the biggest we could find or anything, we knew where we wanted to live, bought a place we could afford. It has the rooms we need, no more.

I’ve never looked at a thing and thought, “this is great, because it’s only for me.”

BUT, that’s not our society as a whole. Sadly I’m in the minority. I’d never quit a job because someone else got a raise, big or small. For me first class IS about the seats, i don’t care what anyone else is doing on the plane. (examples in the mentioned post)

Why? How did i end up this way? Beats me, I’m sure it’s my parents fault, or maybe the Buddhist book i stole from a hotel in high school. Whatever it is, i wish more Americans had it, felt it, whatever.

Sure, I want enough money to buy food, a new car when it’s time. I want to take trips and see the world, but beyond that I don’t need more than my neighbor, I don’t need a trip that’s more special than anyone else. I don’t need a car that cost more. I don’t need more bedrooms. And I certainly don’t care to compare myself or my things to someone else. I definitely don’t need someone else to have less than me, so that what i have feels special.

Enlightened? Grown up? I don’t know, but I do think we should all be aspiring to it.

Wearables, silos and how Pebble missed their shot

So I bought an Apple Watch. I knew I would eventually. I basically was holding out to see if they released a new one at their recent event. They didn’t so i bought one. I immediately put OS2 on it, since much of what I didn’t like was OS1.

There’s still much I don’t like about AppleWatch; like not being able to glance at my wrist to see the time without raising my wrist in a “checking the time” motion.

Do I miss my Pebble, yes. I liked the watch faces, I liked the glance-ability of the screen, and I suspect I’ll like not worrying about charging it each night.

As i unpaired my Pebble i reflected on what I thought about that watch and wearable tech in general (my fitbit is on the cusp of being set aside). It’s slimmer, it’s IMO nicer looking. It has a battery that does the job. It was more personalizable. That’s it though. After that it’s missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Pebble launched with a cool expansion port to allow for smart bands. What might those be? even more battery life, heart rate monitors, who knows. Turns out, nothing. The SDK for the port apparently is only now, months, MONTHS later, coming out in limited release. At a recent hackathon the winning use of that port… a laser pointer. A god damned laser pointer. They had Devices, even 3D printers on hand to make things, and we get a laser pointer?

Pebble had a great lead on Apple, and while I suspect much of it’s failure is partly on Apple and it’s SDK limitations (since Android is more interactive), I think Pebble rested on it’s laurels a lot. I’m sure they were working, but as a consumer I can’t say on what. Porting their new OS to the old hardware is a nice touch for owners of that old hardware, but at what cost? Interactive SMS replies? not yet. Siri? nope. I get taking care of your old customers, in fact I think that’s a great thing about Pebble, but it doesn’t seem to have been very well balanced against making sure the Pebble Time was an actual Apple Watch competitor, which it’s not.

Huge missed opportunity. Reading notifications is neat, controlling my Nest is neat (and not possible that i can see on AppleWatch) but not enough to make it a sticky thing. Not enough to make it a long term thing. There’s a lot in the Apple watch I don’t care about, but as both platforms mature Apple is going to overtake Pebble.

So now my pebble (twice kickstarted) is hanging on my bulletin board as a memento. My Apple Watch is my daily watch, for now anyway. I sometimes opt back to my classic watches, but the Pebble, that ship has sailed, right into a sand bar.

 

Good Conference Wifi

A friend of mine in the industry posted this this other day. On reading it I was a bit insulted. Nothing is ever cut and dry and conference tech certainly isn’t.

At 360|iDev this year the wireless was I’ll admit, craptastic. I had outsourced the wifi because the hotel wanted nearly $20,000 for what they called the mid level (Non streaming, non VPN or something like that level). Thats not including the rest of the AV quote.

Eric says there’s two factors in good conference wifi; the desire to deliver a great experience (which I’d also argue in the scope of things wifi is not a major part of that), and the desire to spend the money to make it happen.

There’s a third factor, budget. 360|iDev is about $300-500 less than his event. It’s also in Downtown Denver, where hotel lunches run at a minimum $50/person. My AV and internet options came down to $47,000 or $13,000. One was in my budget (previous years events came in around $11,000, so that’s what i planned around), the other not even remotely. Not just ‘not in budget’ but would have put 360|iDev 2014 firmly in the negative. Since my sole source of income is my conferences, taking losses is something i shy away from.

Was i bummed the wireless was crappy at 360|iDev, hell ya I was. Will i strive to be better next year, damn right, I’m even planning to spend considerably more than I’ve ever spent on it. Do i think a conference is less awesome because of the wifi? It’s never entered my mind. When I’m at a conference I’m there for the sessions, yes it’s inconvenient, but I’ve never left thinking “I’ll never be back, i couldn’t tweet during that session.” Also, the few times I’ve really wanted wifi at a conference were because the content was lame, I’d rather solve that problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the value of wifi, and like I said, I’ll be working harder to make next year’s better than this. But when I’m thinking of attending an event (something I plan to do more of this coming year) whether their wifi was awesome or not, is about as important to me as the color of the hotel carpet. Ok, maybe a bit more important than that, but not much.

