Apple revamped the look and feel of their next iOS. At first instance, we all felt disgusted of how bad and “half-ass” the interface looks; “there was no attention to detail”, “they are doing flat design to just be hip”. All these feelings were expressed as this was a cold bucket of water to the head to every Apple consumer that were accustomed to the current iOS design. The is a drastic change barely no legacy design being rolled over to this new style, Apple is moving away from their skeuomorphic designs and adopting Flat Design. Whether is popular, loved or not, Apple made a conscious and well-thought decision to move into this direction.
It’s hard to understand their rationale at this moment but letting the design and thought sink in I can see that this is a well calculated step forward by Apple. For the first time, the new design direction ties their hardware design with their software design. This is when Sir Jon Ivey contribution comes in.
Apple is thinking bigger with iOS, I can foresee that their roadmap won’t be solely staying within the phone and mobile realm, they are aiming to expand to outside the small screen, they are designing their software to connect with the rest of the consumer electronics.
Reaching consumer electronics is where flat design comes in. Creating a rather generic looking UI, Apple is facilitating the unification of non Apple hardware. It’s crucial when we see Apple powering the dashboard of cars, later we will see the powering of companion hardware and in the near future powering the most important aspect: Smart Houses.
Smart Houses is the future of our living. Soon, everyone will be able to control every single aspect of their household from the comfort of their phone, anywhere in the World the homeowner is. This phase is already happening, we have seen this become a reality with project like SmartThings. The talk on the topic has increased, and I believe Apple knows this is the future of consumer electronics, the next tech revolution. The power of their design is in the context that it will be used. They are optimistic that this is the future that we will live and they setting the foundation for it.
After a very successful Kickstarter, the Pebble smartwatch is one of the most anticipated products to soon hit the wide market. As one of the thousands that helped fund the project, I finally received my own Pebble smartwatch. Immediately after I put it on my wrist, I can see that wearable watches will be the next generation of electronic accessories that the consumers will adopt.
The boxing of the watch is nicely presented, simple, not too flashy that does its job of being as a box. I assume once the products hits stores, a clear flashy case will display the watch.
The first reaction after seeing and feeling the smartwatch at its flesh was it that it feels cheap. This is not a bad thing if keep in mind that this initial iteration of the smartwatch is sort of a prototype. The plastic face screen is shiny and smooth. The body and buttons are the parts that make it feel like a prototype with its mate plastic finish. The left side of the body has a “back” button and the usb end for the smartwatch to charge. The right side of the body has three buttons, two long one and a short one. They serve to move via the menus and as a confirm functionality. The wristband had a lot of complaints from earlier adopters but I personally have no problem with the rubber wristband.
The smartwatch is charged via USB. Once the charge is done I proceed to download the Pebble smartwatch iOS app and connect the smartwatch with the phone via Bluetooth. After the Pebble and phone are communicating via Bluetooth, I open the Pebble smartwatch app. The app is in charge of doing the data management of the smartwatch. The first thing I had to do was update the software of the watch. After the update is completed, the watch restarts and I’m able to select the watch face.
The phone has 3 initial watch plates and the app provides a menu of more watch plates. This menu in the app will be the Pebble watch “store”for third party Pebble watches. The menu on the watch provides an option to control the music from the iPhone, set the alarm, select the face watches and the phone options.
I wasn’t aware of what functionality, other than providing the time the watch would have. I was pleasantly surprised finding out that I can control the music playing on my iPhone. I was surprised once again to feel the watch vibrate. Upon looking at why it was vibrating, I noticed that I received a text message. The content of the text message including its sender is shown on the Pebble screen. This single event validated my statement as the watch being part of the future of electronic accessories that consumers will use on a daily basis. The watch also notifies you when someone calls you. Hopefully soon more notifications are added to the watch, like Twitter mentions or VIP emails.
The only high expectation I had was the screen. The e-ink screen is not bad by all means, but I have personally been spoiler by the high pixel density screens. The Pebble smartwatch screen is clear, easy to read at any light level and it has a light for low light settings.
After using it for a week I have accepted that I will learn new habits of communication extended by the smartwatch. The rather simple functionality that the watch provides opens up a World of ideas of services and tasks that can take full advantage of this behavior.
