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Has Periscope just shown Twitter a way forward?

Periscope’s new functionality could spread to Twitter and reinvigorate the struggling social media giant. 

 

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Let’s face some facts. Twitter, and thereby by extension Periscope, have a rough road ahead.  A series of high-level departures at Twitter and the more recent general overall layoff of employees makes people question what will happen to Silicon Valley’s “diamond in the rough” tech company. The attempted shopping of Twitter failed for various reasons, reportedly due to the cost and the nature of product (Disney et. al. doesn’t want anything to do with trolls and hate speech, etc). Vine, one of Twitter’s high-profile acquisitions was also shuttered this weekend, leaving millions of social media posts and users in a state of limbo.

But just this week, Periscope took a step toward what could a brand new and exciting path for Twitter. Something that could rewrite the ways in which Twitter content is displayed and shared, and lead to a massive improvement in the product and strong growth with new users….should the parent company consider following this lead.

One of the problems with Twitter (and social media in general) is the signal / noise ratio. Following your Twitter stream for insight into Politics or Technology or virtually anything else results in a number of messages (and considerable time) sifting through extraneous and unrelated content. It is possible to create lists of followers that tweet about specific content, such as a list of Football twitter users or technology tweeters, but even then you still have to sort through other content that is not relevant. A hashtag based search can result in 100s of duplicate messages as retweets and other posts of the same content get caught up in the more general search parameters. These consumer-based curations of relevant content are still fraught with far too many false positives.

However, Periscope’s new group-based broadcasting system offers something unique and new to this dilemma:  Producer-based curations.

Periscope has introduced “groups”, a method by which a social media creator can share content with a specific more granular group of followers.  A content producer can create a group of users, say “Personal Friends” or “Subscribers (should a pay-to-view system develop one day). Groups can be built around interests, such as “tourist and travel followers” or “technology fans” such that Periscopes being created can be pushed to those users who have the most interest and are most likely to appreciate the content.

Periscope groups are thus showing a way forward for Twitter to escape the 140-character rut they find themselves mired in for going on the Nth year.  People have been asking for the capability to broadcast to specific groups for years, but Twitter has left Twitter lists as a “read only” functionality; you can see all the tweets from a list buy you can’t communicate directly with that group.  Periscope groups will demonstrate that you can push content to certain users on certain subjects and that there is a market for this more detailed and specific sharing of social media.

This offers a tremendous future for Twitter. A way to grow their platform from beyond that a 140-character service but into something far more useful to creators and consumers. Broadcasting to groups, and conversely, the consumption of specific content from a group of users is a very exciting development in social media.

Twitter should seriously consider not only following the Periscope group concept but taking it a step further to create a more flexible “following” option. You would have the ability as a consumer to follow people only for certain types of content. As a producer you would have the option of sending content to everyone or to only those users who will find it of most value (Periscope-like groups).

For example, a consumer could subscribe to:

@Penguinsix

Everything (or)
->Photos Only
->Videos Only (Vine)
->Live Streams (Periscopes)
->Politics
->Social Media
->Food
->Hong Kong
->Other

Conversely, a creator could send their content out to a group, such as:.

Tweet from my @PenguinSix account only to:

Everyone
->Photos Only followers
->Videos Only (Vine) followers
->Live Streams (Periscopes) followers
->Politics followers
->Social Media followers
->Food followers
->Hong Kong followers
->Other followers

Twitter would thus become a multi-disciplined social media platform, where you could still get the 140 characters of wisdom from people but also get new types of social media content as it becomes popular, be it photos, video, live video, or whatever else Twitter acquires in the coming years. Greater curation tools on both the creator and consumer side would render Twitter far more valuable to users. The platform would be set to add new features as they become available, bringing more and more people back to Twitter every day (hour) for more and more types of content without getting lost in the signal / noise conundrum of drinking from the social media firehose.

Twitter has recently shut down the (once) popular VINE platform that they acquired only a few years ago. Without a doubt the VINE integration with Twitter was poorly handled. Getting “Vide’d” is now a verb amongst content producers who are very wary about putting time and effort into a platform only to find it getting nixed with a corporate reshuffle of the parent company. A very scary lesson for anyone involved in Periscope at this time.

