Disney Research re-imagines the pop-up book #maker style and it’s awesome

Disney Research has pioneered a method to create new interactive experiences with paper, some simple electronics and some conductive ink. The result is really, really cool. With three kids we’ve worked our way through many books together many of which have had some interactive components through flaps and folds and even sound or simple lights. Eventually they all kinda wear out … a kid is too rough and they tear or the battery simply dies and the book loses its extra fun. With this technique, we could pretty easily print and rebuild. We could probably remix the book as well which is where things could really start to get creative.

Batteries not included … and not required!

via FastCo

Geode Hunting with Campbell

Just had a blast smashing rocks with Campbell.  We were looking for crystals in the Geode science kit we got her over the holidays.  This was easy and educational and as we hammered away, we discussed what we found and the difference between a Geode (hollow) and a Nodule (full).  Good times!

Kids and Technology

My wife and I have three kids and like their dad, they enjoy using gadgets.  About two weeks ago we gave Hannah (8), our oldest daughter a semi-retired iPhone 3GS to use essentially as an iPod Touch.  There’s no SIM in it and it’s basically a phone I had previously installed a bunch of kid games on anyway.

Soon after this, I start receiving iMessages from my wife’s phone from Hannah.  We’ve all been playing Temple Run and she’s sharing her score and pretty quickly overtakes my best at the time.

Flash forward to today when I learn about a new music social discovery service called monstro via Scoble.  The gist is that you connect your twitter account and get a suggested stream of tunes based on your collective shares and discussions.  I added a few people to follow based on what I could see they were listening to and then went into my own profile where I saw this:

Imagine my surprise!

These are not guilty pleasure tracks!  I did buy this album for Hannah, but she’s the listener, not me (or my wife).  The crazy thing though is I couldn’t figure out how this was even associated with my account let alone via Twitter.  There’s a good chance Last.FM will pop from a device sync, but I did not overtly connect anything.  After confirming there was nothing in my account settings on monstro, I came back to my profile and noticed the subtle view tweet option which revealed this:

iTunes Ping!  Not something I actively use, though seeing that post I had the instant recall that my twitter account is linked for auto-posting my likes.  Hannah was actively exploring and using the phone (or perhaps my wife’s as the account is shared) and sharing all the things she likes.  She has no idea where this information goes – though I do now and I’m amazed with her self discovery.

When I got home tonight I went to look at the 3GS so I could see about turning Ping off which doesn’t seem too possible, btw.  In the process I noticed a exclamation icon and tapped into messaging where I discovered another pretty cool surprise:

Hannah had tried to send me an MMS!  I think it’s pretty cool that while she doesn’t fully understand the address bar yet, she knew she wanted to add a subject and then a name before sending.  The video is my two year old son, Sam being scared of a spider which is a funny family share captured by Hannah on the phone which is the cherry on top of everything else.



JetBlue Fails Their Own Digital Savvy Test

This morning I read about how JetBlue used Twitter to try and test the agencies pitching for their business.   I think it caught my attention as I had a Jet Blue flight booked for later in the day …  Well fast forward a few hours to that time and suddenly I’ve got a reason to reach out to JetBlue about my family’s experience today.  It wasn’t great.

On the way down to Florida, we were booked in 4 seats in row 1 and our last seat in row 18.  Not exactly stellar and something only a computer would do.  We had to actually forfeit the row 18 seat and checked our car seat once on the plane in order to make sure the whole family stayed together.  Traveling with three small kids can be stressful and not being together only amplifies the potential challenge of keeping everyone calm.  JetBlue has said (via the flight attendant) that they’d be looking to reimburse us for the lost seat … I guess we have to wait it out on that one.  I didn’t tweet it, but I’m posting it now.

Today was our return trip and while our seats were booked together, we were in the back of the plane.  Not ideal, but certainly acceptable -being together was the most important detail.  While waiting around for the boarding call, I tried to see if we might move forward a bit (we were booked 2 rows from the back).  I waited patiently and politely and stood quite when a passenger was called up from the back of the line to be helped first.  Her issue was apparently far too complicated and used up any available time for me.  Instead we got a gruff, there are no seats to move around (after the passenger ahead in line moved).  OK …

About 5 minutes later the pre-boarding call was announced and we immediately made our way over to the gate door.  The JetBlue attendant looked at our boarding passes and gave us an earful about not coming over sooner for the pre-board even though she had literally just announced it.  Instead of letting us on the plane, we were asked to stand to the side while other rows for main boarding started.  There were at least 3 other families who also found the same experience and all were surprised to find that there wasn’t a pre-boarding and that we were being scolded for not respecting the call (that had just happened).

I’ve traveled far too much to know getting angry with the person behind the desk never leads to anything good for you, but man the families were livid.  We all have small kids and definitely need more time to get on the plane, deal with car seats unpack etc.  Not today …   My family was cool.  We got on board eventually and I was able to get the car seat belted for my son, but one of the other families ran into an issue and started to get quite nervous about securing their child safely.  Joe (real name) from JetBlue came over to help but got testy with the nervous parent who was certainly pushing to get things resolved.  We heard Joe scold the dad by saying “I don’t come to your office and tell you how to do your job, so don’t tell me how to do mine.”  I can’t help but think that extra time we all wanted during pre-board would have been exactly what we needed right then.

Back to the original tweet test … I tweeted this as it was happening today – twice.  JetBlue?  No comment today … tomorrow won’t matter.  Let’s not forget this social media stuff is a two-way street, JetBlue.  Looking at you, @martysg.  Comcast and Zappos don’t need #sneaky hashtags, they pay attention and respond within a reasonable amount of time – sometimes surprisingly fast.