Capitol Hill 2015

ACT Fly-In 2015

This past week, I made my 3rd annual trek to the ACT | The App Association’s Fly-In with about 50 other technology executives from around the country. I represented my company, Thinkamingo, Tampa, Florida, and Moms With Apps.

I became involved with ACT through my association with MomsWithApps, the largest organization of family-friendly app entrepreneurs. My areas of special interest are COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act), Intellectual Property, Patent Reform, and STEM education. My main work has revolved around meeting with the Federal Trade Commissioners over the last several years on various aspects of COPPA and issues of compliance and enforcement. Deciding that you want to protect kids’ privacy by preventing data mining and targeted advertising is easy. I think we all want to do that, but how that exactly works in practice is complicated when you start getting into the nitty gritty of personal identifiers, verifiable parental consent, and adaptive or tracking technology. We want to protect kids and do it in a way that still allows for technology innovation. At the Federal Trade Commission nfl jerseys sale, I met with Maneesha Mithal, Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, and policy experts and counsel from Commissioners Maureen Ohlhausen and Terrell McSweeny. In the past couple of years, we’ve made a lot of progress in kids’ privacy and this year was mostly a checkup on how things are going, especially with enforcement of COPPA.

Federal Trade Commission

This year, we also met with Education Deputy Director and Senior Counsel, Mandy Schaumberg, and had a great time with her and her staff talking about what we do as technology innovators in the education space. My friend and colleague Betsy Furler did an especially amazing job of really demonstrating how important technology is to her special needs patients and how her non-profit organization BridgingApps. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room!

CareSync CEO Travis Bond and I met with our local Congressman Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Legislative Counsel Jeremy Pederson, Esq. where we shared stories of our businesses and the apps we make. CareSync is an amazing health app that helps patients coordinate their care with providers and family members. Travis and I first met years ago when our sons were in the same Cub Scout Pack. It’s been exciting to see our companies grow over the years.

Ann Adair, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Travis Bond
Ann Adair, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Travis Bond

I was fortunate to have such excellent colleagues in every meeting, including (in no particular order) Morgan Reed, Sara Kloek, Betsy Furler, Marta Snow, Patrick Larsson, Scott Weiner, Ashley Johnson, Tricia McKenzie, Donna Wilson, Joshua Wilson, Libby Curran, Melissa Lee, and Jake Weatherly.

This year, I built in some time before the Fly-In to see a couple of performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I hope to make this a tradition! Friday night, I attended a performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in the Concert Hall.  Before the concert, I was able to take in the Picasso ceramics exhibit and have dinner at the KC Cafe.

Hall of Nations Picasso NSO-Mahler9

On Saturday night, I was fortunate to get a ticket to the National Opera’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. It met all of my expectations! Eric Owens was a brilliant, powerful, and tragic Dutchman. In contrasting roles, Jay Hunter Morris was shimmering Erik who was hopeful, though heartbroken. The jewel of the evening was definitely soprano Christiane Libor in the role of Senta. I don’t believe I’d heard her before this performance and she certainly got my attention with her soaring lines and sensitive interpretation. The acting was full of subtleties and interactions that made this much more than a traditional park and bark. The set design, costuming, and lighting were all exceptional in enhancing the music and story.

Opera Hall Opera Stage dutchman

This pre-Fly-In mini-break needs to become tradition!


Women in Tech Event

Today, I had the opportunity to attend Hillsborough County’s Women in Tech Event at the Seminole Heights Library.  906078_10155513265585627_7150999103416311588_o Overall, it was an interesting afternoon and very well organized! Kudos to the whole team of planners and speakers! You can read about all the presenters and sessions through the link above. What I want to do here is share some observations about this event and events like it. FYI – these are GENERAL comments on women’s events, not this one, in particular. I thought today was really excellent!

