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Garmin’s Head-Up Display – how cool is this!

hud-lifestyle-1

Garmin HUD – Image courtesy of Garmin.com

Garmin recently launched their Heads-Up Display (HUD) to be available in August (at least in the US ).  The inner geek cannot wait to get this.  It seems very reasonable at €129.oo for what it offers.  It is hugely practical and so much better than trying to look at the phone or other device for directions.  I have seen some head-up displays in high-end cars (unfortunately not mine) but this stand alone device makes so much sense!  Its independent of the car, can be updated easily (or at least the app on the iPhone can) with latest maps updates, improvements etc.

I wonder if there is any thought to linking it to your phone in other ways like having it show who is calling you, call duration, etc. especially for when active but not specifically being used for directions.  What else could it be used to display? I have already started putting a few euro aside for it!.  Looking forward to seeing it in the flesh and putting it through its paces.  Expect another more in-depth blog post ;-)

LinkedIn – Where do I start?

It can be daunting for many of us to start putting our professional life out there for all to see. Where do I start?  Below are my thoughts….

Step 1: Setting up your profile – The Basics

  • Start by taking some time and updating your resume before touching your LinkedIn profile.  This gives you a good template to work from based on your recent experience, skills, education and interests.
  • Turn off ‘Activity Broadcasts’ for the initial time period when you are setting up and editing your profile information.  This just means that as you add connections (or they add you) they are not getting blasted with alerts with every little change to your profile.  Once you are satisfied with your profile and its complete (or mostly) you should turn it back on.  At this stage changes to your profile will be new, real time relevant and worth sharing such as promotions, education, projects etc.  Go to ‘Account and Settings’ (place your mouse pointer over your profile pic in the top right hand corner of the screen) select ‘Privacy and Settings’ then under Profile> Privacy Controls select ‘Turn on/off your activity broadcasts’
  • Spend a little bit of time understanding the different sections available to you on the basic page such as Home – Profile – Network – Jobs – Interests
  • Use your resume as a guide to start filling out all the relevant information under your Profile page.
  • You MUST include a profile pic. Not up for discussion! (and not a drunken one from a recent wedding!)
  • Be aware before you go searching for (not necessarily to connect to!) past boyfriends and girlfriends or old colleagues that these people will often get an update that you have viewed their profile! This is not like facebook!
  • Once you have your resume fully entered you should now take some time to start expanding on the information associated with each section.  We are limited in the information and experience we can include in our resumes as we target them for specific jobs and\or make choices as to what is more important to include to keep size  down.  Your LinkedIn profile is where you can start to expand on your story, include more detail on experience and projects you have worked on and also delve into detail on specific skill sets.
  • Take some time to fill out a full set of Skills and Expertise – these are what people will endorse!
  • Share your profile with some trusted colleagues and friends for feedback and input.  I have found this invaluable.
  • Use the Network features to start linking with your colleagues past and present. LinkedIn has nice tools to use your contact lists, find alumni or just add individually contacts you may have.  Personally I usually only link with people I know.  That could be from business dealings, past work colleagues, friends, etc.  I don’t necessarily agree with linking just because people are in the same industry or have the same job title.  That is what groups under Interests is for!
  • Under Interests take some time to follow a few companies of interest and see if there are groups that have similar interests that you may have and where you could learn from or contribute to.
  • If you have a smartphone or tablet download the LinkedIn app.  Its an easy way to use, interact and update your profile
  • That is it… the basics!

Step 2: Time to get uncomfortable !

