Monday, July 29, 2013

Calm Down. I'm Not Going To Invade Your Privacy With Google Glass.

I've been reading a lot of concerns lately about Google Glass and privacy. While I always try to be respectful of the concerns others have, I really think a lot of unnecessary hoopla is being raised about Google Glass. I may offend you when I say this, but here it goes: I really don't want to film you as you go on about your everyday life. I don't care to take a picture of you or capture any conversations you may be having in public. BUT, if I did, I wouldn't need Google Glass to do it.

There, I said it. Filming unsuspecting people is as old as the moving picture. We're all probably on someone's vacation tapes as we strolled through Disney World or frolicked in the waves while on vacation at the shore. I have videos of other people's kids who happen to be riding the same merry-go-round as one of my kids. I'm sure my kids are in stranger's home movies as well in the same fashion. That's life. Cameras aren't illegal. What happened with cameras is that they've become smaller, more portable, more convenient, and less obvious. I am sure most of you reading this have a smartphone. You've probably taken a photo of yourself and your friends in a crowd. Did you ask every person in the background if it was okay that they were in your shot? Probably not. Yet, to some, since I wear Glass, I am in a different league. Some see me as an intruder and suspicious.

Those of us who have Google Glass have our own intentions. Mine happens to be filming my kids and the cute things they say and do. Some have much bigger ideas that aspire to capture things that appeal to the masses more than my three kids. And yes, some have ideas that may invade your privacy. You can't assume that everyone with Google Glass is a pervert or is on the government's payroll to spy on you. In fact, this small percentage of people with ill intentions aren't going to their first rodeo with Glass. They've been at it for a while. First it was probably with a disposable camera, then with a grainy first-generation camera phone, and now with iPhones, iPads and yes, Google Glass.

To be quite honest, when you're recording with Glass, it's pretty obvious. If you don't hear me say, "Ok, Glass. Record a video", you'll see me doing this just before I start recording you:

And, you will see the white light reflected in the prism. I say, "me", because I am writing this. What we will refer to those who would actually do this to you is a "Glasshole". Day or night, it's obvious when Glass is recording a video. If you suspect someone is filming you specifically, ask them, just as you would if you see someone with their cell phone in a suspicious position. Better yet, ask them to show you what we call a "Screencast", a mirror image of what we see through Glass live on the cell phone we're tethering with. Ask them to scroll through their feed.  If you see yourself in the feed, on a video or photo with you as the main subject, you've encountered a Glasshole, and punches are fair game. 

There are many websites that offer very clever recording devices straight out of a James Bond movie. There's a camera that looks like a ballpoint pen. There's a camera that looks like a button you pin on your jacket. In other words, to the hard-core creepers, wearing Glass on your face is too obvious. If I wanted to spy on people or secretly record them, I'm going all out and buying some secret agent man watch or something. 

Sure, there are places where Glass shouldn't be worn. Dressing rooms, hospitals, movie theaters, and doctor's offices are just a few examples. This is a common sense thing. The same rules apply when choosing when to whip out your phone and record a video. Personally, I wouldn't wear Glass when I am at dinner or in a situation that would divert my attention from who I am with. You see people doing this all the time with their phones, though. You can see a table of five at a restaurant and nobody's talking. They're texting or trying to beat level 175 on Candy Crush. Glass will be no different once it goes mainstream. It may even be common to see people walking around with Glass on. In a year's time, this may not even be anything worth talking about.  

As far as the NSA concerns go, do you not think that there are hidden camera on the streets and elsewhere that capture far more than you'd care to know about? The very device you surf the internet with is far more subject to being spied upon than my Google Glass. Privacy concerns reach way beyond Glass to me. I understand the concern. They're new, they're "in your face", and they're different.

