June 30, 2015

Comments Off on My only issue that remains with streaming music…

It requires a data connection.

I’ve disabled iTunes Match / Cloud on my iOS devices. The stream never works. I have very weak 3G everywhere I go and Spotify, Pandora, none of these work. It’s my fault for living out in the woods. I’m going to give Apple Music a go but I’ll probably only be able to use it while on WiFi (work & home). There’s a reason I have 128GB iPhone and iPad. Each have half of my music library on them and my 160GB iPod Classic has my most played music and I get by with those. Cloud anything just doesn’t work for me. 

The thing is, I don’t see any reviewers mentioning this. I guess everyone but me has 4G / LTE everywhere?

June 29, 2015

Comments Off on Linked: “In Search Of The Red Cross’ $500 Million In Haiti Relief”

via NPR:

After several emails, the Red Cross acknowledged that the “130,000 Haitians” figure is made up of people who went to a seminar on how to fix their own homes, people who received temporary rental assistance, and thousands of people who received temporary shelters — which start to disintegrate after three to five years.

Archaic land title and government requirements make building in Haiti very difficult and time-consuming, but other charities have built almost 9,000 homes so far, according to figures from Global Shelter Cluster.

I’ve had my own problems with Red Cross in the past. No charity is perfect but they easily get the most attention and donations after any natural disaster occurs. The fact that half a billion dollars has been squandered away is completely irresponsible.

Don’t give money to these dirtbags.

June 28, 2015

Comments Off on 4 Million Flickr Views on My Photos

4 Million Flickr Views

After 9 years on Flickr, I hit what is to me a pretty momentous occasion. My photos have been viewed an astounding 4 million times. 2-3K views a today for the past few days will do that. I am not published or paid much for the photos I take but it’s really exciting to have so many people seeing my pictures throughout the years.

June 26, 2015

Comments Off on Linked: “What Twitter Can Be”

via Lower Case Capital:

I can’t find a single element that is worth quoting as the article itself is so great. It’s like everything I wished Twitter could have been all in one post. Twitter has failed its early adopters which is common as a company matures but it has also failed the people who also use Facebook and see no real compelling reason to use Twitter over Facebook.

June 25, 2015

Comments Off on Tapping into passive goodwill with Smartphones

On FieldGuide, there is an article titled, “4 Ways to Use Your Smartphone for a Good Cause”. I’ve been thinking about this for a while both personally and professionally. Today’s modern cellular phone collects more data than we ever could have envisioned. My iPhone and Apple Watch inform me of how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed, my heart rate, the amount of steps I took and where I went. My car even has a GPS chip that shows me exactly where my car went when the mechanic took it for a test drive. These Breadcrumbs tell us more than we ever needed to know about our lives and our world and that’s before adding dongles that accept credit cards, barometric pressure and blood glucose levels.

I noticed a few weeks ago that when I’m walking in a city, Apple Maps defaults to walking directions when I asked for navigation to a cafe and to driving directions when I’m moving quickly down an Interstate. This is a great example of my iPhone being spatially aware of my land-speed and recommending an ideal navigation. I can switch from walking to driving directions with one tap but it’s nice when the default knows what I’m currently doing (walking versus driving).

When you think about map-making, there are half a billion devices in the world that quite easily build out the geometry of a map. Map making is incredibly difficult. Companies around the world spend billions a year to make maps or they’re lucky enough to get by with 50 thousand volunteers logging a million hours a year. If half a billion people contributed breadcrumbs to one map maker, there would still be a deficiency in the lack of meta data that makes a map navigable.

I think there are two components to crowd-sourced mapping:

  • Passive Breadcrumb collection that enables millions of people to improve the map they rely on data without any action other than agreeing to some legal terms
  • Active meta data contribution paid or unpaid to a map service where a person chooses to spend 5-60 seconds a day clicking a thumbs up button or actually sending in a report

Ignoring the fact that I work for a mapping company, I commend Google for doing a fantastic job at tracking customer location for the sole reason of improving their maps. As early as Android 2.0, when you launched Google Maps, it would ask you your location. From that point on, your device would phone home to Google’s servers a few times an hour to give your location and a few times a minute if you are in navigation mode. To disable this, you’d have to go to the phone settings and dive deep within various menus to disable the location tracking within maps. As the Android user base grew, so did the breadcrumb trail contributed by millions of customers.

I don’t know how the system works today on Android phones, nor do I know if these breadcrumbs ever contributed to an improved map. Google for sure collected them.

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Passive Breadcrumb collection opportunity is limited by:

  1. The size of the customer base that opts in to using your application
  2. The size of customers who opt-in to location tracking
  3. The value you give them in return so they continue graciously sharing anonymized data

A lot of users like myself track our own data. I use GeoFencing and Location Tracking applications that store data on my personal iCloud and merge the location data of iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch to give me a view of where I go every day and where I visit the most and how long I stay.

I wouldn’t mind sharing that data with a mapping company of my choice. If I choose to improve TomTom’s map or Google’s or Open Street Map, that should be a choice I make. Each of those companies have ways to contribute Geo Data. I think there is a wealth of people who don’t know how to contribute their location data for an improved map and I think mapping companies should promote transparent data collection to their most passionate customers.

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Active Meta Data Contribution is limited by:

  1. See Passive bullet #1
  2. The value and quality of inputs a customer can make into improving the map
  3. The ease of use in reporting a map change very quickly without fuss

I think the top priority should be that anyone, even non-cartographers can open the application, make an error report / correction in 45 seconds or less. I can’t think of a single mapping application that allows this on mobile. Further, an application that allows this while the customer is operating a moving vehicle. All app developers instruct the user to not use the app while driving. Most people do it anyway so why not make the buttons large and easy to use?

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Active and Passive data should be promoted as a standalone application by mapping companies. Maybe they’re two different apps? The applications should clearly be free, should have very limited functionality and be cross-platform.

Passive breadcrumb collection is easy. The device logs Lat,Long a few times an hour and phones home to the host server when the device is on WiFi. That data is anonymized and the user gets a few data points like kilometers driven, time spent at work versus home. It’s very similar to Google Latitude (a now retired product).

Active is a bit more challenging. There are simple features and advanced features. The #1 feature I’d want is a way to mark a place for later. I’m driving, observe a map change, mark my location w/ a single menu that helps me remember why I saved it as “Blocked road” or “Speed Limit” and I can file the report once I’m home.

The key to making any app sticky is to balance a customer’s love for improving their community map and their personal driving experience and rewarding them with incentives to keep going. I linked to a piece earlier in the week that discusses Waze’s issue with community attrition after the Google acquisition.

Rewards can be as simple as a pretty badge that only you can see or additional app functions unlocked as you submit more feedback or drive more miles. The incentive could even be cold-hard cash. Finding the right balance is crucial and iterating quickly as the community reacts to the incentives you provide is equally as important.

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I am writing this about mapping because that’s what I do every day. It’s what I think about 12-15 hours a day. The same can be tailored to any industry where crowd-sourcing is essential. The best computer is in your pocket or the one that’s with you. Not enough companies are utilizing the power or convenience of that.