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The Red Apple iPhone 7 And Other Updates

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Within the past few days, Apple has announced a bunch of updates and products. Some of the updates are minor but others are pretty major and looks to potentially shake up social media stalwarts Snapchat and Instagram. Let’s get started:

Product (RED) iPhone 7/7 Plus

red iphone

Apple has released a new red color variant of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The update continues Apple’s tradition of offering red versions of their products to support Product (RED), a global initiative to fund AIDS research. Part of every Product (RED) sale goes to fund the initiative. Previously, Apple made red versions of their phone cases but this is the first time that the actual product itself is red. Per Apple CEO Tim Cook, “Since we began working with (RED) 10 years ago, our customers have made a significant impact in fighting the spread of AIDS through the purchase of our products, from the original iPod nano (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition all the way to today’s lineup of Beats products and accessories for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.” The red iPhone 7/7 Plus was available on March 24th starting at $749 for the 128GB model.

Clips

iphone clips

Do you enjoy sharing videos and photos on social media? Do you spend half of your day on Instagram and/or Snapchat? If you answered yes to any of those then Apple has something for you. The company also released a new app called Clips, which allows you to create short videos with text, pictures, emoji, and music. It’s Apple’s attempt to make it easier to create video clips that can be shared on various social media outlets. The concept is quite simple. You press a button to start recording and then release your finger to stop recording. You can do this several times to make various video snippets. Those snippets can then be edited together with music, pictures, shapes, emoji, and more. The most intriguing feature of Clips is called Live Titles. According to Ars Technica, “You can record what you want to say, and Live Titles will translate it into text that appears over the video. It’s almost like an easier way to close-caption a video, and it’s certainly a quicker way to add a lot of text over a video clip than typing it out yourself.” Clips will be available to download in April and will work on all iPhones from the iPhone 5s on up, the iPad Air/Pro, iPad mini 2 and later, and iPod Touch 6th generation. It requires iOS 10.3 to run which leads me into the next new announcement…..

iOS 10.3

….a new iOS update! This is likely the last major update for iOS 10 but includes a few new interesting features. The update is available now for any device that can run iOS 10. One of the more noticeable changes is surprisingly in the Settings app. To start, the iCloud settings are now at the very top. Tap that and you’ll get a list of every single device that you’ve signed in using your Apple ID. This allows easier access to device specific information such as serial numbers, IMEI numbers, and device backup status. There’s also a “Password & Security” that allows users to easily change their iCloud password and set up two factor authentication (which I highly recommend using). The other major feature is the new Apple File System (AFPS) which is more under the hood but still very important. Previous iOS and macOS versions used the HFS+ file system which wasn’t made specifically for mobile devices with flash storage. Most people won’t see that much day to day changes while using their iDevice but the new file system seems to calculate disk space differently which can result in users having slightly more space to use.

There are other minor changes in iOS 10.3 such as Find My AirPods, additional Siri support for payment apps and support for automobile apps such as checking fuel level, turning on lights, and locks. There is support searching for your parked car in Maps. There are also improvements for VoiceOver, Maps, and Location and Privacy.

New Apple Watch bands and new iPad (kinda)

apple watch

For the Apple Watch owners, Apple announced new watch bands which include:

  • Striped Woven Nylon in Berry, Tahoe Blue, Orange, Red, Pollen, and Midnight Blue colors
  • Sport Bands in Pebble, Azure, and Camellia colors
  • Hermes bands in Blue Zephyr Epsom leather, Fauve Barenia leather, Lime Epsom, and Colvert Swift leather.
  • Nike Sport bands in Anthracite/Black, Pure Platinum/White, and Black/Volt

There was also a very mild iPad update. Apple has dropped the iPad Air line and just renamed simply “iPad”. It includes the Apple A9 chip (not A9X) and starts around $329, which is $70 less than the previous starting price. According to Ars Technica, the LCD is no longer laminated and also lacks the anti-glare coating that the Air 1, Mini 4, and iPad Pros have. Outside of that, the primary specs seem to be the same as the iPad Air 2.

Technology

How To Choose The Right VR Headset

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vr headset

If you’re a techie, you’ve probably heard of virtual reality (VR). This technology has been popping up during the last few years and is becoming mainstream. According to technology experts, VR headset use will reach up to 500 million units by 2025. Not only is it being used for recreation so that users can virtually jump into the best experiences without leaving their homes, it also has widespread application in the fields of education, business, health care and other industries. People are naturally curious about this nascent technology and are looking for VR headsets to get their feet wet. Here are some factors to consider if you’re choosing a new VR headset.