Essentially, all I am saying is, chill out. There's always a bad seed. There's always exceptions to the rule. They're everywhere. They're wearing Glass. They don't own Glass. They're carrying smartphones. They carry old phones. People will always find a way to invade your privacy if they want to. One thing you don't have to worry about it Google Glass owners getting an upskirt photo of you. Can you imagine? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Houston, We Have a Problem

My Google Glass hit a snag today. The glass portion has become very loose and will not stay in one spot. If I move it to adjust the screen, it flops back down and doesn't stay. Phooey! There was no injury to Glass itself. I treat them like a newborn baby. It started when I simply went to move the screen gently.

I called Tech Support and spoke to a very helpful young man who is on the case. Here's a video explaining the problem that I sent to Google. (My kids make a cameo). :)

I'll keep you guys posted as to the process of getting a replacement or having them fixed!

-Jennifer McKelvey

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bedtime Ritual With My Son

This is a short and sweet update. My son and I have a bedtime ritual that we've done since he was 3. We made it up as we went along and have added a thing or two along the way. I've always wanted to capture it but it was not possible with my iPhone. Google Glass did the trick!

I present you the Mommy and Mason bedtime ritual! I'll look back on this when he's all grown and smile.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

So Far

I've had Google Glass for a week now. It has been a learning process that I do not even profess to fully understand yet. I am from South Carolina. My city is pretty amazing and is full of people from all walks of life. Google search, "Greenville, SC", and you will see what a beautiful place I get to call home. Greenville has become a very hip town and somewhat "cityfied" in comparison to many southern cities. I have been hoping to get out and show our beautiful city through Glass, but Seattle seemed to have sent their weather our way. It has rained non-stop since I  have been home so I have mostly taken videos of my kids.

I went grocery shopping tonight and I thought I would take the Glass along. The responses were hilarious. Some people stared and didn't say anything to me. You know they were just trying to figure out what I was wearing on my face. Some flat out ask what they are. A few had a "Nerdgasm" and said, "OOOohhhh! Is that Google Glass?", which was followed by 20 questions. The best one was an older, very southern man. He said, "Them's about the most fancy corrective glassed I have ever seen. Yer eyes must be very bad to have that thick of a lens on that right eye". The people behind me snickered and I spent about 2 minutes explaining Google Glass to him. When I was finished, he said, "Y'all kids and yer technology. I can't even use the remote that came with my TV. I have seen it all now".

 During the week I have had them, I have made some notes about my thoughts for the future of Glass. On a technological level, these things are pretty awesome. It's still weird for me to see a screen in the distance. I still fumble with the commands a bit. But I think that the final product will be mind blowing. Below are my praises for Google Glass:

1. The biggest appeal for me is the ability to quickly take a photo or video. My kids are busy. They rarely slow down long enough for me to grab my phone, open the camera, and get it set to take a photo or video. Before Glass, I missed a lot of really cute moments that would come and go while I fumbled with my phone. With Glass, I tilt my to wake the screen and speak my command. Boom. You have the photo or video within about 4 seconds. With my phone, it took 8 seconds. (Yes, I timed it).

2. The picture and video quality are superb. I have an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S4. I also have a Canon Rebel handheld camera. With Glass, I have found that the clarity of the photos is much better than I could have imagined. Take the photo below for example. This photo is original; no filters & no enhancement. The contrast of the blue sky and the green leaves on the trees is very cool. The quality is very high.

3. While the right side of Glass is obviously bigger, it is not very noticeable. You forget you're wearing them after a few minutes.

4. The bendability of the frames is awesome. My 2-year-old has already tested the durability of Glass a couple of times. While she gave me a near-heart attack, Glass took a beating and kept on ticking. This is important to us who have children. While kids are wonderful and the best thing about life, it's pretty much a law that Mom and Dad can never have anything nice. I've had 1 iPhone that needed to go potty and 2 iPhones that needed a bath. I am treating Glass like my 4th newborn. I'm very protective. I do let my kids put them on and walk around. It's interesting to play the video and see how they see the world.

