Nest Thermostat Installation – Smart, Remote Controlled, Programmable & Energy Saving

August 22, 2013 – 11:06 am

Original Thermostat:
originalThermostat

I’m happy to say that I believe we’ve arrived with a real, mass market programmable thermostat. I’ve been patiently waiting for technology to get to a point that I could easily control my home heating and cooling electronically.

Heating or cooling a home can account for over 50% of the home’s total energy use – so an area ripe for cost savings.

The product I purchased and installed is the Nest programmable thermostat.

Overview
Programmable thermostats have been on the market for a while. If you’re in to tinkering, soldering and hacking stuff together, there are ways to remotely control them, but I wouldn’t consider most of those items as having mass market appeal.

What is the Nest?
nest

The Nest is a programmable, learning thermostat available at a variety of retail stores, including nest.com, Apple, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes and others.

Be prepared for a little sticker shock, as the Nest is $250 versus several other programmable thermostats on the market for less than $100. Granted, most of the other programmable thermostats lack the cool features of the Nest, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison. And there are probably other comparable thermostats, but the Nest has gotten the most attention lately. Sure, it has a few negative reviews here and there, but generally speaking, it has gotten very positive feedback.

Why did I upgrade and is it worth the $250 that it costs?

The short answer is that I upgraded to have a smart, programmable thermostat that would reduce my energy bill while still providing a comfortable temperature. With a family and inconsistent schedules, I wanted something that was flexible and easy to adjust on the fly.

Nest has some cool features, such as being able to be remotely controlled through the web or through the mobile app (securely, of course). The flexible scheduling and analytics are cool features as well.

It takes a few weeks for the thermostat to learn your habits, so it’s tough to tell how much we’ll actually save, if anything. Online, they say you could save up to 20%. Considering our electricity bill during the hot summer months can reach $600, I believe that it will pay for itself over time.

Setup, in the grand scheme, was pretty straight forward.

The product has a very Apple-esque design, from packaging, to the interface, mobile app and website.

Not surprising based on the fact that Tony Fadell, Nest founder and CEO, led the team that created the first 18 generations of the iPod and the first three generations of the iPhone. And Matt Rogers, founder and VP of Engineering, was responsible for iPod software development at Apple, from concept to production.

I’m impressed with the Nest leadership team – quite the set of credentials.

Installation
Nothing special here. You turn off the electricity, pop the old one off, unwire the existing one and wire in the new one. The installation process is very similar to installing any standard thermostat. I’ve replaced thermostats before, so I was familiar with the process. Even if you’re new to it, it’s only a few wires, so pretty straightforward.

Old Thermostat: Inside View
oldThermostat2

At first, I was concerned because the Nest was so much smaller than our previous thermostat. But fear not, the Nest comes with a trim panel.

Paint Gap:
oldThermostat3

Nest Trim Plate (Included):
nestPlate

Once it’s installed, it only takes a few minutes to get it up and running.

First, you select the language and then connect it to WiFi, just like any other wireless device. Find your network, enter in the password and you’re connected.

Once connected, it checks for updates, then downloads and installs them.

Next it goes through a variety of configuration options, selecting the type of furnace you have, your location (by zipcode), type of home (single family, condo, etc).

Then, you’re up and running and you can adjust the temperature as needed.

You can set up an online account, download the mobile app and connect it to the thermostat so that you can remotely control it and track the usage.

We’ve had the Nest installed for a few months, while the device learned our habits. Over time it further refines the heating and cooling schedule to optimize comfort and reduce energy consumption.

So far, I’ve been really impressed with it. Installation and setup were easy. And it’s cool to sit on the couch and control the thermostat. And it appears to be saving energy based on our electricity usage.

I also think the Nest has appeal to small businesses. A friend of mine has her own business and has a very basic thermostat, similar to what we had. She said that when she came in to their store the other morning, it was still set at 70 degrees and had been cooling their store overnight, costing her extra money. Situations like this could be easily avoided with a programmable thermostat, especially one that recognizes inactivity and auto adjusts or one that could be remotely managed.





Top 5 Holiday Ads of 2012

December 22, 2012 – 2:27 pm

Holiday ads are designed to tug at our heartstrings…and wallets. This year is no exception. As in years past, Target and Apple have some of the best commercials but Lowe’s has a new campaign to inspire the inner Griswald in all of us.