It is still very early to see what tools and technologies take advantage of the watch. There are already ‘Watchapps’ being released via the Pebble forum. I have a few ideas of utilities that the Pebble watch will be perfect. I can’t wait to see great smartwatch apps being released.
As a conclusion, the concept of the smart watch has a bright future. A future that the big companies like Apple, LG, Google and Microsoft recognize, that from early reports, all of them are working on their own smart watch. The Pebble Kickstarter showed metrics of genuine interest for the smart watch. The Pebble watch is the trailblazer on this industry. I give my approval rating to the Pebble watch and I await for what the big companies will have to offer.
There has been a lot of activity going on with Bitcoin this past few days. I started writing this article on March 5th and never had the chance to polish it. Due to the high activity lately, I want to publish it and do edits as they go along. Below is an awesome video explaining BitCoin. I’m still learning about the currency.
Lately you may have heard a lot of talk about Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency. This means that there is no institution or country controlling the value of exchange of the currency. Since January, the value of Bitcoin has had a 500% increase and there no end in sight.
The thought that went through, to get conceive the currency, is a work of a genius(es). Definitely someone that understands technology and economy.
The real winners are the early adopters of the currency. Where some of them were hoarding large amounts of Bitcoins when they were roughly less than a dollar per Bitcoin, some have thousands of Bitcoins and with its increase in value, they are safely becoming millionaires.
We are having a Bitcoin gold rush. Investors are being attracted to the promise of a low investment, high return.
There is the fear that the currency is just a bubble that will sooner or later will burst.
My advice is for you to invest on Bitcoin. If you believe in technology and in the future, you should consider it. More vendors are using the currency. The key for success to the currency is that is used for tangible goods. The more is exchanged, the better the value of the currency. Technology is creating tools for ease of exchange, this should be an indicator that Bitcoin is here to stay, and the value to keep rising. Be aware of the sudden spikes in value, they can go up or they can go down, it’s a realtime market, and it’s as fast as information is transmitted on the Internet.
My advice if you decide to invest on Bitcoin is: 1) Invest the money that you have available to invest or that can afford. 2) Don’t get excited. Bitcoins can go up really fast, and they can go down 2 times faster. 3) When it crashes, you should buy 4) Set value goals. I would either do it by a fixed amount (when it reaches $500 a Bitcoin) or by a percentage of growth from the amount that you bought it for (I want to sell it when a 100% increase in value happens). 5) Disperse your coins. Bitcoin services are constantly attacked, either by hackers or by people trying to buy. Some may try to steal your Bitcoins. I recommend having a local wallet with at least half or more of your coins, and use services like Blockchain, to a portion of the rest of your Bitcoins.
To help Bitcoin, exchange Bitcoins and buy goods with them. The more people do this, the healthier the currency gets. To help yourself, set a Bitcoin savings and practice patience. Bitcoin is expected to increase to $100,000 to $1,000,000(!!) per Bitcoin within the next 10 years. If you do the math using todays Bitcoin value, you can see how much profit you can potentially make.
Before the start of every project we work on, we have two mini versions of our developer selves in our shoulders. On one shoulder, we have the stubborn developer, on the other we have the smart ass developer, each of them trying to lure the unsettled developer that is you. Let me describe the little voices in your shoulders:
The smart ass developer: This developer is the one that is aware of the tools available in the open source community. He/she lives and breathes GitHub, and swears that there is a tool available for anything that we need to accomplish, without writing a line of code. He/she knows how to get away with using an existing framework without doing much modification to the look and functionality of the framework. See: All the Twitter Bootstrap looking websites.
The stubborn developer: The stubborn one is the one that knows that he can do what he needs to from scratch, without the help of any available framework because he believes that all frameworks are bloated. He eventually may secretly have Stack Overflow as the initial homepage on his/her browser. See: all the sites that do something less optimal from what you have seen done before.
Let me emphasize that there is no right or wrong mindset to follow. Both can be equally good and evil. The true evil is the time deciding which little developer to listen and comply. This can consume a developers (developer) soul at times. The battle that you will orchestrate as an individual, is deciding what’s best for the project and a self evaluation of the potential as a developer on what he/she can accomplish.
The course to battle these 2 states is to recognize the best of both and use them as it fits specifically to you and your project. This is the road for the Smart Developer.