5. Social interaction. People are curious, as I touched on above. It's a conversation piece. I find that I talk to a lot of people I normally wouldn't interact with when I go out with Glass. I have had nothing but positive feedback. I know some have had things shouted at them in a negative way. So far, I haven't experienced this. But, I haven't ventured out too much.

6. I have had good results from the voice commands. Glass seems to get it right the first time. I am not running into the problem of it getting my dictation wrong, which is a common problem with my Siri.

7. I like the ease of sharing a photo with my Google + circles and Facebook friends. Adding text is a breeze as long as you tap quickly enough while the photo is uploading. There's major room for improvement in this department, as I will highlight below.

8. The directions seem to be pretty amazing. From my home, I have played around with them. The display is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to use them while out, which you will learn about below.

Now, for the things I think need major improvement before Google Glass will appeal to the masses:

1. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 as the Android based phone needed to get the full benefit of Glass. The only problem is that I have had no luck in tethering since I left the Google appointment in New York. I stepped out onto the streets of NY after my appointment. I asked for directions to the nearest subway. I saw this:

I went back to Google where for 30 minutes they tried to get me tethered. We were on the phone with AT&T, who were pretty clueless when it came to Glass. In the end, the couple who were helping me at Google did get me connected in some way, after an almost heated debate amongst themselves about which was to go, but I lost that connection as soon as I left Google. I didn't go back because my time in NYC was limited and I didn't want to spend it all troubleshooting when it was clear we weren't going to be successful. I have since heard of others who are having problems connecting with the S4 but some are able to. Google Glass needs to have an independent data plan like the iPad does. It eliminated connectivity issues and it doesn't eat into your phone's data. 

2. Since I have no tethering capabilities, I am unable to use directions. Bummer. Essentially, I have a wearable camera when I go out of my Wi-Fi range. I hear a fix is coming sometime this month for people having issues with the S4 tethering. In the meantime, I have downloaded 3rd party apps to connect, but still no luck. 

3. There is a big need for some sort of organization. For now, you're bound to doing the finger swipe for a couple of minutes if you want to show someone a photo or video that was taken a while back. I would like to see a folder option on the main screen where you can separate your timeline by relevancy. Most times, I will just grab my phone to show someone a photo or video that was taken at an earlier date. This gets old, fast.

4. No iPhone support. Let's face it. A lot of people own iPhones. For now, all you can do is connect via Bluetooth, but this eliminates a few features of Glass, such as directions. While in NYC, I was told that an iPhone app is supposed to happen, for now, you're out of luck in unlocking the full experience of Glass unless you have an Android device.

5. The Google + integration is great. There's a problem with that for me. Most people I know are not on Google +, but rather on Facebook. I know that Google would love for Glass to move the masses from Facebook to +, but I don't think that will happen. You can share a photo on Facebook, but that's all you can do with Facebook from Glass. You can't even upload a video you have taken from Glass. However, you can upload a video to Google +. Google will need to make a Facebook app that puts your entire timeline and all the features that a Facebook app on your phone provides. 

6. Speaking of the Facebook app, Google will need to make pretty much any app you can get on your smartphone available on the Glass. If we're wanting to use Glass in the same manner as a phone, it all has to be available from Glass. Why wear Glass if you have to grab your phone to do various things? The whole point is that Glass is a wearable computer. I have heard Glass may be getting its own app store sometime in the future. I am eagerly awaiting any word that this is a go. 

7. Since I have no tethering capabilities, connecting to Wi-Fi when out is nothing but a pain. You have to find the hotspot, enter the password, generate a QR code, scan that, and connect. Open Wi-Fi is easy, but when you're visiting someone's home or a place that requires a password, you're in it for at least a minute before you're connected. If you have to connect via a website portal, you're out of luck all together.