Last night, Apple began airing a sentimental ad showing the benefits of FaceTime on the iPad. This bittersweet ad shows how Facetime can bring us together with far away family. I’ve posted a few times before on Twitter how great FaceTime is while traveling.

Kudos to Lowe’s for making excessive Christmas lights cool and classy. Lowe’s “Lights Across America” campaign shines with holiday spirit. Set to the tune “Shine for Me” by Camera Can’t Lie, the commercial is heartwarming to even the Grinch.

The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) recently revealed the stand-out holiday commercials of the season and Target topped the list.

Target’s kitschy TV ads are fun and over the top. The two Target holiday characters make fun of our love of material things this holiday—but we’re all in on the joke. This is one of the ads for Black Friday.

This 15 second ad for the Target Red Card was one of my favorites for the pure randomness of it all. Target mixes the classic “Hallelujah” with a pitch for a credit card—but the result is fun not offensive. And, who hasn’t wanted to grab hold of the intercom at least once in their life? I still need to check that one off the list at some point in the future – I’m just waiting for the right opportunity.

Finally, Macy’s brings old school glamor to their Christmas ads with their “What’s in Store” TV campaign. The campaign features Florence Henderson, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Martha Stewart, the Donald and more. Here’s one of the many ads from Macy’s “What’s in Store” ad blitz. I give Macy’s credit for even attempting to get that many celebrities into a single ad.

Happy Holidays!





Netpage: Mobile App for Bringing Interactivity to Print

November 14, 2012 – 3:54 pm

December 2012 Esquire Cover

I’m glad I can finally tell people what I’ve been working on the last few months.

Netpage is a mobile app that allows you to clip, save and share content from a print publication. Esquire’s use of Netpage is gaining most of the media buzz right now but it can deliver interactivity to catalogs, newspapers and product packaging, just to name a few.

Summary from ADOTAS:

Esquire announced today that the December issue, on newsstands November 20, will be the first-ever completely interactive, shareable magazine. By using Netpage, the app for paper, readers can now digitally clip, save, and share every article, ad, and photo from the print edition of Esquire. Readers can also play exclusive videos and purchase items right from the page for an entirely new way to experience a magazine.

We launched Netpage and it’s already received media coverage from The Wall Street Journal, ADOTAS and Mashable. 

Check out the articles, download the app and let me know what you think.

The Wall Street Journal: Esquire To Make Print Magazine Interactive Through Netpage App

ADOTAS: Esquire Partners With Netpage To Unveil First-Ever Completely Interactive Magazine

Mashable: ‘Esquire’ Gets Shareable, Shoppable Digital Overlay

Thanks everyone for their patience and support, especially my wife, as I’ve been working around the clock and traveling the world to help make this happen.





Your Website Looks Like Garbage On A MacBook Pro Retina Display

July 18, 2012 – 3:37 pm

I ordered a new MacBook Pro with Retina display a few weeks ago. You can read my post Should You Buy a MacBook Pro With Retina Display? Here is Why I Did for more details why.

After a few weeks of using the new laptop, I have to say that so far I’m very pleased. I’ve had several Apple & PC laptops in the past and this one has not failed to impress.

The only real problem? The display is too good. What do I mean? Most websites and apps were not developed for such a high resolution.

Ten essential Retina-enabled OS X apps for the new Macbook Pro
The high-pixel-density Retina display runs at a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800, allowing for four times the number of pixels as the previous model. But most software isn’t built for resolutions that high, so Apple has doubled up the pixels on old apps. On the one hand, that means you can still use those apps, but on the other hand it means that edges are jagged and don’t look great.

At first, the only real apps that supported the crazy high number of pixels were the apps made by Apple.

There’s version of Chrome that supports the high resolution, but you have to switch over to a developer build of Chrome to get it. More information about getting a different version can be found at the Chromium site. At some point in the near future I’m sure the standard version will support Retina, but for now, I switched over to the developer build and taking a risk running a build that hasn’t been fully tested.

Below is a side by side comparison of Safari vs. Chrome (before upgrade to developer build that has better support for Retina):


Click to enlarge

Below is a comparison of the current version of Chrome and the developer build that supports the Retina display.

