Survive Daylight Savings With These Tech Tools

Daylight savings, why do we do daylight savings, technology, time saving apps, social media for business

Only 74 More Clocks to ChangeSometime long ago, a group of government officials decided they would mess with people’s natural sleeping patterns and throw them off for weeks by telling everyone in most of the United States (except for people who live in Arizona and Hawaii) that suddenly in the middle of fall (used to be the last week in October, but it’s now the first week in November), the overworked citizens would be given an extra hour to sleep, or use however they would like.   But it isn’t a real gift, it is more of a loaner, because five months later (used to be in March but is now in April), that hour will be taken back, and the fine citizens of 48 states and a few US Territories will once again be out of whack!

Not only do we walk around for weeks completely off kilter, but the day after this magical time change takes place, people have to go around their homes searching for every clock they own to either make it fall back or spring forward, thus wasting the very hour they were just given.

So as you begin to take inventory of all your time pieces this week, I decided I would share some fun apps and tips to either save you time, or fill the time you will have after missing your flights and appointments.  Perhaps you should just throw all clocks away and start your own time zone!  I’d love to hear about the apps and tools you are using to save (or make up lost) time.

  1. Glympse (available on Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows7) This app is for those of us who will be at least an hour late for every appointment because we set our clocks back an hour after our spouses had already set them.  Open the app and send a link via email or text message to the person you are meeting with and let them track you on the map.  It’s like watching Santa fly over Kansas on his way to your house via NORAD tracking.  Very cool.
  2.  GateGuru (available on both Android and iOS) This app will save you time while traveling especially when you have that one hour layover and need to find a quick bite to eat but you are hankerin’ for a Quizno’s sub.  Open up Gate Guru and the GPS will show you what exactly is available in that concourse and it includes reviews by other travelers!
  3. AutoPark (on iOS only) This is the app that will save you time and money.  As you walk around for the next few weeks not paying attention to where you are parking your car, AutoPark will help you find your parked car, tell you how much time is left on your parking meter, and will show you nearby services such as banks, car-washes, parking lots and more!
  4. Banking Apps (Wells Fargo; Chase; BofA and more) This is not our grandma’s Savings and Loan anymore!  We can save loads of time by taking our tasks on the road and it is safe.  Most banks today have mobile banking features that allow you to pay bills, transfer money and even find nearby ATMs all with your mobile device, and now we are seeing apps for many banks that are taking it further allowing you to even deposit your checks by taking a picture of the check with your phone!  WOW- you can get your banking done and go back to bed for another hour!

So as you FALL BACK on November 6th, be aware that you will probably spend the next few weeks recovering from the confusion that comes from not knowing if you really gain an hour or if you have you spent more time telling yourself “It’s really 5 o’clock right now, not 6.”  Remember when people tell you that time is your enemy, you can tell them that fortunately technology is your friend and together you have made peace with daylight and night time.  They won’t understand what you are talking about and you can just walk away…saving MORE TIME!

Gina Schreck, Shreck, Social Media for Business, Social marketing, technology

The Time Challenged, Gina Schreck

Gina Schreck is the President and Chief Hooligan at SynapseConnecting.  If you have time this week and need to chat with someone about your social marketing needs, give her a call…She’s got TIME!
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This blog post has been sponsored by CLEAR, the service that speeds you through airport security. CLEAR members save so much time at the airport, it’s like having Daylight Savings every time you travel! CLEAR, the (self-proclaimed) Official Sponsor of Daylight Saving Time, is celebrating the extra hour we get on Nov 6th with a series of travel and time-savings posts on their blog – and here, on my blog too.
Time saving technology, Daylight savings, Clear, airport travel
To help you see what CLEAR is all about, they are offering my readers a special 3-month FREE trial! Don’t settle for just one extra hour this Daylight Savings. No need to deal with unpredictable security lines, the stress of rushing to your gate, or the time you waste getting to DEN extra early. Click here to get your pass and try CLEAR’s enhanced travel experience for yourself. Just enter my code (CMNDST09) in the promo code field on the payment page.

