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Allen “Prisoner” Firstenberg


Pre-I/O Checklist

- Sky-blue shirts? Check.
- Comfortable shoes and socks? Check.

I think I'm all ready to fly out to  #io15 !
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Have fun. We'll join you from a 16 hours offset. #io15extendedBali  
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This is a bright idea!
(H/T +Ade Oshineye​)
Come to think of it, let's make "carpe diem" the official motto of solar power.
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Back at I/O 2012, +Hermine Ngnomire asked me how many women there were. To answer her, I took this picture - of a line for the mens bathroom after the second day's Keynote. In 2013, apparently 8% of the attendees were women. In 2014, we cheered in the Keynote when they said 20% of those in the audience were women. At #io15  they are expecting that number to grow more, to 23%.

Part of that increase was due to the efforts of the incredible +Natalie Villalobos, whom many of us remember as the original Community Manager for Google+, but who is now the women in technology advocate at Google. Her efforts haven't just been to get more women to the conference - but to create an environment in and around the conference, and in the industry as a whole, that supports a diverse set of people and the incredible outcomes they can create.

Here she is in a recent interview with USA Today where she talks about what she does and what it will mean at I/O:

(h/t +Timothy Jordan)
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+Allen Firstenberg Thanks for the support!
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On Mad Max and Mad Maxine

I haven't had the chance to see it yet, but several of my circles have been abuzz with talk about the ridiculous criticism of the movie. My SO, +Lisa Bauer, saw it before I could, and here's her review.

She also commented that there "isn't much dialog" and "lots of explosions". One thing she pointed out to me is how well the movie communicated, without much dialog, how the two main characters learned to trust each other very quickly. That seems like a major storytelling point to me - far too often, we're just expected to trust a character without knowing why... here, we are shown it very quickly.

As for the critics - this movie is from the same person, and vision, who created the original Mad Max. If you have a different vision... maybe you should think about why.

I'm looking forward to seeing it at some point.
I went to see Fury Road because it was rumored to be some kind of a feminist masterpiece. And it basically features a group of women displaying bravery and competence.

I'm not saying I didn't really, really, really enjoy it. I'm just pointing out that that is how low the bar is.
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Furiosa is an amazing character, and I like that it's just incidental that this character was a woman. The way the character is "written", it's a pretty gender neutral role. I'd like to see more men and women in gender neutral roles. I'd like to see more films like this, and Pacific Rim would be another great example, where men and women work together even handedly, and without annoying and artificial sexual tension and romantic drama.

Not that I mind sexual tension and drama. But in a lot of action films it feels forced, like it's there just to establish heteronormative traits of the main characters. 
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Predictions for I/O 2015
Hang on… my crystal ball crashed…

Exactly one week till the keynote, and with rumors flying around, I wanted to set down my thoughts about what we’ll see at #io15. My predictions are usually wrong… but so are most people’s. All my predictions are based on public info.

New Photo Service to Launch

Won’t happen.

Let’s make this clear. Again. I/O is a developers conference. That means that the people there aren’t interested in Google’s consumer products unless there is an API to go with them. People who are predicting the Photo launch still remember I/O 2012 when Vic Gundotra’s Google+ Birthday Party part of the keynote was interrupted by people jumping out of a blimp. Or I/O 2013 when Vic Gundotra introduced Auto-Awesome Photos, the new Hangouts, and the new stream. We didn’t see anything like this in 2014, however.

Notice the big difference and who was missing for the first time in 2014?

Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to an improved Photos system roll out, too. I’d also like to see the YouTube/Hangout take on Periscope/Meerkat. But when they do launch these things, I predict they’ll get their own press events. Much like Photos did when they had the Morning with Google+ event in October of 2013.

(And if it did happen… I predict it won’t have an API. Which it desperately needs.)


I do expect some announcements here. “But wait!” I hear you chiding me, already, “I thought you said this was a developer’s conference?” Yes… and search is a developer’s issue these days with more and more app integration with Google Now and Google Voice Commands (which are both part of Search). We first started seeing this in 2013 when search was talked about in the keynote, but the real application integration gems needed you to visit the discretely positioned booth by the down escalator.

