Marriott International has been in the news a lot in the last few months, specifically in regards to whether or not it has the right to block personal Wi-Fi devices on its properties. Many think the matter has been resolved, with Marriott “caving in” to consumer backlash and criticism from the likes of Microsoft and Google. But this story is far from over if you go a little deeper, and isn’t nearly as cut and dry as some sensationalist headlines and Tweets may have led you to believe.Read More
On December 31st, 2014 the TWiT (This Week in Tech) online video network celebrated New Year's Eve with a live "24 hours of 2015" marathon. The marathon sought to ring in the new year across the globe's 27 time zones (yes, there's more than 24), and to raise money for UNICEF, the United Nation's Children's Fund. The marathon raised over $70,000 for the charity!
Lots of shenanigans happened over the 24 hour period, but one section that caught my eye was the "Mixology" section put on by computer graphics and video production pioneer Alex Lindsay.
Alex showed us a couple of cocktails during the segment, including a modified Manhattan Transfer (which is an already modified Manhattan), as well as a liquid nitrogen cooled Daiquiri recipe. I don't have ready access to liquid nitrogen, so I'll probably be trying the Manhattan Transfer first. Unfortunately, the segment goes by pretty fast, so it was difficult to understand what some of the ingredients were- but with a little Google searching and pausing to analyze the video, I was able to cobble together the recipe!
Averna (Italian Liqueur)
Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
Antica Formula sweet vermouth
Peychaud's orange bitters
Ice for chillin'
Put ice in a pint glass, about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Add 2 parts rye whiskey. Add 1 part Averna. Add 1/2 part sweet vermouth. Add a "couple dashes" of the bitters. Stir or shake approximately 20 seconds. Serve in a martini glass.
Enjoy! And let me know what you think of it in the comments. If you enjoy the recipe, why not donate a little to UNICEF as well? The campaign is still open at http://unicefusa.com/twit
It’s that time of year when all the articles come out for what the biggest trends are going to be in 2015. I’ve been reading them all carefully, and was in the process of writing my own, when I realized that I didn’t particularly agree with the level of impact that a lot of the “hot” event technologies were being touted as having in 2015.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that the technologies that follow aren’t worth keeping an eye on- I know I will be. And, if you have a group that they’re appropriate for, you might even want give them a try. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t think that someday they’ll have a big impact on the meeting and events industry, but these things take time. The original iPhone was announced in 2007, and only now are we reaching smartphone saturation for most North American, European, and APAC meetings and events, with the rest of the world rapidly adopting right behind us.
I’m just saying that for the vast majority of meeting and event planners, working on the vast majority of meetings and events, designed for the vast majority of meeting and event attendees, these won’t matter one whit.
And so here they are- the hottest, shiniest, high-techiest, event technologies that you’ll probably won’t even think about using at your events this year!
1. The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch was announced with much fanfare in September after over a year of rumors and anticipation. Whenever Apple releases a new device, people take notice. They will want to know how it's going to impact the meeting and events game. My answer, as of right now, is that it isn't.
The release date is “Early 2015”, but as of yet nobody outside of Apple has been allowed to even touch the device. Will it be all it’s being touted as? Who knows? But just for the sake of argument, let's say that it is "magical" and "revolutionary" and any other Apple buzzjectives we want to put in front of it. I still think that it's not going to have much of an impact on the meeting and events industry in 2015.
I think the most likely scenario is that it will be a success when first released, but only among the high tech (and high bank account balance) crowd. It’s most likely to have a similar sales trajectory as the iPhone and iPad after it’s release, both of which took a couple of years, and hardware revisions, before they really became mainstream.
2. Google Glass
Sorry to my friends that have been enjoying Google Glass, but I can’t help but feel that public interest in the product has peaked and is already on the downslide. Hardware development seems to have slowed dramatically, and the number of new apps targeting Glass have been fewer and fewer. Other than a few holdouts, I see a tremendous number of people that used to wear Glass daily, now only wearing it for special use cases.
Unless Google’s got a rabbit up its sleeve, and comes out with dramatically revised hardware at a much lower price point, Glass may just slowly disappear into the background as Google focuses more and more energy into other smart wearable options. Until that time, we will be seeing fewer appearances of Glass at our events, not more, despite some of the really cool development that’s being done by a few of the faithful.
3. Virtual Reality
This is a tough one for me, because I think VR is a whole lot of fun and has a lot of potential. I had the opportunity to try on one of the Oculus Rift headsets at IMEX for a virtual reality tour of some of London’s most famous sites. Unfortunately, I think that’s about the perfect use case for the headset- a trade show booth entertainment and marketing device. It was a little blurry for me, and difficult to use with my glasses, but the motion was smooth and the image moved naturally with the movement of my head. I could have stayed in that thing all day, but then again, I really like London.
Even though the Oculus Rift was a tremendous leap forward in VR hardware, I just don’t see it becoming a major player in the meeting and events industry in any way other than as a curiosity brought in for entertainment value. Like the Oxygen Bars of a couple years ago, it’s something you might bring in to an event as something fun for your attendees to try, but doesn’t return for a year after year appearance.
The possible exception would be peripheral industries such as hotels end event spaces. With paper-based VR headsets coming in as low as $4.00 (you slide your smartphone into the paper goggles “case”), you can get into VR hardware pretty inexpensively. So it’s no wonder that we’re starting to see real-estate agents offering virtual 3D tours of their properties on these cheaper VR headsets. Expect hotels and event space managers to follow suit!
4. iBeacons (BLE Beacons)
Speaking of Apple, (which technically we weren’t, but hey, it’s only a few paragraphs up), iBeacons have to hold the record for the shortest period of time between announcement and becoming a generic term. For something that was only informally announced at their developer conference in 2013, and isn’t even actually a physical product, we’ve all pretty rapidly agreed as a society to call any of these devices “iBeacons”.
Technically, iBeacon is just what Apple calls it’s way of dealing with these devices, which are little pods that can communicate with your smartphone via Bluetooth wireless communication, specifically Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). You can’t go buy an iBeacon, only devices that are compatible with iBeacon.
There’s definitely a lot of potential to beacon technology but it remains to be seen if any of it will be realized. Uses include popping up suggestions on your phone based on your location and proximity to the beacon, as well as helping you navigate interior spaces like an “inside GPS” system. Sounds perfect for trade shows and large conferences. Problem is, from what I can tell, there’s far too many issues surrounding phone compatibility, and getting people to enable the functionality on their phones. Estimates from earlier this year were that less than 30% of smartphones were both compatible with beacon technology, as well as having the service enabled. That’s bound to get better as time goes on, but fast enough to make an impact in 2015? Unlikely.
I had originally intended this to be a “Top 5” that included RFID and NFC. The two wireless radio technologies are great for tracking attendees, and NFC is at the heart of the Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payments platform. I was going to include them with the caveat of “except for mobile payments”, but after discussing it on New Year’s Eve with Kristi Casey Sanders (bit.ly/ea250), I realized I had forgotten a whole category of the devices that are definitely on the upswing. Disney’s new “Magic Band” technology has RFID at it’s heart, and these types of wearable smart bands are starting to take off at large events. The bands are relatively inexpensive, and when their use is carefully planned for, attendees seem to love them. They can act as entry tickets to venues, can be used for mobile payments, or can even be included as a tracking system for games and team building exercises. The data they provide to event planners regarding the behavior of their attendees is incredibly rich and valuable. They definitely have a bright future, and could well take off in 2015.
So that’s it! I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to tell me why you agree or disagree in the comments. Here’s to a great 2015, everyone- Cheers!