  1. Women in Tech Events need more men. I like men. I like them to see more than one woman in tech at a time. It’s good to see a big group of them and the variety of people present. Whatever the one woman is like at their company, there are 50 more out there who are different. There were a few men at the event today, so not invisible.
  2. I love Pecha Kucha presentations. Reminder: Make the last slide your social media contacts in a font big enough and clear enough so the audience can take a picture or read it quickly to write it down. Wrap up on the penultimate slide and say thank you on your final social media slide. Don’t add on a minute of random comments after your last slide. That’s not PK-style. The best part of PK is that it keeps speakers on topic and tight. Hallelujah!
  3. Women, the next time you say you hate math in front of your kids, or act like operating a television remote control is too difficult for you to figure out, think about the example you’re setting for your kids, girls AND boys. Stop being a victim. Take a class and learn to do something new. Become an expert at something and talk that up rather than talking yourself down. Of course, if you are reading this article, I’m probably not talking about you. You get it.
  4. Take a page from general-audience tech events regarding families and children. Don’t turn a women’s event into a moms’ event. Plenty of women aren’t moms or wives. Just because an event is for women, don’t add a kids’ activity. Do events with mostly men do that? Good God no. Can you imagine wholesale nhl jerseys?
  5. After Party. I love the purely social aspect of the After Party. After you do something serious and are busting your butt networking and listening to heavy discussions, having a cocktail hour afterwards is a great idea. Don’t assume with a women’s event that everyone has to run home, pick up kids, and cook dinner. Of course there will be people who can’t make it, but if someone has already carved out the day/afternoon to attend the event, they will want to maximize that effort and the benefits of such a networking opportunity by continuing it on into an After Party situation. Plus, we all like to party.
  6. What is the followup to the event? Is everyone expecting an invitation to a monthly gathering or is it an annual thing? Have opportunities in place for people to reconnect after the event.
  7. Ladies, (and men, too!) please put your picture on your business card. It doesn’t have to be a Glamour Shot(!) or even a studio picture, but if you want me to remember you after the event, put your face on your card. I received just one card today with a picture. Everyone else’s cards are just in a big pile of I’m-not-sure-I-know-who-this-is. It’s way worse when you get a pile of government and tech company cards. Civil servants have seals on their cards and tech workers have cerulean swooshes with made up names on them. Do something to stand out and be remembered. Put your face on it.
  8. Finally, go to Women in Tech events. If you are a woman or a man, go. Be present. Support each other.

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Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

If you’ve been reading my other Samsung reviews, you should know that I’m not a fan of their hardware design. Until now.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a stunning device. It looks good, feels good, and is super fast.  The AT&T LTE coverage was excellent everywhere I went.

Selfie with the Note 4

I’ve been using this phone, in addition to my iPhone, for a couple of weeks now, and I don’t want to give it back. I chaperoned a high school band trip involving 100 kids, freezing weather, and a 30-hour round trip bus ride. I thoroughly tested the camera, videos, battery life, cold weather use, navigation, and just general feel, and it never let me down.

10922672_10155008415045627_89166737912906907_nAgain, once you get to this class of phone, it is hard to be disappointed. It is not much smaller than the Mega 2, but that little bit makes a huge difference in usability. I found this size much easier to handle. It still requires two hands, but it doesn’t feel like I’m holding a waffle.

Another different aspect to this phone is the stylus. Tucked away, it’s invisible. It did come in handy using the phone in cold weather. I didn’t need special gloves or have to take mine off to use it. The stylus has a couple of useful functions that would be extremely handy for someone who needs to make handwritten notes, drawings, or markup images. I would probably utilize this with critiquing apps, websites, and other media viewed on the device. I think this would take some getting used to in order to maximize use of these features. Purchasing an additional stylus is not a bad idea. If you become accustomed to using it and you lose it, waiting seems costlier than having a backup.


Traveling on the bus during the band trip gave me the chance to test out the hotspot. Let me just say I was everyone’s new best friend. The wifi was fast and reliable compared to the charter bus setup, even out in the boondocks. This is a wonderful feature for meetings, classes, family vacations, and more.

I’m sad about handing this device over to AT&T this week. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pick up one for myself. Don’t tell my iPhone.


Disclaimer: I was given this phone to review by AT&T without any conditions or remuneration.


Product Review – Samsung Galaxy Mega 2

Before I received the Samsung Galaxy Mega 2, I knew it was going to be big, but this thing is huge. I have large hands for a woman and I cannot operate this phone with one hand. It absolutely requires two hands to use.


My kids said it looks like I’m talking into a waffle. Yes, a waffle. That being said, I quickly adapted to it over heavy use for a week and my iPhone 4S seems woefully inadequate in the size department. Of course, I can still read on the 4S in bed or play Candy Crush with one hand. I can’t even use this phone unless I put it in a charger stand on my nightstand or prop it up somehow to watch a movie or something.

The reality is that it is the same square footage as a checkbook cover and twice as thick.

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I had opportunities to use many of the features on the phone, but mostly tested it out for feel and general use.

I would love to see the AT&T FamilyMap app in action. It looks like a great idea for families with teenagers, especially.

