Popular Technology Radio

cover170x170On Saturday, 1/31/15, I appeared on the syndicated radio show Popular Technology Radio. We spoke about home automation technology for general consumers. A bunch of differing “standards” are still evolving, and early adopters should be careful about picking compatible products and technologies. A point of note is that integration is becoming important to many manufacturers, ultimately getting us away from this trend of needing an app for every new device. One such integration announced recently is for SNUPI’s Wally sensors, which are now Works with Nest certified to provide your Nest thermostat with much needed remote room temperature monitoring.

The show is available now in iTunes and online at poptechradio.com.

New York Times: The Rise of the Smartbulb

nytimes-logoI recently spoke with a reporter from the New York Times about connected bulbs, and how the landscape for consumers can be pretty confusing nowadays. A brief quote from that discussion appeared on the front page feature of the Times’ 1/22/2015 Home and Garden section.

…if you buy a set of smartbulbs and you’d like them to flash if your smoke alarm is triggered at night or your webcam detects an intruder, for instance, you may be out of luck.

As a result, said Richard Gunther, a consultant with Universal Mind, a Denver technology firm, smartbulb buyers have no choice but to do some research before they buy. “You can’t just buy a bulb and screw it in and expect it to work with your connected system,” he said.

Nadarajah Narendran, a professor and director of research at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., agreed. “If you want the additional convenience that can come with the new LEDs, you need to be ready not just with your money but with your time,” he said.

Both men expect things to get easier soon, perhaps as early as this year, as the industry coalesces around wireless standards the way the home-video industry ultimately settled on the VHS standard. The difference, they said, was that the smart-home industry will likely find ways to bridge the varying technologies, rather than leaving some consumers stranded on Betamax Island.

The full article is available online at nytimes.com.

Sad to See Tom Leave

Leo Laporte, the head of the TWiT network, today announced that he is ending TWiT’s contract with Tom Merritt, host of Tech News Today (TNT) and for all intents and purposes the network’s news anchor. I doubt any of us will ever know or understand the details of Leo’s seemingly short-sighted decision or understand the motivations behind it. Particularly given Leo’s weak statements about the remote situation not working. As an audio listener—part of TWiT’s largest audience—I perceived absolutely no difference after Tom’s relocation to L.A.

What I do know is that the TNT that Tom and Becky Worley started at TWiT about four years ago brought me to TWiT as a daily listener. And the evolution of the TNT team and show, though never topping that original formula, yielded a professional and respectable tech news source. Tom didn’t fall into morning zoo antics; he didn’t don an artificial radio voice, smile, and guffaw for the mic and camera; and he didn’t chow down his lunch while recording and on camera. Tom has added a level of professionalism to the TWiT studio that some have emulated and others should aspire to.

Change is hard. I get that. And maybe it’s time for a change for me, too. Maybe for all of us. I’ll likely leave TNT behind and look forward to Tom’s next endeavor—just as so many of Tom’s fans and followers did when he left CNET and dropped a ready-made audience in Leo’s lap. That audience will likely have something new and exciting to look for in the days ahead.

All my best to you, Tom. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

BBB Complaint Filing about UPS Service

UPS: We ♥ Logistics*  [*It's just that sometimes they're not very good at it.]

Over the past week’s time, I’ve had three delivery failures from UPS, each mis-handled and reported differently. Last week, a package was reported as delivered when it actually wasn’t. UPS refused to address the issue for me when I called because it was a package from Amazon. Amazon graciously resent the products at no additional cost, then days later the original (purportedly already delivered) UPS package mysteriously arrived. It was dropped on my doorstep with no attempt to communicate with me, even though I had a clear notice on the door for the UPS carrier to ring the bell and talk with me.

Days later, another package doesn’t get delivered. It’s reported in UPS’ tracking system as not delivered due to “Emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control.” UPS followed up on my rants on Twitter, telling me that, in fact, that status was used because they didn’t have a status to properly represent the actual situation—that they just couldn’t get the delivery done in time that day.

