Gadgets:

HTC Battles Low Smartphone Sales

There was a time when HTC showed great promise in the smartphone sector, but those days are long gone. The company has been struggling to reach smartphone dominance, or even level the playing field. In 2014’s first quarter, “deep losses” have been reported for HTC even with the release of the newest gen flagship piece. HTC lost over $62 million, making this yet another disappointing quarter. No matter what it tries, HTC can’t seem to keep up with Samsung, Apple and other big smartphone developers. htc-one-m8

This is just the latest of embarrassing quarterly sales for the company with the latest HTC One falling flat. Hopes were high that the newest model would make strides in rebranding, but delays kept pushing back the release and may have caused doubt to grow in the market. Unfortunately, it was released at nearly the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S4 which dominated phone sales in that period.

No turning back?

The first time HTC reported an actual quarterly loss was in October 2013 with a $101 million loss. For comparison, Samsung reached a record-breaking sales high of $9.4 billion at the same time, largely in part to a beloved mobile inventory as well as memory chips. With such impressive technology on the market from the best snoring solutions to video games, the smartphone industry still makes up a huge sector but battles for top billing are leaving HTC in the dust.

Co-founder of HTC Cher Wang stated in February 2014 that the company’s issues were that “we only concentrated on our flagship. We missed a huge chunk of the mid-tier market.” However, even if that is the case, it might be too late to fix those mistakes. In 2013, HTC released the HTC One Mini as well as the One Max, but these two devices and even the gold HTC One weren’t enough to take on the competition. The mid-range options such as the Desire 700 dual sim, Desire 500 (not available in the US, and the Desire 601 also fell short of sales goals.

The definition of insanity

Even with Wang’s confession, HTC continues to focus on flagship devices with the release of the updated HTC One, the M8. It comes with a brushed metal exterior, 1080p Gorilla Glass, and a five-inch screen, which garnered great reviews from PCMag. However, it’s still rivaling Samsung, including the recently released Galaxy S5 which is already insanely popular.

You can try out the M8 from all four major carriers, with prices varying by provider. However, if you’re like many Americans, another release from a different company likely caught your eye already.

Gadgets:

How to Teach Children the Magic of Photography

 Photography is an exciting art form that has enchanted people of all ages for more than a century. Take, for example, the infamous Cottingley Fairies in the 1920s, when two children mystified the world with their imaginative photography experiment.

While the expense of photography and complexity of the chemical processes once prohibited most children — and even adults — from engaging in photographic experiments, the evolution of technology has made shooting photographs so easy and accessible today that any child who is old enough to hold a camera and push a button reliably is ready take up the hobby.

Cameras are now on the market designed expressly for children, made of rugged materials and featuring easy controls. In addition, once the camera hardware has been purchased, the expense is next to nothing, so long as the basic digital equipment to view the photos is already in the house.

Interesting ways that children are utilizing cameras

It really doesn’t take much encouragement to get kids to take pictures once they have a camera, but giving their interest a little direction can’t hurt. It’s natural for most people to photograph their friends as they smile and wave to the camera, or act silly.

Creativity in photography requires a little more thought, however. One way that you can encourage your children to explores the potentials of photographic technique is to organize picture scavenger hunts. A hunt can go beyond a simple checklist of objects the children have to find and shoot; instead, tell them to find situations or colors that encourage the child to put more thought into composition.

Encourage creativity in the young

Christine Dickson of the Digital Photography School suggests that contests are a great way to encourage and teach children about photography. You can motivate kids initially with the prospect of a piece of candy or trinket to win by competing for it, but once the child experiences the thrill of having other people look at and admire his or her photograph, taking pictures becomes its own reward.

Simple concepts, such as which photo is the most colorful, are easy for young minds to grasp, and help foster the creative process.

Important lessons to teach about photography

Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School suggests the most important thing to teach a child about photography is to experiment. Experimentation helps to expand the mind and encourages children to discover for themselves what works and what doesn’t.

This can mean anything from shooting from different angles, to photographing a subject at different times of the day to capture changing light. The main idea is to let a child explore how these changes affect the ultimate image, and thus avoid the natural impulse to photograph everything in the same way. Experimentation is what keeps photography interesting.

Photography is now such a staple of social existence that it’s become hard to imagine a world without it. Children often take the process and the skill involved for granted. But since photography has become so ubiquitous and commonplace, it’s perhaps even more important to help children understand the magic of picture-taking.