10 Tech Tools to Be More Productive (and Maintain Sanity)

Armed with laptops, tablets, smart phones and 5 hour energy drinks, we should be able to complete that 4 hour work week that Timothy Ferriss says is possible. With social sites to update, apps to learn how to use and our actual job duties to complete, we just need a few more of those 5 hour energy drinks and 10 times what Timmy estimates, to get it all done!

Gina Schreck, Shreck, Social Media for Business, Social marketing, technology

Avoid Overload

I spend more time playing with and checking out apps than the average person and I’m sure I spend more time on social media sites than most as well, but that is our business. But if you have been feeling that technology, and especially social media sites, have invaded our lives like a swarm of locust coming in to eat our crops of time and productivity, you are not alone.  Even I get that urge to take out my bug spray and start crop dusting for locust.

Over the past few years, I have come to rely on a few tools that save me time and make packing a 60 hour work week into at least a 39 hour bag a little more doable. So here are the top 10 tools I feel will help you save time:

Smart Phone

This seems like a no-brainer, but there are still quite a few people who have not seen the value in switching to a smart phone. Having a phone that can access email, edit and send documents, take pictures, respond to questions on your social sites, post content as you see it to your social sites, and more, will save you from having to wait until you can get back to your computer to “get work done.”

iPad (or any other tablet for that matter)

We’ve heard the legends of the magical device that shoots out cotton candy rainbows (also known as the iPad), but once you start using it for more than a giant iPod to play music, you will discover that magic land for yourself.  Working mobile is now really possible when you have a device that allows you to check and respond to email, create and edit documents, including presentations and smart looking charts, make reservations for dinner without picking up a phone, join a Skype meeting with co-workers and update your social profiles with the touch of a screen….Can you say Magical Unicorns?  Now when you are sitting for 15 minutes waiting for your lunch appointment to arrive, you can be productive.  When you have that 30 minutes before your son gets out of football practice, you can get a chunk of work finished.  Slip it into your carry-on and pound out work on the plane, train or bus.  I believe these power tools are worth shelling out the $500-$600

Flipboard

We used to sift through newspapers and trade journals to search for relevant information and even clip articles to send to clients, prospects and friends.  Today you can have better, more focused content sent to you daily (on your magical tablet) and even send articles to those clients and prospects with a touch of a screen.  Flipboard is one such app that I can’t live without.  Each morning, I open to find custom information that is pulled from blogs, websites, social sites.  I can read it, share it, tell the app whether or not I want more of that same type of content or even more articles from that particular writer.  The app will update the content throughout the day so your virtual newspaper continues to feed you information as you desire.

WordPress app

It took me awhile before I actually started using this app and now I am getting great value from it.  This app (available on Android, iPhone, iPad) will allow you to blog on the go or even start a draft post when the idea strikes.  It’s wonderful!

Instapaper

I am surprised how many people still have not heard of Instapaper, but this is like having a folder filled with clippings to read when you have those in-between moments.  Install this app on your PC, laptop, and mobile devices, and then when you find a blog post that you want to read later, you simply click “READ LATER” in your browser or SAVE TO INSTAPAPER on your mobile devices.  Now when you have that 10 minutes of waiting time, simply open up your Instapaper app and read your “clippings.”

Dropbox

A favorite time saver for so many reasons. When you are working with several clients and want to simplify how you share and transport documents, graphics, and more, Dropbox is a must. We create a Dropbox folder for each client and then the community manager that works on that account has access to the folder as well as the client. Photos and articles can be dropped in the

Google Docs

Between Dropbox and Google Docs, the days of emailing “proposal version 1.7” “proposal version 1.8” back and forth are over. I have several people that I work with regularly but on different projects. Using Google Docs allows us to maintain one document that can be updated (even together at the same time seeing each other add or change information) and shared instantly. BIG time savings!

Hootsuite (or TweetDeck)

With content to post, read and respond to on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook, these tools are essential for saving time and staying on top of all of your social activities.  They both have similar features but Hootsuite allows teams that manage social media to collaborate and share duties.  Using the “schedule posts” features on either of these, you can plan ahead with many of your posts and then sprinkle in the spontaneous.