Today: another failed delivery. UPS’ tracking system reports that “the customer was not available on the 1st attempt.” That’s a lie. Someone was home all day. Nobody rang the bell, no notice was left, and this particular package does not require a signature anyway. 

I want UPS to fix the rampant delivery problems they appear to be having in my neighborhood this holiday season. I want the dispatch office and drivers to be held responsible for failed deliveries—not Amazon. I want UPS to stop fabricating false excuses for why they’re not delivering packages on time. “Couldn’t deliver on time” is bad, but it’s better than the fabricated statuses they’ve been reporting.

New Media Thoughts from My Outbox

Five years ago, I attended the Podcast and Mobile Media Expo, witnessing what I suspected was a significant shift in content production and delivery. It impacted me significantly, and I remember returning to my room to share these thoughts with some friends and colleagues. Several name changes, one merger, and many times larger, Blogworld & New Media Expo is alive and well, and the shift is bigger than any of us may have expected: content production and delivery, customer service, PR, and publishing are just a few of the industries significantly impacted by how people can now create and access information and media. And big industry is still trying to figure it all out.

From my Outbox, 2006:

I’m currently at the Podcast & Mobile Media Expo in Ontario, California–and I’m blown away by what’s going on here. I’ve been a podcast listener (and viewer) for nearly a year now, becoming personally familiar with the medium after receiving an iPod last Christmas. I’ve known about podcasts, of course for a few years, but it wasn’t until I actually had a mobile device that easily afforded me the opportunity to subscribe and listen to narrowly targeted content that I personally adopted the technology. And boy, did I adopt. I joke about how my iPod has completely changed my life–but it has. I don’t get my news–be it politics, technology, entertainment, or whatever–from the TV or radio any more. Instead, I catch up on what’s going on in all these and more subject areas on my own time in my own place with my iPod. Taking what TiVo did for television to the next level, podcasting is both time AND place shifting–allowing you to listen or watch what you want when you want and where you want. And I’ve never felt so informed!

So here I am amoungst hundreds of folks who are making this happen, some of them the leaders of this industry. While here, I’ve met Leo Laporte (This Week in Tech, http://twit.tv), and I’ve spoken extensively with Alex Lindsey (MacBreak) and Andrew Baron. I’m really kind of blown away because Leo and Andrew (both keynotes here) are major pioneers in podcasting. These are the guys treading new ground and putting themselves out there in what seems to be the medium of choice for the delivery of targeted content. And they’re…regular people.

I came here hoping to learn about what technologies might make podcasting a viable communication mechanism for large organizations (e.g., government). I’m leaving with more ideas than I can possibly process, and it’s hard for me to understand how more enterprises aren’t doing this already. This is definitely one area where the small, daring, enterprising few are just walking all over corporate and public entities. A few dramatic exceptions (ABC and NBC, among few others, are experimenting) exist, but for the most part, this is still all about the Bob and Sue down the street. And what’s interesting is that they’re both probably going to be laughing all the way to the bank in a few years, while big industry is trying to figure out what hit them.

That’s all I have for now…

I’m at the DMZ

The Digital Media Zone

Looking for something? The Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a tech blog about the products and services available for home and mobile media consumption, is now home to my post about CableCARD and the HDHomeRun Prime. Expect to find future posts about home entertainment and consumer electronics devices there, while The World According to Richard continues to serve as the platform for my rants and perspective on all other things.

Long overdue feedback for the Disney Vacation Club web team

I’ve given up on hoping for a much-needed redesign of the Disney Vacation Club website for (I’ll remind you) PAYING members. But I am BEGGING you to please eliminate the auto-play, expanding, audio-accompanied ad for the Aulani resort. EVERY SINGLE TIME you visit the DVC home page, this ad expands over the page and plays audio. Loudly. It’s obnoxious, it’s unnecessary, and it suggests that your web team doesn’t understand how to design content for the 21st century.


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