  • Now that you have a profile set up you need to enhance it and build on the basics.  If you have taken the easy way so far and only connected to immediate colleagues now is the time to get uncomfortable (or at least from my introvert state!).  Start thinking about past bosses, colleagues, companies, etc and search for and reach out to connect.  Since a couple of sessions I gave on LinkedIn a number of colleagues have come back to sing its praises as they have restored contact with old colleagues that they just lost track of over time. Contacts that will help endorse skills, build their network and provide valuable recommendations.
  • Think about those around you that you work with who are on LinkedIn, their skill sets and start endorsing them.  Please only endorse people you know, can stand over the endorsement and are skills you have personally witnessed and understand.  Specifically with technical skills people can end up endorsing you for skills that you have listed but don’t really know you posses!  Be genuine and don’t accept endorsements on skills that people suggest for you if you are uncomfortable with it!  Once you start endorsing a few people many will start reciprocating and help build out your profile.
  • One of the hardest things to ask for is a recommendation.  However a genuine recommendation from someone who can easily expand on the information if they are contacted is invaluable.  Think about a few people that you trust to give you a good recommendation.  (Please note a glowing recommendation on your skills from a golf friend or drinking buddy that you have never worked with on a professional basis is pointless – don’t do it!)
  • Take a look back at your Projects section.  Are their past projects worth noting that you have not included? Put together a narrative and get them up there.  This is all about your story, showing your adaptability, broad exposure and skill set and distinguishing yourself from the crowd.
  • Did you find some groups under Interests that you joined in Step 1? Can you contribute or learn from them? Look at participating in some of the conversations either to share your expertise or simply ask questions.  Its amazing the contacts, learnings and ideas that you can garner from these groups from just a little bit of time spent with them.
  • Think about sharing in LinkedIn using status updates and sharing any interesting articles you read on the web relating to your skills, interests and expertise.  Share a training you are taking or a conference you are attending (be selective and share useful relevant information… this is not twitter! Start sharing junk and people will hide you and your updates!)  Spend a little time on your newsfeed on the home screen to review articles.  Like, comment and share where appropriate.
  • Obviously if job hunting use the Jobs page to search for new jobs! That after all for many is the reason to be in here!

Depending on your current state 1) happy in a job, 2) in a job but looking or 3) seeking employment will determine the amount of time you spend (have to spend) on Step 2.  Obviously when job hunting there are many more methods to finding a job so while LinkedIn should not be your only focus neither should it be ignored.  It is an environment generally that needs very little work to keep up-to-date after the initial profile work. Some regular house keeping and updates can keep your profile fresh and current and may just lead to your next career move.

Back to paper with Moleskine’s Evernote Smart Notebook

I have droned on in the past about how great it was to go paperless on the iPad and just how I achieved that.

After all that I am now going to tell you about how great it is to have some paper again!  Firstly, I love being almost paperless and my shelves are still paperless, I don’t print anything to read, sign or comment on.  I haven’t abandoned my paperless effort and I still do the majority on the iPad.  However, while the stylus and Studio i works great for note taking they do at times compromise how you can use the iPad.  Multi-gestures have to be turned off.  The Studio i doesn’t work in all apps that I like so I still need a capacitive stylus.  A couple of times my battery has run out just when I needed to take notes so I was left scrambling for a pen and paper.  Quite often I felt like I needed two iPads.  One with the document open in front of me and one where I could take notes as switching back and fort between the different apps can be a little annoying especially in meetings.

I wanted my hand written notes stored electronically in a manner I could use.  I tried a Livescribe pen and notebooks and liked the tech but it was all just a little cumbersome.  If they could get it to sync wirelessly and with some apps as opposed to having to go back to your PC or laptop every time it would be a big improvement.  I also tried a new iPad cover that had an integrated notebook so I could read on my iPad and jot down notes to the side.  I didn’t like it. More often than not I ended up pulling the iPad out of it.

Along came an email from Evernote on the new Moleskine notebook that they were planning to launch.  I signed up and placed my order as a Moleskine with some tech built-in seemed ideal.

Evernote Moleskine Smart Notebook

Evernote Moleskine Smart Notebook

As with all Moleskines the quality is excellent. So straight off just the look and feel of the notebook is pleasing.  The notebook comes with a selection of stickers that you can place on your notes.  The advantage being that when you use the Evernote App camera to snap the page, to record it electronically, it recognises the stickers and will auto tag those pages for you.

Evernote Moleskin Notebook with Stickers

Evernote Moleskin Notebook with Stickers

Obviously you don’t need to snap and record every page. Just the ones to want.  Once uploaded your hand written notes become searchable in Evernote and available across all your devices.  So when on your 3rd notebook and travelling you can still bring up those notes from the 1st Notebook that is sitting at home in your drawer!

Evernote App Auto-Tagging

Evernote App Auto-Tagging

Above is a screen shot from the iPhone Evernote App auto-tagging a Moleskine page.  Click the little check mark in the bottom right and it then uploads to Evernote.  Safe and secure and available anytime in the future for reference from your mobile device or computer.