Evernote

This time saving app is like carrying around a trunk to throw everything in for your business. Snap a photo of a sign that you want to incorporate into your blog and save it in your Evernote Blog Notebook. Have an idea hit you while your stuck behind the train? Record an audio message and save it to an Evernote notebook. Add documents, graphics and even the kitchen sink…or a picture of the one you like. Unpack WHAT you want WHEN you want it…WHEREVER you are. This amazing tool is available on your desktop, iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry!

ManyMoon

ManyMoon is a wonderful project management tool whether you work alone and need those daily reminders of what needs to be completed to stay on task with your projects, or you work on a team and need to keep tabs on who has finished what.  This was part of Google’s lab tools and integrates well with all Google tools, calendar, docs and more.  (Not just for Google calendar either).  The fact that it is free makes it even more desirable!

Well these are my favorite apps and tools to stay organized and on task.  I’d love to know what your favorites are.

The Magic Continues: My Top 10 iPad Apps in 2010

This past June, after owning my iPad for only a couple months, I wasn’t sure if it was really worth all the hype. I did an early review of my “magical” device on a Gettin’ Geeky show, saying it really was not going to keep me from toting my laptop around.  I mean it was really just an oversized iPod, and while it made it much easier on my eyes to find songs or tweet from the beautifully large screen, it didn’t fit in my back pocket or purse…well okay, it did fit in a couple of my humongoid bags.

But it has been 10 months of living with my “magical” device, and while the unicorns and cotton candy only come a few times a week, I have found that I rarely leave home without my iPad.

Why the change in heart? It’s all about the apps.  I have almost a hundred different apps loaded on my iPad and have had several others come and go after testing them. Keep in mind when purchasing an iPad that apps range from FREE to $30 so budget another $50-$100 for apps to really make the magic happen.   I have also learned a few things along the way, like we shouldn’t have been naïve to think we didn’t need the 3G service.  You don’t always have wifi available and too many of the “magical” features require connectivity.  (That new iPad is scheduled to come out early 2011!)  So here is a run down of my top 10 FAVORITE apps and why I think YOU need them:

  1. Flipboard has not only been MY favorite, but the favorite of millions (Apple named Flipboard app of the year).  Flipboard turns your social media favorites into a personalized magazine.   Pulling from Twitter, Facebook and even some specialty feeds from Flip such as FlipTech or FlipDesign.  I love “flipping” through the pages like reading a real magazine. (This app is FREE and I feel guilty since it is so wonderful!)
  2. Osfoora is the Twitter app that I have found to do everything I want it to do all while looking great.  ($3.99 but so good it’s worth it)
  3. Pandora is the must have music app to bring your custom radio stations with you anywhere. (FREE for the version with commercials or you can pay $36 per year for commercial-free higher quality audio)
  4. Instapaper is the app that saved my computers. I typically have 28 tabs open on my browser because there are so many links that I click on and want to read but don’t have time at that moment.  Now with Instapaper you can clip and save part or all of an article and it saves it in an online folder to read when you have time…from any device. ($4.99 instead of a new laptop…worth every penny)
  5. Evernote is the must have app for all projects you are juggling. Take some notes, load some photos, even record an audio file to throw into your Evernote project file.  (A wonderful app for FREE)
  6. SoundNote was an amazing discovery just as I was about to plunk down a hundred dollars for a Livescribe pen.  This great app lets you record audio as you type notes or write with a stylus.  Later you can simply play back the audio. ($4.99 and worth at least twice as much!)
  7. Night Stand is a great travel companion and all around great alarm clock.  Not only does it display some beautiful clocks, but you can wake to birds chirping, glass breaking, or a woman screaming…and who wouldn’t want to wake to that soothing sound?  (There is a FREE limited version or the full version for $1.99)
  8. WhiteNoisePro is a wonderful app for those who have a hard time falling asleep or just love the soothing white noise of waterfalls, crickets, chimes, or a selection of 40 other sounds that you customize to lull the stress away.  (Well worth the $2.99)
  9. Jibbigo is the perfect travel companion to help you translate what that cab driver just said or to tell the hotel concierge that you are wanting to visit the pickle museum that is down town.  You type or speak a statement and it will first translate in text and then in voice.  (Not a cheap app at $25)

  10. Epicurious is a wonderful online cookbook with special features that build your shopping list and save your favorite recipes for that repeat performance.  This app can get any geek cooking!  (FREE!  You can upgrade within the app for $1.99 which builds your recipe box in the cloud to access from any device)

I didn’t list any of the great games (Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Word Worm, and Doodle Jump have been some of the favorites in our house) or the fantastic photography and music apps.  I may have to just do a post on each genre to start to scratch the surface.

