Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taking a stroll through Yosemite the latest Mac OSX 10.10



I just got back from vacation, and am delighted to find the large number of new and shiny software from apple for me to play with now that i am back. 

I just installed OS X 10.10 Yosemite developer beta preview and will be test driving it on my MAcbook Pro 13 '' . Stay tuned for some thoughts and reactions on the redesigned OS.

So far i like the consistency between iOS and Yosemite. 

Still have to make the jump to iOS 8 developer preview.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Horizon MiniPak : Alternative Energy (fuel cell) for your smartphone

Im getting ready for a trip to the Phillipines for a couple of weeks. My gf and i are planning to go to some small islands between Palawan and Coron. No electricity type of area. But i still want power for my phone and camera. 
In other words an excellent chance to do some ForTechiesOnly gadget research ;) 

I took a trip to REI . After looking into several solar powered options. A Solio , a PowerMonkey , and a few other options i ended up with a Horizon MiniPak

Which is a handheld USB battery charged via a Hydrogen Fuel Cell reactor !!


Dont worry ive never heard of it either until i saw it. But consumer fuel cell tech is something i have been reading about for awhile (first came across in my grandfathers electro chemistry text books) , but until now have not come face to face with this tech.  Of course i couldn't pass up trying it out. So i got one. And at a great price. Full price these things cost $149.  and each additional hydrostick costs $29 (i got one for $5).

After some Googling i found out that Horizon Fuel Cell the company bills itself as the worlds largest provider of hydrogen fuel cells from large to small ones.

What i got for my trip to the Phillipines was a Horizon Minipak. Its a smallish handheld USB charger, powered from Hydrogen fuel cells. Each Hydrostick (a fat battery filled with hydrogen in a stable hydride (metal + hydrogen) can hold up to 2 charges of a smartphone. The buy product is heat and water vapor. 

The coolest part is that you can get a refill station to recharge the hydrostick batteries. If i like this experience for my trip i may consider making the investment, but to warrant the $299 investment i am going to be really impressed with this ... 

There is also another version for hikers that is marketed as more rugged, and comes with bigger cartridges.  Its called the Brunton Hydrogen REactor. Check out Brunton.com to see it.
Wired.com called it vaporware in this post right here, but now you can buy them in REI.

Not sure yet if these things will catch on , but definitely an interesting option to try out. stay tuned for reports on how my experience with the Horizon MiniPak turns out. 



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Marketing Opera Max, snapshot


I wanted to share / link what i have been doing at work (or more like the team has been doing) to solve a hard high technology marketing problem.  I think it is interesting to look at our approach for solving this, and since this is all out in the open anyway, pulling it together into a single post seemed like a good way to organize my thoughts on the effort.

Quick recap:
Opera Max is my latest product, its an android app that gives you mobile data savings. So it will stretch your data plan up to 2X. Its currently live in North America, EU, Russia/CIS. More countries coming soon.

Here is the official product page on Opera.com :
http://www.opera.com/mobile/max

You can download it from Google Play here, enjoy :
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.opera.max

The high technology marketing challenge :
The concept of mobile data savings, through advanced compression technology in the cloud is an idea that is not widely known in the mainstream. 
The idea that data can be compressed , especially in the mobile data sense, is not something most people have encountered on smartphones . 
Yes they may have heard of it on feature phones through Opera Mini, or they may remember zipping files to fit them on a floppy disk back in the 1990's. But on a smartphone that is not an idea people are familiar with. 

Below are the 3 marketing videos that we made for rolling out Opera Max beta to the first 40 countries and tell the story of the product.

The narrative/ story:
1.  Genesis: Why we made it , in an interview style (with yours truly)
2.  Advert with a hipster : Informational-yet-hip explanation of why people would use Opera Max
3.  100% Product shot video. Fly through the app, with a voice over



Some notes of a few other things we did:
1. We added subtitles into the videos
2. We localized / translated the Genesis interview video and the 

Here are the 2 Russian variants of the above videos :


These videos were done by a talented creative agency out of new york:

http://www.1985artists.com/
and
http://fatkingfilms.com/

All in all it has been a very interesting, creative, and fun experience to work on these videos. From collaborating on scripts, to shooting the interview it has helped us refine the message and story of Opera Max. It has helped us translate the product, and come up with a localized version of the tagline.

The results to date:
So far all the videos together have exceeded 100,000 views on youtube.com .
In total all Youtube videos about Opera Max that i have seen , including videos we made and including video reviews from other blogs, have exceeded 200,000 views.

