Through the Google Glass: Part 3

Part 3: Through a Google Glass, Snarky

This week, we've taken a journey through a world of pure imagination. Well, almost. We didn't tour a chocolate factory, but in the end, they flew away in a glass elevator, so I think the reference works.
Today, I'm going to take the opportunity to answer your questions about the Google Glass. These have been gathered through every means a question can be posed, from social media to delightful jabs to sour grapes.
Let's get to it!

What was your #ifihadglass application?
#ifihadglass, I would:

1.       Chronicle 50 random acts of kindness.
2.       Document my cross-country roadtrip in May. (Author's note: unfortunately since I got my Glass in July I could not do this, but I'm planning on a presentation of a scrapbooking project I've been doing from my trip to fulfill this desire)
3.       Create a music video of life in Pittsburgh for my family living in Virginia.
4.       Encounter a beluga whale.
5.       I’m a writer: “Make good art” (Neil Gaiman said to do this).

Can you read on it?
Right now, you can read on websites. When you do a Google search, it will bring up websites you can visit. Once there, you can "look around" the site and click hyperlinks using a button along the side of the strip. There is not currently a way to view, say, ebooks or documents, but I'm excited to see what sorts of links will be made between Glass and Google Drive.

Is it water-proof?
No! Don't go swimming with Glass! This was relevant to my interests, given the beluga item on my Glass application. Since then, I've found there's no danger in going out and getting caught in a few sprinkles, but it's very sensitive technology.

How well does the voice recognition work?
Short answer: generally well. Google can recognize many familiar words and will adjust spelling as you speak. An interesting story, though...I was initially concerned because I really hate how voice programs won't take into account natural punctuation. This often results in an email going, "Hi Josh we should hang out at the movies I can't wait to see you have you had lunch yet talk more soon." With Glass, I found that when dictating emails, I could actually say, "Hi comma Josh exclamation point" and have it come out appropriately! Neat, huh?

What social media functions with Glass?
So many! Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Evernote, Pinterest and Tumblr are all accessible through MyGlass. Decide you don't want all that on there? You can toggle it off from the MyGlass page.
There are also new apps that are being developed outside of Google. For example, I am currently playing with Throughlass, a Facebook enhancement app. I also have a Glass To Do app, which allows me to make task lists on Glass.

Are you some kind of Glasshole?
Ah, Glasshole. A word I've unfortunately gotten used to over the last several months. The fact of the matter is this: there will always be people who have a negative outlook when it comes to new technology. And with good reason, I suppose: just as you will always have your friend who can't put their phone down, there will probably be those out there who will only have Glass off their face if it's charging.
Here's the thing: I enjoy playing with Glass and trying new things, but I am very conscientious about when and how I am using it. It isn't fair to generalize people who want to try something new and fun, especially during a time when the development of this device hinges on people experimenting with it and sharing their findings. Creating a negative atmosphere stunts growth by trying to make it seem like all Explorers are weird or annoying.

Is it worth it?  (Another variation to this question is: what's the point?)
Another short answer: yes.
A longer answer that also address the variation: Google Glass is what you make of it. When I was deciding whether or not I wanted to buy one, I was pretty open-minded. I tried not to have any concrete expectations, and I allowed myself to be pleased with the opportunity to uncover its many mysterious qualities and abilities.

That said, if you are expecting an amazing cell phone, super capacity portable hard drive, and a digital camera that can photograph the eyelashes on a butterfly...all bundled into one Star-Trek-esque facial computer...sorry, pal. Consider this my invitation to join the club. I'd love that too, because Glass is not that.
If, instead, you are looking for something to enhance your perception of the world and put interaction with it in a more immediate reach, Glass is absolutely worth it. If you are looking for a tool to take your business to the next level or create a more personal interaction with customers, fans and loved ones, that is absolutely the point of Glass. 


Through the Google Glass: Part 2


Part 2: Keeping It Glassy

Using the Google Glass is surprisingly streamlined. It takes a little bit of fidgeting to get used to which swipes of your finger do what, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. So instead of this article reading like an owner’s manual, I’m going to take you through common day-to-day use of Google Glass with some tidbits of info along the way.