This was my second time attending IMEX America, and I have to say the show seems to get better and better every year. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience IMEX, I encourage you to give it a try. Besides being one of the least expensive shows to attend (Free!), the community that has developed around the show is phenomenal. Old friends, new friends, and networking-a-go-go.
This year, I had the honor and the privilege of sitting on the judges panel for the first ever IMEX Event Technology Startup Competition, taking place at the end of the first full day of the show. The rest of the panel consisted of Liz King (Liz King Events), Dahlia El Gazzar (The Meeting Pool), Julius Solaris (Event Manager Blog), and Miguel Neves (IMEX Senior Online Community Manager). The winner of the competition was rewarded with a complimentary booth at next year’s IMEX, as well as a full writeup on Julius’ Event Manager Blog.
Each representative from the ten pre-selected startups received precisely two minutes to give their pitch- no easy task unless you’re well practiced in the art of the “elevator pitch”, and while the quality of the pitches varied from polished to a bit fumbley, all of the participants should be commended for having the bravery to stand up for their product and give it their best shot!
Here’s the rundown on the participating startups:
InitLive- InitLive is a mobile app solution for volunteer management. It allows event managers to schedule, communicate with, and track volunteer staff. While many events will rent radios for key personnel, InitLive allows for easy two way communication and management of all staff that have the app installed. A web interface allows changes to the app to be made even at the last minute. More info at initlive.com
GruupMeet- GruupMeet is meeting management software, with an emphasis on collaboration and automation of common tasks. It’s features include monitoring and notification of VIP travel status, attendee ratings and feedback, and allows for an unlimited number of users on each account, to promote maximum collaboration possibilities. More info at gruupmeet.com
Attendify- Attendify describes themselves as an engagement platform, not an event app. It's native, it's branded, and has it’s own private social feed. While many apps now have this capability, Attendify has taken a page from Facebook and Twitter, and created a way for sponsor ads to be placed in line with other posts in the feed. Event setup is a snap, with drag and drop modules on the management portal. More info at attendify.com
PlanningPod- While at first glance PlanningPod appears to be another event management platform, it might be more accurate to call it a suite of tools designed to aid in the entire event planning process. With over 26 tools available, almost every portion of a meeting or event’s lifecycle is covered, including contact and vendor tracking, contracts, and room diagrams, in addition to the more traditional functionality such as calendars, to-do lists, and collaboration tools. More info at planningpod.com
Topi- Topi seeks to solve the problem of the “Who do I know here?” at that opening session or cocktail hour. They’re lofty goal is to create connections for every attendee at an event, so they can connect and network with people easily. Once the attendees have loaded the app and connected various social accounts, Topi tries to find connections for you, shows who’s nearby, and ranks other attendees to help identify the most relevant profiles to you. More info at topi.com
Eversnap- Eversnap is a photo sharing application for events, that attempts to consolidate all photos from an event into a single, shareable, album, no matter what the source. Photos can be taken directly from the app, pulled from relevant hashtags on Instagram or Twitter, added from the phone’s camera roll, uploaded from a web portal, even emailed directly to the album. They’re planning on adding the ability to hire freelance photographers through the service as well. More info at geteversnap.com
CrowdMics- I've been keeping my eyes on CrowdMics for a while now since they first came on the scene early this year, so it’s good to see them marching forward. CrowdMics is a mobile phone app that allows participants to talk directly into their phones for Q&A sessions, rather than waiting for a handheld mic to be passed around or run to them. Easy push to talk technology is combined with basic polling and text messaging capabilities, and the newest version has almost no latency (delay). They definitely struck a chord with the audience, which voted them as the top tech. More info at crowdmics.com
Sli.do- Slido is an event app designed around audience participation. It’s web based, so there’s no app to download, reducing the barrier of entry. Attendees can enter their questions directly, with their name or anonymously, as well as participate in polling. Questions can be moderated before displaying in the room, and they’re developing a Google Glass app for presenters to view the questions in their Glass privately. More info at sli.do
SpeakerSponsor- With seemingly more and more conferences choosing not to pay their speakers, SpeakerSponsor tries to connect speakers, with sponsors. Get it? I kind of like it when company names reflect what they do. The idea is that if you’re speaking (for free) to a certain target market, SpeakerSponsor will attempt to pair you with a sponsor that might want to get their message in front of that audience. You get paid, they get targeted impressions, win-win! More info at speakersponsor.com
Speecheo- Speecheo is a very intriguing app, designed to help attendees keep their notes, highlights, likes and dislikes regarding a presentation all in one place. Presentation slides are viewable within the app, and attendees can bookmark a moment in time, then go back and look at that part of the presentation later. The platform tracks all those data points, combined with the Twitter feed of the event, and organizes that information for the presenter’s analysis. Presenters can even followup with attendees post event using that data. The judges all agreed that there was a tremendous potential for both attendees and presenters, and voted it the winner of the competition. More info at speecheo.com, and a detailed writeup at The Event Manager Blog.
The Startup Competition was a great way to get some of the most creative and innovative new event technology companies together in one place, and I hope it becomes a tradition at IMEX for a long time to come!
For more recaps of the competition check out:
Twitter hashtags like #eventprofs that once had active and vibrant chats twice a week. On April 6, 2014, #eventprofs chats were quietly retired with the following announcement by Brandt Krueger:
The #EventProfs weekly chats are currently living on a beach, sipping boat drinks, in retirement. More info here.
This came after a period of disengagement when even chats with celebrity guests like the head of Wolfgang Puck Catering were not well attended. I participated in that chat and it was embarrassing that hardly anyone turned up for a guest of that caliber. Now #eventprofs consist of individuals sharing their own products, services and content. Little interaction is taking place.
The demise of the #eventprofs chats is one of a number of signs of the decline in social media engagement. One of the basic features of social media is that it is inherently social. It is a medium of interaction and of giving as well as taking.
Another symptom is that there seems to be a sharp decline in the number of tweets that are retweeted. Individuals are more likely to favorite content so that they can access it later and less likely to retweet and share it with their followers. I have never conducted a study but this conclusion is based on my own observations.
Barrons has observed a decline in activity and engagement across all channels:
There is less of a tendency to "like" Facebook pages and share the content of others on Facebook. This even happens on platforms like Triberr in which some individuals rarely take the time to share the content of other tribe members.
In LinkedIn Groups, many members place more of an emphasis on posting content their own content than participating in discussions and helping other group members by answering the questions they have posted.
The final trend is a slower rate of following people back, even people who take the time to share one's content.
Fellow blogger Jenise Fryatt once identified the steps that are needed to use social media effectively:
- E Engage
- I Inform
- R Retweet.
This earned her the title of Queen of #EIR.
Lately there seems to be an emphasis only on Inform.
No one would ever think of going to a networking event and spending the whole evening approaching people, handing out business cards, giving elevator pitches and then moving on before anyone has a chance to respond. Yet , this is precisely how many are approaching social media.
Are we undermining the effectiveness of social media? It's something to think about.
Social Media Today seems to agree. The Wall Street Journal reported a Twopcharts finding that:
As of May 21, 2014 no one had shared Brandt Krueger's blog post announcing the end of chats or commented on the post. No one had retweeted or responded to the announcement on the official #eventprofs account that chats had been retired. There were only 2 comments on Brandt's blog post.
One thing is certain, disengagement is reducing the value of social media and that's unfortunate.
Photo Credit: Fraser Mummery
Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto Team Building firm. Anne manages the 185,000+ Event Planning and Event Management Group on LinkedIn. She is active on Twitter @executiveoasis and she blogs for Cvent Blog and Huffington Post.
