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The future of wearable devices

Larger screens definitely have their place, but as the majority of what I do on my phone requires very little screen real estate, I can’t wait for wearable devices.

Google Glass looks perfect with the exception of voice control (it just doesn’t work for me as for some reason when that little icon pings I get stage fright and fluff my lines!). Also it’s a tad conspicuous (although the final release will almost certainly be less so). A smart watch like the offering from Pebble and rumoured offering from Apple would work if I could navigate with fingers, but having to look at my wrist for long periods seems to defeat the object of replacing a phone which does more and is almost as accessible.

Maybe the solution is a hybrid of these two. An eye level HUD which is controlled from a tactile device worn like a watch. Rather than that being entirely touchscreen it would have embossed areas, a dial, buttons or some other option to allow me to navigate and select without looking down. I recently saw an amazing technology which injected a fluid into cells within a layer beneath a touchable film allowing buttons to be created on the fly. Something like that on a small screen would be superb as the user would have the best of both worlds.

The watch element would be thick enough to contain the guts of the system allowing the ‘glasses’ to be nothing more than a screen and holder – virtually invisible in effect.

Just a thought but this could be a great way forward for most users.

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Cinema is dead. Long live the game. Bioshock: Infinite and the rapid evolution of gaming.

Bioshock - Revenge of the JediI’ve just completed Irrational Games’ Bioshock:Infinite, the third instalment in the Bioshock franchise. It’s not obvious at first how this title connects with the previous incarnations, but stick with it to the end and all will become clearer. Well, maybe not.

This isn’t a review as I don’t want to give any spoilers away, I just wanted to write that the state of current gaming is such that the best games, this sitting right up there with the best, are now almost as good as the best Hollywood productions on a technical and narrative front, but with the added dimension of the viewer being able to take part.

Where cinema has been attempting to draw the viewer closer to the action with pseudo-3D, games on the other hand are able to give the gamer an actual part in the action. That said, for the most part these are still linear experiences, but this is changing.

With the advent of next generation consoles coupled with ultra-fast broadband access to streaming content, the next five years of gaming will, in my opinion, eclipse the best of cinema.

Purists (and don’t get me wrong I love cinema), will argue that the experience of being in a dark room with a large screen – effectively shutting off all but the senses of sight and sound, is incredibly immersive and can’t be bettered by a small screen. However, hyper-sensory technologies are shortly to arrive such as a system for the XBox that will project scenery from a game around the room fooling your peripheral vision into believing that you are deeper in the game environment.

Mass produced 4k resolution TV is also about to go mainstream. Apple are rumoured to have a set in the wings and those who have experienced the quality say that it is so real that the effect is even better than 3D (which really just feels like flat plains layered over each other in space in any case).

Picture then your gaming self in 2015. A large 80″ 4K screen with peripheral projection in a darkened room. A high quality multi-speaker sound system, a next-gen gaming console and a $200m budget game with limitless levels streamed via 100mb broadband and a full-time staff of producers and writers adding to the ‘script’ on a regular basis.

I predict, like the decline of theatre in the wake of cinema over the last 100 years, Hollywood will move its focus toward gaming. Multiplex cinema chains will close and the medium will most likely become the niche domain of art house productions and historical re-runs.

 

Nikon D7100

 

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I recently took delivery of a brand new Nikon D7100 DSLR camera in time for a family trip to the States. I’m going to write a detailed review when I get back, but initial results have really impressed me and the more I use this camera the more impressed I get!

With improved and very snappy auto-focus, an eye-watering 24.1mp – enough to create seriously large prints, studio-quality 1080p video, slots for two SD cards (with options to use one for video and one for exposures if preferred) and a wealth of control and options – this is by far the best camera I’ve ever owned.

