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  1. While everyone might know what YouTube is, how to market your brand on the platform is a whole different story. How do you become successful on YouTube? YouTube can be difficult to master, but it’s one of the easiest and most shareable content platforms for your audience to connect and spread the news of what you’re creating. Compared to all other social media platforms, YouTube is the one company that aims to put creators first. YouTube doesn’t just give you another social media platform to explore; it gives your brand’s supporters a unique experience that no other brand has. While yes, some brands might be using YouTube as well, but no matter what they’re doing with the content, your content will be unique to you and your brand. According to Bluleadz: They say that there are about 1 billion creators on the YouTube platform, that number is stunning when you think about it. They also go on to say that viewers have increased by fifty percent as well. That just goes to show you the sheer amount of potential there is when it comes to monetizing your brand in the most user-friendly way. Below we’ve compiled a list of seven tips that will help you become successful on YouTube if executed well. Marketing Strategies You Need To Know YouTube play icon.In this guide, we’ve curated the most important steps you need to know when exposing your brand to the marketable world of YouTube. While it might not always be a smooth ride, the results will be worth it. Not only will you be able to form a unique connection with your supporters and customers, but you’ll also be able to create on a much larger scale without extensive out of pocket costs. Allowing you and your brand to reach new limits of interaction and creativity that will reflect in a positive light on your brand. With new ways of forming connections within technology today, your brand will need to learn how to adapt seamlessly. While it sounds easy, it’s not always a piece of cake, but with this list, you’ll have the right tools to take your first steps forward. Social media marketing isn’t something to fear when it comes to YouTube, let’s embrace it together! Choose Your Direction Whether you’re just starting a brand or you already have a developed platform in place, when you branch out to YouTube, one of the most important elements to keep in mind is none other than your brand. Your brand is who you are and what you’re presenting to the world. By having a concise idea of what your brand means to you is your first step to figuring out how to successfully market your video content. Brainstorm what you feel makes your brand stand out from the rest, use this list to develop ways to expand your industry. This way you’ll have a confident sense of who your audience will be and what direction for the brand as a whole will turn out most beneficial. Be Everywhere When starting out on YouTube, you might notice that it can be hard to reach a solid fanbase right away. It’s important to remember that it takes time, but there is a way to boost the speed of that time so you can get more sooner: social media. By sharing your videos on other social media and paying attention to hashtags and keywords, you’ll bring in more and more people to watch your videos. If they end up liking your videos, you’re most likely going to have one more subscriber you wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for other social media platforms. Collaborate When starting out on YouTube, to say the least, it can be daunting. But you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to other creators who make similarly themed content and ask for collaboration. Not only will you be building your network, but you’ll also have connections you can go to for advice. It’s important to not focus on the monetary gain from collaboration; it should also be fun and an experience that helps you learn more about you and your brand. When you’re collaborating with another creator, you’re essentially boosting both of your social media marketing journeys. Expect to be turned down, that’s just a part of the risk when reaching out to other brands, this shouldn’t crush your spirits because soon enough you will find your community of support through creators on the platform. Quality Content Everything from keywords to your thumbnail is extremely important when it comes to making a successful YouTube video. A great rule of thumb to follow is the idea of quality over quantity. You don’t want your thumbnails to be too busy so that they can’t be understood since they will be shrunken in size. You also don’t want your video titles to be too long and full of clickbait. Stay honest and present facts that will be interesting to your viewers. Entice the viewers with a taste of what the video will be like and use the tools offered to you on YouTube to make that happen. The more simple you go, the more clicks and interaction you’ll get. The more chaotic you are, the less engagement you’ll receive because it’s not presented as quick, easy, or fresh content. Know Your Audience Your audience has needs, and no two audiences are alike. This group of people that have started to follow your content, these are individuals that are interested in what you have to say. You need to be able to give them what they came for, while also being able to stay true to your brand. Finding that healthy balance between what your brand needs and what the audience wants is key to maximizing how you market your content. By using YouTube as a social media marketing tool, you’re connecting with the people who support you, while also growing your brand. Reach Out Even though publishing a YouTube video is online, there are some advanced sales techniques you should put some leg work into. Whether you’re reaching out to your brand’s customers or friends, share your videos and encourage people to check them out. If you recently talked to a customer about a specific idea and you created a video similar to topics brought up in your conversation, link it to them! This kind of door-to-door method can be used when it comes to reaching out to other media outlets as well. Request interviews or features from magazine platforms that publish work in the same industry as you. This is a key way to reach out to the community and to build your audience quickly. Call To Action Just as if you were writing a blog post, it’s important to engage with your audience in any medium. This includes videos! Reach out during your video to engage with your viewers, ask questions, encourage them to get involved and voice their opinions in the comment section. When you include a small call to action in your video, this would also be a great time to request that people like, comment, and subscribe to your channel for more content. In many ways, YouTube videos work as a blog post. They need to have a purpose, have a beginning, middle, and end, and of course a call to action! Conclusion YouTube is one of the most powerful tools in marketing, yet due to how intense it can be, content creating is not always something brands jump into. We want to encourage that you get out of your comfort zone and you go for it. YouTube will boost the growth of your brand simply because of how hands-on the content can be. There is a sea of endless opportunity you can potentially take advantage of when it comes to video content. This article is focused on YouTube Marketing, but there is so much more to the marketing aspect than numbers and clicks. When you want to successfully market your brand on any platform, it’s about forming that lasting connection of trust with your customers and viewers. Which is what YouTube has strived to do for its creators. YouTube is not an overnight process. Even if your content is of the highest quality, it can be hard to get your foot in the door. But the most important key to remember, especially when you’re first starting out, is that persistence is the key when