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last update: April 18, 2014

Computers:

Home Buyers Are Barely Hitting The Pavement Anymore

In the past, prospective home buyers contacted a real estate agent and started the process of visiting homes. Property after property was viewed and evaluated. At some point, the buyers decided on a home.

It might not have been the perfect home, but it felt good enough after doing all that legwork. Today’s age of online mortgage lending and home listings brings the real estate market into the home, however. Home buyers search for the right property right on the computer, and often find it.

Get pre-approved loan first

Buyers aren’t limited to their local bank anymore. If you go online, you’ll find many lenders looking for their next client. For most lenders, there’s no commitment to take the loan after a quote.

Simple information from the buyer is necessary for a rough estimate on maximum property principal and interest rates. One site can even have multiple lenders competing for a buyer’s business.

The lenders propose their best offer in hopes of winning the client. There are no awkward bank meetings or intimidating clerks. Buyers have a good chance at a perfect loan that fits their financial needs.

Earth view

As technology improves, buyers have a better view of the world than ever before. Specialized laptop, cell phone, and tablet apps and software allow buyers to look at a satellite snapshot of their potential new neighborhood.

Zoom in for a look at street level, from gorgeous park landscaping to unsightly vacant lots. If buyers are looking for a new property in a different neighborhood, a satellite view may give them a better look than a typical drive-by.

Access to statistics on crime and schools

A safe home another goal of buyers. However, it’s sometimes difficult to identify bad neighborhoods with one or two visits alone.

Several online resources offer statistical data regarding both crime levels and school performance. For example, buyers can find out about local sexual predators housed in the area, or last year’s robbery rate.

Alternatively, look up local school scores to find the areas with the brightest students. Schools with dedicated teachers, students, and parents often reflect a close-knit community. All these online resources provide another layer of information for a well-informed choice during house hunting.

Open houses online

Online property listings allow buyers to view dozens of homes in a day, without leaving their computer. As websites have expanded, each listing often shows photos of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and outdoor areas.

With more photos, properties have a better chance at a sale. Some listings offer a 360-degree view that gives buyers a look around the entire room. Descriptions of amenities, along with filtering applications, allow buyers to pinpoint the perfect property in a specific area. Once it’s found, buyers can ask their Realtor about visiting the property for a tour of the premises.

The online world has made it much easier for both buyers and sellers to find the perfect match. With the right descriptions and and photos on a reputable website, a beautiful home can really shine.

Gadgets:

Tech News for Dogs, Cats, and Their Owners

Science and technology have improved lives through uses both wide and varied, that have affected everyone over time. Recent scientific and tech developments have helped pet owners in a variety of ways.

One of the more interesting ways that tech companies are currently working with pets is in helping to improve communication between animals and their owners. One group that’s concentrating on this area is NSID: the Nordic Society for Innovation and Discovery.

The No More Woof device

One of the NSID’s more interesting innovations is called No More Woof. It’s designed to read your dog’s brain. While it doesn’t do much more currently than read basic thought patterns, it’s still able to tell an owner when a dog is thinking certain things, like when it has to pee or eat.

The gadget rests on the dog’s head and may soon be publicly available. No More Woof can currently be pre-ordered at prices anywhere between $65 and $1,200. The machine is far from perfect at the moment, but the NSID aims to create far superior models in the future.

Beyond the more entertaining aspects of the pet industry, medicine and health innovations for pets are constantly improving, which is always good news for owners.

The Improvements

A recent study is taking a closer look at Golden Retrievers because the breed has shown a higher-than-usual likelihood of developing cancer. The Morris Animal Foundation study is projected to last roughly 14 years, and with at least 1,000 Goldens enrolled, will be the largest of its kind ever. The researchers hope to make improvements in other areas of canine health as well.

On a less mortal note, the health of cats is also being looked at. While cats can be remarkably healthy for much of their life span, especially if they stay indoors, certain problems persist.

One painful issue for feline companions is tooth-related; it can involve teeth that break too easily. The condition is fairly common among cats and can result in multiple teeth having to be pulled.

The main problem here is that cats not only can’t show their human housemates the problem, but they’re inclined to hide and mask pain as well. So owners must figure it out or take their kitty to the vet.

