Sometimes, a company does something delightful that brightens your day, even when you were the one who dampened it.
And today’s goodwill company is Fitbit.
Last Thursday, I had a great time visiting the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky with some friends. We visited cave tours, including the Violet City Lantern Tour, where we only had the illumination of gas lanterns throughout the three-hour long tour.
Before the trip, I have been using my Fitbit One to track my daily activities. I was averaging about 4,000 ~ 6,000 steps per day at the office. So I was excited to see that number finally exceeding my 10,000 steps/day goal during the trip.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the darkness, the Fitbit One was lost.
I was sad.
When I went home that evening, I Googled “lost fitbit” in an attempt to somehow find a way to find it.
While looking through the documentation, there was a link to contact Fitbit. Now, I know the device was lost somewhere out in Kentucky, so there’s little they can do to retrieve it for me. Yet to my surprise, after a few email exchanges (where I also sent them my receipt), I received this message:
You may go back to the store where you purchased the tracker to get the replacement. If at the store they’re not willing to exchange it we can do it for you.
Long story short, I received my replacement Fitbit One from Fitbit in the mail yesterday.
It took just 5 days from our initial exchanges 6 days ago (March 21st), to receiving the replacement (March 26th). Incredible.
Throughout the entire process, they did not make me feel bad for losing the device (even though it’s entirely my fault). Nor did they drag their feet on sending out the replacement. So it’s only reasonable for me to pass on the goodwill, the good karma.
Rather than reading about the comparison of the similar devices, perhaps it’s stories like this that make a product stand out.
Sidenote: I have been using the “Moves” app on iPhone as a substitute. It does its job fairly well, with interesting infographs. But I forget my phone way too often to make it useful.
I was chatting up with my colleague about a tool he was using to annotate documents, it slowly dawn on me. The many choices that we appear to have are just noises.
Over the weekend I was reminded of the ‘Gap' quote by Ira Glass through a well crafted video on Vimeo. Here’s the last line of the quote:
It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Similar to our ability to create, our perspective on what is essential and important becomes more refined over time. As our 24-hours day seem to get shorter as we age, we became more selective on what and how we spend our time.
The tools that we choose to use also get shortlisted. Here are some of the tools I’m currently using for selected activities:
iPhone 5: Not to discount other platforms, the iPhone remains the best supported platform.
MacBook Pro: It’s a more natural OS than Windows, minus the need to hack. And it’s beautiful.
Evernote: The vast spread of functions makes it highly accessible, and worthwhile.
J.Crew or Uniqlo shirts: Being chubby meant I need to dig a little deeper to find well-fitting outfits. These two brands have so far been very satisfying.
Picasa: Down-to-earth, somewhat lightweight, yet powerful photo management software. Unlike iPhoto, you don’t have to guess where your photos are.
Sharpie Fine point pen: Tried and true for most writing surfaces to get a fitting thickness
Aeropress: It’s more therapeutic than functional. Spending 5 minute to make your own cup of coffee in the morning is more calming than you can imagine.
Nintendo: Despite it’s fall from grace, Nintendo continue to punch out enjoyable experiences, even if its not in high-definition.
Wechat: A private social network to better control your signal/noise ratio.
"A subtlety did dawn on me, that perhaps few Singaporean is capable of being alone. The context of its environment meant that solitary is a rare commodity. You can feel it through the ever-shrinking personal space. Everyone seems to be busy all the time. There are dinner appointments, drinking sessions, dance parties, a play, etc. It’s actually difficult for you to feel bored in Singapore.
But the lack of availabilities does not equate the absence of loneliness. After all, the sense of being constantly engaged or occupied is fabricated. What happens when everything suddenly stop?”
"We never really knew where we will end up. We always thought that when we start throwing things at the wall, something might stay, something might stick. Unfortunately, time and again their adhesiveness were always untimely."
“It was not without compromise that we opt to fly in a metal bird. While rumored to be equipped with the best of amenities, the handsome sum you think you have paid is still considered minute to the corporations. And henceforth, rewarding you with a service that is not so dissimilar to that of an on-schedule feeding session, albeit with choices.”
A curious, and intriguing title that is at the same time ambiguous. Who, or what is ‘Her’?
The film is impactful on many fronts. It’s surreality is both refreshing, and alarming.
It possess a balance of calmness and disturbance, striked up through the use of contrast; between light and dark, order and chaos, joy and despair. The brilliant music played such a role in instrumenting the mood of this balancing act for the audience.
Our yearning for interactions had propelled technology. Yet the irony is not lost on us, that it is also technology that deprives us of real interactions. And with our growing inability to interact in-person, technology’s advances replace such complexity. No more guesswork, and no more mood swings.
And perhaps, it was under such assumed outcome, that the unfolding conclusion of the film is more welcoming than an otherwise happy ending. It’s a reminder, that we are human after all, which we were subtly reminded by the sheer existence of the protagonist’s workplace, and the effects of his works.
