What’s all the fuss about Google Glass?

What’s the big deal about Google Glass? Sure, I concede the idea on paper sounds cool but I’m not entirely convinced by the real life execution or use for such a device? Google have done a great PR job to make it seem like the whole world needs one, but the I’m sure the device won’t function anywhere near as slick as it appears to in the pictures.

google-glass

Google Glass – Will people wear these on the street?

There are a few issues with Google Glass as I see it. The first thing that stuck out when reading the specs was the bone conduction technology they’ll be using instead of headphones. Bone conduction was what Beethoven resorted too once he lost his hearing! I don’t see how this superior to the humble headphone. It also sounds like it would also give you the mother of all headaches…

My second issue is the look of them, can you really imagine people walking down the street with these devices? 3D TV’s struggled to get any real traction because people felt like idiots wearing the required eye wear in there very own living rooms – why would these same people feel any different wearing Google Glass in public?

To me, it seems more of a proof of concept. I think that augmented realities and overlaying useful data and information over real world objects is a great idea and something that we’ve seen in Sci-Fi films for years now, but will it ever take off? I think  we have a few barriers to overcome first. As I have already mentioned, the design of the device needs move away from the current glasses frame style and more towards more of a contact lens. Obviously there are huge technological barriers to overcome to make this a reality. However the second obstacle is more of a human one. Before you introduce overlaid augmented realities into the mix, we are already experiencing sensory overload! I’m not sure we can deal with and compute even more stimuli. Granted it’s something any regular gamer is used to, so maybe they’ll take it like a duck to water, but I’m sceptical that the average person would.

Until I get a chance to play with them I can’t make a truly informed decision, but for all the media hype they are receiving, I just wanted to reign in the excitement a little bit before everyone jumps on the Google Glass bandwagon.

Sniffing out an April Fool – Google Nose is in Beta!

Happy Aprils fools day from Google who are now bringing there search expertise to the world of smell! They have just launched Google Nose Beta and I’m sure plenty of people will be Scratching there heads wondering how the search giant can integrate small into there search results. I’m sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news but this is an April fools day joke. What a brilliant concept though and I’m sure, in future, Google will take Google Nose Beta out of Beta and into the real world if developments in Digital Scent Technology continue.

Google Nose April Fool

Google Nose April Fool

 

Google have gone to town with Google Nose, creating the strap line ”Smelling is Believing” a nice, subtle April Fool double entendre! They making a video claiming they have now realised “Photo, auditory, olfactory convergence”!

Google are now stranger to April Fools, last year they introduced to Google Map Quest, the 8-bit version of Google Maps as well as Chrome Multitask Mode which took advantage of two mice!

I’m sure this is the just the start of many April Fools we’ll see playout throughout the day but credit to Google for the effort they have put into Google Nose Beta, I wonder what they’ll think of next year? Google Telepathy maybe?

Alpabet? Alaphabet? No! Geek Alphabet – Spelling issues…

We don’t take ourselves to seriously over here at Geek Alphabet, but one thing we shouldn’t stand for is bad spelling. Unfortunately it has taken nearly 2 weeks to spot not one but two glaring obvious misspellings of the word alphabet that were rendered as logos for the site! This is made even more cruelly ironic by the fact that the very etymology of the word alphabet is grounded in the letters that I could not spell it with!

Anyway, as the logo will need some refining once the easter break is over, I thought I’d share with you the stupid spelling mistakes and some other logo concepts we came up with.

Firstly, when Geek Alphabet first went live I needed a very quick, nothing to  slick logo. In my haste, I resorted to taking a screen print out of Word after adding a little glow to the letters in Words in built text editor. I already had the idea that the alphabet part of the logo should be made with the Greek symbol for alpha to substitute the A and beta to substitute the B. The one thing I didn’t bank on was leaving out the H in Alphabet, as shown below:

Geek Alpabet

Geek Alpabet

This served well as an interim, down and dirty logo but I needed something that got the Alphabet message out there more as I thought the play on the alpha beta part was clear through the use of the Greek symbols. As a solution I thought I could layer an appropriate font on top of a background made of small symbols from the entire Greek alphabet. After looking for the most suitable font and dialling the shades back to just the correct tone I came up with the following:

