After 17 Years of Dreaming I’m Headed to CES 2017

It’s 2:30 am here in Alberta and I really should be sleeping, but it doesn’t seem like that will happen tonight. A combination of nervous excitement and a flurry of last minute things to do has me buzzing. In just two and a half hours I will be headed to meet the team and our journey to CES 2017 begins.

For those that don’t know what CES is, let me break it down for you. CES (Consumer Electronic Show) is a massive industry tradeshow where technology companies from around the world gather to show off the latest and greatest innovations in consumer electronics. With 165,000 industry attendees, over 5,000 press, and 4,500 exhibitors CES is a mammoth event that takes over Las Vegas every January.

 

 

This is not the everyday stuff that you see in stores, but what will be coming down the pipe over the next few years. CES is where the big electronics players like Samsung, Sony & Intel let their R&D teams out of the bunker and unleash their creations on the world. Hell, this year Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, and newcomer Faraday – are snubbing the Detroit Autoshow and unveiling their new electric and hybrid vehicles.

 

Electric car maker Faraday will unveil the Faraday Future tonight. A much-anticipated announcement that experts say may make of break their company.

As a designer & developer, I love technology. I’m constantly fascinated by the innovation in the industry and if popular culture tells us anything, we all want to live in the future. Since 1999, I’ve sat at my desk year after year listing to the press conference while I work, reading articles on my breaks, standing in awe of what is to come. Every year I think, I would love to be there walk the show floor. To see it for with my own eyes and take it all in. This year that dream is coming true.

The amazing part is, not only will I be attending CES for the first time. This year our team will be there to showcase a handful of consumer products that I designed. Real, tangible things that others will get to say “Shut up and take my money!” about. It’s going to be a fantastic week swimming with the big fish.

I’m excited to share the good, the bad, and the downright weird that I find at CES 2017 as the week progresses.

10 Unisex Holiday Gifts for the Nerd in Your Life 2016

It can be really hard to find the perfect gift for that nerdy person in your life. Everyone I know would define me as a nerd, but I’m not the kind of person that wants to collect a mountain of pop culture trinkets. This means on the surface, it looks nearly impossible to find a great gift for someone like me under $500. Fear not! To assist you on your quest for the perfect gift, I have compiled a curated list of awesomeness for you!

NES Classic Edition

$79.99 CAD

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Nintendo has given is us nerds a reason to celebrate this holiday season. They created a mini version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System that comes loaded with 30 of that NES’s top games including some of my favourites: Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, PAC-MAN, Final Fantasy, Kirby’s Adventure, Excite Bike and more! The console is updated to work through HDMI on modern TVs and comes with one controller. Additional controllers are available for just $12.99. This is an extremely hot item and may be hard to find.

Buy on Anazon.ca

 


NASA The Grand Tour Poster

$40 USD

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Last year NASA and the creative team of visual strategists at JPL, known as The Studio, worked with 9 artists to create a series of space tourism posters titled “Visions of the Future.” The Grand Tour poster was created but the team at Invisible Creature (a small studio I’ve been following for years) and they are offering a professionally printed version of their poster signed by the artist.

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You can also download FREE print-ready versions of the entire series on NASA / JPL’s website, large enough to create 20″ x 30″ posters of your own.

Buy from Invisible Creature

Download form NASA


League of Movable Type Font Shirts

$29.99 USD

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The Leauge of Moveable Type has been supplying amazing open-source fonts since 2009, including one of my all time favourite fonts Ostrich Sans by Tyler Fink. It’s one of my most used fonts and I’m so stoked to be the nerd sporting it proudly on my torso pants. They have a verity of unisex shirts available that are sure you satisfy the type nerd in your life.

Buy from Leauge of Moveable Type

 


UE Boom 2

$249.99 CAD

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The UE Boom 2 is a beautiful piece of tech. This is by far the best sounding bluetooth speaker I’ve ever used. It projects sound from all sides making this compact gadget a real powerhouse. It’s waterproof and fully submergeable so you don’t need to worry when taking it to the lake or even in the shower. I’ve given multiple gifts from the Ultimate Ears collection over the years (including the UE Boom) and you can never go wrong with their products. Hell, for you nerds out there, you can just tap your android phone to the speaker and it uses NFC to automatically pair the bluetooth for you. Simply beautiful, and it comes in a whole rainbow of colors.

At most retailers if you buy before December 1st you can save $100.

Buy From Amazon.ca

 


Android Wear Smart Watches

As an early adopter I picked up the original Moto 3060 Android Wear smartwatch at launch and I’ve absolutely loved it. Android Wear is smart, functional and works across platforms with Android and iOS devices.

