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RIP Nabaztag aka Karotz

NO! One of my favorite Internet devices, and one of the first Internet of Things, and MY personal (technically my daughter Sarah’s) first Internet appliance, the Nabaztag later renamed Karotz, is dead.

Karotz was the predecessor to Jibo, Philips Hue lighting, and the Amazon Echo doing such feats as reading text messages aloud to you, reading RSS feeds, indicating the weather through color changing LEDs, allowing your connected friends to interact with you by manipulating your rabbit via sounds, spinning ears, spoken words, and flashing lights.

Thank you Philip, the Blue Sloth, for introducing me to the Nabaztag, and for the fun interactions we had from house to house. Two strangers in real life, friends in a virtual world, who met through blogging, and sent spontaneous spoken messages to each other through an electronic rabbit. That connection was severed when support ended for Nabaztag v1. Our digital world has an innate ability to conquer physical, emotional, political, religious, socioeconomic, and other divides. This rabbit did just that.

"Originally launched on the market in 2005 under the name of Nabaztag, Karotz has been a pioneer in the field of connected and communicating devices.
The very active community around this rabbit has widely contributed to make it so popular.

Today, nearly 10 years after its first appearance, Karotz is facing a very strong technological competition: the connected devices are now 4G, mobile and evolutionary. Karotz and its users have not only helped establish connected devices; they have paved the way. New products make a stronger match to market needs, marking the end of Karotz’s great story.

To keep on offering you innovative and endearing companions, Aldebaran is refocusing on our core business: humanoid robots.

Therefore Karotz’s servers and customer service will be stopped on February 18th, 2015.

Bruno Maisonnier,
Aldebaran CEO"

http://karotz.com/

karotzrip

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Bring on our robotic overlords — self-driving cars are needed now!

When I enthusiastically talk about the death of personal transportation, my friends wrinkle their brow, squint their eyes, and declare, "I’ll never give up my car!" I will! I’m ready now. I would much rather open an app on my iPhone and schedule a car to arrive at the house at a certain time. Say, 9am. But I dillydally until 10am. That’s okay. The car is billing me. And in the long run, that bill will be far less than the cost and stress of ownership. The car will take me anywhere I want to go even if that is across the country. I won’t be concerned with filling it up with whatever magic makes it go. (gas? electricity? tired mice? I don’t care.) Never again will I have to schedule maintenance, lose a Saturday to sitting in the mechanic’s lounge drinking bad coffee while watching Fox News and having discussions with people I’ll never see again, or worry about how I’m going to pay for whatever vehicular madness is destine to befall me during next month’s lean period "Sir, your combobulator is defective and we have to send it to Pennsylvania and we needed to add 300 gallons of water to your tires and I have this great coupon which brings your bill down to only umpteenquadrillon dollars." Anyone that has ever used Uber can appreciate the means by which travel will be handled in the near (yes NEAR) future. A car pulls up, you get in, it takes you somewhere, you get out. No currency exchange. And no driver!

Infrastructure will change. Imagine no longer needing traffic lights, road signs, or lines on the roads. Roads can narrow and in many cases be eliminated completely. The municipal savings will be tremendous!

Additionally, parking lots will go away. We simply will not need parking lots when your car will always drop you off at the front door of your destination. Imagine your shopping mall’s parking lot becoming a wooded nature trail…with shopping in the center.

The other thing I have said in describing autonomous vehicles is that the configuration will change. Specifically I’ve said the car of the future will have a round table (popup from the floor possibly) and the chair will all spin to face the interior of the car. In this way, the passengers can see each other, do business, play games, converse, and relax. There is no need to see what is happening outside. For that matter, we could make the windows go away. Google has shared my vision. Their latest rendition of the autonomous car eliminates the steering wheel and the control pedals. I can’t wait until these are the primary means of transportation!

Of course, with scientists saying that they can convert light to matter within the next year, the car may be dead. Bring on the transporter beam!

Follow-up commentary: In answer to:

So it comes down to comparing the time it takes to walk to your car in a parking lot versus waiting for a robot to come pick you up. How much is that convenience worth? Less in dense metropolitan areas where it’s impossible (or really expensive) finding a place to park."

I answered:

In theory, there will never be more than a few minutes way, like Uber.

For those living in rural areas, some planning ahead may be in order…the trade off for living away from the city. So instead of having a vehicle in under 5 minutes, it may take an hour.

