Travel with the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch was announced today and there were some specific announcements during the keynote that caught my attention. When Apple talked about 3rd party apps in development for the Apple Watch, they specifically called out travel – an industry I work in every day and a hobby I pursue outside of work as much as possible.

Starwood Hotels are building an app that will provide room check-in via your Apple Watch and unlock your hotel room by waving your Apple Watch over your room door lock. It will be available at all W Hotels around the world next year (this got a massive round of applause).

Starwood Apple Watch

American Airlines will offer flight check in and time/gate/seat information via your Apple Watch.

American Airlines Apple Watch

If you’ve pinned sites and attractions to your Pinterest boards and you’re then near those places while travelling, the Pinterest app will notify you and provide walking directions from your current location.

Pinterest Apple Watch

Citymapper will provide transit directions on the Apple Watch and notify users to get off when they’re close to their stop.

Citymapper Apple Watch

All great applications and I can’t wait to see what else 3rd party developers create for the Apple Watch over the next 6 – 12 months.

Images via Apple

I’ve stopped using Facebook


My Facebook angst grew slowly through 2013 as my wife & I planned our wedding. What became clear was that no matter who we sent invites to for the big day, I could not choose who got to witness the occasion and who didn’t. Why? The sharing of photos and status updates by the guests who would come along, via Facebook, was completely out of my control.

Fast forward to the big day and sure enough, within a few hours of our ceremony, photos uploaded to Facebook by friends and family were clocking up likes from their networks at a quick fire rate. People I’ve never met suddenly had an insight into how our day was progressing. I hadn’t even had a chance to thank the guests who were actually with us that day before others were associating themselves via likes and comments.

What followed quickly was a self imposed social media ban for our 3 week honeymoon. We shut ourselves off and truly enjoyed our travels together.

The loss of all those Facebook connections hit especially hard immediately after sharing such a memorable occasion with our closest friends and family. I felt like I was potentially doing something wrong and hurting others by cutting off the Facebook connection with them. That sounds crazy. Looking back, I was crazy to feel that way.

Not long after we were back from our honeymoon I realised I hadn’t gone back to using Facebook much at all. It was then that I decided to experiment with staying off the service. This was not to be some act of rebellion to attract attention, this was to be, and still is an experiment. I simply felt the need to stop using the service and did not use Facebook to announce this to anyone.

The experiment:

Stop using Facebook. Remove the Facebook apps from my iPhone & iPad. I’m close to fully deleting my account but friends contacting me via the separate Facebook Messenger iPhone app is holding that up. Not using the “core” Facebook platform for 5 months has been an interesting experiment and I’ve learnt a few things.

Facebook destroys the present moment.

By not sharing anything via Facebook, conversations and offline connections have become more special. How many times have you gone to share something great with a friend that you recently experienced only for them to respond:

“Oh yeah I know, I saw that on Facebook”.

It’s nice now to catch up with friends and family and not know about all the things going on in each others world. We now have actual conversations to share those things. Sounds like a fairly simple thing, but you’d be surprised as to how much conversation is killed due to the constant sharing of day to day happenings on Facebook.

The folks at Facebook have succeeded in convincing us that we need it so that we might keep our friends and family close. This is bullshit.

When you have one less thing at your disposal to instantly share a moment with a whole bunch of people, you feel less compelled to capture it. At a gig recently, my phone magically stayed in my pocket and I simply enjoyed the moment and the time spent with friends.

I have lost connections. This is ok.

The people I liked on Facebook are the ones I talk to on a regular basis outside of Facebook. Funny that!

Sure, most of my friends and family are still having conversations, sharing photos, and creating inside jokes that I am to this day left out of. This has been ok too. Recently I had to remind a friend that I hadn’t been on Facebook in a while and was reassured I actually haven’t missed anything of significance amongst our friend group by not being around.

Last time I checked I had 250 odd Facebook friends. In real life I probably have somewhere between 10 and 20.

It’s just not realistic to have 250 friends. Some people have 1000’s on Facebook. It’s a bit weird that all those people have access to your personal information, images, likes, and timeline and are just hanging around. Facebook offer different filter settings so you can group your “friends” into who can see what etc. If someone is my friend then why should I try to prevent them from seeing a status update or photo? Isn’t that the point of a social network?

Facebook doesn’t make me a better person.

Facebook made it easy for me to be a crappy friend and family member. I never had to pick up the phone. I’m the only one to blame for this but not using Facebook has helped me realise I don’t need any help with my relational apathy. Without Facebook, there’s no more easy way out on giving birthday wishes or letting people know I’m back home for the weekend.

I have been forced to put effort back into personal forms of communication. Phone calls. Text messages. Emails. At first it was slightly annoying but it’s since helped me keep in touch much more. Last week I used the phone to talk to my 6 year old niece for her birthday. No chance to casually browse Facebook and throw a few likes at pictures of her party to feel like I’ve acknowledged the occasion, but an actual conversation.

Real communication is hard work but the lack of Facebook in my life has reminded me it’s infinitely more rewarding.

My ego doesn’t need fuel.

Facebook is a never-ending popularity contest of likes, comments and reposts. Just because narcissism is now more accepted than ever, that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Every time I was browsing Facebook, I was sacrificing a more meaningful use of time. Without it, I’m enjoying more rare time alone with my wife, a chance to progress personal projects, and more time to read something online other than a news feed full of links and information I don’t actually find that interesting.

Let’s not even get into the privacy and advertising side of things. Maybe that’s another post for later.