Geek Alaphabet Header

Geek Alaphabet

However, my spelling mistake still haunted me and I ending up inserting an additional “A” in Alphabet to form alaphabet…

In order to minimize that confusion I thought, maybe I could get the same message out and increase the brand of the page in just two clever Alpha and Beta symbols. I worked on many concepts one of which I have included below. They are still being tweaked but thought I’d share a little of the behind the scenes goings on:

Geek alphabet Short

Geek Alphabet Cut down to Alpha and Beta symbols

Finally the last image in the series, an actually logo where Geek Alphabet is spelt correctly!  It’s a little rough and ready, but it’s still in it’s early concept stages:

Geek Alphabet Correct Spelling

Geek Alphabet Correct Spelling

Your thoughts on which Geek Alphabet logo you prefer (if it had the correct spelling) are all welcome and would really help. Feel free to add in any tips, thoughts or creative direction in the comments.

 

Geek Alphabet moves up the Google rankings once again!

Geek Alphabet is now just over a week old and this is third update in the latest post in the live SEO experiment to document the progress of the site in the Google and Bing listings. It’s only a minor update but Geek Alphabet is now 3rd when searching for Geek Alphabet with only an article on Geeks Are Sexy and the Greek Alphabet entry on Wikipedia winning out ahead of this very site.

Geek Alphabet SEO google rank 3

Geek Alphabet now listed in 3rd position in Google

One thing I did notice is that when using the PageRank plugin for Chrome, Google has 26 pages of Geek Alphabet listed versus Bings 1 single page. As a result Geek Alphabet hasn’t moved in bings search listings since the last update. In order to remedy this I will need to double check I have submitted the sitemap correctly in Bings Webmaster Tools – this points Bings spiders in the correct direction to crawl the site so the correct pages get properly listed.

Geek Alphabet in Page Rank Plugin for Chrome

Geek Alphabet in Page Rank Plugin for Chrome

The SEO plugin All In One Webmaster plugin for WordPress does make submitting sitemaps really easy as it compiles it all for you automatically in a .xml, so a quick check in Bings webmaster too should confirm if Bing have it listed correctly. If they do, then the issue could be down to do with the frequency of spider crawls and they just haven’t been back to check the site since I have added the most recent content. A close look in Bings Webmaster tool should help me identify the problem and hopefully see Geek Alphabet rank higher in the Bing listings. As always I will update with the progress and let you know what the issue was with Bing.

 

 

When free WiFi is not free WiFi

Coffee shops, fast food joints, train stations, airports and hotels all purport and tout the FREE WiFi services (usually powered by The Cloud or BT Openzone). However whenever I settled down with my Dirty Chai Tea Latte, whip out my laptop or tablet and try to log on, I’m greeted by a login screen for a service you need to pay for to access.In case all the marketing bods over at some of these large corporations are unaware, this is the antithesis of free!!! It is the equivalent of a pub offering *free* Sky Sports to its customers but then only letting those who already subscribe to Sky at home! Speaking of Sky, Murdoch acquired The Cloud WiFi hotspot service a few years ago, and just as he has cranked up the price and tied his customers in with his TV products and online paywall news content, he is doing the same with so called free WiFi.

Starbucks Free Wifi

Starbucks: Free Wifi?

Some corporations such as Starbucks and McDonalds have realised the error in there ways and recently changed there policy regarding free WiFi and allow access in exchange for personal details. However it frustrates me beyond belief that most coffee shops, bars and restaurateurs claim to offer free WiFi when really you still have to pay. Granted, it is free for Sky or BT customers but in the case of Sky that only represents circa 40% of the country, what about the other 60% who aren’t Sky customers? Surely a service that only 40% of people get for free cannot be deemed to be free?

Regardless, of the technicalities of term free, what is even more frustrating is when you think you are getting a free WiFi service when staying in a hotel. The website prior to booking informed you the WiFi was free, the sign at the check-in desk told you the WiFi was free but when you get to your room, you’re presented with another login screen to access WiFi through a pay wall! What I take exception to in this instance, more so than when sat in a coffee shop, is that I may actually require online access for documents or to do work and, as I thought I was getting this service, I didn’t bring provisions such as a dongle. Also this now put the onus on me to pay for any data I consume which ordinarily is fine, but a bitter pill to swallow when you thought you were getting it for free!