Just like the challenge we face with extending broadband to rural areas, this model may flounder outside of metropolitan areas. Perhaps we will see outliers continue to own personal transportation for which they will drive to the extremities of Metropolis where they will switch for a robotic car. BUT what I suspect will really happen is that the robotic cars will use the same predictive algorithms that Amazon is going to use for same day shipping to make sure a car is near the rural place of need. So if rural home 401 farm st. always orders a car on Wednesday morning why not go ahead and send one before it is requested? If 401 farm st doesn’t call that car someone nearby is likely to need it. Also I suspect the maintenance and storage facility for these vehicles will be in rural areas serving a dual purpose of warehousing outside the space of the city and providing faster deployment in those rural communities.

Then an hour later Techcrunch published "Uber Confirms ‘Record Breaking’ Fundraising, Interest In Driverless Ubers"

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28 hours with a Pebble Smartwatch

I decided I wanted to be on the forefront of the Smartwatch revolution. For all practical purposes, I’m late. I now own a Pebble Smartwatch and intend to develop apps for it.

My first 28 hours were a delight.

It fits nicely. And naturally tells the date and time.

Untitled

I can pay for my coffee by scanning that bar code (under the birds).

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And the watch gives me directions without my eyes leaving the road.

These are the early days of smartwatches. Essentially we are seeing the proof of concept and the vetting of the potential for these devices. And the potential is huge!

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Coin answers the waiter question

Update 11/20/2013: Read more at Engadget.

Coin has responded to people’s concerns about a waiter accidentally or intentionally selecting a different credit card.

One question we’ve been hearing is “What if a waiter/waitress accidentally — or worse, INTENTIONALLY — changes the card you want to charge your meal to?”

Here’s where Coin has you covered: The mobile app will allow you to configure an auto-lock feature that will disable the Coin button to toggle based on proximity; when the waiter walks away he or she will not be able to toggle the card selected.

[Source, Facebook]

I think there are better solutions but this one is adequate.

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Coin and user interface improvements

Update: Coin already has this covered. They’ve responded to the numerous people asking this question.

One question we’ve been hearing is “What if a waiter/waitress accidentally — or worse, INTENTIONALLY — changes the card you want to charge your meal to?”

Here’s where Coin has you covered: The mobile app will allow you to configure an auto-lock feature that will disable the Coin button to toggle based on proximity; when the waiter walks away he or she will not be able to toggle the card selected.

[Source, Facebook]

I’ve pre-purchase Coin because for years I have said that we should have a single magnetic swipe card for all purposes. I’ve gone so far as to suggest we be issued an id card at birth that becomes our permanent id and holds all our credit cards and so forth. Why have multiple cards when one with a programmable magnetic strip would suffice?

Coin holds 8 swipe cards at once. There is a button on the card which allows you to select the card you want to use. Perhaps card one is your primary credit card, card two is your business credit card, card three is your door entry key for your office, card four is a loyalty card, card five is that rebate card you were sent instead of receiving a check or cash, card six is your department store card, etc. Pressing the button cycles through these. The recurring question being asked is "What if I hand it to the waiter and he accidentally selects a different card?" Coin answers this question in their FAQ:

Q. Can someone accidentally change which card is selected on my Coin?
A. We’ve designed the button to toggle cards in a way that makes it difficult to trigger a “press” unintentionally. Dropping a Coin, holding a Coin, sitting on a Coin, or putting the Coin in a check presenter at a restaurant will not inadvertently toggle the card that is selected.

[Source, onlycoin.com, FAQ]

To me, the answer is inadequate. The user interface could be altered ever so slightly to address this concern.

The solution: For those who want to lock it in, I should be able to program a lock sequence into the button. For instance, make switching cards a short press (that way I can rapidly cycle through the 8 loaded cards). I go to my Coin app on the phone and define a lock sequence of a 3 second press, followed by two tabs, a long press and a final short tap. Now the card is locked on the chosen card. Unlocking works the same way. Because I can define the sequence of short and long presses, I effectively have a pin code for locking and unlocking the card.

Perhaps Coin will consider this in the future.

For those asking, what is Coin? Please read One Card to Rule Them All.

Update: Lauren Puff suggests the use of finger print technology like that of the iPhone 5s. While I think that would be cool, it would require a hardware change to the Coin which would probably add to the manufacturing cost and may not work with the form factor. The lock sequence I propose would use the existing hardware and would be some minimalist programming changes to the device itself and the iOS/Android apps.

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Valley Wag Fails to Understand Coin in Neo-Luddism Fashion

Gawker’s Valley Wag misses the boat on Coin in a way that screams poor journalism. Why do I say poor journalism? Take this ValleyWag quote: "It’s also inherently riskier than carrying a few cards on you, as one lost Coin means everything is gone at once." Obviously ValleyWay did not even look at Coin’s FAQ or attempt to talk to someone at Coin.

  • Coin can alert you in the event that you leave it somewhere.
  • Coin will automatically deactivate if it loses contact with your phone for a period of time that you configure in the Coin mobile app.

