So I realize that sometimes I use this blog (historically focused on the topic of online-video creation, marketing and profitability).
So against every rule of conventional wisdom I’m doing a spinoff blog. It’s called “Sevenofthe,” or “Seven of the…” and the idea is for quirky, interesting and informative lists of 7 random things. You’re supposed to add yours and if they’re awesome additions I’ll add them as “extras from commenters.”
Well this one has some fun Engrish happening. I like to imagine that there’s this little boutique translation firm in China that represents itself as conversant in English, and nobody at these Chinese manufacturers has any reason to doubt its proficiency. Then this boutique, absent anyone who speaks or writes English, uses Google translate and hopes for the best.
Top 10 Engrish instructions in owner’s manual of Main MianShu drifting scooter
WARNING: More than make you are in danger of falling weight
When the Speed is greater than the specified speed, drifting scooter up, cock to limit speed within the safe speed.
Using intelligent ticket I car security related matters need attention.
You can learn driving in different terrain must slow down in case of unfamiliar terrain. Any time can’t let drifting scooter off the ground [WVFF note: that kinda sucks because I bought the hover board to fly over lakes to escape Biff).
Has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and lack ego to protect consciousness of the old man hands the inconvenience banned driving.
Do not allow the wet in the rain road, long distance driving backwards, high-speed, high-speed decay, speeding drifting scooter turn back.
Design, test, or is not present in the personal transport related proof method and equipment for the medical safety, so the user must use drifting scooter without external force.
Don’t let the child contact with animal cells.
If you insist on driving at this time, damage is very easy to fall down, at the same time also can affect the service life of batteries.
January 2016 update: This blog post reviewing hover boards apparently filled a void: traffic to this “everything you need to know about hover boards” article has been insane! But a lot has changed in the past 45 days…
The bad news: in min December Amazon discontinued most models of the hover boards due to manufacturing problems causing batteries to overheat and even catch on fire. So buyer beware. This killed our US access to a lot of the low-cost models, and hover boards are not sold yet by traditional US distributors like Walmart, Kmart, Target, ToysRUs,
The good news: some manufacturers have convinced Amazon they are selling safe models even if they cost about $150 to $200 more than the first generation of rogue ones. Also some good long-term news Razor scooters bought the US patent so that company may eventually have a quasi monopoly on these, and that means higher prices. I can’t recommend a Razor yet because of the poor reviews.
As of this writing, there are still a few hover boards on Amazon that are pricey ($500 instead of $300) but the sellers presumably have convinced Amazon they’re not selling little fire bombs. So that is worth a premium for many people. Here’s what I like:
Jetson has a few but they’re overpriced or out of stock.
Avoid Sharper Image entirely. That once-trustworthy brand will now license its name to any crap in a box.
If you want to take a risk on a cheap one with unknown manufacturer or retailer, here’s one that Cheapskate blog found: $299 (before shipping) on Monoprice but it’s probably one of the burner versions and will vanish before you click the link.
UPDATE SUMMARY: I’ve updated the “is it safe?” answer below and removed the product links. This rest of the post does have still-relevant and important information you’ll want to at least scan… like how to use it, how long charge will last, etc.
Okay nowwww back to the original post with those edits:
Likely the hot seller for Christmas 2015 is going to be the new self-balancing 2-wheel electric scooters (also called incorrectly a hands-free Segway, razor skooters or hoverboard).
They’re selling like Heelys in the early 2000s. And most take 2-4 weeks to ship from China, so it’s time now to order for Christmas. Yesterday we received our eRover self balancing two wheel scooter via Amazon, which at the time cost $292 (and free shipping) and it’s been a blast at home and work. It takes maybe 5 minutes to learn if you’re mildly coordinated (so it took me 10). My four kids picked it up WAY more quickly than my coworkers.
Here’s what’s fascinating. These Segway-like handle-bar free scooters are getting tons of news coverage because celebrities and YouTubers are cruising around on them. But journalists are missing a vital piece of the story… they’re all made by the same dang Chinese manufacturer yet they have various brand/labels and range in price from about $300 to $1000. Scam alert! (Note: I’m not affiliated with any manufacturers or sellers- although I do use Amazon affiliate links in this post so if you buy via these links I do make a small percent from Amazon, and it doesn’t effect your price).
I’m writing this post because it’s really hard to find accurate, comprehensive review information or where to buy the best one for the best price. So in this post you’ll find:
Now, dear reader, here are the 9 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) I would have liked answered before I purchased one: Which to buy.
Which self balancing electric scooter brand should I buy?
