The Very Protective Wallet

The Very Protective Wallet
Bellroy sent me a wallet late last year and I have been using it ever since. Their products are durable, work well and importantly, look really great. I share allot of bags on Popwuping but only a few do I consistently come back to recommend again and again. Bellroy is one of them. I do so not just for the quality of their craft but also for their passion for all things “carry”; you just know they are going to keep improving over time.
I have their Slim Sleeve Wallet but here is what they have to say about their zippered and water-resistant Very Protective Wallet:

We get taught at an early age about the importance of protection. ‘Don’t forget your helmet!’ Mum would yell as you walk out the door to go ride. While the Very Protective Wallet won’t protect your head, it will protect everything in your wallet against those things like sand, dust, gum and even the odd water splash.

They even have a great stop-motion video for you to check out.

The Very Protective Wallet by Bellroy

Rentalship is the new ownership

for rent
David Rowan writes that when a well designed online networks and ubiquitous internet connections bring people together to trade, share, collaborate and swap expertise with incredibly generous goodwill.

Now that collaborative spirit is spreading to all sorts of other industries as ubiquitous internet connections bring us together in creative new ways. The peer-to-peer model has lately moved from auction houses and online classifieds to car-sharing, jewellery lending, even online banking — and each time it’s cutting out a traditional incumbent. In an era when environmental concerns are making conspicuous consumption harder to justify, start-ups are targeting customers keener to pay for access to goods and services rather than actual physical ownership – and new web-based networks are letting all of us be both lenders and borrowers.
… this is nothing less than a social revolution. “We are relearning how to create value out of shared and open resources in ways that balance personal self-interest with the good of the larger community,” she says. “For the first time in history, the age of networks and mobile devices has created the efficiency and social glue to create innovative solutions, enabling the sharing and exchange of assets from cars, to bikes, to skills to spare space.” And, naturally, Botsman is encouraging buyers of her book to swap, barter or pass it on so it finds new readers.

Perhaps the exception is that of any community that incites debate, like most American political blogs, where dogma is far more prevalent than goodwill.
Rentalship is the new ownership in the networked age

Discoverability: The Accidental News Explorer

Not for the GTD obsessed but a perfect app. to discover something new during those idle moments. Many of the most interesting things I discover are by chance, The Accidental News Explorer released last year for the iPhone, is a news app that “celebrates chance encounters and serendipity”. It has a beautiful UI to boot. From their description:

Start by searching for a subject. Once you’ve browsed the suggested articles taken from hundreds of news sources, tap the “related topics” button to discover connected topics, which in turn lead to more articles. Each article leads to new things; the more curious you are, the longer your journey will be. What will you discover?

Created by Brendan Dawes with data from Daylife. Available on the app. store.

Smartphones could soon reveal a person’s every move

Pre-smartphone, I used to frequently play with location based services (remember plazes?). At that time the check-in or attributing of ‘place’ was largely assigned manually with pings sent by sms, the web or a hacked together script. All this effort was done as an attempt to track where I spent my time, share which places had open networks, broadcast my location to other services and provide an unjustified means for my wife to know where I was at a particular time. The effort required to enter your location and the general geekiness of the activity prevented mass adoption. Now that it has gone mainstream with services like Foursquare and Facebook smartphones could soon reveal a person’s every move (and allow advertisers to profit from it). As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald:

Google and Facebook are putting location at the centre of their businesses. Both have launched services that broadcast your location to friends – Latitude and Places respectively – and within weeks Facebook will allow participating retail outlets, restaurants and cafes to offer special deals to Facebook users who ”check in” with them.
Greater rewards are on offer to those who bring their friends. Searching for stuff on mobile phones is already a $US1 billion business for Google and demand by advertisers to have the number of their nearest outlet listed next to their Google ad is one of the fastest-growing areas of its business.
Given that many phones are always on and constantly transmitting the position of the user, Jacobs says it is easy for advertisers – and others – to develop a pattern of someone’s whereabouts. ”It wouldn’t take long to work out where you are and where you live. I’m not suggesting that someone is going to fire a missile at your house but finding out where you live is very sensitive information to be handled by third parties. I think we’d better get used to living in an age of less privacy.”