A system like this could have saved Vine (and could save Periscope). The existing subscriber base could be ported over to the Twitter in a flexible following platform after integration, such that if you currently are following someone on Vine or Periscope, your Twitter would now have a separate list of people you following only for videos (Vine) or live videos (Periscope). Twitter and Periscope creators would thus have access to a much larger potential pool of viewers as the sheer number of Twitter users would be now be more engaged in the Periscope system.

Whether Twitter follows Periscope’s lead in this space is a big question. Whether anyone is even looking at expanding the platform is questionable as there are probably voices who are simply saying “let’s trim around the edges, give it a fresh coat of paint and sell it on to someone else.”

But it would be pretty cool if they were thinking of something like this…

 

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Why Periscope and live video streaming is the the social media that really matters.

Social media has gotten stale.

Sharing of links to existing media has become the norm, and truly original content is disappearing.   What remains is not the new new thing anymore and is, at times, devolving into a cesspit of pointlessness, be it “I had eggs for breakfast” to “SUYT you B!#@$”

Into this fray we now have what some might see as an even more mundane concept–live streaming of ordinary people. Periscope and Facebook Live now give the power of any person to turn a camera on and have an audience around the world. The beautiful and the banal, the majestic and mundane can now be streamed 24/7 live from any place on earth, well anyplace with a good enough mobile signal.

So why is it that live video streaming could be the revolution that Social Media really needs?

It’s often said that the holy grail of social media is a “conversation” that you can have with others. A two way street where you can communicate your views, values and beliefs with others, or just share a funny cat picture and have people comment on how funny it was. But even in the best of circumstances the conversation currently being foisted upon users is rather one-sided and shallow. Social media has stagnated behind fewer and fewer moments worth sharing and a growing corporatization of social media which has made it somewhat unidirectional and boring.  (Don’t believe me? Check out the Twitter feed of the Microsoft CEO, which has to hold the world record for the most canned and unoriginal content in the history of Twitter.)

The problem with social media, as understood by the public relations departments of most major companies and social media ‘stars’ is that they aim rather low. They seek to have a “conversation” and then love to talk about how the conversation is leading to engagement, but “engagement” is a rather hollow concept and many traditional measurements of ‘engagement’ are as useless as ‘eyeballs’ as a metric. It may be a quantifiable (and billable) number, but does it really matter?

Into this landscape comes Periscope and a host of other live video streaming services. Live, raw, unfiltered views of the world from ordinary people communicated out to waiting eyes and ears. With a motto of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” Periscope has millions of producers around the world sharing their slice of life to a waiting and eager audience. And while it, at times, has dropped in the banal and boring, there is something else going on that is worthy of note.

Despite some feeble attempts to script and control the narrative of a live video stream by some broadcasters, the end users of live video actually have far more control over the conversation than most public relations professionals would ever allow. Discussions overlaying the presentation can go on tangents of their own, and users can often stray the conversation off the intended course and subject despite the best efforts of the broadcaster. The conversation can turn directions and spin and it takes a steadied broadcaster to keep it on focus and moving toward the real goal.

It is this ebb and flow of conversation that offers the best opportunity for social media in its history.

What should be sought, developed and fought for with this new medium is the true Holy Grail of social media. People should cast aside the one-sided conversations that are pointlessly supported by the hollow engagement metrics of likes and shares. With live streaming we have a chance to really communicate what is most important:

Understanding.

Understanding comes when you see the world through someone else’s eyes and UNDERSTAND why they see it a certain way. A person who watches a live video experiences the decision-making process of another person first hand and begins to UNDERSTAND why they turned this way or that, why they eat this or that, why they buy this or that. When a person is given the chance to see things live as they occur, and occasionally even take part in the decision-making process of that individual or guide a conversation a certain way, that person develops a much greater understanding of what is going on, and a greater respect for the other person.