If you are considering this model, here is a link to the seller I purchased from who also had the best price I could find. When I told them I was travelling and could they speed up delivery they sent it overnight by courier at no extra charge(!):

Nikon D7100 Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit (24.1MP) and 3.2 inch LCD

Here are a few of the first photos I took using the default/auto settings. These images have been down-scaled to reduce file size but have had no other post-processing, so not as sharp as the originals but I think you’ll agree they are still very impressive.

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Please look out for my detailed review later in April/May 2013.

 

My Top Tips for Managing Twitter Accounts

Twitter was born in March 2006 and launched to the world in July of that year. I’ve been a daily Tweeter since April 2007 – just after it’s big launch at SXSW when it really started to capture the public’s imagination.

Over that time I’ve built up a sizeable following and people often ask me how I manage to keep a track of my followers. Here are a few tips to help you manage your account.

Firstly, you need to really decide what you want out of Twitter. If you’re an individual you may simply want to keep in touch with a circle of friends and acquaintances, occasionally adding a few more into your network. If you’re a business or Tweeting on behalf of a brand, then creating a sizeable channel of potential and existing customers may be your goal instead. Either of these are perfectly valid reasons for having a Twitter account of course, but the way that you manage your account will probably be different in both these examples.

In my case I have my own personal account – @Rokkster, but my business also has its own account too (@RokkMedia). The waters are muddied slightly because although @Rokkster is my personal account I often touch on my work and so I have to be conscious that anything I say in that account is likely to reflect on my businesses. That’s not an issue for me, but it may be for others. Just something to bear in mind.

Tip #1 – Don’t be afraid to follow back.

Many people I know are cautious about following back too many people for fear of creating an unwieldy stream. This is a genuine concern. The most that can be followed realistically is about 150-200. So how do I manage 17,500+ followers?

The answer is in LISTS. Twitter has provided the ability to create lists for a long time now and although most people don’t use them it is probably the most powerful feature in Twitter (Google+ and Facebook offer similar features too).

In my case for example, I have two key lists – one for people who have engaged with me at some point and one for people who I want to keep an eye on their tweets, but haven’t engaged with me (not a crime and not to be expected for global brands, celebrities, or information ‘tweet-casters’ like news accounts).

Other people create specialist lists such as people in their industry, tweeters in their local area, celebrities, political groups etc. There’s no right or wrong here and you can literally create hundreds of lists if you wish.

My lists are private, i.e. the membership is not visible to the public. This is just a personal decision however and depending on what you create lists for – there’s no reason normally to not make them public.

In this way I am able to monitor about 2-300 people on a daily basis in my ‘engagement’ list and only miss occasional tweets. Alternatively messages in my main stream change every second and even tweets from people who are of interest to me are gone before I have a chance to read them.

How you monitor these lists is easier or harder depending on what application you are using. Twitter’s official website and mobile application, for example, require you to dig through your profile before you can view your lists. If you use these primarily therefore you are unlikely to keep a regular check on your lists.

I use Hootsuite on my computer, Tweetbot (iPhone only) and Twitter (iOS or Android) on everything for monitoring my lists (Twitter’s mobile app or website is not great for managing lists but their desktop app works well enough. It’s also very useful for seeing recent followings to follow them back). Hootsuite allows me to create columns and position them where I want – so my lists are usually placed ahead of everything else. Tweetbot allows me to replace the main stream with a list of my choice.

I also SWITCH OFF my main stream as the speed that tweets come and go renders this useless.

Sadly, this does mean that I am undoubtedly missing out on some fantastic tweets, but that’s unavoidable.

If you have anything over 500 followers and are avoiding following any more people for fear of drowning in tweets then this is the solution for you.

I recently attended an entrepreneur’s conference in London where a well known brand owner gave a passionate keynote on using social media. Everything he said was great advice and he pleaded with the business people there to work on their social media accounts for the betterment of their businesses.

