For the first time, Google is opening up the sale of its controversial Google Glass to the general public. The device resembles a pair of eyeglasses, and lets users surf the Internet and take photos and videos. As invasive technologies become more common, critics are raising privacy and safety concerns. How will an increased use of surreptitious technology shape our day-to-day lives and ethics?
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Merlin Mann returns to Mac Power Users for his annual visit. This year we dive deep into Merlin’s new obsession with home automation and talk about what makes some apps stick while others never do.
Thanks to MPU listener
Jigar Talati for assistance with the shownotes this week!
Links for this episode:
Independent Writer, Speaker, and Broadcaster – Merlin Mann
Collected from: Independent Writer, Speaker, and Broadcaster – Merlin Mann
All things Merlin across the internet:
Merlin’s site about personal productivity, life ha
Our audio-based Journal of Emotional Hygiene is fo
Back to Work
Merlin Mann’s frank & candid weekly phone call wit
Video of Merlin’s most famous work, the Inbox Zero
Video of Merlin’s 2010 improvised Time & Attention
Video of Merlin’s ‘Patterns for Crativity’ Talk at
Audio: Merlin Mann’s MaxFunCon Talk on Creative Wo
Merlin’s Inbox Zero book site
Parietal Disgorgement Aid
You’re minutes away from fearlessly tackling your
5ives.com – Merlin’s Lists of Five Things
30 Seconds with Phone Guy – That Guy who’s always
Nothing wrecks your living room decor quite like a
Merlin is ‘hotdogsladies’ on Twitter
Here’s Merlin’s most popular tweets
FAQs about Merlin’s Work
FAQs about Hiring Merlin
Useful info to share in order to book a gig with M
Merlin Mann on Mac Power Users
MPU 023: Workflows with Merlin Mann
MPU 046: Workflows with Merlin Mann II
MPU 091: Workflows with Merlin Mann III
MPU 132: Merlin Man Returns
Dropcam – Wi-Fi Video Monitoring with Cloud Recording. Setup in Minutes.
SmartThings | Home Automation, Home Security, and Peace of Mind
WeMo Home Automation
Put the internet to work for you. – IFTTT
Mac Power Users 176: Everyday Automation
Full Folder of Geek
Screenshot from David’s iPhone
WeMo Insight Switch
SmartThings – SmartThings Hub
Amazon- SmartThings Kit
Amazon – Belkin WeMo
Life & Smart Home Awesomation – Revolv
Z-Wave : Home control
It’s Been 25 Years Since World Wide Web Debuted : NPR
Since then it’s transformed daily life. To look back at how far the web has evolved and where it may be headed in the next 25 years, Renee Montagne talks to Kevin Kelly, a founder of Wired magazine.
Mac Power Users 177: Workflows with Gabe Weatherhead | Mac Power Users
Meet hue | en-US
Amazon – Hue Lights
5by5 | Back to Work #161: Zeitgeist Helmut
Canary – Smart home security for everyone
Canary: The first smart home security device for everyone | Indiegogo
Wireless Speakers | The Wireless HiFi System from Sonos
Tech we’re looking forward to in 2014: a realist’s guide to CES | The Wirecutter
Always-On Dropcam Proves Helpful, However Creepy | Re/code
Flexibits | Fantastical for Mac | Meet your Mac’s new calendar.
Drafts – Agile Tortoise
Unread — An RSS Reader
Byword • Simple and efficient text editor for Mac, iPhone and iPad.
Editorial for iPad
Mac Power Users 156: Editorial with Federico Viticci
SAGA :: Choose your own adventure
Get Glympse: Glympse
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This is the inaugural Apptimize podcast! Our CEO, Nancy Hua, speaks with Vinayak Ranade, Director of Engineering for Mobile at Kayak about how to identify what to test. Listen to the podcast and/or read the transcript below.
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Nancy Hua: Hi everyone! I’m Nancy, the CEO of Apptimize. I’m here with an old MIT friend, Vinayak, the Director of Engineering for Mobile at Kayak. Vinayak’s been at Kayak for three years leading Kayak’s development of iOS, Android, and Windows apps. He’s had a lot of success with optimizing Kayak’s mobile app through A/B testing. In this interview, he’s going to share some of what he’s learned with us. Welcome to the Apptimize podcast, Vinayak. Thank you for coming. What’s the most interesting A/B test you’ve done?
Vinayak Ranade: One of the most interesting A/B tests that we’ve done recently is something that confirmed one of our design decisions. And it was related to user security on the app. So one of the things that users are worried about today in mobile is paying for stuff. And one of the reasons they’re worried about it is because they don’t know if it’s secure or not. What if you’re going through a tunnel and your connection goes down? Or what if there’s someone who’s snooping on your wifi? For some reason people don’t seem to have the same sense of security that they have on their desktop as they do on mobile. And to be fair, they didn’t also have this security when they started out on desktops. So, to kind of help users through this process and to make them feel comfortable when they’re actually trying to buy something and charge their credit card, at Kayak we decided to add a small message at the bottom that just reassured the user that everything’s going to be okay if they buy something.
