Monthly Archives: October 2012

Some Interesting Winners at the T3 Gadget Awards

As new technology pops up around us daily, it’s human nature to want to know which is the most innovative and revolutionary in the gadget world.  Well, the T3 Gadget Awards quench that thirst.  The awards, voted on by more than 960,000 online users, were given out last week.  Because the tech community is primarily casting the votes, “obvious” winners to the masses weren’t the case.  Below we’ll show you a number of interesting and even ironic choices – and be sure to check out the full list of categories and winners.

Ironic Winners

The categories for the T3 Awards, from Best Retailer to Gadget Personality of the Year, the awards span an array of categories.  It is interesting to note the winner of the Gadget Personality of the Year Award was Mark Zuckerberg.  Of course he’s a monumental figure in the communication world, but hardly exhibits the charisma of George Clooney.  Another interesting category is Best Commuting Device, where anything that aids your travel from here to there is considered. One of the competitors was an electric bicycle; but the winner, in fact, was the Amazon Kindle. True, it makes the time pass quickly while commuting, but maybe something which actually travels might have been a clearer choice?

Influential Winners

Perhaps another surprise winner this year was found for the Digital Media Service of the Year award.  Yes, Mark Zuckerberg won Personality of the Year, but it was Twitter that walked off with the more important gong.  Twitter beat out the likes of Facebook and Google .  Certainly the heads of Apple, Google and Facebook are certainly not crying themselves to sleep over their crushing defeats. It is important to consider that these awards are voted upon by the tech community and therefore the very people who are most in tune with and most influential in this realm and should be taken seriously by the giants in the industry.

Surprising Winners

For many, the iPhone 4 would most likely be guessed as the runaway winner of the Phone of the Year award. Instead–and more importantly–because more serious tech fans cast the votes, Samsung’s Galaxy S II walked away with the award. In the Tech Brand of the Year category, Google was the big winner, beating out rivals Facebook and Apple.  Again, it’s “just the T3 Gadget Awards”, but as always, it’s better to be the winner than the runner-up.  And when millions of dollars rides on person to person advertising and brand recognition, every tiny bit helps.

Ultimately, The 2012 T3 Gadget Awards offer an interesting insight into how much and how fast technology is evolving.  If you were to go back to the first awards given in 2008, some of the heavy hitters of the time are no longer viable, while some upstarts were just getting their feet on the ground and are huge players today.  Although these awards are given annually, with the speed that many of these items are created, they may want to make it a semi-annual event.

 

Intel and Toshiba: Energy Monitoring

Becoming “greener” has been a hot topic nowadays, not only amongst the general public but also in high-tech companies. Many companies are looking into green tech as a means to save energy , save the environment, or to simply save money. One of the primary things you must know when looking into conserving energy is what uses the most energy?

At the CEATEC conference this month in Japan, Toshiba and Intel announced some of their upcoming plans to better allow companies to monitor their energy usage. In this “Green Age,” it’s no surprise to see major players in the technology world coming forward with big developments that allow more regulation and monitoring of the amount of energy being used. Here are some of the ecologically-forward changes and additions these two companies announced they will be implementing in 2012.

Intel

Intel has created an application that permits PC users to monitor the energy consumption of their PC. The application has an easy-to-read dashboard that organizes the information into graphs, charts, and statistics, which make it very user-friendly.

Toshiba

Toshiba is using it’s recent acquisition of Landish Gyr as part of its “smart home” offering. Landish Gyr specialize in smart-meters for homes. With this offering people can monitor the quantity of energy consumed throughout their homes. Also on the agenda is the development of “green cloud” technologies for a number of different industries which range from city infrastructure to healthcare.

Japanese technology companies are presently highly focused on monitoring energy consumption. That being said, it is interesting that many companies in the US are pulling away from this. Microsoft and Google are just two examples. Microsoft announced in June that they are discontinuing their energy-monitoring service called Hohm. While Google announced it is taking a break from the green game by shutting down Google Powermeter.

Will the green technology world head in the direction of energy monitoring or something else entirely? If you have any speculation or ideas on the direction this may take; please share them with us.

 

The iPhone 4S: Revolutionary Or Evolutionary

The first time we heard the news that Apple was coming out with the next iPhone, we were as giddy as schoolchildren.  We all hoped that that it was going to be a game changing iPhone 5.  But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Instead, and with much fanfare, we got the iPhone 4S and we could only help but ask – is it just an iPhone 4 with a few more bells and whistles? Would it truly be worth the long wait in line?. Was the 4s destined to be revolutionary or evolutionary?  Listed here is a brief look at the 3 most noticeable upgrades found in the iPhone 4S.

