About Roger Matus

Roger Matus

Roger Matus is an early adopter's early adopter. He loves trying the latest technologies, especially in software and mobile, with a focus on whether they add value in a person's life. He also is a technology marketing guru, having brought to market several major new products including large vocabulary speech recognition, hand-held audio conferencing, and more. He writes the blog Death By Email DeathByEmail.com on the foibles of our communications revolution.

Roger's travels have brought him to five continents with repeated trips to many. He says that his breath-taking experiences snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, flying past the Aurora Borealis, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, going to a Buddhist monastery in the shadow of Mount Fuji, and walking the beaches in Brazil top anything that technology can offer.


Latest Posts by Roger Matus

Bostonians Stay Calm and Bost On…

April 22, 2013 by  

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I am not a runner.  Never have been.

I was not born in Boston.  So, locals will never consider me to be a native, no matter how long I live here.

Yet, there is something about the Boston Marathon that gets into the soul here.  Actually, the Marathon is just part of a bigger thing that celebrates the rise of the individual and the support of the community.  It is part of the unique, bigger experience of Patriot’s Day weekend.  Perhaps, it is the ultimate expression of individual freedom and the support of neighbors.

Patriot’s Day commemorates a day that started with the ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes shouting that “The British Are Coming!”  To this day, members of the community gather their Revolutionary War garb and muskets to meet the British Red Coats.  At 5:45 in the morning, the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington, performed by members of the Lexington Minute Men Company and His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot, begins.  The march of the British continues on to the Old North Bridge in Concord with the “shot heard ‘round the world.”  (Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The Minute Men companies of many towns assemble in full Revolutionary War era clothing and march to assist the battle.  In my own community, Boxborough, a young person re-enacts being Luther Blanchard, a young fifer, who is said to be the first person wounded in the Revolutionary War.  Our town seal bears his image.  Note the individual and the community.

There is more to Patriot’s Day.  The Boston Red Sox play at an unusually early 11 AM game time with a special ceremony honoring our freedom fighting heroes.  MLB always arranges the schedule to make sure that the Red Sox play at home on Patriot’s Day. The game is intended to end in time so that attendees can make it in time to see the finish of the Marathon, although the faster runners usually beat the end of the game.  In Concord, we have a town parade in full Revolutionary War gear.  There is the re-enactment of Paul Revere’s capture.  And, so on.

We in Massachusetts think of it as being uniquely our holiday.  (Although, Maine also observes Patriot’s Day.  It was part of Massachusetts in the Colonial Era.)  The rest of the world works.  But, we are free.  We take the day off and celebrate freedom – of the individual and community of Massachusetts.  We also celebrate the coming of warm weather after a hard winter.

In this context, those of us here have the Boston Marathon in our DNA – even if we do not run.  We know that an individual overcomes personal demons to run a grueling 26.2 mile race.  Anyone can follow the race after the numbered runners take off.

And, while roads are closed that inconvenience people from Hopkinton to Boston, they are lined with members of the community cheering people on, handing out cups of water and even hosing down runners who want a cool spray.  (A good friend of mine lives in a neighborhood in Natick that is totally cut off for hours because the one road to the highway is that of the Marathon.  So, the entire neighborhood comes to a stop and throws a BBQ.)

So, what does the 2013 Marathon really mean?  We celebrate the combined efforts of so many first responders, which resulted in the capture of the Marathon Bomber.  Yet, we worry that things have changed.  Will people be able to line up along the route without having bags screened?  Will parents still take their children from the Red Sox game to the Finish Line?

We will make changes to reflect the new realities.  But, will it change the spirit of the day?

It hasn’t.  We could have lived in fear.  But, look at what Watertown, Boston and surrounding communities did. An entire metropolitan area shut down so that we would not live in fear. We got together because Patriot’s Day reminded us that we have to get together to protect our freedom like was done in Lexington and Concord.  It is as if to say, “If you tread on me, we will stop everything in the whole town and come to find you.”  The entire community will do it.  Every individual played his or her part. We will join together to protect ourselves in a unique Massachusetts way.

So, despite what is to come, I am confident that the spirit of the Marathon and of Patriot’s Day will remain.  It is part of what makes us special.  And, for one day at least, we can all exercise our individual and collective freedom.