January 2016 Update: see models at top of this post. Good news. It doesn’t matter! They’re all from the exact same manufacturer in China (wholesale prices vary by the lot, but I’ve seen them for around $200). Look at the images and you’ll see they’re all the same except for the names splattered on them like eRover, PhunkeeDuck, IO Hawk, Oxboard, Cyboard, Scoot, Future Foot, Monorover, Airboard, Freego, Esway, Airwheel, iEZWay, Overoad. I don’t think Razor makes one and they’re not Segway brands even though people think they are. So buy on price, shipping speed and from a seller you trust. A lot of them are on backorder and can take a month to arrive. I see some are buying from Ali baba or express or whatever, but I’m nervous about that. Where to Get Deal.
2. Where can I buy the scooter for the lowest price?
Per above, Amazon has a lot and here are the most popular self-balancing scooters they sell. Unfortunately, toy or major retailers (Walmart, Target, ToysRus, Kmart) don’t seem to have them yet. And even when they do they’re likely to mark it up significantly. For instance, if they purchased from wholesale at $200, they’d likely retail it for $400. You’d be getting the same thing (but you would be able to return it to the store, which would be convenient). Again- you can try Ali Express but I don’t know them.
3. Seven Tips if you decide to buy via on Amazon:
Update January 2016: See listing at top since much of this is obsolete.
Start with this page of the best-selling scooters on Amazon. The one with the most positive comments is this eRover and this eRover. I bought this one, which as of this post is now $315 with free shipping by early Sept-October. I’ve read that Phunkee Duck and IO Hawk are also best sellers. Again- brand does NOT matter.
If you’re big on color, here’s one that has a lot of options but some colors are too expensive (your target should be about $300).
Don’t be deceived by the price and Prime shipping. Sometimes the seller will provide a nice starting price and a range, where only one color will be low priced and Prime.
I would hesitate buying one that doesn’t have a lot of ratings yet. If you’re really cautious, then you find one that has good shipping and price, and sort comments by four-star ratings (If someone’s faking positive reviews they usually rate 5, and 4-stars tend to be more objective).
But here’s what’s important- Ignore any product-specific comments unless they’re many product problems since they’re all the same products. Instead look for notes about shipping or service or refunds.
Consider the extra protection warrantee from a separate seller (I got the SquareTrade 2-year protection plan but I’ve never used them…. I just liked the idea of not having a hassle on replacements (and hopefully they don’t first force me to deal with the manufacturer).
4. Will it break? Will it have money back warrantee ?
Most online reviews are positive, but I’ve seen a number of reports that suggest the Chinese quality-control leaves something to be desired. Some comments indicate they do break, batteries die, and sometimes the battery burns. For less than $25 I bought a Square Trade protection plan that covers up to $349.99, and I hope that’s my backup if it fails. You buy this protection plan separately not from the manufacturer and to active it, you send the receipt to them via email. I expect to use it so I’ll update this post if I have problems. I do not recommend trusting the seller to take a return or honor any manufacturer warrantee.
But BE WARNED. It’s deceptively dangerous, so take precaution and use helmets. One of sons took a major spill while I was typing this, and he’s down on the ground with ice on his back.
Update January 2015: The discounted models referenced in this report apparently are not safe, so I’ve stripped out the links. I still own my two and we only charge it while monitoring them. But there have been reports of fires, and this has crushed the entire Chinese market for cheap ones that may violate patents. I’m quite confident the news has been overplayed by business interests, but it’s still a major “buyers beware.”
6. How long does it take to charge and how long will it last?
The online reports say it charges in an hour or two, and can go about 10-15 miles on a single charge.
7. How fast does it go?
It will go 4-6 miles per hour and it beeps when it’s maxed. That’s about the speed of a normal jog… it moves quick so ride carefully especially when stopping abruptly, turning or hitting bumps.
8. How heavy and big is the scooter?
It’s about 25 pounds, so it’s heavier than it looks. The length is 23 inches and the width about 8 inches. The stability means that it can carry up to 220 pounds.
9. On what surfaces can I ride it?
It works great indoors or on carpet, but it can handle well paved driveways, streets or sidewalks. Watch out for bumps or curbs!
Here’s a nice review video that summarizes a lot of this.
Specifications on mine: It’s about 25 pounds and can allegedly run up to 10-15 miles per hour. The wheels are rubber so they won’t go flat. The charger voltage: 100-240v. Battery: 36V 4 4Ah Lithium Battery Dimension: 584 186 178 mm (23 inches by 8 inches).
The story is about technology preventing kids from reading classic children’s stories, so the story characters are discarded onto an island where they long to return to the “hearts and minds” of kids.
The music is from other broadway shows and pop songs, and some lyrics are adapted. Note: I don’t have rights to these songs, but the instrumentals/karaoke songs can be found online. While many of the characters are public domain (because their rights have expired) some may be protected.