For Him: Nixion Misson – $479.99 CAD

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Smartwatches have been growing in popularity and I’ve been waiting for a major watchmaker to jump into the game. Now we have two! The Fossil Q Founder and the Nixion Mission. I’m in love with the Nixion mission. It has all the markings of great Nixion style and is a fully ruggedised Android Wear watch. It’s even waterproof so you can wear it in the water. It is 100% on my wish list.

Buy from Altitude Sports

For Her: Rose Gold Moto 360 2 – $399.99 CAD

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Continuing their amazing line of Moto 360 watches, the Moto 360 2 is a great Android Wear smartwatch and this Rose Gold beauty is a stunning example of how tech doesn’t have to be ugly.

Buy from Google Store


Field Notes: Lunacy Special Edition Notebooks

$12.95 USD

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I love a good notebook and Field Notes have become the gold standard. Heck, I ran into comedian & podcaster Marc Maron this July in Salt Lake City and he had a Field Notes notebook sticking out of his shirt pocket. We ended up having a great discussion about their creator Aaron Draplin. This limited edition set features three different moon phases and would gift for all the nerd out there.

Buy from Field Notes


code:deck Playing Cards

$8.00 USD

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code:deck is a standard playing card deck but each individual card features a code snippet describing a different programming language. I own a set of these cards and absolutely love them.

Buy from Varinto 25


FreezerBoy Dry-Erase Refrigerator Magnets

$14.99 CAD

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Make that honey do list a a thing of beauty by turning your fridge into a giant game boy. Gamifying your life is a sure fire was to make that nerd in your life a jolly quester.

Buy on Amazon.ca


Twelve South Leather Book Laptop Case

$99.99 CAD

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Embrace your book nerds love of reading with this classy leather laptop case. A great mashup of old world, the hand-crafted leather makes for a sophisticated choice this holiday. It’s also available in an iPad version.

Buy from Amazon.ca


The PancakeBot

$299.99 USD

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Damn right, it’s a digital printer for pancake art! This thing is bad ass. You design your pancake in their software (or grab one of their pre-made designs) toss an SD card in the front with the file, fill it with batter and freaking print your breakfast on its built-in griddle. Can you tell I want one? You have to see this little guy in action.

Pretty sure you will be the coolest parent on the block with this in your kitchen.

Buy from Store Bound

 


 

I hope you enjoyed my gift guide of nerdy goodness. Do you have any suggestions for nerdy holiday gifts? Let me know in the comments!

 


 

The Legend of Tarzan: My D-BOX Motion Seat Experience

I paid $23 to see The Legend of Tarzan… for… ummm science?

I’m a huge fan of the art of storytelling and storytelling doesn’t get much better than the cinema experience.  My profession means i’m constantly connected, always within reach, and no matter the hour and compelled to respond when I see that blinking light. Movies are my escape, for a moment in time they force me to unplug and allow me to experience a story other then my own.

I love movies. Most Thursday nights you can find me at the theater taking in the next big blockbuster or discovering one of the lesser known gems. Some years ago Cineplex (them main theater chain here in Canada) premiered the D-Box motion seating in some of their larger centers. The system allows an artists to script motion that is timed to the movie allowing you to not only see, but feel the action. Our local Cineplex got D-Box motion seats a few weeks ago and I was itching to try the experience. They promise a lot, but how does it hold up?

 

 

The Legend of Tarzan

Lets take a brief detour to talk about the actual film, The Legend of Tarzan. I don’t typically review the films I watch in greater detail then a single tweet as I hate spoilers and hundreds of people pour their hearts into creating something for us to enjoy. The Legend of Tarzan has its flaws but as a whole is a wonderful movie. Taking the path less traveled, at the beginning on the film John Clayton III (Tarzan) and his beautiful wife Jane are in England. John has claimed his fathers linage as Lord Greystoke and has started to build a new life with Jane far from the jungle that raised him. Eventually John’s duty to his country as Lord Greystoke pulls him back to the world he once escaped.

 

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Jane Clayton will cut you so bad, you wish she did not cut you so bad!

The cast is fantastic and story underneath is a great foundation. Throughout the movie I found myself wishing there was a little less action and more character driven drama. Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan and Margot Robbie as Jane are well paired and certainly create some on screen magic. With Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz supporting most of the compelling scenes are found outside the action. Some of the action scenes, particularly Tarzan’s vine work and some of the jungle scenes feel unnatural. This seems like a budgetary issues as with a little more work on the lighting and rotoscoping would have went along way. Director David Yates and Warner Brothers have created magic together in the past with him at the helm of Harry Potter movies and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so we know they are capable of more. If you enjoy compelling stories, its worth checking out.

