I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while I was planning, I was thinking about the camera gear I wanted to bring with me. My typical bag for a trip consists of: 5DM2 body, 50mm f/1.4, and 17-40 f/4.
After hearing about BorrowLenses.com from some friends, I thought it would be worth a shot to rent a lens (35mm f/1.4) I’ve been wanting to use for years, but have never committed to saving up the funds to buy. I’ve seen great pictures come out of this lens from other owners and I had really wanted to take advantage of it for my trip to such a scenic destination. I went to the site, looked up the lens, added it to my cart, and quickly realized that I might want to take underwater photos too. So I added a small Canon PowerShot underwater camera as well.
A package arrived at my house with the lens and camera, individually bagged, securely encapsulated by packing sponge. This is the same box you would ship the contents back in for return. When I got back from the trip, I repackaged it, stuck on the pre-paid shipping label, and dropped it off at a local FedEx Kinkos.
The entire process from ordering to returning was extremely seamless. I was able to use a lens that I have been considering purchasing, for only ~$10/day, and an underwater camera for ~$5/day. It definitely helped me decide whether or not to go through with purchasing the lens, but also showed that if I ever needed a lens or other gear for a short period of time, I could just rent it and save myself a ton of money. These would be things I would consider using for rare shots, like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or supertelephoto.
The marketplace for peer-to-peer borrowing/renting items will become a booming area of commerce. Startups like Getable and Borrow will cover a wide variety of stuff. More niche companies like AirBnB and Getaround focus on specific verticals. In any case, the future looks bright for the try-before-you-buy-it type of consumer. If only the mobile app marketplace could do the same…
Welcome to the new Myspace! -
Myspace’s massive redesign looks pretty amazing (based on the promo video). There’s a big focus on images and video, and you’ll notice it right away with the full-page dimensions. For now, no banner ads and flashy animated gifs, though I bet they’ll make a comeback in some way, shape or form. Some screenshots remind me of Tumblr, though that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m extremely curious to see how the horizontal scrolling is implemented and whether or not that’ll introduce some usability issues. Will swiping down on my mouse or pressing the spacebar paginate through the content? The entire experience looks like it can be easily translated as a tablet app. There’s definitely going to be a close relationship between users and artists/events. If you look closely at Justin Timberlake’s profile navigation, there’s a nav item for “Shop” and I’m going to assume that that’s going to play heavily in their monetization strategy because of the depletion of ad units.
I’m really digging the search & search results page.
During today’s WP8 and Nokia Lumia announcement, a wireless charging feature was unveiled. And on top of that, a partnership with both Virgin Atlantic and The Coffee Bean (and more partners planned), where airport lounges and tabletops will implement wireless charging abilities for device owners.
If this works well in terms of infrastructure, feasibility, budget, and overall user-satisfaction, this might help to propel ubiquitous charging stations to appear in places we wouldn’t really think about. For example, The Coffee Bean will install plates in their tables so patrons would just set their phones on the table (something we all already do), and their device would start charging while you enjoy your coffee. When you pick up your phone and leave, you’ve just added x % battery life. It’s simple and if it works properly, the user shouldn’t expect anything, but be delighted when they see that their device suddenly has an increase in battery.
Imagine this becoming more widespread. Not only masking charging stations like within your car’s center console or in park benches at Disneyland (one of the many places where my battery tends to drain the most), but in other devices like laptops and cameras. No more scrambling around LAX terminals looking for power outlets or waiting in line for charging hub stations if each chair at the gate can provide some juice. I’ve tripped over a laptop cable or two in cafes before, and I’m pretty sure this could be some sort of fire hazard with cables running all over the place.
Companies like Mophie and Powermat (Duracell) are already helping push similar technologies out everywhere, but an announcement like this definitely helps the effort. Hopefully next week’s iPhone announcement will reveal similar technology, because like many out there, I wouldn’t mind trading for a fatter iPhone, as long as the battery life increases.
Curiosity's Tracks Spell out "JPL" in Morse Code -
The imprints left by the treads on the wheels help the rover calculate whether or not Curiosity has traveled its expected distance. How many JPLs in a mile?