My point here isn’t actually about wifi, it’s about claiming something is universally easy and those that don’t do what you do, are doing it wrong. I could easily argue that if you’re sessions aren’t technically deep and sending attendees home with usable new skills, you’re doing it wrong. Or any other biased, “the way I do it” assertions.

Where’s the iPad fit in?

I saw this post, and it really echo’d thoughts and conversations I’ve had lately about the iPad.

There’s been a lot of “You shouldn’t upgrade”, “You need to upgrade” articles about the iPad Air 2. I’ll say this, moving from an iPad 3, to a Air 2… WOW. Money well spent. Will I move to an Air 3? No. 4? probably not. 5 or whatever is next? Likely. But that’s the cycle the iPad fits in for me.

I’ve talked to a few folks (friends) that almost never touch their iPads. Their iPhone 6/6+ or Macbook Air do the trick. Each is light, sufficiently large to do things, sufficiently small to not be a burden.

I use my iPad several times a day. Whether it’s catching up on interesting things to read at night, playing a quick(ish) game of Tower Madness or Blockheads, or remotely managing the various Macs around the house, i use it quite often. When I travel, add in watching movies/TV and reading comics. I take meeting notes, do some writing all on my iPad. It’s invaluable to me.

I’d leave my laptop at home before I’d leave the iPad. There have been a few trips, including my trip to Amsterdam, where i left my laptop home, and just used my iPad with a keyboard.

After I got my iPad Air 2, Nicole inherited my iPad 3, which put her iPad 2 up in the air. I thought, “You know what, I bet it’d make an awesome appliance. Find a place to mount it and i bet there’s something cool i can do with it around that house”

I see now, one major issue in the “Where’s the iPad fit?” question. 

I couldn’t find (haven’t given up yet) a single awesome use for the iPad 2 in our house.

  • Nicole uses her iPad as a cook book, so that’s out, it’s the most obvious, but she has no need for a dedicated cookbook iPad
  • I thought, you know it’d be cool to mount it near the TV running Apple’s remote app. Control my library and AppleTV. Especially for parties and such, or just geekiness. Apple’s remote app is ass. When it connects, it’s slow. Usually it doesn’t connect. When connected to the AppleTV, it can’t see home shares, the only media it has access to are TV/Movies in the cloud, and iTunes radio and Match. Not as awesome.
  • Big ass Nest control for the upstairs. Doable, but silly beyond believe.
  • Picture frame, also doable, though i could buy a single purpose device for less money.
  • Home Automation is another obvious answer, and one that is still in the maybe category. Mainly because we just don’t have that much HA gear, so other than the nest, not a lot to manage right now.
  • Security monitor, I have toyed with cameras and apps, for both in and out of the house monitoring, but not sure that warrants a dedicated device
  • Weather/news station in the bathroom. We have a little RF driven weather station, an iPad seems a bit much.

I will say my biggest disappointment is with Panic’s Status Board. (I’d link to it, but don’t waste your money at this point) I bought it, i even bought the HD TV upgrade. I assume it flopped because while Panic makes awesome products, i don’t think they’re set up for product evangelism. Status Board needed a thriving community of panel makers, and to the best of my knowledge they never supported that. Plenty of sites aggregated panels, but without the “love and support” of the mothership those efforts quickly fade. Status Board would be the perfect tool for an iPad on a wall somewhere, but I don’t see that happening. I may start looking into pulling together data sources of my own to wrap in Status Board panels, but won’t lie, i was hoping for a little more out of the box.

Do you have an iPad that lives as a device in the home? What do you do with it?

Just Vote

I don’t really care who you vote for, though I certainly hope you align with me :)

Really though, i don’t care. I care about Americans being so apathetic we sit around, bitch about political ads, bitch about whomever is in office, and then come voting day, we’re “too busy”, “Don’t care enough, the other guy’s gonna win anyway, the news said so” etc. We’re often our own worst enemy.

On Columbus day I saw tweets going around about taking Columbus day as a national holiday and giving it to Native Americans (which is certainly better than Columbus day) but the one I liked the most, make Election day a national holiday. 

Remove the biggest excuses for low turn out.

Until that happens, though, it’s on us. I’ve voted in every election since I turned voting age. I’ve asked to leave work early, I’ve waiting in hour plus long lines. It’s important to me.

I wish my voice carried more weight, I wish we put .. well all things, above who can spend the most, maybe someday we will. Maybe when voter turnout nationwide is closer to 90% than 60% (honestly I was surprised it was that high) the will of the people will matter.

All that to say, please vote. If you live in a state (Like CO) with mail in ballots, you have NO EXCUSE. You’re a terrible, person, and worthless ‘merican if you couldn’t even put a stamp on an envelope or go for a walk and drop the ballot in a box. If you have to go to a polling place tomorrow, I sympathize, but still urge you to do it. You may not think your vote/voice matters, but it’s hard to ignore a chorus.

GO VOTE.