So what will 2011 bring for the iPad aside from competition in the tablet market? More great apps for sure.  If I left off your favorite, tell us about it here in the comments.  After all, I need a few more.  It’s been at least 24-hours since I downloaded a batch!

We help organizations use today’s technology to build their business.  If we can help you be sure to give us a hollar!

Happy Geeky New Year!

~Gina

Tech Trends for 2010: What Had Us All Talkin’?

In the world of social media and technology this year, there were many tools that stood out, or commanded lots of our attention, but we took on the top 5 that we felt really impacted business or had many of us trying to figure out how to be more strategic and effective with them.

Donna Gilliland, of MOST Training, and I managed to keep our chat under an hour.  (Hard to do if you know either one of us)  We broke it down into 5 segments with each under 10 minutes.

TREND 1: MOBILE FOR BUSINESS

Sometimes referred to as the THIRD SCREEN, our mobile phones, and now tablets and other mobile devices, have made it easier than ever to work from ANYWHERE.

 

TREND 2: FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS

Facebook made headlines, it seems like, every day!  From ever-changing privacy settings, to the movie, The Social Network, Facebook became more than simply a virtual high-school reunion.  From the annoying Farmville gamers to every news station and retail store telling us to connect with them on Facebook.  We end the year with a move that just may be the end of email as we know it.

 

TREND 3: CLOUD COMPUTING FOR SMALL BIZ

While most people still do not know what this term actually means, cloud computing and the apps that many of us use without realizing they are cloud based, have begun to change the way we do business.  From storing our photos and slideshows, to sharing and collaborating on documents in the cloud, these tools are saving us time, money and lots of frustration.

 

TREND 4: VIDEO FOR BUSINESS

The pocket video camera and the 5-year-anniversary of the launch of YouTube have changed the way we search for and share information.  We no longer need expensive video production crews to create and share content.  This trend is great for business!

 

Trend 5: iPADS, READERS and TABLETS

2010 was truly the year of the iPad, but overall, the readers & tablets have changed the way, and the frequency in which we consume content.  Business is being done on the go and consumers want content they can take with them with ease.  We will continue to see these “Magical” devices appear in our work environments for years to come!

 

What do you think were the top tech trends of 2010?  What did we leave out or put in that you don’t agree with?  Share your thoughts and predictions with us!  Did you notice that the word “Twitter” was not mentioned?  It’s still going strong and growing faster than ever, but nothing of great note happened in Twitter Town in 2010 (In my not-so-humble-opinion!).

Gina Schreck

Gina is a Social Media and Technology FREAK!  Her and the team at SynapseConnecting can help you make sense of today’s technology and use it to build your business and manage your brand! Give us a hollar if we can help- 877-978-0887 or of course on Twitter @GinaSchreck

36 1/2 Ideas for QR Codes and MicroSoft Tags in YOUR Business

QR Codes for business, QR Codes for learning, Social media for business, Gina Schreck, Technology Expert

QR Code

According to Wikipedia: A QR Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scannersmobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the acronym for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

I like to think of QR Codes as Hyperlinks on our physical world!  They are no longer just black and white and Microsoft Tag has come along and added a few more features that make the little codes even more flexible.

QR codes, Gina Schreck, TechnologyI have been seeing more of the colorful Microsoft tags on the backs of cereal boxes and around town.  These require a separate scanner app from Microsoft (free download on any smart phone-look for Microsoft Tag Reader) and can be customized into pictures that are very cool.

Microsoft Tag can provide data on how often and where the tag was scanned.  You are also able to change the data source without having to change the tag.

