It’s a trap!


I am an avid Google products user between my Android phone,  work Gmail,  and personal Gmail. Most of my photo sharing happens through Google+ because of Instant Upload. I even prefer the Google Music experience, for the most part, compared to the alternatives (Spotify, Pandora, etc.). With all that and my dependence on Google Maps, Google knows more about me than my mom!

Which brings me to my account of a mindless bunch of click-throughs to concert tickets via Google. There are some music experiences you can only get on YouTube. One of these experiences is acoustic performances from particular artists like Marina and the Diamonds.

Here is how subtle this is.

Today, I was on an acoustic Marina and the Diamonds kick when I glanced at the page (shown above) and my eyes landed on this link to an upcoming concert (below).

Here is a close up so you can see how clever this is.

Of course, the minute I saw it, I clicked all the way through until I had tickets to the show, essentially 2 clicks to ticket purchasing (not including the personal info stuff). Although useful, there are some things that needs to be considered from this experience…

Is this creepy?

Yes, although I am very happy that I now have tickets to see one of my favorite artists that I likely would have missed otherwise, it is a little creepy how I fell right into their purchasing trap!

Is this a gold mine?

YES!!! So much better than random product ads! This felt more like a nudge into “useful” and “helpful” territory rather than the “here-let-me-shove-this-random-product-in-your-face” ad experience typically used in the web.

Why was this so convincing?

This is the second time I’ve fallen into a mindless state of click-throughs to exactly what the presenter wanted. Both times, the presentation was subtle. It was not an outright ad in its presentation – it was presented like any other informative link. The only other click-through experience I can compare this to is the usual internet or Wikipedia rabbit-hole kind where you see something of interest and you jump on the virtual roller-coaster ride to see where it takes you. This time, Google cleverly took me to concert tickets I hadn’t realized were available and that I actually wanted!

So hats off to you, YouTube ad genius. You’ve created a veritable masterpiece and for that I salute you. Also, thank you for letting me know my favorite band was going to be in town 🙂



Picture this scenario: you enter a mall to pick up the new iPad Mini, a warm winter coat and some groceries and you pull out a mobile app that guides you to exactly where you want to go and maybe even offers some coupons, too.  A startup called ByteLight is working to create this scenario using LED lights and smart phones to create a communication network that tracks and guides shoppers, locates items and offers deals.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based startup was founded in May 2011, and is just now coming out of stealth about how its technology could help create a whole new world of social networking services and money-making ideas. ByteLight has raised $1.25 million from investors such as VantagePoint Capital Partners, and is already doing some field trials of its technology, with undisclosed companies.

You’re probably wondering what LED lights has to do with this? Basic GPS…

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The cost of a Raspberry Pi computer you can buy today is $25. It has a 700 MHz CPU with 256 MB RAM.

 In 2001, the Power Mac G4 Cube, with 450 MHz CPU with 64 MB RAM, cost $1,799. That is how much hardware prices have fallen. Meanwhile, a LEGO X-Wing costs $59.99.

So for $25 anyone can work on a project that uses computers at its heart, and if something breaks, they can just go buy a new one. This makes small Linux computers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards the hardware DIYers’ new LEGO bricks. 

Last month, tens of thousands of makers from around the world came together at Maker Faire. Kids were begging their parents to help them build RC planes, buy them kits with Arduino boards and learning how to solder.

Will the DIY movement produce the next Apple?

Many of the kits these…

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Android apps I use & why

ADW Launcher – Nice custumizable launcher. I like the multiple docks, mostly, with the ICS theme.

Alarm clock plus – Not the prettiest interface but great math and strobe light features to force you to wake up.

Amazon (some through amazon appstore).

Amazon kindle – No brainer.

Amazon mp3 – For the songs Google Play doesn’t have.

Audible – To listen to audio books -maybe not your thing.

Barcode scanner – A must for the savvy shopper. 🙂

Buffer – To share through social networks at regular intervals (very handy for twitter).

BT reader – Will read your SMS messages out to you.

Chrome – But I’m not sure if it works with your version of android OS.

Currents – Better than any other RSS reader/news aggregator, in my opinion.

Dragon Go! (With Swype Beta, best way Android trumps iOS).

Drive Dropbox

Ease into 5k/Endomondo/Runkeeper (all fitness aps but each great in their own way) coolest by far though is Zombies, Run!

Facebook – Duh!

Fandango – Only one to trust for movie times, Flixster is inaccurate FYI.

Foodspotting is fun.

Google+ – For obvious reasons also the auto upload of all your photos (don’t worry, it’s always private) so you never have to worry about taking them off your phone in case your phone dies, which is nice.

Google Voice – as an alternative to your text messaging service cause ITS FREE!!! Just give people your “text” number and they don’t have to remember it or anything. you know? Also, better than the default voice messaging service, just saying.

Grubhub –  is pretty great cause it gives you tons more options to eat out that don’t actually do takeout.

Instagram – For obvious reasons.

Instant Upload – Uploads your images automatically to Facebook like Google+ instant upload.

Kayak – Best flight search & travel app out there.

