Thursday, October 25, 2007

Directionally Challenged

Oh the image of the classic family road trip. Five people piled in a van, bursting at the seams with mismatched luggage. The resident navigator is riding shotgun, head tilted, trying to make sense of a map that had been stuck in the glove compartment since the beginning of time.

Nowadays, consumers are creating their own maps and experiences. Imagine a time before MapQuest and Google Maps! No longer does the navigator struggle with locating highways on a complicated map- they are able to read turn-by-turn directions and even find businesses along the route.

Companies are even starting to think about providing mobile guides for certain cities. While maps are often left in the car or lost, mobile phones are an extension of today's consumer. Do Me ... London, a provider of mobile entertainment guides, recently launched information for London. Users can request a tour via SMS and then a link is provided so free information can be obtained. Including:

Index of 80 attractions
Free audio guides
Finding tips about the city

While the site is not flashy or fancy, the concept is quite advanced (not to mention it will begin to open up opportunities for advertisers). The social aspect will continue to evolve as well. On the Do Me ... London site, there is an area where consumers snapped photos of themselves using the product. I could eventually see users submitting reviews of landmarks and providing travel tips.

Will the family road trips of 2010 have everyone Twittering and Whrrling and Yelping and Google SMSing from their 6th gen iPhones?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

whrrl-y gig

I’m sure many of us use Twitter and Yelp and wish there was a combination of the two. I, for example, often find myself somewhere trying to send an SMS to Twitter about a certain restaurant/landmark/etc. because I can’t write Yelp reviews while I’m on the go.

Whrrl, a new service, hopes to aggregate our fragmented social activity by providing a way to track/map/post/edit things with their spiffy technology. Their site is a combination of a map (that visually shows reviewed or “touched” places) and content (where you can write your own reviews, schedule a “meet up” with a friend, etc.). What’s even cooler is that users also have the ability to do almost all of the same things directly from their mobile devices. So if you’re eating at a new restaurant and can’t wait to tell the world about the great chocolate lava cake you’re eating, you can send a quick review (and pictures!) to a short code. These items will be posted to your feed and to relevant locations on the map.

Clients with brick & mortar stores could potentially offer coupons to drive in-store traffic. Since Whrrl is a brand new site, the opportunities are endless…

Additional links:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gu/Sport Beans/Luna Bars/Shot Bloks Are All Good For You

Since I signed up for the Nike Half Marathon on March 1, it has been marked on my Google Calendar. All caps. I remember entering it in there and thinking it was eons away. I had all the time in the world to build endurance, find the right socks that wouldn't give me blisters, determine my Powersong and break in my new shoes.

And finally, the big day is almost here! This coming Sunday at 7 am I'll be heading out from Union Square and running my first race ever. My life has recently been a frenzy of reading Runner's World, going to the chiropractor, taking pilates classes (my core has to hold me up during those uphill climbs!) and eating ungodly amounts of carbs. If it's one thing running has given me, it's the ability to eat as many bagels as I want without feeling bad about myself.

Nike+ has been a big help in motivating me to run faster and run better. I'll definitely have my iPod with me on Sunday, even if I don't have my headphones on the entire time.

Maybe after this race is done I'll have more time to blog!

Check out all the race info and mayhem on the site:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who Are You Calling Crazy?

It's never fun to be the person to order lunch for a huge group. Everyone has their little preferences, and even when it's all down on paper, it's hard to catch all of them. Hold the mayo. Extra dressing. No dressing. Chicken instead of shrimp. Side of vegetables. is here to save the day! With their innovative tools and applications, they are trying to make lunch-ordering drama a thing of the past. The Group Order tool allows users to enter their customizable orders and then compiles them to be faxed, emailed or phoned directly to the restaurant. Another cool feature is Pick-A-Place, which is what you can use to send restaurant suggestions to a group of friends and then everyone can vote from their own computers. All available restaurants can be located by address/zip code.

No longer will you reach for a take out menu when you're out at your favorite place. It's refreshing to see that even the restaurant industry is developing solutions for today's sophisticated Web user.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

There's a Party in My Tummy

I tend to get insatiable cravings for Japanese food on a weekly basis. And while I love dragon rolls and and yellowtail and rainbow rolls, nothing makes me happier than a bento box full of other goodies. Chicken teriyaki and tempura are my favorites and seeing both of them presented on a giant lacquered tray is quite awesome.

Some very creative (and digital!) people have combined their own love for bento boxes with the blogosphere. While food blogs are still good sources of recipes and cooking tips, I have been keeping up with bento blogs too. They are colorful, fun and they make me think about the lunches I used to take to school when I was little. Trust me; nothing in my Cabbage Patch Kids lunch box looked nearly this cool.

Buon appetito!

Bento Yum
Lunch in a Box
Kitchen Cow
Adventures in Bentomaking
Flickr member Sakurako Kitsa (amazing bentos)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

School's Out

Attending college in San Diego meant ditching lectures in favor of laying out on a beach, with palm trees swaying overhead. Rainy days halted everything; students stayed at home, crippled by the fear of getting wet. When your footwear options range from light brown flip flops to dark brown flip flops, this inability to function in inclement weather is justified.

Ah, if only my undergraduate career had coincided with the explosion of user-generated video and social networking! I would have been able to bask in the sun and plop down on my couch later in the day with a lecture video from Art History class. In the case of the current students at UC Berkeley, they will soon be able to access full course lectures through YouTube. The university has over 300 hours of recorded courses that be found on their branded channel, featuring subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics. They are even offering a course on search-engine technology.

Will lecture halls across the country soon become even emptier? With the lure of beaches (in some cases!) and the ability to watch videos at one's leisure, students may not have to show up in-person for most of the school year.