Mind Officially Blown at #CES2018

c2a9-terrinakamura-2018-ces.jpgLast month I was invited by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to attend the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. It was my first-ever experience at CES, and I had the honor of attending as a Key Online Influencer. My badge was met by curiosity as well as respect. I was given a press credential that was a special all-access pass to all of the various venues, and I was also able to use areas reserved for journalists, bloggers and major media from all over the world. I met inventors, CEOs, educators, international executives, journalists, geeks, and all manner of people who were working the showroom floors. It was incredibly exciting!

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My donut and Google Mini outside the Google Donut Shop #CES2018

I spent the first day wandering around in a surreal haze of light, sound, motion and colors, with electronic eye candy in every direction. My real-life friends and family know I lack an internal gyroscope, so it wasn’t surprising that it took me two days to get a good handle on where things were. I can’t adequately describe how huge CES is. And it’s not limited to the Las Vegas Convention Center — there are CES events taking place in hotels and other venues all up and down the Las Vegas strip. Some of the things I saw and experienced were so amazing, there were times I simply wanted to share with someone! Like the moment I went into the Google Donut Shop and won a Google Home Mini, I had to call Reg Saddler @zaibatsu immediately!

There were amazing displays of OLED screens (like the one shown in the video below), phones, cameras, drones, robots, speakers, VR (virtual reality) headsets, and AI (artificial intelligence) integrated into everything from cars to personal assistants, games and more. There were accessories for everything, including accessories for your accessories. There were phone cases, and stuff to clean your phone cases or stuff to protect screens before you put your device into a case, and beautiful and utilitarian gadgets for every imaginable purpose. There were drones, bicycles, motorcycles, and there were cars, cars, CARS. I had no idea the huge role cars would play at CES.

I became interested in autonomous vehicles and spent a lot of time talking with various chip designers about self-driving vehicles, which, up until that point, weren’t of serious interest to me. But after CES, I was ready to roll. Almost. A friend, Doug Dobbins @takesontech, was arranging to have me picked up by a self-driving BMW. Um…wait. Did you say 7:30 AM? It was tempting, but I didn’t know what I’d do once I arrived at CES and had to wait an hour and a half for the convention center to open. Probably I blew it when I said no, but something tells me I’ll have another chance to ride in a self-driving vehicle one day.

sensors-on-intel-autonomous-car-c2a9-terrinakamura-ces2018.png

This is a cool looking plexiglass model by Intel, showing the placement of dozens of sensors (represented by the aqua colored lights) that gather data from all directions to protect passengers in autonomous vehicles.

I’d like to explain something I didn’t understand about self-driving vehicles: They aren’t simply cars that drive around by themselves using a GPS. There are dozens of sensors located around, in, on, and under the car. And at all times the sensors perceive data: objects, traffic, people, motion, proximity, speed and other factors. Now stop for a moment and think about getting that phone call from your office, informing you of an urgent matter. Even hands-free, can you be sure you are not in the least bit distracted? Autonomous vehicles are always tuned in. I now feel accepting of the idea that an autonomous vehicle might, in some ways, be safer than one driven by a person!

Over the course of five days, and even being surrounded by all sorts of connected devices, I was naturally worried about running out of phone power. So I used both my Verizon MotoZ and Pixel2 to shoot most of the photos and videos posted here and elsewhere on my personal and workplace Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and elsewhere. The Motorola has a battery “mod” by Tumi, and basically was impossible to run out of juice. And thankfully, I found super connectivity in all parts of Las Vegas.

I’ve never been personally impressed by robots. I’ve seen them all my life on television, in cartoons and sci-fi films, and I know robots have changed our world forever and will continue to do so. CES was the first time I had a close-up experience. I was singularly UNimpressed by the robot that straightens up a messy room. Each action took so long, I wanted to jump over the barrier and show the robot I could perform its tasks in milliseconds. But these robots are like children—sometimes you need to stand back and just let things happen.

There were coding robots I thought were amazing, fun and cool. Children are so quick to grasp coding through the understanding of programming a robot, and there were all levels of robots, from small spheres to forms with articulated arms, legs, pincers and artificial faces. And I made contacts that could be useful to my workplace, UPrep.

Kitty Robot at CES2018 © terrinakamura

Cute kitty-faced Robot #Sanbot at CES 2018

Not all of the things you see at CES are done deals. There were concept vehicles and machines, like the Laundroid robot, that folds and catalogs your laundry (not ready for prime time) but also massage chairs, 3D images created with emitted light, medical gadgets, smart assistants and VR make-up applications where you could see what you would look like with blue eye shadow. There was even an autonomous helicopter…which didn’t inspire the same confidence I felt about self-driving cars. While most things on display are actually in production, some were conceptual and showing us what we might expect in the future. There was a hall devoted to CES innovation award winners, which included some of the most successful new design and engineering inventions of the past year.

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I saw this beautiful, light-weight, foldable electric scooter at #CES2018. It had hub-less wheels! #Ujet

CES has been around for 51 years. My real-life friend, Marsha Collier @MarshaCollier has been going for two decades. I really only became aware of it in 2008 when I would read about friends and acquaintances on Twitter who were making the trek to Las Vegas. Like SXSW, it sounded so cool. But I lacked the self-confidence to venture into such an alien world alone and didn’t know anyone well enough to buddy up. Having gone to this incredible show and spending 5 days by myself, I urge anyone to go and explore. If I can do it, YOU can, too!

Undoubtedly you find yourself meeting a lot of interesting people you would never otherwise meet. Curiosity and common interests make for easy and fun conversations. I wandered into the Gibson venue and was so glad I did. For days I could “HEAR” it from far away and didn’t know what was waiting inside until I walked in. I’m glad I saved it for my final day.

