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Check out Philly's Social Media
posted by Admin on 4/27/12 · Comments

GPTMC LogoThe Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) is taking strides to further develop its social media, breaking into the newest and most effective platforms and continuing to refine its current properties. The organization embraced social media early on, and today, GPTMC is a recognized leader in the travel industry, with awards and conference presentations to prove it. Just last month, GPTMC ran a hugely successful Facebook contest, 29 Nights of Dates, which ended with 53,000 entries and 12,000 new fans. Here's the newest social media news from GPTMC, known as Visit Philly to its more than 200,000 social media fans and followers:

Philly 101 Video Series
Starting March 15 and running for 101 days, readers of the insider blog uwishunu.com will see a new Philly 101 video every day. Each video stars a different Philadelphian sharing his/her pick for what people should know about their city. GPTMC will post the one-minute videos to its social media properties—including facebook.com/visitphilly, twitter.com/visitphilly, twitter.com/uwishunu, pinterest.com/visitphilly and youtube.com/visitphilly. The videos' stars (Chef Michael Solomonov, Mayor Michael Nutter, a Rittenhouse Hotel concierge, to name a few) and featured picks will share them with their own networks, reaching an even bigger audience.

Pinterest Account
Pinterest is the newest online craze, and again, GPTMC showed its social media savvy by getting Philadelphia on the site early. Through various boards—essentially, these pin boards act like the ones people use in their homes and offices, except they're online—GPTMC highlights content from visitphilly.com, uwishunu.com and philly360.com along specific themes, such as Iconic Philadelphia, Shop Philadelphia, Philadelphia Sports and Philadelphia Food & Drink. Though GPTMC just started its pinterest.com/visitphilly, it's already paying off in visits to its other online properties. In May, GPTMC will officially announce a Pinterest contest promoting its newest campaign, With Art Philadelphia™.

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Company's Expertise in Gamification Extended to Recruitment Drive
posted by Admin on 12/22/11 · Comments

Want to Work at Upstream?For most of 2011, Upstream has touted the value of gamifying consumers' mobile marketing experiences to make them more rewarding and to drive better response rates. In the vein of 'practicing what you preach,' the company has now turned the expertise it normally deploys for some of the world's largest carriers and brands to design an online challenge to help recruit candidates for its open Marketing Campaign Manager positions.

"The Upstream Challenge is a great tool to attract and really engage the right kind of candidates for this role," said Guy Krief, Senior Vice-President, Innovation, Upstream. "We're trying an innovative approach to recruitment - not just looking at hiring the most impressive resume, but people who are up for a challenge and demonstrate an ease with languages, can creatively think and innovate and who understand basic statistics, because that's what they'll face every day in this position."

The challenge is designed to take a maximum of 60 minutes and leads candidates through a series of seven timed missions that relate to specific aspects of the Marketing Campaign Manager positions. After providing personal contact details, candidates begin with exercises such as 'decrypting' anagrams, word usage questions, elementary mathematic questions, matching an emotion to a hypothetical scenario, and more.

According to Krief, these missions test fundamental marketing knowledge and analytical skills, and may uncover candidates who would never have otherwise applied for the position but actually demonstrate that they have the skills to do the job successfully. "Our hope is that this type of engagement will attract a wide range of talent, and will prove more fun and compelling than the typical recruitment process," said Krief. "It's been said that you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation, so it's going to be fascinating to see the results."

The Marketing Campaign Manager will work on Upstream's global, multi-channel client campaigns to extend the award-winning work of this fast-growing company. Upstream has added more than 45 full-time employees and opened new offices in Silicon Valley, Rio de Janeiro and Dubai in the past year alone. There are five open Marketing Campaign Manager positions, which will be located in the UK, U.S., Greece and Brazil.

With gamification, Upstream dramatically increases levels of responsiveness, engagement and enjoyment of marketing campaigns, transforming the experience to benefit both the consumer and marketer. The gamification engine that forms an integral part of Upstream's Marketing Communications Suite (MCS) technology platform delivers key insights into interactions as they happen, enabling the platform to tailor campaigns so that their frequency, progress and content are informed by the behavior of highly targeted consumer segments, making it ultimately more rewarding and enjoyable for individuals.

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Book Reviews and Recommendations From Goodreads.com
posted by Admin on 9/15/11 · Comments

Goodreads.comBookish types everywhere rejoiced in March when the popular Goodreads social network, which allows users to rate and review their favorite reads, acquired the Discovereads book recommendation engine. Users of Goodreads and similar services like Shelfari and LibraryThing have been clamoring for the roll-out of an integrated rating and recommendation service, almost since the services’ inception. Despite Goodreads acquisition of Discovereads having taken place in March, it’s taken the company six full months to rollout its recommendation engine. While the turn-around time has surely been agonizing for die-hard users, the roll-out is actually quite timely considering Goodreads has actually beaten both Shelfari and LibraryThing to the punch with its engine.

