Our catch-all section meant for stuff we want to write about but don’t know where to put it.
Is it news? Maybe.
Is it fun? If we took the time to write about it then it must be.
Is it weird or gross? There is probably a very good chance.
Will it make you laugh? Only if you share the same warped sense of humor we do.
Earlier this month Twitter had people buzzing online, by and large on the platform itself, about the adoption of the like and heart to replace the favorite and star. Here are the three main reasons for the switch. To become more universal While it’s an easy assumption for some to make, equating the star to positivity with the “favorite” function isn’t necessarily known on the large scale. On the other hand, the heart is not only one of the oldest symbols on earth, it’s proven to work on other social media platforms. The heart symbol is one of the oldest icons in civilization, with origins traced back to the Ice Age. An international symbol, the heart was a staple of culture and religious practices in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greeks, Romans and early Americans. Because of the symbol’s ability to transcend time, language and cultural barriers, it has become a universal sign for expressing positivity on social media. Using love and hearts in world-wide marketing is not new and Twitter is now catering to an audience beyond the United State. Twitter needed a change So far their change is working. Twitter has reported a 6 percent increase in Like activity after one week of switching to the hearts. This is trending in a much more favorable than their user growth, which prompted the move. Forbes has reported that U.S. user growth has been flat through 2015. While internationally their have been increasing user, some speculate it’s because of the use of Twitter as strictly a messaging system. Financially too, Twitter is a stock that is slumping worse than it ever has before. A year and a half removed from selling at more than $60 a share, TWTR is currently at $26.51. While many hope the stock can blow back up like Apple and Facebook, it’s still murky Conflicting purpose While the Favorite was unique to Twitter, its purpose was not clear. While some used it to save Tweets and others to show agreement or satisfaction, the like now provides clarity in purpose. Clicking the heart means liking the Tweet, and older, less tech-savvy users will adjust better drawing from familiarity of Facebook which has a like function. While the purpose is more defined there is no change to the function of the mechanism. Tweets that are liked are still saved in a tab like favorites were. So people who want to go through their like, or snoop through the likes of others, can still do so. Our poll on Twitter said only one respondent was using the function differently after the change. If the heart is changing how people use the function, maybe Twitter made a change that not only benefits the new and future users, but current ones too. Overall, Twitter was feeling the pressure of becoming more adaptable to the world-wide market. Between the universal notoriety of the heart and its proven record with other social media it was a smart choice for Twitter. Those who disagree will have to argue against the 6 percent...read more
As the teeter totter of streaming and cable begins to even out, more and more devices are breaking through to make streaming easier for your television. Recently Apple just released the fourth generation Apple TV, with features everyone is talking about. The big one is the integration of siri functionality. Such as allowing Netflix users to search for movies and control features easier than ever before. Also, Apple TV introduces some new gaming features that incorporate the remote, doubling as a party-style game console. The games will run on a new operating system titled tvOS, the first time Apple TV will have native games. But it hasn’t been all positive reaction for Apple. Big criticism has come around for the manual search function on the Apple TV which is simply just a single, alphabetic bar at the top. Possibly a method to prong users to use Siri? If so, a bold strategy. Also, the new Apple TV isn’t just changing how users experience it, but app developers too. The new product makes it so designers must rely on retrieving data from iCloud for use. Polygon goes into much more detail, including the breakdown of app “slicing.” What really sets Apple TV apart from its competition is the way it is making TV dependent on Apps the same way our phones have become. It’s made others take notice. In fact, Amazon is now no longer carrying Apple TV or Google Chromecast on their store. Apple TV is just one of the many options that consumers have to stream on their TV. Roku, and “streaming sticks” like Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick make it easy. But what about options that cut out the middle man and integrate the technology within the TV? SmartTVs. Samsung, Vizio and TCL are among just a few companies that provide an interface that allows you to stream without any other services, aside from an internet connection. Most of the Internet-ready TVs hover around the affordable range of $200 to $500. With TVs themselves making it this easy to stream, is the very device that was once two peas in a pod with cable contributing to its imminent extinction? Huge prices, unnecessary packages and commercials are just a few of the reasons viewers are ditching traditional TV viewing. But what about live TV? Without cable authentication, it can still be a challenge. WatchESPN requires a cable or Sling TV subscription. And CNN viewers who wish to watch coverage on an Apple TV also need a cable commitment. It’s the awkward middle ground many media find themselves, the struggle of not falling behind with streaming technology but not losing buckets worth of revenue because of it. For those who want as many options found having cable, subscribing to Apple TV, Netflix, Sling, HBO Go and other subscriptions may add up to similar costs. But the new technology is allowing consumers to pick and choose their TV portfolio to fit their precise desires. Channel based hybrid programs like Sling TV may stick for a while, with the recent announcement that Chromecast can now stream Sling. But as TVs and devices continue to trend towards using the internet, the days of cable as we once knew are...read more
