Image via Weekdone
Monday morning. You get into work, buzz through a stack of emails, and take a sip of coffee thinking “Today, I’m gonna get stuff done.” Fast forward to the end of the day, where a barrage of meetings, urgent emails, and unexpected phone calls have left you wondering where the heck your productive day went.
Try this. Weekdone is a simple weekly progress reporting tool that aims to “make life easier for both managers and team members.” I use it like this: on Friday you pick three to five things you need to achieve the following week. Those are Plans. Then on Monday, you begin trying to move those Plans to Progress. Something standing in your way? Add it to Problems. I’ve found that keeping Weekdone open is an easy way to maintain focus and actually accomplish stuff. The nice part is that you’ll automatically be creating status reports for the boss as well. Smarter Upstarter seal of approval.
Image via Microryza
We’ve highlighted a “Kickstarter of the Week” for over a year on the WIRED Insider Twitter feed, and while we’ve seen a great many projects worth funding, one does wonder how many graphic novels, short films, and Arduino variants we really need. You know what could use some help? SCIENCE.
Fresh out of Y-Combinator’s winter class, Microryza (pronounced like I have no idea) is a Kickstarter for scientific research. It lets you donate money to little initiatives like “introducing students to programming” and “preventing the transmission of cancer mutations to offspring.” You don’t get to decide where your tax dollars go, so it’s kind of nice to have an outlet where you do get to voice your scientific values with a credit card. Microryza’s not alone, either, with Petridish also enabling scientists to sidestep the arduous grant-writing process. Check out this great Quora thread for info on both websites straight from the founders’ mouths.
Image via Mashable
Mark Zuckerberg was at it again last week, announcing at Facebook HQ that the social network would now be available as its own sort of operating system on Android smartphones. Naturally, he revealed Facebook Home while dressed in his signature hoodie.
We’ve already had a national conversation about Mr. Zuckerberg’s fashion choices in the workplace. What I want to know now is what kind of hoodie he’s rocking. A Quora thread suggests it’s a North Face. A completely defensible choice, but not exactly on the cutting edge of startup fashion. Here are two others he should consider, if he hasn’t already:
The 10-year Hoodie—This Flint and Tinder project offers American-made hoodies that come with a 10 year warranty and free mending should you ever find yourself with a tear. The fundraising goal was $50,000, but current contributions total over $800,000.
American Giant— It’s flying off the shelves thanks to a few glowing reviews from bona fide startup folks. Also made in the USA, these stylish numbers will supposedly last a lifetime.
Image via Edge
I consider myself to be very much “of the internet,” but as anyone with a full time job will attest, you can’t always keep tabs on every new online meme and trend. Things will fall through the cracks. The first time I noticed the term “subtweet” in my Twitter feed, I thought the tweeter was simply adding a contextual comment to a previous tweet. Or they were referring to subtext. Or something. Turns out it’s none of those things.
A subtweet is a tweet that refers to someone else on Twitter without actually using an “@-mention”. It’s (possibly) short for “subliminal tweet” or “subtle tweet,” the idea being that you talk about someone without mentioning them, so that they don’t see the tweet. Tweeting behind someone’s back, if you will—and you’ll never guess who started the trend. That’s right: TEENS. See this Branch convo for more details. The more you know…
Image via Wacom
By now you’ve probably signed a digital credit card slip with your finger, maybe at the Apple Store or at one of those fancy coffee places that uses the Square register. It’s not quite right, is it? Using your finger for detailed interaction with a touch screen is a bit like tying your shoes while wearing a big pair of winter gloves. Precision is tough.
That’s why you should seriously consider adding a stylus like Wacom’s Bamboo pen to your bag. These little accessories make it easy to write on an iPhone, iPad, or any device with a capacitive touch screen. Apps like Paper and the new Evernote Penultimate become much more pleasurable to use when you add a stylus to the equation. It’s a lot more comfortable too; you’ll be surprised at how much you end up using a stylus even for everyday tablet use. At the very least, your receipts will no longer look like you signed them with your eyes closed.
