Explore: Modular Drone

The first time I flew crashed a drone, I thought “These need to be modular.” And sure, I bought the parts and fixed it, but it cost almost as much a new one.

Here’s a modular drone: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1818505613/airblock-the-modular-and-programmable-starter-dron?ref=b9x1eo

The aspects I like best are that it’s modular, durable and allows people to explore (watch the video for a hydro-drone).

Very cool.

Switching to a Chromebook

Technology is what enables humans to conquer systems and systemic failures. To produce, communicate and thrive – both individually and as part of a team.

A picture of two shoes lifting off the ground. Illustrating exploration.
source: https://unsplash.com/@dan_carl5on

I’m always looking for ways that I can streamline everyday work. I’ve found that trying new technology helps me realize both new ways of working and also new ways others work.

If you’re looking for reviews of technology you need look no further than google and a handful of very popular review sites that have it down to a science. Also, amazon reviews help. I’m not here to give you all the details about this laptop and sell you one (bigger hard drive here). I simply want to document what I learned switching from a macbook to a chromebook.

  • Can I switch to a Chromebook?
  • What features do I need?
  • What do I need to know before I go into it?

I hope this meets your expectations!

Chromebook

What’s so different?

A chromebook is a laptop running open source software “ChromeOS” as the operating system. It is basically Chrome (Google’s web browser), plus what is needed to operate a computer, plus a little bit more.

I found this was hard to explain, so here’s a quick intro video:

Made with OpenTest – a chrome plugin. If I had done this on my mac I would have added music and cut out any “um’s”

ChromeOS and Laptop features

The “computer” use itself is very similar to any other computer, there’s a bar of “applications” on the bottom, a clock, icons for files… etc.

You can browse your computer’s files (stuff you downloaded, photos you added from your phone, etc).

But it’s really lightweight. You cannot install applications that work on Windows or MacOS. There are some pre-installed applications to browse files, connect other fileshareing services like dropbox (and google drive is already installed, of course). And that’s about it.

The rest depends on the Chrome internet browser (which I’ll go into detail on below). So if you’re offline all the time, this isn’t your laptop.

So what can you do offline? Chrome has some amazing offline features. And if you’re a heavy Google Drive and Google Apps user (sheets, docs, slides, etc) you can do all that offline. It will even sync your drive files that are marked for offline use.

The Chromebook I’m using is also capable of running Android applications (something google is testing in Beta on a limited set of Chromebook models so check your model before buying). As an iPhone and Mac user this isn’t terribly exciting, but I’m ready to try a new eco-system and there are a ton of free apps and useful stuff, just like the Apple App store.

There are also tons of offline apps in the android store, so that helps a lot with offline functionality.

All this offers incredible battery life. This one is rated for 12 hours (which we all know is less than 12 if you want wireless, bluetooth and a screen that’s reasonably bright. I get about 8-10 depending on how much music, external display, etc.. Very nice performance.

As for this specific model the rest of the features are nice, like having a microSD slot to add storage, a great webcam, speakers are REALLY loud and sound good. Not to mention the touchscreen (more on that below). The keyboard is a LOT like the mac, so I find it quite nice to type on. The touchpad totally sucks for dragging stuff – thankfully the touchscreen is incredible (more on that below).

Chrome

Using chrome for everything is a change of perspective and probably the biggest learning curve of switching to a chromebook. So of course, there are lots of options for how to fill in the gaps of having all that applications you need installed on your computer.

Chrome has extensions and apps that fill that gap.

There are a ton that are focused on making your chrome experience better. One that I use daily is called One-Tab: it’s a massive help when you have a ton of tabs open or you are having performance issues – or if you’re like me and have anxiety about closing tabs. Protip: go into options after installing to save your past tabs until deleted.

I still never use bookmarks, it seems strange, but now that my whole screen is chrome, it’s nice to have the real estate back!

Some other apps I use are OpenTest for screen recording, Text for text editing, I’m a huge google apps user. Google photos. The works.

I use the same 10 tabs often, so I pin those tabs and make sure that I set them as my opening pages in settings.

Android

Having Android apps run on your laptop is really nice. They play as you would expect them to and having a touchscreen really helps in this regard. It’s a great back up for when one of your apps just doesn’t work well as a webpage. Spotify was my clearest example of this. The web player is terrible, but the android app is really good, so I get to choose which one I want to use.

I also tried an Acer Chromebook 14 – which was meant to be one of the highest performing chromebooks. I found it somewhat lackluster, a bit bulky and kind of cheap.

I found out there were multiple models of chromebooks, so make sure the one you want has the right ports and specs for your needs. Even if the model number is the same, it may not be the same as another.

Since I’ve had the laptop they have turned off Android, then back on, and now off again. So it’s clear there are kinks getting ironed out. I haven’t used them much yet (too much “real work” to do).

Convertible Touchscreen Laptop/Tablet

This changed the way I look and touch so many things.

Web design for touchscreens – is going to revolutionize the way we consume and interact with the web. I can’t wait to see websites and browser start to support touchscreen mode= “1” or “on” or whatever.

I would love to see a wall mount accessory for this.

My macbook has never had so many fingerprints. I put my hand on the screen by default now.

I never thought about how much wasted time is created “moving the mouse across the screen”. There are so many functions of a computer that are infinitely faster with a touchscreen.

I like having a tablet sometimes, it’s great for browsing family photos and reading. Seems really sturdy – I love the look and feel of this laptop.

Charging via USB-C

I’ve purchased an Anker rapid charger and I get a warning about a low charge.  However, my 4a 5v anker battery (2nd Gen Astro E6) charges and runs it perfectly.

