Yesterday’s future technology is today’s reality…

technology_landingPresented by Brandon – Pellissippi State Technology Specialist and Course Instructor.

Brandon shared a ton of information with our class on Thursday, April 18, about some of the latest technology trends; gave us previews of several amazing free or low-cost apps that are available now; and shared relative details about the latest mobile devices and their computing capabilities.


Some of these “trends” encompass various devices, but it will give you an idea as to the direction we are headed.

  • Everything to depend on “mobile”
  • Adaptable tools and content are needed to support an innovative user interface as desktops and mobile devices merge
  • Touchscreen
  • Voice recognition and natural language processing

Trend-setting devices and apps

  • Siri voice recognition and natural language processing app for the iPhone
  • Google Now app for the Android
  • Google Glass – wearable computing that responds to vision and voice – truly amazing technology
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone (more on Smartphones down the page)
  • Leap Motion – device that turns any monitor into a touchscreen; about the size of a pack of gum
  • MYO – Arm band that uses hand gestures to control multiple devices; works with Bluetooth
  • Daedalus note-taking app that doesn’t require saving and auto-uploads to the cloud
  • Solar weather app
  • Clear “to-do list” app, utilizing multi-touch
  • MyScript calculator math app
  • Word Lens – Converts/translates languages from short, printed texts
  • Interactive books and digital textbooks
  • Dimensions – a FREE alternate reality game that uses a microphone and headphones to create an alternate reality from background noise

Smartphones are fast becoming the new PC

Computers will likely always be around in the workplace, or for the person that requires absolute precision that a Smartphone can never offer, but the term PC (personal computer) no longer defines computers in general. A PC, or personal computer, refers more to our mobile devices and Smartphones in 2013, according to Brandon.

Brandon got the class to thinking about “what defines mobile?” Virtually anything can be mobile – our laptop, iPad, and phones; but it’s the multi-touch, always-on, always-connected device, not the screen size, that we view as “mobile.”

We all agreed it is not likely that we would ever lend our Smartphone to a friend or family member, simply because it contains such personal information, and we depend on them too much for communication, scheduling, directions, etc. Interestingly, most of us were more comfortable lending our automobiles for use than we were our phones.

Brandon shared some other interesting stats regarding Smartphones:

  • In 2010, Smartphone sales rose more than desktops, laptops, and notebooks combined.
  • 40% of American teenagers own an iPhone; 33% own an iPad.
  • By 2015, more Americans will access the Internet on their Smartphones than from desktop computers.

Mobile Computing…

Brandon teaches a course at Pellissippi on Mobile Web Design, and he shared some of his expertise on the subject with us. Brandon explained that soon web pages on Smartphones will be able to auto-detect our surroundings, just as some apps currently do. He explained the importance of flexible content and responsive web design, because the designer no longer knows what type of device will be viewing or listening to the page. Content is now created through a Content Management System with a variety of file formats available so that each type of service knows what to use; the file supports multiple devices and utilizes CSS media queries.

How do you fit into this new technology world? Do you see yourself trying out Google Glass, MYO, or upgrading to a Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone? According to, these gadgets are expected to see widespread use within the next year. Are you among that group ready to make the leap?

Google Reader alternatives

Although Google Reader will no longer be available after June 2013, dedicated users that currently use IOS or Android tablets/phones, or Firefox, Safari, or Google Chrome web browsers can make a seamless transition to feedly using their existing Google username and password.

Feedly’s Knowledge Base seems to be a comprehensive guide for people to learn how to use their interface, as well as transition from Google Reader to feedly with very little effort. I recommend checking out feedly if you’re a fan of Google Reader.

I was given permission to write this blog-post in lieu of choosing an alternative to Google Reader for RSS feed subscriptions. Of all the alternatives, feedly was by far the best, in my opinion; however, it does not support Internet Explorer, the only web browser I will use. I have an older iPhone, but it’s not designed to run new apps efficiently, if at all. The research for a replacement made me realize that I never have or will use this type of service, especially now that I’m using Windows 8 and can configure the “Live Tiles” with whatever content I want to stay updated on. If there’s something special I want information about, I am perfectly content using Google search to find it.