 

Cineplex & D-Box Motion Seats

Did it enhance the movie experience? Yes. Did it distract from the movie experience? Yes. Was it worth the money? I’m squarely on the fence about that. The first thing you will notice about D-Box is it’s insane price. D-Box seating I’ve encountered is always located inside Cineplex’s UltraAVX theaters. If you haven’t seen a movie in UltraAVX, I highly recommend it. Upgraded projection, Dolby Atmos surround sound, reserved seating and upgraded semi reclining seats are well worth the upgraded price. Although prices vary by region the price in Red Deer, Alberta breaks down like this:

  • Standard Adult Ticket $12
  • Ultra AVX Premium $3
  • Ultra AVX 3D Premium $2
  • D-Box Premium $6

For a whopping total of $23 Freaking Dollars. That is a hefty fee, one where if you intend to bring your significant other you may want to consider a second mortgage. In fairness, you can lob $5 of that price on Tuesday nights, but that still places D-Box in an extreme luxury category for me. Is it worth the cost of two movies? Let’s break it down.

The D-Box Experience

When you walk into the theater you will defiantly notice the big red seats protruding like an island in the sea of Cineplex blue, allowing you to proudly proclaim your fanciness. D-Box seats are typically located in the primary viewing zone, where your eyes are dead center of the screen. Premiums price, premium placement. Hopping onto your D-Box seat you will notice a few more differences.

The D-Box Seats

The seat is not nearly a comfortable as the Cineplex’s other Ultra AVX seats, its quite ridged, and understandably because of the motion – doesn’t recline. On your left you will find a standard cup holder and to your right is a set of D-Box controls allowing you to set your own level of intensity. At 5′ 9″ I did notice a two things about the seat that I feel affected my viewing experience beyond the seats motion. First, the back of the seat is shorter then the other UltraAVX seats meaning I couldn’t lay my head back against the seat as I typically would when viewing.  Second, the underlying motion control system means that the seat sits slightly higher then a typical seat. Not much higher, but enough that I started to feel numbness in my lower leg because of reduced circulation.

Rows of D-BOX chairs lined up in a movie theatre. (Courtesy of D-BOX)

Rows of D-BOX chairs lined up in a movie theatre. (Courtesy of D-BOX)

The D-Box Motion

D-Box is definitely an experience. The technology works pretty well and I do feel like enhances the cinematic experience. There’s magic when the D-Box Motion Code syncs up with some of the epic flyover shots in the film. The very subtle pitch and roll make you feel like you are looking from the cameras perspective, and that’s pretty cool experience. Some very subtle tweaks to the motion could go along way to enhancing the experience. The seats seem to stop at their home and some animation style easing where it goes sightly past home and back would feel more natural. Where it lost me was the more action filled sequences.

The motion an technology itself was great but I found the motion artists stylistic choices didn’t match my expectations. For example, there is a scene where your looking down the barrel of a chain gun as it’s fired and you feel the gosling of the gun as if you were firing it yourself. When the camera cuts, so does the motion. Now your being fired at and the seat is stark and still. This choice of motion and non-motion took me out of the experience more then the motion itself. Although there were some defiant miscues in the motions timing, the overall D-Box motion experience was a positive one.

The Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are one of the primary things that can ruin a theater going experience, and I feel that there are a few worth mentioning here. I have to give it to D-Box, their chairs are relatively silent and the motion of other chairs doesn’t distract from the movie, but their insanely bright control LED’s in my peripheral vision do. It’s almost like there was someone texting beside me the whole movie. Diming the panel when its not in use would go a long way to improving the user experience.

The Cineplex theater in Red Deer was not built or designed my Cineplex. They purchased it well into is constriction and their UltraAVX screen was retrofitted years later. The AVX space is great but since it was not designed for the screen that means that viewing sweet spot I mentioned is two rows from the top, and is not the optimal place for audio. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable reduction in the sound quality where the D-Box seats are place.

I love Cineplex, but I really do have to give them a hand slap here for cleanliness. At the Red Deer theater we’re often forced to stand in a third lineup while staff clean a theater. This was one of those days, and although staff went through and grabbed the drink cups and popcorn bags… There was a stack of garbage beside my D-Box seat including poutine cups, hot dog wrappers, cardboard trays and candy wrappers. I understand some patrons lack respect, I always remove my garbage and often pick up others on the way out. I understand that you cant possibly sweep and mop between every show. That said, when you make me wait and throw out a $23 price tag, it shouldn’t feel like i’m sitting inside a garbage can.

The Verdict

Are D-Box motion seats worth the price tag? The jury is still out on that one as I feel like a single film is not enough data to truly know. I feel a movie like Fast & Furious might be better suited to the D-Box experience, so I will defiantly try it again in the future.

Have you tried D-Box yet? What did you think?