Free-for-all Friday

Happy Friday!

Now is the time to start binge watching our favorite Christmas movies. From Elf, to The Santa Claus there are plenty to keep you busy from now until the new year. What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

If you have any other fun Christmas traditions we would love to hear them!


Happy Thursday!

Rarely do Christmas decorations mean technological advancement. But this photo shows some major changes from the lights we have now, and not just in the boxes they come in! Tell us what year the first electrical lights were put on a tree to be entered to win a Sleek 4G cell phone signal booster just in time for Christmas!

Happy guessing!

BlackBerry Tries to Win Over Defectors with Retro Look

Happy Wednesday!

The past few months the tech world has been abuzz with new phone releases from Apple and Samsung. Recently BlackBerry released a new phone that takes users back to the beloved original design. This design was strategic. Keep reading to find out why:

BlackBerry has gone retro.

The beleaguered mobile company launched a new smartphone on Monday, one that harkens back to BlackBerrys of a previous era, before the company’s focus was on competing directly with the iPhone and Android.

The BlackBerry Classic, which company CEO John Chen unveiled at an event in New York City, keeps the advancements of the company’s BlackBerry 10 phones, but brings back some aspects of the older models. They include the row of hardware navigation buttons above the trademark physical keyboard.

Chen said re-integrating those elements wasn’t easy. BlackBerry 10 seemingly made some features, such as the beloved thumb-controlled trackpad, obsolete. “It’s not as simple as you think,” he said, adding that combining the two presented a big engineering challenge for the company. 

However, Chen had little choice. BlackBerry’s market share has been in free fall for the last few years, and its BlackBerry 10 phones didn’t do much to reverse that trend. Both current and former customers kept saying they preferred an interface closer to the company’s old phones.

Enter the BlackBerry Classic. The phone is engineered to appeal to the BlackBerry faithful — not just people who have stuck with the company, but also those who have switched to a new platform, and still long for the experience of typing on a physical keyboard.

“It was inspired by you, our loyal BlackBerry customers,” said Jeff Gadway, director of product marketing. “I’m not going to stand here blind to the fact that we’ve lost some of you. But with the BlackBerry Classic, we’re going to win you back.”

In addition to the keyboard and navigation items, the BlackBerry Classic, which sells for $449 unlocked ($499 in the company’s native Canada), has a 720 x 720 square display that’s 60% larger than the most recent BlackBerry Bold from 2011 — the most recent “classic” (i.e. BlackBerry 7) BlackBerry.

BlackBerry compares many of the Classic’s features to the Bold, clearly hoping some holdouts will upgrade to the new device. The phone runs BlackBerry 10.3.1, and the company claims its battery last 50% longer. It packs a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, which makes the web browsing experience up to 3x faster. The rear camera has 8 megapixels to the Bold’s 5.

Ultimately, though, what the Classic brings to the table is its old-school BlackBerry navigation, including Menu, Back, Send and End buttons as well as the trackpad. That may be enough to sway back some fans to the platform, especially now that the company’s devices have closed some of the “app gap” between it and other platforms by allowing BlackBerry 10 devices to run Android apps by way of Amazon’s Appstore.

The Classic closely follows the launch of the BlackBerry Passport, which also emphasized an upgraded physical keyboard meant to appeal to the company’s loyal customer base. It appears that in the case of BlackBerry, the best way to move forward is to take a step back.

Find the original article here.

Tech Tip Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!

The end of the year is fast approaching and the time of starting over is upon us. One way to start over is to get your life in order and Emily Siegel from Mashable has created a list of the top five apps that are just as good if not better than a real personal assistant. Keep reading to find the one that will work for you!

We all want a personal assistant à la Lloyd in Entourage — someone to walk our dogs, handle unwanted emails and ensure we’re always on time. But for those of us who aren’t Ari Gold — and therefore can’t afford a full-time, salaried employee — we have to make do with the tools we’re given.

Luckily, a smartphone can be an excellent substitute. 

