Global Tech Buzz: Backup Reminder

When was the last time you did a backup?

I got a reminder of that this week when my MacBook Pro hard drive started to fail and the gang at the Apple Store wanted to do a full hard disk replacement.

While I take most of my videos and pictures and put them in the cloud, I didnt have a full backup. I went home, and ran Time Machine on an external drive, and now I’m good to go.

Having a backup is VITAL. And you can’t just burn something to a disc, or put something on an external drive – you need to have multiple copies in multiple locations to be truly backed up.

By having multiple copies in multiple locations, you’re protecting against your media or hardware becoming obsolete. You’re protecting against your backup service being compromised or going out of business. You’re protecting against theft or destruction at home.

The most important things we want to save are images, videos, and some documents. You can do most of that for free.

IN THE CLOUD:
There are many free options to back things up in the cloud. You can toss your photos on Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa. You could put your videos on YouTube, or Vimeo.

If you’re worried about privacy, you can password protect your images, or restrict who views them.

When it comes to pay services, you can use a service like Carbonite which works in the background to make continuous backups of your system over the internet. You could also expand your storage space on a service like Dropbox which gives you instant access to your files in multiple locations from the cloud.

When it comes to documents, I do everything in Google Docs. My email, and my documents are through Google. Despite losing my computer (since Thursday!), I was still able to do all my writing, and research because my notes were saved to Google Docs, giving me access to my files on my iPhone, iPad, or my wife’s PC (ewww).

Here’s a long list of other online services you can use for backup.

EXTERNAL:
You can burn important files to disc, or an external memory key, or even a hard drive, but remember to not have them sitting next to your computer. If someone steals your computer, they’ll grab everything on that desk, that includes your backups. So keep it in another part of the house, or better yet, another building. Have a couple of external disks you swap from work or home, so you always keep them apart.

You can get 1TB of storage for around $100, that should be plenty to do any sort of backing up you need. Apple’s Time Machine program does backing up automatically, Windows has backup wizards too.

If you need a reminder to have multiple backups, in multiple locations, watch this video about how Toy Story 2 was saved after the movie file was corrupted, and they discovered the on site backup had been failing for 2 months. The movie was rescued only because the Technical Director had another backup – at home.

TV’s Strength Is The Second Screen

TV numbers aren’t shrinking.

It counteracts conventional wisdom, that tv should have it’s revenue grow in an era of time shifting, PVRs, piracy and streaming. But it’s true.

To be fair, we’ve been able to time shift (with a VCR) since the 70s, even though the PVR makes it easier, 95% of television is still watched within 24hrs of the first broadcast.

#HASHTAG #THIS

The reason?  Social.  The second screen is driving television viewing. The little “bug” in the lower right corner of tv shows no longer is just for the logo of the broadcaster, hashtags are showing up to drive the backchannel conversation online.  #glee, #thebachelor, #thevoice, and more are popping up during all the big shows.

The second screen, (phones, tablets, laptops), that people so often watch alongside the programs is turning television into must see / must chat tv.  The hashtags are encouraging people to join the live back channel conversation about the program.  Cat-calling outfits on The Bachelor, loving the music on Glee or cheering on contestants on The Voice or American Idol online is an integral part of the tv experience.

Where generations used to have “water cooler” chats about Seinfeld, Friends, Dynasty and others, the “water cooler” is now a second screen with a conversation involving millions.

By pushing the hashtags and encouraging the back channel, broadcasters have a legitimate defence against the PVR that would have people fast forwarding through commercials.

While you can engage in the hashtag conversation on social networks, some are creating specific apps to drive engagement.

ENTERTAINMENT APPS

citytvipad.jpgCityTV’s Social Stream app is all things Bachelor with threaded conversations pushed out to twitter and facebook but gathered inside a smooth experience.

There is a great argument put forth that every network website and app should flip into “second screens” for each program.  Gathering the conversation and creating hype and enthusiasm for the back channel will drive the front channel experience.  Not only is there a chance to monetize the second screen, you’re driving numbers to the live experience of the first screen where the real gravy is made.

Into Now from Yahoo! is trying to do that sort of thing for the networks. It recognzes your program based on ambient audio in the room (think Shazam but for tv) and then links you in to all things social related to that program.

Get Glue is a similar app, where you “check in” as you would on FourSquare and can then track friends and the social web to see who is watching, listening and talking about entertainment.  Bonus for Get Glue users are spanky little stickers you can collect.

SPORTS

It’s not just entertainment that is driving second screen engagement.  Sports is something that is a MUST to watch live and all you have to do is witness the explosion of hashtags during the Super Bowl to realize that the conversation can continue after a commercial is over.