Also posted in Really Cool New Stuff.com.  Photo of Old North Bridge from Boston.com.

A Phone to Make Me Smile

August 9, 2010 by  

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As I have flown across the world, I think that I have spent more time with wireless handheld devices than anything else.  And, I am a fickle master.  Looking back at my wall of devices, I find that I have been the proud owner of the following:

  • Palm VII
  • Danger (T-Mobile) Sidekick
  • Palm Treo, Treo 650, Treo 680 and Centro
  • Compaq iPaq
  • BlackBerry 7100, BlackBerry 7200, BlackBerry Curve 8320
  • Apple iPod Touch (2 different generations)
  • BlackBerry Storm, for a single day
  • Motorola Droid
  • HTC Droid Incredible

Am I addicted?  It would seem so.  Am I addicted to the device or to reading email?  The Sidekick, Treo, and now the Droid, were with me all the time.  It was a fashion accessory.  (Who has the smallest and thinnest?)  But, I think I really wanted to stay in touch.

So, I think I have some experience with how the devices work for email.  Until a few months ago, I would have said that the BlackBerry Curve was the best device that I have used.

But now, I am passing the crown to the HTC Droid Incredible.  There are still some things that it could learn from the BlackBerry.  But, overall, it is easy to use and has the best features for creating an email.

KEYBOARD FOR CREATING EMAIL:

It is easier to type on this device than any of the other ones I have tried. Let’s put it into perspective:

  • Palm Treo 680 – Nice keys, easily defined, a little cramped.
  • Palm Centro – Probably the world’s most cramped physical keyboard in a commercial product.  Horrible.
  • BlackBerry Curve – Great physcial keyboard. But, no on-screen error correction.  I was prone to typos.
  • BlackBerry Storm – Do I really need to press down so hard?  I made lots of errors.
  • Apple iPhone / iPod Touch – Really nice on-screen keyboard. But, the word suggesting feature makes one guess. Touch it and it keeps the bad word and not the correction.

So, lets talk about the Droid and entering text.  There are three reasons to love keyboarding on the Droid:

1. You have four keyboards to choose from.  It really matters:

  • The first two keyboard are on-screen keyboards that are every bit as good as those on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.  One is vertical and the other is horizontal. The spacing is beautiful and the letters appear significantly above the key stroke.  (I have two complaints about typing with the  BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2:  (a) The on-screen keys are good, but they glow when you type.  It is hard to see which key you actually hit.  (b)  You need to use a degree of force when you type, which slows down the typing process.)
  • The third is an on-screen vertical keyboard similar to the small BlackBerry unit in which each key handles more than one letter.  I am not a fan of this style of keyboard and I have not used it much.
  • And, you can download a keyboard of your choice.  Check out this video for BlindType:

2.  The haptic feedback creates a small vibration in the device when you type a key with the on-screen keyboard.  This feedback gives you a real confirmation that you have “depressed” a key, even when you have not actually pushed on anything.  It is a great feeling.  It is also better than the BlackBerry implementation for which you must actually depress the glass plate.

Android-Typing3.  The Motorola Droid actively suggests a list of words to complete what you are typing.  Look at the image to the left.  As I typed the word app, there is a list of words that I only need to touch to complete typing.  It pulls words from its dictionary and also from my contact list, so names of people appear in the choices.

I cannot overstate the value of this list of words.  I often find that I can complete typing in a fraction of the time it takes to normally type a sentence.  It is better than my Curve, which does not suggest anything as I type.  It is also better than the Apple iPhone that suggests one word.

EMAIL NOTIFICATION

Unfortunately, the Droid is the laggard in the pack when it comes to email notification.

I believe that the BlackBerry leads the pack because of its TODAY screen.  I am not shocked by this as BlackBerry was designed to be an email device from the beginning.  However, I believe the fix for the Android may be a simple widget.

The BlackBerry TODAY screen wins because it shows the sender and subject of the most recent email messages on the main screen.  It is easy to see it arrive.  One simple push opens the right email application.  The native email application has a combined inbox.  That application and the Gmail application both show an asterisk when new mail is received.  It will also flash an LED with new messages.  In my opinion, this works best.