Once I got used to the size (and it’s a big one!), I enjoyed nearly all aspects of this phone. This is a lot sexier than the Galaxy Alpha I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. Even though it still has some of those Samsung bumps in the case that mold around hardware features, it’s not as annoying as on a smaller unit.  It feels sleek and light with an interesting back that looks like stitched leather.

Battery life was excellent with heavy usage. Coverage was very good in the Tampa Bay area, as well.

I really could go on and on listing the specs that are available on thousands of other websites, but it comes down to this. If you want a big phone/phablet and you understand the reality of that size, this is a great choice. If you aren’t sure you’d like the size, give it a try. If you don’t like it, take it back. You usually get 30 days to try phones. I’m a pretty solid iPhone user, but I’m also a hardcore Google user (Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc.) I run my life through Google services. I could see being happy with a switch a phone like this. Seriously.

The quality and features of so many smartphones now are so amazing that as long as you stick to popular brands, it’s hard to go wrong. Utilize those first 30 days of your new phone to really see if you are in love with it. You just might be surprised.

I feel a bit spoiled by this phone/phablet and look forward to upgrading to something much larger than my old iPhone 4S.

Disclaimer: I was given this phone to review by AT&T without any conditions or remuneration.


Product Review – Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Image (c) Ann Adair

This past week, I had the Samsung Galaxy Alpha in my hands.

Let me begin with some positives: One of the nicest looking phones from Samsung, period. Screen is gorgeous!  Processing speed is nice and fast. Generally, the phone is very responsive.

Google’s new Inbox looks fantastic. I’m a hardcore Google user and I wish it was this pretty on my iPhone. Sometimes I forget what the Android platform is really like. It’s quite nice, actually.

The size of the phone feels good in your hand. Not too big and unwieldy like some of the super-sized phones around.

(c) Ann Adair — Shown is Thinkamingo’s Lists for Writers app available on Google Play.

Some cons? Battery life could be a little better.

My biggest issue with this phone is that while it is one of the best looking Samsung models to date, it’s not very sleek. It wants to be sleek. It’s light and thin, with a beveled metal edge, but what annoys me is the assortment of bumps in the case to facilitate the camera, the headphone jack, and the power cable. I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off this phone because of the picking I would do with these little anomalies.

Basically, that’s the worse thing about this phone, which means if that doesn’t bother you, you’re golden. This is a great lower-priced phone that packs a lot of power. It’s fast and pretty with apps-a-plenty on the Android platform. This is a great value for a casual phone, but not not want you want if you are looking for a flagship-type model for heavy business use.

Disclaimer: I was given this phone to review by AT&T without any conditions or remuneration.


Product Review – Nokia Lumia 830

Last week, I had the opportunity to test drive the Nokia Lumia 830.

The 830 stands out from the crowd with the beautiful Windows Phone live tile OS and the sleek case design. It feels substantial in the hand, but not nearly as weighty as the 920.

Cortana, I love you. You are Siri-ous competition, my lovely. Cortana displays text as you go and also includes punctuation. Really brilliant. Setting up favorites to maximize the efficacy of Cortana takes some time, but it’s worth it. Cortana could change your mobile life.

Setting up the phone to use was very easy since I already had a Windows Live account, and all of my information loaded quickly. Setting up Gmail and Facebook took no time at all, as well.

I loaded some of our Windows Phone apps (Name Dice, TampaMom, Thinkamingo) to play with and they all looked very good. The processing speed is nice and fast.

The navigation apps on this phone were rubbish. Honestly, if it’s not Google Maps or Waze, I don’t have time for it. I tried HERE+ and it was not easy to use. There was another navigation app that I can’t remember the name of, but in order to really use anything worthwhile on it, it wanted me to upgrade or subscribe. Nope.

The camera. Wow. The camera on the 830 is spectacular. You will not be disappointed with it. The one good/bad feature is the manual camera button on the lower right side of the phone.  I hold my phone in such a way that I repeatedly turned the camera on by depressing that button. If this was my permanent phone, I’m sure I would alter my behavior to accommodate that, but as it was my phone for a week, I couldn’t get past it. Sometimes, it’s awfully handy to have that button so that your phone feels more like a camera, but for me, it was a pain in the butt offer nfl jerseys.

Being in the Tampa Metropolitan area, mobile service coverage is generally pretty good across the board for all providers. There can be some challenges on bridges across Tampa Bay, or in other topographically-challenged areas where the signal just can’t dip down into an area. On the whole, this AT&T phone had excellent LTE coverage in this area, making the whole experience fast and fun.