In fact, in some cases the #hashtag replaced last year’s Facebook page address, but the good old corporate dot com had a big return.

An entire Social Media Command Center was created for the game in Indianapolis. More than 40 people were in the center monitoring the social networks to drive conversations, answer fan questions and raise the level of engagement.

In an ESPN interview with the Raidious CEO, Jackson stated “We saw a way Indianapolis could take things to next level in terms of how we use social media to deliver a great visitor experience. If they’re online talking about anything about this [Super Bowl experience], we’re able to determine that and respond to them.”

The second screen was effectively employed by those not even broadcasting the game.  SportsNet tapped into the power of Fantasy Football by having fans sign up to pick rosters of players to compete against friends.  The engagement was kicked up when fans were allowed to adjust their rosters each quarter based on performance.  A live game, with real online engagement.

POLITICS

And it’s just getting started. There were more than 700 000 tweets during Obama‘s State of the Union address.  GOP debates have been rabidly commented and hashtagged on Twitter.  As the presidential campaign pushes forth through the rest of the year expect the conversation to heat up online and for broadcasters to try and own that conversation.

IT’S CALLED THE BACK CHANNEL FOR A REASON

There’s just one wish I have for this rise of the second screen – that it stay on the second screen.  It’s great if broadcasters can create hubs for the conversation to be aggregated, but when they start reading tweets on air, they lose context.

The conversation is fast and flippant in the back channel.  It’s a very valuable tool that can add humour, call bs and cheer on the program – but it shouldnt be part of the program. 

I can sift through the tweets on my own, if I can just get them to slow down. (video is real time of the #thevoice hashtag after the Super Bowl)

CES 2012 Celebrity Preview

CES may stand for Consumer Electronics Show, but when the biggest trade show of the year hits Las Vegas, standing out in the crowd can be tough – enter the celebrities, making this the Celebrity Electronics Show.

CES 2011 saw visits from Rick Fox, The Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. This year’s show promises to bring a big star spotlight and thousands of screaming girls who love gadgets. Look out everyone, Justin Bieber is on the guest list for CES 2012.

Here’s the full rundown of celebrities, athletes and musicians scheduled to appear at CES 2012 and which booth you can spot them:

MUSICIANS

LL Cool J
Boomdizzle CNET/CBS Interactive Booth (LVCC, South Hall Lobby) Tuesday, January 10

50 Cent
SMS Audio (LVCC, South Hall, #20818)
3-4 p.m. Tuesday, January 10
12-12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3-4 p.m. Wednesday January 11
3-4 p.m. Thursday, January 12

Justin Bieber
Robotics TechZone (LVCC South Hall ground level #21964) 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, January 11

CELEBRITIES

Jillian Michaels
Sports and Fitness TechZone (N256, North Hall) 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 10

Eliza Dushku
Live on air with Spike TV 12:30-1: 45 p.m. Tuesday, January 10

Jabawockeez
Qualcomm’s keynote on Tuesday, January 10

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
Zeikos/iHip (LVCC, South Hall, #21920) 2-4p.m.Tuesday, January 10

Seth Green
Shodogg at Showstoppers Tuesday, January 10

Wayne Brady and Greg Grunberg
OnStar’s Tweet House sessions on Wednesday, January 11

ATHLETES

Alistair Overeem
Qualcomm (LVCC, South Hall, #30313)
2 p.m. Tuesday, January 10
2 p.m. Wednesday, January 11
12 p.m. Thursday, January 12

Robert Horry
Haier America (LVCC, Central Hall, #9826) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, January 10

John Salley
Haier America (LVCC, Central Hall, #9826) 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 11

Dennis Rodman
Paltalk (LVCC, South Hall, #26915) 2-3:30 p.m. Thursday, January 12

2011 Future Shop Boxing Day Sale App / Flyer

Yes, Virginia, even on Boxing Daythere is an app for that.

Once again, Future Shop‘s Boxing Day Sale will happen on Christmas Eve at 8p EST.  This year, you won’t be tethered to a computer while the rest of the family is gathering, you can get everything done on your smart phone.

So if you’re wanting to take advantage of sick savings, get the Future Shop iPhone app and become familiar with how it works so you can elbow your way through the online crowds with ease.  If you’re not on an iPhone, no worries – FutureShop.ca‘s mobile site has just been rejigged for a better experience.

Here are some of the pro tips to get you ready for Boxing Day:

Familiarize yourself with the site/app. Open an online shopping account and do a test run so you can see how the system works.  You can abort the purchase right before the end, but o through to make sure you have all the info the site needs.  There’s a great breakdown of the Future Shop app with screenshots and tips and complete directions.

