self.brain->reset()

our brains need the time to reset just like the gadgets and computers we use and operate. by experimentation i’ve learned that a minimum of 2-3 weeks vacation twice a year pretty much does the trick. think about it, in today’s day and age we are always on, always connected, always tapping into sources of data to keep us engaged. from the moment we wake up and check our smart phone which aggregates data from multiple social and professional networks, to email, text and voice mail – we are constantly engaging with our peers, families and consume multiple sources of data, easily streamlined for our convenience, easily shared and re-propagated. and this is just the digital disturbance 🙂

the human story for today is our need to focus. the need to do just one thing at a given moment and stick with it for many hours. developers know how to do so (hey nir, can you turn off the music and ask andrew to put his headphones on please?). i know that for me playing music does the trick and specifically practicing yoga. calming the mind is an art that requires constant and un interrupted practice. i cannot imagine the brain enjoying 100% capacity at any given moment, just as much as it enjoys 0% capacity. the truth is pretty much always in the middle. face it, we have learned to respond to these interruptions better than focus, and it goes back to the days where the telephone was invented.

sleeping is the best time for the brain to not consume new streams of data and process all it has been bombarded with, make new connections and archive/store the data. from a quick survey with close friends and family, i learn that sleeping patterns are very much affected and do worsen with time. how many of you out there in the internets sleep with the TV on?

this is why i take two long breaks from my work and focus on relaxing my mind and body, explore new geographical areas of our planet, meet new people, study a new language, and more often then not play/write music and expand my photography skills. this works in phases though and i find that it takes some time to re-adjust the mind and relax – slow down. the longest break i have ever taken from life was a 3 months trip to brasil. no iphone, no laptop, no internet connection. would you be surprised if i told you that it did not take long to re-adjust to the new situation and that i loved it? i took my best photos and wrote my best music while taking these breaks from life.

much like a hard reset, browser cache cleaning and the application of a new style sheet – one may immerge back with fresh energy and a newly re-wired brain. so – for the sake of your career, mental health and own happiness – plan on taking a longer time off. you deserve it.

what i’d like to see in the iphone5 (and probably won’t)

Good chance of getting:

4G LTE: 100Mbit up, 50Mbit down (peak). this will be huge for everyone. streaming made easy, uploading live videos and pretty much change the rules of the game when it comes to utilizing the phone. the big question is – can the carrier(s) handle the demand?

HD front and 8MP rear camera with a dual flash system. HD facetime – thank you very much. better photos at low light condition? yes please. no doubt apple will introduce major improvements to the camera, both hardare and software. by now the iphone is the most popular camera on flickr and it’s growing fast. we want to be able to take better photos easily, at different conditions and share them quickly. as the pixel count rises so the demand for bandwidth (see 4G LTE) and a quick turn around for large file sharing. we can ex (cpect something unique with this feature’s new offering. the inherit problem is the small chip for the camera and it’s ability to shoot in lower light conditions.

wider screen: has been rumored for a while with some fake prototypes etc. can’t wrap my head around a wider screen unless it’s up to full HD, which will be, no doubt, incredible (i’ll rate this as 1% chance of happening). if i’ll have to guess it will be retina 2.0 with a slightly higher pixel density and a more crisp display than the current 960 x 640 at 326 ppi.

better battery life: with iCloud and push across the board, there is no doubt apple is pouring tremendous effort behind making their devices stay up and running longer. expect something unexpected.

built in noise cancelation mic: a la jawbone, it’s time for the iphone to become a better phone. and please let’s take care of the proximity sensor issue. please.

NFC with eWallet OR BLE (4.0) + APIs: this will be very exciting to have. finally. eWallet patents are around for a while and android is a head of the curb. if we look east to japan we see clearly how mobile is used and credit cards are gone. yes – gone. the phone will be THE payment system in the very near future. it’s the credit companies that should be on their toes with this one. it is really all a matter of timing no? can’t enter too soon and definitely not too late.

there has been much discussion over Bluetooth Low Energy, otherwise known as BLE, which is the 4th version of bluetooth, now available in the just released macbook airs. what the new standard means is low energy consumption and wider range (50m) which means awesome apps and peripheral devices are heading our way. this is an interesting strategic call by apple, do they go with NFC and RFID or do they bet on BLE? based on the this recent move of incorporating BLE chips within the new line of macbook air… well… let’s see what happens 🙂

Little chance of getting:
solar charging: apple has been working on this for a while now. heck, there is a prototype out in the wild that is solar enabled (link). this is a game changer and the reason why there’s little chance of getting this one is because it’s probably required to perform much more tests and phase out gradually. maybe a device which combines both battery and solar charging a la hybrid first.

haptic display + APIs: probably the advancement i would like to experience the most. haptic displays will revolutionize the way we interact with smart devices and their touch screen as they provide feedback to our touch sensory system. imagine that each button you click on a touch screen feels real. this is huge for UX across the board and opens the doors for some unique applications. android has immersion – a great company to follow with a great mix of products, worth mentioning are their medical related haptic devices. check it out here.