However, when I looked at his account I noticed that he had about 5400 followers but was only following back 350. That’s less than 10%! To me as a potential follower that said that he was unlikely to ever engage with me – and to the 5050 followers he hadn’t followed back that he probably didn’t care about them much either. Now, I’m sure that wasn’t the case and in fact he made a big point of saying that he always replied to tweets (although to date he hasn’t replied to mine!) – but perception is everything and to his unfollowed followers that can’t ring true.

The solution though is simple. Follow those who follow you (within reason – see next tip), and place those you want to follow on a regular basis in to lists. Job done. The ROI for his brand in doing this would be increased loyalty which undoubtedly will lead to direct business too.

Tip #2: That Said – Be Selective

Having urged you to follow back I would still urge you to be selective whith whom you follow. Twitter unfortunately is now groaning under the weight of spammers (and worse), and no matter whether you are exposed to those tweets or not, none of us want to encourage them. So here is the fltering process I go through before I follow anybody back:

1. Are they using a photo/image in their avatar – or is it the ‘Twitter Egg’? I don’t care particularly if it’s a real photo, a logo, or anything else – but if it’s an egg this is a pretty good indicator of a spam account (but not always). Chance of not being followed: 1/5

2. Is there a bio? If there is no bio or description of the Twitterer that can also be an indication of a spam account (these people create thousands of accounts, mostly using automated software, which are used to tweet spam messages).  Chance of not being followed: 1/5

3. Bio exists but it describes the objectives of a typical spammer. An example would be: ‘I’m a stay-at-home mom making thousands a week’. That one would be quickly passed over. Chance of not being followed: 5/5

4. Check last few tweets (up to 10). I’m looking here for some level of engagement or personal insight. If I only see quotes (e.g. ‘Be true to yourself and others will believe in your truth’) – that’s a very strong indicator that the account is an automated spam account looking to build a following before releasing it’s spammy messages! If I only see other people’s Tweets re-Tweeted, that isn’t a definite no-no but if those RT’s are spam-like messages then that is. If those RTs are pertinent to that account (for example the @RokkMedia account largely tweets mobile app related news), that may still be OK – if I’m interested in that information. In those cases I am more likely to add the account to one of my other lists. Chance of not being followed: 2/5

5. Abusive or obnoxious views. We all have off-days and when things wind us up Twitter can be a good place to let off steam – but if I am seeing constant expletives and venomous messages there is no way I’m going to follow. Chance of not being followed 4/5

This process is purely for those who have followed me first. If I engage with someone on Twitter or in ‘real life’ then of course none of this applies and I will simply follow and add to one of my lists.

The final point I want to make concerns when to unfollow. Personally, unless you start spamming me there are few occasions when I will unfollow beacuse of my filtered list system. I have previously written a post covering my reasons why which you can read here. 

Wait – don’t unfollow that account!

I’ve noticed recently a lot of people unfollowing followers in Twitter who haven’t struck up a conversation with them. Now of course they are entirely within their rights so to do, but before you use mass-unfollow tools, or even do this manually, I’d recommend just thinking whether those users are the ones you really should be ditching.

Statistically there are a proportion of social media account holders who simply like to browse. Just as in any social situation there are people who are naturally interactive and enjoy a natter, there are others who prefer to sit quietly in a corner and observe. This doesn’t make them any less welcome at the party – and in fact very often in their quiet way they deliver the most eloquent and sensible contributions when encouraged into a discussion.

This is no different in Twitter and we shouldn’t assume that just because someone hasn’t tweeted for a few days they haven’t been listening. There is also no penalty to your account in having followers who don’t say a lot – in fact I’d argue it’s those we follow who chatter incessantly who are the greater burden, and even worse those who are self-obsessed about themselves or their businesses, services, or products and clearly have an agenda that doesn’t feature you in it other than to spread their message that are the better ones to drop!

So, before you weed out the quiet followers on your account bear in mind that they may read every single word you post – and who knows may even have been a future customer or colleague!

A quiet friend is no less a friend 😉

For more marketing ideas or help in devising a successful web marketing or social media strategy, please get in touch…