Charge your batteries, check your signal. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you’re either on a strong WiFi network or you have full bars from wherever it is you’re going to be doing your shopping.

Get social.  If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, follow or like the Future Shop accounts to get more inside advice and help on the fly.

Have a list. Check it twice.  A lot of the Boxing Day flyers have already been released.  Price compare, find your best deal and read the reviews of the items to make sure it’s what you want.

How big is the Future Shop Boxing Day Sale?  Check out these appetizers:

  • Denon 945 watt 7.2 Multi-Zone Receiver, $449.99 (Savings of $550). Web only
  • Monster Turbine Pro in-ear headphones, $99.99 (Savings of $300). Web only
  • Frigidaire Front Load Laundry Pair (white), $599.98 (savings of $400)
  • Bosch Built-In Dishwasher, $499.99 (savings of $450)
  • BlueAnt S4 Speakerphone (voice activated), $59.99 (savings of $60)
  • BlackBerry 16GB PlayBook with Wi-Fi, $199.99 (savings of $200)
  • HP 15.6″ AMD Dual Core C-50 Laptop, $299.99 (savings of $100)
  • Canon Rebel T3 Camera Bundle, $699.99 (savings of $350)
  • Monster Beats Studio By Dr. Dre Headphones, $229.99 (savings of $120)
  • Panasonic 60″ 1080p 600Hz Plasma Smart TV (TCP60S30), $999.99 (savings of $500)
  • LG 55″ LV4400 LED TV, $999.99 (savings of $250)
  • Sharp 42″ LCD TV (LC42D69), $399.99 (savings of $150)
  • Energy Reference Connoisseur 4-Way Tower Speakers (RC-70) – Black, pair, $999.99 (savings of $1,500)
  • Pioneer 7.2 Channel Network Receiver (VSX-1326-K), $749.99 (savings of $750)

You can see the full flyer online today.

If the thought of Boxing Day shopping on Christmas Eve doesn’t really getting you excited, you can still go old school.  Future Shop stores, in most provinces, open at 6a on Monday.

buzz bishop future shop tech blogThis post was originally published at The Future Shop Tech Blog.

Hootsuite or Tweetdeck?

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How do you tweet?

I admit I’m a power user, I’ve amassed more than 50 000 tweets in the 4 years of using the service.  (12k a year, 1k a month, 30 a day).  I’m particular about my user experience and I’ve been a Tweetdeck fan for years.

For the past month, however, I’ve been living in Hootsuite trying to get a handle on how to use the other popular app that my mentor, Tod Maffin, is always raving about.

First things first: I prefer a desktop experience.  I never do full screen windows for my workflow.  I like to quickly move between tasks and having one app open full screen while I work in a small corner of it bothers me.

So I like having Tweetdeck full screen in the background while I have other tiles on top. Hootsuite is mostly a browser app. If you’re tab happy, you’ll like the clean way it tucks into the dozen other tabs you have open in your browser.

There is a workaround to get Hootsuite on your Mac desktop, it involves using Fluid to “appify” the browser experience for the desktop.  And it works fine for me.

The main differences between the two is how they update their tweets.  Tweetdeck is more consistent.  Every few seconds an icon will pop up showing me how many new tweets are in my hashtags, stream and those that mention me.  It’s easy.

Hootsuite doesn’t have that conistent flow.  Instead of a few tweets showing up every few seconds, 30 or more fly in every minute.  I find it harder to consume the content on Hootsuite because it’s served up in meals instead of snacks.

Hootsuite also doesn’t lock the columns to the top.  Anytime new content shows up, the window stays at the last tweet you read.  I can’t simply peek around my open window to see the tweets floating in behind. I have to click in and scroll to the top thus interrupting my work flow.

Hootsuite does have it over Tweetdeck in a number of categories.  While both let you manage multiple accounts, Hootsuite actually drops you “in” to the account through the tabs.  I can set up search columns in Tweetdeck to monitor multiple @’s, but Hootsuite gives you a unique window for each account you manage helping you to filter and track the content for each account.

Then there’s cost. Tweetdeck is 100% free, Hootsuite works with a freemium model.  You can manage a couple of accounts and get access to some of the features for free, the more detailed and deep you want your experience, the more it’s going to cost (starting at $5/mo).

Hootsuite’s proprietary ow.ly short code also gives you a great way to track your links.  It’s much easier for me to see which content is sticky, which links need another push and what kind of links are more attractive to my followers.

