Amazon, Where Every Day is a Delivery Day
Nov11

Amazon, Where Every Day is a Delivery Day

Order a package on Friday, and it will be at your doorstep on Sunday. For many people, Sunday is viewed as a day of rest. It is a time to relax at home and catch up on what you have missed. We use this day as a buffer to recharge our batteries and prepare ourselves for the week ahead. What I’m trying to say is that, more than any other day, you will likely be at home on Sunday. Amazon realizes this and now wants to make receiving your packages easier than ever. Amazon announced on Monday, November 11, that they are working with the United States Postal Service to include Sunday deliveries. Don’t get too excited though. They are currently only offering this service in New York metropolitan areas and Los Angeles. By the end of 2014, they hope to expand this program exponentially to include areas such as Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix. This new service comes at no extra charge to Amazon customers. Now, every day at Amazon is a delivery day. Dave Clark, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide operations and customer service stated in a press release, “If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can order a backpack for your child on Friday and be packing it for them Sunday night.” Online shopping has changed drastically since it first emerged. Each day, it continues to grow in popularity with events like Cyber Monday. The USPS said that they are “more than happy to offer shippers, like Amazon, the option of Sunday deliveries…and customers can expect the same reliable and valued service that the Postal Service provides.” The partnership could be the help that the USPS needs, especially since they have struggled with financial losses in the past and have been limiting mail delivery to just five days a week. Amazon, on the other hand, just wants to make sure you get your packages when you need them. For those who are not in the specified areas where this service is offered, the waiting game begins. Photo credit: Tupungato /...

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Personalized Google Maps?!
Nov07

Personalized Google Maps?!

Google Maps is going to know more about you than, well, you do. It is perhaps one of the most used services offered on the internet.  Google Maps allows users to search for directions, look what’s nearby, and creep on their neighbors from space. Now they hope to add a new level of customization, making your experience even better.  With the use of personal data they collected, Google Maps will be able to provide users original, customized, maps. The customization will come in the form of recommendations to; restaurants you may enjoy, places you will find interesting, the scores to the sports around your area, and anything thing else that they believe you will find interesting. You might wonder, where do they get this information? It is from your searches, items you have reviewed and even what your friends like.  They use it all to give you the best, most personalized, experience. Bernhard Seefeld, product management director for Google Maps, has high hopes for the future.  At GigaOm‘s conference on Tuesday, November 5, he said that they “can build a whole new map for every context and every person,” and that it will be “a specific map nobody has seen before, and it’s just there for that moment to visualize data. For example, if you were really into seeing America’s National Parks, and were on a vacation near one that you did not know about, Google Maps would be able to provide you directions to it without you having to search for it.  Pretty crazy huh? The change will not be immediate and will probably take a few years to get perfected.  Right now they are working on better software to be able to understand the surroundings around peoples’ searches. Will you embrace this new level of customization, and use its capabilities to enhance your experience.  Or, do you feel violated and believe that this is just pushing it too far?    ...

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Netflix and 4K = Better Quality Videos
Nov04

Netflix and 4K = Better Quality Videos

Netflix is hoping to bring 4K video streaming to your house, but what does 4K mean? With nearly four times the resolution of a 1080p video, 4K is also known as Ultra HD and means there are 4,000 horizontal pixels.  This all translates to a much better picture than what many of us are used to. You might think, how can this be possible?  The picture on my 1080p TV is already phenomenal, it can’t get any better.  Well, Netflix is accepting your challenge and is attempting to take you to the next step in viewing; providing you with a clearer, crisper, and more real viewing experience than your shoddy 1080p TV. It was earlier this year where a Netflix spokesperson revealed to GigaOM that they “hope to launch Ultra HD next year,” and CEO Reed Hastings reiterated the point during their third-quarter earnings call in October when he said that the company plans to “be one of the big suppliers of 4K next year.” This week marks the beginning of the 4K revolution as they began rolling their test videos.  With the title El Fuente, there are seven videos that contain the same 8 minutes of stock footage shot in Mexico.  The only differences between the six is that they are recorded at different frames per second rates (24,25,29.97,30,50, and 59.94 fps). Speed of users’ internet connection is the biggest challenge that Netflix is facing with their 4K videos, and by testing different fps rates, they are hoping to answer some of their problems.  According to Neil Hunt, chief product officer, they have a lot of work ahead of them when it comes to the compression and decode capability. The good news, Netflix has a lot of original content that is extremely popular among streamers, which will soon be available in Ultra HD.  Their hit show House of Cards has already been shot in 4K, so look for it to be the first one available in Ultra HD. Right now only few Ultra HD TVs have been sold which means the demand for 4K video is not very high.  The good news is that MacBook Pro laptops and the new iPads with Retina display will be able to play the content at resolutions above 1080p, as well as desktop monitors over the 1080p resolution. Keep your fingers cross and your eyes peeled as 4K becomes more available in the future and takes to a whole new world of viewing pleasure.  What’s the next step?...