Is your level of social media engagement increasing or decreasing? Why?
What is contributing to the decline in social media engagement?
I've been putting this post off for a while, but it's time to face facts. As I mentioned in my previous #EventProfs chat update, I became the temporary community manager for the #EventProfs Twitter chats for two reasons- 1) I got a lot out of them when I first joined Twitter, and didn't want to see them dissolve, and 2) I figured even a half-a-community manager was better than nothing. Unfortunately, I think it's time to admit that my schedule no longer permits me to have even one cheek on the chair. And so, for the following reasons, I'm announcing the semi-official retirement of the #EventProfs chats:
- Attendance was incredibly sparse. On the night of one of our "biggest" guests, the head of Wolfgang Puck catering, there were at most five participants in the chat.
- For other up-and-coming #EventProfs I was able to wrangle in to guest moderate, there were more than a couple complete non-chats, where nobody showed up at all.
- Since being on hiatus, exactly two people have asked- what happened to the chats?
- I pushed out for two separate, two week periods requests to fill out a very short survey on the future of the chats. 31 people responded.
- The data on those surveys was a bit contradictory:
- Approximately 50% of those responding said that the biggest reason they missed the chats was that it was an inconvenient time
- About the same amount answered that changing the date or time would not make it more likely that they would be able to attend- that they were just too busy.
- Yet, almost 80% said they wanted the chats to continue and would try to make it more often.
- Since taking over the chats, I've taken on a lot more responsibilities, not the least of which is an increased presence in teaching classes for the Event Leadership Institute, as well as becoming a full-time co-host of the weekly industry netcast, the Event Alley Show
I think the survey results actually mirror my own feelings and situation- too busy to be the kind of quality community manager that the project would require to really get it moving again, but really wanting to see them continue on and thrive. I met so many wonderful people in those chats. So many of the good things in my life and career, I can trace back to them in one way or another.
Was the low turnout depressing? Sure, but these are not sour grapes- just an acknowledgement of the reality of the situation. Without being able to devote the kind of time needed to really promote the chats, how could I really expect them to take off?
So I thank all of you who contributed to the short lived revival of the chats. I met some new folks and made some new Twitter friends, which was always my favorite part of the chats. I cleaned up the wiki a little bit, and I encourage you to wander through the archives, as a lot of the topics are still relevant today.
Now, it goes without saying that if anyone wants to take up the charge, please don't hesitate to contact me, and I'll be happy help you get things going again. But it might be time to finally realize that the community has moved on, and formed other communities. I know I'll be doing all I can to create a new community around Event Alley, and hope to see a lot of you there. There's still so much we can learn from each other.
Be well, my friends.
Happy 2014, event professionals!
So towards the middle of last year, I was lamenting the fact that the weekly #eventprofs twitter chats appeared to be abandoned. I approached Adrian Segar (from conferencesthatwork.com, and a prior community manager), and Lara McCulloch (from ready2spark.com, and who is generally credited with starting the #eventprofs hashtag on Twitter). I expressed my desire that the chats continue, and suggested that I become the temporary community manager until someone who had more time and drive for the project could be found. I knew I didn't have a lot of time to devote to the project, but I figured that even a bad community manager was better than no community manager, and attempted to revive the chats.
Attendance was sparse, but a lot of people seemed to really like the idea of the chats and expressed a desire for them to continue. Towards the end of 2013, I released a survey to gather data from folks on if, and how, they'd like the chats to continue. My intention was to take that information and use it to guide the chats for 2014. There's a lot of good information in the surveys, and I look forward to sharing that data with you.
Now, remember that part about not having a lot of time and "even a bad community manager..."
So I just wanted to let everyone know that I fully intend to bring back the chats, but a couple things have delayed the restart for 2014. First off, our January at metroConnections was off the charts. One of our biggest months ever, and definitely our largest January of all time. This certainly seems to lend support to the data being reported that the meetings and events industry is rebounding from the recession! Now, in the midst of that January, as I announced in a previous blog article, I've joined the team at Event Alley, and am now a co-host and producer of the Event Alley Show, a weekly live Internet broadcast focused on the meetings and events industry. This has proven to be a lot of (rewarding!) work as well, as we completely rebranded and moved the show off of the audio-only BlogTalkRadio platform and on to live Hangouts on Air and YouTube. Anyone who knows me knows that it has been a dream of mine for a while to be part of a show like this, and it's already been an amazing experience!
So, that's the update- still working on finding a good time and format for the #eventprofs chats, and still very open to your comments, and suggestions. If you haven't already, please take a moment to fill out the survey. Also please check out the #EventProfs wiki, which contains all the archives of the chats going back for quite some time.
Once things settle down, I'm planning on bringing back the chats officially!
Be well out there, folks!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE First Ever Live Radio Show for the Event Industry Moves to Video, Adds New Team Members, Changes Air Day
Weekly online talk show will address challenges and bridge the gap between planners around the world in a new format, reaching thousands of event professionals each year
WASHINGTON, January 15
After 46 audio episodes last year, weekly online talk show Event Alley (www.eventalleyshow.com) is teaming up with new sponsors Eventsforce and HighRoad Solution to advance the event industry through a new video format.
Launched in January 2013, Event Alley offers business professionals the opportunity to ask for advice on challenges and current event projects, learn about new and exciting tools for planners, talk to leading authorities interviewed on air, hear about news stories affecting the industry, and give opinions on topics important to the community. The show will now air live weekly on Wednesdays at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CET, with recordings available in video and audio formats on the web.
Lindsey Rosenthal continues as the show’s executive producer and host, and will be joined weekly by Brandt Krueger, an event technology specialist based at metroConnections in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Canadian event producer Tahira Endean, CMP, of Cantrav Services in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Event Alley will return on Wednesday, January 22, with hosts Lindsey Rosenthal, Brandt Krueger, and Tahira Endean addressing recent events, industry news, and engaging live with audience members about experiences at The Special Event in Nashville, Tennessee, and PCMA’s Convening Leaders in Boston, Massachusetts.
About Event Alley Lindsey Rosenthal is the chief strategist of Events For Good (www.eventsforgood.org), a consulting firm helping nonprofits learn how to more effectively raise money through events. Rosenthal combines customized and memorable event experiences and effective and successful fundraising campaigns to yield impressive results based on the practice of fundraising event strategy.
Brandt Krueger is the director of video and production technology at metroConnections (www.metroconnections.com), which offers a single source for creating and managing the entire event experience from conferences and meetings to stage productions and transportation. For more than a decade, Brandt Krueger has been instrumental in the technology and production aspects of delivering client “wow” moments.
Tahira Endean is the director of creative and production at Cantrav Services (www.cantrav.com), a people-based organization that brings together the knowledge and passion of a team built over 30 continuous years of serving meetings, events and incentives to create smart, memorable and relevant programs.
Audience feedback is one of the most important ways you can improve you meetings and events. Comment cards or surveys can help guide you when it comes to crafting your next event, but why not take advantage of the group while you have them and get real-time feedback? When you’re looking for a rough idea of how an audience is feeling, just having a show of hands might be sufficient. When it comes time for an exact vote count, or if you just want to add a splash of technology to your meeting, you may want to consider many of the great interactive polling options available.
Interactive polling technology goes by many names and comes in many packages. The most common of the options is still, by far, the wireless keypad. These are handheld devices with a number keypad on them and perhaps an LED display to let the voter know their vote has been counted.
