Kickstarter Syndrome

I will freely admit this will be a contrarian stance to how most backers on Kickstarter feel, regardless, here we go.

I used to back a fair number of Kickstarter projects and to me while it is disappointing to not get a reward delivered, it’s not the end of the world. I pledged to support an idea, a dream, with the hope of seeing it reach fruition. I’m more disappointed in seeing those dreams fail than I am in not getting a shiny trinket that will most likely end up on my shelf within a few months.

When a project misses their initial deadline, I don’t mind. They always do. Seriously. On average each project I backed that ended up delivering a reward was 8 months and 11 days behind schedule. Six projects have yet to deliver years later, including the first project I ever backed. Two of the projects have come forward and explained that they have failed and will not be delivering rewards. Two more have admitted to running out of money and claim to be pursuing additional sources of funding. When backers start flipping out a few weeks to a couple months after the estimated ship date comes and goes I can’t help but laugh. Lighten up. If you wanted something in time for Christmas, go to Amazon and order it, if you wanted ownership in a company, invest in the stock market. Calm down and take a deep breath, Internet, you’re embarrassing yourself.

If I had a nickel for every time I read a comment threatening a class action lawsuit in retaliation to a product being delayed I would have mountains of cash to invest in more Kickstarter projects. Kickstarter is no longer this obscure platform, it’s a household name, but there still seems to be a huge amount of misconception as to what exactly you’re doing when you pledge to support a project. You’re not pre-ordering a product (to be fair, some projects are to blame for this misconception since they do use wording like pre-order), you’re offering up funding to help someone hopefully reach their goal of producing a product and as a reward for believing in them you might get a t-shirt or a copy of the book they’re writing, etc. While I believe (and Kickstarter’s own guidelines support this) that the creators should make every possible effort to deliver those rewards I do not believe the angry mob of the internet is justified in trying to ruin those creators lives who bit off more than they could chew.

To me, Kickstarter is a platform to inspire creativity and offer a non-traditional solution to those dreamers out there who don’t fit the venture capital mold, or aren’t business loan material. They’re taking a risk putting themselves out there, we’re sharing in that risk believing in them. This piece is not intended to present a bulletproof argument against every situation, just convey one nerd’s opinion on the matter. You are entitled to disagree and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter either way.

WIMM One – Developer Preview

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a sucker for gadgets. Doesn’t matter if it’s an AR Drone, Android powered car stereo, or in this case a smart watch.

I first heard about the WIMM One last year, shortly after the announcement of the then vaporware “I’m Watch” (although, as of the time I’m writing this I don’t know a single person who has received their pre-order unit…), and I thought it looked like a great product, despite the fact that the fit and finish of the I’m Watch looked nicer. Plus, you could actually order one! And at $199 (available now through Amazon) how could you pass up living in the future?

Wimm one

I’d like to note that I haven’t worn a watch in at least three years, since I always have my cell phone on me. This little gadget changed that though, now I don’t leave home without it.

The Good

Apps. You can’t bill this as the WIMM’s most compelling feature, since their “Mirco App Store” how has about 30 apps in it. However, I’m still counting it as a plus, since this is after all a developer preview that’s designed to inspire people to build apps for it. And also, my old Casio watch didn’t have any “apps”.

Near silent OTA updates. I’d had my watch for about a week when I saw the folks at WIMM tweet about a new firmware, I went to check for the update on my watch and it had already downloaded and installed. Never skipped a beat.

LCD. The screen on this unit is surprisingly easy to read even with the backlight off (in most conditions), and in direct sunlight it (backlight on) it still worked well.

Call/text notifications. The best thing about this unit is the Bluetooth pairing to your smart phone. With an iPhone, currently you only get call notifications, but it displays the caller ID and optionally vibrates, beeps, or both to alert you of a call. With the companion app for Android, you can not only get call notifications, but read your text messages as well.

Calendar app. Using the developer website, you can add either an Exchange Calendar, or Google Calendar to your watch. Notifications of upcoming events will then popup on your watch, also depending on which watch face you use, you can preview upcoming events without having to load the calendar app.

Weather app. I know, I know, it’s just a weather app. But it actually displays the current temp on the app icon, something that Apple has yet to grace us iPhone users with.

Wimm one weather

The So-So

The touchscreen takes a bit of getting used to, mostly because of lag issues. Often the WIMM One doesn’t register my initial swipe, or it misinterprets a single tap for a double tap. This isn’t an iPhone quality touch experience by any means, but the performance has been optimized slightly through software updates, so I’m holding out hope that the final release will work better.

Battery life. There are days where I get a solid twenty hours of battery life, but the more regular occurrence is I get closer to eight hours. WIMM does say that if you experience poor battery life, you should disable third party apps and then reenable them one by one until you pinpoint which app is killing your battery. Honestly though, 8hrs gets me through the work day at least.

