iPhone as Travel Accessory

Not that I know anyone who would be so obsessive as to insure that they have their iPhone on them at all times while traveling, or perhaps, would go so far as to give their devices cute little names; but should YOU know anyone like that and maybe be traveling with them at some point this summer… well, let’s talk a bit.

As Aaron so wonderfully pointed out, when you want to get off the beaten path these little modern marvels do have their limits. Suddenly you find yourself in a world where cell towers just don’t go, in a land where no one has heard of 3 or G, much less the awesome that occurs when the two get together. I’d never recommend making voyage with just the iPhone as your travel partner, and have probably more than my fair share of near-horror stories of what might happen should you try. As a travel accessory goes though, the iPhone can really come in handy on the road, thanks to some pretty sweet apps out there.

For starters, let’s look at getting there. Perhaps the most dangerous travel app for me to have is the Kayak Flight app, which brings the power of the Kayak search to your iPhone in one neat little  convenient  package. It is now way too easy to find a flight – a cheap one! – to any where in the world. You can even complete the reservation all from your phone. Once you’re on your journey you can use the app to track your flight and make last-minute changes if needed. One airline that has set up a great iPhone app is Southwest. From their app you can not only check in to your flights, you can change existing reservations, and get notice of special fare deals. Personally this app has come in handy for me when arriving at stop-over airports and finding my connecting flight delayed – with it I was able to locate a flight leaving at the same time to another nearby airport and get myself on standby. This can also be dangerous; when faced with a long layover you may find yourself checking for flights to oh, say, Las Vegas for instance. Then again maybe these danger factors apply mainly to me.

So let’s talk about once you’ve arrived at your destination. I’ve got two trips coming up; Hawaii and Vegas. My default place of residence in Las Vegas is the MGM Grand, which has itself an iPhone app. It’s loaded with maps of the property, details on the room types, dining options and entertainment details. For convention-goers there is a special aspect of the app that ties in to details exclusive to your individual convention or event. Other Vegas properties have similar apps – check out the offerings from  Mandalay Bay and NewYork NewYork as well.

When it comes to the beaches of Hawaii, there are a lot of app options out there. I was gifted with the Hawaii’s Best Beaches app, and having played with it a bit from the comfort of my desk in Texas, it looks like it will really come in handy. You can search for a beach based on the activity you’re interested in – snorkeling, sunsets, camping, etc. – and all your best options will be presented with details on the site, distance, a map to the location, and photos. Right now I’m showing about 3,816 miles away from the beach I’d like to be on… can’t wait till that number gets smaller next week.

No matter where your vacation travels are taking you this summer, there’s likely a (free!) app for that. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.) Wherever you’re thinking about heading off to, type it in the Apple store search and see what comes up! You might find some app that details an awesome new attraction that you suddenly have. to. see.  If you’re planning on driving, make sure you check out the AAA apps – you can request roadside assistance and access all discounts.

Let’s hear from our fellow geeks and iPhone addicts – what are some of your favorite apps that you’ve discovered as a result of your travels?

HTML5 Video- Coming To A Browser Near You

You would have to be living under a rock the past few months not to hear about the war between Apple and Adobe raging across the internet. Just take a look at wired.com’s featured ad at the top, which displays Adobe’s newest attempt to alleviate the situation by stating, “We [heart] Apple, We [heart] choice. “Choice” referring to Apple’s decision to exclude Flash player on all the mobile devices they produce. (Steve Jobs even took the time to explain why in a rare memo). This choice has sparked fierce debate in the tech world stemming from feeling that Flash player is losing relevance.   I feel that the real conflict is not between Apple and Adobe, but rather their standards, Flash and HTML5 video.

-What makes HTML5 different from Flash?

At the moment there is no standard for video playback. We have all seen it before, our computers demanding that we install software in order to watch online video. Plug-ins   like Flash, RealPlayer, or QuickTime are used by many different browsers and devices and it can be a hassle (downright annoying) because at the moment, there is no video standard. In many cases, users on web devices like iPhones, or iPads, can’t play videos at all when Flash is required, and because these devices are so popular, Adobe isn’t too happy about it. HTML5 is the first code that allows videos to be played without the use of plug-ins, which will lead to a standard. HTML5 makes use of new structural tags like <head> <footer> <section>   and even <video> which will allow web designers to better define their content, subsequently allowing search engines to index and find your content more easily.

