Tag Archives: Kickstarter

My First Day with Pebble Time

IMG_1768I lingered around the house yesterday before heading out for a work function just so I could get my new Pebble Time. WORTH IT!

I backed the Time the moment i heard about it. No regrets, it’s a nice piece of kit, at least so far in my first half a day ish, I’m really enjoying it as a smart watch.

The screen is (as most tech journo’s have said) not as crisp as say the AppleWatch, but that’s not terrible. It’s all kinds of readable in any light, at almost any angle. That’s a big deal for me. While i love the shake to light feature, I like not needing it very often.

IMG_1756I’m kinda torn on the body. I liked the sleek look of the original Pebble a lot, I suspect I’ll get used to the new style, but I do miss the seamlessness of that first gen. What I do like is the buttons. I like that they’re formed into single line vs. being three distinct buttons.

Also, the new body is definitely eye catching, a friend last night noticed it immediately, and asked what it was.

I like the little “thank you” that Pebble added to the back case for those of us who backed the original as well as the Time, kinda cool, makes mine (and thousands of others) a little unique.

The watch app that accompanies the new Time is much improved over the original. It’s not yet in the iOS app store (I’m running a beta at the time I’m typing this). Hopefully it drops soon, as Time isn’t compatible with the original Pebble management App. That’s a bummer for those who’re receiving their Pebbles this week.

The app itself is much improved aesthetically. You can see each face, a quick tap on a check box and the face is loaded or activated if it was already there. You can even set a default face that is your final destination when pressing the back button. I hated accidentally going past my preferred face to another, then having to click back to it, so that’s nice.

Depending on the face you can manage it’s access to the time line feature that’s new to the Pebble OS, you can also more readily access any settings that might come with that face.

IMG_1770You can also allow access to calendars, and such, which then let’s your appointments flow into the time line. Handy for sure.

Apps are still a thing, and I’m sure it’s just me, but they feel more accessible, maybe it’s the upgraded storage. On my previous Pebble with only 8 “slots” most apps despite their utility competed for space with faces and other apps.

Apps like Leaf now feel easier to use and access, where i used to have to remember i had an app, it’s already second nature to think about it. Maybe because it’s summer and Denver skipped spring and went from cold and wet to hot, so I think about my house temps more, I dunno.

I’m excited by the potential for smart bands, I hope folks take advantage of that feature. Adding battery, sensors, etc via watches adds so much utility to the Pebble Time. Also open sourcing the files and letting the community get involved, shows a lot of love and respect for their users from the Pebble Team.

I’m very happy with the Time already, and envision a long run with this as my daily driver watch, sorry watch box, you’re going to have to wait a while longer.

 

Two things I’m very proud of

The other day I had the opportunity to take part in something super awesome. I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to get involved.

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House of Genius, is to be blunt, awesome. I had the opportunity to present at the last gathering/meeting/whatever it’s called. I like Assemblage of awesome myself.

Anyhow, the basic idea is a small group of people, all anonymous beyond just a first name. Those selected to present their idea have 5 minutes to present it. There’s some Q&A, then some “Sit and listen to what we say without responding” and at the end of the presentations, (usually only 2-3 I think) there’s the “reveal” where everyone introduces themselves; who they are, what they do, etc.

It’s really awesome. I presented something I’m working on and got tons of feedback and introductions. It was very valuable. If they’ll have me, I’ll be happy to be back, it was that awesome of an experience.

 

vis_1The other thing I’m currently really proud of is 360|intersect. It’s an event I’m organizing that’s 100% different than I’ve ever done before. It’s not a technical event, not a hackathon, or summit. They easiest way to describe it, is TED minus the Douche baggery. It’s a group of awesome speakers, from across the events I’ve done and beyond, talking about what they’re passionate about, what makes them awesome technologists.

It’s coming up the end of this month, if you’re in Seattle or just want to spend a weekend being inspired, riding WWII Amphibious vehicles and nerding out with folks from all different technical circles, use “johnsblog” to save 20% when you register.

I can’t wait. Seattle is awesome in the spring, I’ve got lots of friends there, and we’ll be right downtown at an awesome venue, nerding out indoors and out.

 

Hope you can make it! It’s gonna be fun.