Periscope started with the voyeuristic view of the world:  “Look at this, I’m seeing a guy in Hong Kong ride the ferry to the toy store. He’s taking his morning hike in the clouds above the city.  He’s taking a tram to get some lunch.  Wow. This is amazing”.   But as time goes by and people start to think more about what they are seeing, a new, empathetic realization takes starts to take hold. “Yes, I am seeing a guy on a tall mountain, but he’s really just out for his morning walk. And he’s really just going to get some lunch.  Hey, I go for hikes, I eat lunch–wait a minute–this guy is a lot like me.”

The empathetic instead of voyeuristic reading of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” is what offer the greatest potential for live video to rule social media. A person who listens and understands is someone who has learned something and may alter their own behavior to that in line with that understanding.

A myriad of choices, from political decisions to simple mundane tasks can be altered when an understanding consumer of social media makes their own decisions with the views of another person in mind. It also leads to a tremendous marketing potential in that a person who understands why they should do something a certain way become a consumer who will perform that way without additional influencing. It’s one thing to have a conversation with a person and say to them “I really think you should buy this product” but it is something far greater, and more valuable, to have a person say “I understand why I should buy this product and will buy it myself, now and in the future.” Getting to this level creates a consumer FOR LIFE, not just for one transaction.

While difficult to quantify, the empathetic consumption of live video can truly be the revolutionary social media development of the next decade.

Or it might just end up as an updated version of Chatroulette… (more on that in my next post). IMG_4968

 

 

 

If it wasn’t for video games and Youtube, I’d never hear new music…

Radio is dead. I mean when is the last time you heard something “new” that wasn’t a) a ‘new’ version of an old type of music you’ve heard from artists you know or b) so ridiculously new it sounds like it should be in a experimental “gender theory of expressionist music” class at university?

Thank god for FIFA 16.

[iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/BR0e7UX_eM4″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

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Periscope Feature Wish List from @PenguinSix

I really have no idea how many hours I’ve spent making videos with the new app called Periscope. It is easily in the hundreds, as I have been making videos since the first day of the public release and now have over 31,000 followers.

In using an app this thoroughly, I’ve come across a few features that would really enhance the experience from a broadcaster’s perspective. So without too much ado, here is my wish list for new features for Persicope:

Time and Temperature.

It seems so easy, possibly a throw back to the 1970s when every bank had a blinking time and temperature sign, but probably the most asked question I receive is “What is the Time” and “How it the weather?” A new update for the iOS app has added time to the map, but personally I’d prefer it on the main video, perhaps as a 10 second overlay every so many minutes.  Just a little time and temp ‘bug’ that pops up on screen or in the chat to save me having to be a weatherman and a clock every few minutes.

Chat response presets

I spend an inordinate amount of time re-answering the same questions day after day. “What do you do?” “How old are you?” “Why did you move there” etc. It’s gotten to the point that even some of my regular viewers can answer the questions should I not notice them.

What would be really helpful would be five buttons on the side of my screen or appearing through a ‘long touch’ that would pump into the chat preset answers or statements from me to my community. If I could save short amount of text as a  preset answer I could just click ‘1-2-3-4-5’ and focus more on being alive and less on repeating myself.

Pause the Phone

Facebook Live has a new feature that Persicope needs. The ability to put a broadcast on ‘pause’ when someone calls in on the phone. It is absolutely frustrating when you have a good Periscope underway only to have a phone call come in and disrupt or disconnect the stream. A pause, perhaps with a little “telephone icon” appearing on the screen would be a wonderful addition.

Scroll back of comments

When comments are fast and furious, or when a broadcaster is walking down the street, it’s incredibly easy to ‘miss’ a comment as it has faded or passed from view before you had a chance to react. The ability to scroll back even only 5-10 seconds would be a welcome addition, as a broadcaster could go back and see a comment even after it has faded from the screen. A swish down over the chat to pull up the last few comments in a conversation would be quite helpful.