For individuals, you will need to do a self evaluation of your skill sets and level of expertise. You need start from a stubborn standpoint and adopt smart ass. For the developer that do this exercise correctly, it can be a humbling experience. You may realize that they can do it from scratch, but it will make their lives easier if they adopt something that is already built and that as a plus, it closely matches the developers style.
Don’t be afraid to be stubborn or a smart ass, thrive to be smarter by amalgamating both attitudes. You will learn the tricks from other smarter developers and you will improve when you apply your own flavor on what you learned.
Footnote: I’m aware that other many factors come into consideration while choosing which path to follow(time, money, the client, etc). I purposely left them out on this post as they are external factors.
This is an idea (and somewhat a metaphor) that I’ve had for a bit. **The writing is a bit unpolished but the idea is still there.*
Imagine that a group of digital agency shop owners get together and form the National Digital Agency Association (NDAA). Agencies draft or scout the best talent from the World to join the league and their team.
The Agency builds their team as they need. One agency can have the best programmers but not the best designers or vice versa, and winning certain business. The agency with the best talents overall, wins the most businesses.
The talents (designer, programmer or producer) progress and achievements are kept as individual stats that will provide value to the talent. At the end of the “season” (year), the league grants achievements for the top performers or different categories. The talent receives a trophy, a bonus and the respect and recognition. Talents will be treated as Superstars.
When the talents contract is up, they enter “free agency”. The talent be picked up by another agency to become part of their team. The talent can negotiate based on their talents and achievements.
Trades are a crucial element of the league. An agency is willing to give away one of their top designers (top scorers) for a better programmer (top defender) based on what they will need.
“The games” can be products or digital advertising campaigns.
The metaphor is not entirely innovative but I believe having a league that has the best of the best, and they are not tied to a single agency unless they want to is not a bad approach to modern product development. Obviously, the quality of work produced will be the best produced.
After many years on Facebook, I decided to leave. I should’ve done it sooner. Facebook has become of no value to me.
The content on the network was not of my interest. People would gossip about what others would post, be judged by the ‘Likes’ you performed and your opinion losing its meaning along the way. Basically my ‘Friends’ were not providing content that I can relate to participate. Probably you’re saying that I need better friends, but I will disagree on that. My theory is that most users are also tired of Facebook and lack the motivation to provide content that is relatable to me.
I appreciate the effort by Facebook to tighten up their privacy settings. For the last 2 months, I was able to provide a great level of privacy to my profile. What I don’t appreciate from Facebook is their ads. They display an obscene amount of ads to users that it makes it look worse than MySpace on their old days. Lastly, I feel uneasy that their true worth is on my data. Sure, I appreciate transparency, but I don’t appreciate making a profit on what I decide to publish that makes my persona.
Nowadays I spend my time on my News Reader, Google+Reddit (on a very selective homepage), Quora and Twitter. If you ever want to add me as a friend on any of the networks mentioned, please do so!
Reaching 30 years old is a big milestone to me. It’s an age that you are not referred anymore as “yo” or “hey” but more like “Sir” or “Ma’am”. It’s an age that you are not considered young or juvenile. At 30, you start decaying physically and your mind starts maturing. Thirty is a pivot point in your life, it’s a good point that you can clearly see you were, who you are and who you will be. I want to share my point of view where I stand, with the support of the knowledge that I have acquired, how I see myself based from the experiences lived and the future image of what I want to become.
I want to point out that the following bullets are from my point of view. I don’t expect the points being applicable to everyone, but I hope some of it will be valuable.
Learn from your mistakes
This is the most important advice I can give to anyone.You need to experience mistakes in your life. Unfortunately we are not perfect and mistakes happen. Once you experienced mistakes, you are more cautious and less likely you will do the same mistake again. You need to see where you went wrong and how you can learn from it.
Don’t live with regrets of the things that you have done but…
… it’s acceptable to regret the things that you didn’t do. Only you can regret them because you missed on the experience. It’s not acceptable regretting experiences. You can find the humor on those events that seem silly in retrospect.
Choose a career and not a job
You will spend close to half of the hours available of the day working. This is a huge amount of time considering that you need at least 6 hours of sleeping, leaving you with roughly 6 hours for yourself (not including commute). Of those 6 free hours, your only choice might to work some more. On your 20’s work will be your life. Make sure you are in a field that you love. You can get really miserable very fast when you realize how you potentially can use all this time to do other activities that you love, make sure you love what you, make sure you chose a career.