It was a cool evening, no wind, rain or heat. Jazz music playing in the background, while chilling at a beautiful park around a friendly, diverse community. My first night at Jazz on the Green, for people like me who are new to Omaha, we look for comforting venues and forms of entertainment to relieve our stage of newcomers status. Midtown Crossing holds community events that will appeal to just about anyone. If you are new to Omaha, have yet to attend an event or just flat out love Midtown Crossing already, listen in as we sit down with a member of Midtown Crossing who goes in a little more depth to it’s successful events and what they have been able to do in just 5 short years. Will you tell us who you are, your role at Midtown Crossing and how long have you been there? My name is Suzanne Diefenbaugh, I am the graphic designer for Midtown Crossing and I have been with Midtown Crossing for 5 years – since the grand opening in 2010. Can you elaborate on a few events that are going on currently? Absolutely, summer is our busiest time of year for events – of course. Some of our staple summer events are listed below: Yoga Rocks in the Park This is a free weekly yoga class held in Turner Park every Sunday, usually starting in May and lasting about 6 to 8 weeks. The community is invited to come do yoga in the park while a live band plays music, vendors set up booths, who sell yoga related gear. Kids are welcome to attend, either doing yoga as well or going to Camp Yoga Rocks while their parents do yoga. Thursday in the Park This is our live music series that spans the whole summer starting in June. It starts with our Summer Kickoff Concert series followed by Playing with Fire, Jazz on the Green and coming up in less than 2 weeks – the End of Summer Concert Series. The concerts are held every Thursday in Turner Park. Our retailers / restaurants set up booths, sell delicious drinks and food for concert goers to enjoy. Attendees are also allowed to bring in their own food and refreshments (just no hard alcohol). Big O Bocce We host bocce ball leagues every Tuesday in Turner Park. There is a spring and summer session, we are currently mid-way through the summer session. Monday Night at the Movies This is our weekly outdoor movie series that begins in June, usually running for about 9 weeks. We just wrapped up our 2015 series. Each Monday at Turner Park we inflate a giant screen, in which we invite the community to head over and watch a movie for free in the park. Bring a blanket, some snacks, sit back and enjoy. The movies are always PG-13 but vary in genre each week. Wednesday Night Warmup/Cool Down Every Wednesday at Turner Park Prairie Life hosts a free workout and happy hour. The community is invited to come for a free workout (the type of workout varies each week – could be anything from pound to boot camp to MixxedFit) followed by joining the instructor afterwards for drinks at one of the restaurants in Midtown Crossing. This started in June and will go through September. Now,...read more
Competitors of Google (Yahoo!, Bing, Ask.com, etc.) have never been able to rival the search volume of the tech giant. These big name companies have tried to imitate Google and have not met much success in winning over users from Google. But DuckDuckGo is trying something different – and already getting some impressive results. DuckDuckGo’s Secret DuckDuckGo offers something for its users that Google cannot – hardcore privacy. Among other features of DuckDuckGo, its radical privacy is perhaps most appealing to users. The search engine does not log your IP address, doesn’t track you with cookies, and websites cannot even tell when search terms you used that brought you to their site. Weinberg’s start-up is banking the on the fact that Google’s lifeblood is it ability to sell user (albeit anonymized) information to marketers, and that users are not OK with that. When the company started out in September of 2008, privacy wasn’t a key concern of search engine users. But since the Edward Snowden NSA Revelations of 2013, business for DuckDuckGo has skyrocketed. Other Features Weinberg did not start DuckDuckGo with the intention of becoming a safe haven of search privacy. That came through Reddit and HackerNews user requests. Other features of the DuckDuckGo include: !bangs – this feature allows you to search for a specific site and be taken straight there. Instant recipes – A partnership with Yummly allows you to easily find any recipe without having to sort through endless confusing cooking blogs. Custom design – you can change the look and feel of the site for your own browser. DuckDuckGo’s Humble Beginnings Gabriel Weinberg first started DuckDuckGo with the idea of proving ‘instant answers’ instead of simply a list of different sites. Anyone who’s been on Google in the last year knows that Google is now using this idea as well. Fortunately DuckDuckGo had other legs to stand on. Just Getting Started Though DuckDuckGo’s searches increase 100-500% each year, the company is still only performing a teeny-tiny fraction of the queries Google completes each day, which is nearly 4 billion. Can DuckDuckGo be David to the Google Goliath? Only time will tell, but keep your eyes on the this post-Snowden era spectacle....read more