There were so many opportunities to take photos and was glad I had great devices to back me up. I especially appreciated Travis Ames, the drone rep at Uvify who allowed me to film with my hands just beyond the protective netting. And guys, I apologize for the vertical video. Ugh. I can’t stand watching them but I was kind of excited and wasn’t thinking clearly.

If you’ve never attended CES, or even if you’re not a technology geek, don’t let that stop you from going. There is literally something for everyone at the Consumer Electronics Show, whether you’re a hobbyist, aficionado of large or small screens, a music fan, a gamer, or simply curious to see what all the hubbub is about. I learned so much. If you enjoy learning, you will love CES!

I hope some day you have a chance to go to Las Vegas and experience CES. If you decide to go, book your hotel early. By the time I started looking, about a month before the show, it freaked me out. Everything nearby was booked or insanely inexpensive—like $800 a night! Luckily I found a great AirBNB about 20 minutes away, and was even able to convince the host to drive me to and pick me up after the show each day, all for about $450 total, for five days/four nights.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to CTA (Thanks, Erica Corley!) for making the entire experience possible for me, and Richard Kassissieh @kassissieh, the assistant head of school for academics and strategic planning at University Prep in Seattle, who recognized the honor and value of the CES experience, and supported my participation.

Thanks to them, and thanks for reading! I’d love to know if you’ve visited CES, or would like to some day!


More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Terri on The Medium

Holiday Gifts for the Techie in Your Life

The past few weeks have afforded me opportunities to connect with friends, old and new, in real life. For a social media aficionado, there’s something special about getting to meet the people behind the half-inch avatars we encounter on Twitter.

It was great to see Suzanne Kantra @Techlicious, Megan Wristen @MeaganWristen, Josh Kirschner @joshkirschner, Terumi Johnson @helloterumi and see other familiar faces at the CTA Seattle Technology Event produced by the team at Techlicious.

But what was even more cool was to get a hands-on opportunity to check out some of the most popular tech gift ideas for the coming holidays. It was fun to take a retrospective look at what was popular in 1997 and 2017…like, “VCR*?” Remember them?

CTA RESEARCH 1997CTA RESEARCH 2007

It made me wonder how the 2017 top of the list will look in 2027?

CTA TOP TECH 2017

Personally, I enjoyed using the TREKZ Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones. The name sounds weird, but they work great! The product design is unusual, but the proof was in using them. The sound quality is rich, and because they sit outside my ears, which again sounds odd, they allow me to be aware of what’s going on around me. They were originally developed as a sports headphone, and would be a terrific gift to use while running or working out.

Another cool and affordable item was the iHome | Control wifi-outdoor smart plug, which works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. I don’t have my lights up yet, but it will be great to be able to control them remotely, and after the holidays, other appliances using my iPhone. “Hey Siri? Turn on the lights!”

There was a great variety of products on display. I took some photos of a few of them and loved learning about them.

Top, left to right: Ecouvacs DEEBOT 995 (it vacuums and mops your floors) ,a fun fashion Fitbit bracelet and Fitbit Ionic health trackers, Middle, left to right:  Lily Next-Gen Pro (drone), Play Impossible game ball, that takes digital action indoors and out, Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, Bottom, left to right: another shot of the VR headset, Amazon Echo Plus hand free smart hub, and the Lenovo Tab 4 10 (tablet for the family),

With so many amazing products out there, I’m trying to decide what I’m going to buy for Christmas this year!

Good luck with your holiday shopping!

If you’re interested in any of the products here, just click the link to find out more, or contact Danielle Cassagnol, CTA: DCassagnol@cta.tech (email) @ConsumerTechnologyAssociation (Twitter).


*VCR = Video cassette recorder

More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

One-ring Circus

Verison One-Talk ad in Bloomberg by © terri nakamuraClose friends and colleagues know I’m a fan of Bloomberg Business Week. It’s the only publication I receive as a physical magazine. After dropping a signed first edition of Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” in the bathtub, I vowed to never read anything more than a magazine while soaking. AND I SURE don’t trust myself to read an electronic device there.

Last night I was browsing through the most issue of Bloomberg and something caught my eye. It was a full-page ad for Verizon’s “One Talk” service, which lets calls to a users’ office phones, ring simultaneously on their mobiles.

Our family has had Verizon service since the early 2000s, and I’ve been partnering with Verizon for nearly four years as one of their national team of brand influencers. So I naturally pay attention to commercials and ads related to Verizon products and services. I hadn’t heard about “One Talk.”

Randomly and coincidentally, I have been experiencing my own, unrelated, “one ring” circus this year.

In my Google settings, I’ve listed all of my phone numbers, so when I am called on one of the numbers, ALL OF MY PHONES RING. It’s pretty crazy, but let me just say it’s rare for me to miss a call.

So in a way, I have simulated One Talk via Google Voice and I’ve found it to be convenient, hilarious and annoying.

It’s convenient to be able to get calls on all devices. Remember, “Call Forwarding” isn’t the same, because it only rings on the number you’re forwarding to (i.e., your mobile number).

It’s hilarious because seriously—sometimes four of my phones ring at once. Today a friend, Marianne Picha, called my original landline number (which is now on Google Project fi), and it rang all of my cell phones, including the Verizon line which was 100 miles away at our home in Randle. My husband had the phone with him at the house, and answered! (Verizon is an essential lifeline for us out there in Lewis County.)

It’s annoying because…ALL OF THE PHONES CAN RING AT THE SAME TIME. But this can be easily fixed. Just turn off the ringers on the phone(s) you don’t want to ring.

