Category Archives: Technology

Interesting Internet Facts

  • If the Internet were a country, its population would be greater than North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East combined.
  • There are more devices connected to the Internet than people on Earth.
  • In one month on Facebook, 30 billion pieces of content are shared.
  • After Usama Bin Laden was killed, a computer programmer in Pakistan tweeted the military raid on his compound hours before any news sites reported it.
  • After an earthquake hit the east coast people in New York City read tweets about the quake 30 seconds before they felt it.
  • North America is the continent with the highest percentage of Internet users, followed by Australia and Europe.
  • The average American spends 66 hours a month on a computer- NOT including computer time spent at work.
  • 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • 210 billion emails are sent daily.
  • China is the country with the most Internet users.  Barbados has the fewest.
  • There are more internet users in China than there are people in the U.S.
  • A number of countries, including Estonia, Finland and Spain have declared access to the Internet as a legal right for citizens.
  • The global number of users doubled from 2005 to 2010.
  • China, Taiwan and Korea recently accepted Internet Addiction Disorder as a psychological diagnosis.  In 2013, the U.S. will mark it as a real disorder too.
  • Apple’s sales in 2011 were $128 billion
  • About 50% percent of consumers think a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than a brand’s website.
  • Since 2003 Google has answered over 450 billion new unique queries.
  • Instant previews on Google load in 1/10th of a second on average.
  • The 29 poorest countries in the world must combine their revenue in 2010 to equal the $29.3 billion dollars that Google earned from advertising that year.
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The Newest iPod Nano is Sweet!

My mother is pretty much the last person at the gym, aside from a few 80 year olds who go there to use the pool, who doesn’t listen to music while she works out. My brothers and I decided to buy her her first iPod (ever) for Christmas this year.  I went to the Apple store and bought her a Nano in her favorite color, purple, and then realized that my mom will have no clue how to set it up herself.

So I took it out of its package and hooked it up to my iTunes so that I can load it up with music, playlists and photos.  I haven’t felt the need to have an iPod Nano since the iPhone came out, so it’s been a few years since I’ve held one.  As I played with it, I couldn’t get over how different and cool the new ones are.

This seventh-generation Nano is the thinnest ever and roughly the size of a credit card, but its display screen is almost twice the size of the previous model.  Even though the screen is small, the photos that I loaded on it still look good. And, thanks to the accelerometer, photos auto-rotate as you go from portrait to landscape, which was nice.

The new Nano has a touch screen and is the first model to have a tiny home button, just like some of its bigger siblings. It has five buttons in all- a slender power button on the top and a three-way volume rocker that allows you to adjust the volume and, by pressing it in the middle, play/pause music or skip tracks.

Because my mom will be using the device while working out quite often, I will advise her to use the Nike+ function, which has been made better by having everything built-in.  Her Nano can track her walks and runs, and she can even connect a Bluetooth heart monitor wirelessly.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the new design of the Nano.  I think it’s the best yet, bringing lots of functionality in a tiny package.  I look at it as $149 well spent, and I’m excited to give it to my mom and watch her fall in love with her first Apple product.

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Target Is Playing Catch Up in the Digital Marketing Game

There has been much speculation that the internet will dominate in holiday shopping this year. With this said, Target is switching up its game in an effort to make sure they won’t fall behind in the digital market.

Last holiday season, many shoppers went to Target just to scan product barcodes and then made purchases from online retailers such as Amazon, instead of actually buying the product for full retail price. Target wants to prevent this from happening again, so they will match the prices of various online retailers between November 1 and December 16. They will even match prices from the online prices of Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R’ Us and Babies R’ Us. Target has matched local competitors in the past, but never online retailers due to the inconsistency in prices.

Target is really trying to prevent a trend called “showrooming,” which is when consumers go to retail locations to test products and then go online to buy it. For example, I know people who have gone to Best Buy, found the exact television that they want, and bought it online. Generally, online stores like Amazon offer cheaper and exclusive internet prices.

