Monday, June 16, 2014

Google Glass Review: Technically Underwhelming, Socially Misjudged

At my day job I write Augmented Reality apps for industrial applications, and we recently got the chance to develop for Google Glass, both an Augmented Reality application and heads-up guide for a factory worker assembling an industrial pump. To the horror of my fiancé, I also braved the real world for a week wearing Glass on my face, to the grocery store, running, meetup groups, and at home.

Overall, I thought the technology was underwhelming, especially compared to the hype in the media and Google's advertising. The screen is small, the battery is terrible, the processor is barely fast enough to do anything on the Augmented Reality front. I fully expected it to directly connect my brain to the Google-plex, and turn me into some sort of man-machine hybrid that never forgot a face, with the entirety of wikipedia ready to drop in on any conversation.

What I got was a gadget that showed me text messages and let me take pictures without me having to fish out my phone--which is actually pretty great, but not change-the-world-worthy.

(not mention most of the demo videos are fake--there's no way to capture the screen display at a decent frame rate, and definitely not the display and camera at the same time, so be wary!)

I think people (myself included) are misjudging Glass, comparing it against some imagined set of capabilities, and maybe giving it a little too much credit--and fear--than it deserves. Glass is not innovative because it puts a screen on your face. That's been done for 30+ years in industry, military and academia.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Haggling in America: 4 Things I Never Thought were Negotiable + Haggling Tips

For some reason Americans don't haggle or negotiate over price--you either pay the listed price or you don't buy it. Except at maybe garage sales or car delearships, but even there we hate it. The recently released Edmonds Survey of 1002 car buyers shows this:

"One in five Americans (21%) would rather say sayonara to sex for a month than haggle over the price of a car; 44 percent would give up Facebook for one month and 29 percent would turn over their Smartphone for a weekend if it meant avoiding the haggle" 

Somehow haggling has gotten a bad rap in American culture: it feels slimy, dishonest, price-gougey--just sell me the car for a fair price rather than marking it up $4k and making the sale into this time-consuming game of counter-offers. We get emotional about it. When I offer half for whatever the sticker price says at a garage sale (my standard rule), people get insulted:

"$4 is a VERY FAIR price for this chair, and you want me to give it to you for $2!? This was $199 when I bought it!"

Despite all this cultural disdain, I've discovered you can negotiate for a surprising amount of things in America, you can save a bunch of a money, and it's not hard (but maybe a little bit unsettling at first).

Here are a few of my tales about how I discovered this, followed by some tips. Note: I'm not claiming to be some master negotiator, but I think just by making the smallest effort you can reap huge savings.