Different people refer to these keypads in different ways. Here’s just a few of them:
- APT (Audience Polling Technology)
- ART (Audience Response Technology)
- Voting Keypads
- Reply System (A brand name of voting keypad)
- Audience Clickers
- Voting Doohickies (I have a client that won’t call them anything else)
There are scores of different makes and models of these keypad devices, but they all pretty much run the same way. The presenter will ask a question and usually display a slide with the answer options. An example might be “Which of our products do you think has the highest profit margin? 1) Wrenches, 2) Hammers, or 3) Screwdrivers.” Sometimes this slide is displayed via specially designed software. In other systems the options might be embedded in a PowerPoint deck.
Note: Many of the dedicated software systems for APT haven’t been updated in a long time, so they can look a little dated. However, with a few modern exceptions, I haven’t found embedding the polling in PowerPoint to be very stable, and can cause crashes. I’ll take a little dated and stable over pretty and likely to blow up, any day.
Once the question has been posed, the audience members take their keypads and enter in the number that corresponds to their answer. If the keypad has a display, the number they entered will display to indicate that their vote has been registered. The keypads operate on a closed wireless network, and send their signals to a base station located backstage or at the tech table. This base station is hooked up to a laptop where the data is crunched and the results can be displayed- again via dedicated software or embedded in PowerPoint.
The speaker is now able to address the results in real time. If the audience chose screwdrivers as being the most profitable, but in actuality hammers are, it can serve as an educational moment for both the speaker and the audience. It’s not difficult to imagine that this kind of real time information can be extremely valuable to C and D level executive wanting to know if their corporate messaging and education are actually sinking in with the rank and file.
The biggest advantage to this type of interactive polling is that is is a closed network, compared to some of the options we’re about to look at. It should come as no surprise then that these types of hardware solutions are popular with financial and medical groups, where security and confidentiality are extremely important. We recently provided polling keypads for a group that was so secure that the techs had to leave the room during deliberations, and only allowed back in to run the equipment during the “Is the motion adopted? Yes or No” phase.
Many of the handheld solutions have been around a while, and as such can look a little dated in the era of smartphones. There are a few high end models, however, that offer their users a whole new level of interactivity. These new models feature full QWERTY keyboards, color display screens, and even built in microphone and wireless audio support. If the voting needs to be tracked, attendees can insert a special encoded badge into the keypad, identifying them. To return to anonymous polling, they simply need to remove the badge. This kind of tracking allows this hardware to do more than just polling and relaying audience questions. It allows them to manage other portions of your event, such as silent auction bidding.
While they can be quite a bit more expensive when compared to the old standby keypads, they can replace many other expensive systems at an event, such as wireless translation headsets, and audience QnA microphones. When used to their full potential they can be worth every penny and provide a rich, fully interactive experience.
Just as conference and trade show brochures are being phased out in favor of mobile phone applications, so to are the old polling keypads. With the majority of meeting and conference goers walking around with a wireless supercomputer in their pocket, more and more planners are exploring the world of mobile and web-based polling technology. There are many services out there, and they’re all a little different, so it’s extremely important to know your audience and know at what level of interaction they’re mostly likely to participate. Some Internet-based services even allow users to vote through multiple options, increasing the response rate dramatically. These options include voting via text message, a mobile web site, or even via Twitter.
Many mobile event apps are building in the ability to push polling to their users in an attempt to be the “One App to Rule Them All”. Others use stand alone polling apps, and still others use mobile web pages. Whichever route you go, be sure to take into account how that data will be gathered and displayed. Almost all of these services are going to require internet access of some kind in order for the attendees to send their responses, so there either needs to be quality cellular data services or WiFi available. This is where text message polling can come in handy, as the cellular connectivity level for sending texts is much lower than data. In other words, you can send a text message with “only one bar” of signal much easier than you can access a mobile web page on the data network.
Much like the keypad network, the responses are sent to a central location, only instead of a wireless base station, the responses are sent to a server provided by the service. Results can then be accessed via the web, so once again you’ll need to make sure whatever machine needs to display the results has a solid internet connection in order to retrieve the data.
Note: Be sure to get an idea of what the results display will look like, too. Many of the mobile apps that have built in polling don’t have an effective way of displaying that data live in the room, and are designed more to replace comment cards than to be truly interactive polling. Even in full screen mode they might have scrollbars, links, and logos (other than yours) on the results page.
These services are growing in popularity exponentially with our customers. We find that once they dip their toes in the interactive polling pool, they become addicted (in a good way) to that instant feedback. Everything from educational quizzes and game shows, to voting on what to name their internal network, customers are finding more and more creative uses for live interactive polling.
By any other name...
This post was originally going to be titled On Why Your App is NOT Augmented Reality. I was all set to go on an epic rant about how several high profile event apps were being touted as “augmented reality”, when in fact they weren't AR at all. They were just ordinary apps, pretending to be augmented reality, as part of the seemingly never-ending feature war that the mobile conference and meeting app market has become.
But... after discussing the topic with some other industry folks (thanks @kristicasey!), that’s not entirely fair. I’m still not 100% convinced the examples I’m about to give are AR, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that they’re a tiny fraction, of a small percentage, of the potential for the AR apps of the future.
The definition of augmented reality:
So what is an augmented reality app? Before I can even think about accusing someone of not being AR when they say they are, I should probably define that, eh?
I define an augmented reality app as something that displays a live view of the world (i.e. “reality”) and then takes information, graphics, animation, sound, or other data and adds it as a layer over or alongside that reality (i.e. “augments it”). So the definition of an Augmented Reality App, is any app that - wait for it - augments reality. Weird.
Surprisingly, if you look around the web that’s pretty close to the definition everywhere, much like looking up the word “recursion” on Google (“Did you mean: recursion”).
The first key part of that definition is the word “live”. If I take your picture with my cell phone and then use an app to draw on squiggly hair and Snidely Whiplash mustache, I can’t think of anyone other than an argumentative philosopher that would say that app is somehow an augmented reality app. It would, however, be hilarious.
The second key part of the definition is “layer over”, as in- you see (or hear, or smell) reality, but information about that reality is also being given to you by whatever device or app you’re using.
My perfect example of what an augmented reality app could be: Imagine you’re at a trade show and want to get to a specific vendor. You hold up your phone (or look through your Google Glass) and you see what you see in real life- booths, displays, people, carpet (double padded... oooooh...) However, when you input the name of a vendor you want to find, a large arrow appears in the image, hovering over where you want to go. On the carpet below you appears a line with arrows on it, showing you the quickest way to the booth. Along the way, you see the names of each vendor hovering over their booth, with a button to favorite or remind you to look at later. You don’t bump into anyone, because you’re seeing all this through your device, layered over reality. As you approach your destination, the arrow gets larger and larger, until you’re standing right under it, in all it’s 3D glory! This kind of AR is called “geotagged” as it’s information based on specific locations in your environment.
Another example: You point your device at a conference brochure, and a beautiful animated version of the conference logo on the page appears and dazzles you. You open the booklet to the speaker bios page. Each one of the photos now has a highlight box around it. You select a speaker and their photo comes to life, and the speaker gives you, in their own words, a 30 second description of their session. Again you can tag the speaker as a session you’d like to learn more on, and move on to the next. This kind of AR is known as “marker based”, as its animations and information is keyed off certain markers contained in the printed brochure, showing your device where to layer over the data.
Now, for those who don’t happen to have these magical devices, you can still wander the trade show floor with a paper map, trying to find booth 702 in Aisle G, or you can just look at the speaker bios and the two sentence descriptions of the sessions in the conference brochure. Those who have downloaded the app and have the right hardware? They will experience an immersive world of extra content, all subtly branded and sponsored.
