My writeup of Moto X, over on guest post on The Next Web

I wrote up a long post about how Google is over the freaky line with its introduction of Moto X.

I now have one of the devices in my hands and I’ll have a lot more to say about it when I get back from Australia next Friday. It’s quite nice and stands up well to all the other modern phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 that I’m currently using (and my son’s iPhone 5).

But you should read my guest post about why Google is over the freaky line. It got a lot of discussion and kudos on Twitter and elsewhere.

How will Google Glass change journalism?

Google Glass could have a transformative effect on journalism, especially as we watch Tim Pool from VICE use Google Glass to report on Turkish protests. But it’s important to examine the shortfalls as well as all the great new advancements, both real and prophesied. Special guests Rackspace’s Robert Scoble, Veterans United’s Sarah Hill, CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis and USC Annenberg’s Robert Hernandez, all early adopters of Google Glass as well as social media and journalism experts, will talk about their experiences with the device and what they see as its strengths and weaknesses for its potential future in journalism. MediaShift’s Mark Glaser hosts, along with Ana Marie Cox from the Guardian and Andrew Lih from American University.

I’ve worn Google Glass now for more than three months and it’s really life changing for a journalist, in this discussion we discuss how.

Tim Draper on education, money, and entrepreneurship

It isn’t every day you get to have a conversation with Tim Draper, famous VC (he’s the “D” in “DFJ” and funded companies from Hotmail to Skype to lots of others).

I learned a lot about his approach to life, networking, entrepreneurship, and more in this conversation, which was aimed at college kids. But everyone can learn something about money management from this, too.

The PARC tour of 2013 (printed circuits, better batteries, contextual systems, and more)

PARC is the Palo Alto Research Center which is one of the world’s most famous R&D labs (ethernet, object oriented printing, guis, and much more were invented here). In this five-part tour you’ll see what these smart people are working on now. Steve Jobs, famously, in the early 1980s, visited this lab and bought the rights to get a deep look at the technology that would become the Macintosh.

This is a five-part tour where you’ll meet several different teams/people and see five different innovations, coming soon. Let’s go!

Inkjet printed circuitry

Part II is a look at how they are printing lithium ion batteries, which brings up to 30% more energy density without coming up with a new esoteric chemical formula.

New battery manufacturing technique from PARC

How do you make things? Well, a team at PARC is working on helping people who make things make them faster and cheaper through a new software suite that you’ll see here.

New manufacturing efficiencies come out of this PARC-built tech

Sensors, machine learning, computer image recognition, all come together on this team where you’ll hear about what the latest contextual thinking is at PARC.

Contextual Intelligence discussion: what is it?

How can you send a database, or give access to it, while making sure that different people can only see data that they are supposed to? Think of a spreadsheet. What if person A is only supposed to be able to see Rows A, C, and E, while person B is supposed to see rows A, B, and F. That’s hard to make happen in modern databases. Here you’ll hear the latest thinking from PARC, famous R&D lab, about how it will solve that problem. Interesting discussion about privacy in this “post Snowden” world, too.

In-database privacy, from PARC

Finally, I filmed an extra tour on my Google Glass where I met Mike Kuniavsky, who showed me around its room of innovations. You’ll have to click over to Google+ to see that video.

Thanks to all these fine people who spent time with me this week.

Well, hello WordPress 3.6

February? That’s the last time I posted here? Wild. I guess I fell into Facebook and Google+ and just haven’t been back. My numbers in both places continue to climb very quickly. Four million followers on Google+. 550,000 on Facebook. I’m the number one most followed on Flipboard. Same on Quora. So, I don’t think I made a bad choice. That said, I’ve cleaned up my WordPress blog. Went back to basics. I’ll be back soon to start talking about the book I’ve been writing with Shel Israel, titled the “Age of Context.” It’s going very well, just about finished with the content. Already have sold a few thousand copies, which is great since it won’t be out until late October. This weekend I’m off to see Australia’s startups for the first time. Anyway, thought I’d get a quick post up to see if the new WordPress 3.6 works and see if anyone is still watching this via RSS. If you are, please say hi.

UPDATE: I just wrote this over on Facebook about ye olde WordPress blog:

WordPress 3.6? Yeah. I haven’t blogged since February. I just posted and realized why I haven’t: blogging just seems so cold and lonely compared to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I don’t think it matters to the millions of people who want to blog but it does to me. It’s the longest time in 12 years that I haven’t blogged.

I wonder if anyone still uses RSS to watch my blog’s feed?

I turned off all my non-essential plugins, deleted all the spam comments that were waiting for me, and turned on the latest WordPress theme that came out with the new WordPress 3.6.