But this year… lots of lead-up with apps being able to be part of search results and more voice commands that trigger apps directly. Still a bit clumsy, and still only available to partners, but I predict that they’ll talk about how this will roll out to every developer, if not announce the beta program.

Glass, AR, and VR

I wouldn’t be surprised if we get our first closer look at what Magic Leap has been doing. There are quite a few hints on the map and in the program that there will be lots of talk on this theme in general, with Cardboard mentioned the most. With Microsoft actively showing their hand to developers, and Oculus set to launch soon, Google will be pressured to do the same.

Relatedly, I think we’ll see even more about Tango. The demonstration last year was pretty good, but people have had a few months to cook things up, so expect some showing off about that and perhaps the announcement about a Tango 2 or some consumer level work… but it may still too early for all that.

Perhaps there will be a mention of the next generation of Glass, but I really doubt it. The project seems very heads down, despite some rumors dribbling out about it, and I’m not expecting any real announcements until a product is ready to ship.


The map has a tantalizing area called “Home” (near the smaller “Work” area) on the same level where the rest of the Android projects are located. Expect some more about Android TV, but also expect more from Nest. I wouldn’t rule out a lot more about IoT integration here.

And I haven’t heard anyone talking about such a thing, but I wonder if we’ll see Google’s counterparts to Amazon’s Echo and Dash products. Both of these would fit into the Android ecosystem quite well.

Chrome, Polymer, and Dart

Polymer 1.0 will be launched at I/O, I think everyone pretty much knows this. 0.8 was just a few weeks ago, and already 0.9 is there and saying it is near final for 1.0.

I’m not sure we’ll see much around Chrome or Dart, however. Certainly there isn’t much on the program for them. I think the speculations for Dart as a new programming language for Android were interesting, but I’m not sure we’ll see them yet for I/O.

ChromeOS will get a mention in the keynote, but if there is a big announcement coming from it, I’m not sure what it will be. Further integration with Android? Possibly. More offline support is almost guaranteed (the I/O 2015 website is a demonstration of this, in I/O tradition). But I’m not sure what the big deal here will be. Perhaps more Android developer support in ChromeOS?


As I mentioned, there is a small Work section on the third floor (which appears to be the Android floor). I’m not sure what they’ll talk about there. I did see that the Calendar API gets mention in the small sessions, which seems a bit out of place amidst the rest of the presentations… but it is almost refreshing. Wonder what other surprises along these lines we’ll see.


Drive and the Cloud

I predict a very sparse presence. Drive doesn’t seem to get a mention at all in the program, and Cloud only a couple. Last year’s keynote got a bit too techie, so I imagine this will be downplayed. And they already made two big announcements this week (including a pricing drop), so I’m not sure what else they’ll announce on stage. On the other hand, there are some Cloud events scheduled after I/O in various cities, so those might go over anything new that does come out.

Perhaps we will see some of this in the Work sandbox, and I hope we do. This is the wrong time to downplay two huge 

As I said, there are a couple of events in the program, but they are all of the nature of “integrating your Android app with the cloud”. Which leads to…


Android will be the heart of the conference, with the preview edition of M being the big announcement at the keynote. The conference map is filled with Android stuff, which shouldn’t be a surprise at all, really. Home and Cardboard were covered earlier, and Wear and Auto have prominent places nearby.

Project Ara will get a big mention, but I’m not sure how much more we’ll see that we haven’t before. I don’t think we’ll be getting one - field trials are set to begin in September in Puerto Rico. But there is a big spot on the map on the Android floor labeled “Warehouse”, and some hints in the session notes that this will be related to Project Ara. Ara also has one of the most bizarre sounding sessions which I’m sure will be packed.

The Hardware

Every year, people speculate about what hardware attendees will get. I honestly have no clue. The new Pixel seems probable, especially if it comes with an Android IDE, but I’m not sure how likely it would be. A Tango (especially since it just had a price drop) or Tango 2? Dunno. New hardware to test out Android M on? Maybe. Another watch? Possible, but unlikely. A new car? Um…. no… but I wonder if they’ll have car developer kits or something. An updated Chromecast? Possible, since Cast technology is mentioned a lot in the program.