Frequent visits to the veterinarian are the best way to combat these issues. X-rays taken at a pet clinic can indicate what we cannot see.

Technology is constantly seeking to improve the health and lives of people and their pets it. Whether you want to have a more meaningful relationship with your dog or your cat needs of medical assistance, we can expect great new developments in the future.

One thing remains constant, though: A pet has to be active to be truly healthy and happy. Making sure to walk the dog and play with the cat is as important as anything future technology might be able to offer. Whether in a group or alone with your pet, no man, pooch, or feline is an island.

Computers:

Big Data Looks Inward

With every passing month, the business community discovers more benefits of the Big Data revolution. Although transitioning to taking advantage of Big Data requires expense and effort, most firms that pursue this goal realize major achievements. For example, systematic data collection allows businesses to gather incredibly detailed information about their customers. By learning about the behaviors and attitudes of their customers, companies can design more effective marketing campaigns, product lines and lead generation techniques.

Unfortunately, far too many companies are reluctant to change well-established modes to take advantage of Big Data. Such reluctance can come from a number of different places. Companies with solid long-term profitability might feel uncertain about changing winning formulas. By the same token, companies with less profitability are often loathe to make investments in new systems. Time and time again, organizations that take a risk on implementing Big Data solutions achieve worthwhile results. New data collection and analysis procedures can improve revenue streams, or reduce waste that comes as a result from redundant business processes, in potentially surprising ways.

Reducing Costs and Saving Far More than Money

Companies that are struggling to make ends meet should consider prioritizing the implementation of Big Data concepts. Instead of doubling down on old-fashioned methods, adopting new strategies can turn around corporate fortunes quite readily. The potential of Big Data is particularly relevant to the discipline of Business Process Management (BPM). Due to technological advances and vendor competition, companies are gaining affordable access to ever-larger amounts of customer data. If properly used, this data is useful for short-term and strategic decision-making.

BPM platforms are integrated, multifaceted systems for examining business processes in detail. Even for midsized companies, processes can become so complex that it is difficult to see the big picture precisely. By looking inward, Big Data reveals the subtle problems and paradoxes that can lead to systemic crises. With the data provided by BPM platforms, process managers can take decisive actions and forestall growing problems. For example, managers can adjust internal resource streams to prioritize the most profitable activities. While experience and intuition will always play a part in resource management, BPM software is critical for filling in gaps in human knowledge.

Customize, Optimize, Analyze

Generally, BPM platforms can easily handle multiple processes. This is ideal for analyzing the huge amount of data that the Big Data revolution is generating. With a separate analytics engine attached to each process, companies can fine tune their operations with remarkable precision. Although BPM platform vendors provide comprehensive services, each client should take responsibility for optimizing process management. While default vendor analytics are generally useful, people can gain greater insights by customizing analytics to the best of their abilities.

Interestingly, BPM is useful for far more than simply extracting and importing data from various applications. BPM channels all data and improves data quality by identifying missing or damaged items. Combining Big Data concepts and BPM is fairly easy for companies of all size. As awareness of Big Data grows, new BPM tools are increasingly easy to implement and maintain. Oftentimes, these tools require little or no coding for long-term usage. By looking inward and really focusing on internal data, companies can improve their processes and set new standards of success for the future.

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Computers:

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Tech Work Survives Your Worst Fears

There’s only one thing that may be harder than performing difficult technical work: recovering emotionally from the disastrous event of losing all that work.

You might assume we’re going to give you the same bland advice you’ve always heard about saving your work. But take a look at the ways that you might manage not to lose your work, and how you can mitigate the danger of these fearsome disasters becoming a horrific reality.

Here are five ways to ensure your work survives your worst fears.

1. Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property protection is an issue of ongoing contention and legal conflicts, but one thing is for certain: you need to protect your work in this way. Due to the lightning viral nature of today’s Internet, and the hunger for great content, the “borrowing” (which is to say, stealing) of creative work is at all-time high.

Ask an attorney who specializes in this type of protection, or check out solid informational sources on intellectual property protection.

2. NDAs

NDA stands for Non Disclosure Agreements, which help to prevent people from running away with your most prized intellectual ideas and properties after they’ve been exposed to them. This is something you’ll definitely want for your developers and employees.

If don’t have NDAs in place, you could lose your hard work to someone who did nothing other than take it from you!

