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XBox One X: Is It Worth It?

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XBox

Back in April, Microsoft revealed detailed specs for Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s big upgrade to the Xbox One that promises to deliver true 4K games and compete with Sony’s PS4 Pro. At E3 this week, Microsoft finally revealed Project Scorpio to be the Xbox One X.

Most of the hardware details of the Xbox One X are already known since April: A 31 percent increase of CPU power over the regular Xbox One, the GPU is four times more powerful, a total of 12 GB of RAM (with nine available for use by game developers, and a 4K HDR Blu-ray drive. What wasn’t known back in April was the actual look of the new console and price. The Xbox One X has a similar look as the redesigned Xbox One S console although instead of the white top half, the Xbox One X will come in black. Like the Xbox One S, the One X will also have the same port array with three USB 3.0 ports and HDMI In and Out. Despite the similar look to the Xbox One S, the console is smaller, making it the smallest Xbox console ever while also being the most powerful gaming console ever. Price-wise, the Xbox One X will cost $499.

During Microsoft’s E3 presentation, much ado was made about the Xbox One X 4K capabilities with numerous games shown to output in 4K. Interestingly, only Forza Motorsport 7 ran at 60 frames per second (fps). It looks like Forza may be the exception rather than norm when it comes to outputting native 4K while running at 60fps. Even in the PC gaming world, it would take at least an Nvidia GTX 1080 (which by itself costs as much as Xbox One X). Still, the feat that Microsoft has accomplished here cannot be overstated. The fact that they could not only achieved native 4K on almost all games but do it in a form factor that’s smaller than the Xbox One S is admirable. The console war will continue to heat up once Xbox One X is released on November 7th worldwide.  

Business

Tech Trends Changing The Way We Do Business

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tech trends

Whether you’re an established name in the business world or you’re just making your start, you ignore the march of technology at your own peril. For companies with even the smallest footprints, some of the tech trends emerging today may be life-changing. Here’s a brief tour.

Cleaner Materials, Packaging and Standards

With just a few stubborn exceptions, most folks in America and throughout the world agree: Life on Earth can’t continue if we keep squandering our resources. Developments in more energy-efficient production equipment save us cash money on our utility bills all the time and bring us ever-closer to true energy independence. The materials being pursued are lighter, stronger and cheaper base materials to make products more durable and inexpensive to manufacture. What about some of the other exciting opportunities in new packaging and packing materials? Besides looking potentially awesome, these outside-the-box ideas help us remove lots of the more harmful chemicals and plastics from our supply chains. This action will keep them out of the hands of our clients and customers — and out of the environment for good. Tech trends that include better technologies, plus social pressures, let us design less wasteful and more appealing products and packaging all the time to ultimately help raise our shared definition of excellence.

Crowdsourced Design and Troubleshooting

Maybe it was inevitable, but modern technology has given businesses something they just didn’t have in decades past: the opportunity to get their customers to do some of the work. We’ve all had to become citizen journalists, the needs and wants of our globalized world mean we’ve also had to become hobbyist creators in our own small ways. Plus, it’s just really fun to take part in the creation process! Kickstarter was the first company to take “democratized creation” — to borrow/turn/re-coin a phrase — mainstream, but that kind of crowdsourcing is just the tip of the iceberg. Current tech trends has made product creation a more social process from nearly top to bottom, letting brands from all types and sizes a chance to engage with their intended audience. This allows brands to gather valuable feedback about the development phase of product design. Engaging directly with the most creative minds in your audience also lets you iron out any kinks as they crop up and effectively “rev” a brand-new product for a more confident official rollout.

Direct-to-Consumer Delivery

Nobody likes the middleman. There are growing tech trends of brands working to engage directly with you through smartphone apps and push notifications. It’s also why we’re seeing more subscription-based and home delivery services pop up all the time. It took a tech giant like Amazon to throw down the gauntlet in the home grocery delivery space, and more are continuing to lead the way as consumers demand more convenience from the products they want most. For example, Marketview Liquor will not only help you find the best wine for the season, they’ll also deliver your wine right to your door. The whole point is that customers know how to do research. If you’ve made yourself visible and your presence suggests a superior product without the hassle of brick-and-mortar shopping with the middlemen, and if you provide truly measurable incentives like cheap or free shipping for repeat customers and discounts for recurring deliveries, they’ll probably choose your expert wine curation or your hand-selected ski bindings over those offered online by a more faceless corporate brand every time. For the faceless corporations, all of this works for you, too. A major point here is that each of the tech trends on this list are, in their own way, leveling the playing field. The little guy, more each day, has the means to compete with “known quantities” and familiar retailers.