Price

VR headsets have a wide range of prices ranging from cheap to very expensive. If you just want to test the waters, try to look for something more affordable. There are many headsets around the $40 mark that won’t break the bank. According to some online reviews, the View-Master Deluxe VR Viewer provides decent entertainment for anybody in the family at a reasonable price.

Customizable Features

A good VR headset needs to be customizable to make your viewing experience a good one. Many people are flocking to buy the Google Cardboard but it is very basic and limited in what it can do. to enhance and make a user’s viewing experience great so that they will want to use the VR headset again, it needs to options like smartphone adaptors so that you can use it in conjunction with your phone, focus wheel and decent ergonomics so that it is comfortable. Aside from this, look for VR headsets that have more sophisticated built-in controls like tracking sensors, controllers or their own screens. These features will help you achieve the best viewing experience and the needs of other people when you let them borrow it.

Content

The whole point of buying a VR headset is so that you can immerse yourself in new experiences. A good VR headset has a good breadth of content so that users can enjoy them to the fullest. Try to find headsets that have affordable experiences like going on adventures with Batman in Gotham City or roaming the earth with Jurassic era dinosaurs. How about swimming the deep blue sea with dolphins?

Before buying, check out the manufacturer’s available content to see its breadth. Aside from this, content also needs to be affordable. Remember, there are VR headsets that are expensive so if you want to get your money’s worth, there has to be limitless content available for your enjoyment.

Design

A VR headset also needs to have good design. It has to be ergonomic so that it sits comfortably on your face. There are headsets that are so comfortable you forget that you’re wearing them. There are many headsets in the market. The Google Cardboard for example is very affordable and easy to use. You just snap them to your smartphone like a scuba mask and you’re ready to go. While the experience is somewhat fun, the cardboard can be uncomfortable on the face and the surface tends to feel scratchy. Find something more comfortable if you have the budget.

Compatibility

VR headsets are still an evolving technology. While there is great promise in the market and the public is eager to try out this new piece of technology, there is still a big room to grow. This is why users should buy a VR headset that has good compatibility. There are headsets that can only be used with Android or iOs platform. There are others that have their own screens and cannot b upgraded. When it comes to this kind of technology it is better to find something that is flexible so that you can upgrade your phone or software without having to upgrade your VR headset.

Virtual Reality has been called as the “next big thing”. According to some experts, this technology will soon take over our lives and using it will become normal in the near future. For now, VR headsets make a cool birthday gift or a treat to yourself for a job well done. Whichever headset you choose, find something that is within your budget with good content and flexibility.

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Influencers

Irie to Aurora: Van Life with Two Roaming Nomads

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I met Noami and Dustin one hot New Orleans day while moving a piano from one house to another.  Dustin was a project manager for a construction company and Noami was an environmental scientist studying the coastal systems in Louisiana.  They seemed like your average couple, but what I discovered throughout our friendship was that they were anything but average.  Like myself, they also suffered from a particularly strong and itching wanderlust.  For this, they found and created a pretty fascinating solution: why not get a van, hit the road, work remotely, and explore?

Thus was born their adventure, which they interestingly named “Irie to Aurora“.  Their time on the road is now nearing its first year of completion.  Along the way, they’ve amassed over 8,400 followers on Instagram.  Here’s a sneak peak into their #vanlife journey.

Who’s idea was this?  How did you come up with it?

I think the idea to buy a van and live on the road was both ours. When Dustin and I met it was one of the first things we talked about, and throughout our relationship, we fantasized about the idea until we finally took the leap. Best idea ever.

We both love to travel. We’ve taken road trips together as often as we could since before we were even dating. As our relationship grew, these trips became more frequent and for extended periods. We also followed other people on social media who were doing the same thing, living on the road. This inspired us to do what we had always dreamt of and talked about.

How long has this journey been and how long do you plan to continue?

It has been eleven months on the road and we would like to sustain this lifestyle for as long as we can. 

How did you come up with the name “Irie to Aurora”?

Noami is from Trinidad, and the word Irie is slang meaning “powerful and pleasing; a state of feeling great.” Initially, when we planned the trip, our destination was Alaska to see the aurora borealis, hence Irie to Aurora. 

What has been your greatest challenge to date?

Dustin works remotely so this requires us to stay on the grid most of the time and often hunt for wifi. His schedule is fluid, so finding a routine has been challenging.

What do you guys do for work while on the road?

Dustin currently works remotely as a construction estimator.  On the road Noami works odd jobs and freelance gigs online.

What have you been the most homesick for?

Overall, I don’t think we’ve been particularly homesick. There have been moments where we reminisce about New Orleans and miss the little things, like the food, and the music, and the people.