I created an account at NetVibes and tried to get it working, but somewhere I specified “technology,” and the only feeds I was getting were categorized as “technology.” After spending an hour trying to correct it, I reaffirmed this type of service will not benefit me with the current needs that I have. There may come a time when this is a service that does offer me benefits, but currently it does not.

Because Windows 8 still has many bugs to be resolved, and it’s obvious that Microsoft put much more effort into the “app” side of this OS, I have refrained from installing X86-based applications as much as possible. Even Microsoft Office 2010 does not run well on Windows 8, so using a web browser other than IE isn’t a good idea at this stage. There are plans in my near feature to purchase an iPad, upgrade my iPhone, and invest in other forms of technology that would better support RSS, such as feedly; however, at this time, I don’t intend to pursue the service.

Windows 8 brings about change…

Windows 8 is definitely different; only I haven’t decided for sure if society’s ready for this.

With its new UI and touchscreen capability, charms, metro-style apps, hot corners, tiles and live tiles, and File Explorer, it’s sure to create challenges for the Windows users of the past decade. I would compare Windows 8 more to my smart phone than to Windows 7, and many of the touchscreen features mimic what we are accustomed to on our Android, iPhone, and tablets. In my opinion, this new OS is half computer and half tablet.

On the positive side, those of us that are accustomed to using Microsoft Office software will be able to quickly adjust to the all the new contextual tabs that appear within File Explorer (formerly known as Windows Explorer). I think all of the customizable features are great, but they will take a while to learn.

The key differences between Windows 7 and Windows 8 include:

  1. New User Interface and touchscreen capability
  2. New Start Screen
  3. Charms, Apps, Tiles, etc.
  4. Search and Social features
  5. The Windows Store
  6. Cloud Integration

Further research also suggests that security has been greatly improved with Windows 8, especially when third-party software is also added.

Mary N. presents “Social Media” to Pellissippi’s Emerging Trends in Technology class

My classmates and I had the privilege of listening to Ms. Mary N. speak on the subject of Social Media during our Emerging Trends in Technology class on Thursday, April 4, 2013.

Ms. Mary N. first shared her knowledge on the Web app, Google Hangout. This video chat app was formerly known as Google video chat and compares to Skype. On the up side, Google Hangout allows up to nine users to participate free of charge, offers an “on air” option that streams live to YouTube, and other options that include restricting minors to join; the down-side is lower quality compared to Skype and a limitation of being logged into one “hangout” at a time.

Google Hangout also offers a toolbox that provides several apps and/or extensions to improve your hangout experience, the lowered third option, Google effects, plus Holiday Hangout for other special effects. Ms. Mary N. also mentioned Google Voice and as options for free communications over the Internet.

A classmate asked Ms. Mary N. about “return on investment” for Social Media, and she offered several options for tracking ROI –,, and Ripples on Google Plus. She recommended generating demand through social channels, improving placement in SERB (search engine ranking by) by moving towards using signals and authority ranking, for this impacts local searches by the user. Ms. Mary N. suggested to focus on the free for the best ROI by utilizing tools such as Trip Advisor, Facebook, Google-Plus, Yelp, and Foursquare.

Ms. Mary N. shared some facts about each of these free tools. She stated that “Trip Advisor is the largest social hotel travel site,” providing free registration and tools for marketing a property, and they offer paid business listing platforms. She stated that 11 or more reviews were needed for increased engagement, and up to 30 photos and one video are allowed.

Facebook now offers paid posts, which has created a 200% engagement increase. Users can do a graph search, nearby (mobile) searches, which offers targeted marketing, and the option to turn on recommendations. Facebook now has threaded replies, which has both positive and negative points. Lastly, Ms. Mary N. mentioned visiting a Website called Wolfram Alpha to view all types of data about your engagement on Facebook.

Google Plus Local replaces Google Places and appears on the Google Plus user’s local tab. This feature offers reviews and ratings within searches at Google. Ms. Mary N. suggested Google Plus for business because they offer a free web page, as well as communities.

Yelp drives business to your web site with an online review channel, and offers free business accounts with a broader range of services than Trip Advisor.

Foursquare is a web-based/smartphone app that encourages users to “check-in” at businesses to earn rewards, add friends, and leave tips. This is free for small businesses and uses “gamification” concepts, such as badgets, rewards/mayorship, and social interaction.

One final bit of information that Ms. Mary N. provided to us – when businesses respond to a negative review, it can ultimately create a positive review if handled properly and promptly, avoiding humor and sarcasm. Her presentation was very informative and offered useful tips for both individuals and small businesses.

The Internet’s Effect on our Brain

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, discusses his opinion about (primarily) the negative effects that technology appears to be having on mankind in this YouTube video.

I feel that Mr. Carr uses extreme situations to make his points, and the information he is giving is much more opinionated than it is factual – even when he refers to specific studies. At one point during the video he states, “We like to be interrupted,” which I couldn’t disagree with more.

According to this video, Mr. Carr’s book focuses on how technology, namely the Internet, creates distractions and interruptions, which forces us to multi-task. He claims that this results in the inability to form deep thoughts and move information from our short-term memory into our long-term memory. He then goes on to say, “When information gets into long-term memory is when we create that rich set of connections with other information or experiences we’ve had that gives our thinking richness and distinctiveness.” Mr. Carr believes that the Internet is preventing this process from happening.

I agree with his opinion that our lives are changing because of technology, and also that a lack of attention can prevent rich and distinctive thinking; just not necessarily that this is caused by the Internet. I agree that there are cognitive benefits from Internet use (one of the few positive comments Carr made), and that more studies need to be done to determine how to best apply technology to our schools. I disagree with his opinion of how the Internet effects people (me), and I feel that he made conscious choices that resulted in his extreme opinions of how the Internet affects our brains. I have no problem “unplugging,” nor do I feel there is a connection between my attention span and the Internet. I have not noticed any difference in my reading style, but I prefer not to read from a screen, and I seldom read fiction.

Foursquare…What’s it all about?

Unlike many other social networking sites, Foursquare is designed to only share which exact business you are at through a “checkin in” procedure, and there doesn’t appear to be anything like it out there (exactly).

The four reasons Foursquare continues to “rock” include:
1. It adds a physical presence tone to your online presence.
2. It allows businesses to get direct feedback as to which online people are coming into the offline stores.
3. It adds to your online personality.
4. It allows you to connect with offline places in an online manner.

There are negative aspects of Foursquare as well. Please read the entire article at

Facebook Marketing

Marketing on Facebook…Who are the frontrunners?

 Through internet website research, I came up with the top 10 companies that profit from Facebook marketing. The list goes like this: Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Disney, Victoria’s Secret, iTunes, Vitaminwater, YouTube, Chick-fil-A, Red Bull, and T.G.I. Friday’s. In order to make this list companies had to have a minimum of 200,000 Facebook friends or fans. The assessment also evaluated the number of employees dedicated to social networking, how the brand was presented on Facebook, and how much money it spends on Facebook, along with many other factors such as creativity and effectiveness.

Beginning Monday, November 19, Coca-Cola intends to launch its “most ambitious project they have ever undertaken,” by creating an online magazine called “Coca-Cola Journey.” This undertaking is Coca-Cola’s boldest move in a number of years to jump on the social networking bandwagon with anticipations of creating a lot of buzz for the company.

As Starbucks is listed second in the “top ten,” disturbing news was discovered about this retailer at the time this blog was written. Multiple news sources claim Starbucks owes them substancial amounts of money, as well as other negative information about the company.

I decided to take the remainder of my research directly from facebook, logged in as myself, to see who was doing what.

What immediately caught my eye was “Shoes to Die For – 90% off – at”; cafeteria plan for Lasik eye surgery (the cafeteria plan is a medical insurance program offered by health insurance carriers, regulated by the ferderal government); and RAZR M from Verizon Wireless. Although none of these three were mentioned in the article naming the top ten, these are companies I would likely be willing to “like.”

 In closing, I would personally be willing to “Like” Disney, Victoria’s Secret, and iTunes and possibly consider doing business with them through this form of media, in addition to the ones mentioned through navigating “Facebook” directly.

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