it comes to YouTube. If you stick with it and keep experimenting with ways to get a response from individuals that want to go out of their way to support you, you’ll, sure enough, find a niche where your brand will make a difference. What tips will you be applying to your YouTube channel? The post The 7 key ways to be successful on YouTube appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  2. With the advent of modern technology solutions, few brands or organizations have manual accounts payable processes today. If you do, you absolutely need to wake up and get with the times. You could be spending more than 70 percent above budget on manual, paper-based processes, and there’s a much easier way available. That said, even though abundant automation and invoice management tools are available, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve chosen the right one. There are a lot of options, especially when it comes to simplifying and eliminating the tedium. Solo entrepreneurs have it even more difficult on this front, because they don’t always have others to compare their progress with. Organizations, for instance, usually have teams or groups to gather additional reports. We’re going to take a quick look at some of our favorite tools, which you can undoubtedly use to boost your entire system. Payment Solution Tool You’ll need a unique payment solution tool that aids your customers in both paying for a transaction, and taking advantage of various promotions and offers. If your site uses WordPress, you should be using a WP e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce. Though there are several e-commerce plugins available for WordPress sites, WooCommerce is the most popular. It’s easy to upload products, descriptions and images, track orders and manage inventory. Also, it’s compatible with a host of common payment gateways such as Square, Stripe and PayPal. Finally, you can upgrade the base platform to expand and include additional features and support as you need it. You can add extra payment gateways and portals, edit shipping options, add slider carousels and content and anything else you need. Basically, if your site uses WordPress and has an e-commerce platform, this is the plugin you need. Recommendation: WooCommerce Cache Tools Hummingbird site performance test.One issue that tends to crop up with modern sites — especially when they rely on high-quality images and videos — is that performance can be negatively impacted. This is because the systems, devices and, yes, remote servers are under heavier performance loads. For whatever reason, it can cause your website to load sluggishly, which is frustrating in the heat of the moment. Your customers will notice this even more when trying to add items to a cart, check out or browse your inventory online. A slow website means less business and fewer happy customers. The numbers support this idea, too. Forty-seven percent of consumers will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. You can offset slow site speeds by deploying cache and cloud storage tools that cut down on load times and the resources needed to display a site. Any cache tool will do, and if you are running WordPress, there are a variety of plugins at your disposal. We recommend using Hummingbird, which makes the entire setup and delivery process for your cache quick and painless. If you’re wondering what this has to do with your accounts payable process, well, you’ll want to track, monitor, and store everything that’s happening with your e-commerce portal. Storage and web cache tools can help you make this happen, while also maintaining decent performance for your users. You’ll still need analytics tools, obviously. A cache system compliments that, and so many other elements of your program. Recommendation: Hummingbird Invoice Processing Tools With invoice tools like InvoiceAction, you have everything you need to manage the data exchange and purchase order processing systems. It can help streamline payment approvals, by digitizing all the necessary documents used during the order approval process. It can also automate the management processes you would normally oversee manually, including identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, reducing cycle types, and integration with your ERP system. This one tool you should never be without. Recommendation: InvoiceAction Electronic Document Management With today’s emphasis on digital platforms, you need a way to marry your data with your accounting and reporting. The only natural way to do this is to compile and organize it in terms of documents and files. It’s about more than just stashing them all in a digital closet or directory, however. You’ll want to take all your content, invoices, reports and documents and store them categorically using a relational database. This will provide you with the support and interface to identify and review this content at a later time. Some examples of this include eFileCabinet, Content Central, Shelf, ViewCenter, FileHold, Quip and more. Recommendation: Docuware OCR and Data Verification Tools OCR stands for optical character recognition, which is necessary to make your accounts payable team happier and more organized. The combination of this tool and data verification procedures can help alleviate manual data entry and invoice processing. Without OCR tools in place, you’ll need to scale by increasing human labor and resources, just to keep up with processing demands. That does not include analyzing or reviewing the incoming data and information that directly relates to those processed materials. More importantly, OCR can help you and your team come up with a highly efficient accounts payable process, to streamline the inner workings and improve existing strategies. A good tool is designed to both mirror and optimize the kind of object recognition your human laborers would encounter in manual processing. Such a tool is invaluable, especially if your goal is to automate or slim down the demands of your invoicing process. Recommendation: NextProcess Payment Optimization Technology When dealing with vendors and suppliers, payment optimization technology is absolutely critical to not only streamlining this experience, but monetizing it — if you do things correctly. It’s a broad term that refers to a tool, dashboard or system that allows you to pay vendors based on their preferred method. Why is this so important? Well, because conventional payment systems such as checks are nearly obsolete. Most payments are both automated and electronic. If and when you do it right, you can actually get paid for paying, through the use of virtual credit systems and more. This is especially true if you can convert all your suppliers and vendors to electronic payments. Some examples of this include Worldpay, Inspire Pay, TriZetto and many others. Recommendation: Adyen With these six tools in hand, accounts payable work has never looked less intimidating. The post 6 tools to simplify your accounts payable process appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  3. December is already here and in a few short weeks, you’ll be celebrating NYE with your family and friends. However, if you’re a marketer, this is a rather hectic time of the year. After all, there are a lot of things you have to take care of to prepare for the following year. Preparing for major changes A hectic schedule is nothing new for a seasoned marketer. In fact, things would probably be a little bit strange without it. There’s a ton of things you have to be aware of. You have to keep in mind that, every single day, there are more than 2 million blog posts published. Every minute there are more than 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube and 350,000 Tweets posted. The World Wide Web has been oversaturated with content for quite a while. Despite this, last year, the use of various ad blockers rose by roughly 30% in the UK and organic visibility