3. Hold workers to milestones

If you’re not setting and measuring milestones, there’s a chance your project (and the hard work involved) will be a complete waste of time. A good resource for this are the principles of lean startups. If you don’t finish the project, you lose your work. Period.

4. Debug

If you’re not testing and debugging everything you build, then you’re potentially making a massive mistake that will kill your entire project. Certain types of bugs, if detected early, can alter the essential design, but if you discover the problems too late, you might not have the budget or time to make the necessary alterations.

5. Backups

Backing up your data has always been a habit that every techie utilizes (or should), but what about the devices themselves?

We’re talking specifically about backup power. You’re going to want to find a battery-based backup service with the kind of ongoing maintenance plan that works for your needs and budget.

When your data is backed up, and the power to get to that data is also backed up, you’ll be especially well protected from any type of calamity that might endanger your ability to use all the work you’ve done.

Computers:

3 Ways an Inventory Management System Can Help Businesses

Technology has revolutionized the way that today’s businesses operate. One type of software that can greatly help with ordering and maintaining correct stock quantities is inventory management software. Here are three ways that businesses in many industries can benefit from this technology.

1) Increased efficiency

Keeping up with a large number of products can painstaking if you have outdated techniques. This is especially true for mid- to large-sized businesses that are dealing with thousands or tens of thousands of products. Using an inventory management system gives business owners a high level of control so they can tell what the exact quantity of a particular product is at any time. Many platforms will automatically notify the right person ahead of time if a product is running low, so it can be reordered without disrupting operations. This way customers always have what they’re looking for and stock quantities can stay at the right number.

2) Comprehensive reporting

Another advantage involves the fact that businesses continually accumulate data. Besides having access to real-time data for an instant view of inventory quantities, the software will analyze data so long-term trends can be identified. For example, if a particular product was experiencing sales spikes at certain times of the year, a business owner could order larger quantities just before the anticipated surge. If a product has witnessed a gradual decline in popularity and is simply wasting shelf space, it could be discontinued to make room for a more popular product. This makes it easier to devise ordering strategies based on solid evidence.

3) Better profit margins

Thanks to the added level of efficiency and smarter ordering, businesses that implement this system can also expect to see higher sales volumes. By ordering the ideal quantity of each product, this makes the process much more cost-effective than simply guessing or going on intuition. Companies are less likely to get stuck with unwanted product lines that they can’t move and the products they do order should sell relatively quickly. It’s also easier to keep track of order management and financials, and the chances of human error are greatly reduced. A platform that integrates with Quickbooks increases efficiency even more because businesses can still use a familiar interface. This makes the implementation process easier and puts businesses in a position to thrive.

Gadgets:

3 Must-Have Stress Relieving Gadgets

 

Everyday life can get pretty stressful. It’s no secret that stress can have negative effects on your body as well as your mental health, and that it can accelerate illnesses and injuries.

Sometimes you just need to turn off your computer, leave your phone at home, and go somewhere to relax. If you can’t do that, there are still ways that technology can help you relieve stress and boost your focus. There are tools available to help you de-stress your life, and thereby boost your productivity, focus, and happiness.

Here are three excellent gadgets that can help you.

1. The PIP Biosensor

Sometimes it’s hard for us to realize when we’re actually stressed. The PIP Biosensor was created through a Kickstarter campaign for the purpose of monitoring stress levels.

The small, teardrop-shaped sensor is connected to an app that shows you your current stress levels. Once you can start to visualize your own tension levels, it’s a lot easier to learn what causes your stress and how you can control it.

2. JumpStart

It’s been shown that you can control stress levels, and even improve your overall health, just by controlling your breathing. The JumpStart app can helps you to do just that by leading you through ten-minute breathing exercises that you can do anytime, and anywhere.

3. 20 Cubed

Many of us spend our days staring at a screen, whether it’s for our job or on our own time. It’s important to take a break every once in a while, otherwise you’ll end up putting a lot of strain on your eyes and your body by sitting still for so long.

20 Cubed is a browser extension that counts down every 20 minutes and tells you exactly when to take a break.

If you’re still looking for further stress relief during your day, you might look into downloading some audio podcasts or guided hypnosis and meditation. There’s a lot of great content out there, some of it available for free; and the right music, podcasts, comedy albums, or meditations can be a welcome escape from your hectic day.

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