“If a man empties his purse into his head no man can take it from him. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin Self-Education: It is something invaluable and we all take it for granted from time to time. I truly believe you have to be motivated by an ultimate goal in order to sustain consistent personal growth. Find that goal and instill everyday in your head, how can I become a better person, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.? Many think that they aren’t in school anymore or they become so comfortable with where they are, that they believe they have reached a ceiling. Anyhow, that is not the case, knowledge can be attained outside of a classroom. Some even find that they flourish much more this way, compared to a classroom setting. Self-education can come in many ways whether it is in school, internet, books or your own experience. I highly encourage everyone to find a way to make self-education a good habit, the following are ways I have tested my limits or ideas I plan on doing in the future. 7 Ways to Grow with Self-Education Stay In Sometimes you need that every once in awhile. I think a majority of people go through a phase where they go out every week and do things they regret in the morning. I believe it is called “college”. It is so crucial that you know when to leave that phase, if you don’t I like to call those people professional partiers. Some professional partiers can thrive and achieve many things and I applaud those because it is extremely difficult for me. Everybody is different, that is the special thing about this. There is so much information out there to learn. To clarify, I am not telling you not to go out anymore because you might meet some of the coolest people by doing so or have the best memories if you hadn’t. Nonetheless, you’ll find the next morning you feel good about yourself and ready to take on whatever is in store for that day. Attempt to Learn a Language Download Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, whatever language learning software it is, before you know you will find yourself addicted to it, if you truly are committed to learning another language. Even if you just learn a few words or sentences it is better than nothing. You never know when you can spark up a conversation with a foreigner or even connect with somebody by simply saying one or two words in something other than English. Do what ever it takes, heck go to your local taco shop for a few weeks and dive into a new culture. Read anything in your Niche Take the time to read everything possible, nowadays there are expert blogs for just about any topic. Magazines are great for those who don’t have the patience to read a whole book. Another idea is to ask a friend or post something on your social media platform about a recommendation for a book to read. I’ll recommend my book later in this article if you are interested. Discover a new physical activity Self-education can be really exhilarating too, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be mental either. Self-education can be physical,...read more
We are now well into the year 2015, the year to which Marty McFly travelled in the science fiction blockbuster Back to the Future Part II. Companies have been increasingly cashing in on the Back to the Future franchise as October 21 (the exact day Marty McFly came to 2015) approaches. The latest company to join in the fun is the luxury automobile brand Lexus. As part of the company’s “Amazing in Motion” campaign, they have announced the development of their own Lexus hoverboard. http://alwayscurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/lexus_hoverboard_slide_film_high_mov_20bdf6e18bca2a839ab64d1e4d409ec32fe74e60_low.mp4 Looks pretty sweet, right? There’s a catch. It only works in a controlled environment. The concrete that Lexus Hoverboard levitates over in the video has magnets beneath it. I find this revelation disappointing in a few ways. The first is that Lexus is making a huge deal of what is essentially a middle school science project on steroids. The actor never even puts all his weight on the Lexus hoverboard! They’ve even trying to make #LexusHover a thing. I think the people excited about this thing clearly skipped the part of the press release that says it doesn’t work and it’s not for sale. The second disappointment is not on the part of Lexus, but on civilization’s development of technology as a whole. We’ve figured out smartphones and iPads, so how have we not created a functioning hoverboard yet? Based on our willingness to believe Tony Hawk’s hoverboard prank of 2014, there is clearly a demand for the invention. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Lexus Hoverboard looks awesome. I want to ride a hoverboard just as badly as anyone. The hoverboard in the movie is made by Mattel and looks to be made for small children – Sidenote: you can get your very own non-functioning Mattel hoverboard just like in the movie for around $450. The Lexus’ hoverboard is certainly an upgrade from that. So even though I’m let down that I can’t get my own, I suppose a working hoverboard can now be lightly penciled onto the list of correct 2015 predictions made by the Back to the Future II writers. For more Back to the Future fun, check out this list of hilariously wrong and shockingly spot-on predictions made by the writers of the movie....read more