Image via UnGrounded
“I get so much work done when I’m flying. Fewer distractions, you know?” You hear this all the time from everyone, and everyone has a pretty good point—you’re stuck in a tiny chair for x number of hours with no possibility of a phone call and, if you’re flying internationally, there’s a good chance you won’t have internet access either. Sooner or later, you get so bored that work starts to look pretty appetizing.
British Airways knows this, and they’ve decided to try something: how about putting 100 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other Silicon Valley types on a flight from SF to London to see if they can solve tech’s talent crunch while trapped in a plane over the Atlantic Ocean. Worth a shot, right? Follow along on UnGrounded Thinking to see when they’re cleared for takeoff, and cross your fingers that they don’t arrive in London with a big idea for the next Groupon.
Image via Indiegogo
Google chairman Eric Schmidt uses a BlackBerry. Why? Because he likes the keyboard. The keyboard thing has always been the touchscreen’s Achilles’ heel. We’ve tried Swype systems and haptic feedback, but nothing works quite like those tried and true buttons. But we keep trying, because like Superman remakes, nobody’s gotten it quite right. So let’s look at two newcomers: Minuum (pronounced like “min-you-um”) and Fleksy (pronounced like “Fleksy”).
Minuum is a keyboard concept that takes the traditional UI and squeezes it all down to one row of letters that remain in a sort of QWERTY order. Predictive typing and supercharged auto-correction let you type fast and loose while still getting a mostly accurate result. Coming soon to Android.
Fleksy is “the best typing system you have ever experienced”, according to Fleksy. That system, available now on iOS, uses a predictive assistance similar to Minuum, though with the familiar standard QWERTY layout.
Maybe it’s time we saw these types of keyboards as options in Android and iOS?
Image via Ridiculous Fishing
We don’t have a lot of rules here at Smarter Upstarter, but one of them is this: if I download some random iOS game, launch it, and all of a sudden 90 minutes have gone by and I’ve wasted any semblance of productivity, I’m obligated to give you guys a heads up. Ridiculous Fishing is a surprisingly addictive and yes, ridiculously delightful arcade-style fishing game.
Three things make it so: challenging (but manageable) gameplay, an elegant polygonal design motif, and a charming storyline that somehow fits perfectly in this tiny little game. Wired’s Game|Life blog has some details on the gameplay, and reveals one thing Ridiculous Fishing doesn’t feature: in-app purchases. The game costs $3, and that’s it. Forever. Which begs the question: when mobile games are good, ridiculously good, are developers charging too little?
Image via Instagram
Here’s something: last week Justin Bieber turned Instagram into a blogging platform.
On Thursday afternoon the world’s most famous YouTube discovery posted a black and white photo of himself in front of some adoring fans. Nothing out of the ordinary there, until you hover over the picture and reveal the caption: a 300+ word message denying rumors of rehab and thanking fans for their support. As of yesterday this “caption” had 65,000 comments.
It’s a blog post, wrapped in an image, embedded in a tweet.That same Instagram link, shared on Bieber’s Facebook page (almost 52 million Likes), generated just 3,500 comments in comparison. Perhaps the price Facebook paid for Instagram wasn’t all that outrageous after all.
Image via Twitter, Yamtrader, and Grumpy Cat.
The consensus on SXSW this weekend? Thin. As in, there’s no single app or service that everyone’s talking about. So what steps into fill the buzz void? Well, Shaq’s as good a place to start as any.
Noted venture capitalist and Buick driver Shaquille O’Neil is at SXSW, and he’d like to hear your startup idea. He might invest! Naturally, Shaq will be hearing pitches via another startup, Tout, which he used to announce his retirement.
Shaq may be hoping to find the next Twitter, but so far one of the biggest buzz products at Southby is a yam. Don’t believe me? Check out the Twitter feed of WIRED’s Mat Honan. All Yam, All the Time.
Ride sharing services like Lyft and Sidecar are hot, but alas have been banned by the city of Austin. Lyft perseveres however, temporarily pivoting to a piggyback ride strategy. Not even joking.
Finally, there’s the controversy over Grumpy Cat. Tapped by Friskies to make a guest appearance at Southby, the long lines and constant flash photography surrounding the feline have sparked a backlash, calling for her release. Ladies and Gentlemen, SXSW 2013. Free Grumpy Cat.