First things first: if you are thinking that Glass is a laptop for your face, allow me to gently advise you that such is not the case. Google Glass is a companion piece of technology, meaning it relies on your phone or Wifi to live (more about this later). Getting started, you need an active Internet connection and an interface through which you can access the Internet, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. Everyone who has Glass will have a MyGlass account page on Google. It looks like this:

From here, you can log into Wifi or hotspots by scanning a QR code. This is also important: you cannot access Wifi using the Glass on its own. You must be able to scan the code. The best way to access the many different aspects of the Glass’ capabilities is with the MyGlass app, available through Google. It should be noted, however, that the app requires Ice Cream Sandwich on Droid phones. But rest assured that, if you’re like me and have failed at maintaining the most up-to-date phone models, you can still use all the features except text messaging and GPS directions. Here is a very basic video of Glass’ features to segue
into the next section of information:

Now, we get into the magic words: when you’re on the main screen, you can say, “OK, Glass” and then one of several commands (take a picture, record a video, Google, etc.). The commands come up in a list or as
individual cards, which you can also select without voice command. This is where I’d like to get into a little bit of myth-busting. After I purchased Glass, it was no time at all before I started getting images like this from my ever-hilarious friends:

Think again.
The video I referenced above was very generous about how long your main screen will stay up with the clock. If you tap your Glass to life (or nod, which is what I prefer, being all hands-free and whatnot), you
probably have roughly five seconds to start talking. If Glass can’t understand what you are saying, it won’t do anything. If you don’t enunciate, it won’t do anything. If it’s not on that first screen, it won’t do anything.
The voice activation is not something someone can hijack easily. It’s just not feasible.
Which brings me to my next point: Glass is not made to be in active use at all times. This is a very common misconception. Many believe that it’s exactly like on the promo video, with the box right there in your face, 24/7. Nope. Most of the time you have it on, it will be in standby mode. The more you use it, the faster the battery dies. And guys? The battery dies a lot. This is my biggest beef with the Glass in its current incarnation. With intermittent use, the Google Glass lasts about 8 hours. This greatly diminishes as you use it for video, phone calls, Google searches, and so on. And if you think your phone gets hot, this little strip of magical technology becomes a strip-shaped burning coal when you have it on for longer than about two minutes. 
Speaking of phone calls…this is probably one of the most interesting albeit bizarre aspects of Glass. As you can see in photos, there is no earpiece or speaker. This is because the Glass uses a bone conduction
transducer, meaning that it transmits sound to the ear through the bones in your skull. It is insane and amazing. I have never experienced anything like it.

In conclusion, the biggest thing I try to remind people is this: what I and the other Google Explorers wear right now is a prototype. It is constantly being worked on, upgraded, tinkered and tested. It is – in every
sense except physically – changing each day. Every update brings something new, something more polished and something safer. I am very excited to be a part of Glass’ evolution. Have any questions I didn't answer? Go ahead and post them in the comments. Tomorrow, I will be doing an FAQ for Glass based on the
questions I've received most since I bought this little toy.

If you’re interested in seeing Glass in action, check out my channel “Through the Google Glass” on Youtube.


New Tech Tools to Leverage Your Paper Obsession

Even if you strive for a paperless office and purchase every new organizational iPhone app that hits the market, it is hard to resist the draw of a fresh and empty paper notebook. Like the Trapper Keeper we all needed for the first day of middle school or the first notebook bought embossed with our Alma Mater’s seal, technology might be wonderful but it may never 100% replace the physical page. Luckily, new products are hitting the market allowing us to combine our love of all things digital with the unique joy of starting the first page of a brand new journal.

Evernote is one of those dream applications with all of the qualities I love; a great web app, great desktop app, and great phone app all combined into organized. When you take a product that I already love and combine it with a beloved icon like Moleskine notebooks, you have magic and a product that the obsessed with order will love.
Complete with tags that can be recognized by your camera and the app, the notebook is designed with the purpose of having your pages scanned into the Evernote app for easy reference. While you don’t need one of these notebooks to copy your handwritten pages into Evernote, the added functionality, ease of use, and guaranteed readable quality definitely makes it worth it.