on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is seriously starting to decline. All of this means that, if you want to remain competitive in today’s frantic world of digital marketing, you have to be on top of the latest trends and be ready to adapt to them. As CEO of Databox, Peter Caputa explains traditional approach to online marking just isn’t working anymore. Strategies that will dominate marketing in 2018 Unique customer experiences Nowadays, customers are seemingly doing as much research as marketers. For instance, more than 50% of B2B customers primarily rely on research to guide their shopping decisions. What’s more, 47% of them review 3 to 5 pieces of content before they contact a sales representative. By now, everyone knows that content is one of the most important aspects of every campaign, but we’re seeing the evolution of content before our very eyes. Your content needs to connect with your target demographic, of course. However, if you want to connect with people, you need to work on more personalized content. The main reason for this is that personalized content simply works better. According to HubSpot research, personalized content works more than 40% better than non-personalized one. Utilizing IoT and voice search Although this may not be so apparent, lots of people now use voice search. As a matter of fact, according to Google, around 20% of their searches are now conducted through voice searches. And by the end of the decade, the search engine giant predicts that that percentage will reach 50%. So, it’s safe to assume that voice will have a huge impact on SEO during the next few years. On the other hand, we have the Internet of Things. In recent developments, Google added their Assistant to more than a few IoT-capable home appliances. The IoT gives you a perfect chance to start innovating and experimenting with your content. Some marketers are already doing it. More charity work While this is not a digital strategy per se, it’s still a major trend so we cannot ignore it. The sad reality is – we live an age of tragedies – and customers are now showing loyalty to brands that truly care. According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, , more than 90% of millennial consumers say that they would change a brand to one associated with good causes and charity. The current political climate is changing the way people spend their money. Naturally, they want to be associated with companies that share their care for the world. It would be wise to partner up with a local charity or work with a marketing agency to organize a campaign for a good cause. The bottom line This is the right time to wake up and smell the roses – people are already trying different things to engage potential customers. Facebook’s ad revenue in second quarter of 2017 surpassed $9 billion, which is a 47% increase compared to 2016. As we already established, in the following years, digital marketing will have to adapt to the consumer preferences. Partially thanks to Google, consumers are now more informed than ever. They’ve learned that they can access any information they want with no more than a few clicks. And that’s why brands that fail to deliver the goods will be left out of the race completely. Personalization and innovation are key, and brands that manage to modify their strategies will earn consumers’ attention. This attention will eventually turn into profits. The future developments in the marketing world are approaching at the speed of light so this is definitely not the time to rely on strategies that worked in the past. Start planning and implementing new strategies as soon as possible, and sooner or later, you’ll reap the benefits. The post Here are the digital marketing strategies you need to know for 2018 appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  4. You’re taking control of your financial future with a side hustle–it could be a valuable service or sales-based means of making the extra cash you need, but you need to keep it going. There are countless ways to promote your side business, from the first weeks to after you have an established client base. But, whether it’s a website, guest blogging or direct advertising, taking advantage of tech to promote your brand is critical. Mobile technology, social media, a website and especially video can put you in front of people and multiply the opportunities to get new clients/customers. Let’s take a look at how tech can turbocharge your side hustle. A Website Setting up a website is something everyone with a business needs to do. Regardless how big or small, every brand maintains a web presence. A website can sell to potential customers 24 hours a day, all week. It’s not enough to get a catchy domain name and upload a couple of pics and contact information. Multiply the earnings of your side hustle by investing in a professional online home. Your website will typically be the first impression potential clients will have of you. Make it shine. Teach yourself the basics of SEO (search engine optimization) or hire someone who already knows how. The best website in the world is useless if no one visits it. Consider publishing a blog about your side hustle to encourage people to visit and establish yourself as a trusted authority or overcome obstacles that could stop a sale. Mobile Technology Mobile technology is inescapable. Smartphones and tablets connect you to your website, social media and customers who directly contact you. To get your side hustle to really lift off, it’s essential that you stay connected at all times to not miss any opportunities to make a sale. You can use products like Square to make sales on-the-go. Use the Power of Video It’s much easier to get somebody to watch five minutes of video than read for five minutes. Use YouTube to post engaging videos that showcase your side hustle. Be prepared to put lots of effort into promotion, though. Just like establishing a website or social media presence, promotion is the name of the game. Get Featured on a Popular YouTube Channel YouTube is the biggest and most influential video platform in the world, and it has the power of Google behind it. If your side hustle is being an Amway Independent Business Owner, you can get featured on the brand’s YouTube channel for an incredible boost to brand recognition. Few side hustles provide so much support or offer so many ways to make a big name for yourself as distributing Amway products. Social Media Start relationships with customers and promote your side hustle on social media. It doesn’t matter which platform you focus on, as long as you can build up a following that’s interested in what you have to say (and sell). It can take months or even years to become a social media maven, but you’ll be rewarded with brand recognition and a pool of people who already trust you and respect your opinions. Make no mistake, growing your side hustle into a profitable enterprise with social media is hard work. You’ll need to actively connect with followers and establish a powerful network with constant interaction. The post Turbocharge your side hustle with these tech tips appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  5. Encryption is one of the most talked about topics in modern technology as the world becomes more and more online-orientated. Whether used to protect communications, bank details, or important website data, encryption is used in almost all spheres of our digital life. It has become an enormous industry in its own right, with various apps developed specifically for individual use to further ensure personal data protection. There are different kinds of encryption algorithms that can be leveraged for different purposes. Here we will take a look at the 4 most popular and see where they are commonly used, and how they work. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) Generally regarded as the leading encryption standard, and even used by the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate, AES was devised by two Belgian cryptographers in 2000 as part of a worldwide competition. Originally known as Rijndael before standardization, this symmetrical key algorithm is intended to be effective and easy to use in both hardware and software against a wide range of attack techniques. The AES algorithm is required to be a block cipher that can handle 128-bit blocks. The key sizes are 128, 192, and 256 bits; the latter two used for top level secure communications. AES was designed to take over from DES after the previous standard was successfully hacked. One of the biggest benefits of AES is its encryption speed, making it particularly useful for routers and firewalls. For a full overview of how AES works, take a look at this helpful guide. Triple DES The Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm was once upon a time the go-to encryption standard. However, after it was proven to be beatable the newest form of it was developed: Triple DES. Where the original algorithm had 56-bit keys, Triple DES uses three individual 56-bit keys, means that it becomes a 168-bit key. It remains a trusted symmetrical key algorithm, and although largely phased out in favor of AES it is still used as an encryption solution for hardware in various industries. RSA Unlike AES and Triple DES, RSA is an asymmetric algorithm using public-private cryptography to enable users to share information over insecure networks. There is a pair of keys at work here: a public key which can be shared with anyone and a private one which must not be shared. Both keys are required to encrypt and decrypt data. In general, RSA keys are 1024 or 2048 bits long, making them highly secure but quite slow. Twofish Twofish is related to Blowfish, one of the finalists of the AES competition alongside Rijndael in 2000. It is a symmetrical key block cipher where only one key is needed, which can be up to 256 bits in length while its block size is 128 bits. Twofish is not a patented cipher and is open for public use. When tested against AES for speed, it worked at a slower pace keys of 128 bits but was in fact faster for 256-bit keys. This speed makes it ideal for use as both a hardware and software encryption solution. The post The best encryption methods to guarantee online security appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  6. New technology is being introduced to consumers on a regular basis. Some technology makes a minimal impact on society and may even fade away over time, but 3D printing is one of the more innovative technologies available today that has the potential to change the world in various ways. This technology was originally mostly used in a commercial setting, and it enabled the creation of three-dimensional objects by using a special printer. Today, this technology is more affordable and user-friendly than it once was, and this has enabled more widespread use of 3D printing for personal use. If you invest in a 3D printer for your home, you and your family could benefit in substantial ways. Save Money By Creating Custom Items A 3D printer allows you to save money by creating items you may need around the house. For example, you can easily create customized objects that could be used for home décor. You may even be able to save money by making replacement parts for your appliances and furniture. Everything from furniture shims to stove knobs and more may be created. This is incredibly beneficial when these parts are difficult to find or when they are no longer being manufactured. After all, you will be able to save money by making your own parts and by fixing objects that you otherwise may have needed to replace. You simply have to create or obtain a design that can be printed from your 3D printer, and you can create the item on your own. Everything from a small picture frame to a vase and more can be created if you have the right design. You can even personalize designs to make them your own. Earn Money By Starting a Business While you can use a 3D printer to save money, you may be able to use this equipment to earn extra money as well. Some printing services, such as 3Dhubs, enable you to sell the creations that you have made at home. You will need to practice creating objects first before you can sell quality objects for a profit. You can even start a small home-based business that will offer 3D printing services. Not everyone has a 3D printer or has great skills using it, so you can easily print objects for other people. This is a great way to take your creativity and your interest in this technology and turn it into a money-making opportunity. You may even begin teaching others how to use this technology for a profit. Educate Your Children When you invest in a 3D printer, you are buying a gift that your whole family can use. Your kids will be fascinated by this technology, in particular. Children today need to know how to use the latest technology. After all, today’s modern technology will be much more mainstream and commonplace a few years from now. By educating your children, you can teach them how to enhance their creativity and come up with innovative ideas. This is a great problem-solving activity, and it is also an exercise in nurturing their imagination. Have Fun and Enhance Your Creativity 3D printing is an excellent way for the whole family to have fun, explore the depths of creativity and even to expand their knowledge. You will need to learn how to use the technology properly, and this allows you to grow and develop your technological skills. By doing so, you can stay updated with current technology and innovations. You can also create your own designs, which requires you to use your specialized knowledge in different ways. These are potentially marketable skills. Whether you want to design objects for your own use around the house or you want to sell your products for a profit, this is a fun way to use your outside-the-box thoughts to enhance your life in different ways. Final Thoughts The use of a 3D printer can be fun and exciting, and the whole family can benefit from this investment. This is a great hobby idea that you can enjoy doing in your free time, and it can expand your knowledge and creativity in fabulous ways. Now is a great time to take a closer look at some of the 3D printers on the market today. The post 4 reasons you should buy a 3D printer appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  7. As the social media climate heats up, some users see corporations as the enemy and blockchain as a cure. One company, Narrative, is trying to combine the two concepts into one social network by the people, for the people, and with (almost) all revenues going to the people. If you had to choose the top buzzwords of 2017, I’ll bet that one would be “social media” and the other would be “blockchain”. Social media has been through a lot this year: it’s promoted fake news and fought them, it’s seen wildly controversial scandals from the Russian election hacking to the sexual harassment accusations, and it’s brought about powerful social awareness campaigns like #metoo. With multiple platforms constantly adding features and ever growing in popularity, and especially with the political climate, social media has never been more ingrained in our lives. By this point, it’s almost like another body part. While social media busied itself with political and social righteous anger, another technological phenomenon began, and brought with it buzzwords such as “blockchain,” “bitcoin,” and “decentralization.” Blockchain and cryptocurrency, according to their advocates, hold the promise of taking the power from corporations and giving it back to the people — those who hold the bank accounts, those who buy the products, and now, those who take part in social media. This is where Narrative comes in. Narrative describes itself as a “content economy.” It’s a social network that lets users post content, both textual and visual. Narrative’s platform features three different channels: A personal journal for writers to create their own content freely, “niches” which are separated by topic and allow for discussion between members, and “brands,” which are owned and powered by organizations, both profit and non-profit. Narrative decentralizes social networking in two ways. First, users are given complete control over moderating the content that’s posted. Members rate and monitor content, and elect moderators and a “tribunal,” a kind of Supreme Court, a move Narrative says will eliminate “bad eggs” from the community. This is meant to create an level of transparency that today’s social networks sadly don’t allow. The users’ level of control is such that they even decide what ads are allowed to run on the platform. Second, users are rewarded for their contributions and efforts in the form of cryptocurrency, namely the NRV token. This doesn’t mean that Narrative members need to be crypto experts or Bitcoin buyers — in fact, no knowledge of cryptocurrency is needed, and users can also choose to be compensated in fiat currency instead of the NRV token. The NRV token sale will launch on January 16, 2017. Narrative is not the only emerging social network to use blockchain, and it won’t be the last. Like any other social network, Narrative will need to withstand the test of time, and of popularity. Without a strong user base, the noble goals of transparency and complete user control will not have the intended powerful effect. It will be interesting, though, to see what type of consumers will become Narrative’s user base. Will it be another Google+, used primarily by brands? Will it be a platform for money-making by aspiring social media influencers? Will it become a breeding ground for discussion, and if so, will decentralization bring the quality up or down? We’ll have to wait until Narrative’s launch to find out. The post Narrative plans to change the social media narrative with blockchain appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  8. I’ve written before about what a VPN is and why you should consider buying one, so I’ll save you from that speech again. One of my favorite VPN providers, NordVPN, is offering an extremely good deal on their service this holiday season. The company is offering three years of access to its service for $2.75/month which is a 77% discount, making the three years of service $99 instead of $430. Get NordVPN for $2.75/month! It’s an excellent deal for a great VPN service. If you would like to learn more about NordVPN, check out these other articles I’ve written before making the decision of whether to purchase it or not. By the way the deal is for a limited time, running from December 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018. What’s a VPN and who are the best VPN providers? How to setup NordVPN on your computer within 5 minutes How does a VPN affect your internet speeds? The post Save 77% on NordVPN with this special holiday deal appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  9. I recently met with Bowers & Wilkins marketing director, Jeff Connors to learn more about the release of the brand new Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my initial impressions video. In my meeting with Jeff, I had the chance to learn more about the PX headphones and what went into making them as well as some of the company’s plans for the future. One thing worth noting is that the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones are actually going to be replacing the Bowers & Wilkins P7 wired and wireless headphones in the company’s lineup. Design & Comfort If there is one thing Bowers & Wilkins knows (aside from sound) it’s design. The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones are a work of art, well-built and excellently crafted with the highest quality materials including machined aluminum, ballistic nylon, and real leather. They have some heft to them but they’re not heavy, I enjoyed wearing them for hours on end in some instances. The only thing I didn’t love about the headphone design is that I felt they apply a little too much pressure on your ears/head. It’s hard to explain or quantify, it’s really something you need to try on for yourself to understand what I mean. Is it a deal breaker? Absolutely not. The PX offer raised buttons on the backside of the right ear cup, I was told that B&W made this decision to make the headphones more intuitive. And now, after testing, I’d say it was a smart choice. The raised buttons make it easy to identify what you’re doing when pressing them — such as increasing or decreasing the volume or pausing a song. Another thing of note is that the ear cups, which are made out of real leather, are magnetically attached to the headphones and can be removed so you can easily clean them or even replace them. Sound According to B&W, you need to break in the PX headphones before they sound as intended, the company says that after at least 30 hours of listening time is when you will get the best sound out of them. In my experience, I’d say that’s true. The sound delivery is a lot more natural thanks to the angled drivers that the PX use (which it borrowed from the P9s), making for an excellent sound stage with great depth and immersion into the music–it’s like the sound swims perfectly into your ear canal. As I mentioned before, the Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones borrow technology from the P9 Signature Series which has led to several sound improvements including with the bass. As someone who was previously using the Bowers & Wilkins P7 wired headphones in the past, the PX offers a much improved bass–it’s a tighter and quicker bass, and it allows the other frequencies to breathe a bit more. The PX have a very pleasant midrange that isn’t harsh or muffled at all and vocals and instruments are really nicely placed. In my listening tests, I could really hear the separation of the instruments and vocals making for a great listening experience. When it came to the treble, I found it to be a bit soft and not as balanced with other frequencies. That being said, it didn’t affect the overall sound in my opinion, and in fact, leads to a very smooth and dynamic sound at all volume levels. I also spent some time listening to the PX Wireless headphones using the included 3.5mm cable connected to a DAC plugged into my computer and let me tell you, the results were incredible. It was like listening to a completely different pair of headphones. I’d definitely recommend connecting these headphones to a DAC if you have one. Now obviously that’s not an ideal setup if you use these on the go, but if you plan to use them in your home by your computer, it’s worth looking into. I use the AudioEngine D3. Noise Cancellation The noise cancellation works well for its intended purpose which is to cancel out intrusive noises while keeping you aware of your surroundings. As I mentioned in the unboxing, there are three noise cancellation modes: City, Office, and Plane — with Plane mode offering the most intense noise cancellation. In my tests, using Office mode I was able to know when people were speaking directly to me so I could take off the headphones and have a conversation. And just in case you were curious, having a conversation with someone while wearing the Bowers & Wilkins PX in Office mode (while listening to music) is possible, but difficult. In City mode, I found myself immersed in my music while still aware of traffic around me, which if you live in a big city like me, is important when getting around. That being said, if you’re looking to be secluded on your own island then perhaps these headphones aren’t for you. Battery Life The Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones claim to offer 22 hours of battery life in wireless noise cancelation mode, and that can be increased to 33 hours of battery life if you decide to use the