“Asimov was also a champion of the written word and the vital importance of books in our everyday life. Speaking to the American Booksellers Association in 1989, Isaac Asimov asked his audience to imagine a device that “can go anywhere, and is totally portable. Something that can be started and stopped at will along its data stream, allowing the user to access the information in an effective, easy manner.” Asimov then reminded the audience that “we have this device. It’s called the book.””—
What was the first thing that came to mind? I thought, “here’s another futurist who can predict the future. Great.”
So I was pleasantly surprised by the reminder.
This week, it seems I have been reminded time and again to go back to reading books. I should probably develop a routine for it.
After trying out ‘Pocket’ for a couple of weeks. I’m going back to Instapaper > Kindle. It’s just a better reading experience.
And here’s why:
I had the time to watch one of Studio Ghibli’s earlier work, “Whisper of the Heart”. It’s a simple, relatively monotone love story. There are no obvious climax, but bumps along the way to create heart-throbbing sparks on the simplicity of life.
The animation was made in the 1990s where computer are slowly becoming mainstream. The trigger of the story was built on the use of the library card, that you could find at the back of a library book. From the card, you can see information on previous check-outs of the book.
The idea of reading a physical book becomes romantic.
Book is a strange thing by modern standard. It only does one thing. From cover to cover, it only contains text related to what is on the book.
There was a scene where the girl was reading a new book that she has been looking forward to read. She was so engrossed in reading, that in the next cutscene, the bright summer sky turned into a beautiful purple hue. And she started to tear up as she flipped through the pages.
There were no instant messengers, GIFs, Facebook notifications, Twitter tweets, or other temptations technology can offer. There were only words, beautiful words, moving words, stringed together to form a beautiful story.
Sending daily reading list from Instapaper to Kindle is creating that experience. An experience that is solely focused on the words, the story.
When contacting Airbnb, at the very bottom of the contact form is a question “How do you feel right now?” In it there are worded options listing the different possible emotions that the user may be having.
I’m not sure how it works on the backend. But its an interesting approach to filter feedbacks, and direct them through a proper channel and time.
“You need to realize that when God is involved, there is no such thing as a truly hopeless situation. And so, I don’t know what situation you are in that looks like it has no possible positive outcome, that there is no way you can get through this, or a solution to this situation. God says, with Him all things are possible. There is no such thing as a truly hopeless situation, just situations that may look hopeless from our perspective.”—
Pastor Holdeman who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
The keyword is “realize”. It’s not that you should think in a certain way, or maybe it will work a certain way, but realize. Realize meant that it is the way things works, you just need to see it.
After staying off podcast for awhile, I got back to listening Planet Money during my morning drive. A few item down the list was this one that’s titled “Invisible Plumbing Of Our Economy”. If you have the chance to listen to it, you will come to understand why it take several days for money to get transferred from one bank to the other. It’s not a movie, so I’m not too worried about spoilers.
The idea is that the system was built back in the 70s. A system called ACH (Automated Clearing House) that you might have seen on your online bank statement from time to time. And because of it’s age, many of its settings are ancient, and does not respond well to the fast-paced Internet era that we are now familiar with.
This lack of speed in money transfers is certainly an irritant in an otherwise instantaneous society, where you can buy tickets to a movie minutes prior from your cellphone, order meals online, or get groceries delivered to your door next day (diapers were used as an example in the podcast).
The Proposed Solution
Some new propositions have been raised, including the latest innovation by Square — Square Cash, where you can send money through email. We have seen similar attempt from Gmail, utilizing its own in-app attachment.
While these press releases are getting a lot of attention for being innovative, more advanced solution have already existed elsewhere. It’s not in South Korea, or anywhere in Europe, but Africa.
I learnt about the “M-Pesa" from a minister in Moshi, Tanzania, who uses the service to send small amount of money (USD $60~$100) to other missionaries in the region.
By charging your money to your phone at a local M-Pesa service point (available at every corner), you can send money to a phone number. And with that message, the recipient can bring the phone to her/his local M-Pesa service point, show it to the person on staff, and get paid. No 3~5 days delay, or even exclusion of weekends. The money gets transferred as soon as the message is sent and received.
Travel does open your eyes, not only with the beauty of sceneries, but with the varying concept of how people live that involves, in this case money.
Have you heard of these things called blogs? Blogging wasn’t new in 2005, but it was still a niche hobby for the technologically minded. I had been maintaining a personal blog, and was a regular blog reader. I saw multiple-author blogs devoted to certain subjects and…
Didn’t even realize they were closed! I used to love the site — well, at least reading from it using Google Reader. I guess many things died with the Reader. :(
I’m sure by now you have seen the serene Everyday Music, and Everyday Photo commercial by Apple. And I’m sure by now you have also seen the array of Samsung commercials — from the weird unicorns, to graduates jumping into pools, to… I can’t even remember them all.
I began to wonder, as do many others — why does Apple not fight back. Why does Apple not expand?
The first few lines of Tim Cook’s response at the All Things D’s D11 Conference answers that:
"It takes a lot of really detailed work to do a phone right."