Designed exclusively to work with their proprietary app (for iOS and Android), Whitelines would’ve been perfect during my brief College stint as a paid notetaker. Similarly to the Evernote book, the Whiteline series of notebooks are designed for easy scanning for future reference. They combine this with a great feature allowing a simple check mark on the bottom of your page when scan to automatically email your notes directly to an address specified by you. When choosing between Whitelines and the Moleskine option, it might boil down to which color to you like more: White or Black.

While writing this post, my husband commented that he wished there was a pen that would just copy everything he wrote digitally. When I told him that existed, he was so excited I felt the need to include it (and note it down for a future holiday).
The Echo SmartPen series is designed to allow you to directly upload your writing to a variety of programs (including Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Docs) for future use. It also allows for recording, making this another tool I wish I had in college.
Any other suggestions of great products marrying our love of the hard copy with the digital age?


Gadchick reviews: Gumdrop case and giveaway!

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Gumdrop Drop Tech Series for Kindle Fire case.

I am a heavy user of the Kindle Fire and I do not plan on replacing this case anytime in the near future! It is made of a durable rubber and provides excellent gripping for my heavy reading and my intense tower defense games. Thanks to this case, my Kindle has survived 2 falls without a scratch. In fact, I've "tested" it by having it tumble down a flight of stairs, hitting pretty hard, and it was still in tact. I think it could survive being tossed out of a second story window! It does however add a little weight or girth to the device. While it isn't "cute" like most of the cases that I gravitate towards, it provides the actual protection that my butterfingers need. The case pretty much envelops the whole Kindle, even covering the power button (but still keeping it functional, as it replaces it with a rubber power button.)

My only complaint is that if you already have a screen protector film like I do, the Gumdrop case screen protector plastic does not make a perfect seal. I get air in between film and plastic which can distort the surface, but even that's only noticeable when the LCD displays black. Another thing worth mentioning is that the rubber parts have to snap into a frame that holds the screen protector, and it is at these snap points that the rubber case comes out (only during really heavy use).

Gumdrop is offering a Drop Tech Series Sleeve to one of our lucky readers! To enter, comment below with the Kindle Fire app that you are currently loving now.  

Giveaway closes at 10 PM PST 9/23
A case was gifted to this editor, all opinions are her own.


September Wish List

Every month, we update our wish list. It's a great resource for gifts, or geek inspired ideas from our very own Gadchick writers and editors. Check out the rest here. 

I've recently been having some difficulties with my local photo lab due to a change of staff and the lack of control that I have with the quality of my photos is starting to really frustrate me - after asking my trustworthy film fanatic friends on Twitter - the favourite scanner seemed to be Epson Perfection V700 film scanner - unfortunately that scanner is double my budget, but in doing some research the V600 and the even cheaper, older V500 are both excellent choices if you budget isn't as generous.
As we are enjoying the last days of summer, I am filled with the desire for alfresco eating and watching my favorite films projected against the house. This digital projector would also be awesome for Friday the 13th movies on my bedroom wall!
What can I say? I feel like it's a birthday-Christmas-give-me-great-things kind of year, what with how many books are being put out by my favorite authors. Fortunately, The Milk one is a kid's book about a family's search for the eponymous milk. Adventures and oddness ensue.
I'm looking into buying an iPad mini because I'm in need of an e-reader (and am a bit of an Apple snob). When I do get the device, I'm certainly going to need this cover to keep it safe—and being able to show off my nerdy side while keeping it protected is a total bonus.
After installing hardwood floors throughout our house, I wanted to find a quick and easy way to clean them. I also didn't want to rely on any harsh chemicals since our floors will soon be home to a crawling ittle one. I picked up this Eureka Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer and have put it to the test. It cleans really well and even works on super sticky hard to clean messes. (Which I'm sure there will be no shortage of when baby arrives!)
When I first heard that there was going to be a six-part audio adaptation of Neil Gaiman's NeverwhereI flipped out... well, mostly it's one of my favorite Gaiman novels and Benedict Cumberbatch's name was attached to the project. I mean, that man's voice... *fans self* On September 5 an audiobook of the entire production will be released including unaired material (extended scenes, bloopers) from the original BBC radio broadcast! This'll be perfect to listen to on a dreary fall day with a cup of chamomile tea.
Diablo III for PS3 is on my wishlist this month! This iconic role-playing game continues the battle against evil. Create the ultimate hero as you work through the interactive game environment while you explore the new take on character skill assignment and new batch of character classes. Defend the mortal world with the multiplayer functionality or go it alone (with up to three companions), it's your choice. While the changes to the gameplay may upset the fanboys, this Gadchick is looking forward to defending the land of Sanctuary.