HOOTSUITE WINS: analytics, multiple account management

TWEETDECK WINS: free, updates, native desktop, customizable

In the end, i’s a tie.  I wish Tweetdeck had better account management and analytics, I wish Hootsuite had a smoother flow of tweets in the stream. Anyone want to create a Hootdeck?

Which Twitter manager do you use?

This article was originally published at The Future Shop’s Tech Blog.

10 Segway Fails

“Segway will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” — Dean Kamen, quoted in Time on December 2, 2001

“Ginger” (the Segway’s code name) hasnt quite lived up to the hype, but she has found a place in our world.

Rent-a-Cops (ie Paul Blart) and real cops can use them to cover their beats quicker.  Tourist groups are found riding them on “walking” tours on segways in cities like Chicago, Paris, Atlanta, Berlin and Budapest.

Jeff Bezos was thrilled at the prospects as was Steve Jobs. Jobs went so far as to say “Ginger would be as significant as the PC and that cities would be architected around it.” [source]

Not quite.

I must admit my one and only ride on the segway was bucket list worthy.  I loved it and I can see how people get caught up in the excitement around it.

In the end, there just isn’t enough of a mainstream gap to be filled.

So, on the 10th Anniversary, here are 10 Segway Fails:

1 Segway Inc owner, Jim Heseldman, drives Segway over a cliff and dies.
Call it irony, fate or simply an accident: in Britain, the owner of Segway died (in 2010) when he apparently drove one of the devices off a cliff near his home, The Associated Press reported. [NYT]

2 George Bush falls
Despite being hailed as a stable device, the President of the United States still found a way to face plant in 2003.
george bush falls2.jpg

3 Banned from sidewalks
While the early heros may have said this would revolutionize city architecture, current city bylaws didn’t like the segway.  It was deemed to bulky and too fast for sidewalks and many municipalities actually banned them in 2002.

4 Michael Kwan falls
Not to be outdone by George Bush (see #2), 5 years later blogger Michael Kwan would do his best to re-enact the tumble. (fall at 5:30)

5 Paul Blart: Mall Cop
If the segway was ever going to catch on, it needed something other than Kevin James rocking a ‘stache as a spokesman.  By 2009, the punchline was already written – the segway wasn’t going to be taken seriously.

6 Segways on trampolines
Darwin loves this idea.

7 Ride on water
If Jesus invented the Segway, it would have done this

8 Not for hills
Segways run about $5000.  So of course you’re going to take it to the steepest part of your yard and repeatedly roll it down a hill. Darwin digs this too.

9 It’s not a dirtbike
Supercross champ James Stewart takes a segway for a ride through a course.  Two wheels on dirt have never been more boring.

10 Extreme Adrenaline
I dont know if I would call riding a segway on snow my idea of “extreme adrenaline”, but this video from a resort in Italy (that also boasts Europe’s longest zipline) sure tries to sex it up.

The Plusification Of Everything

Google has been undergoing a bit of a makeover the past few months as each of their services gets folded into a new look that started with the release of Google+.

The use of white space is what you’ll notice first out of the box with the new Google.  The lines are clean, the layouts simple.

Here are some tours of the changes to find out exactly what Google did and how you can maximize your user experience.

GMail

In addition to the different density settings for the screen, threaded conversations have been condensed and avatars are being pulled in so you can see who you’re “talking to.” The new Gmail is much cleaner and apart from getting used to seeing white instead of blue in my mail, I’ve enjoyed the new look.  

That said, there is one feature that might get you into a little bit of trouble.  You know how Facebook likes to suggest friends? Well Gmail is now suggesting recipients to your email.  While you’re crafting the note, it recommends other people you might want to cc: on the correspondence.  One foul click and this could all go sideways.  No thanks.

email.jpg

Google Reader

First, we’re going to introduce a brand new design (like many of Google’s other products) that we hope you love. Second, we’re going to bring Reader and Google+ closer together, so you can share the best of your feeds with just the right circles. [Google]

The Google Reader changes that have people upset is the adjustment to the social funcitons.  You used to be able to create your own feed of ‘shared’ articles, now everything is being pushed to Google+.  There is a work around, simply edit the tags of the articles you like and pull those feeds if you don’t want to play with G+.

Google Docs

We began rolling out these improvements in early August with the documents list and have since upgraded our entire collaboration suite. You may have noticed that our new look matches other recent Google visual updates, which aim to bring a consistent, improved experience across our products. [Google]

The use of white space again is what you’ll see with the Google Docs upgrade, along with some improved icon notifications so you know who the doc is being shared with and when it is fully saved.

Google Bar

Changes to the navigation of Google have happened in the past few weeks as well.  First they moved the term search buttons from the top nav bar to the side nav bar causing mass confusion.  Now the top nav bar is disappearing all together.

