Tech Savvy: Happy Techs-giving!
By Jessi Pierce
With the countdown to America’s favorite feast mere days away, we thought it’d be best to get into the Thanksgiving spirit.
A holiday based on good food, good family and friends — most importantly it’s a holiday that reminds us to be thankful for both those things and the things that surround us on a day to day basis. Now of course this wouldn’t be a Tech Savvy column if we didn’t bring in our favorite topic — one that Phil and I can be thankful for as it provides us with this column and a job. So in the spirit of the holiday, here are the technologies I am thankful to have in my life today:
1. Social media — In case you hadn’t noticed in past columns and articles, I am a strong advocate for social media, especially as a journalist in the communication world. Social media has opened the doors to so many things, it’s nothing short of amazing. For people and businesses social media is a new age way to market, brand and simply to open the doors of communication in a way that was never before possible. It’s become second nature to many — I had a PR class in college where we were required to have a Twitter account to receive our homework, which I look back and am now grateful for learning it all when I did. But as the platforms continue to change and new things become available, there is never a dull moment in the social media realm. I use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube almost as part of my daily routine and wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Cellphones (especially smartphones) — I was in seventh grade when I got one of my most prized possessions that first turned me into a tech junkie — my dad’s old brick of a cellphone. No texting, no games and I am pretty sure there were no “cool” ringtones but it was used for exactly the intended purpose of cellphones — to make phone calls. As I grew up, so did my phone and little by little it became more advanced, like my knowledge of it. Now my phone, like so many out there, can do it all and truthfully I fear I would be somewhat lost without it. The ability to not only call but to text, play games, mark my calendar, update my Facebook or Twitter account and check my email while waiting in line at Target is truly wonderful. (Side note: sure my cellphone is usually within arms length of me, but a word of the wise for the holidays: put the phone down and enjoy the original form of communication with your family and [gasp] talk).
3. MP3s — There is nothing like a great song to turn your mood or day around and with the advancement of music into a digital format, a song is always within reach. I cherished when I got my first iPod and quickly filled up the space with music for any mood. Now transferred onto my phone, any free time I can get I have my head phones in or car stereo blasting with the music that I want to be played at that exact moment. Online digital radios like iHeartRadio, Pandora and GrooveShark have also allowed you to be more selective in what songs are emitted into your ears, while also hearing something new. No doubt about it, digital music is one of my favorite technology advancements — even if I do still have a case full of CDs at my parents house that I bust into from time to time.
4. Video — I’ll be the first to admit that there are days as a writer that putting the story together just isn’t working. Sitting there, staring at the blinking line while typing and deleting, trying to work through the writers block. For me, that standstill just doesn’t seem to happen in video editing. There is some amazing ways to tell a story with video and in today’s world and more often than not, it’s a method most people prefer. Our society is very visual. And more than just telling a story in a well-edited form, today’s video capabilities can turn anyone into a director of footage. Whether it be a flip-cam, digital camera or simply your smartphone, anyone can take video and upload it to share with the world. Think of the recent Hurricane Sandy and all of the footage compiled from people actually there and living it. It can be moving stuff.
In addition video allows people who are thousands of miles away to still see each other through applications like Skype and Gchat. Pretty great, especially around the holidays if you have loved ones who can’t make it back home.
5. Texting — There isn’t much explanation as to why I adore it, I just do. It allows me the ability to talk to multiple people and at my discretion. I use it so often, I had to include it on this list.
6. Email — You know that excitement that comes when you receive a package from the UPS man? That’s the way I feel when the little digital letter pops up in my email accounts to let me know that I have a new message; Well most of the time anyway. As anyone in the workforce knows, email is an integral part of our jobs on a day to day basis. Sure not every span message or email newsletter is important, but email is a great resource (and one of the older ones in our tech world) that would surely be missed if it disappeared from our offices tomorrow.
Thanksgiving shout out on all different types of tech I am thankful for
By Phil Seibel
As the years go by, I think everyone is finding that they are increasingly relying on technology more and more. I think I’ll print this list up at my desk and use it as a time capsule piece and in six months see how it compares.