Facebook On iOS Goes Native -
The switch from HTML5 to a native app is definitely showing improved performance and now allows the app to tap into other features in iOS’ SDK. I’m still impressed with the architecture of developing a web app within a native frame like they did in the previous version (especially useful for updating apps across browsers/platforms with less effort). Users don’t have to update the app as often (pushes can be made server-side without the need for Apple’s app approval process). They’ve also added a few “fallback” methods to reduce the need to continuously update the app when new features/changes are required. But this update is definitely much more advantageous for Facebook’s mobile users.
Thanks Nintendo Power -
Nintendo Power was the first magazine publication I ever subscribed to. Back when I was young, and Nintendo was the powerhouse of gaming consoles, I would wait anxiously each month to read about new and upcoming games (and additional hints and cheats for games I already owned) for my N64 and Game Boy. This was my bible. I would bring it to school, daycare, everywhere. Thanks for the last 24 years.
Changes coming in Version 1.1 of the Twitter API -
Changes will include:
- required authentication on every API endpoint
- a new per-endpoint rate-limiting methodology
- changes to our Developer Rules of the Road, especially around applications that are traditional Twitter clients.
Twitter is full-steam ahead on regulating its API requirements to prevent malicious use. Will be really interesting to see how new and existing products/services deal with stricter guidelines, and what happens when they reach critical mass and max rate-limits.
About 2 weeks ago, Betaworks announced they were acquiring Digg for about $500k. Let that sink in for a bit. A company that has taken in about $45M in funding (CrunchBase), who has turned down acquisition offers from giants like Yahoo and Google, sold for what many startups aim to raise in an angel/friends & family round. John Borthwick and company have an audacious vision to turn Digg around.
Digg was messy. It was losing traction, getting spammed, and users were flocking to other properties like Reddit and Canvas. New services like Percolate were started to deliver popular news stories. Using resources from News.me, the team of 10 rewrote Digg from the ground up. They wiped the existing codebase, including algorithms that determined Digg scores and indexing. They built the service to fit in and run with the current and next generation of web services. What ended up happening was something completely ambitious. They launched in 6 weeks.
6 weeks! If you’ve worked at a startup, you’ll know that 6 weeks to build and launch a site that has an existing user base in the millions is rough. We try to push out a few new features and updates every week or two, but when we decided to rewrite our site from the ground up, it took us much longer than 6 weeks, granted the scope, scale, and complexity of Digg and any other site is variable. So a huge pat on the back for the team at Digg, because what they did in that short amount of time is tremendous.
Along the way, the team posted an update on their progress. They were nuking a lot of features, and focusing the product newswire-type content like Top Stories, Popular, and Upcoming. They were making product decisions for launch that many have begun complaining about like the absence of a commenting system. What people don’t understand is that these were decisions FOR LAUNCH. The team doesn’t want to put out crappy features that might be prone to errors and abuse. They’ll have commenting and better social features, but they’ll be available once the team feels like they’re ready to be used. If there’s one thing Digg is stressing, it’s that they’re a new service and any and all feedback on existing and future features will be taken into consideration. This is only version 1, and I’m sure they’ve got plenty of things in the pipeline for future updates.
The new site is extremely simplistic and lightweight. The team is determined. Mistakes and innovations will be made, but remember that this won’t be the same Digg that we all once knew. Good luck, there are a lot of us cheering you on.
The Opening Ceremonies are happening now, live in London. The problem? NBC is forcing those in the US to wait until primetime, 7:30PM and watch it as a pre-recorded event. The Olympics this year will have a huge presence on social media. Twitter has a dedicated page for #Olympics where content is being curated by people like Hope Solo, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James. Everyone who is able to watch/participate in the event is tweeting and posting on Twitter and Facebook in real-time (see LeBron’s tweet), and those of us in the US who can’t, are left in the dark.
Kobe 1 & Kobe 2 #LOL instagr.am/p/NmahKiCTFV/— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 27, 2012
Retweet if you’re disappointed NBC won’t show the #London2012 Opening Ceremony live in #USA— Craig Kanalley (@ckanal) July 27, 2012
Excited to watch the Olympics live on NBC next year #yutz's— howardlindzon (@howardlindzon) July 27, 2012
Check out this exclusive, limited time sneak peek of tonight’s #OpeningCeremony! More to come! youtube.com/watch?feature=…— NBCOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 27, 2012
Meanwhile, NBC is tweeting spoilers and now I know that the Queen and James Bond are in the show. Hopefully NBC will realize this was one huge missed opportunity. And judging by the complaints on the Internet, they just might reconsider airing the closing ceremonies live, or at least offer a livestream.