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Updated: 2 hours 38 min ago

Here Are Your First Links of 2015

Wed, 2015-01-07 20:16

Our team has been busy since the New Year, competing in the AT&T Developer Summit hackathon, which is Noel’s (@noelportugal) Everest, i.e. he tries to climb it every year, see 2013 and 2014.

If you follow our Twitter (@theappslab) or Facebook page, you might have seen the teaser. If not, here it is:

Image courtesy of AT&T Developer Program

Image courtesy of AT&T Developer Program’s Facebook page

Look for details later this week.

While you wait for that, enjoy these tidbits from our Oracle Applications User Experience colleagues.

Fit for Work: A Team Experience of Wearable Technology

Wearables are a thing, just look at the CES 2015 coverage, so Misha (@mishavaughandecided to distribute Fitbits among her team to collect impressions.

Good idea, get everyone to use the same device, collect feedback, although it seems unfair, given Ultan (@ultan) is perhaps the fittest person I know. Luckily, this wasn’t a contest of fitness or of most-wrist-worn-gadgets. Rather, the goal was to gather as much anecdotal experience as possible.

Bonus, there’s a screenshot of the Oracle HCM Cloud Employee Wellness prototype.

¡Viva Mexico!

Fresh off a trip to Jolly Old England, the OAUX team will be in Santa Fe, Mexico in late February. Stay tuned for details.

Speaking of, one of our developers in Oracle’s Mexico Development Center, Sarahi Mireles (@sarahimireles) wrote up her impressions and thoughts on the Shape and ShipIt we held in November, en español.

And finally, OAUX and the Oracle College Hire Program

Oracle has long had programs for new hires right out of college. Fun fact, I went through one myself many eons ago.

Anyway, we in OAUX have been graciously invited to speak to these new hires several times now, and this past October, Noel, several other OAUX luminaries and David (@dhaimes) were on a Morning Joe panel titled “Head in the Clouds,” focused loosely around emerging technologies, trends and the impact on our future lives.

Ackshaey Singh (from left to right), DJ Ursal (@djursal), Misha Vaughan (@mishavaughan), Joe Goldberg, Noel Portugal (@noelportugal), and David Haimes (@dhaimes)

 

Interesting discussion to be sure, and after attending three of these Morning Joe panels now, I’m happy to report that the attendance seems to grow with each iteration, as does the audience interaction.

Good times.Possibly Related Posts:

Another Echo Hack from Noel

Tue, 2015-01-06 10:44

Noel (@noelportugal) spent a lot of time during his holidays geeking out with his latest toy, Amazon Echo. Check out his initial review and his lights hack.

For a guy whose name means Christmas, seems it was a logical leap to use Alexa to control his Christmas tree lights too.

Let’s take a minute to shame Noel for taking portrait video. Good, moving on, oddly, I found out about this from a Wired UK article about Facebook’s acquisition of Wit.ai, an interesting nugget in its own right.

If you’re interested, check out Noel’s code on GitHub. Amazon is rolling out another batch of Echos to those who signed up back when the device was announced in November.

How do I know this? I just accepted my invitation and bought my very own Echo.

With all the connected home announcements coming out of CES 2015, I’m hoping to connect Alexa to some of the IoT gadgets in my home. Stretch goal for sure, given all the different ecosystems, but maybe this is finally the year that IoT pushes over the adoption hump.

Fingers crossed. The comments you must find.Possibly Related Posts:

Chromecast Guest Mode Rules

Mon, 2015-01-05 14:40

If you read here regularly, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the Google Chromecast.

It’s helped me cut the cable, I gave it as a Christmas gift two years in a row (to different people), I have several in my home, and I carry one in my laptop bag to stream content on the road.

And if you’ve seen any of us on the road, you may have seen some cool stuff we’ve built for the Chromecast.

Back in June, Google announced a killer feature for the little HDMI gizmo, ultrasonic pairing, which promised to remove the necessity for a device to be connected to the same wifi network as the Chromecast to which it was casting.

That feature, guest mode, rolled out in December for Android devices running 4.3 and higher, and it is as awesome as expected.

It’s very easy to setup and use.

First, you need to enable guest mode for your Chromecast. I tried this initially in the Mac Chromecast app, but alas, it has not yet been updated to include this option, same with iOS. So, you’ll need to use the Android Chromecast mobile app, like so:

Screenshot_2015-01-05-12-05-14

Once enabled, the PIN is displayed on the Chromecast’s backdrop, and anyone in the room can cast to it via the PIN or by audio pairing.