Target is also lending out QR codes in stores to help people shop and navigate through their website.  According to Target, they are trying to improve their online marketing to become more personalized and integrated with consumers. If there is a particular item that is sold out, people will be able to scan the QR code on the tag and order the product on Target.com. For example, the top 20 toys will have QR codes on them. This is very beneficial for consumers because all they would have to do is scan the code and they will be lead to the product. Then, they can buy the product and chill out while thousands of consumers are impatiently waiting in long lines.  If people are worried about using up data on their smartphones, Target will provide free Wi-Fi to help access the codes that were scanned.

Target has been recently trying to play catch up with other retail powerhouses with digital marketing strategies. It is part of their new project called Multichannel, which offers consumers various online-related services to make it more convenient to shop at Target and on their website. Although they are behind rival Wal-Mart, they feel it is never too late to implement strategies that others have already put to use. For example, they are also planning to test in-store pickups of online orders and home deliveries within hours, which is something eBay has implemented in some states. Target shouldn’t feel ashamed that they are using strategies that their rivals use. Pablo Picasso once said that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

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The iPad Mini is Coming October 23

One of the worst-kept secrets in tech has finally been made official.  Following months of speculation and rumors, Apple has finally released press invitations for its next big launch: the iPad Mini. The event will be held at the California Theatre on October 23rd in San Jose, California.

The iPad Mini is expected to be much smaller than the current 10 inch iPad model. Rumors say that the iPad Mini will be around seven or eight inches, with fewer pixels than the current size. Some say the new device could tout a retina-resolution display, 3G connectivity, two rear speakers instead of just one and use the new lighting connector introduced with the iPhone 5.  Apple has no confirmed any of these reports, of course.

Although the company is traditionally secretive about product details and announcements, leaks have been spilling out of its factories and hitting the web more than ever before.  Just recently, iPhone 5 pictures and specs circulated the internet long before its official launch in September.

Steve Jobs famously opposed trimming the size of the iPad, saying the introduction of a seven-inch tablet would be “dead on arrival” and users would need sandpaper to shrink their fingers for an optimized experience.

“While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size,” Jobs said.

Considering how popular seven-inch tablets have become in the past year, it was only a matter of time for Apple to step in. Companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and Samsung are already competing for market share and the arrival of an iPad Mini would certainly shake things up.

So now everybody is busy getting ready for the iPad Mini’s release.  Manufacturers aren’t wasting any time ahead of Apple’s big announcement next week- screen protectors for the iPad Mini are already on sale.

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Shazam Can Now Tag TV Shows!

Shazam has been an awesome companion to the radio for almost a decade, tagging songs so that anyone can find out what they are listening to at any time and giving users the option to download tagged songs instantly.

Now Shazam is reinventing itself by breaking into the TV market.  The app has launched a significant update that will enable its 80 million users in the U.S. to tag any TV show on over 160 channels, with the exception of some local-only shows such as news broadcasts.

Here’s how it works: if a viewer is watching “Dexter,” they can tag the show to identify not only what the show is, but access cast information and celebrity gossip, play trivia, engage with other viewers on social media and identify the music being played.  If it’s a sports event, the app will show schedules, scores and statistics.  TV shows are tagged the same way you’d tag a song, by opening the Shazam app and tapping the big button.

In addition to expanding the TV functionality of its app, Shazam is also becoming more social.  Users will now be able to see what their Facebook friends are tagging, and to comment on and discuss those tags.  Users will also be able to socialize over Twitter and Google+. These features will be launched in the coming weeks.

With this update announcement also came the news that Shazam has been used (not just downloaded, but actually used to tag content) by over 250 million people worldwide.  Time will tell whether these millions of users are as interested in tagging TV shows as music.

The app is available free on all major platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  How do you feel about using it to tag TV shows to get information?

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GoDaddy Goes Down

GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar and one of the biggest web hosts, is experiencing outages today, possibly taking millions of websites down as a result.