included 3.5mm headphone cable. In my tests, the Bowers & Wilkins PX lived up to the battery life claims, during my testing I was able to use them with moderate use over the course of a few days without needing to recharge. When do you have to recharge them though, you can expect charge times to be around 2 hours or so for a full recharge. Verdict These are currently my favorite wireless headphones–they offer impeccable sound and have some of the highest build quality I’ve ever seen in headphones. The Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless retail for $399 and come in space grey or soft gold, both finishes look incredible. If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones (wireless or wired), the PX Wireless are without a doubt worth considering. WATCH: Unboxing the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones The post Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones review appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  10. Bing Crosby may not have been dreaming of a technologically driven Christmas, but that is probably because he could not have begun to fathom the gadgets and apps that have been developed to make our festive season that bit more convenient. Nothing can quite recreate the illustrious white winter holidays of which so many dream, although give it a few years and there will probably be an app to bring the snow. What technology can give us today, however, is a plethora of ways to spruce up decorations cleverly or to alleviate some of the inevitable stress that often threatens to derail festivities, meaning that you can put your feet up with the family sooner than ever before. Shopping from home Technology is obviously an integral part of life in the 21st century, but the past couple of years have witnessed a sharp increase in devices that enable everyday activities to be completed with greater ease. We identified the Amazon Echo as one of the hottest devices of the festive season in 2016, and technology such as this is only growing more prevalent. With BGR estimating that upwards of 10 million Echo devices will be sold by the conclusion of 2017, this kind of technology will be making holidays easier in a vast number of households. Consumers are able to add items to their shopping list with ease by voice, making keeping your list updated much easier and more efficient. Of course, online shopping has redefined the festive experience for many. That mad dash to claim the last of a bargain will never be fully eliminated, but the continued expansion of online shopping means that many choose to complete their purchases entirely from the comfort of their own home. SaleCycle compiled statistics based on e-commerce for the 2016 holiday season, and the findings are as you might expect: online sales for that period rose by 11%, and it would be no surprise to find that figure has risen for the 2017 holidays. With such depth and variety of products found on online shopping websites, it is certain that technology has made the winter holidays a bit more relaxed when it comes to the pressure of giving gifts. ‘Appy Holidays While it is not yet feasible to make it snow on command, there are other ways to immerse yourself in a luxurious winter environment if reality just isn’t doing it for you. Of course, classic holiday movies are easy ways to dive headfirst into a festive mood, but they lack the immersive nature of winter-related apps. Sure, movies are great, but there are gaming winter wonderlands that allow players to participate in that hallowed festive environment. Android apps such as Hidden Objects – Winter Wonder allow players to turn their screen into a rich winter environment to distract from the cold outside. Frozen Diamonds is a slot game with a holiday theme, its moving soundtrack evokes a spirit synonymous with the festive season, and its visuals transport players into the winter wonderland in which the game is set. For those seeking a less competitive gaming experience, If you’re lucky enough to own one of the leading smartphones of 2017, then a high quality screen will enhance the immersive nature of these games. But even when games aren’t exclusively holiday-themed, we often find holiday-themed stages, events and easter eggs. In Minecraft, players can build their own Christmas trees and decorations and in Sega’s 1996 title NiGHTS into Dreams you can play an exclusive Christmas-themed level. The game was recently released with updated HD graphics for the PC, PlayStation Network, and Xbox LIVE Arcade. Outside of gaming, there is a multitude of ways to turn your portable device into a portable Christmas. From apps that simulate advent calendars such to the teaching of festive songs, from decorating your device with festive wallpaper to finding ideas for winter snacks, there are enough apps out there to fill a whole winter holiday. Some may well complain that the rise of mobile devices undermines festivities and a focus on family, but if used respectfully and in a restrained fashion there are many apps that can enhance the holidays. It is not always possible for families to congregate in the same location for the holidays, so it is fortunate that apps such as Skype and FaceTime enable people to benefit from face-to-face interactions even when far apart. Light up the holidays Although the concept of Christmas lights dates back to the 12th century, advances in technology mean that displays grow more and more dazzling each year. With stunning sights across the country, there is no better way to instigate a festive feeling than by basking in the warm glow of a display of lights. Decorations are something that many people approach with utmost seriousness, a chance to reinvigorate the facade of their house that comes but once a year. Now with LED lights that change color on their own to lights that activate in response to sound, technology gives people the opportunity to create more spectacular and more efficient light displays in their home to compete with the expansive displays that often adorn town centers. Of course, if you can control all of your lights from your smartphone then it will make things even easier. Technology has enabled people to personalize their holidays to a greater extent, with a wide array of apps allowing users to individualize their festive experience. The huge and unrelenting development of e-commerce allows people to perform their shopping in a more relaxed fashion, with an almost boundless selection of items just one click away from purchase. It will be a gift in itself to continue to watch in awe at how technology reshapes and refines even the oldest traditions. The post The festive tech trend: how technology can help get you into the holiday spirit appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  11. What went wrong at Mashable?

