chafic chahine's cognitive content
Dare to be different, dare to be yourself
Flatiron Building, New York City
2011.11.23 (Instagram filter applied)

Flatiron Building, New York City

2011.11.23 (Instagram filter applied)

Moleskine City Notebooks vs. Foursquare lists

Odd subject, I know. For those who are clueless:

Moleskine City Notebooks - are meant to be city guides that you write/create on your own, allowing you (as a visitor to a city or a resident of that city) to note down places, experiences, addresses, restaurants, shops, etc. The city guides are split into sections, including: map of the city (as well as tracing paper to overlay on the maps to trace routes or label places), some contact information (cabs, airports, etc) and sections to jot down notes.

foursquare - mobile social app that lets you check into places, compete with friends and other users, leave tips, explore new places, etc. (description here has been minimal as I’m assuming everyone who reads this has a general idea of foursquare).

So how is it that I’m pitting the Moleskine City Notebooks against foursquare? Whenever I travel to NYC, I have the New York Moleskine City Notebook (MCN hereon) on me at all times. Not only to jot down notes, experiences, etc. but more for the map that is included in the notebook. I usually make a list of places I want to visit on each trip and I overlay those places on the map using the tracing paper thats provided. This allows me to plan routes, explore nearby areas, streets, etc. that are new to me since my primary mode of transportation is by foot and subway whilst there.

So some of the places I have planned to visit on my upcoming trip are: Apple Store (5th ave), Del Friscos, Museum of Modern Art, the new flagship UNIQLO store, restaurants in the Le Parker Meridien and Times Square (sampled locations were picked due to their close proximity to one another, making explaining this easier). So this is how these marked places would look like in my MCN:

Above mentioned locations are noted by the red dots on the map

A few days ago it came across to me that I could use foursquare’s lists feature to try and build my list of places I want to visit. The lists feature also allows me to order the locations, which I have done based on the routes I plan on taking on different days. Now the cool thing is that on iOS devices (Android too, but not BlackBerry) you can overlay this list on a map; this is what it looks like (I tried to get the zoom level to show the same area as the MCN map):

Same locations are flagged on the map as in my MCN

So which will I use on my trip? I’ll probably use a combination of both, but rely on my MCN a bit more as it has been my savior and tested method in the past and due to a few quirks that I have with using the foursquare lists feature. The foursquare lists feature was designed for users to create lists such as Chafic’s top recommendations in City X or Chafic’s favorite burger joints and have other users use those lists as a guide to explore new places (basically a recommended to-do list for other users to explore new places). As such if I add a place to my list that I’ve already checked into in the past, the place shows up as already completed; meaning that I cannot use it 100% effectively as a personal ‘places I want to visit’ to-do list.

I’ll update some thoughts after my trip based on my usage and reliance on my MCN and foursquare.

Gear: Jawbone UP

Photo source: Jawbone

Simply put the Jawbone UP is a health gadget. The folks at Jawbone describe UP as “…a revolutionary system (wristband + iPhone app) that tracks your daily activity and inspires you to live healthier”. So what does the UP do? It tracks your pace, calories burned, intensity, active vs inactive time (just to name a few) and also allows you to program it to vibrate when you’ve been too inactive (ie. slaving away at the desk job). The band also tracks your sleep patterns and allows you to program it to wake you up, by vibrating, during a time range that you set when it deems that its the best time in your sleep cycle to be awaken. You can also track your meals and how they make you feel by snapping photos of the meals you eat and rating your mood afterwards through your iPhone, and last but not least and of course, there’s the social component which allows you to set challenges with other users.

Think I’m going to pick one up in the next few weeks, could possibly post a review if I’m impressed with it. Stay tuned.

Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Too much sunlight (2011.10.24)
View from the Bahrain Financial Harbour’s West Tower

Too much sunlight (2011.10.24)

View from the Bahrain Financial Harbour’s West Tower

My quick take on Google+

Let me preface by saying that I’ve been a member of Google+ for less than an hour or so at the time I started writing this post. Secondly, I’ll structure this post more in the format of notes and thoughts due to the time constraint in which I’m writing this.

Google+ vs. Facebook & Twitter

  • From what I see so far, Google+ offers the best of both worlds of Twitter & Facebook (note that I haven’t used Facebook avidly at all in the past year or so, therefore I might be a bit outdated in terms of what’s happening on there in terms of features and functionality). The ease of being able to “post” content while choosing what circles (circles are Google+’s equivalent of friend groups) I want those posts available to is a huge plus. With highly customizable options on what gets posted to which circles (you can also make anything you post fully public) Google+ has the potential to act as a hybrid platform between Facebook and Twitter. Basically a one stop platform for your all your social engagements on the web.

Mobile access

  • They have no intention of developing a BlackBerry application? Yes, we all know BlackBerry is losing massive market share in North America to Android and iPhone, but I’m sure the people over at Google are bright enough to know that BlackBerry is still pushing strong in other parts of the world.

Integration with other social media

  • For Google+ to succeed its going to have to integrate well with other social media. I’m surprised as to why they haven’t integrated Twitter on there yet (it might be Google’s intention to make Twitter obsolete, but the fact is that many users will be cross users of both services).
  • Google+ is going to need to work with other social media providers such as Foursquare to have Google+ integrated into their products/services.

Integration with other Google services

  • For me the toolbar at the top of all Google pages is more than enough for me but there should be a way for Google to cleverly integrate web search into Google+ if the service does succeed and users do end up spending as much time on Google+ as they do on Facebook. This could possibly make the search toolbar integrated into most browsers obsolete.

Final words

  • Watching to see how the adoption of Google+ goes; some are already reporting that the service has several million users.
  • Huge potential for integration of Google Offers and Google Latitude to have them function more like Groupon and Foursquare mashed into one product on top of the Google+ offering.
  • I really hope Google got it right this time after several social media flops (Waves and Buzz). Privacy is surely going to be an issue down the road and I think more from regulators than users.
  • Looking forward to see how much value Google+ will add to Google’s share price if its a success or how much value it will deduce from it if it is a flop (after all, if they can’t get their foray into social media right from the third time, its better they focus their resources elsewhere).
Hammana (my hometown)

Hammana (my hometown)


He who desires constant success must change his accord with the times
Niccolò Machiavelli
Lack of posts

As I’ve just relocated to Bahrain and I’m still getting settled in coupled with travel over the next few weeks, posting will be minimal. I’ll try to get photos up and quotes, but I’d much rather not flood this blog with random photos and quotes.

In the meantime follow me on twitter (chaficchahine) for more frequent thoughts/happenings/etc.