Where it falls apart
A book is not augmented reality. A book is something that takes you out of reality. It can be very informative, even about your current surroundings or situation, but it exists outside of that situation, and would still exist if you were in a completely different place, doing completely different things. A map is not augmented reality. You have to look at the map, interpret it, then look up and try and apply that information to the world.
Likewise, a traditional conference app is not augmented reality. You open it, you read it, it informs your decisions, and you apply it to reality. While you’re looking at it, though, you are almost completely disconnected from reality.
So what about the apps that spawned this article? One, from a high end hotel chain, claims to make them the “First North American Luxury Hotel Brand to Feature Augmented Realty” in its ads. The other is from a music festival sponsored by a large U.S. (but no longer American owned) beer brewery. In both cases you had to open a pre-downloaded app, the app would engage the camera in the device, and then you point it at some printed materials. Once the app recognized the materials, the page “came to life” in the display with a colorful, approximately 3 second animation.
Aaaaaaaaand done. That was the end, as far as I’m concerned, of the augmented reality portion of the evening. After that three second animation layered over the printed page, you were taken to a menu, in the case of the music festival. The hotel? A full screen video with a couple of buttons, one of which would let you skip the content. From that point on, the apps looked and behaved just like any other event or conference app, with links to schedules, bios, bands, special offers, and other normal old “exclusive” content.
So are these apps “Augmented Reality Apps”? I would say no. Three seconds of AR does not make it an augmented reality app. But look closely at the hotel’s claim- they “Feature Augmented Reality”. It’s not an augmented reality app, it’s an app that features augmented reality. Likewise with the festival app. Despite the headlines for the articles written about it “bringing augmented reality to events”, the actual app makers themselves hold no such illusions:
“When you hold your phone up to an image or product, it takes just seconds to get that experience on your phone," <redacted> said. "Once you get that experience, that’s when people really start engaging, whether playing a game or doing polling or whatever”
So the idea is to hook them with a few seconds of something interesting, then get them to do something else- play a game, polling, whatever. Fair enough.
So are these apps using AR? Technically, yes. Are they using AR for anything other than just a quick, flashy gimmick? No. What you’re looking at through the display is almost irrelevant- it’s just a cute animation based on the printed material that triggered it. The difference between that and scanning a QR code is minimal, at best.
The future's so bright, I gotta eat bacon
Think I’m being too harsh? Do yourself a favor and watch this demonstration:
That video is from 2007. TWO THOUSAND FREAKING SEVEN. Think about that. That’s a full three years before the iPad. Here we are six years later, and the computing power in our mobile devices is bordering on the obscene. My earlier two examples might have seemed a little far fetched, but are they really? After watching that video, I can't help but feel that we've only scratched the surface of what's possible. I know there's people out there right now, pushing the the technology to the limit, and what's coming around the corner is going to blow your freakin' mind.
In the meantime, you’re telling me that the best we can do is a three second animation over your conference brochure cover or print ad? C’mon, son. I want my giant floating arrows and talking speaker pages.
So if that's it- that’s all you’re going to do with AR, you should save yourself the money and buy all your attendees an extra slice of bacon for breakfast. They’ll be happier for it. For the money the hotel chain spent on the app, plus the giveaways and discounts the app provided, they could have become the "First Luxury Hotel Brand to Feature Complimentary WiFi. Because You Deserve It." The copy would have written itself...
Doing a bit of tweaking to the theme and CSS. I was never really happy with the banner headers...
Let me know what you think!
It is no secret that being a good communicator is key to success in business. We value those who have the ability to communicate well, and that often includes public speaking. One proven tool to aid in the delivery of a speech or presentation is the teleprompter. However, knowing when and how to use one may be just as instrumental in earning that standing ovation.
History of the Teleprompter Simply put, a teleprompter is a device that “prompts” the person speaking with a visual text of a speech or script. This allows the reader to read the text word for word, ensuring a consistent and accurate speech, while maintaining the illusion of spontaneity.
In the 1950s, Fred Barton, Jr. came up with the idea of a teleprompter as an actor. He later helped found the TelePrompTer Corporation, which built the first devices. Although in some countries it may be referred to as an AutoCue (a UK brand name), the TelePrompTer name has become the generic term for these devices in most of the world.
The earliest teleprompter was nothing more than a scroll of paper with a script printed on it that was then run over a mechanical device operated by a hidden technician. It wasn’t long before the initial version was improved upon by becoming automated and mounted on a television camera. These improvements, though better than cue cards and a standalone prompter, were not enough because the speaker was still looking slightly off camera. Thus came the next, and most important improvement: reflective glass.
Instead of being mounted facing the speaker, the prompter was mounted below the camera and facing up, or mounted above the camera and facing down, with the text reflected off a piece of glass directly in front of the camera lens. The placement and construction of this glass prevented it from being seen by the camera and allowed the speaker to look directly into the camera while reading.
The computer revolution in the 1980s brought many advances. Scrolling paper rolls were replaced with monitors and computer-generated text as early as 1982, but were still in use as late as 1992. The advancement of technology has also enabled teleprompters to become lighter and thinner, straying away from old bulky ray tube monitors to ultra-slim flat screen monitors. Voice recognition software has also played a part. For example, high-end news organizations are testing teleprompters with the ability to be voice activated, ensuring that the prompter is always going the right speed for the speaker.
Today’s Types of Teleprompters The three main modern types of teleprompters are camera mounted, presidential, and floor or stand mounted.
- The camera mounted teleprompter, as we’ve already discussed, works with text being bounced off special glass placed in front of the lens. This type of prompter is used mainly for pre-recorded videos for speakers, guests, or top-level management. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, weights and need to be coordinated with the AV provider to make sure that the right type is used and matches the camera.
- The presidential teleprompter works basically in the same manner as the camera mounted monitor, except the mirrored glass is mounted at the end of a thin pole instead of on a camera. However, just like the on-camera models, the speaker is able to look directly at the audience through the glass as if it were not there. This is great for a live event. They are almost always used in pairs - one to the left and one to the right of center - encouraging the speaker to change focus and look at the entire audience.
- The floor/stand teleprompter can be placed at an angle on the floor, mounted on a stand, or hung from rigging points in the back of the room. When using them by themselves, floor mounted prompters can be just as good as presidential prompters but it can cause the speaker to look down more or make them appear as if they are only talking to the first two rows of attendees.
In addition to the actual teleprompter itself, there are some other components that are also essential -- the software and the remote control. Both camera mounted and presidential prompters require images to be reflected off of a piece of glass, which then requires that the original text be reversed. All professional prompter software should have this feature. Teleprompters also require a way in which to stop, start, and manipulate the speed of text.
When should/shouldn’t you use a Teleprompter? Using teleprompters, such as a presidential monitor, infers professionalism and makes a speaker look more “presidential.” In general, prompters make the speaker look better as they allow them to connect with the audience, whether live or prerecorded, through eye contact, and studies have shown that eye contact can be a major factor in whether or not we trust someone.
The average person (not a trained actor, or someone with a photographic memory) has a difficult time memorizing large chunks of text. This is why many speakers use PowerPoint or notecards to keep them on-track. However, these methods can be cumbersome and make the presenter feel the need to add graphics or slides when they may not be relevant or useful. Teleprompters are also used when a speaker needs to convey a lot of detail or technical specifications.
Just as knowing when to use a teleprompter is important, knowing when NOT to use one is just as essential. The budget of an event can play a very big part in the use of a teleprompter, because you not only have to pay for the equipment but you have to pay for the person to operate it. Cost is not the only factor when considering a teleprompter; the environment is just as important. If the room and audience are small, the use of a teleprompter might be awkward. Imagine being in a small breakout session and having the speaker behind a pair of presidential monitors.