Pixar has been a big part of my life for a long time. I never got hung up on Disney princesses or My Little Pony, instead I was always waiting for the next Disney/Pixar movie to come out. As I grew older, my love for animation and creativity never faded. I am proud to say that I have seen every Pixar film including “Inside Out,” Pixar’s newest film, that was released last Friday. When I was younger, I was in complete awe with each movie that was debuted. The raw imagination and creativity they bestowed was astounding. As I grew older, I realized that they kept getting better. I’m an emotional person, but the stories and characters Pixar creates leaves me an emotional train wreck (don’t tell me you didn’t cry when Woody and the gang almost burned to death in the incinerator). Being 21, I am still in complete awe with Pixar, specifically how they have marketed themselves as the best storytellers of all time. Being a content marketer myself, I think we can all learn a thing or two from Pixar’s marketing and storytelling. Never forget where you started. Pixar is famous for the Easter eggs that they drop in their films. There are even theories that say all of the films take place in one universe, especially when the luxo ball and Pizza Planet truck show up in every film. More importantly, the combination of A113, which is actually the number of the animation classroom at the California Institute of the Arts where many Pixar employees start their animation career. They drop these clues to entertain the audience, but more importantly to remind themselves where they came from. Be proud of your brand’s history, and remind yourself that you’re lucky to be there. Furthermore, it assures your readers that you take pride in being apart of your company’s culture. You may not be able to hide rubber balls and codes in your writing, but you can tip your hat to the past with a few sentences. Keep it simple for the viewer, or reader. Emma Coats, a former storyboard artist at Pixar, tweeted some knowledge that she picked up at Pixar: “Once upon a time there was _. Every day, _. One day _. Because of that, _. Because of that, _. Until finally _.” This is Pixar’s guideline for each film. The movie may be elaborate, but at the end of the day it can be summarized in a couple of sentences. Use this model for “Up”. Once upon a time there was a couple in love. Every day, they promised they would go on an adventure. One day, the wife died. Because of that, the husband became a grump. Because of that, a chubby boy scout had to befriend him for a badge. Until finally, the husband got to go on the adventure and had a happy heart. It’s simple! Your writing can be complex, but by using a simple model like the one above, it will ensure that your audience can piece together a very cut and dry summary of what they just read. It means they digested the material and took something away from the information presented to them. Always write to answer a “What if”. Following along with the previous tip, make sure you are always answering a question for your readers, instead of writing...read more
In Omaha, NE one of the best times of the summer is when the best of the best college baseball teams are in town for the College World Series. Fans flock from all over the country to TD Ameritrade Park. Heck even the worldwide leader in sports ESPN joins the party. Which is why Christine Boggy is here to give us an insight behind the scenes of the College World Series from a producing perspective. She is part of ESPN’s SEC Network production team who cover the College World Series year in and year out. Today we sat down with her to discuss baseball, her career, amongst other topics as well. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to get into sports? Well, I am originally from Fremont, NE. I grew up going to the College World Series thanks to my dad who loves baseball, and it just turned out to be one of those things that is a tradition for me. I also worked as a ballgirl at Rosenblatt for a number of years. After I decided to retire from being a ballgirl, I went on to become a reporter/anchor for local TV. Next I was able to get onto ESPN as a runner and work my way up. Currently I work in production, I help out with the creative process and get some player stories out there. Right now, at the College World Series I do “features” – basically whatever you see that is not the game is what I work on. For example, the player from Yutan, NE who plays for CSU Fullerton fulfilled his dream of coming back to Omaha. I try to find stories that inspire and looking back over the years it is unique getting to work on this side of things rather than the grounds crew like when I was younger. Will you tell me what it is like for a day in your shoes at the College World Series? From sunrise to sunset. To start with, when we first got here we did interviews with players from of each team. Throughout the week we have been putting those into little soundbytes and packages. I have been working with ENG also, which stands for Electronic News Gathering but that’s not important. What is important is that ENG is responsible for shooting the game, fans standing in line, those crazy fans who love a camera in their face basically catching the whole atmosphere. Then, today I will be editing some video. But I really love how everyday it’s something different. What about for days like earlier this week? These brutal storms we have in Omaha surely have an effect on what happens to your daily assignments? Pfffft, it has been rough. Unfortunately, it is a lot of sitting around. The weather really determines what we can do and it is a story within itself. We do what we can and make the most of it. For instance, we sometimes look for people who are standing in the rain and figure out why the heck they are standing in the pouring rain [Laughs]. Luckily, all the games are back on track so hopefully no more rain. I think you’ve been out of Nebraska for too long, it rains all the time...read more