[Source, Coin’s FAQ]

My response to ValleyWag:

ValleyWag is completely missing the point. Not only is this a great solution to reduce the size of your wallet but it brings great security to your physical financial transactions. Imagine leaving your credit card at a restaurant. We’ve all done it. You know the fear of someone having access to your bank accounts while we rush back to the store, the hassle of being on hold with the credit card company to cancel the card, etc. With Coin, if it detects that it is away from your phone for a set amount of time, the card deactivates until you reactivate it. It becomes a useless piece of plastic! Also if you start to walk away from it, your phone beeps to warn you that the Coin has possibly been left behind. When we hand a card to a waiter, as they walk away from your table they could be texting your credit card number to a friend who could be making large purchases online before you even get to sign your check. With Coin, only the last 4 digits of the credit card number are ever shown so this type of theft becomes impossible.

ValleyWag also misses that this is not just a credit card, it is a programmable swipe card. If I get to my office only to realize I left my door entry card at the house, with Coin, I simply need to load my access card onto Coin from my cell phone and I’m back in the building for the day without having to run back home.

We collect loyalty card after loyalty card then get rid of them by using phone apps that are slow to open and only scan by the cashier half the time slowing down the line behind us. Coin will replace loyalty cards also.

This is a great product that everyone needs.

Read more about Coin at this post: One card to rule them all!

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One card to rule them all!

Early adopters buy one now! Pre-orders are half price at $50 instead of $100.

Coin is basically a programmable swipe card. You store all your credit cards, building entry cards, loyalty cards, etc. (anything with a magnetic strip) in your smartphone. The physical Coin card can hold up to 8 cards in its memory. If you need to swap one out, you plug the Coin swipe device (think Square) into the headphones jack of your smartphone, select the card you need, and swipe the Coin and it is now programmed with the correct card.

Imagine leaving your credit card at a restaurant. We’ve all done it. You know the fear of someone having access to your bank accounts while we rush back to the store, the hassle of being on hold with the credit card company to cancel the card, etc. With Coin, if it detects that it is away from your phone for a set amount of time, the card deactivates until you reactivate it. It becomes a useless piece of plastic! Also if you start to walk away from it, your phone beeps to warn you that the Coin has possibly been left behind. When we hand a card to a waiter, they could write down the numbers on the card. With Coin, only the last 4 digits of the credit card number are ever shown.

Coin makes your wallet smaller and your transactions more secure. Buy yours today!.

Disclaimer: I’ve pre-ordered mine. Each of the links to Coin in this post includes my referral link. I receive a $5 credit from Coin for each referral that makes a purchase which means once ten people have purchased through my link, my Coin becomes free. If you are going to purchase one, please do it with one of these links. Thank you!

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NODE+ unboxing

I won a NODE+! I’ll write more later. Have a client deadline to work on. In the meantime, here’s the video with credits and links below it:

CREDITS

Variable Technologies NODE+ with +clima and
+therma sensors by Doug McCaughan

Visit http://variableinc.com for more info

Visit http://realityme.net for more videos

Disclaimer: Node+ won in a contest by Variable
Technologies; however, this is NOT a paid
endorsement. All reviews by Doug are unbiases
and honest.

Links within the video include:

Product page: http://variableinc.com/

“NODE+motion helps stroke survivors heal at
home” http://goo.gl/7pTAUl

“Figure 8 teams up with NODE+chroma to
match any color paint” http://goo.gl/v51LXY

Special thanks to Variable Technologies

Thanks to the viewer for watching the video

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The Crux of the Apple iTunes Problem with Multiple Devices in One Household

This sums it up nicely:

Prior to iOS 5, sharing an Apple ID wasn’t really a problem because its main purpose was for purchasing content on iTunes, using it for support purposes and purchasing items on the online Apple Store – all tasks that worked fine when sharing an ID.

[Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

That sums up our approach pretty much to date. But here is the problem:

Now that Apple ID is tied to a bunch of services, a lot of which involve personal and private data that you don’t necessarily want to share with others – even family members.

[Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

And because paranoid society is paranoid, children under 13 cannot have an Apple ID.

Additionally:

The other issue is that iCloud involves a lot of data synchronization and this doesn’t work well with multiple people as it results in data conflicts and devices syncing data (such as calendar events) that are meant for another person in the family.

*emphasis added [Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

Naturally, each owner of an iDevice wants to be able to use services specific to that user. As parents, we want to control when the children purchase, how much they spend, and we want to simplify the syncing of their devices without having to put a Mac in each room of the house. There are six services that use an Apple ID:

  1. iCloud
  2. FaceTime
  3. iMessage
  4. iTunes Home Sharing
  5. iTunes (includes App Store and iBookstore)
  6. Game Center

Read section 3 from this great article