OK Google Glass

Me in Google Glass

photo by Andrew Mistophiles

The office just received our shipment of Google Glass today. And it’s hard to not be excited about this piece of hardware. The direct to retina projection system, bone-conduction speakers, not forgetting all the innovation (and data!) that Google have accumulated throughout the year building their meta-services. If this piece of gear isn’t the present, I sure hope it is the future.

I’ll be posting more of my thoughts around Google Glass in the coming days as I get more experience with it.

Cannot sign in to Yammer on iPhone

Yammer on iPhone blank screen after login

Trouble signing in to Yammer app on the iPhone and getting nothing but blank screen?

Most probably your company’s Yammer has corporate single-sign-on turned on (so you can use your corporate password to login). The Yammer app seem to not let you login using the Http digest pop-up (a popup dialog to put in your username and password) unlike within a normal web browser.

The solution is simple.

  1. login to http://yammer.com
  2. on top right, click the “…” (elipsis icon)
  3. select apps
  4. scroll down and find iPhone
  5. click on the ‘iPhone’ link (not learn more)
  6. you will get a temporary password, use this password within the Yammer app. Password is case sensitive

yammer-pass

You need to do the same for Yammer on iPad and Yammer Now (the chat).

The Apple Store iBeacon experience

Apple Store SOHO

I’m spending a few weeks in New York, so I thought I would check out the new iBeacon roll out in the Apple Stores. I went to the closest store from work which is at SOHO.

ibeacon-1

Before I went to the store, I installed the Apple Store app on my iPhone 5. During the induction process, the app prompted me to subscribe to in-store notification. From this point on, I had given the permission for (and also subscribe to) Apple’s iBeacon push messages.

Ibeacon in the Apple Store App

As I enter the store, I was greeted with the iBeacon notification and provided access to some information like the next Genius or Workshop events. Unfortunately I didn’t receive any of the marketing promotions (to upgrade my iPhone) or what not.

It seems that Apple still rely on the EasyPay (scanning using the iPhone camera and then letting me pay using the credit card associated to my Apple account) to handle contactless/self-service payments. No additional iBeacon support here.

Robo-mannequin: Innovation in high street retail/online

robo-maneguin

To me, this robotic mannequin makes alot more sense than the typical Kinect demo augmented reality mirror approach (looking at a digitized version of a piece of clothing on top your digital self).

I dont know how it scans and copy a person body shape though. Hopefully it has the potential to replicate the user’s body through a Kinect-based 3d body scanner.

read more at Wired

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday: a review

growth-hacker
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

A book written for the “old skool” marketeers, aspires to give that shock factor and aha moments: reminding that marketing isn’t all about advertising but also touches upon product design, isoteric promotions and contextual relationships.

Now If you’re born alongside blogs, dropbox and gmail, Growth hacking is what most of you probably already do, with now a good “google-able” name for it.

However, this is NOT insignificant as it hopefully open up so much opportunity in the space. Perhaps even a key for the new generation to move into the upper echelon in some of the massive corporations.

The book is still worth a read as one could probably finish it in a single sitting. I didn’t realize how short this book was until I actually started reading and noticing that the % complete indicator is going very very fast (I’m not delusional to think I’m that fast of a reader). The book serves as a good departure point in solidifying one’s understanding in the current dynamic that exists between the different silos in big companies (products, marketing, ops, customer service, etc.).

The question left untouched is: what would be the new org structure template that allows the growth hacking mindset to foster? Are there any opportunities for digital agencies or any other external parties act as the agent of change?

from My GoodReads review of ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’

How to fix Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (with Dock) issues with Windows 8.1

work-desktop

Since the Windows 8.1 preview came out (and now fully released), I had to put up with a huge amount of issues with connecting external devices to either to the keyboard or the USB 3.0 dock. I couldn’t connect to external monitor issues most of the time, wired connectivity kept on dropping and usb devices like my Wacom tablet had trouble connecting. The issue seem to start especially after undocking this beautiful tablet from its keyboard. The remedy had been to restart the computer, which you can imagine was very painful to do.

I had been religiously checking the Lenovo Software Updates and got excited everytime I see a new update. Unfortunately the fix is still a manual process.

How to do it? simple. Update the Helix to the latest DisplayLink driver. DisplayLink is the technology used by the keyboard to connect to the dock. As of this post was written, the version is at 7.5. Watch out as there is a dedicated version for Windows 8.1.