Preparing Speakers for a Teleprompter Picking the right equipment is only half the battle when it comes to delivering a good speech. The speaker and the speech itself have to be a finely tuned machine. Options include hiring a speechwriter, which is surprisingly inexpensive, and they can work with the speaker to hone a message and to use language comfortable for the speaker. It is very important to write as one speaks, because if the language isn’t familiar, it often sounds stiff and awkward.
Not only does the speech have to be well written, the speaker delivering it has to also be well trained. The speaker should rehearse in the space before the event and allow plenty of time with the prompter itself. Even the most experienced speaker can find a prompter a little unsettling for the first time. Otherwise, a prompter will likely hurt the presentation, rather than help it.
One of the most important tips is to make sure that the speaker knows they are in control, not the teleprompter. It’s the operator’s job to make sure the speaker has the words they need, when they need them, not the job of the speaker to try and “keep up” with the prompter.
Conclusion In conclusion, knowing your audience, your prompter equipment, and your speech will ultimately reward you with a successful presentation. It is wise when budgeting to accommodate for not only the equipment itself, but for the operator and a possible script writer as well. Also, make sure that plenty of time is allowed for rehearsal and practice. Practicing with the equipment and with the operator can help make or break a perfect prompter presentation.
Originally published at metroConnections.com
***UPDATE*** If you're using the latest builds of CyanogenMod, you don't need to do this! Just go to Settings, Buttons, and check the "Enable on-screen nav bar" box. Et voila!
OK, this is one that's fun to try. You'll either:
- Love it -or-
- Hate it
I know it might seem redundant with the hardware softkeys on the the Galaxy S3, but I really like this mod and it's one of the first things I do after flashing a new rom. The S3 has plenty of screen real estate to handle it, and I find it a much faster way of navigating around the phone, with faster access to app switching and Google Now. Also, frequently while trying to reach down to the "Back" hardware button with my left hand, the phone feels like it's going to shoot out of my hand like a bar of soap.
To enable the on-screen navigation buttons:
Use a file explorer (like Root Explorer) to navigate to
and open the file with a text editor. Add the line
at the end of the file. Save and close. Reboot. Done
Be advised, there a are a few apps that don't behave well with the keys, such as the camera. For some reason (probably because it's a stock app) instead of resizing, it partially covers up some of the controls. Still completely usable though.
For extra credit, you might try one of these other mods...
Disable the softkeys: Navigate to
and open the file with a text editor. You will a giant list of key numbers and what they do. Try to find these...
key 172 HOME key 158 BACK key 139 MENU
Add a # before any key you don't wan't to use anymore. Save and reboot.
Thanks to jastonas over on XDA for the post!
Prevent the "HOME" key from waking your phone up: Personally, I like to keep the softkeys engaged. I do still use them from time to time, such as when you can't find the freaking "MENU" key on a poorly designed app. But, in a completely made up statistic, I have found that accidental pocket-engagement of the "HOME" key is responsible for 80% of battery loss.
and open the file with a text editor. You will see this...
key 115 VOLUME_UP WAKE key 114 VOLUME_DOWN WAKE key 172 HOME WAKE key 116 POWER WAKE
Just delete the word "WAKE" from the "HOME" key (or more if you like, but be careful you still need a way to wake your phone!!!). Save and reboot.
Thanks to Eric over on Galaxy S3 Forums for the post!
That's all there is to it! So now that the S4 is coming out, is anyone getting antsy to trade in their S3? Personally over a year in I'm still happy as a clam...
Ok, so much of what I’m about to say may seem obvious, but I can personally vouch for the fact that most of what highly paid motivational and inspirational keynote speakers say is, after you’ve heard it, pretty obvious stuff. I’ve sometimes considered becoming a motivational speaker myself, with my “hook” being that I’ve heard hundreds of them and can boil most of it all down to about 10 salient points- but that, dear friends, is a story for another day. THIS story is about how I went from hating traveling to enjoying it, and it all started on a whim.
For a very long time, I really despised traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the destinations, but I hated the journey. I was blessed that my parents wanted their kids to be exposed to other cultures, peoples, and places, and we traveled a fair amount both inside the US and even a couple times abroad. So now in my adult life, I really do love being in other cities all over the world, soaking up the surroundings, seeing how very different we all can be, and how very much alike we all are.
But the getting there... oh, man...
To start, there was the ear pain. Every time I flew, my ears would properly “pop” and pressure-equalize on the way up, but not on the way down. This would cause excruciating pain in my ears during decent, not unlike having your eardrum being squeezed by a vice made of ice needles. The pain would usually subside once on the ground, but one or both of my ears would remain clogged with fluid for anywhere from 1 to 3 days. After many years of trying every remedy people could think of - chewing gum, drinking water, pressure points, ritual sacrifice - I finally learned from my Dad, who had the same problem but to a much lesser degree, to use a special kind of silicon earplugs that cover the whole ear-hole. That’s a technical term, of course.
This worked like magic, but I had to wear them for the entire ascent and descent. It also had the secondary benefit of blocking out the other ear-holes on the flight that talked too much. A happy ending to at least that part of the story, but the number of years that I just suffered through the pain far outweighed the ones where I knew that particular solution.
Setting my medical issues aside, everything about airports and airline personnel just rubbed me the wrong way, and it seemed as though every travel experience was worse then the last. There was the time I was stranded in O’Hare overnight and slept on a bench (which I later turned into an unpublished short story called The Moving Walkway is About to End), or the time that I was stranded in the Bahamas with no money and a taxi voucher that no taxi driver would take.
Even in the years before 9-11, I always seemed to have issues with security. When my parents would swing through town, I would meet them at the airport for dinner, and if I even had a scrap of a gum wrapper in my pocket it would set off the metal detector. After 9-11? Forget about it. I was a constant subject of bag searches, pat downs, and explosive testing, mainly due to the large amount of electronics I have to bring along for the typical meeting production gig. Or perhaps I had a 3.25 oz tub of hair gel that just needed to be confiscated by the Federal Government.
At the ticket counter and in the air, I found the airline employees unhelpful, inflexible, and sometimes downright mean. During the times I was stranded, I was never offered a hotel voucher, bonus miles, or indeed (other than the useless taxi voucher) any compensation at all. After having been drinking alcohol legally in the UK for a full semester abroad at age 20, I was carded and not served on the flight back, due to “US Federal Law”. When I explained that there was no federal law regarding the legal drinking age in the US, I was told, “Then it’s Northwest Airlines Law.” No drinky-drinky for me. I settled back into my middle seat and scowled.
It definitely felt like every airport ticket counter person, every security guard, and every flight attendant in the world was out to make my travel life as miserable as they could. To add insult to injury, I was traveling more and more for work, pretty much insuring a future filled with increased pain and suffering.
And then one day, I’d had enough. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired of feeling like a victim, tired of feeling helpless. It was time to do something radical. I decided to fight back in the only way I could.
I would kill them with kindness.
And so, on this utter whim, I decided one travel day to be just as unbelievably, doughnut-sprinkly sweet as I could, to every person I interacted with:
- Long line at the baggage drop off? *Big Smile* “Wow, you guys are really swamped today. Hope you get to take a break soon!”
- Bag check at security? *Big Smile* “Sure, no problem! I always get checked because of all the electronics gear I have to bring. What’s that? Oh that’s a wireless presenter mouse- pretty cool, huh?”
- Getting an ever-shrinking bag of peanuts? *Big Smile* “Thank you very much!”