So without further ado, here is my Techs-giving list:
1. Google — I love Google. Conspiring minds worry that the tech mega-giant will eventually run everything we do, but I’m strangely OK with that — to a certain extent. In addition to setting the standards in search, data aggregation and mapping, they have also been proactive in letting regular users dabble in their projects. Their side projects come and go but I love that I can use those little add-ons to get my geek on and have some fun.
2. Google Calendars — I know, I already said Google, but Google Calendars gets its own thanks because without their awesome calendars, I wouldn’t know if I were coming or going — literally. P.S., my wife thanks you, too, for helping me remember to get the milk.
3. My smartphone — After having a smartphone, I can hardly remember what it was like before I had one. How did I make it through my day without having my email, calendar, contact book and everything else right at my fingertips. Even Angry Birds aside, the simple productivity that my smartphone gives me is now a fully integrated part of my life.
4. Flash drives and The Cloud — I use portable and mobile storage on a daily basis. I think I mentioned before that even these Tech Savvy articles are all stored in the cloud so I can work on them remotely. Setting up networks and NAS drives are great, but sometimes the simplicity of a flash drive is just the right solution.
5. MP3s — Digital music in general is tremendous. I wrote previously about Slacker Radio and I use it — every single day. Without the tech advances, I wouldn’t be able to customize my musical world to the extent that I do now.
6. Computers — Just think for a moment; even if you haven’t come to rely on your mobile device solely, how different would your day be without computers? Not just how you personally use them, but think out in the world, too. Retail shopping, shipping, organization, medical care and a million other things have been drastically affected by technology’s march.
7. Apps — The term, “There’s an app for that” has catapulted our dependency on smartphones and tablets and there is not an end in sight. The implication that apps can create end user solutions for regular issues that they deal with is spot on. Even non-programmers like myself can put together Android, iOS and HTMLS apps with ease now thanks to advances in tech.
To say that technology has influenced our society is a huge understatement and that trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future. Things like Google’s Project Glass, flexible LED screens, NFC and wireless charging are being implemented now and in the near future should come to realize their full potential. Of course, as soon as that technology is perfected, something better will come along. But that’s the fun part of being involved with such a gigantic digital push.
All in all, the impact technology has had is profound and in the future there are wonderful things to come. I am thankful that I live in a time that I can experience this change first hand and I am looking forward to seeing what advances tomorrow brings.
PHIL SEIBEL, Digital Manager, may be reached at 855-5862 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pseibel(@pseibel).
■ Kill the buzzwords: Adobe has released a humorous set of short videos that emphasize the impact buzzwords have had on our marketing recently. More importantly, how mistaking buzzwords for examples of effective marketing can influence us. And they’re pretty funny, too.
■ We’re getting the band back together!: In addition to Google’s improved Hangouts that optimizes the audio and video for live musical performance, they have also been promoting Google Jam. Jam is interactive experience that allows up to four users to jam online using a variety of instruments. Check it out, it’s a lot of fun and who knows, maybe you can put together an office jingle for Christmas.
■ What’s in your smarthphone’s DNA?: In an expected release — thanks rumor mill — HTC and Verizon announced the new HTC DNA, a 1080p display phone that sounds like it’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s a sister product to a phone release in Japan, and the stateside edition is definitely something you’ll want to keep your eye on if you’re looking at an upgrade.
I find this interesting: the comparison of marketing between Apple and other tech giants like Samsung. In all the recent advertising by Apple, they are touting some very specific things. The beautiful bezel on the iPhone5, how the iPad Mini is everything the iPad3 was, just smaller and even how the headphones that are shipping with the iPhones are the “best-thing-ever-that-you-can’t-live-without.” I’m curious, if these are the things that are the force behind people upgrading or purchasing new Apple devices. On the other hand, Samsung is focusing on NFC and ease of sharing. Windows just released an entirely revamped OS and even Blackberry is trying to stay in the game with new releases. Is it possible for Apple to rely solely on their brand following to continue to drive sales without really keeping pace with the other tech makers? I have an iPad; I think it’s great. For a work device, it makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to use, compatible with other programs and because it was designed to be like every other iPad, it’s easy to control. I would not choose an Android tablet to get my workforce mobile, at least not yet. That being said, would I be likely to purchase and iPad if it wasn’t for work? Not likely and I certainly wouldn’t be waiting in line to buy something that is nothing but a glorified, miniature version of it for close to the same price.