A career is that profession that you see yourself doing in your foreseen future. A career is when you look forward for the next day, because you know there are many challenges awaiting you. A career might even be taking risks because you love doing it.
Don’t work a job, please. A job is when you don’t want to wake up in the morning. A job is when you can’t wait to leave to go home. A job is when you just want a paycheck. Your energies can be spent on what you heart loves, not on what you are forced to do.
If in doubt, time is more valuable than money, don’t waste it.
Social skills is a survival skill, similar to find shelter or hunt a bear. I hate making this subject sound dry and methodical because is the total opposite, but I want to emphasize how important it is.
In your twenties, many doors open to meet people in many social platforms. I’m not talking about Facebook or Twitter, but real life settings. I’m not discrediting the ability to open a conversation on the Internet, but traversing that conversation to a face to face dialog. Some of these people will become your friends and best friends. Making and having friends is an invaluable asset of anyones lives. Friends and people you know, will help you muster the courage and motivation to keep growing as a person.
Keep doing hobbies
I recommend getting an outdoor hobby, mine is scuba and basketball, and an indoor hobby, coin magic and video games. Every now and then you need to break routines and engage on enjoyable activities. Explore the outdoor, explore what intrigues and provides endless hours of entertainment.
Keeping the Brain healthy
Keep yourself sane. This can sound silly, but the brain is a muscle that you need to condition and train. Find mind stimulating activities to spend your time on.
There are consumables that keep your brain healthy and active. I recommend consuming Triple Omega, playing puzzle, number and language games daily. Coincidently, Art Of Manliness posted a good article regarding this point.
There is always room for improvement
This is a fact: you will be better at what you do today, than what you were yesterday. Today you acknowledge this insight, you will be up to the challenges, because you know you will be better tomorrow.
The future is uncertain when you try to fantasize about it. Hopefully you have discovered the traits that form who you are, your strengths and weaknesses and that you can define a explicit path that can maximize on what you character is made of.
For 30 years you have acquired skills that will help you for the challenges is thrown at you. You will be ready for them, you will step out of your comfort zone and you will be able to tackle them. You will be startled, but you will recoup and take control.
Be a Father (or any new challenge)
I’m not afraid of being a father. Of all the experiences that I can imagine, this is the most certain that I am about. With any daring challenge that you foresee, don’t fear what comes along with what it brings.
We all wish to make big money the easy way and retire. Unfortunately for most of us that won’t happen.
Make sure where you are saving money for your retirement. Some employers offer a retirement plan. You should take it, it’s basically free money! Try to save as much as you can. I don’t understand most of the terminology, but I know that money is being saved for when I retire.
(Continue to) travel the World
The World is full of jaw-dropping sights and great human beings. Experiencing the World first hand is very fulfilling for the soul. The future should be filled with soul replenishment. It has been a life long dream to be able to travel and see the World. Last December I went to Mexico, and I explored the Yucatan peninsula. The sights that I witnessed and the people that I met, it filled a part of my soul that hasn’t been filled before. I plan to continue to travel the World. If you can, you should do it.
My advise to do it, is to save a money based on a goal. A goal will be determined by your calculation on how much you need. I will write solely on how to do this later on. Once you have your goal and a deadline, you embark into traveling to somewhere that you haven’t been. If you are in the United States, start by traveling to destinations within the United States. This country is beautiful, and it deserves to be explored.
Today (February 7, 2013) I turn 30 years old. I have done a lot of thinking to understand where I am now. My present is the byproduct of solely my decisions. I feel that I have learned a lot, and I know I will learn more.
If you are younger than me and read this, I wish you find anything insightful and have given you a different perspective on how it is to grow up and shape your persona.
If you are older than me, you are allowed to laugh for the thoughts written above. If you have a piece of advise that you would consider essential, please reach out to me. Listening to people with more life experiences is when I get the “insider secrets to knowledge”.
In 10 years, I will read this and I may laugh or I may cry, but I know I will be better. You can be too.
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Nom Nom News is a weekly newsletter featuring a list of links curated by yours truly. The newsletter is a multi topic newsletter, with a bias with technology and front end goodies. The topics may evolve based on user feedback, and user feedback is highly encouraged.