At the end of the trip, I realized that I felt less tired, less put-upon, less grumpy. So on my next trip, I continued to be just as nice as I possibly could to everyone I met:
- At the gate- *Big Smile* “Hi how are you doing? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Want me to grab you a coffee or something? You sure? Ok, well I was wondering if there were any aisle seats available since it looks like I’m in a middle seat. Oh, great, thanks!” (this was before it was so easy to see and change seats online)
- On-plane flight attendant safety briefing? I watched every second carefully with a *Big Smile*. I learned later that this is a big peeve of flight attendants all over the world- “At least pretend like you’re listening, won’t you? You think you’re tired of hearing it?”
OK, so I said this would seem obvious, didn’t I? But you can probably guess what started to happen. People started being nicer to me, and I started feeling... happier.
It felt like I was getting more aisle seats (again before the ease of online seat-change) and exit rows. Once I achieved medallion status as a frequent flyer, it felt like I was getting upgraded more often than my traveling companions. A couple times I bought a drink and had it upgraded to a double at no extra charge. “Here, have a couple of bags of peanuts. You want some cookies, too?”
A friendly TSA agent informed me as we chatted while he looked through my bag that one of the biggest reasons bags get pulled aside is when they look like a mess of jumbled cables and wires on the X-ray, and if you take the time to coil and pack them neatly they’re able to more easily see what everything is. And yes, I said friendly TSA agent. I would not have guessed such a thing existed previously. Guess what- they do. A lot of them.
Turned out he was right. I started very carefully coiling my cables and arranging the electronics gear neatly in my carry-on bag. The number of times it got searched went from almost every time to maybe one out of every twenty. Possibly even less, it happens so infrequently that it’s hard to remember. But when it does, I remember to smile and not get upset about it.
Just one week after I got it, I left my brand new iPad on the floor of the plane, next to my seat. Instead of it going into the black hole that expensive electronics left on airplanes go, I was called by Delta on my way home from the airport and told it was being kept safely (literally in a safe) for me in their office. To this day I am convinced this is because I was nice to the flight attendant sitting in the jump seat facing me. We chatted and I asked her where a safe place to put my iPad was, since I didn’t have a seat pocket in front of me. It was she who recommended putting it next to the seat against the wall of the plane (an unusual place, and likely why I forgot it), and I’m sure it was she that took the time to get my name from the manifest to get it back to me.
Another TSA moment- I realized I still had my Leatherman multi-tool on my belt as I stood in the security line, almost at the front. I looked around and saw a TSA agent standing nearby. I put on a *Big Smile* and waved to him with a questioning look. He came over and I apologized profusely for being so dumb as to forget to put my trusty belt tool in my checked luggage. Rather than just confiscating it on the spot, he pointed out that a nearby money exchange kiosk was now offering “mail home” services for small items at a reasonable rate. I thanked him profusely, left the line, and mailed it home for $10. Much cheaper than a replacement!
I returned to the security checkpoint and got in line, happy to have saved my trusty Leatherman from certain doom, and fully prepared to go through the whole line again. I saw the agent and gave him a “thumbs up” sign to let him know it had worked. To my shock and surprise, he waived me over to him and let me into the First Class and Über Status line, which had only about 5 people in it. Wow. I mean... just... wow...
Things were working so well, I started applying this bizarre concept (being nice to people) to the good folks who worked for the hotels I was staying at. Wouldn’t you know it? I started getting better service and nicer rooms- higher floors, beautiful views. I even got comped for no apparent reason to the “Executive Level” at a beautiful resort in California, with a private lobby and a fully stocked and staffed complimentary lobby bar that served breakfast and appetizers most of the day.
You see, faithful obvious truth-seekers, these people in the airline and hotel industry have to deal with hundreds and hundreds, sometimes thousands of people a day. Most of them don’t stand out- they’re just anonymous faces marching by. Which leaves only two types of people that do stand out: Those that are kind, pleasant, and brighten your day, and... assholes. And I realized that I used to be one of the latter.
I mean really. What flight attendant on an international flight with hundreds of passengers to take care of wants to be lectured by some smart-ass kid about the legal intricacies of state-based drinking age limits while over international waters? C’mon, son...
Put simply, I hated traveling, so traveling hated me. I started making the extra effort to be nice, and the whole experience was lifted up to not only tolerable, but down right enjoyable most of the time.
And there’s the key- it takes effort. The kind of effort that most of us can’t spare as we move through our busy lives. I’m not perfect at this, and believe me, if I could apply this sunshine and roses way of dealing with the world to the rest of my life 24-7, I would. I have good days and bad days like everyone. I have however chosen to try and make that extra effort in this particular area of my life, and it has paid back over and over.
In fact, I believe it was a flight attendant who finally suggested the cure for my painful eardrum issues. Sudafed. That’s right, the decongestant. Pseudoephedrine. Take it about an hour before the flight and my ears pop and equalize perfectly normally. No more earplugs. I can actually wear headphones, or I can carry on a conversation, just like everyone else. Though sometimes I do miss the quiet...
So there you have it. The Great Secret of Enjoying Travel: “Be nice to people.” Wow. Who’d have thought? I know. Crazy talk.
Studies have shown over and over again that even “fake smiling” can improve a person’s overall mood. It also might just get you a bulkhead seat with extra legroom. That can definitely improve your mood. So sit back and enjoy the ride!
If my 2012 blog stats are any indication, apparently I need to write less about corporate event technology and more about the Samsung Galaxy S3...
*** UPDATE 12/20/12 *** While I'm still recommending Home2 Shortcut (easier on the eyes and more functionality), reports are coming in that Bluetooth Launcher will still work with 4.1.1. Apparently you just need to select a different activity. Process is updated in the post, but I was unable to get it to work on either my or my wife's S3.
*** UPDATE 12/18/12 ***
Based on the comments and questions below, it appears that Blootooth Launcher does not work this way anymore with Android 4.1.1. If someone figures out a way to make it work again, leave a comment and I'll update this page.
I now am recommending Home2 Shortcut for this getting direct access to Voice Search (which contains most of the original Voice Actions).
I found it over on XDA Developers and it can be found on the Play Store. It allows you to set Home Double Press as well as other key combinations. I found "Voice Search" under "Activities->Google", but YMMV.
Some of the more popular posts on this blog have had nothing to do with Event Technology per se, but rather have been tips and tricks that I myself found hard to find and decided to repost when I found the answer.
This is one of those posts!
I searched for a really long time to find a way to make Google Voice Actions, instead of S-Voice, the default action when double pressing the Home key on my fancy new Samsung Galaxy SIII. I just couldn't get S-Voice to do what I wanted it to do, and it was basically useless in the car. Turns out there's a clever little workaround using a 3rd party app that isn't actually designed for that specific purpose! The tip comes from Sorka over on Android Forums and is a great little workaround. NO ROOT REQUIRED!!
Here's the trick:
- Download and Install "Bluetooth Launch" from the Google Play store.
- Open Bluetooth Launch and scroll down to "Voice Search". (*See update below*)
- Tap on it to expand it out, then select: "com.google.android.voicesearch.RecognitionActivity" (*Update* Some are reporting that on Android 4.1.1 you need to use this: "Google Search->com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox.VoiceSearchActivity" I have been unable to verify)
- Exit by hitting the back key.
- Double click the home button.
- Select "Always complete using this activity"
- Select Bluetooth Launch.
Thanks again, Sorka, works like a charm, and there's a metric crapton of other options offered by Bluetooth Launcher. Nice workaround!
