Want to text? Ask a kid!

Last night, I called my niece up to wish her good luck on her auditions for the school musical. A sophomore in high school, she’s a bright and talented young person, and she has that gift that children do of explaining things as simply as possible. When I asked her how it is that she texts with her friends, she explained it to me in just a couple of sentences.

– You use a phone number to reach someone (I didn’t know that!)
– Lots of people don’t use punctuation
– My Nexus One is apparently cool when it comes to texting because I can just automatically reply to people who text me, and some phones make you bring up a different screen to reply

In short order, I had sent her a message and she had sent one back to me. Then, I sent one to my other niece at college and she messaged me back. We sent one another text kisses, bridging long distances with remarkable ease. This was all so much simpler than trying to read a manual, look up instructions online or figure this out all by myself.

Do you remember this about childhood? A few words, a gesture, a quick demo from a friend would instantly incorporate you into a hobby, a habit, a fashion? The ability to mimic one’s companions begins in infancy; for good or ill, it’s one of our defining human characteristics. When it comes to technology, young people pick things up so quickly and learning from them is a treat. My nieces gave me a gift last night – the gift of easy entrance into a world they know so well. I felt very proud of them…and a little proud of myself for still being quick enough on the pickup.

My nephews, now, they are not into cell phones, they tell me. They love music, iPods and iPod Touches. I was fascinated to learn that my 16-year-old nephew is a podcast fanatic. He listens to books being read aloud and to technology news. I hadn’t been hearing much about podcasts lately, but this was confirmation to me that they are still very big. His younger brother delights in having his favorite tunes with him at all times – both popular and classical pieces.

In another branch of the family, two more little nieces tote their cell phones to school so that Mom can be in touch with them in case of emergency while she is away at work all day. One brilliant niece, age 14, is using her computer to write her first novel and the littlest one loves playing educational video games.

The territory my nieces and nephews walk in is not foreign to me. I am young enough to have grown up with the development of video game systems and PCs. My daddy was a programmer and computers were part of the furniture of home. I took to the joystick and the keyboard without even having to think about it. I remember that, and I see this same innate ability in all the young people in my family. For a few minutes last night, texting with my niece, I felt like the kid-me again. I’m grateful to her for that, for the quick and fun lesson she gave me and for making me welcome in a corner of the technological world that is new ground for me.

Taking Photos With The Nexus One

photo taken with the nexus one

You may have heard, we’ve been having some pretty crazy weather here in Northern California. Yesterday afternoon, there was a break in the near-ceaseless sturm und drang , and so we seized the moment and took a little drive. We were rewarded with the above rainbow. We surely live in a beautiful place!

Taking photos with the Nexus One is as easy as finding the camera icon on the screen and clicking the shutter button. The photos are then stored in a gallery feature and you can gmail them to your desktop in order to bring them into Photoshop or whatever you’d like to do. You can also share them via texting and Facebook and there are Bluetooth and Picasa options, too.

Yesterday afternoon, there was every type of cloud in the sky. Funnel shapes, cotton balls, mesas, waves – symphonies of clouds.

photo taken with the nexus one

photo taken with the nexus one

As darkness crept over the land, the sky took on an abalone shell radiance. Coyote time, frog song time.

photo taken with the nexus one

Rest assured, spring is coming. You can feel it in the spirit of the land. It’s a wonderful time to be out, taking photos, noticing the changes that are beginning to happen all around you. I know many of you are still deep-banked in snow, but before you know it, spring will be with us all again. Take my word from it, here in California

photo taken with the nexus one

Using Google Maps On The Nexus One

Mike Blumenthal just received his complimentary Nexus One for being a top contributor to the Google Maps Help Forum, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is well-deserved! I’m also pretty sure that, now that Mike has this smart phone, we’ll all be getting to read some great future articles about Mobile/Local and the Nexus One. I thought I’d kick things off with a basic post about using the built-in Maps feature on the Nexus One as post #4 in the brand new Mobile category here on the SEOigloo blog.

It’s Not What You’re Used To
Okay, so, you’re probably pretty used to the setup of the desktop version of Google Maps by now, if you’ve got any interest at all in Local SEO. What I found, in trying to access Maps the traditional way on this cell phone is that it didn’t look too great (it seems a little fuzzy) and that the layout for the whole thing wasn’t working well on my device. The sidebar seemed to be missing, for one thing and I couldn’t get the small popups to appear over businesses I was searching for.

Leave it to Google to provide a much nicer solution for Mobile users. The Nexus One comes with a built-in icon for the Mobile-ready version of Maps. The quality of my photos won’t quite do the clarity of this display justice, but it should give you a good idea of what things look like. To start with, the map is nice and clear, correctly sized for Mobile, and by using the Voice command tool or the keyboard, I can search for a business. We get a lovely silver pin with a garnet-red center designating the business I’ve searched for in the SF Bay Area:

using maps on the nexus 1

If I tap my finger on the pin, I’m taking to a handsome silver, black and white display of potential information I can access about this business. It’s very different from the layout of a Place Page, as you can see:

nexus 1 business display

The information I can get from this page includes:

-Contact info (address, number, etc)
-Details (Hours, Payments Accepted, Description, etc.)
-Show on Map
-Get Directions
-Street View (only available for some businesses on Mobile)
-Report a Problem
-Add as a contact

Amazingly awesomely, if I click the Phone link, the phone will start dialing this business for me. How cool is that?

