Wednesday
Jul162008

Apple doing the right thing

Today, I received the below e-mail from the MobileMe team at Apple. In case you're not aware of MobileMe, it's Apple's answer to Microsoft's Exchange and the new version of their .Mac service. It basically allows your e-mail, photos, calendar, and contacts to stay in sync online, on your computer, and on your iPhone. During the first few days of its rollout, it had quite a few glitches with certain services not working properly or, in some cases, at all. In fact, I had many problems trying to view my calendar online. With any new service, it's expected there may be a few hiccups (just ask Microsoft with any new OS update), but I do fault them for trying to roll this out the same day the 3G iPhone was introduced, new software was released for the old iPhone, and new iPhone applications were downloaded -- to the tune of over 10 million. Where I do praise them here is their upfront, mea culpa approach to their communications. Perhaps they learned from the likes of JetBlue on how to be honest and contrite. Take a read, and I think you'll see what I mean.
Tuesday
Jul152008

Mean and Green I

Every now and then, I plan on sharing with you some examples of some pretty cool innovations in the "green" space. In this first segment, I'll tell you about two: Daruma-otoshi building demolition and Primo Water. [Disclosure- Primo Water is a client of Porter Novelli but amazing nonetheless.]

  • Daruma-otoshi style of building demolition involves inserting mechanical support pillars on the first floor and then removing the structural pillars from that floor. The floor is then lowered down so that the second floor is now the first floor, and so on, until the building is entirely flattened. This is done with minimal environmental impact, unlike traditional building demolition or implosions. It's based on the Japanese game of the same name. Watch the video. It's quite ingenious.

  

 

  • Primo Water is a new bottled water company that is answering the cry of the APLS, the LOHAS, and the Greenfluencers, who have been trying to get people to use fewer plastic water bottles. That is admirable, because traditional water bottles are made from petroleum. That's right -- plastic bottles are made from OIL! Well, Primo Water has come along with a bottled water whose bottles are made from plants -- a renewable resource. You can check out how they do it in this video I helped make for them. Note- you'll notice I do not hawk my clients' products willy-nilly, so when I do praise one, it's the real deal, friends.

 

 

Finally, if someone can come up with a better name for this segment other than "Mean and Green", please comment. I'll probably change it to your better suggestion.

Saturday
Jul122008

iFun?

