Are we fooling ourselves with Foursquare’s potential? A wake up call with my coffee this am…

If you live in the same geek space I live in, you’ve seen all the hype about location-based games such as @Foursquare. The 4sq/Gowalla showdown at SXSW, the stories about the 15K people joining Foursquare every day and nearly 1M checkins each day (which, btw, I find highly suspect given that I get a 4 sq server time-out about every 3rd time I want to check in), etc., etc, it can be argued that these location-based social sharing networks have been touted as the next big thing.

Brands are trying to figure out how to harness the power of these networks and we’ve seen some innovative stuff such as Adobe working with Gowalla to promote their CS5 product (thx JO), the special History Channel and Bravo badges, and the nationwide roll-out of the Starbucks Mayor reward program and Barista badge, to name a few. As a player of Foursquare, I have to admit I’m hot on it too.

But will all of this hit mass adoption? Or is it destined to be a flash in the pan of geek culture?

I had a bit of a wake-up call at my local Starbucks this morning when stopping in for some caffeination. I checked into 4sq and noticed “Bryan” the mayor, had checked in just 20 minutes before me – and I also saw the Sbux mayor special displayed on my phone. Making conversation with the 20-something barista, I asked, “So where’s the mayor?” She looked utterly confused, so I continued “You know, the foursquare mayor – he just checked in.” The other 20-something barista came over and asked with enthusiasm if I played “that Foursquare game” because he had just read about it in the info corporate had sent the store regarding the Frappucino mayor promo.

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Neither barista had ever played foursquare or had even seen it (until I showed them my phone), and no customer from their store had previously made mention of checking in. The funny thing is, when I asked about the mayor, they figured out who “Bryan” was since he visits them so frequently (“oh, yeah, he must be that 4-shot espresso guy”) but clearly there is a disconnect the ‘loyalty’ of Foursquare players online and how they interact with the business in real life. I think we were all enamored with the idea that via these games businesses could clearly identify theirs MVCs via the mayors… but an online relationship with a business on 4sq doesn’t necessarily translate into a real-life relationship. I think Starbucks is doing the right thing to try to engage their most valued customers, but wonder how successful the promotion will be overall. In any case, the brand has gotten a lot of props for being willing to experiment. It would be interesting to know if this early trial balloon actually ends up driving business. In the case of the local San Diego Starbucks I visited, looks like not many of the $1 off Frap specials will be redeemed by Mayor Bryan…


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In the geek’s toolkit: iGo Charge Anywhere

When I go on business trips, I take GREAT pride in packing light. Really. Partly it’s because I am loathe to check luggage (so inefficient) and partly it’s because it can be a fun challenge… (“ok, I have to build a whole week’s worth of clothes around ONE pair of shoes! Yay!”)

The only problem I face traveling as a geek with techy “equipment” is the battery issue… I gotta bring along all kinds of cables and chargers to keep sending juice to those power-sucking devices. So basically whatever room I conserve in the overnight bag I promptly fill up with one of more of the following:

  • phone charger
  • Bluetooth charger
  • iPod charger
  • camera charger

…and so on. But now that’s changed because I got a new toy called iGo Charge Anywhere. Behold…

The iGo charger is about the size of a deck of cards and has the ability to charge up to two devices. It has exceeded my expectations on all counts. It’s convenient because all I need to do is pack the one charger with interchangeable tips that work for each specific device I own. If you’re thinking you would totally lose the tips when not in use, don’t worry because you can attach the tips you’re not using to the charging cable (smart!). If you have an extra cable, you can even charge two devices at once (brilliant!). AND the best part… while the devices are charging, the charger itself charges too – which means even if the charging unit is NOT plugged into the wall, your devices can still feed off the battery juice of the charger and live. (FAN FREAKIN’TASTIC!)

The PR people of iGo had given me a charger to try out several months ago plus a couple of the interchangeable tips (for my iPod Touch and old flipphone). This thing has become indispensible even just around the house so I’m going to trick it out with a couple more tips and a separate (short) cable so I can charge two devices at the same time. I thought I could buy the extra tips at a local Best Buy but the local San Diego store I visited (Mira Mesa) didn’t carry them so it was off to their web site I went.

As luck had it, I tweeted with iGo this week and they emailed me a special 20% off code. Serendipity. The contact said I could share it on my blog. The 20% off code is: IGOBLOGGER. She actually said she’d love it if I ran a giveaway for one iGo Charger ($49) and a free tip – I don’t typically do this but if you want one of these chargers, leave a comment and way for me to get in touch with you. I’ll ask the PR person to randomly pick a winner by… say June 6, 2010. Sound good?

Disclosure: As stated above, I received this as a free product sample (value $49.99). The PR company asked me to let them know if I posted my thoughts about the product but I was under no obligation to do so. The opinions expressed in this post and on this blog are my own and my disclosure policy is here.   