Hobbyist Home Production

We’ve talked a little bit about how crowdsourced design like Scooterboard can help lead to more thoughtfully designed products in the run-up to a major product hitting the market. Thanks to 3D printing and other technologies, the very act of producing some of those projects is also vastly more open and accessible. Today, you can pick up a 3D printer with limited capabilities for around the $300 markConsider the nearly countless advantages of allowing consumers to print their own “OEM” replacement products — or even modifications to existing products. Then there’s this: What if you don’t need to ship them a product at all? This is one step beyond even direct-to-consumer delivery: It’s a state where consumers could purchase blueprints for general product types, add their own features and embellishments to then build it right in their home using 3D-printed components in a variety of plastics and metals. This is the future. It’s not quite here yet, but it’s coming. If you sell a physical product yourself, how might you take advantage of this situation?

Apps and Subscriptions

Information powers our lives. But information isn’t a physical product. Apps have changed everything about how we consume products and do business. Back when there was a physical counterpart — a CD, DVD or even a thumb drive — to the software we used, you paid once and had access to a “finished” product for a year or so. Some of us even remember waiting in line for Mac OS X Tiger on DVD! Now that “app culture” is here, it means consumers expect a constant drip-feed of new products and user experiences. That means subscriptions. Those colorful little squares on your smartphone are now windows. You can open and look through some of those windows for free, but the view you enjoy takes a lot of hard work to maintain. It’s a rich garden full of features with diligent developers trying to keep features bloat and bugs at bay while refreshing the UI often enough to keep you interested.

App-based subscriptions have had a shaky rollout, with even seasoned fans giving their favorite developers “the business” for pivoting to a subscription model instead of sticking to the pay-once-and-receive-updates-for-life model we’ve all been enjoying until recently. Smartphones are nearly indispensable in our personal and business lives. Now, those of us who use them will need to be more selective about the companies we do business with, and become patrons of the ones who truly excel in their field. For business, it’s a huge challenge as well as an opportunity. Apps like Ulysses and Weather Atlas are now available via subscription, ensuring their talented coders a chance to eat and their users in getting new products as soon as they’re ready. Even websites like Medium and The Atlantic are trying out new membership platforms to monetize information and business in a world where technology has delivered users from advertisements. Publishers still need a revenue stream however.

Your primary product may not be an app at all. App culture is a tech trend that gives you an opportunity to turn your presence on somebody’s Home Screen into a money-making, brand-expanding opportunity. Make yourself indispensable.

Technology, Business and Destiny

To say technology will let us achieve our dreams would be a flowery statement. We’re all still trying to make sense of most of it, but it’s clear that there are exciting tech trends in front of us all — most particularly for excelling in business. For the many reasons touched on above and lots more, it’ll pay off in the end to stay informed about new technologies as they emerge. If you’re not, somebody else definitely will be.

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Business

10 Ways to Maximize On Your Social Media Messaging

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social media messaging

Figuring out what you really want to do with life and share with others is not easy. There are so many options nowadays, and if there isn’t something out there that you want to do, you can create the opportunity. After deciding on your social media messaging strategy, these steps below will help you maximize your reach and spread your message through social skills and social media.

 

Have a clear message

When it comes to your social media messaging strategy, have a clear message that is short, to the point and simple to understand. Someone who is viewing your content for the first time should be able to know what you are providing them in a couple of seconds. Don’t lose a potential client/follower because they did not know what you are marketing.

Hook your audience in three seconds and keep their attention. People scroll through social media feeds very quickly. Your content needs to stop them in their tracks then have them scroll back to see what you posted. It can be an attention grabbing title, a stunning location they would want to visit, an adrenaline pumping video or an abstract photo that gets them confused and wanting to figure out what is going on.

Once you’ve hooked them, they will now want to check out the rest of your content. Stay constant with your message throughout your content. Focus on one message at a time. What is your core value and the first thing you want your audience to know? Once you have grown your first message then you can expand and pick up another message to share.

 

Provide value with your content

Now that you have a clear message with what you are marketing, how will it provide value to your audience? Whether you are selling a product or a service, how does it make your user’s life easier? A value doesn’t have to be something monetary or physical. Provide social media messaging that can inspire your audience. Something to motivate them to get up and do something. Believe it or not, envy is also a good motivation. That’s why social media influencers have the job they do. They market their content in a why that makes you want to be in their shoes.