So I didn't go out and buy a new iPhone like I did a year ago, but I did upgrade my iPhone to the 2.0 software today. Talk about network problems. I had slowdowns at every turn. Then again, maybe it wasn't the best idea to release a new phone, a software update, new apps, and phone registration all on the same day ... from the same portal! Some have said that they're sure Microsoft is laughing at this, but I'm sure they only wished there was such high demand for the Zune. After getting everything up and running again, I tried out a few of the apps, and overall, I'm fairly pleased. Some were must-haves, some were could-have-done-withouts, and some were WTFs? Here's a quick review of some that I've downloaded/paid for and sampled:
  • AIM. Well, it is what it is. And it does just what you'd expect -- instant messaging. I actually applaud it for its simplicity. You don't need fancy when it comes to IM. It would be nice, however, to be able to connect to multiple accounts at the same time, like Adium. Score: A
  • Remote. You can tell this was designed by Apple. It's easy to use, and it has a similar UI to iTunes on the iPhone/iPod Touch. I also liked how it instantly updated song ratings when set on either the phone or the controlled computer. And since it's running over your home wireless network, no worries about pointing a remote control at the device. You just need to be within the 802.11x network. Score: A
  • Whrrl. I do like this social app, in theory, and the online version is much more robust. The biggest complaint I have -- and have seen -- about the iPhone app version is that you can't zoom into the map. This can be quite frustrating when you're viewing a heavily tagged area like NYC or SF. For it to be truly useful, you have to -- AGAIN -- get all of your friends signed up for it in order for you to see them. It would have been better if this tied into an existing network. Or made use of OpenSocial? Come on, fellas. Isn't this what we were hoping for? Score: C
  • Jott. I would like to review this one, but I still can not get it activated. It tells me that it needs an "Account Validation Required" and that it has sent be an SMS with the validation, but after repeated attempts, no dice. Score: F (until it starts to work)
  • NY Times. Eh, again, this one is great in theory, but the news items take so darn long to load (and this is over a fast wireless connection), that the "news" isn't really news by the time you get to view it. The ironic part is, when it finally did load,  I read an article on how the iPhone users are having troubles. Also, I still like to consume my traditionally print news in a scan-and-read manner. This is one reason I still like the print version. Even online, I find myself scanning the page and then focusing in on one article, like I'm playing 'Where's Waldo' or something. Score: B-
  • Mobile Flickr. When I first jailbroke my iPhone, one of the apps I was sad to see go away when I did an iPhone update was iFlickr. I used that app all the time at the Podcast & Portable Media Expo (now New Media Expo) last year. And this app expands on iFlickr's capabilities with the ability to search, access groups and contacts, and tag each photo before it's uploaded, something iFlickr could only do en masse. The one glitch I found was that the first test photo I took appeared on Flickr upside down. Score: A-
  • City Transit. If you live, work, or plan to visit New York City, this is a must-have. It's basically a zoomable map of the MTA subway system. For years, I've carried around the business-card-sized version of the MTA map in my wallet. The problem is, the MTA sometimes makes temporary or permanent changes to the map, rendering my map inaccurate. In addition to a current subway map on your iPhone, it can also access subway line advisories to notify of construction, route changes, etc. My only complaint about this app is that the map is not a vector-based image. When you zoom in on it, it becomes blurry. They need to fix that. Score: B+
  • Twitterific (light). I'm not sure why they call this the light version, because it serves your Twitter needs perfectly. Unlike the (lighter) mobile Web version of Twitter, it has a nice interface, shows icon pictures, and doesn't choke your iPhone when typing an update as it tracks your remaining characters. Trying the standard-Web version of Twitter on the iPhone, and you'll see what I mean. The icons are a little unclear at first, which is why you may need to leave the hints on for a while. Scrolling is also a little sluggish. Score: A-
  I'll try out more apps over the next few days, and may report updates. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts/reviews. And while everyone is in a rush over all of these new apps, remember that well-written iPhone Web apps work just as well. Facebook, Bank of America, and Fandango are a few great examples. I think I'm going to steer clear of the games, as I've burned through half my iPhone's battery playing with apps. When I'm dying in a ditch, I'd rather be able to call 911 than play Super Monkey Ball.
  • UPDATE: I felt I must update this list this soon because I've been playing around with this awesome app (the best iPhone app I've tried) called Shazam. It does one thing and does it well. It "listens" to any song playing where you are (in the car, home radio, in the movies) and then tells you the name of the song, the artist, the album and gives you a link to buy it on iTunes. What a great idea. Outside of just playing around with it today to test the accuracy, we were in the car, and my wife asked what song was playing on the radio. I fired up Shazam, and SHAZAM! It found the song. How cool is that?
Wednesday
Jul092008

Jack + Bill

Jack + Bill My company, Porter Novelli,  has put together a really cool initiative called Jack + Bill. It's a pop-up agency that will donate 3 months of pro bono public relations work to emerging fashion talent. Porter Novelli will be investing $150,000 into this, which is also pretty cool. On July 15 & 16, they will be holding a casting call for models, stylists, and designers who would like to take advantage of these services ... for free! If you know of anyone who may benefit from this, the casting call will be held at Sandbox Studios (250 Hudson Street, New York City). You can download the flyer with more information here.
Thursday
Jul032008

Pod-Picnic

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining John C. Havens, Jason Van Orden, and Melanie Van Orden for a picnic where our entire families got to meet, play, and break bread (and s'mores). While the day was a bit hot, we were able to stay cool in the shade while enjoying the usual picnic fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken. 

s'mores??

What's noteworthy here is that the above people are ones I've met through podcasting. And while they are each leaders in the industry, they are now -- first and foremost -- my friends. There are very few occasions where my business dealings have resulted in a lasting friendships. This is testament that the field of podcasting/downloadable media is made up of good, passionate, and kind people. Can you say that for Hollywood?