FTC Blogger Disclosure- For our wish lists, we use affiliates. It's a small percentage paying our writers and editors for our 3rd issue, giveaways and brining you awesome content on the blog. Thanks for the support! 


Gadchick Reviews: Ouya

The idea for the Ouya was launched on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter a little over a year ago on July 10, 2012. The tagline for the proposed gadget was “A new kind of video game console.” The more you read about it, the believable it becomes that the Ouya was completely funded in the first 8 hours of its month-long Kickstarter campaign.

The Ouya is a micro console that runs on a modified version of the Android operating system. This means that the games in the Ouya library are downloadable, much like mobile games in a smartphone application store. It means that both the software and hardware of the Ouya are completely open to modification; in fact, the manufacturer encourages tinkering with the console. Even means that you can run a number of emulators on the device, which allows you to play games from vintage and handheld consoles like the Nintendo 64 or the Gameboy.

Operating system: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
System-on-chip: Nvidia Tegra 3
CPU: 1.7 GHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A9
Storage capacity: 8 GB internal flash memory
Display: HDMI (1080p, 720p)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce ULP GPU
Input: USB 2.0 (one), Micro USB
Controller input: wireless
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth LE 4.0; Ethernet port

Let's look at the pro's and con's on this new console. 

-It's cheap. At only $99 for the console with one controller, the Ouya is at a pretty sweet price point, plus with a library of free games and demos isn't something many will regret.
-Every game is downloadable. No more gas or time wasted browsing at GameStop or Best Buy. Whenever you’re in front of the television, you can be surfing through the Ouya’s library of games (360 and growing) and picking out new ones to try.
-Every game is free to try. Every game for the Ouya is free to download and play. Have a credit card ready on file to start downloading, but won’t be charged until a game is purchased. There’s no rule to how the purchasing itself works—some games are demos with a set amount to play before paying for more; some offer extras on a pay-as-you-go basis, like mobile games’ “in-app purchases”; others have flexible pay-to-play price point, more like a “pay-what-you-can-to-play”. If you don’t want to pay at all, it’s completely possible to get hours of gameplay without spending a penny.

-It feels cheap. Or at least, the controller does. The controller is made of light plastic and lacks the weight of popular controllers. It made annoying squeaking sounds when you pressed certain buttons, and the design of the controller, while innovative, could use improvements: the touchpad in the center is a cool feature, but it can get in the way of play, and just getting the batteries in was confusing because you have to pull the arms of the controller apart (they're held together by strong magnets).
-Downloading takes time. Waiting for downloads is unavoidable no matter what the context, but it’s still frustrating. I would start a download and have to stay on that screen until the game was done because any attempt to go back to browsing during that time would freeze the system and require a re-start, often at the loss of downloading progress. A recent update has enabled me to browse while downloading, but the Ouya will still freeze if I try to download several games and continue browsing all at once.
-The price points of games are unclear. There is a comprehensive range of options for paying to play, depending on the game, but no price points—in fact, no real information—is given to the user on any given game’s description page. A short description and perhaps a screenshot or two is all you get. This can make for a fun surprise sometimes, but it’s also frustrating if you’re looking for something particular or want to know what you’re getting into.

So who should try the Ouya? 