Wimm one watchfaces

The Bad

Size. It’s a bit chunky, and took some getting used to for my tiny nerd wrists.

Disabled GPS chip. Apparently the unit ships with a GPS chip, but it’s currently disabled due to “performance issues”.

Device management. This isn’t that big of an issue, especially once you get the device setup to your liking. Currently there are certain settings that can only be configured through their website and then have to be synced back down to the watch.

The Bottomline

It’s a sweet, albeit nerdy accessory. Sure both you and I could live without this device, but if you’re half as gadget obsessed as I am you’ll pick one of these up.

Wimm one watchface

Using a Square Reader with an extension cable

I’ve been using Square with my business for a few months now and recently decided to put together a point-of-sale with an iPad, only one problem, I didn’t want the Square reader sticking up off the top. I wasn’t asking for much, just the ability to extended the reader a few inches and mount it on the side, but using a regular 3.5mm extension cable wouldn’t work because of how the reader functions.

Doing what any good nerd would do, I took to Google and found nothing but many other people wondering similar things.

One such person suggested I try this item: Audio Extension Cable for iPhone and claimed that it worked perfectly with their Square Reader. Despite having only a one-star rating, I put my faith in this random internet stranger and ordered one. It arrived quickly enough, only to be promptly added to my box of random cables I will probably never use. As you might’ve guessed it didn’t work.
At this point I’m getting rather annoyed, but being the rather passive aggressive person I am, I settle for tweeting asking if anyone else had found a solution. Square replied to one of my followers, but not directly to me, with the following statement…

The reader must be plugged into the headphone jack in order to work. Let us know if you have additional questions.

Hmm… Challenge accepted! (Side note: Much like a spoiled child if someone tells me no, I want it all the more)

Undaunted by my previous brush with one-star rated items, I ordered up this little piece of crap pair of headphones: Macally TunePal Stereo Hands-Free Headset and Audio Splitter for iPhone and iPod My logic being that if it supported the audio pass-through for volume controls and a mic that it should work with Square’s card reader. And moments ago, the Macally TunePal arrived, I hurriedly unpacked it and then promptly discarded the headphones only saving the audio splitter, plugged it into my iPhone 4S and then attached the Square Reader…

Despite being incredibly short and adding a second unneeded headphone jack, I got what I wanted. Bonus, it turned out to be just long enough to work for my point-of-sale setup.

So dear internet, if you happen to be searching fruitlessly for a method to extend your Square credit card reader, I hope you stumble upon this post before spending too much of your hard earned latte money on various cables that may or may not work. But by all means, if you find another cable that works please share it in the comments!

Kindle Lighted Leather Case: In Brief

At first it seemed silly to spend $60 on a case for my $79 Kindle, scratch that, it is silly. Regardless of the silliness index of the idea, I bought a Kindle Lighted Leather case for my Kindle a couple weeks ago and despite it taking two weeks to ship I didn’t cancel my order.

The real reason I bought it was because I happen to enjoy a lovely book while suffering from near debilitating insomnia (okay, it’s actually quite minor these days), however, my wife does not enjoy the bedside lamp required for me to do so with my Kindle (so very nostalgic, just like a real book). Being the complete and utter tool I am I skipped the cheap clip-on light and I ordered Amazon’s own solution for the problem.

Kindle Lighted Case in a dark room

The Good:
Kindle snaps in and fits very snugly in the case. Page buttons are easily accessible.

The light is powered off the Kindle’s battery, so you only need to charge one device. Plus no added bulk.

It does a great job of lighting the entire page (one would assume this to be true, but I was pleasantly surprised nonetheless).

The Bad:

The quality of the leather is so-so, the very first thing I thought of was the cheap leather briefcase my father used to carry around. It also seems to be sadly lacking in the durability department.

Front flap feels rather flimsy.

Call me crazy, but when I purchase a case for a product I tend to want something that protects the screen, and while the Amazon case does have a front flap, it doesn’t offer a magnetic clasp, elastic band, or even a friction based mechanism for securing the flap closed.  The $29 Marware case I bought for my Kindle Fire even has that.

The Bottom Line

This is a great case despite being $60. And in all fairness, the price isn’t that outrageous. I wanted a light and I needed a case either way, so when comparing this to $20 for a clip-on light and $20 for a case it doesn’t seem that crazy.

A Brief Letter

Dear world,

This is not a comeback. This is not a triumphant return to the internet with a string of brilliant posts. Nor is this the announcement of the phoenix like resurrection of Hijinks Inc.

No, this is merely the faint sound of our staff crying out from under the cascading waterfall of the real world. We’re still alive, we just don’t have the time or the mental capacity to balance our lives and posting regularly.

But maybe someday soon we’ll have a few spare moments during a layover at an airport, or an exceptionally boring meeting, to jot down a few thoughts.

Stay tuned.