In fairness some places do it right, I’ve been to a few pubs which just ask me for my name and email and then allow you to browse, much the same as how Starbucks and McDonlads now operate their free WiFi service. Although not strictly free, as I am parting with valuable information in the form of data capture, much to advertisers delight, I am willing to part with this in exchange for WiFi, as I am not having to give up any of my hard earned cash!

London underground also got things right with there WiFi service. Initially launched as free to all but only available on platforms and not in tunnels, they made it quite clear this would only be for a trial period before moving to a pay monthly service provided by Virgin Media. When announced, it looked as though going through Virgin would be the only way to continue accessing the service after the trial period, but not only did London Underground extend the free trial period, Virgin Media also partnered with some of the big telephony companies such as Vodafone and EE to include it as part of their existing customer contracts. A well executed example of great consumer relationship management and great PR for Virgin! I for one am a big fan of using WiFi on the underground, its a great way of keeping a tab of happenings above ground. Although sometimes the service can be a little slow to connect and always seems adamant on showing me the splashpage at every station I call at! However, that criticism is not entirely fair as Virgin are constantly adding new stations and continuously improving the service.

Just to clarify, as I realise what I may have said about Virgins London Underground WiFi service may seem to contradict what I was saying about the service offered by The Cloud and BT Openzone. I am not against putting WiFi services behind a pay wall providing this is clearly marked and labelled! Offering a service people believe to be free, then locking them out until they cough up is going to cause discontent! However, if a customer aware and is willing to pay for a WiFi service, the expectations of that service increases exponentially! I hope Murdoch’s Cloud and BT’s Openzone service can keep up the pace to avoid disgruntled customers!

Geek Alphabet gets listed on Google and Bing!

As part of my SEO experiment, where I’ve been attempting to increase Geek Alphabet further up the search listings from scratch and document the progress along the way, we have hit a major milestone! It may sound ludicrous but it is something that filled me with glee when I saw it for the first time – Geek Alphabet is now listed in Google and Bing!

Geek Alphabet SEO google rank

Geek Alphabet Google Rank as of 25/3/13

Geek Alphabet SEO bing rank

Geek Alphabet Bing Rank as of 25/3/13

So after only uploading my first page to the world wide web under the Geek Alphabet domain, how have I managed to get listed? Well, the fist step was to install the All In One Webmaster plugin for WordPress and then sign up for both Google and Bings Webmaster Tool and synch these with the Webmaster plugin. The Webmaster plugin generates an XML sitemap which is friendly to read for Google and Bings Spiders or Bot Crawlers which  constantly go out trawling and indexing the web. Creating my Webmaster account with Google and Bing also alerted the search engines to the existence of Geek Alphabet, which had never existed as a domain before.

There are a few immediate challenges to overcome – firstly and most obviously, despite having the domain www.geekalphabet.com it is currently only listed as the 4th result on Google and Bing… I put that down to only have limited number of posts with “Geek Alphabet” having a relatively low keyword density across the site so this is something I’ll have to address moving forward. The second issue is something that has backfired on me slightly. When thinking of names for the site, I thought Geek Alphabet was a clever play on words – with the Alphabet referencing the Alpha and Beta stages of development that software and firmware go through and by adding Geek to the beginning made it sound very much like Greek Alphabet. Unfortunately for me both Google and Bing also think its sounds like Greek Alphabet too and both seem determined to show results for this incorrect query!  Quite how I’ll get over this quirk is a conundrum for the time being, if anyone reading this knows, your comments are very welcome!

As always, I will update you with any progress and the course of action required to achieve it.

 

 

Tablet Bargain – HP TouchPad 18 months on

Back in August 2011, HPs struggling 10 tablet, the TouchPad, had its RRP dramatically slashed over in the US. Being the geek that I am, I was all over this news on blogs such as Engadget and The Verge and quickly pre-empted this happening over here by buying for full price in my nearest pc world. If memory serves, it was close to £500 for the 32gb version I bought. Only a matter of days later, and leaving it completely sealed in the box, the UK price dropped to £89 for the 16gb model and £115 for the 32gb model I bought. I went straight back to PC World and got the difference refunded straight back on to my credit card and left feeling very smug!