My family has one of the most complicated telephone communications setups imaginable. Currently it includes a landline with CenturyLink (an account established in 1974); a digital landline with Comcast; an AT&T family plan for me and our youngest son; and a Verizon family plan for me, my husband, oldest son and his wife @QueenHorsfall.

CenturyLink is an archaic system that charges separately for voice mail, call forwarding and other features. (Most phone companies include myriad features as part of the service.) We had three landlines — one for my husband, one for me and one for our dedicated fax line. It was very costly.

A few years ago I moved the fax line over to Comcast to quality for a “triple play” pricing plan. And as our landline costs continued to skyrocket, I realized we needed to prune another CenturyLink line.

Last year I decided to move my 38-year-long phone service away from Centurylink to Google’s Projectfi. The Projectfi service required me to buy a Nexus phone (in my case, a 6P). Last November, this phone came with a $499 price tag.

The Nexus 6P is a fabulous phone. The camera is INCREDIBLE, especially in low light. And the battery seems to last forever. The best part is, since I use very little data (mostly use wifi), my phone service has averaged $28.50 per month—less than half the cost of my land line service. The Nexus 6P is now about half the price, so a great deal for people who need a phone and don’t use a lot of data. The networks providing service include T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, so it has expansive coverage. The downside is, the Nexus is a gigantic phone. Not heavy—just huge. No way can it fit into a pocket. ALSO, the Nexus requires a USB-Type C charging cable.

Getting back to the ad in Bloomberg, I can see the value in the OneTalk service.—especially for Verizon business customers who have would benefit from seamlessly moving between landline and mobile. And it makes it possible for a business to be nimble—offering an essential and competitive edge.

One Talk is a relatively inexpensive service (looks to be around $25/month) but it requires a compatible phone set for the landline. And according to Kagan, the landline is actually VOiP—something to think about if you’re prone to power outages.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

#140conf #LA

Eight years ago I entered a bright and shiny world called Twitter. 

In 2010, I compared Twitter to a cocktail party, and I think the comparison still stands. Lots of people weave in and out of short conversations and content, with comments sometimes ricocheting like Pokéballs. About 47 of the 313 million active users “tweet” via smart phones, so Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it doable. Chatting in 140 character tweets isn’t the easiest way to carry on an extended conversation. Still, meaningful relationships can form, and when you discover a kindred spirit, it’s great!

Today I think the average person joins Twitter and feels lost. It’s not obvious what to do once you get there. I found the game changer is engaging in conversations. Once you start chatting with people, the clouds part and the Twitterverse opens up. You can pose a question and get immediate answers, and almost always find interesting people for banter or discussions. And there is an endless bounty of content to consume 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Jeff Pulver, founder of the #140 Conference, created and produced the first #140 Brands Conference in New York City on Dec. 2, 2010. As a graphic designer who works with businesses and branding, and being a social media aficionado, I was excited to learn how brands were navigating the social media sphere. It featured dozens of speakers and panels on myriad topics

The opportunity to meet virtual friends face-to-face was fabulous! I’ll never forget the snow along the sidewalks as I walked from the subway to the venue, and the thrill of meeting for the first time, Debra Cincioni, Lori Moreno and Jessica Northey , fellow Bitrebels — Twitter #BA75 sisters.

12-2-2010-0273-Jessica, Deb, me, Tommy plus 1-NYC-lighter

L-R: Jessica Northey, Debra Cincioni, me, Tommy Geraci and Sueanne Shirzay, Dec. 2010, NYC

Past #140 Conference events have featured a series of 10-15 minute presentations and 10-20 minute panels that have provided attendees with knowledge, perspective and insights into the theme of the conference. The format has been fast-paced, so if there is something you’re not too interested in, it quickly moves on to the next topic.

The SOCIAL part of social media is super special. And for first-timers, the opportunity to meet many Twitter friends in one place, in real life, is undeniably exciting.

But the educational part is equally special. The #140 Conference provides access to some of the most knowledgable people in a variety of sectors, representing a huge depth of expertise.

Fast forward to July 25 in Los Angeles 

I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and for the first time, meet Marsha Collier, Michele Meiche, Henie Riesinger and many others. I can only describe the moments of our meetings as pure joy!

@terrinakamura - Michele-Marsha-me-Julie Spira - 20160725_202639

L-R: Michele Meiche, me, Marsha Collier, Julie Spira

©terrinakamura - 2Calvin and me, July 25, 2016 20160725_204242.jpg 20160725_204236

L-R: Calvin Lee and me

Over the past two months, Michele and I have been chatting on Twitter about our fond feelings for the #140 conferences. We weren’t just waxing nostalgia, although being in that place at that particular time in history was very special. Twitter has evolved and now there are many more people, and the way people and brands use Twitter (and social media in general) has changed. There is always more to learn, even for long-time users, so we concluded there is definitely a need — and isn’t it time — for another #140 conference?

At the LA event, I was hoping to talk with Jeff to see if I could convince him to organize another #140 conference. I had no idea he was aware of the conversations between me and Michele. So it was a surprise when, midway through the event, Jeff made the announcement that indeed, another #140 Conference is underway and slated to occur in Los Angeles this November. I was thrilled!

Anyone interested in Twitter, and social media in general, would benefit from attending. And some of us could find ourselves falling in love with Twitter all over again. I’m looking forward to learning what’s new, and I’m especially looking forward to meeting many new as well as long-time friends.

Earlier I mentioned how great it feels when you discover a kindred spirit on Twitter. Getting to physically meet your kindred spirit and hug them in real life is THE BEST!