    Oh Mashable, you had such lofty ambitions. The digital publisher has been sold at a fire sale price–less than $50 million according to a source of Recode to Ziff Davis, a digital media subsidiary of tech company J2 and will now being laying off 50 employees. Not too long ago, Mashable was valued at $250 million after Time Warner’s Turner led a $15 million investment in the spring of 2016. The sale price of Mashable to Ziff Davis is literally one-fifth the valuation the company had a year ago. I want to examine what went so terribly wrong for Mashable. Let’s turn back the clocks a bit to July 19 (my birthday!) 2005–that’s when a guy named Pete Cashmore started blogging from his home in Scotland about technology and social media. At the time all this stuff was still relatively new to most people, especially social media. Cashmore capitalized on this new trend, covering new startups and apps, building a following over time. Everything was going well, Cashmore turned the site into a business, generating revenue primarily from display ads. But then in September 2010 something big happened–something that really was the sign of an end of an era for upstart digital media companies: AOL acquired TechCrunch for around $30 to $40 million (note the price, it’s eerily similar today’s Mashable price tag). I said this back then and I’ll say it again now: The era of major independent blogs, news sites, etc is coming to an end. Mainstream media and content providers will start to acquire more of these “new media” sites and what is currently new will be old, and what is old will be new. Independent sites will have a much more difficult time competing due to lack of resources, capital, and ability to easily scale. And it seems I turned out to be pretty spot on. The next four years were interesting for Mashable as it looked for ways to keep growing, the company started diversifying itself by bringing in new kinds of coverage. The site, which was known mostly for tech and social media coverage was now a giant mess of varying topics from tech to social to entertainment to viral videos to lifestyle to pretty much anything and everything. In my opinion this is when Mashable lost its way, it lost its focus and in an attempt to scale and be everything to everyone, they started what would ultimately be their death spiral. In 2014 as Cashmore & Co. were continuing to look for ways to be bigger than TechCrunch (and by that I mean, get a sale price much higher) the team apparently decided to take outside investment for the first time. So in March 2014, Mashable raised a $14 million Series A led by Tribune Digital Ventures and so the scale at all costs mission began. Then less than full year later, in January 2015, Mashable raised an additional $17 million Series B round. This investment was earmarked for video content and a push towards creating much more video because advertisers are willing to pay a premium to advertise against video content. And finally, in late March 2016, two years after it took an initial investment of $14 million, Mashable was able to raise an additional $15 million to stay afloat and pray that their video pivot would work (quickly). All-in the company raised $46 million and sold for less than $50 million. Ouch. The problems at Mashable were fairly simple: too wide a range of content (meaning the audience never really knew what to expect from them), too much jumping from one hot publishing trend to the next (e.g. writing about social media to viral videos to entertainment news to anything that would get a page view), and a pivot to video that came way too late. As of right now, Mashable has been using this as their mission statement: The leading media company for the connected generation and voice of digital culture. What does that even mean? Could it be any more broad/general? The company has had an identity problem for years. It seems Ziff Davis thinks so too. According to the Recode report I read earlier, Ziff Davis plans to keep Mashable running but wants to refocus the company on tech and tech-lifestyle content. Finally, some focus. I think the story of Mashable is one to learn from: Keep focused when building your product and make sure you perfect one thing before moving onto the next. Additionally, I think the sale price is probably more inline with what the company should actually have been valued and I can’t help but wonder how this will affect other giants in the digital media space such as BuzzFeed, Vox, and Vice in the short and long term. I have a feeling that term sheets may be harder to come by and that more layoffs may be on the way. The post What went wrong at Mashable? appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  12. Everyone wants a moment in the spotlight. Podcasters and videocasters are in the business of sharing their art, skills, and opinions with viewers around the world. However, when they upload their videos, it’s a one-way street: they only put on the show, and their audiences remain in the shadows, without taking part in the events they enjoy and joining the conversation. On the other end of the screen, video broadcasters may sometimes feel that it’s hard to fully engage with the instant feedback and begin a conversation with their audience. Once the content is broadcasted and shared, broadcasters may feel detached from their audiences, with no direct and interactive feedback. Reading messages from viewers can often become stale, repetitive, and even impersonal. One platform that manages to break through the barrier between viewers and broadcasters is ringID Live. The application, by social network ringID, enables broadcasters to correspond with their viewers through live engagement, direct voice, and video calls, turning a seemingly one-sided relationship into an interactive experience for both broadcasters and audiences. Once broadcasters and audiences connect, audience members can be given the opportunity to share the limelight and co-host or speak on the broadcast itself. Users can discover new content by browsing a specific location or category to easily navigate video broadcasts that appeal to them. ringID users are also able to share and download media onto a newsfeed, where the community can engage, comment, and like different broadcasts in one space. Also, if a ‘like’ just isn’t doing the content justice, viewers can also reward their favorite broadcasters with virtual gifts (cashable) so broadcasters can earn real money. ringID Live has its own currency, called ringID coins, which users trade to buy virtual gifts. Each coin is valued at $0.001. Gifts include a bouquet of virtual flowers (25 coins), a diamond ring (1000 coins), a red Lamborghini (15,000 coins) and more. The coin transaction between broadcasters’ and the viewer generates commissions, and broadcasters can also choose to make their videos pay-to-watch. ringID Live is the latest feature in a series of new additions to the ringID social networking platform aiming to put all the features and abilities of social networking under one app. So far, ringID has already included features, such as stickers, multimedia messaging, secret chat, and a “lite” version of the app. Although this platform is promising us the future of participation and engagement, it is fairly new and mostly only being used by those in South Asian countries. It still has much to go before it reaches the western shores of Europe and America. Only then can we truly know if ringID will be the leading form of two-way video broadcasting or just the start of a much longer journey. As live videos make their way onto social media, two-way broadcasting is becoming more and more popular. Instagram recently tested and added a two-way live stream option. Live streaming is useful not just for individual users sharing their lives with the Internet, but also for businesses that use social media to market products and services. Inviting a viewer to participate and engages in the broadcast is an effective way to connect with target audiences. It is both intimate and public at the same time. The two-way live video option brings broadcasters closer to their audiences – no matter who they are. Looking towards the future of video broadcasting and their mobile features it will be of no surprise if this is just the start of the way in which we participate and observe our icons, idols and content creators. Engagement and participation is the future of this technology. The post ringID Live brings its broadcasters to life for their fans appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  13. So you have a bunch of movies and/or TV shows you have acquired over the years and want to finally organize them on your computer? This was the exact situation I found myself in a while back, so I started to do some research for the best way to organize my movie library and after a little research the answer was clear: I needed to use iFlicks. iFlicks is a great macOS app that makes it super simple to organize your movie and TV library–it offers advanced metadata collection features as well as the ability to quickly convert without