Utopia Sounds Great…

I came across this short film while looking at #vanlife tweets and following some links. I also found Cobra Rock Boot Company, which I plan to visit on a road trip next June.

“Tokyo Texas” Levis Concept Design Film. from Dana Shaw on Vimeo.

My favorite quotes from this short film:

Utopia sounds great, but I would fucking hate it.

I do not tether my boat.

Things that don’t change, die. That’s just a part of life.

while I tend to agree with the cowboy in this film, about utopia, I do think the intersection of technology and freedom is amazing. But I don’t seek utopia. I seek freedom, and all that comes with it.

I hope to be taking part in the van life very soon. Stay tuned!


On the flight from Houston to San Jose for ASTD Tech Knowledge, I once again marveled at how much open space there still is left in this country.

Somewhere Over New Mexico
Somewhere Over New Mexico

A few years ago I went to New Hampshire to do some user testing for SkillSoft. I remember mentioning to a colleague during the flight that I was surprised how much undeveloped land there was. It had an impact on me, as I wondered, and still wonder [1], what percentage of available land in the U.S. has actually been developed. I also noted how little of this country, let alone this planet, I’ve actually experienced in person.

I’ve mostly lived in big cities, but exploration has always been important to me. When I lived in Arizona we used to go camping every month; we could just drive up to the river and start exploring. I learned a lot during those experiences. It was unstructured, unsupervised exploration. I look at these amazing places I’ve flown over or ridden by, and I want to explore all of them. I know I cannot get to everything, but my goal is to explore more, both locally and when I travel (and, hopefully, on a motorcycle).

I hope to bring my kids along as much as possible. I’m reading Last Child in the Woods right now (thanks for the recommendation, Kris). It’s both enlightening and depressing. We all should explore more. Get out into the wild, or the closest thing you have to it, and look, smell, listen, learn. Bring your kids, so the only experiences they have with nature aren’t from The History Channel or Google Earth. Think about the spaces you’ve passed by but never explored. Go back with a new mission. Explore. Play. Learn.

Ask yourself, “what if this is the only time, or the last time, I’ll ever see this place?”.

[1] Apparently, it’s only around 6% (as of 2003).

Three Up, Three Down: The Kingston Wi-Drive

I’m kicking off a new series of reviews here: Three Up, Three Down.

First up is the Kingston Wi-Drive, a portable wireless hard drive for iOS devices.

Wi-Drive Box

Leading Off

I’ve been using Kingston’s Wi-Drive for the last month. It’s a small, lightweight wireless hard drive for use with iOS devices. The model I’ve been using is 16GB. To connect, you use the Wi-Drive app (free in the App Store). Estimated battery life is 4 hours, which I found to be accurate. It comes nicely packaged, with a nod to Cupertino.

Cupertino comparison

Three Up

  1. Everything about it is fast. Using the app, setting up the connection, and accessing content on the Wi-Drive is fast. After about five minutes to set up the app and connect to the drive, I was streaming Batman Begins. Once I selected the movie in the app, it was playing in less than three seconds. And scrubbing forward and back in the movie was instant. Zero delays. Very fast. It also remembered where I left off in the movie I was watching.
  2. It’s light and small. It’s slightly thinner than an iPhone 4s and can easily fit in any pocket, purse or backpack for easy portability (thought I don’t recommend it for reasons outlined below).
  3. You can share the connection. Up to three users can connect simultaneously, allowing up to three people to access the media on the drive wirelessly. I experienced no issues accessing the same content on multiple devices at the same time.

Wi App Interface

Three Down

  1. You can only connect via WiFi. This is limiting, because you have to disconnect from your regular WiFi network to use the device. You can use the app’s wireless network function to connect the Wi-Drive to a wireless network, but it’s not perfect. For instance, I couldn’t type in a network that wasn’t broadcasting its SSID. Also, if you leave the car or hotel room, your device may not reconnect to the Wi-Drive automatically. Having to connect to its WiFi network, then open the app, then find your media every time can become rather annoying. I’d rather just have the media on my device. Finally, you can’t use iPhone tethering while you’re using the Wi-Drive.
  2. It’s expensive. When I received the drive, it was priced at $129 and $179 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. Currently prices have dropped to $69 and $99 on Amazon, which is much better.
  3. It gets hot when it’s being used. Really hot. Scorching hot. Not good. While it’s built for portability, you can’t keep this in a pocket, a laptop bag or even resting near a piece of paper, for fear it might catch on fire or burn up the drive.

Wi-Drive Closeup

The Final Score

I can see this device being useful for someone with an 8GB iOS device, families on a road trip or a long plane ride, or possibly small teams during a business meeting. Outside of those scenarios, it’s doubtful that you’ll get much use out of a Wi-Drive, and the heat is a major concern. For the money, you’d be better off upgrading to a larger capacity device or upgrading your Dropbox account.

Two Tales of Customer Service

Jay Cross recently posted about his horrible experience with United Airlines:

Cull out your best customers, the repeaters who make the airline profitable. Then throw obstacles in their path, demonstrate your inefficiencies, put in surprise restrictions, and do your best to drive those good customers away.

Jay Cross – United Breaks Relationships

Contrast Jay’s story with that of Peter Shankman’s:

That meant that in just under three hours, someone at Morton\’s Corporate had to see my tweet, get authorization to do this stunt, get in touch with Morton\’s Hackensack, and place the order. Then Morton\’s Hackensack had to cook the order, get it boxed up, and get a server to get in his car, and drive to Newark Airport (never an easy task, no matter where you\’re coming from) then, (and this is the part the continues to blow me away,) while all this was happening, track down my flight, where I was landing, and be there when I walked out of security!

Peter Shankman – The Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told

These days, it seems we’re all numb to stories like Jay’s, because we experience them more and more frequently. Stories like Peter’s are more amazing because of how rare they have become. And, it’s not like we don’t hear about the good ones because they’re not shared. The days of people only sharing bad experiences are over — we’re now in the era of over-sharing. Now we hear about every experience, good or bad.

Peter goes on to say:

Customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It\’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you, but by the customer who you thrilled.

People are going to share their experiences. What kind of story do you want your customers to tell?