I love being back organised in my Moleskine while also being able to archive to the cloud important notes for future reference.  I do have a few thoughts on it though:

  • Its expensive.  Overly so I feel but I am hopeful as more people use them then the price will come down.
  • The Notebook includes 3 months Evernote membership.  As I am already a premium member this is useless to me and probably just adds to the cost.  They should either get rid of it or make it optional on the notebook
  • Stickers – Should be able to refill your stickers separate to purchasing a notebook
  • Sticker types – I think there should be at least 3 more different types of stickers.  Possibly a web page I can log on to select the 6 option of stickers I want with my order.
  • Uploading a page – should have an option to overwrite if page was already uploaded.  Sometimes I snap a page and then a few days later there may have been notes added to the same page.  When I upload it again I now have two of the same page albeit one with edits. It would be great if there was an option to only have the latest version of each page (some may want to keep all but an option for those like me that don’t)
  • Some more variations for cover colours and types of notebooks

P.S. Livescribe if not already then you should start looking at how you can link your pen via Bluetooth to devices and sync notes just taken with an app such as Evernote – and do a deal with Moleskine to get some nice notebooks – Love your product but it’s getting out of date fast and it doesn’t need to!

The Nike Fuelband – A daily reminder of just how lazy you are!

Nike FuelBand

Nike FuelBand

The idea of constant 24 hr feedback on daily activity has always intrigued me especially as our lives become more and more sedentary.  Pedometers have been around for a while but with the latest improvements in technology the growth in offerings for personal activity recorders has vastly improved.  I picked the Nike Fuelband from the options as its worn directly on the body (right or left wrist) versus attached to a piece of clothing or a belt which doesn’t appeal to me.  It is always on and recording my activity, aside from when I have it charging or updating on the laptop, so it gives a great insight into a 24 hour window of activity without being specifically focused on steps.

The device is very easy to use with a single button bringing up all displays and controlling all options.  The device itself will show you readouts at the touch of a button on Fuel(an activity calculation), Calories, Steps and Time.  You can also disable the Bluetooth for when in flight and it gives feedback on battery level to warn when you need to charge.  The battery life is excellent and I only need to charge every 3 or 4 days.  I sync it daily with my iPhone Nike Fuelband app to upload the data to my Nike+ account. See screen shot below from the iPhone of data display for a particular day.

Nike iPhone App

Nike iPhone App

The screen shot below is from my Nike+ web account.  It gives a nice breakdown of activity over the whole day showing number of steps, calories, distance and when you were most active similar to the iPhone app above.  As with other Nike apps you can set targets and challenges and share your progress across Twitter or Facebook. My Nike+ web account has the added advantage in that it pulls together the info from my Nike iPhone App and the Fuelband (and other Nike tracking devices if you have them).

Nike Web Screen

Nike Web Screen

I wanted to try these 24 hr monitors to get a better sense of my activity(which is not a lot!).  Working on a computer all day combined with relatively long commutes and small kids can leave very little time to indulge in multiple trips to the gym each week.  Even at that when the health fit kicked in it seemed hard to shift all those pounds that have added on over the years.  The Nike Fuelband has given me a much better insight into my average and particularly worst days.  It has reinforced the fact that a number of small things over a whole day versus 3 or 4 trips to the gym every week can be significantly more rewarding from the health point of view.  All common sense stuff but when the figures are thrown in front of you on a daily basis and you can analyze the last day, week and month it can be quite shocking and eye-opening.

My worst days were those I worked from home.  There is obviously no walk for the train, to the car, to the bus, to the office and then to meetings or lunch.  I go from my kitchen to the attic conversion and sit in front of the computer from maybe 7am or 8am until 5pm or 6pm.  With a couple of breaks for lunch and a cup of coffee.  I normally got a score of 400-600 Fuel points on these days.  That compared with an average work day of about 1800 Fuel points or a Saturday cutting the grass, playing a game of tennis with the kids and just doing a few bits around the house where I would score over 3000 Fuel points.

Other simple small changes like the healthy heart ad states ‘get off a bus stop earlier’ can make a big difference.  Wise words, common sense and very obvious but I (we) all too often hear these messages but don’t action them.  Amazing over a day how a number of these small changes can help you hit your fuel target easier than trying to make time for a trip to the gym.  So the device won’t lose the weight for me but it might just be that piece that reinforces the serious need for a whole lifestyle habit change and helps me do it at a more consistent level across my day versus spurts a few times a week.