The overall sound and volume level was impressive. I setup my own MixRadio personalized station and was impressed by the acuity of picking music I might like.

This phone came with a neon-green back cover which was a little too bright for my taste, but would definitely be more fun for someone else. It was very easy to find in my dark purse!

Battery life was very good for my use. I didn’t notice any unusual battery drain or problems with an average day of using the internet, texting, and a voice call or two.

You can read other more detailed, more technical, and more biased reviews around the web, but here’s the bottom line. An average user would not be disappointed with this beautiful and powerful phone. The overall design is attractive and feels good in the hand. Windows has the most striking mobile OS with the live tiles and eye-catching contemporary design. Finally, Cortana is brilliant.

One area I didn’t talk about was the availability of quality Windows Phone apps. If you rely heavily on a specific app or set of apps for your work, you should buy a phone that supports those apps. As far as anything else goes, be flexible. What apps do you currently use all the time? If you don’t buy or download apps, then it’s a non-issue for you. If you are a casual gamer, there are plenty of apps that fit the bill in the Windows Store.

Overall, this phone is worthy of high praise on nearly every level. It would be a nice upgrade to my Lumia 920!

Disclaimer: I was given this phone to review by AT&T without any conditions or remuneration.

social media

The Value of Curated Content on Facebook

“Ann, thank you so much for making this happen! This group is one of the highlights of my online experience.”

The value of curated content is having users feel like this, over and over again! How do you get to that point? Well, let me tell you my story…

I am passionate about opera. Not just any opera, either. I’m passionate about the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series. These are live transmissions from the Met to theaters all over the world. It’s a uniquely shared experience for opera lovers.

Sometimes, I have friends accompany me to our local events, but most of the time I’m flying solo. I thought it would be great fun to talk with other fans after the events, so I set up  Facebook group a few years ago. I didn’t advertise it, but put some important keywords in the name so people who were interested could find it. I called it “Met Opera Live in HD Fans.” It was simple and had the important key elements in it. A critical part of this was setting the group so only Members could post, but everything could be read publicly. Everyone who wants to join must be approved by me.


How do I determine who gets to join? Well, my goal is not to have some special ivory tower of opera worship, but to share and learn about opera. It’s a real community of experts, casual fans, novices, and assorted other types of interested people. If I can’t determine from a quick glance at the person’s Facebook page that they are a real person and interested in opera, I send them this private message:

“I’m the admin for the Met Opera Live in HD fans FB group. I always screen potential members. Why do you want to join our group? What is your favorite opera? I look forward to your response. Thank you.”

After that, it’s just really up to me to say yes. I try to say yes to everyone who is a real person. This membership gate is primarily to keep out spammers and trolls. If any problems in the group occur from a new member, I give them a warning, then ban them on the next offense. Since it’s my group, I get to make those decisions.

The simple action of keeping out spammers and only allowing people in who are obviously opera lovers or are interested enough to answer my screening question has kept the quality of members very high. When new people find our group and are able to read the posts publicly without joining, they can decide whether or not to pursue membership or be an anonymous public consumer.

Once we reached 1500 members, I appointed 2 of my very active and trusted members to admin status to help screen new members and keep an eye on things. This has helped tremendously with the speed of approval.

Administering a Gated Community on Facebook

The group recently passed the 2500 member mark and I felt it was time to have some official group rules to maintain the high standards.  Group Rules and Welcome Letter

The success of this group has far exceeded my expectations! It’s always nice to see messages of thanks from the members on a regular basis. I’ll close with a sampling of those. Thank you!

“The delight and enthusiasm of this group is a breath of fresh air. Thank you all for sharing.”

Ann, thanks for taking the time to spell out the rules. I really appreciate you organizing this group. It’s not an easy task, especially when the group gets large and when issues with some political aspects arise. I have a Local FB corgi group, which is so much easier to run because it’s mainly just pics and likes acknowledging the cuteness of our fur babies. But even then, there a rare issues which require intervention on my behalf. 

Kudos to you. And let me know when you come to the SF area so I can thank you with a dinner.



education Music Uncategorized

Learning is taking place.

I’m sure by now, you’ve heard all about the Annandale High School Marching Atoms kerfuffle. In case you haven’t, you can get up to speed with the original article on their school newspaper or their Facebook event page here.

The crux of the whole deal is that the football coach shook the podium of the drum major and had other coaches, players, and fans/parents yelling at the band to get off the field in the middle of their halftime show. The disrespectful behavior from this very visible school leader and teacher, not to mention physical and verbal harassment, is completely unacceptable. There are many other facts about this story, but that’s the real clincher that pushed this from an interscholastic squabble to a social media shitstorm.

