Category Archives: nerdy

Smart Watch Review: The Vector Luna

Vector Smartwatch synced to iPhone app

Vector Smartwatch synced to iPhone app

As far as smartwatches go the Vector excels in both design and technical prowess.

It does exactly what ones assumes a smartwatch would do. It notifies the wearer of the info he or she wishes to receive. It also serves as an elegant and reliable timepiece — nothing more, nothing less.

People tend to converse about smartwatches in the same way they do about Google Glass. What’s a smartwatch other than another digital device stealing our time and attention? Do we really want another barrier to real human connection, especially one that from the very beginning appears to be somewhat gauche?

In our information-crazed society where FOMO is a real thing, aren’t we distracted enough?

I’ve written about why I’d prefer not to wear one. I even went so far as to wear a sweater with an 8-bit Tamagotchi across the chest that pays homage to William Gibson’s Tamagotchi gesture.

In a 1999 essay from Wired describing his obsession with buying traditional timepieces on eBay, Gibson says:

Mechanical watches partake of the Tamagotchi Gesture: They’re pointless yet needful, comforting precisely because they require tending.

I don’t disagree that a timepiece requires tending. Sure, the Vector needs tending – it needs to be charged. And maybe at some point I’ll swap out a wristband or two.

From a moral perspective, isn’t the watch disturbing with all its notifications? Doesn’t it add to the level of digital noise instead of help reduce it, given that we’re already trying to turn down the noise (be it mental or digital) to begin with?

Let’s back up for a second. If digital distraction is the topic here, the iPhone is a lost cause. Think about it: it’s basically a computer we keep in our back pocket and program to go off all the time.

The smartwatch enables one to filter out everything except for the absolutely necessary.

And the phone can be put away.

The only notifications I have set up are incoming calls, text messages, Facebook messenger (the only reason outside of groups I still use Facebook), and Uber. Those are enough. All of the messages filtered to come through are from those I actually know.

I can also put the device in silent mode. That way I can move along with the activities and tasks that are truly important without worrying that no one can reach me. (Yes, a luxury problem that didn’t exist thirty years ago.)

The watch doesn’t interfere the way phones do, as long as we set them up to act that way. 

It’s also helpful to simply, well, glance down. For example, I can look down at my wrist and learn that the friend I’m meeting for brunch is five minutes away. There’s no need to dig out the iPhone, unlock it, and swipe. This literally eliminates at least two, three, possibly more actions taken depending on your setup and use.

I got the Vector Watch for several reasons but mostly, because I wanted to attach myself to something beautiful.

And the Vector is just that. The hardware is sleek and fully customizable from both an interface and hardware perspective. You can choose from several faces, bands and sizes.

You can essentially design a timepiece that looks like a classic mechanical watch. From a distance one barely notices that it’s a smartwatch – it’s that discreet.

When I got my Vector in late 2015 there were only a limited number of digital watch faces available. The file sizes must’ve been larger then, too — I was only able to download a handful. They must be iterating quickly, or maybe it’s because they’ve opened up their platform to developers because many more have rolled out since then ranging from classic to abstract. They even offered a heart-themed face on Valentine’s Day.

While it’s stream features are somewhat limited at present (and this may be intentional) the smartwatch offers basic functional features like a timer, alarm, weather info and news. For those who like to dabble in quantified self one has the ability to measure steps, calories burned, and hours of sleep, although there is no Fitbit-like interface for digging more deeply into the data.

The battery life also falls short of expectation (it’s closer to three weeks versus four). Other more nuanced personal grievances revolve around display resolution and storage.

The vector is cross platform, meaning that it’s compatible with both Android and iPhone devices. I tried it out on both and it worked just fine.

All in all, the Vector is a beautiful marriage between form and function; a high quality product that hasn’t glitched on me yet in the five months I’ve had it.  Sleek, intuitive design meets helpful technology – this is where the Vector truly shines.

Will it last five years though, as a traditional timepiece would? Probably not. It’s certain to say that in five years there will be a more sophisticated device taking its place. It will be interesting to see if there will be long-term debate about mechanical versus digital, or if they will simply be treated as separate species.

Within the former the mechanical watch will almost certainly win every time. Within the latter, the traditional watch will take home the categories of reliability and tradition as the smartwatch continues to dazzle on.

Why Digital Marketing Is The Future (And The Future Is Now)

Is building a product actually easier than marketing the thing? Some would answer yes. Perhaps it depends on what you’ve set out to build. (Yo, anyone?) On one hand, while marketing has become easier due to more methods at our disposal and advanced tools for measuring impact, the holistic idea of “marketing” as a whole does have its challenges.

For one, marketing departments don’t have a template to follow. There are no feature sets, no assigned tasks in Jira, no testing build to see if the features actually work.

That’s not to say that building a quality product isn’t challenging — it’s been reported that  less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps actually find financial success. The argument is then reversed. Is marketing to blame for this unfortunate rate of success?  Perhaps.

Marketing has it’s own set of uniquely complex problems. In some ways the old adage still rings true – “marketing is throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.” But things have gotten drastically better.