Not a bad start IMHO, considering that we are in beta and this is just the opening act. It is interesting to consider that HBO is currently airing a show called "Silicon Valley". The show is about a garage start up called Pied Piper, which has a data compression technology. They are building a compression cloud ... lots of overlap with what we are actually doing at Opera.

So maybe this will help prime mainstream audiences for the idea that they can get an app that will save them data / improve their experience by leveraging a compression cloud :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mayer's Secret 2014 Game Plan : Alibaba, Buy into: Mobile Ads & Mobile Search


 



If i was Marissa Mayer here is what i would do. This would be my Secret Game Plan.

Caveat Lector: 
Below are a series of complete guesses and assumptions about what Yahoo and Marissa Mayer may do, and market changes. Take all of this with a gray of salt, but i believe in this so i invested into Yahoo stock a few days ago ;) .

If i was Marissa Mayer here is what i would be thinking about 2014 Yahoo 

1. My M&A plays have driven the stock up 2X since i started
2. Lets double down on M&A & Revive the brand
3. Need more cash 
4. Yahoo owns 24% in Alibaba, Alibaba.com (giant chinese ebay style / other e commerce properties web company) ,  is going to IPO, its going to be the largest IPO ever , some analysts expect $200 Billion valuation.
5. Yahoo will take on massive amounts of cash. I predict 57% of their Market Cap at the time.
6. Yahoo is going to buy a cash rich mobile ad network. I know which one i would buy if i was them ;)
7.  Yahoo is getting back into the Search Innovation  / Search R&D game. 
8.  My bet is that Marissa will end up buying an app search engine company as well. I know which one i would buy ;) 
9.  Now Yahoo has a new mobile ads revenue stream & adds search value in mobile.

This is how i would be playing 2014 if i was Marissa Mayer. Interestingly enough after making this prediction a few days ago, buying a bit of Yahoo stock, Alibab just filed for an IPO:


So maybe we will know if my guesses above are pointing in the right direction or not, pretty quickly :) 
Cant wait for the markets to open tomorrow and see what happens with Yahoo stock. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

@ facebook's relaunched Developer conference f8



My good friend Ilya Sukhar, who founded and Parse and then sold it to facebook now runs all app development platform for facebook. 

I am at The Concourse in sf, spending the day immersing myself in facebook's developer world.


Today Parse, facebook , Ilya, and Zuckerberg relaunched facbeook's developer facing efforts. The tagline is "going back to our developer roots". 

 I am most excited to check out the internet.org innovation lab that facebook is hosting with Ericsson. 
I have a 45 minute session scheduled with an Ericsson coach, who will take my android app and run it on a simulated "Nigeria" mobile / cellular network. Pretty excited about seeing how Opera Max will fare on a simulated mobile network

Checking In:
I was delighted by a well made f8 app that they suggested i install on my iPhone for check in. I got the android one , it was well made and helpful. It told you the wifi password :) It has map and schedule as well. Also they are holding free t shirts hostage until the end of the day, and ask you to fill our a survey inside the f8 app to get the free tshirt. Clever tactic :) 

They also welcome developers by giving them a fjallraven backpack. A stand and a case for iphones. A moxie battery juice pack, and a notebook. Pretty cool schwag, but no Oculus rift giveaways here :)

The AM:
They announced a string of new developer tools and products. Best listed in this Gigaom blog post here:

https://gigaom.com/2014/04/30/heres-everything-that-was-announced-at-f8/

In a nutshell, fb just launched a mobile ad network . First time Fb is getting serious about helping mobile ad developers to moentize by using facbeook ads and facebook ad targeting. 

It will be interesting how this new change in the mobile ad market impacts Opera Mediaworks/ Ad Marvel (largest non game ad network outside of google) and Chartboost (largest game specific ad network).

The Main talks:
Waiting for the first set of talks to start.  I am sitting in the "Grow" track, where they will discuss how to use the newly launched tools to grow distribution of your apps. So thought its a great time to drum out a post, since i am trying to get into a steady post rhythm for fortechiesonly.com again :) 

more photos and stuff will come later. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Im back. Post Opera Max launch - my latest product :)

WOW.  A whole quarter went by, where i was fully 100% focussed on launching a new awesome app at Opera software.  So focussed didnt event have time for any fortechiesonly.com posts. So whats kept me so busy ?

Ive been incubating and now bringing to market a new product at Opera.