 

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Enhanced following options

At present to follow someone on Periscope you’ve got to slide the screen to the left (1), tap the profile (2) and then hit the follow button (3). This three step process was designed to prevent accidental follows, but has had the effect of making new subscriptions difficult and even confusing to new users. Broadcasters have to explain several times through a broadcast how to become a follower. “If you would like to follow, please slide left (or up for Android), tap my profile, and then click the follow button”.

Periscope should consider going back to the old solution, where following was a bit easier. But if not then the other solution is already present in Periscope’s system. An automatic “follow this broadcaster” message appears in the chat (far too early) when you start watching a new Periscope, but if it was able to appear and reappear on a periodic basis throughout the chat new followers could more easily subscribe to broadcasters they wish to follow. A user setting to enable the ‘follow me’ message to appear every 1-5-10 minutes would be easy to implement and would eliminate the need for broadcasters to “beg” for followers every so often

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Analytics

As Periscope grows into the professional world, the demand for detailed analytics will rise. How many users is great, but when are they watching, when are they turning off, how did they find my scope are all questions most other social media sites can offer their content creators.

From a regular broadcaster perspective, some interesting additions would be something like “how many new people in the last five minutes”. I frequently do a broadcast that will hover around 100 people, but what surprises me is that very few of the 100 people at the end are the same 100 people that were there at the beginning.  People come in and out, thus requiring you to re-answer some simple questions, but you often don’t how many are new and how many are the ones who have stuck with you from the start.  Some sort of system where you could tell how many new watchers you have in a scope would be quite helpful.

High Quality Upload

I’m spoiled by 4k. Well not even 4k, but by 1080p at 60fps. The image quality of today’s phones is getting better and better, but due to the nature of live streaming of an HD signal is probably a monstrous bandwidth hog.

Speak of hogs, here is a great example, I came across a breaking news story of a wild pig running amok through Central Hong Kong. The footage from my chase was used by the Guardian and the BBC, but unfortunately, the quality of the video was somewhat subpar vs. what I could have recorded in 1080p.

[iframe src=”https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2016/jan/15/hong-kong-riot-police-capture-wild-boar-video” width=”560″ height=”315″ ]

If there is the option for a high quality video upload after the broadcast had ended, this would be a great addition for Persicope to roll out, especially if Periscope migrates toward longer playback and storage of previous scopes. Note I’m not talking about a delayed update like we used to have with the app, but an upload of a full 1080p version of the Periscope (though I suspect this might prove a tremendous technical difficulty with one version of the video being saved at 1080p and another being streamed at a lower bit rate, all on the fly at the same time).

Overlays

Overlays have become part of the standard television and even Youtube broadcasting environment. The ability to display and rend graphics on the screen while broadcasting is now available in even the simplest free broadcast tools. Adding some functionality to have an overlay of an image or even a ticker would be something some broadcasters, especially the professional ones, would find quite helpful.

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Edited Titles

“See my lunch of noodles in Hong Kong” is an interesting title, but after starting a broadcast and getting a good crowd I generally don’t like to hang up on them as I leave the restaurant and go run my next errand. In fact broadcasts over 5 minutes rarely stay on the same topic as the original title. A Periscope starting on a mountain path could easily end up on a city sidewalk. A conversation about movies could change to politics.

New users see a title and come expecting a noodle lunch or a conversation about movies and quickly get annoyed when they discovered the “missed that” part earlier. Giving the user the ability to keep his existing community and conversation ongoing without having to endure new users coming in expecting something else would improve the overall experience.

And that’s enough for now….

 

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One minute snippets of life in Hong Kong, my new Youtube series

I took the kids out the other day for a photo walk, trying to teach them some principles of street photography by walking around the city and observing all there was to see.

“Take photos of the unusual, the fascinating, the unique, the strange, the weird. Whatever it is that catches your eye, try to take a picture of that”

So we walked through the wet market in Hong Kong, where fish lay on the boards before being cut, pieces of meat hang from dirty hooks cut by men with a cigarette behind their ear and a cleaver in their hands. Noodles are stacked high and stretched long as they are made in the shops and sent to restaurants nearby. Neon lights calling out for everything from foot massages to yummy bakery goods, which also filled the air with the sweet smell of freshly made treats.