“Status Alert: Hey, all. We’re aware of the trouble people are having with our site. We’re working on it,” @GoDaddy tweeted.

While GoDaddy.com’s site is up and running, websites hosted by the company are still experiencing outages. If you are being affected by this, you might be interested in switching to a new registrar as soon as GoDaddy returns.  Here are the steps on how to do so:

  1.  Login to your GoDaddy account and click on the “Domain Management” section.  This will open a page that allows you to manage your domain names.
  2. Next to your listed domains are different icons that allow you to access certain domain features.  Hover over the “lock” icon to check the status of your domain.  If it is locked, follow the next step.
  3. Unlock the domain (it was locked by registrars by default so that nefarious parties can’t transfer the domain out from under the real owner, but in order to transfer a domain you have to unlock it).
  4. Uncheck the box next to “lock domains” and click OK.
  5. Get the authorization code (sometimes called an AUTH, EPP or ACK code) to bring to your new registrars.  Click on the domain name you wish to transfer and on the “Domain Details” page, scroll to where it says “Authorization Code: Send by Email.”  Select this option and then check your email for an authorization code from the site.  You can now give this information to your new registrar.
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Face Recognition Marketing- Awesome or Too Much?

Facebook check-ins are a powerful way for businesses to reach out and offer deals to loyal customers, but very few (businesses and customers) have come to realize this.  It’s about to get a lot easier, thanks to a new technology that allows people to check-in just by showing their face- literally.

Red Pepper, an advertising agency that specializes in marketing technologies, has announced that it is in its final testing stage for Facedeals, a facial recognition- marketing app.

Facebook can already recognize faces and suggest the correct people to tag in pictures. Facedeals will use a similar technology, installing cameras at local participating stores.  If you opt into this service, the cameras will recognize your face when you pass by, based on pictures from your Facebook account.  The service will then simultaneously check you into that location on Facebook.  You will be sent customized offers and discounts based on your “Like” history.

The app uses facial recognition in an effort to connect in a more personalized way with consumers.  For businesses, there is no easier way to deliver customized deals.   “At Red Pepper, we explore technologies that can create relevant ways for marketing to intersect with consumers and their lives, as provide some added values,” said Red Pepper’s business director, Samara Andreson.

As incredible as this technology sounds, it has generated criticism and panic from some who think it is a total invasion of privacy.  Andreson points out that the app requires voluntary acceptance and is not forced on anyone.

“The idea is not to invade privacy, which is a big issue right now,” Anderson said. “Your face wouldn’t be in any sort of database unless you opt into it.”

At this point does it even matter?  I thought a person’s privacy pretty much goes out the window the minute they create a Facebook account anyways.  Facebook already knows everything about most of us because we have voluntarily provided them with the information.  It knows where we go, when we go, who we go with and what we like, which helps them to understand why we do the things we do.

While I don’t feel particularly threatened by Facedeals, I do have a few questions for them before I would personally opt into this app.  Is there a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it goes to Facebook?  Or is there at least a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it’s posted for my 1,214 friends to see?  For example, if a raunchy strip club is one of the participating locations and I happen to walk past it, will a camera snap my face and automatically check me in there, even if I never went inside?  Am I going to receive a coupon for a free lap dance that I don’t want?  If I’m going to have to worry about stuff like that, it’s a deal breaker for me.

Would you opt in to Facedeals, or do you think it crosses the line?  Please share in a comment.

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I May Never Read A Book Again

It’s not because they all get adapted to movies these days (the books are still always much better).  It’s not because I’m lazy.  I just may never read a physical copy of a book again because I have begun reading my first e-book on my iPad and I am HOOKED.