We have been working on this app since last May. After 9 months of developing, dreaming, iterating, designing, engineering, packaging, debugging, crafting, restarting, developing, polishing we were finally ready to start letting our new shiny app the light of day. 

Dec 20th Opera Max, was released into a closed private beta (available in USA only).
Feb 23, 2014 we launched in Google Play in North America and European Union + Norway. 




Opera Max is an App, that when you install and turn on, will double your mobile data plan. 
It compresses your mobile data traffic, and lets you get up to 2X the data experiences without  paying more. You can get it in Google play here. Right now. For Free.

If it sounds like Magic. Thats because it is ;)  

It was meticulously designed in California and Norway. Built in California, Norway, and Poland. Don't get me wrong i didnt make this app. I have a rockstar team of engineers, designers, testers, and managers at Opera. Together we crafted Opera Max to be the best data savings service. We designed it to really make an impact on making mobile data cheaper and more accessible.

We plan on offering this great service in as many countries as possible. 

Of course, the app also has value for people with unlimited data plans. Opera Max has the most beautiful and detailed way of presenting data usage statistics: a data usage timeline. The timeline reveals how data is really being used and consumed on your smartphone. This lets you find out that some apps are sneaky and use data when you dont know. There is an easy way to "block" any app from misbehaving and restrict their data consumption to wi-fi only, so its free. 

This is especially helpful if you roam alot. Mobile data roaming is incredibly expensive , and any amount of data used will cost you alot. Opera Max detects when your android is roaming, and lets you know in the timeline. 

The goal was to make mobile data on smartphones cheaper and more affordable. 

My hope is that more people will use more mobile data than before, and that some people even start using mobile data for the first time because of Opera Max.

If you have an Android 4.0  or higher.  Follow this link to Google Play and give it a test drive . 

Find out how much data you use and can save per day :) 

Also watch this youtube video to learn more: 


Also there is more info here :

Stay tuned for more awesome updates and blogposts here at fortechiesonly.com






Sunday, December 15, 2013

Unboxing: Automatic Link = "The Car Fitbit".Best gift for car techies:



Yesterday i got myself an early Xmas gift. I got an Automatic Link at the Apple store.
Automatic Bills itself as "The Smart Driving Assistant" . And nails it ! :)  Click to see their site.

Why use it/ Whats it do ?:
  • Ever get a pesky "Check Engine Light" in your car apparently for no reason ? 
  • Want to see your MPG ? How long you drive ? How far ? Measured in a beautiful timeline.
  • Want a coach to condition your bad driving habits away ?
Automatic does all of this in an amazing product package. Automatic is a physical dongle that connects into your car's OBD II port. OBD stands for On Board Diagnostics, all cars in the USA since 1996 have these ports.





Once you plug the Automatic in, you pair it with an iPhone app over Bluetooth 4.0 (power efficient sipping type). This lets the app know when :
  • Your car's ignition is started/ turned off
  • Decode Check engine status codes into nice sentences that make sense 
  • Clear a Check engine light (to see if it comes back)
  • How fast you were driving
  • How long you drove for (start and end timestamps)
  • Tally's your bad (not gas efficient) driving habits:
    •   How many rapid accelerations
    •   How many times you went over 70
    •   How many times you braked hard
Linking the cars on board sensors and on board computer to an iPhone app over Youtube is brilliant.

Coupled with a beautiful and intuitive Timeline UI the app is immediately engaging, gamified, and genuinely helpful.

I liked their product execution and attention to detail so much i screenshotted a bunch of views of their iPhone app and broke it up into the major flows before. I think this is an outstanding execution of a modern late 2013/ 2014 iOS 7 friendly UI/ UX for an app. Check out screenshots of their packaging/ unboxing, welcome experience, syncing /setting up the Automatic link with your car/ iPhone app, user training, Timeline UI, Gamification. 

If you know a car enthusiast that is also a techie, or just loves iPhone apps this would be an ideal XMAS gift. You can pick one up at Apple Stores for $99.95 .
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FIRST RUN EXPERIENCE/ WELCOME FLOW:
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UNBOXING THE LINK/ PACKAGING
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BLUETOOT SYNCING AUTOMATIC TO iPHONE APP
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EXPLAINING TIMELINE UI TO NEW USERS:
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1st TIME USING IT : TEST DRIVE FLOW
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2nd TIER VIEWS / DRAWERS :
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CHECK ENGINE ALERT / INFO & CLEARING IT:
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iTUNES APP STORE MARKETING SCREENSHOTS:
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