And after nearly 20 minutes of this, my boys had yet to take a single picture.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “I said take a picture of the unique, the strange, the fascinating things you see on the street and here we are in the land of noodles and neon and you haven’t taken a single photo.”

“Well yeah dad, we see this everyday”….

It was then I realized my kids really do call Hong Kong their home.

But for me it is still rather unique. So I’ve decided to start some Youtube videos of the “everyday” that we see here in Hong Kong. My new set is in a playlist on Youtube called “One Minute Hong Kong”–one minute snapshots of life from the city I now call home.

Feel free to take a look.
[iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLNmehJDsxSj8pMCQ85SimnIZvCsfr53dl” width=”560″ height=”315″ ]

 

 

How to record a Periscope video with comments.

Periscope is a new app that is creating quite a bit of buzz and a great amount of content from users all over the world. Everything from views of Paris to views of a refrigerator in Turkey is fair game for the content creators around the world, but this content has a very short lifespan.

24 hours after any broadcast the videos are destroyed. You have the option of saving the video on your camera, but it doesn’t save the comments which leads to a video of you answering questions that the viewers did not see, creating a confusing commentary track.

But with a simple free program already installed on your Mac, you can capture and record your Periscope videos with comments. All you need to do this is to plug your phone into your computer and follow these simple instructions.

Step 1:

Open Quicktime Player.

Step 2:

(If a file window opens, click ‘done’ first). Go up to FILE -> New Movie Recording

Step 3:

A new movie window opens. Click on the prompt next to the record button to get an option of input sources. You should see your iPhone listed both under Video and Audio.  Make sure those are selected. You should know this is working when you see your phone’s screen on your computer.

Step 4:

Open up the Periscope App on your phone and go into your profile to find your more recent broadcasts. Select the video you want and start playing.

Step 5:

Click the record button on Quicktime on your Mac and start making a screen capture of your movie as it is playing on your phone.

Step 6:

Finish and save and do with it what you will.

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NOTE: I don’t know if this works on older model devices–I’ve only used it on an iPhone 6 but it should work on an iPhone 5 as well.

How often should you clear your cookies?

Ann Gordon, via Wikimedia Commons
Ann Gordon, via Wikimedia Commons

So today is National Clear out your Browser Cookies and Cache day. January 14th. It’s a new holiday I just declared.

Actually it’s just a glitch. In an effort to scam another week out of a major paywall-protected newspaper I accidentally clicked the ‘remove all’ cookie option in my browser and deleted 3,285 cookies this morning. The last time I did this, about a year ago, it was 4,250 cookies that had been saved.

So how often should you be clearing your cookies?  Some people don’t accept cookies in the first place so let’s just ignore them for the time being. Some clear cookies daily, which seems a bit excessive to be honest.

Apparently there have been some studies. One conducted by Comscore showed that about 31% of people deleted cookies within 30 days.  Another by the Sun-Times said 45% within 30 days.

I’ve gone about six months.

So maybe I’ll just set a daylight savings time reminder–when we spring forward or fall back, I’ll clean the cookies in my browser. And change the batteries in my smoke detector (if I had one).

Or I’ll just keep clearing them every time I want to read the Telegraph or the Washington Post.

 

5 ways to simplify your life

1) Stop getting dressed.

Steve Jobs, William F. Buckley, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, and a massive number of bankers and lawyers.  What do they have in common? They all, basically, wear the same thing everyday. Steve Jobs was famous for his turtlenecks and jeans, and bankers and lawyers are always in charcoal grey with white shirts and a colored tie. Of course it isn’t the exact same item they are wearing day-in-day-out, but they are wearing ‘something’ that means they no longer have to worry about what they wear everyday. They can literally grab the first thing that comes out of the closet and put it on, ending the ‘decision’ period of what to wear, what to wear that goes on daily. Even if you spend only a minute a day deciding what to wear, you are wasting six hours a year.

