Donald has clearly been watching game shows to practice his emoji faces.
Donald has clearly been watching game shows to practice his emoji faces.
Some laid back discopop, balearic beat type tunes for the summer that just won’t be.
The Radarboy Still waiting for summer mix:
1. Lucio – Luca C & Brigante
2. Change of Heart – El Perro Del Mar
3. Church With No Magic (Midnight Juggernauts Mix) – PVT
4. Prism (feat. Serpentine) – Zwicker
5. Simply Beautiful (George Lenton Remix) – Al Green
6. Discotized – Ilya Santana
7. Keep Me In My Plane (Max Pask Remix) – WhoMadeWho
8. AAA – Pilooski
9. Into The Night (Nicolas Jaar Remix) – Azari & III
10. Splitting the Atom – Massive Attack
The King Of Africa online store is down (for now). Raw Talent, the merchant, has shut its doors. Yo geeza! Where’s me teeza?
I have always been fascinated with physical x digital interactions, so when tikitags came to my attention in 2009, my head began to spin with ideas. When finally I got it together to order a starter kit, (now known as touchatag) they were sold out.
So to the web I went, trawling electronic and DIY gadget shops looking for a kit to buy when I found another home use RFID kit called mir:ror, by violet, who also produced nabaztag – a rabbit shaped ambient device. Having no luck tracking down touchatags, I found a mirror kit from an Amazon store and ordered it, eager to test the application and reality of using NFC technology.
Eventually touchatags became available again, so I ordered a set to see what’s possible with that system, and in a sense do some sort of review between the two “home user” kits for people wanting to dip their toes into this (near) field.
UPDATE to mir:ror.
After installing and signing up with mirror a couple of months ago, and then re-familiarizing myself with it after getting the touchatags, I learned that the company Violet that produced them originally, went bankrupt in 2009 and were taken over by Mindscape. They have recently released a new version of their nabaztag rabbit called Karotz.
So although this face-off might not be relevant as mirror is no longer produced, but I will still post it, for reference as it still may point to the merits of each system, and also to some of the frustration I had with mirror.
Touchatag comes in a small box which houses the reader (wrapped in bubble wrap), a small single sheet quickstart (still from tikitag days) and small stack of adhesive tags. The language is simple and slightly cheeky as it explains the steps as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.
Mirror comes in a bigger box that is more consumer friendly with more brand personality (though overly so at times?). The language is over branded + proprietary, with terms like “z:tamps” and “mir:ror” – why not just call it a reader and stamp? It comes with some usage suggestions on the box, is well packed in a styrofoam stack, comes with a 4 page quick start guide and a direct URL for starting (though that doesnt exist anymore).
Mirror seems more of an end use product, where touchatag seems more DIY.
SIGN UP AND INSTALLATION
Both kits require internet connection and registration on their networks. This is where you’ll manage your device, tags and applications. Both also need firmware or drivers and the application to install.
The home page should call out “are you a 1st time user?” or there should be a direct URL. I felt a little bit lost even though I have visited the site numerous times and it’s geared towards potential buyers and information on the product, which is fair, but as they start moving towards a mass use case, the service should reflect that. To that point, the status of what the green lights mean and dock/tray icon need to be explained more upfront. This info is too buried. Other than that sign up was simple with email confirmation to complete your registration.
Installing the files was simple, the only downside is that a restart is needed.
The home page calls for action – either you register, create a account or log into network. This is a lot simpler and geared towards someone who has already purchased the kit and is ready to go. However, the Karotz site is more in line with supplying information on the product and calling a new user to participate, and does so appealingly.
Installation was simple, no restart.
RUNNING THE APPLICATION
Initially, the reader did not recognize the tag, so off to the forum I went. There was lots of to-ing and and fro-ing, restarting and disappointment. Then finally – voila! Tag recognition after a restart (and a forum post). My first tag was a simple web link. I took the tag off, placed it back on the reader and bingo! Web page loaded.
Success = 1.
My first attempt was a couple of months ago and I cannot remember getting anything working. I wanted to do a simple “open web page” – but no luck. I spent a lot more time familiarizing myself with the network and the jargon used. It seemed more complex to have have so many names and brands for a new product and service, also having to name your tag reader seemed excessive. No luck.
Success = 0.
It always felt there was one too many steps in the process. I put a bunny tag on the reader and I had to log in again, etc. Things like that drove me mad. I love the cute bunnies, but if they don’t work, they are kind of expensive desk toys. Of course, in hindsight, this was when the nabaztag servers were being shifted, so a lot of what was frustrating may not be so today.