People have been calling for them to end the hardware giveaway. Maybe this will be the year they do.

The People

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The people make I/O for me. And while I don’t think we’ll see more people, I do think we’ll see more interaction. In the past, the vast bulk of I/O was taken up by hour-long sessions in conference rooms. Usually there were about 10 conference rooms - this year there are only 3. There are lots of smaller sessions in smaller and more intimate spaces, and these sessions are almost all held more than once. I predict this will mean more opportunity to speak directly with the presenter on the subject, and that is a good thing.

With fewer presentation spaces, the second floor is now much larger, and I expect we’ll have more opportunity to speak with Googlers and partners about the technologies in play and, more likely, the opportunities available for developers. They aren’t broken down by project area, which is more like what we saw at I/O 2014, so expect lots of space to explore a more holistic Google.

What else?

Here is a pretty safe prediction - WiFi will suck. Still, I’ll be trying to liveblog as best I can from the floor. Or at least post session notes from those I attend. Watch this collection for more.

I feel like I’ve missed something. What do you think I’ve missed?

Education? I don’t see any sandbox space for this initiative, but it is mentioned a couple of times in sessions, so perhaps there will be something big here.

Oh yeah, the Store returns this year. Hope they’ll be selling some nice sky-blue t-shirts. Wonder what else will be available.

Only one week till we find out!
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dammit :(
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Stop me if you've seen this before...

Looks like a nice, simple, UX. A good image processing back-end. Decent specs. BT and WiFi.

Single task. $200.
Clip 2 is the world's most wearable camera. Available for pre-order until end of May.
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Yeah, pros and cons.  Debating about upgrading, myself.
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Amusing that they crammed all the memes together, almost coherently.

But... most of the memes were pretty dull to begin with.

(Virgin America's Safety Dance is still my favorite.)
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My first time finished the whole safety instructions!!!
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Story Spheres - Edgartown Lighthouse

Photospheres are incredibly nifty. Now add the ability to create audio that plays either based on a user action, or in varying volume depending on where in the sphere you're looking... and you have the awesomeness of Story Spheres.

This was my first try - took 15 minutes once I found the audio that would sorta kinda go with the narrative I was trying to tell in the picture. Lots of potential here.

Still some bugs in the system - it was tantalizingly suggesting that there was a way to link Story Spheres, which made me think about navigating between rooms... but I couldn't figure out what it actually did.

I blame +Mike Downes for making me spend time on this awesome discovery when I should be getting ready to leave for I/O and +Grumpy Sailor Creative and +Google Creative Sandbox for their work on this project.

Go try it out!
A storysphere of the Edgartown Lighthouse, with inauthentic discoverable audio.
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+Allen Firstenberg Great you have made one, now just record tons of audio at IO and make a few panos .. yes, i could not get the linking working either -- rome not built n all that ..
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The Last Full Measure of Devotion

In the US, today is Memorial Day. The day which we remember those who have fallen in battle in service to our country and the world.

It is not Armed Forces day, which honors our serving troops. Nor is it Presidents day, for their Commander in Chief.
It is not Veterans day, which honors those who have served.
It is not Independence Day, which pays tribute to politicians courageous enough to stand up for what they thought was right.
It is not Armistice Day, nor D-Day, nor V-E Day, nor V-J Day.

These are all significant days to our military. But they are not today.

Today is Memorial Day. A day when the rest of us remember people some families will never, ever, forget.

+Alan Shapiro has said it so eloquently, and shared it with this image, that I felt I had to reshare it. When you think about today - remember the fallen... and remember the families they left behind.
It's supposed to be an absolutely glorious Memorial Day weekend here on the East Coast...

for most of us.

But there are those (far too many) who are feeling Memorial Day for what it is. And it's not glorious. But what their sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, husbands or wives, fathers or mothers did was beyond glorious.  
I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to make the ultimate sacrifice for your country. But that doesn't stop me from being extremely grateful to those that did. And sad. And proud. And humbled. And sad some more.