You can even take it a bit further. If you find something you like, or that is not very important, such as underwear or socks, consider buying in bulk.  I have 30 pairs of black socks and 20 pairs of white socks, all the same. I have not matched socks in over 10 years.  Why? Because every sock matches every other.   I have 30 pairs of underwear.  I have 6 pairs of khaki pants and 6 pairs of black pants. I have two pairs of dress shoes (identical).

I just don’t care, and no one really notices. The reality is that unless you are working in the fashion industry, the vast majority of people wouldn’t notice if you wore the same thing daily, unless it started to smell.

Black and white socks (and wicked exposure problem with the camera)
Black and white socks (and wicked exposure problem with the camera)

 

2) Automate as much as possible.

Amazon Prime is one of the greatest inventions in history. Why? Because it allows for ‘subscriptions’ of many day-to-day items that we use.

It is ridiculous to buy at a retail store any of the following:  soap, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, q-tips, toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sponges, dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, and many other household items. Why? Because the chances are you are ‘done’ deciding what brand to buy. You are set in your choices for these items and buying them is simply a matter of grabbing them and putting them in the cart, or maybe shopping around slightly to find a better price. You are not shopping–you are simply engaged in the logistical operation of getting certain goods to your house.

Automate this. Automate and NEVER think about this again. Have a delivery of these items brought to you every week. The time you will save will be significant, but you will also avoid the “emergency shampoo”.

In the course of a year, there will come a day when you need to make an emergency purchase of any of the above items. You have a meeting and you are out of toothpaste, or shampoo or whatever. This necessitates a run to the store, parking in the lot, walking in the store, buying something, and then driving back home again to take care of whatever it was. This can be quite a long time, and you’ll probably spend more than a dollar or two just on gas.

Automate the simple things. Get them out of your hair now and don’t think about it anymore.

3) Compartmentalize your media.

Consuming media can lead to a state of media gluttony–overloaded and overstressed. If you are a media junkie, the new tools of the Internet allow you far too much access to far too much interesting content. This can consume your preciously needed free time.

But if you step back, you start to realize very little of the consumption is ‘active’–it’s more passive and becomes very habit forming. Like eating french fires because they are there when you order a Big Mac, not because you really wanted them. The TV is on with noise, the radio, the net, email, messengers, etc.  These ambient media sources come in and out of your day to life causing tremendous stress.

One of the best things you can do is to cut cable tv.  Get rid of the 1000s of channels you don’t need so you find yourself focusing on the ones you really want. Turn off e-mail notifications.  Use email rules to filter so much of the noise out before it arrives. Consider subscribing in paper to a newspaper instead of reading online (and getting distracted).

This was probably the toughest for me. I haven’t mastered it by any stretch.

4) Move to work, or work to you.

Commuting sucks. You probably think of the time spent getting to work as the actual time spent in your car, but the true ‘door-to-door’ time can actually be quite a bit longer. Waits in the parking garage, the time it takes to go down three escalators in the subway. Long commutes–heck any commute becomes this block of time in which you can do nothing but travel to and from your job. The time spent commuting is one of the biggest financial and time wastes of your life.

Moving closer to work, or working from home if that is an option, saves weeks per year. Weeks per year. Commuting can be one of the most expensive taxes you pay, not only in money on your transit but in the time wasted.

Sometimes this requires a career change, but the reality is that very few of us are in such specialized professions that there is “no other option”.

5) Declutter and Centralize

Have you ever looked for your keys? Your glasses? Your wallet? This is wasted time.

Have a centralized location for things you need every day. Glasses, keys, wallet, phone and any other item that is a ‘must-have’ every day you head out.

There is no need for paper for a vast majority of items. One of the best things I did was buy a sheet-fed automatic scanner to process receipts, letters, Christmas Cards, bills,–whatever comes across my desk and clogs things up. This is what I bought Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005)  I now scan basically everything and minimize the paper shuffle going on my desk. 

Take a look around your room.  Anything you have not touched in the last 60 days should go to a place where it is not visible. Sorted into a closet or put away so as not to clutter your brain.  Items you haven’t used in 12 months should be pitched. This goes not only for computer parts lying around that you are afraid to throw away, but clothes as well (getting back to the first point on my list).