Everyone who is following you is doing so for the same reason, they like whatever you are offering them. That is at least one thing they all have in common. Build a community where they can connect with you and each other on a more personal level than just commenting on each other’s post. Give them somewhere to go to talk about and share similar ideas.

 

Understanding and responding to your audience

Understand what excites your audience. Understand what made them follow you in the first place. If you can find out what gets them excited and wanting to share your product, you will have them doing half of the marketing for you. Take the Starbucks social media messaging strategy for example. People like personalized things. Something as simple as writing their name on a cup will have them taking a picture of it and sharing it on social media and with friends. Free publicity for Starbucks. Add some hearts or funny misspellings and you’ve got yourself a winning cup.

When you are provided feedback, listen to them. Gather what your friends, family and audience has said and respond if the request or advise is reasonable and in good taste. They will feel like they are a part of your journey and appreciate it. Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed. You don’t have to remove anyone from your life, they just don’t have to be a part of your growing process. There is a difference between people who are shut down every idea you have and people who critique your work. Find people who will provide honest feedback to better yourself and your work. That can be people in your circle, in your interested community, Reddit or Facebook groups. Believe in yourself and your work. Also, you are your hardest critic. So don’t forget to celebrate how far you are come. And don’t forget to celebrate with your audience. They are part of the reason you are where you are. Create milestones and little celebrations.

 

Making connections

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sadly, that cannot be true enough. Yes, you still need solid skills and products but the first step is to get in and get noticed. This is why people collaborate. In order to reach the audience of the other group. If you notice, social media influencers, Youtube especially, collaborate with each other through a combined social media messaging strategy. They understand that the audience of the person they are collaborating with are all potential new audience for themselves. When you see a new person mentioned in your favorite YouTuber’s video, you go and check out what they have to offer as well.

Collaboration and networking is very important. It can also be very annoying. If you are an introvert, networking is actually one of the most dreaded task. But not all networking has to be in a conference room. When you chatting and connecting with someone, whether it is your neighbor or the barista, that is networking. Those are the kind of networking that will last longer. They are more genuine. Neither side went hoping to get something out of the situation.

 

Understanding the different social media platforms and which ones work for you

Anyone who wants to get their message across needs to be on social media. Word of mouth is great but that can only spread so far. Being active on social media will draw in clients from all around the globe. But it’s not good enough to just be on every social platform. You need to be constantly active on each one with a clear social media messaging strategy catered to individual platforms. And learn all the ins-and-outs of what makes each platform unique. That can be very overwhelming. Pick one or two platforms to focus on first. Grow a real following with an active community and get in the swing of things before moving on to the next.

 

Have a unique offering

What makes what you are offering better than what is already out there? Like Apple, you do not have to be the first at something but you have to be better. Whether you are marketing a lifestyle or material goods, add your personal touches to it. People get tired of seeing the same things over and over. That makes social media messaging boring for you and your audience. Everybody is unique and different. And people get bored of the same old thing. So if you add a bit of your personality and style into your work, that will shine brighter and market better than if you were to stick with the standard.

But be ready. Have something to showcase your work whether it is a website or a media kit. You don’t want to throw something together last minute. The quality of a last minute project will never be as great as something well prepared and thought out. And make sure to keep it up to date. When the opportunity arises, you have to be prepared.

 

Quality over quantity

People like high quality things. This is why new models come out every year and video quality keeps getting higher. The quality of your content needs to be your best work. Make sure the photos you are sharing vibrant, your videos at the highest quality. Make people want to share your content on their site or tag a friend. Give them a story they want to be a part of.

Keep an idea or inspiration board to pull from for days you need a little motivation. Also, think about what made you inspired by their content. Did it invoke a feeling? Was it something you always wanted to do? What was it about the photo that made you want to save it? Keep those things in mind and think about how you can bring those feelings to your work.

 

Make it searchable

If you were to Google something related to what you are marketing, what phrases would you search? When creating social media messaging content, keep in mind the phrases or words you yourself would search for. Have a good caption or description. Use keywords. There are tons of resources online that provide you with a list of words to make your content more searchable. A good course to learn more about this is the Google Adword course. You can read more about that course here.

 

 

Spend money to make money (not just literally)

Invest in yourself. Invest in your hobby and your passion. More importantly, invest in your business. Investments are not just material goods but also skills as well and marketing social media messaging tactics that will help maximize your reach and impact.