HP TouchPad WebOS

HP TouchPad WebOS

The next few hours I spend unpacking the contents of the box, registering all my social network and email accounts to the webOS and checking out what apps were available on the app store. Turns out, not many, not to worry, I thought, plenty of other geeks like me will start developing for this webOS now they’ve all bought cheap touchpads too! This, it turned out was very optimistic thinking on my part as only 6 months later HP pulled the plug on future support and developments for webOS. I was left with a device that was poorly supported and only really good for browsing the net and checking emails. This is not to webOS is not good, infact to the contrary, it had massive potential! HP were right to buy the OS form palm, if only they marketed the touchpad better and lowered the price at launch, we could have seen another real competitor to the apple and android dominance we have today.

This is not an article about failure of HPs TouchPad, but a true underdog story, a tablet everyone had written off but, like phoenix rising from the ashes, it continues to surprise and reinvent itself!

The first re invention of my TouchPad came in the form of discovering how to install apps not originally destined for the TouchPad but instead designed for the palm pre – a phone running the previous version of webOS. The app library available for this device was far more extensive than that available for its bigger, keyboardless brother! The first app I installed this was round was the kindle app, which was a joy to use with all that screen real estate. The next app, which I had really missed was Spotify – this was a slightly more involved install and could only run in a palm pre emulator window but this didn’t bother me as it was the music I wanted it for. Finally I installed internalz which enabled me to overclock my TouchPad which really added an extra gear to the user experience.

But what happened to all those hackers and geeks that bought there TouchPads in the fire sale also? They clearly weren’t interested in writing new apps for webOS as the marketplace has hardly increased in size from the day I purchased mine! Well it turns out they were doing something a little more productive and a lot more cool! They were busy porting Android across to the TouchPad and after a few failed attempts and a lot of man hours later, they had succeeded! I was following these developments very closely, but wasn’t willing to risk bricking my, albeit bargain TouchPad until a stable, tried and tested version had been released. After my concerns had been satisfied and reading up on how to do it, I took the plunge and after what was a fairly painless procedure I now had a dual webOS and ICS Android booting TouchPad – bargain!

TouchPad Dual Boot Screen

TouchPad Dual Boot Screen

Having Android on my TouchPad made me fall in love with my TouchPad all over again, it was truly a different beast and a very capable one at that! The CyanogenMod guys that developed the port across to the TouchPad were supporting the release with nightly builds so minor issues such as the camera not working when I initially flashed Android to my TouchPad, were rectified. Battery life was improved and the user experience got faster and more fluid with each nightly build to the point where updates became weekly and then ad hoc.

This, might I reiterate was all for the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, upgrading the TouchPad to Jellybean would require a whole new rom to hack and flash across which brings us up to now.

TouchPad Running CyanogenMod9

TouchPad Running CyanogenMod9

Just as I was keeping an eagle eye on the CyanogenMod9 development of ICS for the TouchPad 12 months previously, so I have been monitoring the latest state of play with CyanogenMod10 – the Jellybean update for the TouchPad. After some teaser footage showing it running in an alpha back in the summer, I think development has finally got to a stage where I am willing to flash it onto my TouchPad. Initial reports of other geeks like myself report good things about the Jellybean update including snappier response times and increased battery life. It is my intention to flash it onto my TouchPad and document how to do this yourself and my thoughts of the update once its installed. I’ll keep you posted, even if I brick it – I guess then I’ll just have to write a post on choosing the right tablet available in the market today!

SEO – A live experiment!

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short, is the process of constant tinkering with your website to make sure it ranks highly in the likes of Google and Bing searches. How well a website is determined by it’s Page Rank which can be displayed using the Google Page Rank plug in illustrated in the graphic below. As I have bought this URL only a matter of days ago and it being non-existent before I created it, I currently have no page rank, hence the “?” in the Page Rank box. Over the course of the life of this blog, I will be attempting to increase my Page Rank and will be outlining what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

 

SEO Experiment

Page Rank displayed in the box with a “?” just below the top right hand corner of the browser

 

Step one of course, was to buy the domain and this in itself can lend to how effectively and quickly you can build your Page Rank. Some people buy expired domains which already have a Page Rank associated with them, but the other consideration if starting from scratch, is if the URL is keyword friendly – in other word, will people search for terms that are included with your URL. Perhaps this is step I should have looked at more carefully…

The next step was to decide how I was going to publish this blog. I chose to use Word Press, a very powerful Content Management System or CMS for short. It’s my first experience with it and so far I’m very impressed. The way it catalogues pages and the vast amount of SEO plugins means I can be doing the correct things to increase my Page Rank semi autonomously.