The Present is finally here

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So… It arrived. It took a while, but it’s here.

And whether it was worth the wait or not, it’s here now, and it’s as awesome as I had hoped.

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Unboxing was quite nice, you can see that the packaging is nice and minimal.

The clock is wrapped in nice tissue paper and bubble wrap.

Once you get the clock out and drop a battery in it, it spends about 2 minutes calibrating and setting time, which is quite bad ass I have to say.

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Once set, it’s good to go. Put the clock on a wall and watch it go. The reason I backed The Present in the first place, was to see a visual representation of a year.

I’m definitely one of those people that finds themselves thinking “It’s already the middle of the month”, “It’s already the summer solstice?” etc.

Seeing a year fully represented in such beautiful detail, I hope, will help me keep the year in perspective as time flies past.

iWatch Review: Pebble

Nice little touchI really hope Apple takes a while to deliver on their iWatch, at this point I have far more than I can wear without looking like i fell out of the 80’s with a few watches on my wrists. (Yeah I admit, i did that)

I backed the Pebble watch the moment i saw it, in fact only like 3500 people out of the 76,000 that backed it, backed it before i did.  Ok On to my thoughts.

It’s pretty damn awesome. the delays in shipping it (was supposed to ship in early September 2012) were worth it. Not only is it really polished, but they added a ton of things to future proof it. Accelerometer, magnetometer, etc. Things it didn’t need right now, but can’t be added once shipped.

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Overall the experience is really nice. The display is crazy readable no matter the lighting. A flick of your wrist turns on the back light, which is kinda cool. There’s a setting to make it automatic, but i didn’t see it working. I assumed that would mean it was just on all the time in the dark, and that isn’t what happened, so i set it back to wrist flick mode. The thing I like the most (which i liked the most about the iPod nano as a watch too)  is the cool variety of watch faces. I really liked the fuzzy time face. Kinda nice to have time in the same terms we usually give to people when asked for the time. In the end I went with the big time face which takes up the whole face with 2 rows of numbers. Hour and Minute.

Physically the watch is quite nice, falling somewhere in between sports watch and out to dinner in a suit watch. Dressing up, pick a more elegant watch face. The charging is really nice. A nice magsafe style connector on the left of the watch body. The connector just snaps on. There’s four buttons, the two on the top and bottom right are up and down, middle one is “select”

IMG_8301OS wise my two main complaints are 1. There’s no concept of just exiting the settings. I have to go and re-pick my watch face. I’d rather just press the top left button to go “home”, home being watch face. That’s what happens when you’re reading a text message. 2. the present faces (I assume the watch Face SDK will expose more things soon) are bare bones. I’d love a face that included the date, maybe the phone’s battery status or the watches battery status for that matter. I’m not actually sure if there’s a way to see the watch battery level, maybe way down in settings somewhere.

Reading Text messages is really easy. the font is user selectable; Large or Small. It’s really easy to glance down and read the message.

One thing that I found interesting, and awesome. You can answer or decline a phone call. The Metawatch doesn’t do that that I noticed. YOu can see the Caller ID, but i never noticed buttons for accepting or declining the call. It’s pretty handy.

The one thing i noticed that’s drastically different from my Metwatch (I’ll do an actual compare and contrast post soon) is that the Pebble stays connected to my phone way more reliably. What’s nice is the iOS app knows when it’s not connected and will bring up an alert that re-connects the watch. Even from the lock screen. so you’re never left wondering if you’re still connected. That’s really nice.

IMG_8387The iOS app itself is really basic. Which is good and bad. Good in that there’s no fluff, bad in that the UX is all kinds of crazy. Views slide side to side, top to bottom, it’s like a labyrinth. Right now it’s ok, there’s only 2-3 other screens, moving forward it could get goofy.

That said, what’s there is nice. You can see which faces you’ve installed, and browse those that are available for install.

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The only other screen is the connection/update screen. From this screen you can quickly see if the watch is talking to your iPhone. What I like is that this is where software updates are displayed as well. Under that green bar would be an update bar. Firmware updates are delivered of BT to the phone. It’s really q nice experience.