APPLICATIONS AND DASHBOARD
I had success with using established applications. It was very simple to amend fields and get it going. I will progress on deeper interactions later, but for now it worked, which is always a marvel.
The dashboard is a little weird and frustrating. This has to do with containing the view of apps. I want to view “all apps” and there is no option for that. While the tag cloud aids navigation, it isn’t as intuitive as one thinks.
I battled to find an ‘open a web page’ app where you can define your own web page. There are a lot of pre defined podcasts and rss feeds and UK centric sites. I went around in circles trying to add an action to a z:tamp or the bunny (nano:ztag), but got internal error for my efforts. “please try again.” When i finally found an “open a web page” application, I got an error.
Again, please note, the failure of the mirror is likely due to the discontinued service of the product. I mailed Karotz support to see if they will integrate the z:tamps and old bunnies, but have not received a reply yet. There are discounts if you were a nabazag owner and want to upgrade to Karotz.
For touchatag (±$40 for the starter kit), I liked the DIY/tinker aesthetic it has going for it. It is less precious and at $1 a tag, allows one to be more free in experimenting with NFC behavior. The fact that you can also assign a QR code with a working tag opens this platform up fairly widely and I can see a lot of use case scenarios here.
For mirror, besides the failure of getting mirror to work properly, I like the design, the bunnies and overall feel, but at ±$100 for a new mirror starter kit, it is way more expensive. There are no more z:tamps, so the cheapest entry item is a bunny (flatanoz) and that will run you ±$10 per item, so it is less throwaway.
The Karotz world is more self contained and is geared toward having the Karotz at the center of your connected world, whereas touchatag is more of a platform for you to create your own internet of things.
Mirror is certainly more designed overall, not only the objects but even down to the lights and sounds when you place a tag on the reader, but for me, I want to tag objects, so touchatag is more my tagged cup of tea.
“To manage, through strictly physical means, to offer a completely new emotional and philosophical experience… as memory and body take the passage through any given work, something happens, something changes.”
– Anish Kapoor
You’ll need a VERY modern web browser to see this.
“The Search Globe visualizes searches from one day, and shows the language of the majority of queries in an area in different colors. You’ll see a bright landscape of queries across Europe, and parts of Asia for instance, but unfortunately we see many fewer searches from parts of the world lacking Internet access—and often electricity as well—like Africa. We hope that as the Internet continues to become more accessible over time and people continue to ask questions, we’ll see this globe shine brightly everywhere.”
The recent switch to digital subscription by the NY Times has me changing my behavior, but not as you’d think.
It happened at the end of the month when I had used up my allotted 20 articles. Initially, I thought about using all three of my emails so I could read up to 60 articles – scared I go over my 20 per month. I know you’re thinking “don’t be cheap”, but it’s not that I am averse to paying, it’s that I am not a subscriber, and probably will never be. I don’t like to subscribe or sign long contracts, because I don’t like to feel hemmed in, it restricts my perceived freedom. This is not because of being cheap, on the contrary it’s probably more costly in the long run, but its worth more to me to know I am not committed to anyone.
Sure, certain services and situations are unavoidable to subscription. Things like mortgages or rent contracts, maybe car payments, life insurance policies, internet subscription, and maybe at some point a phone contract. I am still rocking a pre paid – 3 years strong – but feel that a contract is nigh. But news? In today’s age? Seems incongruous.
So back to my behavior. Recently I found myself scanning the NYT front page more carefully, knowing a click could become a wasted click – I would rather click on something worthy, in other words being a lot more frugal with what I clicked on. Previous visits to NYT would have me clicking freely on anything that piqued my interest. Not anymore.
What has happened?
I now use The Guardian for my heavy lifting, and the NYT for my US centric news. I use the BBC app on my iPad, and skim NYT for headlines.
In other words, LESS reading, MORE scanning at NYT.
So the question would be – will NYT’s loss in my readership (and people like me) be supplemented by digital subscribers?
It would be interesting to see how it develops, because on one hand you would have a lot more page views, and therefore more display ads, and on the other hand, you could lose readers like me, but gain subscribers and their meta data, which in turn could be more valuable in serving targeted ads.
Some other users’ behavior changes:
@shapshak reads as many articles as he can to reach his allotted 20, come month end
@JacquesR doesn’t log in and then clears his cookies to avoid being capped
Gizmodo also has some tricks up their sleeve
Niemanlab has an in-depth post about it all
Been thinking a lot about interactivity and experience design. The future is analogue, is a talk I help recently for the students of the AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town, South Africa. I’ll be posting more on this later. In the meantime, here’s a great example of analogue experience:
Yes, I know we haven’t posted for a long time. We’re busy hatching “evil plans”