And the idea behind this was to tell the user it’s really okay if you make this payment.
There’s a different company that tried this and they actually A/B tested it, and what they found was that removing this messaging actually improved their conversions, which was very puzzling. And the theory that they had about it was that if you remove this then you are no longer reminding the user about the security issue in the first place. So their thesis was that users don’t generally think about this and if you put it there, you’re reminding them that oh, this could have been insecure. That’s why users then tend to shy away from clicking and actually spending money on your app.
So we decided to do our own experiment about this and we actually found the opposite that when we removed the messaging, people tended to book less. So this was an interesting thing for us because we expected that our original design decision may not have been the right one but it turned out to be the right one. And so this was an interesting experiment because it was related to user behavior, it was something that we weren’t super sure about but it definitely confirmed our design decisions that we made originally.
NH: That makes a lot of sense. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for all apps. You have to try it out yourself.
NH: So with everything you could be A/B testing, how do you prioritize what you test so you can work on something that will have a big impact?
VR: So normally, our test requests come from many different sources. Sometimes they’re from executives, sometimes they’re from engineers, sometimes they’re from salespeople who are trying out an idea that a client suggested, and sometimes they’re just changes that we’re going to do and we just want to measure them. So we try to keep a balance between kind of being a little bit bold and reckless and also making small and incremental changes just to the app. Generally what happens is that one or two people, including myself, collect all of the test requests and we go through them and we try to figure out which ones make sense, which ones don’t make sense, and we try to make sure that we do at least a few tests during every client release. And generally they’re focused on a few list of features that we’re currently working on and they’re optimized. Basically three things go into which ones we choose. There’s the actual kind of bottom line impact of the company, there is the development effort involved, and then there is the “Is this experiment going to teach us something fundamentally new?”
NH: What’s an example of something you’ll A/B test vs. something you can just implement?
VR: Sure. If we’re going to do something like a big re-design, so recently we did a redesign for our iOS 7 app for iOS, and every other Apple developer knows that the day that Apple announced, “Here’s all of the tools you need, here’s the new Xcode, here’s the new SDK, and we’re shipping iOS 7 at the end of the month, so time to go,” most developers were kind of peeing their pants.
If we had spent time incrementally testing every single change we’d made and redesigned, we’d never had made it. And a lot of companies did do that and they were three months late to the game. So that was one of the situations where we decided, okay we’re just going to go for this, we’re going to trust our designers, we know they’re good, so we all kind of put everything else aside for six weeks and cranked out the redesign.
This redesign was informed by experiment results from previous UIs. We tried really hard not to make the same mistakes and to learn from our past experiences, but we didn’t actively experiment during this redesign. And after the redesign, we shipped it on time, we shipped it on release day, we got a ton of downloads, we got featured as being a new, beautiful iOS 7 app in the Apple app store, which these days in these growing app marketplaces, is huge for companies, and even companies as big as Kayak. And then after that, we spent the next couple months testing some of the smaller stuff, like do we want to tweak the messaging here, do we want to add an extra line here or there, and kind of fine-tuning what we’d already done.
It will be interesting to see in the long run what’s going to win because the incremental experiment theory is very much like evolution where you kind of throw everything in the bag and see what survives. Right? And then there’s the intelligent design theory where you look at it from a close, holistic perspective. And you say, this is what we think is good for the user, this is what we think is good for the company on the whole, and this is the direction that we want the product to go in. And it’s probably going to hit a few speed bumps along the way, but experiments have this tendency to get you to local maxima and if you kind of combine this intelligent design technique followed by evolution, then you can kind of put yourself on the biggest tilt for climbing it, instead of just looking for the nearest hill to climb.
NH: Thank you for sharing this with us, Vinayak!NEXT POST: How to Fix Bugs and Usability Issues After App Deployment
Episode 0: Why should you subscribe to another Mac podcast, and what this show is all about. (Running time: 4:55)
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Posted Monday, February 3, 2014
Katie and David sit down with Federico Viticci of MacStories.net to talk about his amazing iPad workflows, the future of iOS, photo management and more.
We present Magic Lantern, a free open software add-on for Canon DSLR cameras, that offers increased functionality aimed mainly at DSLR pro and power users. It runs alongside Canon’s own firmware and introduces to consumer-grade DSLRs features usually only found in professional high-end digital (cinema) cameras.