Smartphone dating applications have become the new norm when it comes to meeting new people. While you can still walk up to strangers at a coffee shop or bar and get to know them in person, that particular form of spontaneity has gone by the wayside thanks to apps like Tinder and Grindr. I mean, why should you actually talk to someone when you can left- or right-swipe their profiles to see if they’re interested? Being rejected via social media applications is so much less traumatizing than in person, right? I’m not sold either way, but a new app wants you to get real about meeting new people. GetReal is a recently launched iOS app that wants users to spend less time messaging through apps and more time in each others’ company. Similar to Tinder, it’s a location-based networking app that connects you to the people in your vicinity. However, there is no in-app interaction and pre-meeting conversation other than the request to meet. Here’s how it works: When you open the app, it shows you everyone on GetReal in your surrounding area. After checking out the various user profiles consisting of one photo and a short status, you can send a meeting request through a pin-drop map feature to pinpoint the location and have the option of adding a short message. The requested person has half an hour to accept, decline, or defer your invite. Then you meet them in person and start a conversation that way. All communication on the app is limited to the meet up requests; there is no chat or messaging function. If you’re a little iffy about meeting a stranger, GetReal allows users to link their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to the app so you can see if you have any mutual connections. The app also keeps track of how many people you’ve invited to meet, how many people are available in your location, and any people you have muted, which we’re assuming is a way to block people. GetReal isn’t limited to screening potential dates; the main goal is just to help people meet in person. Whether you’re networking, in a new city, want to meet people in your neighborhood or while traveling, want to expand your circle of friends, etc., GetReal wants to help users meet up in person. A group of 200 beta testers in San Francisco and New York tech industries found the app can be used for anything; they have been using the app for everything from recruiting to tech talks to growing their networks. The app creator, Arnaud Meunier thinks the recent inflation of apps and social media sites like Tinder, Facebook, and Twitter, and our reliance on virtual conversations (messaging, texting, & emails) are destroying our ability to communicate. We don’t talk anymore. GetReal wants to bring a little more serendipity and spontaneity back in our lives instead of prescreening everyone we meet through profiles, statuses, and photos. GetReal isn’t the first app of it’s kind to be making waves in the virtual connection pool. A U.K. dating app, rendeevoo (Ha. Rendezvous. We see what you did there, you clever Brits, you) has a similar platform, except it’s specifically for dating purposes. Neither app attempts to match users based on personalities, interests, or the like;...read more
Have you grown tired of that pedestrian, 80-inch screen sitting atop your home entertainment center? I mean, come on; you can still see the wall behind it. The good news for you is that it looks like Google is prepared to add some spice to the world of home entertainment, with a patent for a product Quartz compared to technology in Back to the Future II. Personally, I prefer a comparison to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, in which citizens are constantly transfixed and stupefied by gigantic television screens, but I suppose that’s not quite as fun. PSA: If you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451, you should. On Monday, Google filed a patent for walls that are also TVs. Well… pretty close, anyway. It definitely has the potential. Really, the patent is for “a method and apparatus for enabling themes using photo-active surface paint.” Explanation: What Google calls “photo-active paint” would work much like the digital ink in e-readers, changing the colors and images on a given surface to display, presumably, whatever the user desires. This would happen when a projection system hits the surface (in this case, a wall) with a new image. The emphasis of the patent seems to be on themes, like the desktop on your computer. Google suggests the image could change to correspond with holidays, seasons, city skylines and monuments (in case your view sucks), or just whatever the weather looks like – you know, so we can cut out the whole “going outside” wherever possible. “Ew, nature? Gross.” While the focus of the patent is on these themes, some of the language in the patent seems to indicate Google’s digital paint and projection system would be capable of displaying videos, too. So, if and when the technology reaches that point, it sounds like your walls can function as gigantic televisions. No need for the real world to encroach on your fantasy at all! Ditch that 80” HDTV, grab some photo-active paint, and prepare to binge watch your life away. Don’t get too excited about this dystopian vision of the future and quit your day job, though. When asked for a comment by Quartz, Google said: “Prospective announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.” …Right. We have a healthy dose of skepticism in regards to that comment, but until an official announcement is made, please keep reading,...read more