The plot is designed to give each actor in the cast a chance to play a well-known characters like: Goldilocks, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Humpty Dumpty, Flat Stanley, Mother Goose, Princess Andapee (Princess and the Pea), Harold (Harold and the Purple Crayon), Fozzie Bear, Tinkerbell, Dorothy and Glinda (Wizard of Oz), and Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk),
There’s a twist at the end, where we discover that the jailers of the island are actually Winnie the Pooh and Tiger in disguise.
So the story, not music or characters, are available via the Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.” Here’s a link to the script… I hope schools and community theater decide to use it because I’d love to see it! Let me know!
So it’s time for another “is it real or not” analysis on a “candid” or “staged” video. I’m only right 84.5% of the time, but I’m going with REAL. What follows are the highlights, why you think it’s real, and 5 reasons why I don’t.
For a spontaneous rant, it’s some damned good scripting. Here are the highlights:
DOPEY the DICK starts whispering in your ear
Don’t fucking “Dennis” me!
This is the most unprofessional set I have ever been on
This is horse shit
Zombies over here that I have to look at
a bunch of pussies staring at me
and this fucking baby
Here’s why people may think it’s fake:
We’re increasingly skeptical of these impromptu moments.
He’s allegedly filming a movie about a slimy auction houses so it could be a promotion stunt.
The camera is very visible. You would expect someone on the set to be WAY more discrete about capturing a moment this sensitive.
The video starts late and gets dropped at just the right time. There’s a fierceness to his rage that seems sincere
His voice cadence is not dynamic, and the volume comes from his chest, neck and mouth rather than abdomen. I would expect an actor to project from his diaphragm and would provide more range in delivery.
He’s not THAT good of an actor (two words: Parent Trap).
He and his agent would not likely agree to a stunt like this because even if it’s a hoax it harms his reputation.
If it was a stunt, it would be “leaked” closer to the release date of the film.
When I was a kid, I had this vision for my home that included automated everything — from lighting to blinds. Until last night, it was theoretical. Now I can turn off lamps from various rooms… from an Android or iPhone, even when I’m not in the house. It’s a start. And this morning when I got to work, I had the joy of toggling the lights from my phone to freak out WifeofNalts.
Let me warn you that we’re in an odd point of home-automation maturity. We’re moving beyond the era where it was reserved for the wealthy or techno elite. But it’s definitely not ready for prime time, and requires more patience and experimentation than I’d like… but such is the cost of being an early adopter, right?
Let me cut to wide shot and tell you about your options to entering “Smart Home Land.” Home automation was once reserved to the elite and wealthy, and required a special contractor and installation. Now you can pick up a hub and some $50-$150 add-ons and do-it-yourself quickly. I’m not going to get into the really nerdy hacks, but there are plenty of forums that can teach you to customize these beyond what the manufacturers specify or even offer.
There are too many options and a shake-down is looming. There’s Belkin Wemo, Phillips Hue, Quirky Wink, GE Link, Staples Connect, Harmony, Insteon, Lutron, Revolv, Smart Things. Overwhelmed yet? Here’s a review of some of them if you want to get into the weeds.
Let’s cut to your basic entry options, and then I’ll tell you why I started with the cheap, flawed but Swiss Army Knife option called Wink… note that I’m favoring options that don’t require ugly remotes or special displays. We’ll use our iPhones and Androids, thank you very much.
Belkin has a Wemo switchthat is a best-seller on Amazon and an easy place to dabble since it’s only $40. It uses your wifi and allows you to control any appliance via your Android/iPhone (just plug appliance into the Wemo, and the Wemo into your outlet. You can add on lots of additional options via Amazon or Home Depot. And if you’re all about lighting, you can get a Belkin Wemo starter kit for $85 that comes with a little hub and two lights… nice dorm room gift for that college techno kid. But I don’t see Wemo as a serious player.
Then there are the lighting-specific solutions: Phillips answer to lighting customization: the Phillips Hue,which comes with a ton of different lighting options. The starter kit will set you back $188 and the individual lights get pretty expensive. Phillips Hue is generally cost-prohibitive except for those elite wealthy who might as well higher a contractor. But Home Depot has a decent spread of expensive lights so I imagine Phillips will be a formidable player. For those without excessive cash, the GE Links are better (you can also get these at Home Depot).
And the winner/wiener is… Wink hubdespite some seriously negative reviews (including my own). Setup is torture (40 minutes of trial/error), but adding GE Link bulbs was as easy as screwing in bulbs and naming them. I can’t speak yet to the pain/joy of adding things beyond GE Link bulbs, but that alone made it worth the trivial entry cost of $50.
Wink is the buggy but poor-man’s Switzerland of all these home automation standards and devices. It has built-in support for Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, and Kidde. It also handles Phillips Hue (with some limitations) and works like a breeze with GE Link bulbs. I also like that Wink is a product of Quirky/GE, which gives inventors a chance to manufacturer ideas.