new map application: apple has made significant moves to become a player and tighten their vertical integration. this app should be nothing but fantastic and introduce features never seen before on smart devices. one option could be an augmented reality turn by turn navigation, integrated with location meta data and the users social graph.

top picks for 2010 from the appStore

2010 has been an incredible year for the mobile space, and as crazy as things may appear, this is only the beginning. with the advent move of the smart TVs and slated devices, we are bound to see more innovation for both corporates and consumers alike.


here is my short list of top apps for the iphone first, at random order:

VOIP:
skype: veteran at it’s field. skype is affecting the bottom line by saving money. $3/month for unlimited calls in the US, the ability to work over 3g and soon facetime is where the industry will be, no matter how much carriers want to extort the end users. bar none, skype is keeping us all connected. with PBX integration and a future IPO this company will continue to dominate and lead the way in it’s field.

SOCIAL:
facebook: this facebook app is a fantastic example of how apps can pack zest with style. this is the top used app because it’s well done. nothing much to say, we are all on it and loving it.

foursquare: i am a big fan of the NY based company. real time, location based (and soon NFC), 4squre has started something great that is echoing throughout. mayorships, badges and a solid business plan. i hope for more goodness from these guys.

PHOTOGRAPHY:
fotomecha: probably my favorite camera app (for still photos) in the appStore, because it allows me to be creative and capture moments i.e. more than one moment, and create a flow in time.

itimelapse: for video capable iphones, this app allows timelaps video creation with some nifty features for creative control. you need to be patient and stable, or maybe you need the glif.

MUSIC:
FiRe: top recorder which integrates well with soundcloud. i use it often to record music,conversations etc. these guys are fantastic with performance and know the audio frameworks well. money well spent.

SPL meter: i use this app to know when the sound around me is affecting my hearing. hearing gone bad cannot be regained. those tiny hairs in the hearing tube will not grow back. sounds particular and you may call me old fashioned, but no concert/club in the world is worth loosing our hearing for.

READING:
goodreads: bar none, the top app to sync your pdf files for offline reading. i also sync movies to it and this is the reason i get more done. 30m on the subway is a great time to launch this app (both iphone and ipad). with the ability to sync documents from dropbox, google docs and others, this app packs a punch of useful features.

HOME:
airphones: great little app that turns the iphone into a wireless headset over wifi. you will need to install a server on your mac or windows machine.

mobile mouse: while you have airphones streaming audio from your mac mini, which is hooked up to a 50″ plasma, you will need to launch a browser and go on veetle.com. this app is the best i’ve seen and worth every penny. again, you will need a server running on your machine.

Pure West for iPhone and iPod touch on the iTunes App Store

My first iOS app is live on the app store. It is an iPhone compatible schedule for Pure Yoga West, one of the top yoga centers in NYC in the upper west side. The app is free for download from the AppStore.

This project started off when I joined Pure West as a member. Yoga became a big part of my life as I practice on daily basis. Since Pure West offers around 27 different kinds of yoga between 5 studios, starting as early as 6am – you can imagine the teachers they have as staff and the frequency they update the schedule.

Something was broken. The paper schedule provided at the front desk was out of date as soon as it was printed. Could be a minor change to a single class, to time of full moon where ashtanga is not practices (which can not be reflected in a single week sheet), to the twice a month led practice of mysore.

Pure uses spa-booker as their service provider, doing all the heavy lifting with proprietary database system and interfaces to both manage the content and display it to the public. it gets more complicated than that as some classes are special and specific where members (or non members) need to pay and more.

Since spa-booker is working on their own version for the mobile devices, and I knew I am in need of a solution for myself that can probably serve others – I jumped on the challenge to create something.

Working closely with two friends, Tomer and Claudio, together we build this app that does the following well:

– single click to get class schedule and class info
– fast loading of the data
– layout that matches the small iphone screen

Essentially we build a system that scrapes the HTML of the entire week. Then we parse the content diligently and store it in our XML proprietary format. The interface picks up the XML whenever someone launches the application and displays it on screen accordingly.

For performance reasons we are re-visiting Pure’s website every two hours to see what had changed, parse the content and re-write the XML. On the client side only one day is loaded from the server. When a user changes a day, we go back to the XML and look for the content of that day exclusively.

The app is a UIWebView essentially, as the app is developed as a web application. The release to the AppStore will help the discovery, but also for us to learn the process and time line for doing so, as we plan to move forward with other developments of our ideas and our client’s.

The beauty of iOS apps is that they strive to keep things simple. When you launch the application, it is really hard to judge how much work was put into it, and how much lifting is done in the background. Things just work as they should, both in layout, style and user experience, including performance specifically.

One of the advantages of designing this app abstractly, is that now we can custom create it for any spa-booker customer within the day.

We are in touch with Spa Booker who are supporting our efforts. Future plans may include using their API’s to book classes directly from the phone, add more specific information to classes, like which element of zenyasa is being practices today, and provide a delta of changes since a user last visited the schedule.

The Pure East application (the 2nd location for Pure on the upper east side) is pending approval by Apple. Based on the approval of Pure West, it is a matter of days before that one will be approved as well.