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A Picture is Worth 140 Characters
Oct30

A Picture is Worth 140 Characters

Twitter says goodbye to clicking on a link to view a picture “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  We have all heard this saying at least once in our lives. Today, with people constantly being bombarded by posts, advertisements, and updates via their social media accounts – that is more true now than it ever was. Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest all understand that pictures are much more valuable to users.  Their layouts all feature content that is very visually dominated and very little text. Now you can add Twitter to that list, which opted to change their text-focused format it had since its launch in 2006. On Tuesday, you may have noticed your Twitter feed had a different feel, a different look.  That is because Twitter tweaked its design an is attempting to change the saying to; “a picture is worth 140 characters.” Finally, Twitter gets it.  After long acknowledging that pictures and videos are the most often shared content in social media, they finally make it easier for their users to do so. It is worth noting that the most retweeted post in the history of Twitter was of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embracing each other on Election Night 2012, hidden behind the caption “Four more years.” Now your photos and videos are free, and no longer have to be concealed behind links or a “view photo” button on your timeline. This marks a momentous occasion in  Tweeters lives.  The ability to include photos and Vine videos directly in Tweets to their timeline is an attempt to bring your followers closer to what’s happening  and make them feel like they are right there with you.  A  statement on Twitters blog read, “we want to make it easier for everyone to experience those moments on Twitter.” For those users who do not like the change.  I have both good news and bad news for you. The bad news, there is no way to turn off the previews on the Website.  The good news, you can turn it off utilizing the mobile app and changing the settings. Other updates Twitter included is the improving the ease it is for users to reply, retweet, or favorite a Tweet without leaving the timeline, just simply tap right inside the timeline. This move also comes right before Twitter goes public and feels like an attempt to attract more advertisers by providing them with more opportunities to insert attention grabbing ads.  These ads will be more accessible because they will be right in front of Tweeters, which could lead to more revenue for the company. Is Twitter updating their format...

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Tweet a Random, Starbucks, Act of Kindness
Oct28

Tweet a Random, Starbucks, Act of Kindness

“You’re Awesome, This Starbucks is on Me” Traditionally, Twitter users post tweets to tell the world how they feel, what they think, what they are doing, and who they are doing it with; but never a way act out random acts of kindness, until now. As of Monday, October 28th, Starbucks announced a partnership with Twitter.  The program they are unveiling is called tweet-a-coffee, and will allow Starbucks fans to send $5 gift cards via Twitter to anyone they choose. Yes it is true.  In less than 140 characters you can treat your friend, or a complete stranger, to that sweet nectar of the gods and make their day a whole lot better. The process is simple, and allows for random, spur-of-the-moment, acts of kindness that Starbucks is hoping to capitalize on.  In order to use the program the first step you have to do is sync your Starbucks account to your Twitter account. Next, the magic happens, by simply sending a tweet beginning with “@tweetacoffee to [the handle of recipient],” you’re done. To ensure that the eGift was received you will get an “@” reply back from Twitter; the process is easy, too easy. In order for the recipient to use the eGift thy just simply have to walk into Starbucks, open the link on their phones, and show the screen to have the barcode scanned.  Viola, they get their $5 eGift card redeemed and a tasty coffee courtesy of you. A lot of work went into the program to foster a seamless experience for those who use it.  In order to work correctly, it is important to remember that the tweet has to follow the program’s rules exactly and must be in the right order. Personal messages can be added, but they have to be after the “@tweetacoffee to [the handle of the recipient].” An example tweet would be: “@tweetacoffee to @Mitchie_Oh… you are an amazing dude, here’s an eGift from Starbucks.”     To help launch the program, Starbucks is also giving the first 100,000 customers who use the eGift tweet an extra $5 eGift card for themselves, courtesy of Visa. Since the program only requires the sender to have a Starbucks account, it allows Twitter users to send the eGift to a complete stranger with only the knowledge of their Twitter handle.  Starbucks hopes that this will also help foster the random, in the moment, acts of kindness. Make someones day today, tweet them a coffee, and you may get one yourself....

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