Even with all the new cool features it still feels like work to blog when compared to typing out a quick post on Facebook. Blogging feels like it should only be for “important” stuff now, not quick little posts that I don’t really care if anyone reads.

Writer block. First world problems. All that.

At one point a few years back I figured I’d never be able to stop blogging. Turned out my life didn’t end. Heck, I’ve gotten invited to better conferences, have more email than ever, and my videos are getting viewed more often, etc.

Now I’m faced with: what’s my old blog for?

Siri's contextual sister, Tempo, blows away Apple's iPhone calendar

This is the year of increased productivity, particularly on mobile. Just a week ago we saw the highly-hyped launch of Mailbox. That is a really nice email replacement app that’s a lot nicer than Apple’s own email app. (I can’t use it because it doesn’t support Gmail’s labels, which I use extensively, but other than that it certainly is nice and has been racking up great reviews).

But today brings a really huge shift in productivity apps: Tempo is the first app that looks for context from your email, calendars, contacts, and even social networks to build a new kind of calendar. One that brings important things you need to know into your calendar. “We wanted to bring a full replacement experience,” says Raj Singh, founder and CEO of TempoAI in the attached video.

So, why is it so good? Why do I believe that Apple should buy it, just like it bought Siri?

  1. It brings you important data that you forget to enter. Email addresses, phone numbers, attachments, pertinent emails and facts, all are gathered and brought into your calendar.
  2. It makes it easier for conference calls. You click on the number and it’ll automatically add in your PIN codes and other codes to get accepted into a conference call.
  3. The views are nicer than Apple’s calendar. Easier to use while walking, or doing other things (if you are running late for a meeting you will call them, right? Distracted driving kills and this calendar is a lot easier to find important things like phone numbers).
  4. It hooks up to some things on the Internet. Put a flight number in your calendar? It’ll find the status for you. This is the kind of anticipatory feature that contextual systems will increasingly bring us (just like Google Now). The more this knows about you the better it’ll serve you.
  5. It’ll anticipate your needs and help you live your life. It’ll tell you drive times to your next meeting, for instance.

Is it perfect? No. What I found after using it for a few weeks is that I’ve changed my calendar behavior slightly so that it properly finds the right emails. I used to enter things like “Meet Sam.” Now I’ll change that to “Meet Sam Levin at home.” Just that extra detail keeps it from getting confused and bringing in wrong emails. I found when I put things into my calendar like “BLOCK” it would try to find something in my email that matches that, so I needed to change my titles once in a while to make my calendar more useful.

It also is mostly client side at this point, which means that you can’t share this stuff with other people. Raj says they are working on an enterprise version, which will let you share your Tempo calendars with other people (I share my Google calendar with Rocky and my wife so they can add things and change things on my behalf).

In the video Singh explains how the calendar works, and where it’ll be going.

So, when I first saw Siri (I was the first to see it outside of SRI) I turned to the team and said “you’re gonna get bought very quickly.” I had no idea that Steve Jobs would end up buying it after only a couple of weeks on the market. The Siri team said Jobs was so desperate to get Siri that he called dozens of times to convince the team to join Apple.

Will Tim Cook do the same with Tempo? I think he should. Yes, there are competitors coming but they aren’t as good. I predict, though, that instead of about $220 million it cost Apple to buy Siri, that buying Tempo will cost a billion. Why? Because Apple will want to keep this out of Google’s hands (and out of Mark Zuckerberg’s hands, too — imagine if Facebook got this calendar).

By the way, if you get Tempo, you should also upgrade your Gmail, which will help Tempo find only good stuff. Here’s some other things I did to my Gmail account to clean it out of crap which might find its way onto your calendar:

  1. I turned on SmartLabels. This is a feature in labs and separates promotional and social emails out of your inbox.
  2. I turned on OtherInBox. This will further filter emails that aren’t important out of your inbox. It is filtering all my press releases into a separate folder, for instance. I also use Sanebox, but that costs money and doesn’t do much more than OtherInBox for most people. If you are a heavy email user I’d recommend buying that too.
  3. I use Unroll.me. This unsubscribes me from mailing lists and junk email senders. You have to be careful with this, because it’ll unsubscribe you from mailing lists you actually like to get, but it does dramatically clean up your inbox, at least in my experience. Another choice is Swizzle, which some say is better than Unroll.me. I’m trying both, will report more soon.

Anyway, this is the most productive new app I’ve gotten in more than a year. Hope you find it as useful as I do. Get it in the iOS app store here.

Rackspace's Startup Liason Officer