IMG_20150105_104202

 

When attempting to connect, the Chromecast first tries the audio method; the Chromecast app asks to use the device’s microphone, and Chromecast broadcasts the PIN via audio tone.

Click to view slideshow.

Failing that (or if you skip the audio pairing), the user is prompted by the Chromecast app to enter the PIN manually.

Easy stuff, right? In case you’re worried that someone not in the room could commandeer your Chromecast, they can’t, at least according to Google.  Being a skeptic, I tested this myself, and sure enough, the audio method won’t work if there are walls separating the device from the Chromecast. The app fails to pair via audio and asks for the PIN, which you can only get from the TV screen itself.

Not entirely foolproof, but good enough.

So why is this a cool feature? In a word, collaboration. Guest mode allows people to share artifacts and collaborate (remember, Chromecast has a browser) on a big screen without requiring them all to join the same wifi network.

Plus, it’s a modern way to torture your friends and family with your boring vacation pictures and movies.

More and more apps now support Chromecast, making it all the more valuable, e.g. the Disney Movies app, a must-have for me. Bonus for that app, it’s among the first that I know of to bridge the Google and Apple ecosystems, i.e. it consolidates all the Disney movies I’ve bought on iTunes and Google Play into a single app.

Thoughts? Find the comments.Possibly Related Posts:

Noel’s Amazon Echo Hack

Mon, 2015-01-05 12:32

Noel (@noelportugal) is one of a handful of early adopters to get his hands on the Amazon Echo, Amazon’s in-home personal assistant, and being the curious, hacker that he is, of course he used an unpublished API to bend Alexa, that’s the Echo’s personality, to his will.

Video, because it happened:

And look, Noel’s hack got picked up by Hackaday (@hackaday), kudos. You can grab his code on GitHub.

We’re hoping Amazon releases official APIs for the Echo soon, lots of great ideas on deck.Possibly Related Posts:

Our Week at UKOUG

Fri, 2014-12-26 12:05

Earlier this month, Noel (@noelportugal) and I (@joybot12) represented the AppsLab crew at the UKOUG Apps 14 and Tech 14 conferences in Liverpool.

I conducted customer feedback sessions with users who fit the “c-level executive” user profile, to collect feedback on some of our new interactive data visualizations. Unfortunately, I can’t share any of these design concepts just yet, but I can share a bunch of pics of Noel, who gave several talks over the course of the 3-day conference.

This first photo is a candid taken after Noel’s talk on Monday about “Wearables at Work.”

2014-12-08 12.58.50

Photo by Joyce Ohgi

I was thrilled to see so many conference attendees sticking around afterwards to pepper Noel with questions; usually at conferences, people leave promptly to get to their next session, but in this case, they stuck around to chat with Noel (and try on Google Glass for the first time).

Here’s another of Noel taken by Misha Vaughan (@mishavaughan) with his table of goodies.

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Photo by Misha Vaughan

The next photo is from Tuesday, where Noel and Vivek Naryan hosted a roundtable panel on UX. Because this was a more intimate, round-table style talk, the conference attendees felt comfortable speaking up and adding to the conversation. They raised concerns about data privacy, their thoughts on where technology is headed in the future, and generally chatted about the future of UX and technology.

2014-12-08 15.20.51

Photo by Joyce Ohgi

This last photo is from Monday afternoon, when I made Noel take a break from his grueling schedule to play table tennis with me. The ACC Liverpool conference center thoughtfully provided table tennis in their Demo Grounds as a way to relieve stress and get some exercise (was a bit too cold to run around outside).

I put up a valiant effort, but Noel beat me handily. In my defense, I played the first half of the game in heels; once I took those off my returns improved markedly. I’ll get him next time! :) A special thank-you to Gustavo Gonzalez (@ggonza4itc), CTO at IT Convergence for the great action shot, and also for giving excellent feedback and thoughtful input about the design concepts I showed him the day following.

Photo by Gustavo Gonzalez

Photo by Gustavo Gonzalez

All-in-all, we enjoyed the Apps 14 and Tech 14 conferences. It’s always great to get out among the users of our products to collect real feedback.

For more on the OAUX team’s activities at the 2014 editions of the UKOUG’s annual conferences, check out the Storify thread.Possibly Related Posts: