Tag Archive: technology


Techsnoop is here to help you in buying, maintaining and upgrading your tech. Small business owners are too busy to spend hours pouring over manuals to get specs. So here is the first in a series of videos quickly explaining essential tech specs.

If you are in the market for a new laptop, you probably want to know the difference between i3, i5 and i7. Depending on the work you will do it can mean the difference in running apps or saving a few dollars. Thanks to Techquickie on YouTube, you can now tell the difference. This is a quick and understandable reference for any level user.

Let us know if this helped you buy a new system.

HP Envy Review DKemp DesignsTech Upgrade

Hello fellow geeks, technophiles and those who need translation of geek-speak. Wondering what Techsnoop has been up to? Wonder no more! Techsnoop has been busy learning many new software tricks. This put a massive strain on Techsnoop’s trusty Toshiba laptop which has served faithfully for many years as a design ninja.

Shopping for new tech is one of Techsnoop’s favorite activities, but not when there is a ticking clock. The stress of getting the best value in a crunch situation is not fun. But the Geek Gods were with Techsnoop, and a great deal appeared on an unlikely contender: the HP Envy x360. A convertible laptop was not even on the list of shopping items in this replacement foray. But the specs on this model were irresistible.

The Look

HP Envy CaseA sleek aluminum body with subtle curves, makes this a beautiful laptop even when closed. Under the hood, 12GB of ram, 6GB of video ram and a 1TB hard drive offer speedy response and lots of room for large design files. Altogether this created the need for a closer look. This is a Windows 10, 64 bit system with a 6th generation i7 processor and the price was so great, Techsnoop can’t even print it. Let’s just say many laptops with lesser specs were much more expensive.

 

Spectacular Specs

The official roundup:

Design – slim, lightweight aluminum body makes this beautiful to look at, hold and show off.
Weight – about 5 lbs, average and not too taxing to carry around. The trade-off is no optical (DVD) drive, but not a deal breaker.
Screen – bright, crisp, saturated colors. Not retina, but very close.
Touch – the touch screen has great sensitivity and seems calibrated correctly, with 95% or better accuracy.
Windows 10 – much better than Windows 8, Windows 10 allows you to configure and work the way you want with minimal distractions from the UI. Kudos.
Battery – five to six hours of use on a charge, Techsnoop gets between 4 and 5 hours with heavy applications and video playback.
Keyboard – keys are sensitive and responsive. A small dip keeps keys flush with the tray so keys don’t get pushed when in tablet mode. And there is a backlight button so you can keep working in dim lighting.

In fact, Techsnoop was working smoothly during a recent power outage in the Metro area! (But no internet :-()

Fun on the Go

The tent style is fun and efficient for watching video, learning tutorials or following recipes, while the tablet is great for taking notes, sketching or collaborating. No matter which form is used, the HP x360 is a solid computing tool to have. While Techsnoop will be adding more tech to the family, the HP Envy is a welcome and fun addition.

HP Envy Tablet HP Envy Stand

Working Freelance

Well, another year has passed and a lot was accomplished. Contacts made, family nurtured, skills expanded and I’m still standing! How great is that?

So, what next?

Many people use New Year’s Day to re-assess their goals and dreams, but I prefer my birthday. It is a more true measure of where I am in the universe. How have my experiences reshaped my moral compass? Maybe what was important last year is not as important today. After all, we live in changing times. So, forge ahead.

First, Access.

What worked in the past year? I make an informal list of where my biggest gains came from. For me, the biggest gains came when I stayed organized. Making a list and ticking things off is satisfying, but it also leads to rewards. Keeping focused on business expanding activities grows the business and creates income.

Next, be Ruthless.

Yep, there are some things we all do that make for false happiness but are a productivity drain. Sorry Facebook, time spent with you will be cut by 70 percent. Why? Although Facebook is the Monster in the closet we can’t ignore, it doesn’t bring the profits that other social media does. In less time per week, I get more leads and business generated from Twitter and LinkedIn than Facebook. It’s hard because I like being on Facebook, but chop, chop.

Wrap Up.

Decide on three objectives for the coming year and prepare an action plan. I have an ongoing objective to focus on mobile. Training, tutorials and development are all focused on mobile products. Mobile marketing is not going away and small business must adopt.

Also, entertainment is a key component of digital marketing so I am upping my animation skills. My website update will downgrade the giant slider and focus on animation and interactivity. Sliders are still important, but movement and fun are the keys now.

My last objective for the coming year is to improve my health. Smoothies, more homemade food and organically grown food (by me!) are all things I will be ramping up this year. And so far I am on track with my goals.

How about you? What objectives are you focusing on? How is it going? Let me know in the comments.

DKemp Designs Be Mobile

(Originally published on LinkedIn by Dorthea Kemp)

If you are a small business owner, congratulations!

You are part of what keeps America growing in this fast changing economy. You anchor communities, give local teens jobs and provide competition. We all thank you.

The good news is, small = agile and able to respond quickly to market shifts and customer demands. Close relationships with customers translates to stronger referral business. The not so good news is one or two missteps can end your enterprise. So, what can small business owners do to bolster themselves for the long term?

Mobile Investment.

The amount of consumers using mobile to research and compare businesses before ever making a purchase is over 50%. Further;

72% of tablet owners purchase online from their tablets each week*.
95% of smartphone users have searched for local information.**
60% of mobile shoppers use their smartphones while in a store, and another 50%
while on their way to a store.**

Small businesses have to leverage every available tool to compete against the mega-corporations endless marketing machines. Mobile technology is the pebble that levels goliaths.

Mobile access is the single most important step in small business success today.

Having a properly strategized mobile presence allows business owners to collect information, create and execute marketing campaigns and stay in close touch with their customer base. Repeat customers in the local area are small business bread and butter.

A mobile presence allows small business to cultivate the close caring relationships customers like and respond with low inventory and overhead to customer demands. A strong mobile presence includes a responsive site, landing pages, social integration, SEO optimization under the newest rules and listing on the major search engines. This is a strong combination to cultivate your market area.

Mobile Works.

One customer had been in a community for 10 years. Yet when we published their website, walk in traffic increased by 15% in only 60 days. The most frequent comment was “I never knew you were so close, I was driving out to other cities for your service when I could have walked”. So a mobile web presence instantly boosts your market without any other efforts.

But, don’t stop with publishing your site. Just as one customer can find you, allow others to locate you by using current SEO, social media and other low-cost efforts to ensure your site is found in the area you cover.

*http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-2013-mobile-growth-statistics/
**http://www.mobify.com/blog/13-stats-to-convince-your-boss-to-invest-in-mobile-in-2013/

DKemp Designs Perfect

(Originally posted on LinkedIn by Dorthea Kemp)

I recently read Tom Stevens’ post “I Don’t Care Anymore (Do You)?” which got me thinking, what does it mean to truly not care? Do I care? I mean, I don’t think Tom really doesn’t care about anything. But I believe that he, like so many of us is tired. Bone, brain, deep tired.

We are tired of always being on. We think it is a good thing, but it is exhausting. As if we are at a perpetual cocktail party. Dress or suit perfect, hair styled, teeth white with no food stuck between. All day, every day. We’re not just ready for our close-up Mr. DeMille*, we’re ready for our Selfie.

We’re tired of being body slammed with negative information. News is always telling us somebody died horribly, somewhere is at war, some child is missing or our favorite food is killing us. Now, information is important, but I don’t want to see a 12-car pile up while looking at my best friend’s second-cousin’s wedding pictures. The constant slam of horror during everyday activities generates a roller coaster of hormones that leaves us wrung out emotionally.

So, how to keep light spirited and excited with all the attitude and negative information weight? Here is my 5 step plan;

Unplug Regularly

Don’t be available all the time. Turn off your ringer and use your phone to read while blocking calls. Carve out specific times during the week when you just don’t answer your phone. That includes Facebook feeds, Twitter, texts and any other social media.

Soak your feet, take a nap, hem some pants, or make a plan to leave a dead end job. Just do it without the phone ringing or checking your “feeds”. Allow your brain and emotions time to process and absorb information in a peaceful environment.

Turn Off the Noise

Yep, we all do it. The TV is on for noise, not information or entertainment. If you’re not actively watching, turn off the screens. This controls the flow of passive information raising your stress level unconsciously.

Bask in quiet or talk to your family or neighbors. Actual face to face conversations. Pour a tall cold glass of Coke or iced tea and discuss the length of the grass or the meaning of the universe. Enjoy quiet pauses and smile.

Your brain and mood will love the break. Too much news can lead to depression ** and/or dampen empathy responses. If we are always responding to crises, we become immune.

Take a Class

Learn something new or expand your current skills. Learning a new skill or a trick with an existing skill generates excitement and passion. Doing something faster or better than you have before gives you a Superman boost. You have Mastered something. Yeah! Udemy has free classes and YouTube also has lots of great free tutorials. And don’t overlook Pinterest for DIY projects from headbands to making your own furniture.