Jeff invites interested sponsors to participate, and extends an invitation to all to attend.

Details to come! See you there!

©terrinakamura - Cropped- jeff-pulver-announces-140conf-20160725_194332

A crowd gathered around Jeff Pulver as he announced the coming #140 Conference.

The quality of the photos of the #14oconfLA gathering, shot in very low light with my Verizon Samsung Galaxy S7, impressed everyone.

And trust me when I say it’s not easy to impress a group of social media mavens!

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

Shooting a How-to Video

ADDING RAM TO A MACBOOK PRO

This is my first attempt to shoot a video and edit it, and also my first exploration inside of a laptop!

A month ago I installed 32 GB of RAM in my 27” iMac. It was super easy! My buddy Reg Saddler was with me, virtually, providing guidance and support.

It got me thinking about my mid-2012 Macbook Pro, and how it had just 4 GB of RAM. I decided to upgrade to its maximum — 8 GB, but wasn’t sure where to start.

I’d never opened up a laptop, and installing RAM in a laptop looked more complicated than the installation on my iMac. So I asked my friend, Greg, to help me. But instead of helping me, he actually did the installation!

It worked out well, because it gave me a chance to record the process using my new Samsung Galaxy 7 (S7), which has a pretty powerful video editor built in.

I’ve never edited a video before, and had no idea what I was doing, so imagine how surprised I was to discover it’s simple to do all of the editing and post-production on the S7.

During the RAM installation, I recorded about 14 minutes of video in four different segments . Most of it was a major snoozefest, or just chitchat that needed to go away.

So I omitted the audio by turning off the volume on all of the clips, prior to assembling everything.

At the time I was editing, I actually didn’t have the presence of mind to take screen shots, so a bunch of the following images are after the fact!

Part One — EDITING THE VIDEO

On the S7, I navigated to my camera’s roll and opened the first of four segments I’d filmed.

A - Open-Edit © terrinakamura

Once opened, at the bottom of the screen there was an option to “Edit”

B Video Editor © terrinakamura

From there I found the “Video Editor” option.

C First View © terrinakamura

Once “Video Editor” is clicked, a screen comes up, showing the video represented by linear thumbnails. The yellow line is the beginning of the playback.

2-Trim or split video © terrinakamura

Hit the play button (small round arrow button in lower left quadrant) to review. To get rid of irrelevant content, you can split or trim parts of the clip. To do that, select  “Trim” from the menu. A sub-menu pops up where you can select trim to the left, right, or split into pieces.

3-Transition button © terrinakamura

I decided to “Split” the section in two. A box then appears between the two sections. By resting the vertical playback line on top of it, a “Transition” menu will come up.

4-Choose a transition between edits

There are quite a few options for transitions between clips. I just chose a simple black dissolve (top middle on this image). To add a segment, I clicked the “+” symbol in the lower left corner.

5-Add another clip © terrinakamura

I navigated back to my camera’s files and selected the next clip, which then appears in the timeline as anew thumbnail. (Note an additional “transition box” appeared.)

6-Add title screen © terrinakamura

When I had all of my clips trimmed and assembled, just for the heck of it, I decided to add a couple of titles. To do that, I selected “Title.” A bunch of choices pop up. I chose black.

7-Enter text © terrinakamura

A box opens to type in some copy. Just try to make sure you check your spelling. Typos in videos happen here.

8-Text entered © terrinakamura

For the purposes of this sequence, I typed in “Sample Title,” but in my final video I inserted three title pages. When I was finished, I looked at the video and jotted down what I wanted to say. (NOTE: There is probably a better work flow, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, this is what happened with me!)

9-Record audio © terrinakamura

I figured out I could add narration by selecting “AUDIO.” There are several choices, and I selected “Record narration.” So while the video was playing back, I recorded my voice to go with the video. The primary reason I did this is because I decided to speed everything up 2X, which meant my voice sounded like I was talking through helium. It had to be removed!

10-Export © terrinakamura

When I was done, I played it back to see how it sounded and looked. It wasn’t perfect, but hey, you have to start somewhere! I was satisfied — quite proud of myself, in fact! So I selected “EXPORT.”

The processing took a few minutes. When it was complete, I watched it again, then shared it on to YouTube.

The S7 is a great device — much smaller than my Nexus 6P or Samsung Edge 6+ — so it fit easily into my little phone mount and desktop tripod, but more importantly, it recorded really beautiful video. So beautiful, in fact, that when I did the screen grabs, the resolutions looked very nice.

Here is the final video: [ insert anti-climactic drumroll here ]

You can click the video, above, or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsavG49e2U

The completed video, which was sped up 2X, cut it down to about 3 minutes.

Part 2: THE RAM INSTALLATION

Greg is a former graphic designer and art director, retired from Microsoft. He and I have a long history of geeking out, talking about computers, gadgets and related topics that make both of our spouses’ eyes glaze over. This was the perfect project for us!

It’s all covered in the video, above, but here are a few highlights:

1 S7 ©terrinakamura-10 inch width

First, we unscrewed the back. Three of the screws are longer, so we put them aside and marked the holes before removing the rest of the screws, which were much shorter.

2 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, we disconnected the battery using a nylon pry tool

3 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

After discharging static electricity, ease open clips holding in the RAM, and removed the two sticks.

4 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, the new RAM was inserted into the slots. They were firmly snapped into place

5 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

We closed the back of the laptop, first treating screws with an anti-vibration goop.

6 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Moment of truth: Booted it up…

7 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Happy to hear the Mac start up sound and see the Apple logo appear!

8 S7 ©terrinakamura-tn-10 inch width.

VOILA!