While I’m all for the simplification of the design, and I do like the new Google Bar, it does feel a little bit like the Microsoft Start button – doesn’t it?   How 1995 of them. 

Despite being on the bleeding edge of technology, we web types are pretty resistant to change. How have you been dealing with “the plusification of everything?”

This article was originally published at The Future Shop’s Tech Blog.

55 Apps To Preload For Kids

The surveys are in and kids want something from Apple for Christmas.

If you’re obliging them with an iPod Touch or the family an iPad, don’t just give them the box to open on Christmas morning. Pre-load it with a few apps, so there’s something to do.

The devices come built in with stock charts, email, and a camera, but that doesn’t cut it on Christmas Day

Here’s a list of 55 apps to get on your kids’ iDevice before they unwrap the excitement.

Tickle Tap Apps has over a dozen apps that they bundle into collections [$3.99 each] of fun games that are perfect for toddlers.  They’re interactive and make silly sounds.  They help them count, explore, sort and laugh.

grover.jpgThe Monster At The End Of This Book [$3.99] and the sequel Another Monster At The End Of This Book [99c] are must installs if you have children under 5.  My two boys play them over and over and over again.  The classic book starring Grover (and the sequel with Elmo joining) is beautifully re-imagined as an interactive story.  You still “turn” pages, but the way interaction has been woven into the game is hours of giggling fun for the kids.

Another incredible book app is The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore. [$4.99]  It’s a book that reads like a Pixar movie and each page has another interactive element for the kids to take part or a puzzle to solve.  This one has been “read” dozens of times by my boys.

Wood Puzzle Maze HD is a great old school toy given the iPad app [$1.99] experience.  Your child can practice problem solving with over a dozen different mazes that have them dragging puzzle pieces on a board as if it was a slot wood puzzle.  My boys took to this app immediately doing them over and over and over again.

Balloonimals brings the fun of our favorite family restaurant to our own kitchen table for $1.99 (or a free trial app).  All you have to do is choose a balloon, blow on the microphone and shake and twist the device to make your own Balloonimal.  You can touch them to perform tricks and of course pop them to start fresh again.

Buld A Train is a fun way to play witih an old school train set anywhere. Your kids choose the engines and cars they want on their train and then can swipe through a variety of track environments from mountains to islands to towns and cities.  They control the speed and the horn as the train travels in loops. They can even flick the switches to change the path of the train to pick up and deliver cargo.  Recent updates to this app make it worth the $1.99

For more, check out the 36 apps I use the most on my devices.

This article was originally published at The Future Shop’s Tech Blog.

16 Gag Gifts For Geeks

Buying something for the techie on your list that has everything, or gets rather particular about the kind of gadgetry they play can be difficult, especially if you don’t speak their language.  So instead of trying to get the specs right for their new computer or camera, and instead of buying a plain gift card, why not go gag?  An inside joke that they can appreciate and shows you’re trying to get what they’re about.

Here’s 16 Gag Gifts For Geeks:

Anything With Bacon – this can work for geeks and non-geeks a like as bacon is the meme of the moment for many people. There’s bacon salt, baconnaise, bacon lip balm, bacon popcorn and bacon vodka to start. Even Benjamin Buford from Forrest Gump is amazed at the places bacon is going.

Kitchen Toys – if your family geek is like my family geek, they like to spend time in the kitchen. So why not salt and pepper shakers that look like rockets, coffee cups that look like lab beakers or an OCD ctting board to make sure every dice is the same size and shape?

zom_book.pngHipster Literature - books are great way to share a sense of humor. if your geek is also a parent, they’ll appreciate Goodnight iPad‘s tongue-in-cheek reminder to unplug the gadgets and spend time as a family. The Zombie Survival Guide plays right into the heart of those who are obsessed with The Walking Dead or participate in random zombie walks. The Book of Awesome is a modern day version of Chicken Soup For the Soul. The book is full of small chunks of great and meaningful things that will help remind you to not sweat the small stuff.

Ironically Old School - Getting cases for new technology to make them look like vintage tech is a great way to go. We loved the iCade at last year’s CES. It’s a stand for your iPad to make it play like an old school arcade game. You can get iPhone cases to make them look like calculators and iPod cases to make them look like cassettes.  There’s even an iPhone case Gordon Gekko would love.

If I haven’t hit a genre that fits your geek here are 5 other websites to seek out the awkward for inspiration: Think GeekGifts.com, Busted Tees, Threadless, NeatOShop.

This article was originally published at theFuture Shop’s Tech Blog

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