With downloads in excess of half a million and tens of thousands of registered users, Magic Lantern has become one of the largest examples of collaborative efforts of users hoping to get the most out of their devices… by hacking them. Being a free, open source non-commercial project developed by enthusiasts, Magic Lantern is not endorsed by Canon in any way.
Apart from giving an introduction of the project and it’s collaborative structure, the talk will present a live demonstration of Magic Lantern, focusing mainly on DSLR video work, it’s challenges, and practical day-to-day use of the unique functionality offered by Magic Lantern, like RAW 2.5k 14 bit video recording and workflow, live audio monitoring, as well as display enhancements like focus peaking, zebras, histogram and waveform assist tools.
Although the talk will focus on compatible Canon cameras, it will present a solid, practical overview for any user interested in both the positive and negative aspects of using modern DSLR cameras for professional video and cinematography work.
WORKSHOP: There will be a hands-on workshop on Dec. 29 at 15:00. We will meet at "Speaker’s Corner" and find our way from there. See you there!
Day: 2013-12-28 Start time: 14:00 Duration: 01:00 Room: Saal 6 Track: Hardware & Making Language: en
Few hackers will disagree that users are not given enough consideration when building Internet Freedom Tools designed to circumvent censorship and surveillance. But how do we do it? This talk will outline a framework for a user-focused approach to the Development and Impact of Internet Freedom Tools through using ethnography, human-centered design, and the practice of research-based product definition. This talk is intended for developers, researchers, and journalists who seek to understand how better tools can be developed to protect anonymity and provide unfettered access to the Internet.
Internet Freedom Tools (IFTs) are developed to solve the technical challenges of anonymity, privacy, security and information access. Focus on these technical challenges rather than the user of an IFT can lead to overlooking the motivations, needs and usability issues faced by user communities. Further, IFTs may solve a technical challenge for users, and yet fall short when it comes to user experience. There is a disconnect that must be remedied for IFTs and the people who use them to realize their full potential. This talk seeks to provide new insights to developers and users in need of knowledge on how they can better address relevant problems, create appropriate solutions and help users with IFTs.
This talk will explain to the audience what tools are available for user-focused design. It will also walk through a framework to guide the development of IFTs that is grounded in ethnographic methods and human-centered design, and how this framework is being used to conduct an IFT user community.
This work is currently being conducted by SecondMuse and Radio Free Asia through the Open Technology Fund (www.opentechfund.org).
ADDENDUM: But, what is "Ethnography"? What are "User Communities"?
Ethnography is defined as the study of culture and human motivation through qualitative research. Ethnographic practices complement usability studies by tapping into needs and motivations of people and users to give the "why" behind certain actions observed solely through conducting usability research. This method includes interviews, observing specific behaviors and understanding the material culture and surrounds of a target group.
A community is defined as a group of users that can be defined by geography, culture, shared experiences, or shared challenges. User is defined as someone who is currently utilizing a particular IFTs such as Tor, RedPhone, CryptoCat, and/or other privacy, security, anonymity and access enhancing technologies and methodologies created by developers or users themselves. A user may also be defined as a potential user of such technologies and tools.
Day: 2013-12-30 Start time: 11:30 Duration: 01:00 Room: Saal G Track: Science & Engineering Language: en
TREZOR is a hardware wallet for Bitcoin. We identified security of the end users’ computer as one of the main problems that block Bitcoin mass adoption.
In order to fix this issue we designed a small easy-to-use device, which isolates the whole process from the computer which is prone to viruses and malware. In this talk we describe the main ideas and concepts we implemented and various challenges we had to cope with in the process.
Day: 2013-12-29 Start time: 22:00 Duration: 00:30 Room: Saal 1 Track: Hardware & Making Language: en
The movement against SOPA in the US was the largest protest in online history, and as one of the core organizers, we learned a lot of lessons on how to build a grassroots movement for internet freedom.
How can these lessons learned be applied to the anti-surveillance movement both in the US and globally? Can millions of internet users really counter millions of dollars and entrenched interests on the other side? And how can we continue to have our voices heard on these issues?
Day: 2013-12-29 Start time: 16:00 Duration: 00:30 Room: Saal G Track: Ethics, Society & Politics Language: en
Roger Dingledine and Jacob Appelbaum will discuss contemporary Tor Network issues related to censorship, security, privacy and anonymity online.
The last several years have included major cryptographic upgrades in the Tor network, interesting academic papers in attacking the Tor network, major high profile users breaking news about the network itself, discussions about funding, FBI/NSA exploitation of Tor Browser users, botnet related load on the Tor network and other important topics.
This talk will clarify many important topics for the Tor community and for the world at large.
Day: 2013-12-27 Start time: 20:30 Duration: 01:00 Room: Saal 1 Track: Ethics, Society & Politics Language: en
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