Read the full article.

Orange nylon weekender

Orange nylon weekender
I should have included this in my recent collection of weekenders. Though this particular colour is far too loud for my tastes the shape of the main compartment and plenty of side pockets make Jew Crews weekender a great choice for a quick getaway. Especially true if you like to keep your gear organized. Made with rugged nylon twill, with classic styling, and finished with rugged web handles and leather trim. Alloy metal hardware (boohoo). Nice.
J. Crew Orange nylon weekender

In Digital Era, Music Spotters Feed a Machine

We’re living in a world where technologists and programmers are becoming the new gatekeepers for new music.
The New York Times reports on how Shazam and other song-discovery software offer a new frontier of hope for the music business.

As the major record labels shrink, Shazam and other start-ups are thriving by offering people new ways to discover and listen to music. That is creating new kinds of jobs in the music business, from foragers like Mr. Slomovitz to the developers building software that recommends the perfect song for a particular listener.
“We used to have D.J.’s, record store clerks and A.& R. types” — the music industry’s talent scouts — to help discover music, said Paul Lamere, director of the developer community at Echo Nest, which builds music search services. “But now, because so much music is available, the challenge is surfacing relevant music to listeners.”
Shazam’s music sourcers feed songs into the company’s system so it can give each one a unique “fingerprint” that can be matched with the sound captured by its mobile app. Some of the songs come directly from record labels, which view Shazam as a useful partner.
“When people use a service like Shazam, they expect it to work all the time,” said Andrew Fisher, Shazam’s chief executive.
At stake, Mr. Fisher said, is the loyalty of the service’s audience, whose members use it three million times a day. If Shazam cannot recognize a song, a user may simply turn to another app that can.

See also: Business Insider’s Chart of the Day: The Death of the Music Industry
Shazam’s Search for Songs Creates New Music Jobs.

Skeuomorphs: Why Innovation Doffs an Old Hat

More than any other failing the overuse of analogue references in the design of user interfaces for iOS and Mac OSX is my greatest complaint. It’s also one of the reasons why I find Windows Phone and to a lesser extent WebOS so refreshing.

Digital cameras produce a reassuringly retro but artificial shutter snap when you push the button to take a photograph; cellphones have keyboards with layouts originally meant to keep typewriters from jamming; and blue jeans have pockets that are a throwback to a time when watches dangled from chains.
Add to that list Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, which will now supplement its “location numbers” with page numbers that correspond to physical books. The change, announced last week, does have a practical purpose — especially for book clubs, whose digital readers presumably will no longer have trouble looking up the same page as analog readers.
But there is also a sense of absurdity here. E-books, by definition, do not have pages. […]
Designers in all fields are regularly confronted with versions of this choice: whether to incorporate cues to keep people grounded in what has come before, or scrap convention completely. […]
Apple, probably the best symbol of the march into a new digital era, also encourages designers to incorporate analog references in its devices. On the iPad, users enter appointments into a calendar that is encased in an on-screen leather ledger, scrawl notes on what looks like a legal pad and advance through digital books by swiping their fingers across the screen, prompting an animation that actually looks like a page being turned.
Such superfluous references to the past are known as skeuomorphs (from the Greek words for tool and form), and Apple’s fondness for them on the iPad has provoked criticism from some designers.

Subtle references can add warmth, familiarity and when matched to the users mental picture of how an activity should look and work (their mental model) enhance usability. Unfortunately the extent of this technique has gone far beyond it’s usefulness and in so many cases look ridiculous and tacky.
NYT: Why Innovation Doffs an Old Hat. Via @ joshbuller

Handsets with multiple SIMs

Handsets with multiple SIMs
My favourite Nokia designer Younghee Jung’s two piece series Use of Multiple Mobile Phone Numbers provides an interesting look at the global phenomenon of multi-SIM phones that can talk on multiple networks at once. Using multi-sim phones is a decision based on economics, access and control.

