Category Archives: Other

Remind101 – Text Messaging for Classroom or Sports Teams

From the Twilio Customer Stories page I learned about Remind101, a free service designed for teachers to keep students and parents up to date via text messaging or email. From their website you can learn more about the service, or about the team.

This is a very useful service. While it was primarily designed for classrooms, it could also be used for sports teams or anywhere else you need a 1:Many text messaging system.

Remind101 designed their system to be very focused for this type of communication. By keeping with a narrow focus, they’ve got a strong set of features like:

  • Privacy – no one participating (teacher, student, parent) has anyone else’s phone numbers; this would be very important for younger kids in particular
  • Only Group Messaging – there is no support for 1:1 messages; instead everything is sent to the entire group/class
  • One-way Messaging – students and parents cannot reply to any teacher message; I would like to see the ability to reply as well, in order to make it a better communication channel for the students back to the teacher
  • Mobile Apps – for the teacher side, they have apps for both Android and iOS
  • Email – as an alternative to text messaging, students/parents can receive messages via email

As a sport coach or manager, you could set up individual teams (“classes”), and connect with each of your teams separately as needed. For example, “16U Red”, “16U White”, and so on. This app could be used for a whole season, or just for a tournement weekend. (Just delete the group when the weekend is over.)

Here’s a screenshot of the web interface for sending a message:

Remind101 website screenshot
Using Remind101 to send text messages to a sports team

End of the Line for Paper Maps at CSAA

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that CSAA (California’s branch of the AAA) is going to stop producing their own paper maps later this year:

The California State Automobile Association produced its first road map in 1909. It showed major highways in California and Nevada, and was sent free to all members. Ninety-nine years later, San Francisco’s CSAA is set to produce its last paper map, another victim of the shift to digital technology.

The auto club, which serves Northern California, Nevada and Utah, is phasing out its 12-person cartographic unit by year-end, the association said. Members will still be able to get paper maps at no charge, but they will be produced at AAA national headquarters in Heathrow, Fla.

This doesn’t mean an end to paper maps at AAA, but there won’t be any more that are regionally-produced. I’m guessing that this will be the end of locally specialized maps which would be a shame.

Clearly online mapping services (Yahoo!, Google, MapQuest) along with in-car GPS units have become very popular for point-to-point directions. I still like the visceral feel of paper maps, especially when you’re looking for new places to explore.

I wonder how sales of the venerable Thomas Guide have faired lately. These used to be the must-have reference for those who spent any time on the road.

(Via The Map Room — a great blog if you’re at all into maps)

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio Merge?

I was paying bills tonight when this message appeared in my inbox:

February 19, 2007

To: SIRIUS Subscribers

Today is a very exciting day for SIRIUS customers. As you may have heard, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio are merging to form the nation’s premier audio entertainment provider.

I’m pretty excited about this if they can pull it off. I was first thinking this might compare to the VHS vs Betamax war, but this is more of a content battle like you’d expect from two broadcast networks.

Having two incompatible satellite radio providers was a pain in this case simply because listeners had to worry about making the wrong choice (“who will go bankrupt first?”). If the hardware was compatible and we were just dealing with different subscriptions, I’d be all for the competition.

Assuming they can get over regulatory hurdles, I do think they’ll see subscriber growth (assuming they don’t jack up their rates after merging).

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio Merger

Vista Launch Picture Madness

This picture from a New York Times article on the Vista launch has been making the blogging rounds today:

Vista Launch Picture from New York Times

Now, it’s hard to argue that the executives pictured (from Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba, AMD and HP) all look pretty serious, possibly even dour. But, who knows the context of that exact moment when the picture was taken? Rather than being a real indicator of the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) of the participating companies, I think it’s just the same old media trick of choosing an image to suit the story, even (especially) if it doesn’t portray the subject in a positive light.

Contrast this with the excellent coverage of the Steve Jobs keynote at this year’s Macworld at Presentation Zen. At first glance you might think it’s the same old tune: boring corporate guy from Cingular pales in comparison to the cool kids from Apple, Google, and Yahoo. But, read through the whole summary, then watch the video. The video gives you the whole context which exactly backs up the points of the story.