Software

Maybe the most noticeable of the iPhone 4S upgrades is found in its speed and power.  The 4S features a dual-core A5 chip found in the iPad 2, which makes opening apps, loading the browser, scrolling through home screens and countless other operations much faster and smoother.  Apple states that the iPhone 4S is twice as fast as the iPhone 4, and exhibits seven times its graphical prowess.

Siri

Probably the most compelling reason to upgrade to the 4S is the addition of Siri – a “personal assistant” who can parse the information you tell it through a mere conversation. For instance, should you tell Siri, “Please tell Jodi that I’m running late”, it would know who Jodi is and which meeting you’re talking about, and contact her to reschedule. It’s a pretty cool feature when it works.  However, when Siri doesn’t work, it makes you realize that it’s still a work in progress. Although Siri shows its personality in its humourous answers to questions it can’t yet answer, you just want it work.  For more on the topic, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/benzingainsights/2011/10/17/is-siri-seriously-awesome-or-seriously-flawed/

iCloud

iCloud is Apple’s replacement of MobileMe.  It is available on all new iPhone, iPad and Mac purchases, and automatically and securely stores everything on your device’s hard drive.  Access to music, apps, photos is much simpler from any other device.  One downfall, though, is that some MobileMe users are finding that after MobileMe created its own user ID, it has been difficult for them to “sync up.” Equally frustrating is the fact that iCloud doesn’t recognize other mail accounts that don’t contain a me.com email address.  Again, like Siri, one would hope these issues were hashed out before the launch.

Ultimately, the iPhone 4S was predestined to be a huge seller worldwide – but are its upgrades worth the wait?  The solution mostly is determined by the type of user you are. If you want to have the most cutting-edge product available, with improved hardware, camera, voice controls and iCloud, it may be something to consider.   If the iPhone or other mobile phone you’re using gets you where you want to go, its good to know that the iPhone 4S is more of an evolution than revolution – but its pretty cool none-the-less.

 

Creativity in the Cloud

Many industries have changed due to the cloud. Massive amounts of information can be stored and shared easily in the cloud. And with the popularity of tablets people can access it quickly. This has improved the way creative people do business, below are a few examples if this.

Portfolios
You once had to transport heavy portfolios when meeting with clients.  Those portfolios were limited to the amount of work you could carry within. Portfolios, when stored in the cloud, are not limited to physical size. You can organize your past work into categories that fit the needs of different clients. By accessing your portfolio quickly on a tablet, you can share your work more easily and this can lead to more opportunities.

Creative Collaboration
Collaborating used to be limited to people near you. This meant that highly skilled people across the globe did not have much opportunity to collaborate on a project. If they were a part of the collaboration process, it meant sending large files back and forth, which led to duplicate copies and a slower working pace. When files are store in the cloud, you can work on them simultaneously and update only one copy. Tablets allow you to pull the project up anywhere and work on it, so creative inspiration isn’t stifled.

Brainstorming
Brainstorming and mind mapping are other things the cloud has improved as numerous people can input their ideas into one file. People can access these mind maps on tablets, get input from local collogues, and update the shared file that everyone can see. This kind of connectedness breaks down the distance barrier, which used to be such a limitation in business.

When the mobile capabilities of tablets are paired with the cloud, creativity can happen anywhere at anytime and with anybody.

 

Why Workplace Education is Right for Your Business

Creating workplace education programs (WEP) within your company can be a successful way to improve morale. Whether it is done in a small or elaborate way, education keeps employees sharp, challenged, and inspired. Workplace education also can support employee’s individual goals of furthering their careers and that investment can cause stronger devotion from your employees.

A word of warning: if classes aren’t challenging or interesting, workplace education can be boring and feel like a waste of time to your employees. This will negate the positive effects you were looking to achieve.

Here are some ideas to keep education programs interesting and fun.

Create Teams – Dividing employees into groups will lead to collaboration and healthy competition. This may also build a more supportive workforce overall, as individuals will get to know each other better and develop stronger working relationships.

Use IncentivesIncentives can be a great motivator. They can be used for groups or individuals.

Make Learning Playful – Working games into your workplace education programs helps make learning fun and with help content retention. Games can also develop team-building skills.

Developing workplace education programs for your company can keep the work environment fresh and fun. Sometimes providing full or half-day classes isn’t feasible. Providing something as small as holding an educational meeting can also be effective. You can then implement incentives or games for your employees. The benefits of WEP, when done right, can be great and have a strong positive effect on morale in the office.

Long Live the PC!

Tablets and smartphones have inundated the market, making portable computing not only highly accessible but also extremely practical. It’s easy to see that remote computing is the next big leap in technology, transforming the way we interact with data on a daily basis. But what does this mean for the PC? When the iPad was introduced to the public, many thought it signaled the beginning of the end for the standard PC. However, the personal computer is a foundational mainstay in the way computing is done. Even with these new technologies, we are still living in the PC Age. Here are three of the top reasons this remains true.