Yes, you still need to have proper gear whether it is a tripod if you are a photographer, software or hardware if you are a designer, a good blender if you are a chef. Do your research based on your budget and availability.

If you are providing a skilled based service, take classes and attend workshops. You can practice, network and get fresh perspective from people in your class. Sometimes, the newbie asking the “dumb” questions will actually be the one with the most out-of-the-box brilliant ideas. They are not used to what the “standard” is so they will have a different frame of mind than what you are so used to.

Once you have some solid content, you are ready to start marketing. Along with marketing through social media, friends, family and your network, look into paid marketing. Think about how much big companies pay for ads. They would not be spending that kind of money if it did not work. You probably don’t need a big billboard on the side of the highway but you will benefit from ads and marketing on social media. Do your research on what social media platforms your target audience would most likely be on, what time of day they are most active, what other things do they follow.

 

 

Timing

Time your content to coincide with special events or holidays. Is there a random holiday that you can work your content around? National llama day is coming up, December 9th. If the holiday is big enough or silly enough, social media accounts have special features on them. Work your content around those holidays to get your content featured on the main page.

Keep an ear out for what is trending at the moment? Get into high school gossip mode! What are people talking about? Whether it is good or bad, how does your content apply? Get creative but always make sure you are true to your message.

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Startup Central

5 Presentation Options Other Than PowerPoint

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presentation

Microsoft’s PowerPoint is a very popular choice for presentations. For most part, it is easy to use and is considered as an industry standard. However, PowerPoint has become boring. Over the last 15 years, we have been bombarded with the same looking slide and effects. If you’re looking for a change, you’ve come to the right place because we found presentation options that are free and better. Check these out.

Canva

Canva is a beautiful online interactive presentation website. Many backgrounds and slide designs are free. If you want to buy premium themes and slides, you can buy them at $1. The tool is priced at $12.95 per month for business use. Canva allows users to print blog graphics, flyers, posters, Facebook covers and many more.

When you register to the website, it has an interactive tutorial that allows you to learn how to use the website quickly. It has over 10 million users and is available for PC and Apple users. Out of many presentation options, this is a good tool for everybody who wants an easy-to-use presentation tool that is flexible and affordable.

Prezi

If you’re tired of “old slides”, throw them away and replace them with Prezi. This is one of the best alternatives to PowerPoint because unlike slides, Prezi’s zoom presentation options allow users to the relationship between the big picture and fine details. This feature takes viewers on an compelling informative journey that they will not only enjoy but also remember.  With Prezi, there are no “dull” slides, only non-linear presentations that are more exciting.

Prezi is an easy way to show context but be careful because it can also cause dizziness. Paid version of the tool features additional storage space and the ability to use the tool locally.

Google Slides

Google has their hands in many pies, including the presentation pie. Google Slides is as cloud-based tool that can be used by a lot of people. Just like other Google products, it can be authored by different users. This tool is able to create, comment and real-time edit slides. Users can also create slides without an internet connection making it a good alternative to people who are not connected all the time. Visit Google Drive and create slides, it’s that easy.

The new version of Slides has embedded video, animation and a wide array of free templates that can help you create presentations, pitches and portfolios. Access your presentation from your phone, tablet or PC. All changes are saved automatically so there is no need to click save. Google might be basic but it is very flexible.

Keynote

Microsoft PowerPoint is to Apple Keynote. Their presentation options are rich with great tools for creating presentations using its many templates. Keynote is a good PowerPoint alternative because it puts design as the forefront of your presentation. This tool has built-in graphics tools so that you can edit and tweak to your heart’s content. Compared to PowerPoint, Keynote’s user interface is also more user-friendly. Create stunning and memorable presentation with real-time collaboration. Keynote can also handle embedded media and graphics and can be downloaded at the Apple app store.

Emaze

As a cloud-based presentation tool, Emaze is responsive with pretty elements. Create attractive and dynamic presentations with free pre-made templates. All you need to do is to populate the template with graphics and content to amaze your audience. The free package is great but to access the premium package, $9.90 per month for unlimited space and sharing, offline viewing and privacy controls.  

As you can see, PowerPoint is not the only presentation tool you can use. Some of these alternatives are cloud-based, free to use and allow users to “save as” to other formats. The most important thing to remember is that these tools are just tools. The most important thing to remember for presentations is the content. Cool slides and flashy graphics miss the point if they cannot educate and inform the audience. So make your slides cool but most importantly, provide content.

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