8. Battery life needs a major improvement. I have found that after taking 8-10 minutes of video, your battery drains to the point that Glass needs to recharge. If you're out and about, this leaves you having to buy a backup battery to keep charging on the go. I've done it, and believe me, if you wear Glass while charging to a portable device, you look ridiculous. The charger's cord is thick and flat. If you think you stand out just by wearing Glass, try charging on the go. This really makes you choose what you're going to do with Glass. Want videos? Forget turn-by-turn directions. You need to save all your battery for videos. The occasional use of scrolling through your timeline and taking photos seems to be easier on the battery. You can get several hours of battery life by doing this. 

9. While the design is super cool, I don't know how often I will be wearing them in public. They're so new and different. A lot of people have not heard the first thing about Glass, so that makes you stand out even more. I'm the type person who has never worn clothing to draw attention to myself. Glass does exactly that. I think Glass will be reserved for the occasional outing downtown or things like zoo trips. 

10. Glass needs some sort of option to lift the unit up for those of us who don't have symmetrical ears. Obviously, my left ear sits slightly lower than my right. This leads to the screen being tilted just a bit. It's noticeable in photos and videos. Maybe an addition of removable pads to slide over the smaller side to keep them raised would help? They could come in the box just as the larger and smaller nose pads. 

I could go on and on about the good and the bad. The above are my major praises and gripes I've formulated in the week I have had Glass. Do I think it's ready for its public debut? No. I knew going in that this was essentially a glorified prototype and the version of Glass I currently have will look like a dinosaur once the "real" version hits stores. In the end, I feel fortunate to be among the first guinea pigs. I do think that the development of Glass will grow at a fast pace. I think the potential is there. There's just so much to do before these will be a "must have" on the market. Sure, Google could open these to the public now, and they would make a big profit just because it's a new gadget and a different one at that. But, compared to the smartphone, it's lacking.  I look forward to helping move Glass forward. It'll be neat once these are mainstream to say, "Hey, I was one of the first to have those". 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stormy South

Hi, all! I just wanted to share a video I made today with my Google Glass. I was on my front porch hoping to catch some lightning on video. At about the :07 mark, you can hear a very loud explosion in the distance. It scared me half to death. I ended up learning that a transformer exploded when hit by lighting about a half-mile away.

As for the Glass, the audio is actually pretty decent considering the size of the microphone. You can hear the rolling thunder in the distance and the explosion is loud. Believe me, it was much louder in person, but you will get the gist of it. Glass did not capture just how dark the clouds were. They had a much darker tone in person. In the end, the storm passed and all was well my way.

I am currently composing my biggest blog to date. This will cover the good, the bad, and the ugly about Glass. Well, there's not too much that's ugly about Glass, but there's a lot of improvement needed before this goes on the mass market. There's also so much amazing potential.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Short Tour Of Our Saltwater Tanks

Good Thursday, everyone!

Just a quick update this evening ... I've had a busy day!

I took a Google Glass video of the saltwater tanks we have here in our house. I wanted to see how clear the tank looked on video. I think it turned out pretty well.

I am still enjoying my Glass. For me, I find that I use it for photos and videos mostly. I think one of the features that needs to be introduced at some point is the ability to file things in separate folders that are accessible on a separate "page". It's a bit hard to scroll through news updates, emails, and everything else to get to a specific photo or video I want to show someone. That's going to be a huge time saver when that's an option. Just scrolling through your Glass can also drain the battery a bit.

I have really enjoyed letting my friends and family try Glass. I kind of feel like a pro now in telling people how to navigate their way around. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, though.

On the tethering problem front, it seems it is a problem with the Samsung Galaxy S4. AT&T has been clueless since Glass is not familiar to them. I think I will give Google a call tomorrow.

Hope you enjoy the video! My mission with Glass tomorrow is to scare the daylights out of my kids while wearing Google Glass. We're always trying to scare each other so they expect it. I need to get creative. Game on!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And Then She Fell From Her Stage

I have 3 kids. Their ages are eight, six, and two. They are all in different stages. My oldest, Taylor, is a girlie girl. I swear there was a mixup at the hospital or something. I am such a tomboy that it's hard to believe that something so prissy came out of me. If she didn't look exactly like me I think I would ask for a DNA test. :) She's an old soul who has such a giving heart. I have never seen as much compassion in such a small child as I do in her.