Mint – I really like it because it’s safer than accessing your financial data directly through your bank on your phone, which is a thing some crazy people do…

Google Music

onxTaskerLocale – Are each pretty awesome in their own rite. Here are the respective lifehacker articles about them. Each of them have add ons and stuff that make them awesome, but it’s really about what you want to get done. I’m still torn because Tasker is not as user friendly as locale, but locale is not as powerful as tasker and onx has a lot of potential but I’ve found that if you don’t have network access it’s pretty useless…Here’s some people trying to duke it out over which is best…
Tasker Lifehacker article (one of many…) | On{x} Lifehacker article | Couldn’t find a Locale one… Sorry.

PandoraSpotify – Duh

Robin –  Voice command interface. Pretty fun and powerful. May not be super useful since Google now is coming out at some point soon.

Screen filter is great for night time use of your phone – I have one of my automaters (Locale, Tasker, onx) start it up on sundown so I don’t mess up my circadian rhythm.

Skype – If you use it more than hangouts but you have that options and Gchat instead so…

Springpad!!! Cause it’s super awesome!

This American Life – Great show. Not the best app but the only way to hear them on the go.

Tip me – Best tip calculator I’ve found.

TumblrWordPressTweetdeckTwitter – You know what to do with those…

Pocket yoga – Sooo good! I’ve had this since I first got a droid eons ago and still haven’t used all the sessions up. Better than a gym membership.

Volume+ – Improves on the stock sound system and lets you blast your speakers. Careful you don’t over do it and kill your speakers, though.

Where’s my droid – You’ll see when you check it out.

And Yelp 🙂

Reflecting…How I work


This is an reflective exercise using Lifehacker’s How I work interview questions:

Consuelo Valdes is a Research Fellow at the Wellesley College Human-Computer Interaction Lab. She leads a team of students on a variety of projects. These projects include: large multi-touch tabletops, designing and developing the software for the large multi-touch tabletops, and developing software applications for a variety of multi-touch devices (iPhone, Android, Microsoft Surfaces, and Windows 8 tablets).

Name: Consuelo Valdes
Occupation: Research Fellow
Location: Wellesley, MA
Current Emplyer: Wellesley College
Current Computer: Lenovo x220 Tablet running Windows 7 Professional with an i7 and 8GB of RAM
Current mobile devices: Galaxy Nexus, Kindle Fire, HP Touchpad running CyagenMod – ICS
One word that best describes how I work: Juggler

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I spend most of my time in Chrome. I tried Internet Explorer for a while but couldn’t stick with how slow it was and the lack of cross-machine syncing. In Chrome, I usually have Gmail and Google Calendar open for my personal account and my professional account. I like to keep the divides between these, that way if I’m trying to “relax” I can close the work account tab. Other than that, I’ve recently taken to Springpad. I love the notebook interface, the searching, smart tagging, everything. I’ve recently started sharing things to my teams there, as well. I create a notebook per project and have to do lists tagged by people responsible for the items on it, notes, relevant links, etc. It’s pretty great.

What’s your workspace setup like?

I don’t have an official workspace at my lab. Although, when I’m in the lab I’m usually connected to a heart-racingly gorgeous Dell UltraSharp 30″ monitor and I use a Logitech MX Anywhere mouse when I’m not using the tablet stylus or my finger. I usually work at a large table.

What email app do you use?


What’s your favorite time-saving trick?

For a home-life time-saver, I cook food in bulk. I’ll make a meal or two a week and if I get tired of it and have extra time, I’ll freeze it for later on when I might have less time.

For work-life, the biggest time suck for me is scheduling with a large team of students with conflicting schedules, so I have everyone in my team in contact lists so that scheduling per project or sub-teams is as easy as typing two or three letters and use the “find a time” option in Google Calendar to find a slot from their calendars.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I’ve tried everything from paper and pencil, Remeber the Milk, Springpad, Evernote, Any.Do, Google Tasks, and then some… They all failed somehow to me. So, I don’t keep a to-do list anymore. Instead, I track how long I spend on tasks as I do them in Google Calendar. For example, if I spend a significant amount of time on an email, I use the “Create event” option in Gmail or just mark the completion of a task and set the start and end time of the event so that I am aware of how I spend my day and adjust accordingly. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day knowing where the day went as well as making a log of what I’m doing that’s searchable, unlike many to-do lists.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My phone. When I’m away from my computer it’s an extension of myself: calendar, contacts, places to eat… I think of it as the modern survival kit or Swiss army knife. I absolutely would die without my phone. It’s my everything when I’m not working on my machine. Not to mention, it’s a lifesaver when I’m out and about. I’m vegan and it’s tough to know what’s OK to eat when you’re eating out but there are tons of apps that help give you an idea what’s Vegan-friendly and you can typically find the menu with ingredient lists online.

What do you listen to while you work?

I jump between things. I’m still a huge fan of Pandora because you start it up and you’re set for the day. Lately, though, I’ve been listening to Univision Romance: it’s the Spanish equivalent of an R&B station.

What everyday things are you better at than anyone else?

I don’t think that I’m better at this than anyone else, but I think and have been told I can pick anyone up from their lowest lows. If I suspect someone is down, I do my best to make them laugh or ask them what’s going on. My goal everyday is to make people smile, really. If I haven’t made someone smile today, I’d say it wasn’t a good day.

What else should a reader know about you? ( I modified the question a bit…)

Well, considering this is just an exercise and anyone who stumbles upon this may not know what this is all about, I’d suggest you check out the Lifehacker: How I Work archive. It’s pretty great because it’s a window into the world of how “real” Lifehackers get it done. I like to think of it as hearing a mini-talk by the best in the biz about how they got to where they are and advice for life.