#memorialday2015 #memorialdayweekend #americangoldstarmothers #veterans #service #sacrifice  
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Thank you, Allen. We can't be reminded enough and your thoughts added even more eloquence to the message I believe is so important. 
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From Father to Son

As a parent, there comes a time when we must sit down with our children, and tell them certain things they need to know. It is our job to prepare them for what is to come and introduce them, as our parents and grandparents once did, to certain facts of life.

I will be doing so this weekend, when I sit down with my son and we watch the movie I first saw as Star Wars.

It will be 37 years, nearly to the day, since my grandmother took me to see the movie. In the theater. I was the same age then that my son is now. I was immediately captured by the action that was taking place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. There were questions I had, of course... including what the Kessel Run was and why it varied in length? How did hyperspace work? What is the Force? These are questions for which there is still no good answer.

Times have changed. I didn't know the characters before I saw the movie, but he knows most of them now. He doesn't know a lot about them, however. When asked his favorite character, he named Darth Vader. When told that Vader was the bad guy he changed his mind... instead he liked Anakin. But those explanations will come next month, when we watch Episode V. I practiced lightsaber duels with my neighbor with a cardboard tube - he already has at least two licensed lightsabers.

And the question you must all have, of course, is if I will be showing him the prequels, or if you will need to call the authorities? I think we'll be watching them after V but before VI. Horrible stories, but he might like some parts... and they are essential to understanding.

I took my grandmother to see Episode I in the theater. And in December, I'll take my son to see Episode VII. And many years from now, perhaps he will take me to see the next in the saga... and do the same for his children. Why? Because the Force is strong in our family...
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My son has seen episodes 4 and 5 so far, and I'm seriously considering "machete order" - 4, 5, 2, 3, 6
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+Brian Lehrer from +WNYC is asking for favorite nature photos that made you stop and look. Here's the one I posted from Monday. Still one of my faves. #BLSnature  
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Thats all right!!
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Oh, Fudge...

Seriously +Google+? One of the more clever bits of Google+ is getting shut down?

Does this have anything to do with how you seemed to break ripples (and a few other things) when you launched Collections?

Well... we might be able to pull this off with the API, at least.
Starting today, the Ripples feature in Google+ is no longer available. Page owners can continue to get post performance analytics through the Google+ Insights tool, located in the My Business dashboard. Thanks for your support as we continue to make Google+ a simpler, more streamlined experience for all. 
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Akpo Siekpe (Neozoe)'s profile photoLinda Lawton's profile photoJake Weisz's profile photoAllen “Prisoner” Firstenberg's profile photo
Oh fudge? Lol haven't heard that in years 
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Allen's Collections
Let me tell you a story...
...or tell me one of yours.

Our lives are made up of stories, and is a story in itself.  Stories are fact or fiction, can be told by a wandering minstrel or projected on the big screen, are written in books or woven into games, are heard through poetry or prose in many styles, let us experience the tale with sound or silence, and can stimulate any or every one of our senses and emotions.

It has been my goal in life to understand stories and storytellers, to help people tell stories, to explore new ways to tell those stories, and to enjoy and appreciate the stories swirling around us.

So come... sit by the fire.  Let us share a story for a little while.
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Other names
Prisoner, Allen Firstenberg, Allen "Prisoner" Firstenberg, Jean Valjean
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Software Visioning and Development
I was a kickstarter backer of this store, but actually trying their donuts exceeded my expectations. It is clear that the staff both care about the quality of their donuts, coffee, and other drinks, and want to make sure their customers enjoy themselves. From the quirky and interactive decor (wifi still isn't working on that typewriter?) to explaining every step of their pour-over coffee if you ask, the attention to detail is outstanding. Their Maple-Bacon donut is their signature item, but I have yet to find a flavor from their ever-changing menu that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. I'm not a coffee drinker, but they have plenty of other varieties of quality drinks to quench your thirst. Visit. Enjoy. Share.
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Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
1 review