The Home screen of the app has two buttons (which do the same as swiping up or sideways)

a status light. Green is connected, Red is update available or not connected, and the watch face store. (i don’t know what you call it, and presume that’ll be the central repo of faces and apps and such). As things like twitter, facebook, etc integration roll out the UX might change to handle more settings, but for now it’s simple and nice. Kinda Apple-esque in only showing you what you need. I’m a fan of more detail, but oh well.

Pebble app home screen

Pebble app home screen

Over all I’m really liking the Pebble. It’s not as bulky as the Metawatch, but offers less handy info at a glance. I got really used to Phone battery and weather right there with time.

It’s a more attractive watch with easier to read display so that’s a big plus. It is water resistant, showers ok, not sure how far you can take it. I don’t wear watches in the shower usually so not something I care too much about.

Overall the Pebble does a ton of things right. Like the Metawatch, it’s not a complete package, and whether it will be or not is up to both Pebble and the developer community. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime it’s a great watch to wear and looks good on your wrist.

iWatch Review: MetaWatch

IMG_7994So a while back I did a review of my first iWatch (actually this was the first, but it was temporary). It was an ok watch, i had hoped for new features, and in the end the only firmware update that ever came out while adding new watch faces, didn’t do a ton more to make it an awesome iWatch. Of course now that form factor is dead and the new model is not “watchable” at all, so there’s that.

Now I have a proper iWatch, just no i. I’ve had the Meta Watch Strata for a while now, it’s a very cool smart watch. It’s more in the sport watch area, but they do sell a more dressy model. It connects over Blue Tooth Low Energy to the phone and shows you phone battery level, SMS messages, Caller ID, and… well right now that’s all. They’re still working out the bugs, so the emphasis has been on connectivity. I’m trying the latest beta firmware, and it’s come a long way from what shipped.

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Right now it tells you just the basics, but when some of the coming soon features roll out, it’ll be great. I’m hoping i can create rules around some of it, a buzz for every email would suck, a buzz for emails from my wife, or a conference sponsor, handy. Ditto twitter DMs and @ replies. Some i care enough about, others less so.

It has been really handy to glance at my wrist to see incoming SMS’s without digging my phone out of my pocket.

TheIMG_7995 calendar widget has been pretty handy too since you can have two; today and tomorrow. reading a busy day isn’t easy. I suspect future updates will include more readable fonts, or more configurable widgets.

As Smart Watches get more and more popular the differences in approach emerge. MetaWatch uses a central connected app to push data to the watch. App Developers will write their apps, and they’ll reside in the MetaWatch Manager app, giving the user a single place to control it all.

Others like Pebble (I should have mine in another 9 weeks or something) from what I understand, push the apps to the watch. The example shown at CES was pushing watch faces. If you’ve read the other reviews, you know watch faces is one of the things I most loved about the iPod Nano. Pebble made it a front and

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center feature as well. MetaWatch seems to have gone a different direction, at least to start. If you choose to have a full face watch face, you have A choice.

It’s not ugly, but I’m not really a fish person. I’d love to see more, and suspect as time goes on and developers begin releasing things for MetaWatch, we’ll see more clever faces.

Overall I’m really happy with the Strata. The Smart Watch space is still very much in it’s infancy so there’s a lot of room to grow for everyone in it. MetaWatch is clearly serious about it, since having the Strata they’ve gone from 1.0 firmware to 1.2 (yes three releases) but that’s in maybe 3 months?

Pros: Geek cred. pretty handy for basic stuff, way more handy in the future. Doesn’t make a noticable impact on phone battery. It’s connected so definitely does use battery, but not so much I’m carrying a car batter around.

Cons: Not much you can do with it right this second. Weather and phone battery at a glance are cool, and I find them quite handy, but that’s it. Unless you love stocks, it does ship with a stock widget.

A few more pics below just so you can see the MWM app etc.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

 

Configuration screen for widgets

Configuration screen for widgets

Currently available options for apps

Currently available options for apps

Where future apps will live
Where future apps will live

 

Funny, That’s no how I see Kickstarter

Saw this yesterday, and while I agree on some level, Kickstarter isn’t Wal-Mart. I 100% disagree, with this reasoning

“Strickler thinks that paying too much attention to deadlines draws focus away from where it belongs: on the “journey” to launching a new creation.