I’m late to join the e-book trend because I’ve never been one to buy books.  I’ve never experienced a need to spend money on them.  How many times do you actually go back and read a novel?  As far as I’m concerned, there are plenty of good books out there that are on my to-read list, so why go backwards?  Of the 10 or 11 books that I have purchased in my adult life, a majority are coffee table books or children’s books that I kept in my bathroom.  They’re fun to pick up and glance at often, so I figure that I got my money’s worth.

One downside to e-books is that you can’t even loan the book to a friend when you’re finished with it.  There was this trilogy that I was dying to read.  All of my friends were raving about it, but none of them could loan it to me because they all read it on their Kindles and iPads.  I was a little annoyed, but I caved in and figured I’d try something new on my iPad.

Now I’m in love.  It’s so nice being able to have my computer, music player and reading materials all in one place.  I don’t have to turn pages or worry about bookmarks anymore.  What really sealed the deal was being able to read in bed at night.  I can read on my iPad in the dark, and once my eyes get heavy and I can barely stay awake I can fall asleep without having to get up and turn off the light.  That right there is enough to make me never want to read any other way again.

I can see this becoming an expensive habit.  When book #1 is finished and I’m dying to start #2, it’s going to be really tempting to just download it instantly.

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Don’t Worry, Be Appy!

In this age of smartphones and apps, we use our phones to do so much more than talk. Our mobile devices have virtually eliminated the need for everything from practical items such as day planners, digital cameras and wallets to novelty items that we probably never considered.  I mean, who wants to play Scrabble when you can just play Words With Friends?  (I’m being sarcastic- I played Scrabble about a month ago, as shown in the picture below.  But I know people who couldn’t be bothered with all those chips today.)

According to the Apple, there is over 500,000 apps available on their app store.  In March, the store hit 25 billion (with a “b”) downloads.  While we may not have yet created an app to cure cancer or end world hunger (although I’m sure there are some that are trying), people are now able to do some pretty awesome things from their computers, tablets and mobile devices.  Check it out:

Register to vote.  Candidates already use social media to get out the vote, so why not use social media to register to vote as well?  That question was answered last month, when Washington became the first state to allow voter registration through social media.  Microsoft developed the app at no cost for Facebook.  Registering through the social network makes the process a little easier because personal information such as your name and birthday are already stored.

Play Lazer Tag!  The game has been reinvented and upgraded for the smartphone era. With the new version, sold by Hasbro under the Nerf brand, you insert your phone into a Lazer Tag gun, launch the app and blast away.  The app is free but the blasters are $40 each and are designed only to hole the iPhone 4/4S or iPod Touch so far (sorry, Androids).

Get a cab.  The app GetTaxi allows users to order a cab via their computers or smartphones.  Once their order is made, the cab driver receives a notification with the person’s location.  Smartphone users are even able to track their cab through their GPS tracking.  GetTaxi has already hit it big in Russia, Israel and the U.K. and is set to hit New York City in the next few months.

Gamble.  As if Facebook isn’t addicting enough, its can now use it to gamble.  Available only in the U.K. so far, the app allows adults to play Bingo & Slots Friendzy with their credit card and PayPal accounts.

Check your heart rate on the go- by holding your iPhone up to your face.  Follow me closely on this one.  There is a new mobile app called Cardiio that’s about to be released that uses the iPhone camera sensor to detect your heart rate based off the amount of light reflecting off your face.  The company explains how the technology works on its site:

“Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone’s front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!”

Avoid traffic jamsWaze is a free GPS navigation tool for Android and iOS devices that is aware of traffic conditions including weather, accidents and hazards before it calculates a route for the user.  Waze also provides navigation to destinations such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations, showing the lowest gas prices in the area.

Upgrade your seats.  Pogoseat is a new service that lets fans upgrade their tickets and move to prime vacant seats during the middle of a sports game.  It’s a win-win for fans and the venue: fans get s a better view and the stadium can make a little extra money.  Using Pogoseat, fans can pull up a map of the stadium, and the appt recommends the vacant seats with the best views. After choosing their desired seat, users input their payment details and are able to move to their new spot immediately.

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