In recent years marketing strategy has evolved considerably and the old paradigm is much less relevant. Consider advertising. This year the BBC reported that for the first time ever teens are spending more time online than they are watching television. This leaves the advertising world scrambling to reach them in other places like YouTube, in-games, or within narrowcast messaging apps like Snapchat. (by the way, they no longer use Facebook.)

The good news is that these new marketing opportunities are long tail and highly quantifiable through qualitative data. In other words, we can now measure our marketing dollars much more clearly.

Take the following example. Rather than buying a Superbowl spot on television an advertiser runs a video campaign tied to a timely topic using celebrity influencers as bait. The distribution channels? Social media. Along the same lines, relevant ad units can purchased within games, and badges or funny filters are great offerings we’re starting to see presented within narrowcast environments.

With the exception of the television spot, all of the above is measureable. What’s more, it can be broken down by demographic and  user persona. It becomes easier than ever to understand who engages with your product.

By the way, this is exactly what the new’ish methodology of “growth hacking” employs.

[To be clear, growth hacking isn’t actually hacking. It is the process of deliberately employing small, measurable action items in order to see what actually works. After you get an idea of what consumers respond the best to, you can then double down in the areas with noticeable (measurable) success.]

Examples of these small and measurable action items include:  running an incremental batch of ad buys on AdWords or Facebook, A/B testing content on your website, low level influencer marketing, strategically posting to social media. Marketing dollars don’t need to be spent in chunks, rather in small increments — think subscriptions and incremental ad buys.

This approach is vastly different from the old days when simply doing things like issuing a press release, having a presence at trade shows, or buying billboard space were the norm.

The key in the digital economy is to focus on things that are measurable.  

Not only can you market your product in a highly strategic way,  you’ll gain valuable user feedback as you go.

The new marketing paradigm involves more channels than ever. These channels include but are not limited to: content optimization, community building, e-mail marketing, and business development. With so many options it’s important to be strategic and find the channels that work best for you.

There are countless combinations of levers to pull in order to find success, which are found through experimentation. Some approaches may work for one company and fail for yours. You must choose your channels wisely, and you’ll be reaching your goals in no time.

Richie Hawtin Speaks on the Future of DJ’ing

DJ Tech Tools posted a great interview this week with influential music-maker and tech pioneer Richie Hawtin.

I’ve always been a huge Richie Hawtin fan, so it comes as no surprise that I loved every minute of this interview. I particularly enjoyed hearing his thoughts on the future of DJ’ing and how we must experiment with our tools to improve and develop new ones. Although Technics Turntables were considered to be the “standard” for DJ’ing 10 years ago, the technology is changing so often that it would hinder progress to claim any one tool as standard today.

“I think as people who are just looking at the equipment about what it does…but it’s not about what the equipment does, it’s about what you can do through that equipment. That’s where the soul is.”

Check it out for yourself:

Top 5 Gift Ideas For The Music Geek On Your List

Syndicated from Yahoo! Music Blog: As Heard On…

When it comes to holiday shopping, many of us freeze at the mere prospect of trolling a mall with hundreds of others in search of that perfect and unique holiday gift. Particularly when it comes to tech toys, why scour the shelves when we can make our purchases online at the last minute instead? I don’t know about you, but I love shopping in my PJs – and have the items delivered directly to my doorstep!

Whether you’re shopping at home or in the mall, for yourself or someone else, here are five ideas guaranteed to satisfy the music lover in all of us.

1. The Portable Player, a.k.a. The Boombox

If you’re looking for a dock for your iPod or iPhone, the On Stage IV from JBL is your match. The portable speaker system plays music from your device while simultaneously charging it. It travels easily and packs a punch for it’s small size.

If you can hold out until January, TDK is back in the game with the TDK Boombox, an excellent reinvention of the classic ghetto blaster. Both a two and three-speaker option will be available (the third speaker hosts a dedicated sub-woofer!). The boombox comes with USB support including input for a USB stick, AM/FM radio, and RCA, minijack, and ¼ inch inputs. Settings have illuminated touch controls with two oversized aluminum knobs for volume and radio tuning support. How cool is that!?

However, if you prefer to keep it real with an authentic ghetto blaster, never fear! EBay has an excellent selection spanning different styles and decades.

For some, it’s more important to ditch those bulky D batteries and play it green. The recycled boombox makes an excellent stocking stuffer or gift exchange item (and it ain’t too shabby at $18 a pop).

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Part 5: Getting to Know You

The other night was quite windy in here Santa Monica. It was 4am and I was wide awake and totally spooked.  I randomly posted how I was feeling to Twitter and noticed shortly thereafter that other west-siders were awake and acknowledging that they felt the same way.

This exchange comforted me somehow. It made me feel less neurotic about being freaked out by something so simple as wind.

It’s scary to think that everything I post is on record somewhere, but to participate I realize – like in a real world relationship – that it helps to open up.

I noticed that after posting more opinionated tweets or describing certain situations that my number of followers dramatically increased.  Offering up stuff I was working on, like  DJ mixes, helped too.

Make the experience personal and memorable and people will follow.

Just like the real world, the Twitterverse is full of amazing individuals who love to share their creations, thoughts and opinions.

Get to know your tweeples. Send them messages, read their blogs. You’ll become flattered by the types of people who follow you, and become inspired to offer more.  It makes participation more meaningful than communicating aimlessly in an anonymous online world.