In what ways has this trip changed you individually and as a couple?

Living on the road and sharing 80 square feet has come with its fair share of challenges. But I think it has brought us closer together. We’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses in ways we never thought we could. Living in such close quarters 24/7 has forced us to be more mindful of our attitudes and how we impact each other’s “space” because tempers do flare. We’re more compassionate with each other and with ourselves. We have created a space where simplicity can flourish, a lifestyle we have both come to value. Learning to let go and let be, keeping an open heart and mind is the everyday lesson and this attitude has led to so many new friendships and experiences. Overall, life on the road has been deeply transformative, it has brought us closer to ourselves and to each other. Dustin and I are better people because of this decision and we are so grateful for each other and our life together. 

Plans for another road trip in the future?

I think the journey we’re on is perpetual. There will be a few pit stops along the way but that’s all part of it. However, we do have plans for Canada and maybe Central and South America, after Alaska of course.

What was your favorite place along the way?

Hmm… Choosing a favorite place is tough because each place is so unique with its own beauty, but we love Baja, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon. 

Van life might not be for everyone, but their journey is enough to make you want to buy a one way ticket to a random spot on the globe.  In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to be fluid with your roots was once an impossibility that the internet is now making possible.  Perhaps this is a leap we should all consider, at least once in our lives.  Just like Tolkien said, not all those who wander are lost.

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Growth Hacking

10 Tools To Help Create Better Content

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create better content

Producing good quality content is a challenge for many bloggers and content marketers. Blogs that have good content have better following which can help boost credibility and sales. Coming up with a good topic to write about on a regular basis can be difficult because you need to keep readers engaged and in order to create a high volume of quality content, you need the right tools to make you efficient. Here are some tools you can use to create better content for your newsletters and blogs.

1. Headline Tools

Yes, it’s only a few words but it can make readers read the whole article or close the tab. Writing the correct headline means getting better traffic compared to the wrong one. Some of the best and easy to use online tools include Title-Generator.com, CoSchedule.com a headline analyzer and Portent.com’s title maker.

2. Topic Generator

Coming up with ideas for engaging high quality content can also be hard. Luckily, tools like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator is free and easy to use. You can also Portent.com. It does not only give title suggestions but content strategy too. ContentIdeaGenerator.com helps you come up with ideas for blogs, articles, Tweets, press releases and many more.

3. Evernote

Evernote is not just for note-taking. You can also utilize it to make better content by using it to save posts and pages that have great research or ideas for posts you can refer to later. This is better than bookmarking because you can add your personal notes like “idea for next blog” or “great statistic for reference”.

4. Google Docs Research Tool

Fans of Google Docs already know this. Activate the research panel by going to Tools > Research or pressing  Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I.  A research panel will pop out and you use this to research Google for any resource. It can also be used to insert links to your post.

5. Infographics

Infographics are useful in a blog because they convey complex data in visual form that is easy to understand to help you create better content. You can create and insert infographics to your blogs and articles by using Piktochart or infogr.am

6. Interactive Content

If you want to increase readership, try putting in some interactive content to your blog. Interactive content are essentially clickable images. For instance, you can have different images when readers hover their mouse on a certain part of the image. You can try Thinglink for this to help create better content.

7. Memes

If you’ve been using the internet during the last few years, you’re probably familiar with the meme. Generally, it is a picture with big text that represents internet culture. Memes are popping up in blog posts lately because they are easy to make, very visual and casual. Plus, they are amusing and funny. Make a meme by clicking Memegenerator.net.

8. Slideshows

Many people get intimidated when they click on a blog and see how long it is. While it is important to give readers important information that they can use, you also have to create better content and make it engaging so that you won’t bore readers out of their minds. One way to do this is by presenting important points by using a slideshow. But don’t worry because there are tools like Haiku Deck that will help you crate slideshows like a pro.

9. Scrivener

Blogs are usually short and sweet. However, there are times when you need to impart more so your content is longer than usual. For this kind of task you need Scrivener to compose and structure long documents. This tool is usually used by novelists and writers but bloggers can also use it to structure ideas, take notes, view your research as you write and compose constituent pieces of your text. In other words, it is an all around tool that consolidates separate tools in one application.

10. Word2CleanHTML

Most bloggers and writers use Google Docs or MS Word to compose their work. The problem happens when you paste content to WordPress and hell breaks loose. Suddenly there is too much spacing or the link is not working or the bullet points are not aligned. In some cases it can take time to sort through the chaos of your (mutilated) work. Word2CleanHTML converts your MS Word or Google Doc into HTML. Just paste your content, click “generate” and you can now paste clean HTML code directly to your WordPress for better and cleaner results.

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