Go get the driver here: http://www.displaylink.com/support/downloads.php

Slow download in Dubai, can’t download from CDN

In Dubai, I use Du internet connection and in the past few weeks Internet has been very slow. Most of the experience has been like the screenshot above, even Mac App Store is showing just a series of crossed out icons/broken images.

After some trial and error (and Du’s excellent customer service assistance on Twitter then over the phone), I finally figured out what was wrong;

Apparently, Du have recently changed their DNS server and it’s affecting those who had use a custom DNS server (say Google Public DNS?). Removing the manual DNS entries will fix it, but if you want to explicitly add Du’s new DNS servers, they are:

94.200.200.200
91.74.74.74

A thought: How would our lives differ when all things are CONNECTED?

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from Cisco’s Infographics on the Internet of things

Our devices has become an extension of our existence, more so than before. For most, our mobile devices are the first and last “item” we interact with. It captures glimpses of our lives (photos, videos). It captures our web of social interaction (recent calls, calendar appointments, facebook). It even captures our well-being (Nike+, etc.). These devices become a key component in our lives to quietly log, store (aggregate and visualize) both our collective sensorial and non-sensorial experiences.

It makes the experiences that were used to be temporal to be omnipresent.
It makes knowledge that were used to be in silo to be omniscience.

Today, we’re at the cross roads of multiple disruptive technologies: connected-ness (IPv6), low cost general purpose computing device (Raspberry Pi), unlimited computing/storage (Utility/”Cloud” computing, Big Data) and structural integrity for free(3D-printing). These disruptive technologies open up for the possibility of making all things that we interact with as data points.

How would our live differ when this happens?

What type of revelation would we have when our collective knowledge becomes omnipresent and omniscience?

Wouldn’t it be cool if every item (both physical and digital) we interact with is a data point that is aggregated, analyzed and visualized?

The Windows 8 “Tablet” Experience: a review (1 of 3)

The Windows 8 Experience from Ronald Widha

Windows 8 vs. other tablets

I’ve been a long time iPad user. Unlike my attachment to the iPhone, I have never felt an overwhelming sense of fascination over an iPad. I first thought “okay, it’s a big iPhone, so what?”. I grew to love it more as a couch computer. Or really if I have to be very honest, the iPad is really the ideal potty companion.

So I’m putting the Windows 8 tablet to the test. Could this combo of Microsoft Windows 8 Pro and Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro (one of the more expensive Windows 8 tablet out in the market) replace my trusty iPad for me to bring into the place of my own solitude?

Here is my story.

IMG_5373

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro – 4GB Ram, Intel Core i5 1.7 GHz, SSD 128 GB

The Look

The tablet physically looks quite nice and sleek. To a lot of extent, the styling fits into a “generic” look that you might expect from a Windows 8 tablet.

IMG_5381

Unfortunately the back is pretty hideous. Aesthetically and built quality-wise, this Windows 8 tablet is far from the quality of an iPad. The fan fins, the FCC, Intel and Windows 8 logo are a bit much for my liking. Even more so, the oversized dock base from the keyboard makes it worse. I really wish Samsung put more thoughts on the design of the device. When attached to the keyboard, this tablet looks more like a Netbook. Remember one of those?

Breaking the leather in

Just like any other Windows 8 PC, you need to “break the leather” a little bit to make it comfortable. I had to change some of the default like the default search provider for IE10 from Bing to Google Search and a few more.

Otherwise, the overall the configuration process is fairly straight forward. It doesn’t necessarily require me to plug the device into a PC (unlike the old iPads) nor force me to connect to the internet. However since I enabled the internet connection, Windows 8 successfully transferred across a lot of my Windows 8 settings (like wallpaper, etc.) from the Windows 8 installation I have running on the MacBook Pro.

Microsoft do require me to “trust this PC” to enable more “thorough” settings sync-ing, which involves logging in to the Live/Microsoft website. When I tested this, I find the process to be very finicky. For some strange reason, it picked up another computer’s name that I no longer own, different to the one that I actually want to establish trust with. After a couple of (very irritating) tries, it seem to pick up the right name in the end.

The Apps

Untitled-1

1:1 scale
Above: IE10 desktop resolution
Below: IE10 Modern UI resolution

Browsing experience – Even though this device supports full blown “classic desktop” app, as a tablet I gravitate towards using the Modern (a.k.a Metro) user interface. This means for browsing the web, there isn’t really a question to use or not to use the new touch-centric IE10. It’s currently the only browser available.