The Apple iPhone and iPod Touch show the number of unread messages in the mail application, but it is the total number of messages across all mail platforms.  There is not a combined inbox, which means it is necessary to switch between personal and work emails.

The Droid is the worst in the pack for email notification.  There is not a today screen.  (Anyone able to write the application?) It will, however, light an LED and make a noise, if requested.

READING THE EMAIL

The final criteria for an email client would be reading the email.  Both the iPhone and the Droid do an excellent job of rendering emails.  You get the full HTML and images.  For example, I love seeing  my Dilbert comics daily in full color.  You can zoom in and out on the messages.  They even turn to meet the width of a portrait or landscape mode.  Attachments are attached and applications can be opened — such as the music player for voice mail and Documents-to-Go for presentations.

I think the Droid and iPhone have a tie here.  Some may quibble about multi-tasking and others may quibble about pinching the screen versus a zoom button.  The bottom line is that they both work well.

Reading email is where I hate the BlackBerry device.  They reformat the messages to fit on the screen and it removes some of the graphics.  They layout of the original message is not preserved.  As messages include more images and more HTML, the re-rendering is a problem.  I also do not like that my BlackBerry does not download entire attachments until I tell it to.  This is a left over from the days of narrow bandwidth.

CONCLUSION

Each device has pros and cons.  But so far, I think I am going to say with my Droid.  I score the categories as follows:

TYPING – slight edge to the Droid because of the list of words that complete my typing.  It really speeds things up.  But, I can make the BlackBerry and iPhone work.

EMAIL NOTIFICATION – BlackBerry is the clear winner.  Droid needs new software.

READING MESSAGES – Droid and iPhone share the winner spot.  BlackBerry needs a lot of changes here.

As I said, the Droid will stay.  Fewer typos and properly rendered HTML matter the most.  I am sure that an unread widget will be coming and then I will feel that the Droid is the clear winner in the email camp.

Boston Comes Out Of Hibernation

May 24, 2010 by  

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Like the bears that its hockey team is named for, the people of Boston tend to go into hibernation for the winter.  Yes, there is ice skating on the whimsically named Frog Pond in Boston Common.  And, residents do escape to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to ski.  But, mostly, we are huddled in heavy coats and warm boots.

It makes us appreciate the spring and summer.  I honestly believe that Bostonians (and Chicagoans) appreciate spring more than others.

But, when is spring?  When is that moment that Bostonians cast away the winter?  When is the moment that hope springs eternal?  When does wait until next year become this year?

I can tell you.  It is Opening Day at Fenway Park.  Fenway seems as old as Boston itself.  At nearly 100 years, it is a part of Boston history as much as it is a ballpark.  You feel it as you enter and head to your seats.

Opening Day At Fenway ParkThis year, Opening Day was amazing.  It was sunny and relatively warm for April — the temperatures were in the 70s.  (OK, the game started at dusk because of television rights.  But, I don’t think I could say that it was “moony.”)  The crowds outside were in a festive mood.  It was as if somebody threw a party and a baseball game broke out.

And, what a party.   The Green Mountain Boys of the Vermont National Guard flew over the park.  Fireworks soared for the first time after the National Anthem.  Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history, threw out the first pitch.  Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sang God Bless America.  Neil Diamond sang Sweet Caroline in person.

(For those of you who do not know, for some reason 30,000+ people sing Sweet Caroline in the middle of the eighth inning at every single Red Sox home game at Fenway.  “So good. So good. So good.”  It includes mandatory pointing and waving of hands.  Check out the video from New England Sports Network.  Major League Baseball will not let you post your own copy due to copyright issues.)

Somewhere in there, the Sox managed to beat the hated Yankees in a thrilling 9-7 game.  The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is best left for another posting some day.

From this moment in April, Boston people come outside.  The talk is of spring activities.  Boats start to come out on the Charles River.  People know that the winter snow will give way to green grass.   It is time to pull out the driveway stakes.  Trips to Vermont and Maine will be replaced by trips to the Cape and the Vineyard.

Yes, there is a moment when the bear wakes up and remembers why Boston is such a great town.  Go Sox.