I’ve hardly been tweeting lately and my Instagram posts have dried up completely. I’ve given Snapchat a go but it never caught on. All of this lack of social media usage, along with an abstinence from Facebook, and my life has never been more pleasant. I feel like I’m living more in the now and I’m definitely enjoying the time spent with my wife, friends and family much more.

Maybe it’s time to delete all social media from my life.

10% time at Hooroo

IMG_0484 2

Recently the team at Hooroo got together and identified that our regular 10% time, every Tuesday arvo from 1pm, was falling short of the benefits and results we were originally aiming for when we put it in place over a year ago. We decided this wasn’t on and have made a few changes to help reinvigorate this valuable part of working at Hooroo.

Firstly, we asked ourselves why we have 10% time in the first place and agreed that it’s an opportunity for experimentation, to discover the benefits of new tools and technologies and to generally demonstrate what we can achieve with our own initiative. It also gives us some head-space from our current projects in play, which in turn provides time to reflect and assess better ways to deliver solutions.

There was some uncertainty within the team about what a good 10% time experiment is. We decided that “experiments” needed some clarification:

Experiments, by definition, must start off with a hypothesis. This should be something that can be reasonably related to the objectives of our delivery team (development, product, design) and the direction of the wider Hooroo Group in general. Whilst we want this time to be fun and free of the pressures of regular “work”, we need to remain mindful that 10% time experimentation should relate to a potential benefit for Hooroo. That still leaves a massive amount of flexibility for us to innovate.

We can do things like:

  • Investigate the relevance of a new JavaScript framework that we think will boost our productivity
  • Create new internal tools or improve existing ones to solve problems/inefficiencies that we or our colleagues experience
  • Create additional measurements to understand the size of a known problem or opportunity
  • Scope-out an MVP for an entirely different way to engage a subset of our users
  • Hack on some hardware to investigate the place of physical devices either for us or our customers

Along with the unclarity about what a good 10% time experiment was, there was some confusion about the expected outcomes from the rest of the Hooroo Group. Some team members were feeling pressure to always work on an idea that would be relevant or interesting to everyone within our company.

We quickly realised that outcomes was another area that needed clarification. Highlighting that it’s ok to fail was the key message amongst the team and is a huge part of our learning and experimentation process.

If we’re picking suitable experiments, then the output mechanism should be obvious depending on what we’re investigating. For example, we don’t expect people to showcase a new highly-concurrent HTTP framework to the entire company, but we would expect to see some fruits from that labour. Even if it’s a 10 minute brown bag session with a few slides or a demo for the technical team.

We identified a number of different ways that 10% time projects may be communicated:

  • Release it for the team to use
  • Demo at a showcase
  • Brown bag session with a few slides
  • Email and explain what you discovered
  • One-on-one catchup with specific stakeholders
  • Reports / data to feed into another project or another experiment

‘Failed’ experiments shouldn’t be excluded from this communication. Demonstrating what failed and why is a valuable exercise and needs to be shared.

So what are we changing with 10% time at Hooroo?

1. Move to Tuesdays fortnightly, all day (instead of every Tues arvo). This should allow us to be more focused from the moment we arrive at work in the morning. It was clear that kicking off a 10% time experiment every Tuesday afternoon was ripe for distraction. A clean “cut over” from our regular projects in play was becoming more and more difficult each week. Having a whole day for 10% should fix that.

2. Create an “In progress” wall. We’ve put up cards and avatars for visibility and we’ll use it much like our regular wall to track how things are progressing and what’s ready to have outcomes communicated.

3. Have a dedicated 10% time stand up. We’re going to use the end of our Monday 4pm tech session for this as that’s when we’re all together already. It will also allow us to hit the ground running on Tuesday mornings with no requirements to be at a stand up or huddle etc in the way.

4. Sit in pairs away from our usual desks and project areas. We’re going to try gather around a common area of the office and create a good atmosphere. This also communicates out to the rest of the Hooroo Group that 10% is underway and it’s being taken seriously.

Really looking forward to seeing how these changes impact the success of 10% time at Hooroo. If you have any questions, feel free to ask via Twitter.

Thanks Stu Liston, Hooroo’s Development Manager, for helping out with this post.

Hack Days FTW

So awesome. TaskRabbit’s new business model & product direction was born out of a company Hack Day.

In August, TaskRabbit held a hack day devoted to reimagining the service. “If you started TaskRabbit today,” Busque asked her team of roughly 50, “what would the world look like?” A product manager named Andy Jih became interested in what he called an “invitation” model, in which someone posting a task could ask a small handful of taskers for help. After many iterations, that led the company to create its new model, which uses algorithms to instantly match clients with a selection of taskers. Internally, the newmodel came to be codenamed Booker T.

TaskRabbit is blowing up its business model and becoming the Uber for everything.

Are you building a business that can scale?

1. Have we documented the basics, down to the tiniest detail, including the software and product design, and all trademark and patent applications?

2. Are we using technology to create an atmosphere of transparency and clarity around critical decisions related to product design, business development, marketing strategy and more?

3. Are we recording customer interactions in a way that will deliver insight to future iterations of the team? If the sales department turned over, would its new leaders be able to maintain key relationships?

4. Have we created systems that stakeholders (investors, large customers, strategic partners) could tap into for insights into the business?

5. Is our culture one in which all employees are empowered to take decisive action, or one in which only the founders can drive advancement?

6. Are we building on employee strengths as we grow our team? Are new hires complementary extensions of the existing staff?

7. Have we created a network of partners, technology providers, installers and others who can become part of our growth framework?

Read more: Seven questions for startup founders – The Next Web


Had a great time up in Byron Bay recently. Really enjoyed walking Cape Byron to the most easterly point of mainland Australia. It has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the country.