loss (or if there is, very minimal) to quality of the video file. It also has more advanced workflow features built-in as well, such as the ability to watch particular folders for new video content and automate tasks using rules and scripts. By using iFlicks you can make your movie library look great on iTunes with the appropriate artwork and metadata information such as movie title, the year it was released, cast and crew information, chapters, and much more. It can do the same for your TV show library as well, including identifying season and episode number. I’ve been using iFlicks for a couple years now and I love it, it’s easy to use and it’s fast. I have been happy with the default settings for the most part, it provides pretty much everything I need. iFlicks pulls metadata and adds it to movie/TV files quickly and conversions (when they need to happen) are no different. My iTunes library looks great and plays great across all my devices. The app is available in the Mac App Store for $35. You can also get access to iFlicks via Setapp which is a Netflix for macOS apps that costs $9.99 per month and includes iFlicks and many other great apps. The post iFlicks review: how to organize your movies on macOS appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  14. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are both terms that are well-known amongst techies. However, mixed reality now seems to be the term that’s getting all the mentions and the column-inches. So is mixed reality the next “big thing” or is it just more of the same? The primary reason for Mixed Reality becoming a ubiquitous term is the launch of Microsoft’s Windows mixed reality platform. Supported by a new range of headsets, this is a new feature-set within Windows 10. It allows the operating system to deliver new experiences for both apps and games that merge the best features of both virtual reality and augmented reality. In order to make sense of this, it helps to define what all of these terms actually mean, especially when there can be considerable overlap between them. Virtual reality (VR) involves users interacting with virtual worlds, characters and objects. Although various applications exist for this outside the world of gaming, it’s VR games on platforms like PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift that have gained real popularity over recent years. Augmented reality (AR) is rather different, as it involves applications that add virtual objects to the real world. On the most basic level, this can include things like the filters you can place over real-life photos and video feeds using social media apps like Snapchat. Augmented reality is also seen in gaming. The most notable example is in Nintendo’s Pokemon Go, a mobile game that continues to earn almost half a million dollars from players daily. Although this is AR in a rather basic form, the idea of seeing virtual game characters overlay the real world clearly remains a compelling proposition for many people, plenty of whom probably don’t know that what they’re playing with involves Augmented Reality! Mixed reality (MR) is a comprehensive hybrid of both of the above. It allows for virtual objects in the real world, and for real-life objects to be inserted into a virtual world. But is it really something completely new? As previously mentioned, Microsoft are blazing a trail with regard to mixed reality. Their HoloLens project hardware is available to developers at the time of writing. It’s described as “the first self-contained, holographic computer,” and will allow people to interact with holograms “inserted” into the world around them. Microsoft’s marketing efforts around the HoloLens seem focussed on real-life applications, business uses and apps. This is something that’s perhaps driving the use of the term “mixed reality,” since “VR” is something that’s become strongly associated with gaming. Back in the real world, people are increasingly used to interacting with mixed reality environments, even if they may not know them by that name. Another example of where such technology is used to good effect is in live casino environments, where people interact with real-life dealers and croupiers via their electronic devices, whilst placing bets from a distance. Mixed reality isn’t actually that new, when one considers that Sony’s Eye Toy accessory for the PlayStation, released back in 2003, was essentially a mixed reality device – albeit one based on a rudimentary webcam. So, while it’s clear that Microsoft are keen to push mixed reality as something completely new, it’s far more a case of evolution than revolution – at least until we reach the point where we really are routinely interacting with holograms! In reality, it’s surely less about the names and acronyms and far more about what people do with the tech? The post Is mixed reality the next frontier for VR and AR? appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  15. Everyone is familiar with the common job hunting struggles, but with Woo’s newest AI robot, “Helena,” job seeking has finally been made easy. The average employment process today is long, difficult, and frustrating; on both sides. With Woo’s new technology the future of recruitment will be straightforward and painless. So how does Woo work? Woo’s AI headhunter Helena collects relevant data from Woo’s community of job seekers and employers, as well as external online sources. It then uses powerful algorithms to create high quality matches. The platform houses a unique pool of candidates, 80% of whom are open to, but not actively seeking a new job. Thousands of passive job seekers discreetly join Woo every month, input their experience and career desires, and then are served up opportunities that match their preferences and desires. Of these candidates 50% move forward with interview, which is 3x more than recruiting agencies, and 20x more than job boards. Basically Helena does all the scouting, recruiting and approaching; acting as a matchmaker to find the perfect alignment between employees and employers. In today’s fast paced society it’s increasingly important to stay ahead of the current trends. The working culture of past generations is not the same as the working culture of the current or future generations. Younger generations tend to change jobs at a faster pace, therefore the platform will aid employers in filling these open positions more quickly, and efficiently before suffering productivity or profit loss. In addition the platform will also help these employees to fill new positions better suited for them conveniently. Essentially Helena is a blend of AI, machine learning, and human expertise. Woo has invested more than two years in building Helena, by putting together a “dream team” of the best recruiters and data scientists from industry-leading companies like Google and Facebook, as well as top algorithm engineers. The team trained the headhunter robot how recruiters think and make decisions, which enables Helena to get smarter over time through employer feedback and machine learning. And the invested time in perfecting Helena has paid off; Helena is already out-performing human recruiters in both speed, and quality matchmaking. However, Woo isn’t the only player in the market. Since the increased demand in the HR assessment market we’ve seen growth in smart recruitment companies. Companies like Talent Sonar, Entelo, and Fama are using powerful algorithms and software to uncover correlations between attributes, job performance, and analytics that best fit a person to a job. Predictive algorithms and machine learning are becoming the emerging tool in identifying the best candidates. Although the market is competitive, Woo having the first ever AI-powered virtual headhunter has put them in the lead of this AI revolution of hiring. The post Woo uses AI to improve and simplify the employment process appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article