You can now hire (a.k.a. download) a personal assistant without leaving the confines of the App Store. So whether you’re scheduling a meeting or planning the most efficient route across town, a smartphone can be your most useful asset.

Read on for our favorite apps that double as a personal assistant. Beware: Once you start using them, people’s expectations of you will skyrocket.

1. Google Now

Word on the street is that a little company called Google is pretty good with technology — so how could we expect their assistant app to be anything other than top-notch? Google Now is marketed as the “intelligent personal assistant,” available for both iOS and Android. You can also run the program on personal computers via Chrome. Use this nifty app to set geo-triggered reminders, store airline boarding passes and check the weather at an upcoming destination. Best of all, the latest version’s features include barcode scanning and song recognition.

2. Dragon Go

While it doesn’t have all of the shiny functions of Google Now, Dragon Go is the best at one thing: Dictation. Its speech recognition technology will enable you to draft emails, texts and memos on the go — without the hassle of including another human in the process. Dragon Go has an unprecedented level of accuracy when transcribing — even better than Siri. It can also sync with NetflixiTunes and Spotify for voice control.

3. vokul

If Dragon Go is the best at dictating, then vokul leads the pack for voice control. The app enables you to go hands-free, and will work in noisy environments like your car or the office. Ask vokul to read your social media feeds, or fast forward to a certain point in a song. Unlike Siri, which requires you to tap your phone for activation, vokul will activate upon hearing the words “hey vokul” — so as long as the app is open, no hands are needed. In fact, it’s the only 100% hands-free voice control app available.

4. Robin

Named after Batman’s perennial sidekick, this Android app has everything you need in a great personal assistant. This voice-recognition app has special features, such as the ability to search for cheap parking. Robin can also check for directions, conduct hands-free messaging and deliver news from its artificially intelligent newsroom. It’s clear why this app has dubbed itself the “Siri challenger.”

5. 24me

This free app — which prides itself on an uncluttered, easy-to-use interface — marries your tasks with your calendar. Auto-generated reminders will ensure no event is forgotten, while enabling you to easily share notes and content with friends. And, as of recently, it is also available for Android users. Sync it with your other apps, like Facebook, to ensure every bill, event and task is included in your automated reminders.

Find the original article here.

Free-for-all Friday!

Happy Friday!

We made it! It’s finally the weekend! To celebrate this wonderful achievement we would like to announce the winner of this week’s caption contest, Jose Soto, who gave us this lovely caption:

Congrats Jose! To claim your prize email us at

We would also like to make an honorable mention to David Klein who captioned it with: “Rose, I’ll never let you go.”

Thank you to all who participated and gave the office a chuckle. Look forward to more of these and get your creative juices flowing!


Happy Thursday!

The norm for everyone has become having their phone at their fingertips but there was a time when phones were far too large to fit in your pockets. There is something beautiful about the retro dialing device and the brass accent pieces. Tell us what year this phone first rang and you could win a Sleek 4G cell phone signal booster.

Happy guessing!

Twitter has made the 24-hour news cycle into a 2-hour news cycle

Happy Wednesday!

We have become the generation of instant gratification. This has extended to our news habits. Up until the invention of social media news had a 24-hour cycle, meaning that events that happened around the country and in other countries took about 24 hours to get to the news wire. Now with social media, specifically Twitter that time frame as been reduced to 2 hours. That’s an almost 92% decrease. With the help of social media we are getting our news faster and are staying more connected with the world around us. Mathew Ingram from Gigaom explores the details of how Twitter has become one of the main resources for news.

The fact that political campaigns use social media to try and influence public opinion isn’t new: the “spin cycle” is no longer something that involves private calls to a few grizzled newspaper columnists or TV commentators — instead, there are teams of social-networking staffers working the spin on every conceivable platform. But we rarely get a glimpse inside these “war rooms” until long after the campaign is over.