So, this entire process involved learning on a couple of levels. It was amazing and fun to shoot, then edit a video entirely on my S7. Second, I’m no longer afraid of opening up my laptop. SSD, here I come!


PS: A cool way to take screen shots on the S7:

Hold your hand perpendicular to the phone screen (like you’re going to give it a karate chop).

Swipe your hand quickly to the left or right. You’ll hear a “click.” BINGO! Screen shot taken!


Video and images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

Thanks to my friend, Greg, for his help.

More about Terri:

The Caring Economy — Earth Day 2016

 What companies do every day

Earth Day, established April 22, 1970, has become the largest secular observance in the world, and is celebrated by more than a billion people annually. It’s a day where people are more mindful about the environment and reflect on what they can do to help preserve and protect the planet.

But the earth needs our care every day — not just on Earth Day. Here is what a few companies are saying and doing:

Alki Surf Shop 

Having our business on Alki Beach means we have a front row seat to observe Earth Day and the forces of nature. We are aware of the ebb and flow of the tides. We look out at sailboats being driven by the wind, and hear the high-pitched calls of seabirds as they wheel overhead. When the sand is hot, we stick our toes in the cold salt water of Puget Sound – home to an irreplaceable, teeming ecosystem – and gaze up at the snowcapped Olympic Mountains glistening in the sun. And we realize that all of this is interconnected and must be protected for all time. — Kahuna Dave, Beach Bum and CEO, Alki Surf Shop

Alki Beach Sunset © terri nakamura - small

Apple

Apple’s recycling efforts recovered 89 million pounds of materials in 2015, including copper, silver, aluminum, steel, zinc, and $40 million worth of gold.

A commercial featuring Siri and promoting “Liam,” debuted today. Liam is a robot designed to dismantle and recycle iPhones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99Rc4hAulSg

Siri and Liam commercial

Amazon

Amazon is always on the lookout for ways to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.

  • Shipping packages are made from recovered fiber content, and are 100 percent recyclable
  • Amazon incorporates sustainable and eco-friendly materials in their buildings (six of their buildings have been awarded LEED Gold certification)
  • They make “Green” products available to consumers (www.amazon.com/greeAmazon Earth Day Bookn).

Today, Amazon offers “The Four Seasons – An Earth Day Interactive Children’s Storybook” as a free download.

Google

One of Google’s goals for the products they create is to be good for the environment. A few points worth noting:

  • Google has been carbon neutral since 2007.
  • They are the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy on the planet.
  • Their data centers use 50 percent less energy than typical data centers.

“We live on a beautiful planet, and it’s the only one we’ve got,” says Sophie Diao, 2016 Google doodler.

To see a history of Google Earth Day doodles, visit: http://time.com/4304384/google-doodle-earth-day-2016/

Sophie Diao Google Doodler Earth Day 2016

Value Village 

A “clothing spill” appeared yesterday on Alki Beach. Electric Coffin, a creative company whose efforts were sponsored by Value Village, was deployed to create installation art made of discarded/donated clothing. The conical spirals appeared to be “poured” from an oil barrel into a “pool” of colored clothing at the base. Informational oil-barrel lids told more of the story to passersby. The work brings attention to the volume of textile waste generated by people each year, which averages to be 80 pounds per person in North America.

Sidewalk Art - composite © Terri Nakamura-small

Verizon 

In honor of Earth Day 2016, Verizon has made a commitment to plant 50,000 trees this year.

But on an everyday basis, Verizon is a good corporate and global citizen that works to protect our planet as well as better serve their customers. A few statistics of note:

  • Verizon has 206 Energy Star-certified stores, offices and centers
  • 289 of their retail stores are LEED-certified
  • Verizon has reused, repurposed or recycled 50 million mobile devices to date
  • Employees have collected and recycled 2.1 million pounds of e-waste.

Verizon impacts and how to make a difference

 

Whether you did something to honor Earth Day, or if  you did nothing more than enjoy family, friends and colleagues and the world around you, I hope we can all do things in the future to help make it possible to celebrate many more.


Apple, Google and Verizon images sourced at URLs cited; Alki and Value Village images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

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Why “Better” Matters

Especially When it Comes to Creating Memories

Abandoned after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1981, our Randle home sat empty for a decade before we rescued it in 1991. It was a falling-down wreck when we bought it—so decrepit it wasn’t even included in the valuation of the property.

The house as we found it

The porches had fallen down, the foundation had slipped, and only the moss kept the roof intact.

Despite that, our family and friends enjoyed long weekends in this idyllic getaway two hours from Seattle. Some of our best times were when it was still just a “stationary tent,” with no doors, windows, electricity, running water or indoor plumbing.

Porch columns and door on the floor

Looking toward the fireplace; new window; porch supports & door on the floor.

Drilling the well

We hauled water until we hired a water witcher and ended up drilling a 165-foot-deep well.

We cooked on the campfire, used Coleman lanterns, hauled in 5-gallon containers of water, and slept on the floor in sleeping bags. It felt like going to summer camp.

Kids at the rope swing

Our kids with a group of their buddies, gathered at the rope swing.

Horsfalls around the campfire

A family gathering to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Cooking on an open fire was delicious. Or maybe it was because we were so hungry?

Jaguar at Randle

Crazy, but our only cars were David’s Jaguar and my BMW. Not the greatest cars for camping adventures, but the Jag was a great cruise-mobile. Newly graded land in the background.

The property had a two-hole outhouse built in 1940, which we resurrected and used. Because few things are more “fun” than going outside in the middle of the night, carrying a flashlight, to use a spooky old outhouse! 