My son, Mason, is a boy's boy. He's athletic, a whiz at XBox, and a tender soul who has his feelings hurt easily. He's also the family comedian who keeps me laughing all day long. His "Masonism's" as we call them are regularly posted to my Facebook for all to enjoy. In fact, tonight, he asked me if he could try and trick the Tooth Fairy with a huge shark tooth we got at the beach last week.

My youngest, Sara Rose, is my tomboy with a bit of girlie mixed in. She's loving and tough. She can football tackle her brother. She looks exactly like her Daddy. In the South, we say, "She looks like her Daddy chewed her up and spit her out". (A way of saying she's the spitting image of him). She's at that cute stage where the world is her audience. I caught this video today of her putting on a show for me. She loves to sing and dance. And, given the fact that she's two and was wearing her sister's shoes, she fell. Google Glass caught it all.

No worries - she was fine. No tears were shed and this type thing happens on a daily basis around here since the child has absolutely no fear. I have no clue what she was singing. Again, another cute moment captured through Google Glass. In fact, she has watched the video over and over tonight and has laughed until she had tears in her eyes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This Is Getting Fun!

Yesterday I blogged about my experience getting Google Glass. Now that I am home and have had some quality time getting used to them, I have been taking advantage of how Glass allows me to capture the fun times with my kids. They find it very cool to look at a video playback of what I see when I look at them. Yesterday I took a few videos of my smallest as she was swinging. The cool thing about Google Glass is that when you're using it, your kid makes eye contact with you. When you're filming with a cell phone, you aren't looking at your kid. You're looking at the screen. I love the freedom of being hands free and still capturing moments like this.

Today, I caught a little impromptu dance party in the minivan. I was listening to the 90's on 9 channel on Sirius XM. Boyz II Men came on and my kids were jamming. If I hadn't had Glass on, I would have had to run around the car to the driver's side door to get my phone and the moment would have been gone.

As we arrived home, I noticed that the sky was looking kind of scary as thunder rolled in the distance. I looked up through Glass and got this shot of the fast moving dark clouds.

I am finding that the camera option seems to be the biggest chunk of my Glass use. As more apps become available I look forward to seeing what else I find useful.

Hope you guys enjoyed the videos & storm photo! I'll post more tomorrow. There's no telling with my crew what I may capture with my Google Glass!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Glass

It was like Christmas morning in July. On July 5th, I hopped on a plane to head to New York City to pick up my Google Glasses. I decided to do this in a day trip as I didn't want to be away from my kids overnight. The flight up was beautiful. I sat next to a cute couple who were half drunk and hilarious. After about an hour-and-a-half, I saw this:

Flying into Laguardia

After getting off the airplane, I made my way to the taxi lines. I caught a cab from LaGuardia to Chelsea Market. The cab fare was around $35 and took approximately 15-20 minutes. I was about an hour early for my appointment so I walked in the Chelsea Market and had lunch. You will find plenty to keep you occupied in the Market if you're early. There are plenty of food options at reasonable prices and places to sit and wait. Google told me I was free to wait there in the waiting room on the 8th floor, but I was starving! 
Cab from Laguardia to Google - $35

Chelsea Market
My appointment was at 1:00, so I made my way back up to the 8th floor at around 12:45. They checked my ID and gave me my cool little "Glass Guest" card. No, you don't get to keep it.

Glass sign in the waiting room

Waiting for my appointment
After about 5 minutes, my guy came and got me. The first thing we did was go look at the color options. They look different in person and you can change your color selection there. They allow you to try them all on. After that, you're taken to your table while you wait for your box to be brought to you. A very nice lady offered me a beverage; beer, wine, soda, etc. The box came and the fitter told me to open it. They really want you to unbox it. The packaging is very sleek and contemporary. I removed my Glass and we were in business.