Now, let’s click the Review link to see what that gives us:

nexus 1 sentiment analysis display

We’ve got the starred sentiment analysis graph and a single text snippet, inviting us to read all of the reviews, which, of course, I want to do:

nexus one, reading user reviews

Here, we get to a more Google-Maps-looking display, with a white background and black text, showing us all of the reviews for the business. The one thing I’m not seeing here that I expect to be seeing is the request for me to leave a review of this business. Maybe Mike can find that. I’ve not been able to yet.

But, after just an hour or so of fooling around with the way Maps works on Mobile, I’m feeling I can use it with comfort and pleasure.

One last thing of significant interest that I just figured out this minute!
Going to Google’s main search page in the browser, I see something else that is very different. You know how Google has always had that row of links to their major components: Web, Images, Videos, Maps, etc.? Well, well, well. On my Nexus One, that list has been simplified down to: Web, Images, Local and More. Oh-ho. I’ve just found how to get to the display I know best where the Place Pages are easily accessed via a business name search (remember, you can use voice or keyboard). I see, I see. Thanks for learning along with me as I go.

It’s The Ideas That Count

What a day this has been! My first 24 hours with Google’s Nexus One. Hang a left over to Search Engine Guide if you’d like to read my first review of the Nexus One after a day going around with this smart phone glued to my palm.

Right now, though, at the close of the business day, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on human beings and their technology. Since the Industrial Revolution, the scenarios in which machines have taken work away from people have been too numerous to count. Downsizing, outsourcing, redundancy…all common words in our lingo.

But machines have a funny way of creating new scenarios for us, new ways in which people live, earn livings, do business. After a day spent with my Nexus One, I am thinking about all of the nascent activities emerging around Mobile/Local technologies. Everywhere I go, people are on their phones, searching, finding, talking, connecting. Work is going into this and work is coming out the other end of the machine. Local businesses that are gaining visibility thanks to the web, local organizations that are rallying around causes through their blackberry devices, local people who are conducting national and global conference calls via their smart phones. The technology we are using grows ever more dazzling, but in the end, it’s the people and their ideas that count.

clever Zagat ad in my town
Take a look at this photo I snapped today with my Nexus One while I was out buying groceries. It’s nothing new to put posters up on bus stops. Designers, printers and marketers have been using their special machines for ages. In 2010, it’s no longer new at all to be advertising a web-based business like Zagat. Even the whole user review-local search-mobile activity-thing is starting to get a bit comfortable for the common man. What is so new, what is so unique about this photo I took is the human element in it that has caused me to look at this bus stop poster over and over again in admiration.

Look at the cleverness of that slogan. Tips Before Dinner. Now that is just brilliant. An outrageously smart sound byte for a business that gives you tips on where to dine, via reviews, before you head out to local restaurants. It’s short, memorable and witty. And, somewhere behind this 3 word phrase is a human being who must have had one of those lightning bolt inspirations that make writing well such a joy for the writer. And, let’s assume he was paid. Because out there, in my town, an ad campaign was being launched, for a web-based business, which serves a public that seeks lifestyle information on the Internet; a public which is accessing that information via billions of devices of different sizes and makes. Technology and commerce springing up from every direction. Breathtaking. And what makes it all tick is a little 3 word idea, from a human mind. An idea that makes the human connection we still need in the midst of all the ring tones, texting, voice commands and ear-bud-driven isolation. It’s the job the machines can’t take away – the job of being human.

blog post using a nexus 1 voice

This is an experiment Don’t b surprised by 5 spelling and punctuation I am using the nexus 1 voice Map to create this blog post did experiment should show the accuracy of this application as you can already see the nexus 1 is doing a good job recognizing some words but is having trouble with others i m not understanding tell punctuation white capitals is being interpreted wow that last sentence was really awesome no no not wash them all o f f no not wash. Not a w e s o m e i am speaking the word all o f f. Maybe i talk funny


Okay- so now I am using the Nexus One keyboard. My brief experiment is actually a really good demo of what you can expect from the very space age voice technology of this brand new phone. For example, I could not get the phone to recognize the word ‘off’ and punctuation is totally up for grabs!

My feeling from this test is that we are not yet to the point where print-ready content can be created with Voice. True, I could go back and edit the above…perhaps if I was in some sort of live, note-taking scenario. But, we just don’t seem to have technology perfect enough yet to make this a replacement for good old typing.

I hope you found this demonstration interesting! I am now going to save this post here in the back end of WordPress, return to my trusty laptop and add this nifty little image:

image of Nexus One phone

Next »