I find the experience to be acceptably enjoyable. Popular websites from Gmail, YouTube to Facebook render properly. The only issue that I’m facing is the seemingly lack of resolution of the images rendered on the screen. This is due to the fact that by default IE10 will try and fit the width of the webpage to the screen. I’m guessing as Windows 8 becomes more popular, web designer might create additional hi-res assets for their webpages just like some do for the iPad retina display (media query standardization please). Otherwise, you could always browse webpages in portrait mode by holding the tablet vertically.

Social experience –Microsoft has been harping about the “People Hub” quite abit since Windows Phone 7. This out-of-the-box app promises to consolidate your social life into one app, as do TweetDeck and other similar apps. It works quite okay, but I find it hasn’t quite replaced the experience of Facebook.com (for Facebook) as yet. I find myself going to the the website to check the latest activity updates from my friends than using the People Hub.

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Angry Birds? check. Fruit Ninja? check.

The App Store – The biggest issue of using this Microsoft+Samsung combo is that the ecosystem do not currently provide me access to some of the apps that I rely a lot when I’m on the iPad: the FlipBoards, the Google Maps, etc. Alternatives do exist – but they’re really not as good. At least not yet. Say what you say about the skeumorphic design about iPad apps, but they look pretty and mostly work well too.

Reading experience – Like I said before, FlipBoard is notably missing from the Store. But I’m really glad to see that the Kindle app is there. It works as expected. The reading  experience is as good as on the iPad but not better than on the Kindle device itself (read: LCD vs. e-ink). With my experience with this device, the orientation detection is very sensitive which almost warrant for a lock on the orientation to avoid grievance. Luckily there’s a dedicated hardware button for that on the side.

Music and Movies – The music app works fairly well. The Modern design takes abit of getting used to. I kinda wish they stick with the Zune UI which I was already used to. In some third party app (like the YouTube Player), it also seems that the Screen/power saver do not get automatically deactivated when watching a movie which is a little annoying.

Gaming experience – Angry Birds Star Wars? check. Where’s My Water? check. Fruit Ninja? check. I just hope companies like Valve will continue supporting Windows platform and take advantage of the touch capabilities outside the “classic dekstop” mode. The one annoying thing is all your purchase on the Apple’s App Store or Google Play will obviously not get transferred across. But this is no different than buying a game for MegaDrive and not being able to play it on the SNES.

What’s unique?

Real Multitasking FTW - Multitasking with two “Metro” apps works very very well – this is the one feature I really miss when using the iPad. I fully agree that most of us do 2 things at once.  The 1080 HD resolution and a (relatively) fast processor really let me do some real multitasking. It stutter here and there during app switching, but hardly noticeable (more noticeable in the classic desktop mode). And when you do “mono” task, the resolution and processor could be expensed to deliver quite a decent performance for much more than casual gaming.

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Share to Any Apps – Not until recent year that iOS embrace Twitter and Facebook on the operating system level. Before that, all apps have to provide integration to these services themselves. Even until now, sharing from apps to Tumblr, WordPress, Pocket, Pinterest etc. depends on app per app basis.

Windows 8 with the Share button speeds up this “integration” process astronomically. E.g. despite IE10 do not allow any plugins, it doesn’t stop me from pinning the page I’m on to Pinterest, just because I install the Pinspiration which support Sharing to Pinterest.

The Let downs

Battery life – While the strength so far comes from the Operating system, the issue that I have with this combo is indeed more on the hardware side: first of all, the classic battery life issue. Without a dock, the tablet comes in at a respectable 3 hours. But simply doesn’t give me enough confidence to leave the adaptor behind when I’m out and about – something that I normally do with an iPad. Adding to that, I find myself very rarely detaching the keyboard from the Tablet just purely because of the mental baggage “I’d get more battery juice if I keep it on”.

Durability –The Samsung ATIV Smart PC, at roughly $1,200, is quite an expensive tablet. Especially compared to an iPad at half of the price. I know it’s not an apple to apple comparison (pun intended), but this review is all about treating the combo as an iPad replacement.

If I had to bet on which one of these devices that would age more “graciously”, I would put my money on the iPad. The ATIV don’t feel as solid as the one-piece metal/glass thing that the iPad is. The ATIV gives me this feeling that the button would collapse and the edges of the screen will snap open if dropped by the two year old.