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San Diego Red Dress Run

(Links in post NSFW)

Saturday marks a little-known tradition called the Red Dress Run, an event that started in San Diego about 20 years ago and has spread the world over. The RDR is not a typical run – no stopwatches or Clif bars to be seen anywhere – and in fact, participants come in all shapes in sizes and ages (as long as they are over the legal drinking age). It’s a diverse crowd united really only by two things: a love for a good time and the willingness to wear a red dress.

The Original Red Dress Run is organized by the San Diego Hash House Harriers and features live music, free-flowing beer, dinner, and a scenic run through the streets of San Diego with stops around town and in bars. Part pub crawl, part run, part night of debauchery, it’s a challenge not to have fun during the RDR. If you’ve never heard of the Hash Hash Harriers the best (and officially unofficial) way to describe the group is “the drinking group with the running problem.” So yeah, both drinking & running and great fun for people who enjoy both.

You can pretty much find a hash group in any major city — trust me on that, I’ve even run with the Beijing Hash — and San Diegans are lucky to have one of the most active communities in the hashing world, with almost a hash every night of the week. The Red Dress Run, however, is held just once a year.

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I dug through and found a few pics (the clean ones) from previous Red Dress Runs… this will actually be my first RDR since 2006, when I initiated my 9-month son to the tradition. He wore his first (and only) dress and I pushed him in the jogging stroller through the streets of San Diego with (that year) about 1100 other men and women clad in our red dresses.

Tomorrow night I plan to wear my trusty back-up red dress (the one with the wings was pretty much destroyed at RDR 2004) which is an actual dress I wore to a prom back in high school – thank goodness my parents are such pack rats and never got rid of that dress because you just cannot BUY that type of fashion today. Anyhow, I may end up tweeting some of the action via my @babyblooze Twitter account tomorrow night, so watch out folks. And San Diego peeps… you might just want to avoid downtown all together.

ON ON!!!

Berry Scented Razors

Had to buy a disposible razor on a business trip last week… did you know they now sell SCENTED razors?? God knows for what reason but to be sure, they smell delicious. I actually licked the handle to see if it would taste like anything but nope – these are merely scented, not flavored as well. Still don’t know why someone thought this would be a good idea but I’m not going to question it anymore. I’ll just enjoy my delicious-smelling shower. 

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London’s 2012 Olympic Mascots Unveiled

According to http://holykaw.alltop.com/what-the-london-2012-mascots-unveiled, these are the mascots for the London 2012 Olympics. Ah man, it’s almost too easy to poke fun of this psychedelic duo or suggest they look a little like… oh nevermind. Bizarre indeed, but then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from the country who brought us the Teletubbies. Viva Wenlock and Mandeville!

This is messed up: VIP Porta Potty promotion

In a few weeks, I’ll be running the San Diego Rock and Roll Half Marathon. As part of their pre-race marketing machine, I got an email inviting me to spend $100 on Brooks shoes so I can have the PRIVILEGE of using the nicer porta potties before I start running on race day. Huh??

OK, these folks definitely get props for an inventive and creative promo — I have never heard of anything like this. But really? Am I going to switch shoe brands or basically throw down a hundred bucks just for the pleasure of peeing in a climate-controlled porta potty an hour before I run?

The ONLY thing that excited me about this promotion is that in addition to the running water and flushing toliets they boast about (side note: we live in the US; we should not be THAT excited about this), they also promise plenty of “Run Happy surprises” in the restrooms. <????> Maybe I’ll have to elbow my way past the specially-stickered race bib runners and sneak a peek to check out what the big surprise is.

Really, if you have time, read the details of this promo. Especially the last paragraph.

Brooks VIP Porta Potty for a Super-Deluxe Start

Brooks’ VIP Porta Potty is our way of thanking you for choosing Brooks and Moving Comfort gear, and rewarding you for all your hard work training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.

To get your race off to the best possible start, we’ll have comfortable, climate-controlled restroom trailers set up at the starting line. Running water, flushing toilets, and some Run Happy surprises await.

To access this pre-race luxury, you’ll need to snag a Brooks VIP Porta Potty pass in one of two easy ways:

1. Head to a participating  retailer between May 3 and June 3, 2010, and purchase $100 in Brooks or Moving Comfort apparel or Brooks shoes. Offer valid only at listed locations. ~OR~

2. Come to the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Health and Fitness Expo on June 4-5, and purchase $150 in official Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon merchandise, Brooks apparel or shoes, or Moving Comfort apparel.

Either way, you’ll receive a sticker for your race bib. The sticker is your race-day pass to Brooks’ VIP Porta Potty.

Please note: Brooks’ VIP Porta Potty will only be available for use before the race, as the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2 Marathon is a point-to-point course. To maximize your enjoyment, total admittance is capped. We strongly recommend coming early because-trust us, it’s worth it! Hours: The Brooks VIP Porta Potty opens for business on race day starting at 4:30 a.m. and is available until 7:00 a.m.