Here are a few scanner apps that people have voted as their favorites for QR Codes (be sure and share yours in the comments):

Android Platform: BarCode Scanner (I use this and find it to be the fastest); QuickMark for Android (Both FREE); Google Goggles works for QR codes as well (FREE)

iPhone: Optiscan for iPhone (known as fastest for iPhone -$1.99);  NeoReader (Free); QR Reader (Free); Google Goggles work for scanning as well.

Blackberry: ScanLife Barcode Reader (Free); QR Code Scanner Pro (vibrates when code connects AND Free); NeoReader (Free)

QR Code, Gina Schreck,

QR Code Made From Lego (by LarryStraining)

Here are my favorite QR Code Generators:

ZXing: I like this one because you can embed content (memo), a URL, Contact info, and even a calendar event!

Kaywa: Like above you can choose to embed a URL, text content or contact information, but UNLIKE ZXing, you have to choose one.

TIPS: The more information you put into your QR code, the more complex it will be. The geometric pattern will be denser, and could be more difficult to accurately scan and interpret.  Shorten your URL using a tool like bit.ly to add some analytic features and see how many people are going to the site you sent them to.

36 1/2 Creative Uses for QR Codes or MS Tags:

QR codes for business, unique uses for QR codes, Gina Schreck, Technology expert, social learning, mobile

Sweet Code

1. QR Code on food products to take you to nutritional information.

2. QR Code on produce to tell you where the product was grown.

3. QR Code on items that need assembling taking you to a website with detailed instructions and a video!

4. QR Code inside a book taking you to a website where updates are available.

5. QR Code at zoo or museum to bring up videos or additional information on subject.

6. QR Code at conferences for handouts, exhibitor information and more.

7. QR Code on T-shirt taking prospective clients to your website, Twitter page or a video link for a fun surprise.

8. QR Code on business cards instead of cramming more info on there!

9. QR Code on health club door taking you to a site with great healthy recipes or trainer tips

10. QR Code on paper products with quick and easy recipes for families obviously on the go!

11. QR Code on sticker for laptops, phones, & other important gadgets that get left behind with your contact info.

12. QR Code on a rubber stamp for envelopes, stationary or even your forehead taking people to special promo pages on your site.

13. QR Code at the end of an article taking people to a bonus video.

14. QR Codes providing clues for a treasure hunt.

15. QR Codes around a school yard taking students to learning content (while they play!  SNEAKY)

16. QR Code on art piece taking you to artists portfolio.

17. QR Code at the end of a video on YouTube taking viewers to more fun content.

18. QR Code on wedding invitations or favors taking guests to online photos of the couple.

19. QR Code hidden in product or on raffle tickets – most go to fun content site and one goes to YOU’VE WON page!

20. QR Code on a bus stop bench with links going to car dealers website or eco-friendly sites.

21. QR Code on a grave site to take you to a page telling about the deceased.

22. QR Code on clothing tags taking you to designer websites or sites to provide styling tips.

23. QR Codes around an organization that take you to videos revealing the history or story of a company.

24. QR Code hidden in posters or marketing material that takes you to a special discount code.

25. QR Code on fingernail art taking you to a Facebook page or a nail salon website.

26. QR Code on dog tag taking you to a video sharing dog’s contact info or dog’s Facebook page :))

27. QR Codes on plant stakes to provide growing tips, plant origins, and coupons to fertilizers or gardening supplies.

28. QR Code on belt buckle taking you to your contact info or website.

29. QR Code on cupcakes or cake taking people to a special page with photos or videos featuring the guest of honor.

30. QR Code on car windows at dealer lot to allow shoppers to see video of car features when dealer is closed, or if they want to browse on their own.

31. QR Codes on menus taking people to a video of chef explaining the unique ingredients used.

32.  QR Codes on mailers that are sent out to take prospective customers to a video of you telling them why they should work with you.

33. QR Codes at the end of proposals that take people to a video of you addressing the potential client by name and giving the benefits of working with you.

34. QR Codes at the end of each book chapter with bonus audio or video content.

35. QR Code on business cards taking people to a white paper or free product to download.

36. QR Code on accountant’s business cards taking people to forms they need.

36 1/2. QR Code tattooed on your child…If lost, please return to… OK maybe not!

