Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Love the Internet...

...for many reasons, and not least because it makes things like the following videos possible.

(Thanks to my fellow Clarion Westies Michael and Alison for sharing these.)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Saw These Videos for the First Time Last Week

And I must share them with you. I must!

First up, an Australian PSA demonstrating the terrifying consequences of illiteracy:

Next, a genre-riffic advertisement for a vocational school in Perth:

Both of those were made by comedy duo Henry & Aaron, who also produced this seven-minute-long NSFW "Perfectly Adequate Christmas Special" (WARNING: includes profanity and Santa Claus).

And now for something (almost) completely different:

Which leads, of course, to Where's Waldo?

That is all.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SnoutCast #207: The Last Six Months

It's been half a year since we changed up our podcast format. How do we think it's going so far? (And what do you think, listeners? Contact us!)

[ Download mp3 ]

Show length: 34:17
File size: 32.9MB

The women of SnoutCast 2014 (so far):
Follow @teamsnout on Twitter for more!

What Else?

Tell us we're wrong on the Internet! E-mail or post a comment at

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "A Talk with George" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I Really Want You to Install This App

Like I said last week, go check out the SafeTrek app. I like having it for peace of mind, if nothing else.

Now here's my legwork on what the people behind SafeTrek have done so far in 2014...

In late January, The Maneater, the University of Missouri's student newspaper, ran a story titled "Student-run SafeTrek app gains popularity," which stated that the app had been downloaded over 5,000 times. Another story, "Failing Forward," appeared in the university's alumni magazine MIZZOU in late February.

The SafeTrek app is now free, but it didn't start that way: the original price point was $5 (late 2013), then $2 (Jan/Feb 2014), then $1 (April 2014). The makers made it available for a lower price or for free as temporary promotions a few times during that period, but it's been free for everyone since early May of 2014.

So how does SafeTrek, the company, plan to make money if they're now giving away the app for free? This segment from Good Morning America offers a clue:

In April, SafeTrek co-creator Zach Beattie received the University of Missouri System's 2014 Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which includes $2,500. In May, the app was recommended by Kansas State University in "Safety options, services for students on campus, off campus" and highlighted as an Apptimize case study for increasing app store reviews.

Finally, to close the loop on that funding question: a May 21st interview with Beattie in Missouri Business Alert explains that "SafeTrek intends to sell data collected from its thousands of users as its main way of making money." So there's a potential privacy issue there, and it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Want You to Install This App

Because though I hope you'll never need SafeTrek, I don't want you to ever suffer for want of it. Free download for iOS or Android.

The basic idea is this: start the app when you're traveling through an area where you feel unsafe. Hold your finger down on the screen until you feel safe again. When you remove your finger, you have ten seconds to enter a PIN. If the correct PIN is not entered, police are notified of your GPS location.

I learned about SafeTrek last week on Beth Revis' Tumblr. She had reblogged it from lillianloverly, where it appeared on March 16th.

Because I'm a research nerd, I did some legwork on the people behind it. I was also curious about how the police notification part of it worked, and what the company's business plan was. Here's the first part of a brief SafeTrek timeline, from its inception through the end of 2013, gleaned from online public records:

The earliest mention of the app I found was a branding presentation dated April 22nd, 2013, by Portguese designer Frederico Cardoso. I couldn't discern an obvious connection betwee him and SafeTrek's creators, but I did find two news stories from May of 2013, about SafeTrek winning an app design competition. Both were from University of Missouri student news sites: "App designer student codes winning smartphone app" and "Public safety app wins RJI student competition."

Later, in August of 2013, the Columbia Business Times reported that SafeTrek was "aiming for a release date of Aug. 1 for the MU campus" and "[t]he app will make its debut on Windows 8." Well, neither of those things appears to have happened: the iOS version first appeared in October of 2013, and no Windows version appears to exist at all—I could find no mention of it anywhere, not even on the official SafeTrek web site.

Speaking of the official site, the current SafeTrek team appears to be five University of Missouri college students: Zach Beattie, Zach Winkler, Nick Droege, Aaron Kunnemann, and Derek Provance. The articles from May of 2013, identify the original app creators as "Convergence Journalism senior Natalie Cheng, Business Administration senior Zach Beattie and Information Technology senior Zach Winkler" (my emphasis).

It's a bit disheartening that there appear to be no women currently leading SafeTrek development, when young women would seem to be the people who stand to benefit the most from this app. (I won't speculate about why Natalie Cheng left the SafeTrek project, but she has since co-founded another company, Quirks Consignment.)

Things got much more interesting for SafeTrek in 2014. I'll blog about that next Wednesday! Meanwhile, please install the app, try it out, and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I am in a house without WiFi

And I will be here until Sunday. The nearest WiFi-enabled coffee shop is five miles away. I'm seriously considering turning on LTE tethering on my iPhone. HALP