This is the first time I’ve done something like this, so this is very much an experiment and one I need some advice on, so tonight i have some reading material in the form of a ebook called “SEO Simplified: Learn How to do SEO Yourself” by SEO works, who I have also signed up for in order to increase my rankings with all the major search engines.

 

I will continue to update you on my Page Rank progress and share any hints and tips along the way, incidentally  if you found this site via Google or Bing, I must be doing something right!

Twitter turns 7 today

Believe it or not, Twitter turned 7 years old today. Well, that was the date the service was founded, it didn’t actually launch until July 15th 2006 but when you consider Facebook didn’t become to any old member of the public until September 26th 2006, Twitter has been more widely available for longer.

Despite being available to the public for ever so slightly longer than Facebook, Twitter can only boast a meagre 500 million active users vs Facebook’s colossal 1,000 million! However, unlike Facebook, it has stayed relatively true what it was when it started and indeed, with the recent news that the Facebook ‘Subscribe’ button being renamed to a ‘Follow’ button and the rumour that hash tags may find their way into newsfeeds, it seems Zuckerberg is taking a leaf out of Twitters book.

And even after 7 years and 500 million users, many still don’t see what is the point of it and how it works. I myself, find it quite entertaining and good to keep ahead of local news.

The Value of the Chips in our Pockets

Every morning before I leave the house I do the 4 pocket pad down; wallet in my top right coat pocket, iPod Touch in my top right coat pocket, work Blackberry Bold in my left-hand trouser pocket and Nokia Lumia 920 in my right-hand trouser pocket.

Throughout my commute to work I subconsciously continue to pad my pockets to check my tech is safe and sound, if something feels as though its not there my heart skips a beat and I think it’s fallen out or I’ve been pick pocketed on the tube! But its with good reason as I’m carrying around anything from £500 to £1000 worth of equipment with me, especially if I have a laptop or tablet on me.

But why? All these devices do more or less the same thing, I can make calls and text with them all, granted its skype and imessage on the IPod touch but its still possible. Every one them of them has a camera and the ability to play all sorts of media files. We have reached the holy grail of singularity, one device with many features and functions, now we just carry many on our person!
And I think that’s it, for some reason, be it security or just our need as human beings to show off our possessions, we carry these devices. Would I really be lost without my blackberry and ipod? Not really, I could easily configure my Nokia Lumia 920 to pick up my work emails and stream all my favourite songs via Spotify.

I also think that having a device which we can mentally separate from the other also helps. For example, my work issued Blackberry Bold is clearly, in my mind at least, for business – when I see that red light flash it’s always work related and my affinity towards that device will always be associated with work. This opinion is reinforced by the fact that the handset and the contract is paid for and supplied by work. My personal phone on the other hand, my Nokia Lumia 920, is clearly for pleasure! I don’t mind paying extra for 4G and enjoy surfing the net for whatever may pop into my head and download any app that I please. Its a phone I like to experiment with and don’t need to worry about how I’m using it.

That brings us to the curious case of the iPod touch… Now my reason for getting a touch was for experimenting with an iOS device without the usual monthly operator fee. I’m glad I did, not that I love iOS, in fact far from it, but because of the wealth of apps that are available through the app store. It is still the default development platform for most apps.

So with my motivations for carrying one covered off, why do I still see commuters who own IPhones, defaulting to their iPod classics for there audio desires? I can only assume its a. Because they are hartdcore apple fanboys, b. They feel storage space is an issue with there iphone and the ipod solves this or c. They feel a dedicated audio device delivers a better quality musical experience than a phone that can also play music.

Either way, with technology becoming ever more advanced, compact and within reach of the average consumer, it seems like we’ll be carrying just as many devices around in future. Just remember to keep a hold of them tight folks, they’re expensive to replace!