The outhouse

Erin and Wendy near the fire pit, with our two-hole outhouse in the distance

We had many adventures, like a death-defying trip to Burley Mountain lookout where, in one sweeping vista, we could see three magnificent mountains—Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. One time we rescued our kids and a friend as they crossed a field unaware of a bull grazing nearby. We spent long days hanging out at Yellow Jacket Ponds, fishing for trout, playing in the water, then coming back to the house to fry fresh fish for dinner.

Burley Mountain lookout

The lookout at Burley Mountain allowed unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and forests—important for spotting fires. Christina and Charley rest in the shade.

View from Burley Mountain

Andrew and Erin goofing around, with the crater of Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

Boys Fish Randle

Andrew, Max, Stuart and Charley with the day’s catch; Rusty in the corner.

We captured rubber boas*, and watched bats descend at dusk to feast on insects. We caught frogs, lizards, garter snakes and crickets that occupied our “guest aquarium” until they were released before heading back to Seattle. And we foraged for wild berries, fruit and nuts growing on our land. It was the complete antithesis of life in the city.

Rubber boa

This is the second rubber boa we caught— much smaller than the first. They’re beautiful snakes. 

We spent two decades restoring the house, and eventually furnished it with hand-me-downs from our Seattle home, plus artifacts lovingly collected over the years. It felt very familiar and homey to us. However by 2013, with both boys grown and gone, we weren’t spending as much time at our country home. So I decided to try listing it on AirBNB — and quickly learned we weren’t really prepared.

Randle outside

After righting the foundation, rebuilding the porches and chimney, roofing and painting.

We loved Randle “as is.” We viewed it through the lens of our own memories and experiences—and not through the eyes of strangers.

Our first guest gave us a forgiving review. The next was brutal, and though I was upset by it, she was right: the house wasn’t ready for prime time. Thus began my quest to revamp it to create the “best guest experience” we could offer.

Randle living room

This is the same view as the second image from the top—looking toward the fireplace. We gathered the rocks and had a local stone mason set them. “The Orr House” oar is an homage to “Mrs. Orr,” former occupant and whom we believe to be a benevolent spirit at the house.

I began by replacing the bedding and linens, and expanded from there, doing what we could to make people feel welcomed and help ensure a pleasant stay. I worked hard, along with David and our property manager, Cathy Kane, to achieve “super host” status! It’s an accomplishment that requires continued hard work to retain.

Super host 2

Super-host status is fleeting. You have to work hard to hang on to it!

People naturally shop around for the best deals, and we think they recognize the value in staying in our home. There are nearby rentals that are more or less expensive, but none offer quite the same spaces and experiences. Pet owners love that their dogs can safely romp on 22 acres of land, pretending they are their wild ancestors on the hunt. And looking out across the Big Bottom Valley in the morning to see a herd of elk is an amazing treat.

In terms of recognizing value—we’re grateful to Verizon for being the only proven carrier in Randle. I routinely remind our guests to bring lots of quarters for the pay phone in town if they have AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile.  We put a positive spin on the lack of cell service by positioning it as a “digital detox” experience, but the truth is, we love that Verizon sees value in serving areas like Randle, where none of the other major carriers are to be found. We regard it as our lifeline to the civilized world.

It’s been a 25-year journey so far. For us, we’ve found #BetterMatters—especially when it comes to memories. And chorus frogs singing you to sleep.

Christina on the rope swing

Christina insisted on wearing her velvet dress and patent-leather shoes on the rope swing—even at night!


*Rubber boas are the only North American boa snakes. They have prehensile tails and are very, very cool!

All Photos © Terri Nakamura 1991 through 2016

We’ve been Verizon customers since 2002 when Andrew began as a cadet at West Point. As part of an awesome group of Verizon influencers, I’m grateful to Verizon for giving me the opportunity to use and test some of their awesome devices and tech. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

Shopping for a Living

Skybridge cropped

How do products end up in stores?

For nearly 20 years I created product labels and packaging. One of my clients, John Matthys, was a great mentor and friend. One of the things he championed was real-life market testing.

What is market testing?

The traditional way to test customer response was with focus groups.

Focus group testing enlists qualified participants who meet certain demographic criteria (age, gender, income levels, etc.). They’re assembled to view and respond to visual, conceptual, or theoretical goods or situations. Clients and research analysts often will watch through a two-way mirror, while participants offer feedback that helps companies anticipate how their products or services will perform.

It’s very expensive.

John realized the huge amount of money his company was paying to conduct focus groups exceeded the cost of actually producing products and placing them onto store shelves. What better feedback is there than getting real-life responses from his actual customers? So that’s what he did.

Market research and intuition

At our store, Alki Surf Shop, my husband, David Horsfall, and I have employed John’s strategy with many of our products. In addition, we also pay attention to trends, and stock inventory compatible with our store’s retro-modern brand and encompassing “Seattle, surf culture, beach and fun.”

Recently I spent four days at the Seattle Gift Show (pictured above). Shows like the Seattle Gift Show are for retail stores and businesses that sell merchandise to consumers. They are not open to the general public. There is an eclectic group in attendance. It’s akin to belonging to a special club where the members have something special in common: they’re all kind of crazy. I say that because retail is not for weenies. There are many easier ways to make money, but they’re maybe not as much fun.

Seen at the Seattle Gift Show

Tiny sample of things we saw at the Seattle Gift Show while shopping for Alki Surf Shop

I personally don’t enjoy shopping for sport. So if I find something I like, I’ll buy 2, 3, or even 9 of the same exact thing.

But the gift show isn’t like shopping for yourself. It’s more like you’re shopping to buy something for a friend, but you don’t know who the friend is, and you don’t know what the friend likes.

