Tech

Waze

With Carmogeddon looming less than 12 hours away I want to go over Waze, a navigation app that I think will prove much more disruptive than a 53 hour shutdown of the 405.

By disruptive I mean that this little startup has the potential to revolutionize one of the least favorite parts of many peoples day: their commute. By leveraging the power of crowdsourcing and social networking, Waze provides real time, turn-by-turn navigation based on current traffic conditions. In addition to traffic information Waze also collects and reports data on accidents, red light cameras, speed traps and other road hazards that may conspire against you on your trip across town. That’s right, this app not only aims to tell you when it is OK to hop on the 405 rather than La Cienega but will guide you through the process and give you a heads up about the cop hiding after the next overpass.

Needless to say, Garmin you should be more than a little worried. I’ve long questioned the need for my stand-alone Nuvi 660 when I have a fully capable, GPS enabled smart phone with me at all times. And their $33 street pilot app hasn’t exactly been well received. One of the only advantages of having a stand alone GPS I can think of at this point is preserving the battery life of your phone. GPS navigation is a real battery killer and who wants to get where they are going with a dead phone? Hopefully as the software evolves and battery technology improves this will be less of an issue.

Speaking of issues, one of the problems I have with Waze is the social gaming elements which actually encourage user interaction while driving. “Wazers” are encouraged to report traffic incidents they encounter en route and even earn points for updating map errors or entering street names. It’s true that the UI has been designed mostly for one-handed operation, but the distraction potential is pretty high and could be enough to cause an accident (oh the irony). To be fair Waze does offer voice recognition for some features and text entry is restricted while moving; however, simply entering “passenger” mode subverts this restriction. I think Waze needs to ramp up its passive data collection and offer a simplified user interface designed for drivers to report traffic incidents with 1 touch as opposed to the 3 or 4, which may be required now.

The truth is that this revolution isn’t going to happen overnight. Waze has already been around for several years and the software still feels somewhat like beta. But Carmogeddon looks to be the perfect use case for Waze and the app has received a tremendous amount of attention over the past few months. The good news is that as the user base grows and they are able to gather more data the navigation should improve.

Who knows, Carmogeddon may be hyped up like the Y2K bug but in any case there is definitely huge potential for Waze to blaze new trails in the realm of navigation.

Ode to Speakerphone

This just in: Cell phones cause cancer. The following is an excerpt from this article on CNN.com:

Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

Let’s be honest, this news shouldn’t be entirely surprising. If you’ve ever heard the bizarre litany of squawks, chirps and buzzing that your smartphone elicits from any speakers within a 5-10ft radius then you’ve probably wondered if your brains were being cooked as well. You may have also noticed the SAR information tucked away in the back of the instruction manual that came with your phone. If SAR seems confusing, its akin to the intensity level setting on your microwave…except you can’t change it, it’s set by the cell phone manufacturer.

The good news is that the further the phone is held away from the body the less radiation is absorbed. Hmmm…can you hear me now? So if you can’t ditch your cell phone don’t panic, the experts suggest getting an ear piece, or using speaker phone to increase the distance between you and your cellular mutating device.

Square Up

Square

So my square reader came in last week. If you haven’t heard it’s a credit card processing system that integrates with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or other smartphones running the Android OS (I’m not sure if they support windows mobile yet). The credit card reader is super small and plugs right into your phones audio jack and the best part is the price:  it’s free . There are, of course charges related to accepting payments but it’s a pretty big step in bringing credit card processing to the masses.

WhyFi

Just got a hi-gain antenna b/c the internal antenna on my imac wasn’t cutting it. By the time the wifi signal reaches the second floor I was only seeing about 3000kbps downstream which is super slow for FiOS. The results of my first speed test with the new antenna are…fassssst

Tech Stars Do More Faster book tour

Mike and I went to see Brad Feld and David Cohen of Tech Stars speak about their new book “Do More Faster” yesterday. In case you’ve never heard of it, Tech Stars is an early stage start-up incubator based in Boulder, Colorado. The event was sponsored by Microsoft so they held it @ their offices on the 33rd floor of the Wells Fargo Tower downtown. I went with the expectation of a typical book talk/signing but came away with tons of good information not only from authors Brad and David but the panel of tech entrepreneurs, VC’s and Angel Investors. They gave out free copies of the book to everyone who asked questions with the only qualification being that if we did not like the book, we were to either give it away or burn it but under no circumstance were we to submit a negative review on amazon or profess our disdain on twitter. To be honest, I have yet to crack the book but I have a feeling I won’t be using it to start the BBQ. One thing I took away from the session is a renewed desire to create something original. Pretty much everyone in the room from the venture capital guys (who create economic value) to David and Brad both of whom are seasoned entrepreneurs, financiers and now authors are involved in “creating stuff” on a daily basis. I’m still looking for my calling at this point but I left the event feeling like I had something to strive for.

Beem me up Scotty

So I’ve been cleaning out the storage unit and finding lots of really useful stuff like 8MB CF cards (My SLR takes pictures that would fill up that card in 1 shot) and my OG iPod that’s as thick as a…Brick. BUT, when I saw this AOL floppy from 1995 I had to post it. Remember those days? You click connect and then actually hear the modem dial the phone number to your ISP. Remember the time you put the wrong one in and your phone bill was $500 because it was a long distance number? Of course signing on during peak hours often meant busy signals so you hoped and prayed to hear the modem squawk to life like a banshee screeching and beeping in some sort of high-tech handshake. After that it was “Welcome” and then everybody’s favorite “You’ve got mail”…ahh the good old days. I’d forgotten how the signing on was such an auditory experience.

Roadtrip Visualization

Checkout this map of the foursquare checkins from our roadtrip…i was hoping someone would make an app like this. Make sure you hit the “-” to zoom out because it zooms to a local view of my last check in by default.

Chris Simmons’s Checkins by WeePlaces.com.

One Infinite Loop

Apple headquarters. Nothing to see here, just a gift shop and a bunch of geeks in tight jeans and nerds walking around in birkinstocks and jean shorts. Just to clarify the geeks are in the gift shop and the nerds are the ones walking around the campus with crazy hair staring aimlessly into space…they’re the ones that actually make stuff.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

2066 Crist Dr. Los Altos

So here is the garage where “it all” aka Apple Computer started.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.