Meanwhile everyone, how are you liking your S3?
This is the tale of two clients. The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.
The question: Which client got the better value for their money?
The show: Both clients requested pricing for almost identical situations- a 500+ person sales conference, including AV, stage design, meeting room decor, graphics and PPT template design, special event design and decor for their awards banquet, and production support, including show caller, technical director, and production manager. There would also be some post-meeting video editing of the footage. Both bids were full scale meeting productions, but were based on some smaller work we’d done with each client, so this was a big inroad for us in each situation. As such, very reasonable pricing was given out of the gate to help sweeten the deal, in order to get the larger portion of the total event expense.
Client A- The Negotiator. Even given the initial generous pricing, the client negotiated the price even further down, until a lot of what we pitched was dropped down to at cost or below cost to get the business. Many services were even thrown in for no-cost, including the post production editing, which is my time. Hey, we all know this happens a lot, especially with new clients. Once you get the business, you hope to recoup over the long-term relationship you build with the client.
They continued to question every single price in the process, citing non-realistic consumer level (think Home Depot) and internet pricing for room decor (which did not include labor, setup, delivery, etc). They changed one of their conference days from a half day to a full day, and seemed outraged that we’d charge more for labor for the AV crew. They questioned the roughly 10% (a couple hundred bucks) in profit we sought to gain for arranging the hanging of several thousand square feet of ceiling treatments. They tried to cut staff that we weren’t charging for anyway in hopes of further discounts.
On top of the negotiating, they also kept requesting more and more of the “free” services we were providing. More graphics, more video, alternate edits, and “oh by the way”s galore. We finally had to put our foot down and start line item-ing each and every addition, which inevitably meant more price negotiation on each and every item.
On site, and throughout the conference, there was even more of these add-ons, and truth be told I couldn’t help but feel like they thought they owned me for the run of the show. We continued to line item every item, every request, and we only did what was asked of us and no more.
I also got the feeling they were looking for mistakes, cataloging every minor detail and filing it away, so that after the conference they could come back for more money off the bill. We always strive for the perfect show, but in my 15 years in the business, I’ve only seen maybe one where absolutely nothing went wrong and this was no exception. Additionally, a lot of equipment and crew redundancy was cut due to the budget concerns. Unfortunately there are some clients that you can't help but feel that they count on trying to get money back at the end of a program, by accumulating a list of things they're dissatisfied with and disputing the bill. The entire conference run was one of stress and anxiety.
After the show I was tired, cranky, bitter, and feeling a little used.
Client B- Minnesota Nice. Almost the polar opposite of Client A. While budget conscious, there was never the feeling of constant nit-picking or chiseling. They seemed to understand that things A) cost money, and B) we might make a profit on them. Whenever things were added, they were always amenable to adding to the overall bill. Above all else, they were always extremely polite, and very understanding of the time and effort that goes in to putting on a conference. As their conference went on, I genuinely came to like the people involved- the conference committee, the executives, the attendees. As a result, as I look back, I actually did a lot more for them than Client A. All the little add-ons didn’t feel so bad, and I found myself wanting to help them make their conference better and better for their attendees. They added a rush order to the post-production, and even after a week of travel I found myself wanting to work through the weekend to get it done for them so that they could get the conference materials into the hands of their folks in the field.
Due to hotel restrictions, we were forced to use the in-house AV, and unfortunately for our client, they really stunk up the house. Tons of equipment and crew issues. In the case of Client A, we might have been tempted to just shrug our shoulders and say, “Not our fault”, but instead we were right there in the fray, passionately advocating for our client, making sure they were dealt with fairly in the end.
Since the program, we’ve even provided some “at cost” services to help them out with the post production distribution. Why? Because they asked nicely.
After the show I was tired, but really looking forward to the next time we work with Client B.
My Take: While we all agree that, in theory, all clients should receive the same treatment, I think we can also agree that that’s not human nature. In the end, the two companies' bills, minus the differences between the two shows, were probably only a few thousand dollars different. I’d be curious to know, if they knew each other, which client thought they got the best deal- the best value for their money. My guess is that they both would think so. In my heart of hearts, I’d have to say that at least when it came to my time, my effort, Client B got the most value for their money, and will continue to do so as long as we have the privilege to work with them.
I am not anti-negotiation. Around the office I have the (occasionally derogatory) nickname “Consumer Brandt” because I detest bad customer service and have no trouble telling people when I believe they’re giving it to me. I will not hesitate to ask for fees to be waived, prices matched, or things to be thrown in. But there is a line, and it’s largely a matter of tact, manners, and polite civility to know when that line's been crossed. There’s working the system, and there’s abusing the system...
As I move forward, I’m going to try and keep all this in mind as I work with our vendors. I’d like to think to a certain extent that I do already, but it never hurts to try harder, right?
So what do you think? Who got the better value? Does it matter who the client is and who the vendor is? Why?
This is a legitimate and serious security alert regarding WiFi access. Apartment-dwellers, businesses in strip malls, hotels, and convention centers all should be advised. Basically if your WiFi signal reaches to a point where someone could park for a while (less than 24 hours), you are likely vulnerable to having someone hack into your WiFi network, even if it is secured. This could be, for example, an apartment next door, a lounge in your building, a nearby parking lot, or a car parked on the street if your signal reaches that far.
As usual, making things simple makes them less secure. There is a convenient "feature" of almost all WiFi access points built in the last few years that allows you to connect a device to your network (such as a Windows 7 computer, a cell phone, a printer, etc.) by pressing a button or clicking a dialog box and then entering a short 8 digit pin stamped on a label on the WiFi device. This is known as "WiFi Protected Setup".
It turns out that the pin can be cracked and give a hacker access to your network in less than 24 hours (sometimes only a couple of hours) of brute force attacking because of a really stupid way that the password is sent/received between the two devices. Once unencrypted access to your network is gained, the attacker can (at best) use your internet connection and (at worst) sit quietly and watch all of your internet traffic.
If you're comfortable configuring your wireless router, poke around in the settings and look for something called "WiFi protected setup".
THIS IS ENABLED BY DEFAULT. If you uncheck this "feature" you should be protected from this type of attack until your manufacturer can push out an update. Check your WiFi router's manufacturer's website frequently over the next couple months to look for an update for your device.
If you want to learn about this in great detail, I highly recommend this podcast, Security Now! with Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte:
For more general info, just search for "wifi protected setup flaw" on your search engine of choice.
Please feel free to pass this on to anyone you may know with WiFi access points in their home or office.
Following in Bank of America's forward, but not backward, steps- TCF National Bank is dicking around with their checking fees. A mystery charge of $9.95 showed up on my statement this month. Apparently they sent me the notice in September on my statement, which I receive online. Yep, it was there, 3 pages deep after the canceled checks (four, by the time you get to the actual part where I could have figured out the changes). Basically, if I don't have a minimum of 15 transactions per month, they charge a fee of $9.95.
Seems like every month I find a new reason I can't wait to cease being your customer, TCF. I also know that I'm not alone in that desire. Complicated finances make it currently impossible for me to cut the cord completely, but for now my math is simple: I don't make 15 transactions per month on that account, so I'll be closing my checking account as soon as I can. I'm sure that works on somebody's spreadsheet, probably something to do with the cost of maintaining low activity accounts. Considering the massive amounts of automation in banking these days, I can't see how it would, though. Methinks it might have something more to do with another part of the balance sheet.
**** Edit **** I should add that after several phone calls and complaints (and being told that closing my checking account would significantly increase my costs on my other accounts), they mysteriously found a checking account between the couch cushions that did not have this minimum requirement.