So you end up choosing things that you like, or imagine THEY would like. It’s a bit like mind reading. David often says I’m prescient. However, when it comes to buying for retail, it’s a semi-informed roll of the dice.

Shopping to buy for a store is hard work. We have ideas of what we might want, then search through myriad vendors and options. We compare sources, prices, quality and terms. Then if we decide to sell an item, we order it, price it, add it to our inventory, merchandise it, and track its sales.

Our real-life business education

As retail storeowners, we meet many nice, friendly people from all over the world. The flip side is, we devote so much time to nurturing this thing we’ve birthed, it leaves us with just a fraction of the free time we once had. That means we are spending much of our time with strangers, rather than family or friends.

That being said, we’re fortunate to have friends who are also fellow store and restaurant owners. They understand the relentless work it takes to make a business like ours succeed. They’ve shared their experiences to help us avoid mistakes, and generously given us great advice and support.

There’s a widely quoted statistic attributed to Bloomberg, that says eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who launch businesses fail within the first 18 months. Having recently passed that milestone, and seeing our sales increasing year-over-year, David and I feel slightly more confident about what we’re doing.

It’s a continual learning experience that’s both challenging and fun.

See how it all comes together

We’re gearing up for spring and summer and hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area. We’ll have new items from the Seattle Gift Show on our shelves, and you’ll have the opportunity to be part of our real-life market testing.

There won’t be any two-way mirrors or research analysts. But you will be greeted with a friendly “Aloha!”


Postscript

This blog post went through seven revisions and was written entirely on a Motorola Droid Turbo 2 provided to me by Verizon Wireless.

It was fun writing in a café with only the Droid, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, while curious onlookers stole glances!

Droid cropped

Working at Teavana in Seattle’s University Village, home to a Verizon Smart Store Plus

You can learn more about the Droid Turbo 2, the smartphone with the unbreakable screen, by visiting Verizon Wireless.


Disclosure: As a member of a great group of Verizon influencers, I’m invited to share my honest thoughts on cool products to use and test. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

All Photos @ Terri Nakamura 2016

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20 Great Gifts for Tech-Lovers

Ideas Starting at $10 —  10 Days to Shop!

There’s a Verizon “Smart Store Plus” in my favorite Seattle shopping place—University Village. Think: Apple Store with a wide range of brands and products.

The fact that there are gobs of cool things there inspired me to put together this gift guide. You can find something for every geek on your list.

Prices were noted at the time the post was written. For specials, check this link. (Free shipping on all online orders—some items may be online only.)


1 verizon-silicone-cover-samsung-galaxy-s-6-edge-plus-iset-samg928vmsilblk

The $10 case I bought for my S6 Edge+

1. Cases for every budget — starting at $9.99 — Do you need a case to simply protect from scuffs, or do you work in a profession where your phone takes a beating? Looking for designer bling, or do you need a “power safety net?” With myriad choices, here’s a tip: decide what’s important—brand, color, features, materials, budget—then search accordingly.

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2 Micro SD Memory Card Reader and 128 GB Micro SD

San Disks come in lots of sizes

2. SanDisks — start at $12.99 — Everyone needs space! When a family member or friend finds one of these in their Christmas stocking, they’ll say, “Thanks for the Memory!” SanDisk offers a range from 32 to 128 GB. They’re useful and they make great stocking stuffers, too.

3 verizon-4-8a-vehicle-charger-white-iset-vpc48wht 5 $19.99

3. 4.8A vehicle Charger with Dual Output — (5★) $19.99 — Two is better than one, right? A vehicle charger with dual output means you can charge both your phone and tablet while you’re on the go! It has a charging indicator showing when it’s fully charged, and comes in six colors—white, blue, red, pink, black and yellow.

4 Verizon Gift Cards4. Verizon Gift Cards — From $25  — When you aren’t sure what that someone on your list wants, but you know they love tech— gift cards can be a great choice. They don’t expire, and are available for $25, $50, $75 or $100. The cards can be used online or in-store to buy things, or even be used to pay your Verizon bill.

5 Sol Republic Tracks Headphones 5 $29

 

5. Sol Republic Tracks Headphones — (5★) $29.98 – (70% off – reg. $99.98) — Right now Sol Republic Tracks Headphones are available online at a ridiculously inexpensive price. With convenient playback controls and phone compatibility, you’ll experience a great range of sound from base to treble. They’re highly rated and going fast!

6 Chromecast $35

6. Chromecast — $34.99 (4★) — Good things come in small packages. Chromecast is an inexpensive way to screencast—the ability to view content from your phone onto your television. It works with Android 2.3+, iOS 6.0+, Windows and Mac smartphones, tablets and laptops. Out of stock? The Belkin Miracast (4) does the same thing at $59.99, and includes an HDMI and USB cables.

7 JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker

7. JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker — $39.99 — Do you need to buy a great gift for a music lover who is on the go? Super light, rugged and powerful, the Clip+ includes a carabiner to attach to your backpack or clothes. Fully charged, it will provide about 5 hours of play. It has a fun, compact design and comes in five colors: red, grey, blue, purple and black. Compatible with your phone.

8 ZAGG Invisible Shield

8. Invisible Shield Privacy Glass for iPhone 6s and 6sPlus (4★) $44.99 — One of the icky things about screen protectors is, they can look smudgy. Invisible Shield’s tinted protective glass keeps prying eyes from viewing your screen via a two-way privacy filter. It also repels skin oils, so it’s easy to apply and keep clean. In fact, it’s so good that ZAGG will replace worn or damaged Invisible Shield glass for the life of your device. (Models available for other devices.)