Chrome:

Click to enlarge

Chrome with Retina Support:

Click to enlarge

There is another article I read that has a good comparison of different browsers: Blurry Text On MacBook Pro With Retina Display

There are several ways to accommodate high resolution displays like the Retina display, but none of them are easy to implement and require the creation of higher resolution images and some CSS or Javascript trickery to accommodate the displays. CSS Image Replacement for High-DPI Retina Display and CSS AND IMAGES FOR RETINA DISPLAYS are a few articles to check out.

So, in summary, the MacBook Pro with Retina display is a great machine. Sure, there have been reports of various problems, which is to be expected, but that’s the risk you take when purchasing new technology products. At $2,199 it’s not cheap, but with flash storage, 7 1/2 hour battery life, crazy fast processors and an amazing display, it is, in my opinion, one of the best high performance laptops on the market.

Now, if software companies could release new versions of their apps that support the display and everyone would update their website to support high resolution displays, life would be great!





Should You Buy a MacBook Pro With Retina Display? Here is Why I Did

June 11, 2012 – 6:49 pm

Along with thousands of other people, I tuned in for the latest announcements from Apple as part of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference.

Sure, Apple announced a bunch of items around mobile and iOS 6, but my focus was on the new laptop models. As soon as the announcement was over and the online store was back up and running with the new items, I placed an order for the latest model from Apple – a MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Why did I pay $2,199 for the latest innovation from Apple when I could have picked up a basic laptop for $500 at my local computer store? Oh, and don’t forget all the new accessories that you need, such as a new secondary power supply (or in my case a $10 adapter for the extra one I already have) and assorted cables and connectors. If you travel and give presentations, an ethernet adapter, DVI adapter and VGA display adapters are all necessary evils and are $30 each.

For every point about why I bought the computer from Apple, someone will throw out a counterpoint in regards to a better product by someone else. That’s fine – I get it. Getting into a technical specifications comparison debate is not the point of this post. Nor is it about PC vs. Mac – that’s a different discussion. I utilize both Mac and PC platforms, although my main computer has mostly been made by Apple over the last 20 years.

As a business owner with an eye on cash flow, I need to justify where every dollar is spent.

What is the most important asset? People.

And what is the most limited resource? Time.

What does this new computer get me? Time back that I can use for getting work done. Time otherwise spent on waiting for a computer to boot. For a program to load. Or the hassle of being constrained by the number of simultaneous programs I can run or other computer performance hiccups that come along with an older computer.

I’m not easy on laptops. And while my iPad & iPhone (yeah, I’m that guy) have been helpful in being able to step away from my computer more often or manage other tasks, like listening to music while I work, there are still many tasks that are best suited for a laptop (and in some cases, an external monitor for additional visual space).

I bought my wife a new Windows 7 laptop a few months ago. Nothing fancy, but a good deal for $450 (on sale from $550). Intel i3 dual-core, 2.2 GHz processor, 8GB RAM, 15.6″ display, 500 GB hard drive with integrated graphics and HDMI out. Something fine for web browsing, word processing, email & basic multimedia functions like watching movies from iTunes and Netflix.

There was a funny article on Cult of Mac called Do You Really Need The New MacBook Pro? Probably Not – which was a good reminder that most people probably don’t need a crazy fast computer. There are plenty of good laptops out there and basic laptop computer packages in the $500-$1,000 price range (don’t forget to budget for an external monitor and accessories).

If you’re debating whether or not you should buy the MacBook Pro with Retina display, then ask yourself this question:

I spend most of my computer time:
A) Watching cat videos
B) Sharing cat videos on Facebook
C) Writing about cat videos on my blog
D) Creating cat videos while on an African Safari

Personally, I run a bunch of programs that require a hefty computer, including many programs for software development. I occasionally edit HD video, so having some horsepower always helps. And of course I run all the standard business and web applications that everyone runs in the normal course of work – but most of those don’t require much computer power.

On the way soon!

I used to have a MacBook Pro with a solid state drive, and while only 128GB, the computer was great. 128GB was a little small on space, so having 256 should be plenty, as most of my large files are stored externally anyway (like music and video files except while editing). I’m using around 100GB of local storage right now.