Using something on a daily basis that you created or improved with your own hands gives you a really happy feeling. I reclaimed a butcher-block topped dining table to use as a desk and it became my favorite place to hang out.

Cook From Scratch

Make one meal per week using no processed foods. If you have a crock pot, it’s not even that hard. You can make everything from homemade bread to pot roast and vegetables in a crock pot. Frankly, after you find out how easy crock pots make meals, you may need more than one.

Chopping and measuring can be a Zen experience. Don’t obsess, throw everything into the chopper (I use a Ninja) and dump. Or, put on your headphones and rock out like a mini spin class without the sweat.

Put in the liquid, turn on the pot and read a good book. Soon the house will draw your family to the table with the smell of fresh cooked food. No yelling needed.

Play With a Toddler

Nothing refreshes your world view like talking to a 3 year old. They have an innate sense of right and wrong and everything is new and fun. Warning: this can lead to hearing the title song from Frozen a couple dozen times. Just go with it. Don’t schedule a play date or any structured activity, grab some bubbles, chalk, crayons or magnets and go (no screens allowed). The toddler will find something to do. Just follow.

I garden and my daughter doesn’t, but on Mother’s day while outside, my granddaughter picked up my spade and started stirring dirt in one of my pots. No prompting, and she was neat with it. We talked and I explained the plants. A good time was had by all.

These activities may not work for everyone, but try one or two during the week and see if your level of excitement or caring about the world increases. Or maybe you’ll invent something or just de-stress. The brain can be refreshed with any good music, learning, and face to face interactions. These processes all increase positive neural actions and hormones.

Tom’s remedy to withdraw physically sounds great and I hope to try it one day myself. Unfortunately it may not work for everyone who needs to rejuvenate, but anyone can do the 5 things listed above. Any combination of them can be used for a mini vacation to revive your brain cells. And that’s where excitement begins.

* Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard
** Bad News Burnout

HTC One Max

Credit: CNET

The One Max is HTC’s answer to phablet lovers in the big screen wars. Like its sibling the HTC One, this is a beautiful phone with metal casing and great speakers. In a wink at Apple, it includes a fingerprint scanner.

Packed with serious specs, this is a solid offering into the giant phone market. But to truly take on this market HTC will have to address weight, processor power and camera quality.

Winning specs are; a 5.9-inch (vs. 5.7 Note 3) 1080p display, metallic body,strong battery life, SD card slot, crisp giant display with true-life colors and the new HTC Sense 5.5 which allows you to turn off Blinkfeed (cheers and whistles).

Losing specs, 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 4 megapixel ‘Ultrapixel’ camera, weight(7.76 ounces).

The fingerprint scanner is located on the back under the camera and can be used to open specific apps in addition to unlocking the phone. This makes it more useful than just a way to unlock the phone. It can instantly give access to the camera, navigation or other functions to save time.

Performance

Credit: CNET

Credit: CNET

The HTC One Max handles 3D games like Asphalt 8 smoothly and with excellent color and clarity. Full on HD streaming also gets the thumbs up.

Only the 1.7GHz processor gives pause. While sufficient for current games and movies, it doesn’t leave much room for upgrades. This is reminicent of the original EVO which was an excellent phone that couldn’t be upgraded to new specs after the first year. This is an area HTC will have to address to stay in the smartphone game.

Battery life is on par with the HTC One, a day or more with normal use or a boost for super users who game and stream heavily. Super streamers and gamers should not be surprised that any phone will need recharging during the day. In fact, all superusers should just keep a charger handy.

 

Pictures

htc one max camera

Credit: CNET

Techsnoop is not a fan of the Ultrapixel technology. Side by side testing usually shows it to be OK, but in real-time use, extra megapixels capture light and movement a bit better. That said, the photos taken with the 4 megapixel, Ultrapixel HTC One Max look decent (see sample right).  HTC, go back to more megapixels, Samsung is killing with 13 megapixels and no small amount of Ultrapixels is going to convince customers.

 

 

Wrap Up

The One Max is a great phone, but unfortunately, it was released after the Samsung Note 3. With a snappier processor and lighter weight, many will opt for the Note 3. A small 1.83 ounce weight difference from the Note 3 doesn’t sound like much, but may be just enough to tip a sale.  With hand-held tech, hand and wrist fatigue are real considerations. HTC must stop responding to other phone makers and go back to innovating.

The One Max should be available at Sprint and Verizon in November. Let us know in the comments which phablet is for you, or do you lean toward smaller screens.