After a very quick setup, which includes you entering in your Google account into their laptop computer, your Glasses are ready to be put on and instructions on how to use them begin. It was kind of overwhelming at first, as it is when you get anything new. I thought, "I'll never remember half of this". However, after 5 minutes, it was smooth sailing. I had the issue, and still do, of getting the right fit. My screen always looks tilted. Obviously, my ears are not symmetrical, as most people's aren't. We worked on that for about 10 minutes. 

I was impressed with the My Glass web app. It's very clean and straight forward. After a quick instruction of how to use the website, it was time for me to use Glass for the first time. I was taken to the platform to get a nice snapshot of the city. You've all seen the same picture a bunch of times I am sure, but here it is again for good measure. 

Obligatory 1st photo

Me with my Glass

Before I knew it my appointment was over with. I thanked everyone and left. I got about 2 blocks down the road and initiated a hangout with friends. I was not tethered. I tried everything. I called AT&T and they verified that tethering was enabled on my phone, (Samsung Galaxy S 4). I returned to Google to troubleshoot. We worked for 30 minutes to try and get my phone to tether. No dice. The nice  man and woman at Google did something that got me connected inside. They were working so fast that I wasn't able to keep up with what they were doing. I am an iPhone user and Android is still very foreign to me. All I know is that they went through the usual steps and had no luck to get my phone to tether to my Glass. Again, when I left the building, I lost that connection. I still cannot tether when I am out and about. I plan to call Glass today to further troubleshoot. Any suggestions would be welcome, so please comment if you think you have an idea that may work.

I had a few hours before I needed to be at the airport so I decided to go to Times Square to get my kids something from the Disney Store. All I can say is that when you're out with Glass, people stop you about every 5 steps. I took more photos with tourists that I can count. The interest level was through the roof. Some knew what it was and some didn't. I spent a lot of my extra time in the city interacting with people. I ran over to Yankee Stadium briefly since I bleed Yankee blue. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the airport. After talking to lots of people in the terminal about my Glasses, it was time to board and bid adieu to the greatest city in the world (besides Greenville, SC).

So, I've had Glass for a few days now. Here are my observations:

- From a tech standpoint, these are really cool. The screen resolution is much better than I anticipated. The voice controls are spot on for the most part. The response time is amazing.

- I am still getting used to the look. I think they look cool but I have had a few family members remark how they look, "silly". This will be a non-issue once they hit the mass market. It'll become commonplace to see people wearing them.

- The battery drains quickly if you take videos. The Glass also heats up a bit. Hopefully a fix will come to extend battery life in the future.

What I'd like to see with Google Glass:

- Better social media integration. While I love Google +, I use Facebook often. Right now, the extent of using Facebook with Glass is sharing a photo. I would love to see the ability to share video as well. In addition, getting Facebook notifications and being able to see your timeline would be awesome. I think this will be crucial in selling this to the public. 

- I can't wait for more Apps to become available. I would love to see a good weather app that goes beyond the visual forecast. Let me see radar that's based on my location. This would be awesome when you're out and about and it looks like a storm could come up. 

- I have two email accounts. One is Gmail and one is iCloud. I would like the option to check email from other accounts as well. The ability to compose emails is greatly needed. 

- Eventually offer Glass with LTE. Since I have had non-stop problems tethering, I would love to see Glass have its own independent internet access. 

I totally understand that these are essentially prototypes. The Glass that eventually goes on the market will be completely different than the ones we have now. I am excited to be a part of the process. So far, the experience has been fun and interesting. We'll see what the future holds. I am most looking forward to testing new apps and see how Glass can grow from these. There's so much potential there. 

Until next time, keep exploring! I am planning to do a daily blog with photos & videos documenting my experiences as a busy mom of 3 with Google Glass!