Once you have a hub and suffer through setup, you can add all kinds of things: alarms (Kidde/Nest), blinds (Bali/Lutron/ZWave), cameras (Dropcam), weird things from Quirky, garage doors (Chamberlain and Quirky/GE), heating and cooling (Honeywell, Nest, Zwave, Quirky/GE), lawn/patio, kitchen, door and window locks, and general appliances via a power plug that accommodates two different plugs that can be controlled separately (the other two are just plain extension plugs). Warning- that power plug got absolutely hosed on Amazon comments and it’s clearly flawed.
We’re still a few years before this stuff becomes more mainstream, but it’s nice that it’s become somewhat affordable and I like that you can experiment with different components to see what’s worthwhile.
Have you tried any of these? Would love your experience and “watch outs.”
At this moment, marketers around the world are trying to replicate what has happened with the ALS ice-bucket challenge. See the ALS Association website (news) if you’ve somehow missed this unplanned viral campaign that’s exploding from celebrities and your community.
First some context. Few knew until now, but ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It was brought to attention by major league baseball player Lou Gerhig (whose name is synonymous with the disease). I’m happy for ALS because it’s getting the awareness and discussion otherwise reserved for breast cancer.
Based on my experience as a “Viral Video Genius,” I’ll now outline seven of the reasons this ALS cold-water challenge has caught fire. Let me confess that while I’m thrilled for ALS awareness, I’m also burnt out on the ice-bucket challenge. I kinda throw up in my mouth when I hear “I nominate…” soon followed by a giggling scream. But please feel free to enjoy the blooper reel: ALS ice-bucket fail compilation video I created. It’s been seen about 75,000 times.
I’ve also provided some examples below to underscore my theories, which are, of course, highly credible since I’m a viral author. So now you’ll sound very sophisticated when you analyze the ice-bucket campaign at work, home and with friends.
It’s one-to-one and exponential. Each person names 3 people they know, so if just half (1.5) of those people respond, it spreads extremely quickly. “Tagging” a person in a video has worked before. Remember naked vlog tag from 2008?
It’s charitable not commercial. Of course it doesn’t matter what charity has benefited, because it’s unlikely that the majority of this was motivated by a personal connection to ALS. Charitable efforts go viral because they appeal to our generosity (and our desire for recognition of said generosity). Think about the explosive impact of the Hank and John Green (Vlogbrothers) Project for Awesome. If it was breast cancer, we’d have seen this go further. Of course it can’t work for another charity now. Find something new, folks. Don’t pull a “Livestrong Rip” on this.
It’s time bound. The “24 hour” plea is a vital ingredient. That forces the recipient to act or not act. And guilt prevents the latter. These things need to be fast to work, and we know quickly if it’s a success. Think Kony 2012 (Feb 2012 through April 2012), which lasted about 3 months and was forgotten.
Participation is formulaic. People like to join these types of games if the assignment is easy. That’s why the Harlem Shake took off… it was a very short, simple formula that almost anyone could replicate. Do you remember the Chicken Soup dance? Same idea.
It’s easy. With the proliferation of video-enabled smart phones, no editing is required. That factor isn’t exclusive to this challenge, but certainly enables participation by the unwashed masses (instead of elite web or online-video junkies). It’s like a video meme we can all join.
It’s a visceral, visual stunt. Same idea as Gangnam Style, but you don’t need skills.
We like modest pain. It shows our courage and discipline. Remember the cinnamon challenge? I did a “double dog dare” with eating worms, but it unsurprisingly didn’t catch fire. We seem to have a strange fascination especially with getting iced. But most don’t have the conviction to do the “polar bear plunge.” Although frankly, I’d do the plunge to end this campaign.
There is actually an eighth reason that has something to do with wet t-shirts, but I’m not going to count that one.
I started my career as a journalist. Warren Rogers, my editor and a well-known Washington D.C reporter, created a literal wall between the Georgetown Courier’s editorial department and the advertising team… it was wooden and about 4 feet tall. He taught me the importance of not having editorial pander to the needs of advertising. No lofty reviews of restaurants that took full-page ads out in our newspaper.
Sure the newspaper folded in about 6 months. And sure I now work in advertising. I still have a pet peeve about “native advertising,” which is basically advertisements that masquerade as content. You’ve seen them:
An apparent news story on a website that’s actually an ad for some diet product
A section of a magazine that, on closer inspection, is actually “advertorial” content (sponsored)
A tweet or Facebook post that’s paid content even though it’s designed to look like a post from a friend
We need to know when a commercial interest is impacting our news or entertainment. And it’s not often obvious. I don’t like search-engine results that are ads pretending to be organic. I don’t like product placement without credit/transparency. And I don’t like hitting a news website expecting to read an article, but it’s a poorly veiled attempt to pitch some crap.
Ads can do their job even when we know they’re ads. But news and entertainment cannot do their jobs when we have to worry about whether they’re ads or not.