 

 

Anyway, these are just a few random thoughts.  What are your tips?

 

My Geek Travel bag

I just got back from a trip to Japan with this on my shoulder.  Yea, it was heavy.  Too heavy.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to find a new solution next time.  The camera was quite a bit of the weight but so too was the MacBook.

 

So what did I take?

Canon 40D

iPad 1

iPad 2

Regular Glass / Sunglasses

Noise canceling headphones

Earbuds

$500HKD (cab fare home from airport)

$200USD (emergency money)

$200,000 JPY

15′ MacBook Retina

Canon battery recharger

Plug adapters

MicroUSB charger

2 iPad Chargers

SIM card adapter

HSBC Bank key

Thunderbolt-Ethernet adapter

Macbook charger

iPad cable

MicroUSB cable

Mini USB cable

Passport holder & Airline/Hotel cards

Mini-wallet

Main-wallet

All of this fit into my backpack for the trip.  There was also a ‘cable bag’ that went along in the suit case with plenty of other cables and whatnot that I wouldn’t need on the short flight (4.5 hours) to Tokyo.

 


How to Sign Up for Weibo in English

UPDATE: Through a little URL sniffing I found this English-sign up page.

More and more I’m hearing folks ask me how do you sign up for Weibo in English, so I thought I’d make a quick little guide with the help of my translator (i.e. wife).

The easiest way to do this is to download Google Chrome and get the translation extension that will translate, on the fly, any webpage.  Now the English-Chinese translations are never quite perfect, in fact, they’re usually quite a bit worse than say English-Spanish or English-French, but you can get the general idea of what is going on through those plug-ins that will do the translation for you.

If you don’t have Google Chrome, here is what the first two pages say when you get started with Weibo.

Goto http://www.weibo.com

Click the Blue button at the top right.

 

That will take you to the details screen, where you enter the details as follows.  When you click the submit button at the end, you’ll get an activation notice saying that an email has been sent your email address.  Click the link there and you should be good to go.

 

 

 

Now, as for who to follow, I’m creating a list of English-speaking Weibo users on another site.  Will have that up shortly.

 

Going viral to catch an African war criminal

In the next few days, you are going to start seeing signs all over the net for KONY 2012.  No, he’s not a politician–far from it, he’s Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda and a total and complete scumbag.

Internet savvy users around the world are pushing for his arrest in a coordinated effort this year to capture him.  Last year 100 US military advisors were put on the ground to train the locals to help find him.

So join the Facebook group and post away.  Expect your social media feed to fill up with this in the next few days.

 

Toy Trains Battle Royale for Supreme Dominance of the Tracks

I couldn’t think of a better translation, but you get the general idea from above what’s going on here.

On Youtube, where you can find just about anything, there are quite a few guys in Japan who have filmed incredibly complex train crashes involving toy PLARAIL trains.  These are plastic battery-powered Japanese toy trains that zip around on blue Tomica track, of which there is quite an abundance in my own home.  These Otaku train guys film massive competitions between various train types across multiple track layouts to determine once and for all who is the strongest.

My kids are hooked.

There are literally hundreds of these videos.  My boys watch them over and over again to the point they know which trains will succeed and which will fail, and more complicated, which track layouts we should attempt to duplicate here in the house.  “No daddy, build the one with six bridges and four crossing points” (and by the way, my son says ‘points’ instead of ‘switches’–darn British-based education system over here).

Hong Kong iPhone 4S line starts 72 hours prior to launch.

They love their Apple gear in Hong Kong, and they also love to line up to get it.  In fact, this line of about 150-200 people outside the Hong Kong Apple Store isn’t even “official”–it’s just people milling about waiting to get into the official line that will start “soon” according to some in the know.

The local paper (paywall) reported that a scuffle broke out between some of the early liner-ups-to-line-up and some more recent professional line sitters, predominantly South East Asians hired by the iPhone smugglers of Mongkok and Mainland China.

Here are some pics of the wackiness.  We’ll have more Friday when the iPhone 4S goes on sale at the Apple Store in the IFC Mall.