If considering buying there are a few things to note.  If your main activity is biking or swimming then this is not the device for you.  Its worn on the wrist so I am not sure if on a bike how accurate it would capture your activity if at all.  Nike state you can shower with the device but it’s not waterproof.  So swimming is not an option which frustrates me a little as I do like to go for a swim.  Also I haven’t had the cojones to wear it in the shower for fear I kill it.  In my head if it’s not waterproof then it stays away from water, showers included!

Feedback for Nike and improvements?

  • Make it waterproof!
  • It would be great if there was GPS and thus location and elevation info captured (or at least integrated better with your smartphone app to capture this – see next point)
  • Nike Apps – presently there are a number of Nike Apps. So when I go for a run (fast walk!) I use the Nike Running app and then when I come back I have to sync my Fuelband to my Nike Fuelband app.  This just seems a little crazy.  There should be one Nike app that can integrate the data across the different devices you have be that the Nike App, Fuelband, Sportswatch, etc
  • Continue to improve on the Nike+ web piece.  While it has improved greatly over the last year they should(will)) continue to develop and they should add some features like weight tracking and body measurements.

So that is it.  I think it’s a great piece of tech and when used correctly could really help some of us to improve our lifestyle on a more consistent basis.  The fact it is a 24 hr all day tracking system means its a lifestyle monitor for anyone to use and learn from and not just a piece of gear for serious runners and athletes. People have made the odd comment such as ‘oh you can fool it by shaking your arm!’ but in these cases it’s not really the device you are fooling.  When it’s used as it is designed it really is an excellent, easy to use, put on and forget piece of tech.  Highly recommended for those so inclined!

Twitter’s missing piece?

Twitter’s missing piece? It is missing the whole check-in piece similar to what Foursquare offers. I hear foursquare haters shout ‘No! I don’t care where you are!’ but please hear me out.  I don’t just mean for places but for events like concerts, conferences, topics, news pieces, emergencies, TV shows, movies and of course places and companies like Starbucks! Anywhere or anything you can start a conversation on.

Why? Well Twitter is where the conversation happens now. Having to filter topics or search based on hash tags is cumbersome and awkward. There are different hash tags for the same event, idea, debate or show. Often where I am or what I am watching is not the same as those I follow on Twitter . That is fine but it should be easier to connect with those people who are. I should be able to check in to any thing or place. e.g. a TV show Madmen. Twitter would then auto build a search\view and include all other tweets from others checked in here. I could make it geography specific if I choose.  There is no point in having a list with people from another geography that may be an episode or 2 ahead or behind in the conversation. Any tweet I compose when in this list\view is auto tagged by Twitter as a ‘Mad Men’ tweet and could be easily filtered for those who follow me but who are not interested in Mad Men.

If I return to my standard Twitter stream and tweet all is normal and my tweets are not tagged but as soon as I return to the Mad Men check-in the filters and tags are auto built into each tweet I compose. When I check out that list\view and all those auto built views and pieces disappear from my Twitter app or web page. I can check-in again in the future to re-create.  Mad Men may not be the best example but replace that with Presidential Debate, X-Factor, TED Conference, New Zealand Earthquake, etc…etc…

I think it would offer better options for companies or shows to ‘own’ their check-in areas and provide info and offers while not being able to necessarily filter comments or feedback unless profanity was used. This could also be revenue generating for Twitter. So e.g. your local book store wants an advertised tweet to display with the latest offering upon each check and it pays a simple very small fee as with promoted tweets per check-in.

I could talk and talk about specifics about how each piece should work but think it really would be a great facility and help to easily connect people across this great medium. There is very little new above. The problem is some of it is in Foursquare, some in Twitter and some in other apps that try to link your TV viewing with conversations. It’s disjointed and awkward. If Twitter offered it in one place it would a great addition to what it already offers us. I think Twitter should purchase Foursquare and incorporate it nicely into your current offering. It goes back to that comment on social media ideas and solutions – ‘Is it an app or a feature’ and I think Foursquare should be a feature of Twitter.  What do you think?