During the several days of testing, I even have collected quite a bit of scratches and it hasn’t gone thorough beating yet by the toddler!

Other Minor Issues – Some more minor issues ranges from the constant auto brightness adjustment that’s hurting my eye, to the not-so-very-zen-like keyboard docking. Just forget about putting the tablet on the bed side table as a calendar or alarm clock unless you want to have a netbook like device hanging around the bedroom.

 

In the next several posts, I’m going to cover the Windows 8 from different angles. Stay tuned

Part 2: The Windows 8 “uber-laptop” experience – coming soon
Part 3: The Windows 8 “creative nomad” experience  – coming soon

Everything you need to know to connect a Windows 8 (or any other) laptops to a 5.1 AV receiver surround sound

So you got an AV receiver recently and want to hook up your computer to it. Yep, not a lot of people are relying on the Blu-ray DVD player anymore with the advent of high quality online content. I had to go through a lot of readings in the course of a weekend, I thought I’ll compile the notes that I took (and all the resources) on a single post.

Hope you’d find it useful.

Connection: Analog, HDMI, Optical

First thing first, getting the cable connection right. Here’s a guide for connecting a MacBook to the TV to see all the possibilities.

In essence, we prefer the highest quality connection from the laptop to the AV receiver. The AV receiver will pass thru the video signal to the TV.

Hooking up the AV receiver to TV is straight forward. Usually the connection is in HDMI. However, there are various ways of hooking up the laptop: analog headphone jack, HDMI and finally optical.

Optical (SPDIF) arguably would be the best connection, but for most, having one cable running from the laptop for both audio and video is highly appealing. Therefore, I recommend to go for HDMI.

HDMI cables run between $3 to $300. All HDMI cables are the same. So as long as it has Ethernet, enough bandwidth (3D) etc, you won’t need any gold plated, weather sealing, etc. – unless if you’re running it for a long distance that is.

Device, Drivers and Encoding

The next step is getting the computer ready. We would want to tell the computer to send the audio signal via the right connection. So let’s change the default audio device from the Speakers to HDMI output/device (or digital output for optical if you prefer). Simply right click the speaker icon on the bottom right taskbar, and click “Playback Devices”.

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The next step that we want to do is to tell the computer that our AV receiver is capable to decode DTS and Dolby Digital audio content. This way, the computer do not have to do the processing and we would be able to tell from the receiver if we’re indeed hearing a DTS, Dolby or just an analog Stereo signal (PCM).

If you don’t see the supported formats tab, let’s re-install the driver of your audio card (check in your computer spec, can it render 5.1/7.1 content, most would). Most laptop use Intel Realtek Audio chipset. You can download the Realtek ALC Audio Driver for Windows 8 from Intel’s Download Center.

After you install the driver, you either get the options above, or at least a custom tab to allow AC3/DTS output like below. In this case, tick “Allow ACS/DTS/WMA ouput” and reboot.

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The Media Player

Now, it’s time to get a media player. Plex is a personal favorite, which works well with all popular audio formats.

File format is a bit of a pickle. There’s a lot of file containers out there from avi, mp4 to mkv. Each of them is capable of handling 5.1 DTS, AC3 or the usual boring stereo mp3. Plex fortunately tells you if what the sound format of the video is.

If you prefer to use Windows Media Player, you could also go through these steps for managing the encoding pass-thru

Let’s play a video, and confirm that the AV receiver recognize the DTS/Dolby signal (most AV receiver will show the logo whether the signal is PCM, Dolby or DTS).

Convert Stereo to 5.1 (or 7.1)

Not all our content will be natively 5.1/7.1. In this case, the default behavior of most AV receiver is to just play it as what the signal is designed to be played in – which would probably be stereo. You’d notice that the center and surround speakers will not make any sound. What a waste, right?

Luckily, DTS and Dolby came up with a smart algorithm to re-shuffle this signal to as if it was a 5.1 signal. Here comes the DTS Neo 6 and Dolby Logic Pro II. A lot of people argue that Dolby Logic Pro II is better for music and DTS Neo 6 is for movies. For my taste, both technology seem to rely too much on center speaker (try comparing this with the Multi Channel stereo mode e.g. Big difference!!).

My personal preference for movies would be using the Dolby Logic Pro II with the parameter adjusted to Music (panoramic: on, dimension: 3, center width: 2), which gives a more full “surround” experience. Test it out and see what you like best.