-New gamers or gamers with kids. Ouya would be a great starter system for someone who isn’t really a “gamer” but is curious.. It’s inexpensive and offers free games in a wide range of genres. It’s not a huge investment, and it could be a reasonable gift for a kid you want to keep off your more expensive consoles.
-Handheld or mobile devotees who want to try console gaming. Its form and function make it one step up from handheld systems like the Nintendo DS and the PSP, or smart phones with mobile games. Mobile gamers in particular will find the Ouya’s download-only system of purchasing games comforting and familiar.
-Gamers on a budget. As a college student,  myself, I can think of several ways in which the Ouya is perfect for gamers who are currently on a strict budget. Saving $100 for the Ouya is a lot easier than saving several times that for one of the “big” consoles. The Ouya can’t replace, or compete with, the PlayStation or the Xbox, but it could be plenty satisfactory for the poor college student needing a quick video game fix. The lower price also means you won’t be out as many if the console is stolen or broken.
-Gamers who love to travel.. The portability of the Ouya really comes into play here. Traveling and console gaming aren’t two things that can readily mix; you can’t really just throw your Xbox and a controller in your carry-on bag and be on your way. But the Ouya could fit in something as small as a medium-size purse, and since all you need to use it is a TV with an HDMI port, a power outlet and a WiFi network, it’ll be easy to set up in any hotel room.
From my experience with the Ouya, I’ve come to the conclusion that this game system is for a certain type of person—or several certain types of people, really. Which one are you? You can buy the Ouya here for $99.

OUYA Console



Gadchick Reviews: AngelSounds Fetal Doppler

One of the best things you can do for your baby when you find out you're pregnant is relax, though that is much easier said than done. With my hormones out of whack, worrying about what I can and can't eat, scheduling appointments, trying to keep my morning sickness in control at work, and worrying that baby is doing okay; all the stress and anxiety just adds up. One thing that did help relieve some worry was the AngelSounds Fetal Doppler. Starting around week 12, you can listen to your babies heartbeat and rest assured baby is doing okay even before you feel any movements.

I didn't start feeling my baby move until half way through my pregnancy, around week 20, and even then it was very sporadic. I used the AngelSounds Fetal Doppler throughout my entire pregnancy. It's such a treat to be able to listen to babies heartbeat when you aren't at your healthcare providers appointments and in the comfort of your own home. A special feature on this Doppler is that is has two headphone jacks so both your and your significant other can listen at the same time.

To use the Doppler, you're going to need ultrasound gel though I used baby oil when I ran out and it worked just as well. It may take a while to find the babies heartbeat at first, especially when you are still early on in your pregnancy. The only thing that isn't so great about the Doppler is that when you move it to another location on your belly, the friction rub is super loud. I highly recommend turning down the volume whenever you move it to another location on your belly and then turning it back up to look for a heartbeat. This isn't as advanced as the Doppler your doctor uses but after some practice, it gets to be extremely easy to use and well worth the price for the reassurance that your baby is doing alright.

You can purchase the AngelSounds Doppler here for $33.


Video Game Releases for Fall 2013

New York Fashion Week is in full swing and while I can't wait to see the upcoming styles, a different season has me even more excited. This year's fall video game line-up is no exception, featuring high profile sequels and unique new ideas promising brand new experiences for gamers. While this fall will be unique for the industry with two new systems arriving, the current line-up of titles guarantees something that will interest all types of gamers. Here are a few that you should keep an eye out for this fall:

BEYOND: Two Souls
A cinematic and philosophical look at the growth of a young woman from teen to adult trying to understand a supernatural force in her life, Beyond: Two Souls is the game I'm most excited for this fall. Starring
Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe from Quantic Dream, maker of Heavy Rain, the game uses motion capture technology for a realistic and immersive experience.

The first Warner Brothers-led Batman game in the series, Arkham Origins takes place five years prior to the events of Arkham Asylum during Christmas time. The big addition for this game is a new multiplayer mode expanding on the investigative gameplay and combat of the previous editions.
An XBOX One exclusive, Ryse made a huge appearance at San Diego Comic Con and began building momentum based on its next-gen graphics and ancient Rome as its unique setting. As Roman General Marius Titus, players will command legions via voice commands and Marius via their controller.

Confession time: I've never played a Pokemon game. Maybe I was too old when they became popular or maybe I was too busy thinking that I was too old for it, but either way, Pokemon remains a largely unknown in my trivia vaults. However, similarly to how Animal Crossing: New Leaf  suddenly took over our Twitter and Tumblr feeds, Pokemon X and Y will soon be taking over the internet as everyone relives nostalgia. This
might even be the best time for me to learn what the big deal is, especially when I finally take a break from Animal Crossing.