My main requirements for selecting a computer were at least 8GB RAM, 128MB solid state storage and a 15″ display. The MacBook Air was out because the display is too small and it doesn’t have enough processing power for my liking. Some quick math that supports my decision vs. the standard MacBook Pro follows. The basic 15″ MacBook Pro is $1,799. It costs $100 to upgrade to 8GB RAM (although lower cost RAM is available through other suppliers), $200 to upgrade to a 128GB solid state drive or $500 for the 256GB solid state drive. The standard 5400 rpm drive is a joke in my opinion for a high performance laptop. To outfit a MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 128GB solid state gets you to $2,099 or $2,399 for 256GB. 256GB sold state storage is included as the base model MacBook Pro with Retina display. Same processor, more storage, the same video card as the higher end MacBook Pro, significantly better display, HDMI out, the ability to upgrade to 16GB RAM in the future and other features in a form factor that is thinner and lighter? Easy decision. To me, it was more about the overall package vs. the Retina display, but it was a nice bonus. Will I miss the optical drive? Not likely, but I have plenty of other computers that have them if I ever need one.

Don’t worry about my old Mac laptop, as it won’t go to waste. I’ll be sure to put it to good use.

By the way, a comparable machine from Dell or a major manufacturer will run at least that if not more. As reference, a Dell Latitude E6530 with a 3rd gen Intel® Core™ i7-3720QM Processor (2.6GHz, 6M cache), 15.6″ display (1920×1080), 8.0GB, DDR3-1600MHz SDRAM and 256GB solid state drive is currently listed for about $2,750 on dell.com. Upgrading from the default hard drive to a 256GB solid state drive alone runs almost $500, which is a big part of the price.





Demystifying and Harnessing the Power of Social Media

April 19, 2012 – 10:37 am

social media journey

McKinsey Quarterly is one of the many resources that I use for keeping current with industry research.

They posted a great article, Demystifying social media, that I wanted to share.

They also have a slide presentation that goes through the journey in more detail.

Below are a few key points.

  • Executives certainly know what social media is, but have no idea how to harness social media’s power
  • It’s pretty difficult to see where and how to influence social media conversations
  • ROI and impact of investments in social media are difficult (but not impossible) to track, because there are short and long term impacts

The article does a good job of trying to distill social media down to some key functions:
“We have identified its four primary functions—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior—and linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions.”

I firmly believe that social media programs should be integrated into an overall digital marketing approach that includes search (paid & organic), email, paid display, etc. and mapping out touch points across all communication channels is key to establishing marketing resource investments.

consumer journey

“Marketing’s primary goal is to reach consumers at the moments, or touch points, that influence their purchasing behavior.”





Socialize Events to Extend Engagement and Drive ROI

April 11, 2012 – 12:46 pm

I participate in quite a few events – both attending and speaking. Events are a key component of keeping relevant in a fast moving industry and building rapport with colleagues, clients and prospects. Attending isn’t cheap, though, when you factor in the travel costs and the lost billable revenue. Planning is important in advance for scheduling meetings as well – especially at big events like SXSW.

Chef Daniel Boulud at Los Angeles Food & Wine:

Daniel Boulud LA Food Wine 2011

Adam Karwoski posted a good article, How To Take Your Next Trade Show Social, that highlights some key components:

  • Video: livestream Q&A, how-to videos, testimonials, behind the scenes
  • Twitter: live Twitter feed, tweet-ups
  • Facebook: polls, contests
  • Website: landing page
  • Photos: share via social profiles and web
  • Blog: guest blog, live blog, recap

One of the many amazing items at LA Food & Wine:

I take a slightly different approach, breaking it out into before, during and after the event. Video and contests are great, but take quite a bit of advance planning, approvals and coordination, so I listed a few simple things that most companies can do. If you sponsor an event, be sure to ask about having the event share your content and links to your properties (web & social) through their channels: press releases, email, web, social.

Before the event:

  • Announce attendance / sponsorship via press release, email list and social media channels.
  • For speaking events, be sure to communicate when, where and the topic.
  • Reach out to prospects, key media contacts and partners to check if they are attending and schedule meetings if available.