Many mobile network operators offer cheaper rates for inter-network calls, especially in markets where competition among network operators is high. Highly cost-conscious consumers naturally get multiple numbers for cheaper calls. While it may not take too much effort to acquire the new number itself, this comes at a cost of efforts and skill: Remembering, or identifying who in your social network has the number belonging to a specific network operator. People develop a tactic, such as indicating the network operator in the name stored on the phonebook. This is not an exclusive behavior only for the developing economies, however. When the 3G network was newly introduced in Japan several years ago, many Japanese consumers also owned two numbers, one from 3G for cheaper messaging & data connection, another from existing network for cheaper voice calls.

Use of Multiple Mobile Phone Numbers. Via textually > Boingboing > Kottke.

Nokia’s Engineer-Driven Corporate Culture

Nick Bilton reports for Bits on whether the adoption of a new operating system be enough to reverse Nokia’s fortunes or if perhaps a more fundamental change is required.

Some say that Nokia’s failure to get much traction in the smartphone market and its other problems are rooted in its bureaucratic corporate culture. But Adam Greenfield, a former head of design direction at Nokia, sees it a little differently. He said the company’s engineering driven culture is also responsible, explaining that the engineers at the company see the design of the software on a mobile phone as secondary to the guts of the device. For example, he explained, executives at the company proudly promote the innards of a phone, almost like a car company gleefully showing a customer the engine under the hood.
“The engineers at Nokia brag about the number of megapixels a new phone has,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “But they don’t understand that if you can’t find the button to use the camera on the phone, it doesn’t matter how many megapixels it is.”
An executive who currently works at Nokia and asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak about the company agreed. He noted that even though thousands of Nokia employees work on design and user interface, engineering is still the company’s focus, and design is thought of as “secondary within the company.”

It’s worth noting that some engineering driven companies are doing quite well – HTC is a good example – both HTC and RIM have acquired some excellent design companies of late but it takes time for these acquisitions to have lasting effects on corporate cultures. Nokia’s changes have to come from within which is likely far more difficult.
Read more.

The not so brief history of Deuter backpacks

Deuter of Augsburg, Germany, has been in the backpack business since 1898 – longer than any other backpack brand in the world – and is represented in over 45 countries!
There is one thing that all Deuter products have in common… They are designed with a wealth of experience and innovative creativity, always keeping our consumers’ comfort and satisfaction in mind. The Deuter team consists of outdoor enthusiasts who share in the love of nature and the pursuit of outdoor adventure.

Interesting coverage of their decision to shift manufacturing to Vietnam. Take a look at the footage at 12:00 for a look of how almost all mass market bags are made today. Via Bag Blog

Forget tweets, all we want to do is text

Girl texting
The Telegraph reports that though the latest mobile phones may allow you ‘tweet’, ‘poke’ and ‘check-in’, all most people want to do is text.

Mobile technology evangelists have been predicting the death of the humble text message for a decade, but a new study by Deloitte has found texts are still very much alive and kicking.
Deloitte found that 90pc of smartphone owners send at least one text message a day, compared to four in 10 who access social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, on their phones. Half of British adults access emails on their phones.
More than three out of 10 of those aged between 18 and 24 send at least one text message every hour. It is thought that children and teenagers, who were not included in the study, send an even greater number of texts.

Forget tweets, all we want to do is text, says study. Via textually.

Mobile Tail

Mobile Tail
Designed by Sangwoo Park & Jongwon Park the Mobile Tail holds a mobile device horizontally or vertically allowing for easier viewing and usage of your device while stationary. The suction cap allows for easy removal and attachment. The the idea for the product came from the notion that mobile devices are much like pets – accompanying us wherever we go. Fun. I love it.
Mobile Tail. Available at Designboom shop.