If you would like to learn more about how HTML5 will effect video be sure to check out the links below!

http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/05/where-on-the-web-is-html5/ – A good overview of HTML5

http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/05/who-needs-flash/ – An article discussing the Apple vs. Adobe battle
You can also check out my presentation about HTML5! (Which ironically requires Flash to play!)

Trend Tuesday: iHype and a different kind of Internet Marketing

Steve Jobs Apple iPad announcement
Steve Jobs announces Apple's new product.

Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, and comments had speculated about Apple making a tablet. Last week, Apple did something they hadn’t done during that entire time span. They admitted they had designed a tablet computer. How did they create so much buzz?

While I think their new device is a  real breakthrough in future computing, I find the marketing (or lack of marketing) for such an item much more fascinating. How does a company build up so much hype? Why are people so excited about something they didn’t even know existed? And why have so many critics turned negative on something that isn’t technically for sale yet? Let’s dive a little deeper to solve the iHype mystery.

Apple iHype

Apple, in its history as a company, has been known for releasing ground-breaking products that change the way we do things. It started back in the ’80s with the Apple II and the Macintosh, and continued in the 2000’s with the iPod and iPhone. The widespread obsession in the tech community over Apple rumors is fairly new, but the true Apple geeks have always been a hype-driven excitable bunch. The return of Steve Jobs near the end of the ’90s helped to rejuvenate this passionate group. The basics behind iHype are these:

  1. Develop new things in ways that haven’t been done before.
  2. Don’t publicly show prototypes or “proofs of concept”.
  3. Make a polished, grand announcement of the new thing.
  4. Ignore the negative critics.

Your business or organization may not make awesome tablet computers, but the principles of iHype can still apply to your business.

Develop New Things

Whether it is a piece of software, a book, a networking organization, or a physical item, your product or service stands out in some way. You may do lots of R&D for your new device, or you could simply offer a better way to manage alumni donors. Perhaps you offer public speaking advice or maybe you write code and build web apps. You can be a star by developing things that are new, fresh, and useful. Think like Apple and create things that people dream of using. Offer services that no one else can match and create your own category. To build iHype, you must build something to hype up.

Don’t show Prototypes

The biggest lesson here is this: Prototypes eat up all the hype. When you announce that your company is working on a new product to be released in 18 months, users will forget about it two days later. Not only are future predictions unreliable (see XKCD’s take below), you kill off all of your excitement by the time the thing launches. You effectively use your marketing window of opportunity to announce a future announcement.

20 years away will be 20 years away forever.
What Prototype announcements really mean (from XKCD)

Imagine going to a party on July 31st that was solely to announce another party in 4-6 months (New Years Eve). You would likely kill any buzz for the real party and possibly upset your current guests. The exception to this is a short timeframe with a solid date. Announcing your new product that will come out at the end of the month is probably OK, but it’s better to announce things that ship today. (Apple occasionally announces things before their release to do patent and FCC filings which  inadvertently  announce things. If they could wait until the ship date, they would.)

The Grand and Polished Announcement

You won’t have the same stage as Apple, but you can deliver your message with the same gusto. If you are issuing a press release, than include graphics, numbers, and memorable quotes and taglines. If you are sending an email newsletter to current clients to announce a new service, give it a great subject line and pay attention to the details. If you are lucky enough to make your announcement in person as a presentation then practice, practice, practice. A boring and unoriginal announcement is likely to be forgotten. Tell the story of your great new thing. The time you spend on it will often mirror the amount of attention it gets from your audience, so put in the time it deserves.

Ignore the naysayers

Apple made their announcement last week and already many of the tech blogs are denouncing the new device. Apple has experienced the same thing happening with the iPod an iPhone, so they are not fazed by harsh words. You may not have the same experience so a negative review could be very painful initially. Do not let it get you down. Your new offering has taken you time and energy  because  you built it with intent and passion. If someone with a blog or an email account doesn’t like it, there is no reason they should kill any of your excitement. You are trying to sell your product to people who want it, not people who don’t. Do not forget this. Every product has a negative critic and unfortunately their voices can drown out the positive folks. Have confidence in your service and in your announcement, do great marketing, and the buyers will come.

You probably won’t get the same media level of hype that Apple gets, but there is no reason you can’t create stir of similar excitement with your followers and customers. Make something great, boldly announce it when it’s ready, and ignore anyone who talks down about it. These are the simple keys to creating your own storm of iHype.

iTunes Store Hates Helvetica

Why couldn’t it have been Comic Sans?

Back in the old internet days, and I mean waaaaay back. I’m talking ancient history here, folks. I mean waaaaaaay, waaaaaaaay back on September 9th 2009 I installed the latest version of iTunes. It seems so long ago now but I can remember waiting with bated breath as news surrounding the latest release of the new iTunes would come with a much needed iPhone App organizer that would allow people the ability to organize their Apps on their computer. This is a great addition, it lets me move my App icons using my computer and a mouse rather than holding down an icon on the phone with my meaty fingers and moving them around. I always seem to mess up the order of the icons and drives me a little crazy. If you are an iPhone user you know what I’m talking about.

Below is a screenshot of the App Organizer in action

jasonsiphone

If you have an iPhone and haven’t installed the latest version of iTunes you should, the new updates are great but not all of them. More on that in a minute, first lets talk about Fonts

To Serif or not to Serif, that is the question

There are so many fonts out there. Just look around you. I can count over 20 different fonts on all the stuff around my area here at Schipul. Some serif, some sans serif. Some are hand drawn and some are works of art.

As a designer I have found and collected many fonts that I use in my concert posters. I have thousands of fonts now, so many that sometimes I go into ‘font paralysis’ trying to find that perfect font for a poster. I usually end up with some variation on what some people would call the perfect font’ Helvetica.

Helvetica is probably, if not THE, mostly widely used font in the world. Even if you do not know Helvetica by name you know it by site. Ever been to Crate & Barrell, seen a Jeep or Toyota ad? Then you’ve seen Helvetica. Here is a list of 40 companies that use the Helvetica. The font is loved by so many people it has it’s own documentary(which is AWESOME btw)

Comic Sans, why can’t they quit you?

photoI first started at Schipul on the graphics team as a layout designer. I had been designing for a few years before joining this great company. Since I started designing I’ll admit I have developed some design snobbery that comes out at times but one thing I can say that has been burning inside of me before I even wanted to be a designer’ my hatred for the font Comic Sans

At left is a photo of my coffee mug that my lovely wife bought me. You can get one here if you want’ Ban Comic Sans. That is Rupert Todderson in the mug, not Todd

I’m not going to get into why this font is so ugly, it should be abundantly clear. If you should get the desire to use it please reference this chart first

iTunes Store Bug Commits Biggest Design Foul

So, back to iTunes and how this all fits in. Well, after installing the newest version the language in the iTunes store instantly changed to some strange new language as seen below. I checked my language preferences and USA was chosen. The rest of iTunes worked perfectly, it was only the store section that was messed up.

image001.png.scaled.1000

I contacted Apple by email many times and never received a follow up. I searched for forums but nothing was showing up either. Defeated I let it go, if I can’t buy anything from iTunes and Apple won’t help than why lose sleep. I eventually called Apple and was told that I might be charged for support to help them help me to easily buy stuff from them. I might be charged to find out why I can’t buy something from them, just thought I would repeat that. Well, their free support didn’t help and I wasn’t about to pay. I searched again for forum posts to see if I wasn’t the only one with this problem. Turns out I wasn’t anymore.

Ban Helvetica? Say it ain’t so!

Yes, it turns out that by having Helvetica in my fonts folder is the cause of iTunes error. In order for me to be able to buy anything from Apple using iTunes I would have to erase the Holy Font. It couldn’t have been Comic Sans or some random font? No, it seems I had to commit the hardest font murder of all time, I would have to erase Helvetica from my system, which by the way is NOT free, although you can find it everywhere.

So long Comic Sans

As an act of both defiance and devotion I have uninstalled Comic Sans as well, although that one felt good

🙂