Archive for December 2011
I've been doing some reflecting about the year 2011.
The biggest story is work has taken me to many different places and away from home. I've flown 103,108 miles, spent 123 days on the road, 239 hours on the plane, and 90 nights at various hotels. I drank 61 cups of coffee from Starbucks according to my Starbucks rewards card, which I only started halfway into the year. I stayed in 11 different hotels. Consequently, that means I spent 34% of the year away from home, away from sunny southern california, and away from my wife.
The best book I read this year is "Let The Great World Spin" by Colum McCann. It was a swirl of emotions ranging from the hilarious to the tragic, all in the backdrop of the 1974 event of Philippe Petit's daring act of walking across the World Trade Center on a tight rope. The best long form reading I did on the web is the New Yorker's article on SEAL Team Six's mission to get Osama Bin Laden. The best new music I discovered is BOBBY. I also sank into the addictive new service called turntable.fm. The best $5 I spent is on Louis CK's performance at the Beacon Theater. Check out his update from the "experiment." It's so refreshing.
I finally acted out my fanboy impulse and joined Dave Eggers' army of volunteers through 826LA. I heard many heartbreaking stories of students while helping them craft their college essays. But like most good deeds, I felt like I didn't do enough.
But along with the good, there's also some bad. I didn't volunteer on MLK Day, which I promised to do after listening to the president declare it a national day of service. I had more instances of being inebriated beyond control than the previous year. I became more selfish with my time and money. I'm obsessed with mileage rewards and Starbucks points. I haven't spent much time in the church. I traded my loose fitting GAP jeans for trendy form fitting jeans. Ryan Gosling's words from Crazy Stupid Love, "be better than the GAP" haunt me. And most of all, I realized that all the decomposable waste I throw away won't really return to the earth because it's sealed tight in a non-compostable plastic trash bag.
I'm not much for new year's resolutions, but clearly there's room for improvement next year.
A little side hobby of mine is keeping track of the state of mobile payments technology. The future is going mobile, and soon the mobile device will be the primary device in which we interact with our data, and manage our financial transactions. it's already fast becoming our primary device for our online activity, so it is only a matter of time. Which brings me to the Starbucks App. The user experience of the app is as satisfying as drinking a hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning. It's simple, straight to the point, and works all the time. Let me say that again. It works all the time. I don't know how important this last piece of fact is. If an app works almost all the time, it's still not a great app. I hear so many people complain about the new Facebook app and for the most part, they're right. It works almost all the time, and for the few times when it doesn't can really be frustrating to the user and tarnish the pleasures of Facebook. Square is a great piece of technology, opening up a new channel for small and medium businesses to interact with their customers. Yet, the swipe of the credit card on the small little plastic card reader requires a very delicate balance of speed and force in order for the card to be read properly. I was sitting in a cab an extra five minutes because the card wouldn't be read properly through the dongle. The American Airlines app has a mobile boarding pass feature that allows you to get through the TSA checkpoint and boarding gate with your device. I've used it numerous times and the success rate is 50% at best. I know it's not a mobile payment technology, but worth mentioning because the concept is similar. Now, I've switched back to paper boarding passes. A staggering 73% of retail companies are planning an investment in mobile channels this year, with half moving into mobile commerce. Apple is getting a head start with its new Apple Store app that allows a customer to scan the product and pay for it with their own device and without ever having to interact with a retail employee. I haven't used it yet but I'll be sure to the next time I'm there. In these early stages of a growing technology, all of these companies are truly taking advantage of mobile to propel their business. But a crucial factor is in making it work, not most of the time, but all the time.