Musicians, especially band geeks (yes, I’m one!), are passionate about music, teamwork, the human spirit, and underdogs! You want high school marching bands on your side! This is a unique group of people who willingly spend vast amounts of time, energy, and their own money to be in marching bands that go play for football teams and entertain audiences no matter if the team is winning or losing! They are cheerleaders! They are event makers! They are spirit builders! Yes, there are lots of exclamation points because that’s just how band is! Yeah, band!

This event touched a nerve with me, so I penned the following letter to the school principal and copied it to the band director.

Dear Principal Randazzo,

Congratulations on the outstanding accomplishments of your band program under the direction of Mr. Hilkert. It is no small feat to reach that outstanding level of skill and cooperation without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The Herculean effort it requires to teach, train, fund raise, rehearse, plan, and travel with a marching band is commendable. Kudos to Mr. Hilkert.

As a music professional (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees,) and now as a band booster with a child in a high school marching band, I’m flabbergasted at the behavior of your football coach towards the band, collectively and personally. Under what circumstance is it acceptable to shake a podium with a student on it? Or yelling at the students to leave the field?

I feel for the coach and his frustration at having a terrible season. I get it. I live in Tampa and the Buccaneers just won their first game of the whole season this past Monday. It’s painful to be attached to a losing team. Our high school team won 3 games this year, and took a beating most of the time. It wasn’t pretty, but we cheered and played the fight song. I imagine your coach is feeling pretty frustrated. In spite of that, learning is taking place. All the time. Everyone present at your Senior Night learned the ugly truth about your coach. The students saw it, and learned from it.

It’s your turn to teach your school, the community, and far beyond, thanks to the internet. Learning is taking place. The kids and their parents are watching. If you don’t stand up for the band and outwardly acknowledge their contribution to the whole football game experience, you are giving your stamp of approval to that coach and bullies everywhere that it’s okay to make others feel “less than.”

I wish you all the best as you take this opportunity to lead by example.


Ann Adair (who found validation and self worth while participating in high school band)

High school marching band memories!
High school marching band memories!


This snapshot was a pleasant, although character-building, memory of marching in a community parade. It was hot (South Florida!) and long. Parades always seemed very long with lots of starting and stopping, and repeating the same music over and over, especially at Christmas. Potholes are dangerous, along with occasional horse poop that might have been missed.

One unpleasant memory stands out for me, though, and it happened at a football game. It was my sophomore year, first year in marching band, and we were marching out of the stadium after the game. I don’t remember the score or who won, but it was crowded and a bit rowdy. Out of nowhere, I was hit in the side of my head with an egg. It hurt. It was humiliating. I had raw egg in my hair, on my face, on my uniform, and I stood at attention and concentrated on marching out of there as if nothing happened. The tears began to build, and I probably silently cried in the dark on the bus on the way back to the school. I don’t remember. I do remember a band chaperone helping me get cleaned up. I think I was in shock.

I’m trying to imagine what was going through the mind of the drum major from Annandale’s band on Senior Night as he’s conducting in the middle of the halftime show to have his own team’s coach yelling at them to stop and get off the field, then shaking the podium while he was on it. He’s a kid. A student leader doing the best he can with an undisputed prize-winning band following the direction of his band director. Why didn’t the coach talk to the band director? What was he thinking? That moment of the podium shaking is probably burned into the soul of that kid. Good job, coach. Learning is taking place. Learning about how even trusted coaches, leaders, and teachers can lose control. Those people who should be building up young people and are paid to do that can turn on a dime and lash out. Good job, coach. Thanks for teaching how it’s okay to push around students at your own school, in front of their peers and parents, on an important night in the life of a high school student. Senior Night is a time to celebrate your accomplishments with your friends, your family, your classmates, and your teachers/coaches/administration. Learning is taking place.

A friend posted a quotation from Lily Tomlin today that emboldened me about this story.

“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I was somebody.”

I was that high school band student thirty years ago. Now, I’m a band booster with a daughter in high school marching band. I’m one of the parents that will be there to pick up the pieces when that trusted adult has shaken the podium or anonymous kid has thrown an egg at a student.

After all this, what I know is that marching bands march. They march through rain, heat, snow, sunshine, horse crap, potholes, muddy football fields, hot asphault, dirt roads, and will march right over jerks who might shake their foundations without blinking an eye.

March on, Annandale Marching Atoms!