9 Travel Rockstar $59

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9. Belkin Travel Rockstar ­— $59.99 — 
Turn one outlet into two. As a portable power pack, the Travel Rockstar uses a built-in battery to provide 3,000 mAh to your USB-enabled device. It’s a convenient way to give your smartphone or tablet a power boost while traveling for fun or pleasure, or even on your commute.

10 LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset10. LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset — (4.5★) $59.99 Regularly $69.99 — Tone Pro has neck-behind, wireless bluetooth stereo headset with Harmon Kardon signature sound. It has a MEMS (MicroElectrical-Mechanical System) microphone, ensuring phone clarity. Enjoy up to 23 hours of standby; 16 hours of talk time; and up to 10.5 hours of music playback. Charge up to 100% in less than two hours.

11 Mophie Powerstation Plus 3 $99


11. Mophie Powerstation Plus 3x — (4★
) $99.00 — Do you know a battery daredevil? One who lets their phone battery experience near death on a daily basis? iPhone or Android compatible and true to its name—this back up battery will fully recharge your smartphone 3 times. It seems like connectors  vanish when you need them, but don’t worry with the Mophie Powerstation Plus — the connectors are built in.


12 Blue Ant Pump Mini HD Audio Sportbuds $9912. Blue Ant Pump HD Audio Sport buds MINI — $99.00 — 
The Plantronics Fit bluetooth stereo headset looked good, but this Blue Ant option was recommended at $30 less. Pump HD’s sports-inspired, sweat-proof (IP54-rated) earbuds deliver powerful audio. It delivers up to six-hours of playtime on a quick, one-hour charge. There are three sizes of the ComfortSeal ear tips, and SuperFit Stabilizers ensure a great fit.

13 FITBIT Flex Wireless Activity+Sleep Wristband 4.5 $99
13. Fitbit Charge HR — (4★)  Now  $129.99 — Regularly $149.99 — This advanced tracking wristband provides your automatic, continuous heart rate and tracks your activity right on your wrist all day, during workouts and beyond. Log your meals, track your calories, and even evaluate your sleep — now $20 off.

14 Canary all in one Home Security System 4 $199


14. Canary all-in-one home security system — (4★
) Now $179.99 — Regularly $249.99  — This beautifully designed home security device seems to do everything. It’s easy to set up, too. The HD wide-angle camera lets you see, hear and stream, with the option to record and store. It also monitors air quality, temperature and humidity. The sleek design is unobtrusive and makes it look more like a speaker than a camera.

15 Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit $199

15. Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit — $199.99 — Ease into sleep; wake gently. Adjust the ambience, or make your home look occupied. Paint with light and change colors — all remotely controlled using your phone. Very nifty! The starter kit contains 3 wireless bulbs and is Apple Homekit and Nest Learning Thermostat-compatible.

16 Ultimate Ears Megaboom 4.5 $249


16. UE Megaboom — (4.5★
) Now $249.99  — Regularly $299.99 — BOOM is right! The volume and sound quality of this UE bluetooth speaker is unreal. The cylinder-shape projects sound in all directions, allowing you to hear music at high-volume without distortion. In 2014 I found few speakers that could pair with more than one speaker. UE Megaboom lets you pair up to 8 speakers! It comes in 4 colors: red, blue, purple and black.

17 Moto260 2nd Gen Smart Watch

Love the bespoke Horween leather band. 

 

17. Moto360 2nd Gen Smart Watch 46mm — (4★) $329.99 — Simply beautiful. Compatible with a huge range of devices, this elegant smart watch is handsome and affordable. Moto360 comes in two sizes (42mm and 46mm), and delivers notifications from your phone via bluetooth or wifi. It’s also a fitness tracker and responds to gestures and voice commands.

18 Moto X 2nd Gen $449


18. Moto X (2nd Gen) — (4★
) $449.99** — The Moto X (2nd Gen) smartphone is beautifully designed and affordable. The 5.2-inch, 1080 HD display means visual content looks great, and its 13 MP camera can be activated with a twist of your wrist. It responds to voice commands and will even read text aloud. It has a metal frame, and you can choose genuine materials, like wood or leather, to fit your lifestyle.

19 BB-8 Droid Turbo2 4 $624


19. Droid Turbo 2 Designed By You — (4★
) $624** — Special Edition Star Wars: The Force Awakens Droid Turbo 2 is now available! I saw this device dropped from 8 feet onto a concrete slab. Not a scratch. It has the first shatterproof display and you can custom design your phone with than 1,000 combinations. It has a 5.9″1440 x 2560 display and whopping 21 MP camera! Works great with the Moto360 smart watch.

20 Galaxy S6 Edge+ 4.5 $768

20. Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — (4.5★) $768** — There are myriad reasons why this device is one of Samsung’s flagship phones. I love mine! The beautiful 5.7″ Quad HD display (2560 x 1440) is stunning, making it an amazing entertainment device. The 16 MP camera shoots video in 4K. (Read more about it here.) The S6 Edge Plus works in more than 200 countries. Ready for a splurge? This is it!



Besides a huge array of phones, gadgets and accessories, the University Village Verizon Store offers tech support, workshops and demos.

The items on this list only scratch the surface. I hope you find some gifts to help you get your holiday shopping holi-done!

★  Ratings based on consumer feedback. New items are not rated.
*  Qualcomm® Quick Charge 2.0 (5V/9V) device required.
** List price. Contract/monthly prices vary by device

Thanks to Jathan Lopez, Solutions Manager, and Specialist Calvin Li, both at the University Village Verizon Store, who contributed some of their favorites to my list.

Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products.

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