Screenshot 2017-01-27 at 2.00.45 PM
When it’s not charging I get this warning dialog box
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It’s super handy to charge when you have USB outlets.

This makes the chromebook convertible a MAJOR temptation for travelers that go long distances or to remote locations (without power). Pack 12 batteries and you have nearly half a month of usage with you.

Chrome Keyboard

Got rid of the caps lock key and replaced it with universal google search. Hotness. I also love the fullscreen button for apps. Websites haven’t ever seemed so functional.

It takes a little getting used to, but it mainly feels a lot like a macbook keyboard (one that I love).

Should you switch?

I can’t tell you for sure. What do you do that isn’t in chrome? If it’s a lot, or it’s make or break it – then just don’t.

Want to have a deeper conversation about your special case? Leave a commend below and let’s chat!

Explore: Drawing Bots

Today I saw a new gadget and thought of a business use case.

As business employees, we love our dashboards. We also love whiteboards.

Combine them.

Here’s the kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1818505613/mdrawbot-4-in-1-drawing-robot?ref=b9x1eo

Now imagine this robot drawing your metrics on a digital whiteboard daily. No need for glaring screens, you can write directly on the dashboard, ask questions, make predictions.

The bot will re-draw it all again tomorrow.

What do you think? Got some other use cases? Let’s hear em!

2017 is the year

We believe that 2017 is going to be a big year for knowledge workers.

We have seen many teams become more flexible and innovative. Many of our larger clients are forming small yet highly effective teams.

Teams that are flexible and innovative require tools that support their unique needs. Get started now, iterate, improve and review later.

This is easier said than done. Teams are holding discussions about work in many different channels. And so often these ideas, work and initiatives don’t get off the ground because they are gone, lost or never got started.

If these teams have cross-team dependencies, they are inhibited quickly. Do we take on this new teams tasks without current tools? Limit the team to the same tools as others? What’s most important?

We believe that 2017 is the year this paralyzing cycle simply stops.

We believe that 2017 is the year we get to work without over-planning, over-thinking and the paralysis that inevitably ensues. Do employees dream of doing better? Often.

How often are your best teams highly productive?

We believe that 2017 is the year your team can plan, do, check and act without the confusion, fear and uncertainty they experience today.

We believe that 2017 is the last year you manage projects and tasks in your email.

Disagree? Don’t believe us? Let us convince you – sign up for our news on this topic. Or subscribe to our blog in the right hand margin –>

Don’t like email (can’t say I blame you) – follow us on twitter or RSS!

Self Service or Selfish Service?

Is your self-service actually selfish service?

Personally I love this message. All too often the operators of a service sit down and try to make them more “efficient” or “streamlined”. What they mean is efficient and streamlined for them.

This leads to poor adoption, and continues a long standing abuse of the customer experience. What’s in it for me? Am I getting better faster service?

In reality these self-service portals are an afterthought and aren’t truly integral to the service experience!

Read the full article here:

http://www.information-age.com/five-tips-make-it-self-service-more-selfless-and-customer-centric-123460475/

What do you think? Is self-service integral to your service experience? What value is added for your customers and teams through self-service?

On work

Work is complex.

If you consider the complexity of human beings, it’s basically a miracle we can work together. Emotions, psychology, priorities and desires combine to form as many barriers as enablers.

goats-competition-disputeAnd for some people it just doesn’t work.

Not everyone works well in a team. Not everyone works well alone. Each and every person brings different challenges and skills. Some people like tasks to be given to them while others need puzzles to keep them interested.

Some people can lead and others just canNOT lead at all.

And this conversation hasn’t even addressed the complexities involved in cross-team communication.

Media sites and content marketers everywhere love to create content about teams. Here’s one from HBR: https://hbr.org/2010/06/get-your-team-to-stop-fighting.html

And another from higher ed (Berkeley): http://hr.berkeley.edu/hr-network/central-guide-managing-hr/managing-hr/interaction/team-building/steps

If you’ve ever worked on a bad team reading this content can be maddening or triggering. Have you been a part of a huge enterprise with tens of thousands of employees? Most of this reading sounds like a joke. You might feel powerless to change the situation as well.

What gives talented employees the energy to stay?

I have a saying I use for teams that can’t seem to function correctly:

Too big, must fail.

Do you feel like this? Comment below with your story. The best stories get a 30oz tumblr guaranteed to keep ice for 24 hours or hot drinks for 6 hours.

Because if your story is that good you either need more cocktails or more coffee or both.

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No bull KPI

There is one place where you can look to see what teams and employees value; their calendar.

When I have something I need to check EVERY week. I put a reminder on my calendar. When someone else is supposed to do something every day, I put a “check if” on my calendar.

This is done for a myriad of reasons.

Primarily to make sure it is done. If it’s on my calendar, it’s likely that the company image, brand or perception is influenced. And those things are my responsibility.

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Where is their attention? That’s what they value.

Secondarily to make sure there is a deadline. If we don’t do it by a certain date, we see slippage of projects or other related goals.

Then there are other benefits like planning out-of-office coverage or letting my replacement know what’s important to do regularly. It can also be a great way to share with teams and leaders what is important and necessary to keep out company operational.

Let me provide a counterexample.

In order to maintain our business relationship with an analyst firm, we hold regular meetings (bi-weekly). Once it is off my calendar, I’m no longer making time for that relationship. 

So how do you do this?

At my company, we make a practice of sharing our calendars openly. Want to see the things they value? Simply scroll ahead a couple months and see what’s still there. 

Take the challenge:

Does your calendar show what you’re making time for? Share how you streamline everyday work by commenting below!