 

Desktops Are Still Needed

 

Critics have been claiming the death of the desktop computer for years, yet it remains to be a popular and much used technology. Why is this? The answer is simple: strength. There is no tablet or smartphone that can match the speed and utility of a well-built PC. There may come a day when we can harness the speed and strength of a desktop machine at a smaller scale, but that day isn’t here just yet.

 

Tablets Are Less Practical

 

There is no debating that tablets are extraordinary and useful tools. However, there are certain impracticalities that come with such a portable device that greatly affect operation. PCs are still the preferred machine for typing long documents, surfing the web and using more sophisticated programs. Unless tablets can find a practical way to replicate the functionality of a PC, personal computers will remain a fundamental technology.

 

Smartphones Are Less Functional

 

Any self-respecting tech-savvy nerd has a smartphone. These machines are great for checking email, updating social media or even making a call. Some critics claim that as smartphones become more sophisticated, they will begin to steal some of the standard laptop market. However, the average basic laptop user utilizes laptops to perform higher function actions. Good illustrations of these users are students. Can you imagine writing a term paper on a small smartphone screen? Neither can we.

 

While the portable industry has made remote computing better than ever, it’s still important to have faith in the importance of PCs. For more reasons why the PC age is still alive and well, take a look at this article.

Manners and Connectivity

In the age of connectivity, the rules of etiquette have either gotten more complicated or have been thrown out all together. In social situations these days, you are often deluged with phone calls, texts, emails, updates from Twitter, Facebook, or other various other social media feeds. It may seem like common sense to turn off your cell phone or perhaps silence it in social settings, but some people don’t realize that they aren’t giving you their full attention when they say the alert from their phone will “only take a second.” Below are a few examples of connectivity faux pas and tips to avoid making them.

Phones at the Dinner Table – You would not talk over someone midsentence in a conversation. The same manners apply for texting or answering your phone at the dinner table. It interrupts the flow of dialogue and can make your company feel like you aren’t listening to them.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Excuse yourself from the table if you need to take an urgent call.
  • If you know you will be distracted and curious if your phone alerts you of a text, take a preventive step and turn it off.
  • For dinners lasting longer than an hour, you could suggest the table take a “cell phone break” for those who need or want to check their emails or messages.

Loud Phone Calls in Public Places – Talking on the phone in public forces those around to become a part your conversation. We have all been the victim of this and many of us have committed this faux pas.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Silence your phone and do not answer it
  • If you need to answer the call, step away to a secluded area to take it and tell the caller that their call is important and you will call them back in x amount of minutes.
  • If you must take the phone call and you are waiting in line, ask the person behind you to hold your spot and quickly go take your call.

Becoming Overly Dependent on Digital Communication – By making email the easiest way to reach you, you run the risk of disconnecting from the world around you. In face-to-face social situations, your email may become a distraction, as you will feel the need to check it regularly.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Make the most of face-to-face communications.
  • Make your phone to be the best way to get a hold of you over email or texting.
  • Resist the urge to respond to email immediately, wait to check it after you leave your social engagement.

It’s up to us to be aware and realize when we are invading other‘s space or ignoring our companions because we are too connected. Hopefully following some of these etiquette rules will help us take advantage of face-to-face communications that are happening less often in this age of connectivity. Can you think of other social faux pas that occur due to digital communication? If so, let us know!

How to network

Networking is simply having a professional conversation. Even though we live in an age where the majority of our social interactions can be automated, the number one way professionals connect is through old school networking. If you’re involved in business at any level, it’s important to have effective networking skills. Here are some tips to help improve your networking skills, and remember these skills can be applied to any conversation, no matter the level of professionalism.

 

You’re There to Give, not Get

 

It’s easy to ramble on to whomever it is you are speaking with and deny them the opportunity to speak. Make sure and give your conversation partner an ample amount of opportunities to speak their mind and contribute to the conversation. Remember, you’re there to give constructive comments, not get a stage upon which to perform a monologue. Letting the other person have plenty of time to speak makes them feel like a part of a conversation and therefore important.

 

Don’t Appear Desperate

 

Appearing needy in business, much like in dating, is usually a turn off. Acting desperate is a sign of low self-assurance, which does not communicate ability. When networking, remind yourself of the positive things you are bringing to the table. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities and it will show in your conversation. Don’t forget, if you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it may best to change the subject.

 

Ask Open-Ended Questions

 

Make sure and give the conversation a place to grow. Don’t smother it by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Give the person with whom you are speaking room to elaborate on their ideas. Most “yes” or “no” questions can be reworded to make them more open-ended and allow for greater elaboration. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask, “What are your favorite movies?” On the off chance that whomever you are speaking with doesn’t like movies, that information will most likely be included in their response as well as the opportunity for elaboration.

 

Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.