Now that I have your brain engaged here, what other ideas can you add?  What are creative places and uses you have seen?

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

(updated August 2016) Our society has an insatiable appetite for video.  It has grown steadily over the past 11+ years since the birth of YouTube and businesses are still behind in using more video in their marketing and customer education. According to statistics compiled by Website Monitoring YouTube has BILLIONS of views per day and people watch an average of 15 minutes of video per day.  I might be one of those “average people” since I do tend to watch videos that come my way via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and, occasionally, through an email.  If I add in the regular TED Talk videos that I watch, I can probably hit that average.

Kids and adults pass around more and more videos on Facebook and we even have Video Barbie, with a built in video camera, getting in on the action~(I do find this somewhat creepy to think little girls will be walking around secretly filming others through Bab’s camera that is embedded into her back and the lens in her chest.)  They could have named her Stalker Barbie! Warning to parents: Pick up those toys in YOUR bedroom before you go to sleep!

Video, Barbie video, Gina Schreck, Technology trends

Stalker Barbie

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world, just behind its parent company…Google.  That’s right, people will go to YouTube to find everything from how to install a new toilet or how to speak with a British accent to finding deep intellectual messages through cartoons like Charlie the Unicorn.   So what does this have to do with business…besides EVERYTHING?


Take a look at some of these fun images from YouTube’s 5-year journey.

Businesses should be capitalizing on the fact that people are seeking information and learning from videos.  With video equipment getting smaller and less expensive, there is no reason why you and your organization shouldn’t be tapping into this insatiable appetite for video consumption.

Here are my 5 tips for getting your community tuned in to your message:

  1. Be Business Casual– When you over-produce or over-script a video, it feels like you are trying to sell us something.  When you turn the camera on yourself and talk authentically, we connect with you.  Look at some of the most successful videos on YouTube…they are not shot by a professional production team, they are simple and conversational.  What tips can you share via video? What’s on your mind that can be turned into a video blog post? You don’t need a professional set or well-written script. Jot some bullet points down and hit that record button. 
  2. Have Great Audio– There are many options now to boost the audio on many pocket video cams with Bluetooth microphones and even a simple lapel mic that plugs into your smartphone.  People will forgive bad video skills as long as they can hear you clearly.  Don’t forget that while doing simple editing after, you can adjust and boost sound as well. 
  3. Set a Fun Backdrop–  Look behind you before you start filming. I have seen videos with bright windows behind the person which turns them into a silhouette, or worse I have seen videos with pictures or lamps behind the person, creating a comical mashup of the person and the object.  Instead of sitting in front of a messy office, create a simple but interesting backdrop that will enhance your video. 
  4. Get the video creation into the Hands of the Community and Co-Create– Remember, YOU don’t have to be the star of every video, or of any videos if you’d rather stay out of the spotlight.  Put the cameras in the hands of your customers, your learners, your fans and let then tell the stories of your company.  Within your organization start a series of WINK videos (What I Now Know) asking everyone from the executive teams to the star employees, “What are 2 or 3 things you know now that you wish you would have known when you started here?” Have your customers create a “Day in the Life of a CUSTOMER!” People love seeing themselves be silly on video.  Create opportunities for participants to create content to use in a training program . Give teams the information they need and challenge them to create a fun, short (5 min in length) and content-packed video that will used to explain a new product roll-out to other teams or in a “Popcorn Learning Segment” in your next training program. Pop some popcorn and view the videos as a group with a debrief or quiz created by the same teams! 
  5. And….ACTION! Get STARTED! Don’t let the need for perfection paralyze you.  Pick something easy to start with like 5 tips on a topic you have expertise in and just push that RECORD button!  You will find ways to get more creative and better with each video you create.

Keep in mind that when you post a video on YouTube, every word you say is transcribed and those words become searchable through Google!  Be strategic if you are wanting your videos to become viral or at least be found by a bigger audience!  You can post your videos on your blog, website, directly into Facebook, or a series of video hosting sites (YouTube is only one of many).

I love to hear the creative uses people find to incorporate video into their marketing, their learning, or other informative uses for business.  How else can we all get creative with simple video?  Let us know in the comment section and let’s learn something together!

Happy Filming!