During the event:

  • Monitor hashtags, check-ins and keywords for opportunities to connect and engage. Utilize tools, such as Klout for Twitter to identify influential contacts
  • Post a few key pieces of content from the event – could be photos taken by your company, retweets of key blog posts, etc.

After the event:

  • Post recap of event – ideally in a blog post and share blog post via social channels and email list. Including links to other recaps is helpful as well, as everyone will have a different take on the event.
  • Go through the list of new companies and contacts, add them to your CRM system for tracking and connect with key contacts. Doesn’t hurt to share the link to the recap blog post as well.
  • Continue monitoring hashtags and keywords for opportunities to connect and engage

Event attendance and sponsorship is a great investment – just make sure you have a plan in place to capitalize on it and leverage the investment to grow your business.





2012 Digital Trends from eMarketer

April 6, 2012 – 7:54 am

I’m a sucker for good, free research. One of my favorite sources is eMarketer and I reference their research all the time in meetings and conversations. I’ll be sharing some of my other favorites in the future, such as Forrester, Marketing Sherpa and others.

I highly recommend following eMarketer on SlideShare, Twitter and checking out their email newsletters.

One presentation I seem to be referencing quite a bit lately is the eMarketer 2012 trends report.

eMarketer Webinar: Key Digital Trends for 2012

eMarketer 2012 Key Digital Trends

Summary:

  • Individuals are consuming content and interacting with brands through a variety of devices, including smartphones, ereaders, tablets.
  • Brands are looking for new ways to share their content and connect with consumers through social media, online music & online video – all areas that are hot and growing.
  • Social, search, mobile and local/location-based components all influence the shopping experience and ultimately the buying decision at the point of purchase.
  • Privacy is important to consumers, but it’s a complicated balance as consumers are sharing more data and want more relevant targeted ads but don’t want big brother snooping around to use the data against them or in an unexpected manner.

What is your favorite source for marketing research?





True Social Media ROI Requires Traditional Advertising Integration

February 20, 2012 – 2:40 pm

I deal with this question daily: what is the ROI of our investment in social media?

It’s a great and valid question without an easy answer.

Social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube – don’t live independent of other advertising and marketing initiatives.

You get more traffic to your social media sites by incorporating links to social profiles throughout your existing assets – websites, business cards, email signatures, etc.

In order to really grow your social following you have to invest in paid media such as Facebook ads. You’ll quickly come to the conclusion that social doesn’t stand alone.

A good article on paid, earned & owned is The new PEO media model. You can also refer to my article, Paid, Earned & Owned: Social Media Opportunities for more details on the topic.

paid earned owned
(image from The new PEO media model)

If you have an email database, you can give your Facebook page a Like boost when you send out an email with a special offer for Facebook fans (especially if the offer is fan-gated, requiring visitors to Like the page in order to receive the offer).

A recent study showed that blogging has a positive ROI:
Blogging Trumps Traditional Advertising in ROI Head-to-Head (Case Study).

So, where do I recommend spending your ad dollars?

Well, I don’t recommend putting all your dollars into one bucket, but finding the right balance. There’s a minimum spend to make each platform worthwhile. The ROI of each tactic will plateau at some level with diminishing returns. Each tactic plays a different role from awareness to loyalty – all things that must be considered.

You can read studies that show ROI on every marketing and advertising tactic. But, in order to get the best return, you have to consider the role of each tactic as they relate back to your business objectives: selling more stuff at a profit.

Just because Pinterest is growing at 4,000% doesn’t mean that it is right for your brand. But, if you have a female target market – it’s definitely something to investigate since the current audience is 95% female. I’ve recommended Pinterest to several brands.

While I don’t have an easy, succinct answer to the ROI question – I can tell you that social media isn’t free, but it can be measured against objectives. Social requires an investment in paid media to drive traffic, which in turn gets the volume of conversations and engagement to a level that can justify the investment.





Paid, Earned and Owned Media: KC Media Mix & SMCKC Presentation

November 21, 2011 – 11:01 pm

  KC Media Mix   social media club kansas city logo  

I recently had the opportunity to keynote a Kansas City Media Mix and Social Media Club Kansas City event. My presentation focused on the paid, earned and owned media types made popular by Forrester:

Defining Earned, Owned And Paid Media

I included the presentation below.