Atlas Robot

(Credit: CNET/DARPA/Boston Dynamics)

For those of you who follow #SmuttyCat, you know his views on robots.  What with Skynet-like tech coming out every day, we need to be prepared to defend humanity.

Now, CNET informs us that Terminator-like robots are a reality, not fiction anymore.  The new Atlas has human based look and abilities, articulated fingers and… opposable thumbs!  Now that’s scary.

Atlas is designed for repair, search and rescue and disaster clean up and recovery operations.  It can lift and carry, climb, use tools and work in areas hazardous to humans.  Atlas can even boogie, but the rhythym needs work.

Review the video and let us know what you think in the comments.  Is Atlas friend, foe or potential exterminator of humanity?

Continuing the current trend of multi-use tech, Samsung has just announced the Ativ Q, a hybrid laptop and tablet that takes multi-tasking to a new level.

The Ativ Q is a 13 inch, Intel powered tablet with a swing out keyboard that doubles as a stand.  It runs Windows 8 (full version, not RT) and Android  Jellybean.  And if that’s not enough for you power users, it can run both OSs side by side.

Whew, that’s a lot of multi-tasking even for Techsnoop.  With 4GB of ram, it should be fairly speedy compared to other tablets.  It also comes with 2 USB ports and a nini-HDMI port for ultimate connecting.

The trade off, (there’s always a trade off in tech) is the thickness (13.9mm vs 8.2mm for the Tab 3) and weight (1.29kg compared to 550g for the Tab 3).  But, if you need something a little more robust than a normal tablet, this may be the Lablet for you.

Take a look at the video and let us know what you think of this fab new machine.

 

Credit: Yahoo! Movies

Credit: Yahoo! Movies

After Earth is the latest movie pair up of Jaden and Will Smith.  Jaden is shaping up to be a true chip off the ol’ block when it comes to acting chops.

But Jaden and Will both have to compete with the effects in this beautifully crafted movie. The creatures, landscape, technology and space scenes all hold their own as supporting acts.  And to complete this digital masterpiece, the website for After Earth is sublime. The scroll changes scenes, backgrounds, pages and creates character moves similar to the Iron Man 3 website. And all without Flash.  Techsnoop predicts that this trend will continue. While Flash will have a place in some games and apps, as a web animation, it is losing steam quickly.

While this level of interactivity could be distracting on most business sites, for the movie industry this is becoming the gold standard. Movie productions are followed closely in social media and websites have to go up far in advance of the actual opening. Adding interactive and animated elements keeps visitors coming back for updates and generates buzz.

It also provides a continuous marketing presence that the public promotes for the studio. A true win for the movie when it is a good one like After Earth.

socialmediaIf you are a small business owner, reaching the maximum audience is critical to success.  Without the budget for splashy TV ads and mass mailings, social media is the great equalizer.  Developing a laser targeted social media strategy is the key to leveraging this powerful tool.

First decide what audience you want to reach, then research the metrics for the various platforms.  Google has a wealth of website tools to track traffic and research SEO.  Create a message that can be communicated quickly and easily but encourages interaction and follow up.  Choose a tool that can manage your messages and your interactions without taking all your time.  After all, you have a business to run.

Equally important to your marketing efforts is your digital footprint.  How easy is it for customers to find your business and are the search results accurate?

  • Track your digital reputation by making frequent internet searches for your business name.
  • Note how many links come up and what rank they are.
  • Make sure all links are yours and are positive.

If your customers can’t find you, you lose sales.    Contact the search engine to remove any that are not you.  Yes, spammers will hi-jack your business name to re-direct traffic to their sites.

One great tool is Brand Yourself a web app that allows you to control what links appear in search listings for your business.  By following a number of steps, Brand Yourself walks you through getting useless links away from your search results.  This allows your positive links to rise higher on search rankings.

With both free and paid versions, this is the must-have app for small business and freelancers.

Next, choose one or more management tools to keep up with your social media news, followers and postings.

communit2Commun.it is a good product if you are unfamiliar with Twitter and trying to get the hang of who to follow, who to engage, who to list.  The dashboard gives views of your followers, engaged Tweeps and groups.  Recommendations are made for follows, unfollows, thank yous and engagement.  There are free and paid versions so you can try it out to see if it meets your needs.

Crowdbooster is a good tool for managing both Twitter and Facebook pages and multiple accounts.  It tracks growth, engagement, allows you to schedule tweets and posts and stats can be exported.  There is a free trial period, but no free version.

Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite tool so we can check it out.