“When we go see a movie, we don’t think about how long the post-production took,” he says. “We don’t look at the Sistine Chapel and think, ‘This took four years,’ or however long it took.” “

The reason that comparison doesn’t work for me, is that when I’m watching a movie, i didn’t buy the ticket when it was a script. If kickstarter would like to not take my money until the creators deliver, that’s ok. I’ll wait another year for the (still no ETA) Present I backed a year ago. I’m happy to help someone on “the journey” maybe kickstarter can back the journey and collect money at the destination, if the journey is what’s more important to them?

If i had paid to build the sistine, you bet I’d be watching my sun dial. I’m sure the backers where back then, or possibly it was built with realistic deadlines.

The article has an interesting graphic outlining the most popular and most late shipping projects. I’ve backed a few on the list.

I understand and have talked about it before that, when you think you’ll be building 5,000 of something, and now have backers for 75,000 that’s a different manufacturing plan than you had. You have to start over. It’s both a great and a terrible problem to have I imagine.

What’s the answer? I wish I knew. I also wish Kickstarter took a less Blasse  approach to it. My backing of projects has significantly decreased this year despite awesome projects being present. I look at a project, add 6 months to a year to the ship date, and almost always, that makes it something I’m not interested in. Or at least willing to wait and buy it in the store if it makes it that far.

My Problem with Kickstarter

To be clear I think it’s awesome and rarely a day goes by I don’t think one of two things.

1. What could I put up on Kickstarter?

2. Why didn’t I think of Kickstarter!?

Anyhow, yeah I love it, if nothing else it shows just how much disposable income the US is sitting on :) But I also worry and get annoyed by the projects that I back.

I’ve now backed 5 projects.

1. Lunatik iPod nano frame (don’t wear it any more, but loved it. I think it delivered mostly on time)

2. Lunatik touch stylus (just received it 2 weeks ago. love it. It too was pretty close to when I was expecting it. The only delay I remember was when a selected material didn’t look good after the production run.)

3. The Present (has blown past it’s delivery date. This news is delivered by high production value videos set to very nice musical scores, but still, delayed. It’s also changed design from the version shown to get funding which I find irritating. Part of the delays is written off by “we’re building it in the USA” which wasn’t part of the equation when backing it, but suddenly after he had my money became a mission statement. WEAK.)

4. The Pebble. I was one of the first thousand or so I’d guess, I don’t recall. The Pebble is what I hoped the iPod Nano/Lunatik would be. They just announced the other day that the planned delivery of September wasn’t gonna happen. They made that date up based on 1000 units. Understandable, they have orders for nearly 90,000 units now. However they didn’t provide a delivery date. “When we’re sure it’s ready, it’ll ship.” Uh that’s great and all, but i’d like it on my wrist, sooner rather than later.

5. The Nifty Mini drive. I just backed it and they’re thinking delivery November-ish. This thing has no electronics so shouldn’t be too delayed by large kickstarter support. That’s my hope at least. We’ll see. The project closes in another few days. Since it’s mostly plastic and metal I suspect once it’s tooled up and in production they’ll churn out quickly. I hope.

So of the kickstarter projects I’ve back that are completed, 50% have missed their shipping deadlines. Now I understand it’s hard to forecast a deadline when you don’t know if you’ll be shipping 1,000 units or 100,000 units. however from the updates I see, a lot of these delays are in prototyping, which is what really irritates me. It seems these projects take their funds and then re-jigger their design. The Present spent another month or three being re-designed, then a few months working out materials. Two things that should have been really locked in by the time the projects was on kickstarter, or at least by the time it ended.

The Pebble seems to be doing the same thing, tweaking designs and circuit boards. I guess the video they made with what looked like a functioning prototype was clever filming? I dunno, but I’m starting to evaluate the projects I back with an eye toward “is this vaporware right now, and won’t be real until it funds?” I totally get that the reason things are on kickstarter is that they need money to be real, but it seems the work of designing it and having a functional prototype should be done. Once the project funds (Unless otherwise stated) it should be just a matter of production. As a backer I don’t think I’m out of line expecting these folks to live up to their stated delivery deadlines, or at least be close. I don’t’ mind an extra month, but an extra year?