In a recent research paper, journalism professor Daniel Kreiss got a look at some of the social machinery (PDF link) behind the 2012 campaigns of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, based on interviews with senior staffers and insiders of both.

One thing that dramatically changed from the previous presidential election in 2008, Kreiss notes, was the influence of Twitter — which existed in 2008, but wasn’t really thought of as being an important tool for shaping public opinion. The Obama campaign’s digital director, Teddy Goff, said it was an afterthought at best:

“Goff could not remember the word Twitter being mentioned in new media department meetings in April through November 2008 and says the campaign ‘probably had some intern paste whatever we were putting on Facebook’ on the platform.”

One of the conclusions of the paper is that Twitter in particular has turned what used to be a 24-hour news cycle — in which political operatives would try to spin the perception of news events for the next day’s newspaper or TV broadcast — into a two-hour news cycle that continually resets during a campaign, based on what the trending topics are on Twitter or what content is being shared on Facebook.

From a political and journalistic standpoint, one of the interesting conclusions that Kreiss comes to is that both campaigns took advantage of the fact that some journalists looked to Twitter as a sign of what average citizens were thinking about the election or the presidential debates, but in many ways what they found was the same thing that used to exist with traditional media: namely, a consensus formed in part by smart political spin, amplified by other journalists using the social platform.

“Staffers on both campaigns also cited that journalists used Twitter as a proxy for public opinion to assess such things as the candidates’ debate performances. Both campaigns worked to create a ‘climate of opinion’ favorable to their candidate to influence reporters’ perceptions of political events as they read social media as a measure of public sentiment.”

As Derek Willis of the NYT’s Upshot pointed out in a post on the Kreiss research, clever tweets and pleas for support may momentarily influence actual voters to donate or take some other kind of action, but “the main audience for campaigns on Twitter is the people who write, talk and tweet about the campaigns for a living.” In other words, political reporters and their marketing counterparts within the campaigns themselves — the definition of an echo chamber.

So despite the focus on new technologies, whether social or mobile, the political and media landscape we have now isn’t really that different from the old days of newspaper editorials and columnists dictating the requirements of the news cycle — it’s just a lot faster than it used to be, and a lot more distributed. The only upside is that now we have thousands of potential outlets to choose from instead of just a few.

Read the original article here.

Pin Drop App Launches in U.S.

Happy Tuesday!

Are you a social butterfly? Do you like to try new places and tell everyone about them? If you are then the Pin Drop app is just for you. Mike Butcher, from TechCrunch, discusses how you can tag and share your favorite place as well as the apps mapping feature and the ability to have multiple profiles.

Pin Drop – an iPhone app and website which lets you save, organise, and share locations – has now launched on the US app store with new collaborative mapping features and the ability to have multiple profiles. We’ve been using it a lot in London, where it’s been taking off.

It’s also had a privacy overhaul allowing the ability to toggle between making pins and tags public or private, allowing users to send a list to select recipients or share in public. The idea is to a map and build up a library of your favourite locations, whether publicly shared or private.

The new collaborative lists feature creates lists with multiple users to group subjects among common interests, such as “Cool Bars” etc. It can also be used anonymously.

Now Pin Drop users can also create multiple accounts – such as for personal, leisure or business use. It also allows users to attach audio and video files to pins to provide more context around the experiences, tied to specific places.

Founded by Andy Ashburner who previously helped develop Summly, the news summarizing app acquired by Yahoo! in March of 2013, Pin Drop is proving to be particularly popular among outdoor sports enthusiasts like hikers, skaters, and snowboarders in addition to location scouts, architects, and more.

Competitors include Findery, from Flickr cofounder Katerina Fake, which has raised $11m to do almost the same thing.

So far Pin Drop has avoided the Foursquare tag, (there are no points, no badges, no leader boards to game), however, it does do the most useful thing about Foursquare, which is let you drop information in a location and either keep that private to you, or make it publicly available. Perhaps Pinterest for location might suit it better.

Pin Drop also has an API for third party developers.

Read original article here.