Backstory aside, the real question is: Are the recommendations any good? Goodreads’ CEO Otis Chandler sure thinks so. In a review of the service by ReadWriteWeb blogger John Titlow, Chandler is quoted saying:

“With Goodreads, it's as if you combine your favorite librarian, your best friend, and a database of two million book titles into one person and ask 'what should I read next? We're the Netflix of book recommendations,”

Calling your service the “Netflix of book recommendations” is a big statement considering Goodreads user base is only one fifth the size of Netflix and is still a free service. That said, Goodreads appears to have the infrastructure in place to back it up, boasting a set of propriety algorithms which look at over 20 billion different data points, most notably the stated preferences of their 5.2 million users. And the users of their service are extremely active, apparently infinitely more so than users of the juggernaut online bookseller Amazon. Chandler notes that the Goodreads’ database has more than 174,000 ratings of the best-selling title The Help while Amazon only has about 4,400. He also mentions that while Amazon has purchase history, browsing history, and ratings to base its recommendations on, Goodreads has more data about what people actually like and dislike in what they read and he feels it’s that distinction that will truly sets the Goodreads service apart.

As an active reader, when I heard about this service I was more than excited. In the past, I’ve depended almost entirely on friends and acquaintances for book recommendations, some good, others not so much, so for me having a source of recommendations based on my own preferences in some way is pretty intriguing. I’ve had a chance to browse and use the service a bit since learning about it. I have to hand it to Chandler in that the platform itself is both visually and functionally quite similar to Netflix. The rating system is a classic 5-star rating system and the recommendations are broken down by genre. While I haven’t had a chance to fully test the recommendations, I must say that the books that were recommended to me given the 30 or so ratings I made of previous reads were quite interesting and I do plan on picking them up the next time I swing by a book store. Given my experience I would definitely say that anyone with a keen interest in literature or even surface reading should give the service a try, if nothing else it could open you to some books you might not otherwise hear about.

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The Skinny on the New Nook Simple Touch Reader
posted by Mandy Chatsworth on 6/14/11 · Comments

Nook Simple TouchBarnes & Noble recently released a new version of their popular Nook reader. And it's nice, ladies and gentlemen. It's nice. If you're new to the reader market, of if you're thinking about upgrading from an older Amazon Kindle or what have you, read on for some choice tidbits and specs.

With Apple's iPad and iPad 2—along with a slew of new tablet computers—being so multifunctional, Barnes & Noble was smart in getting back to the basics and creating a relatively inexpensive device ($139 versus $499 for the cheapest iPad 2) that focuses on just reading books. No games, no web browsing, just black and white text courtesy of an E-ink Pearl touchscreen. So, this is NOT the reader you want for the children reading colorful (or multimedia) kids books, or books filled with art or images.

However, the Simple Touch Reader allows you to read the grown-up text exceedingly well. It suffers from none of the glare issues of a full multicolor LCD screen (like the iPad or the more expensive Nook Color); you can read it easily in direct sunlight. The Simple Touch screen is also less likely to cause eye fatigue than its fancier cousins. Additionally, the screen won't smudge nearly as easily as an LCD screen, so that's a bonus. This, along with the reader's feather-light weight (7.5 ounces), makes it more portable than even the iPad 2 (1.33 pounds). The Simple Touch is nearly three times lighter than our favorite tablet computer, and a couple inches smaller both length- and width-wise, making it ultra-portable.

Another huge selling point is battery life. In comparison to the iPad 2's 10 hours of battery life, the Simple Touch can last a jaw-dropping two months (!) without needing a recharge, if Wi-Fi is turned off. For frequent travelers or just the absent-minded professor in all of us who forgets to charge, this is really useful.

Sticking to these 6 strategies will allow you to make the most of your 401(k) and to max out your retirement income regardless of when you started saving.

Okay, so the reader looks good and lasts forever: how easily can it navigate a book? Here the Simple Touch shines as well. A “Reading Now” section will take you with one tap to your current book (and place in the book). Similarly, you can access the Barnes & Noble library of over 2 million books just as easily. And page turning is intuitive. You can hit the page turn button, physically swipe the screen, or touch the screen margin to proceed. To “flip” through the book, you just need to hold the button.

The larger lesson here is that it doesn't make sense to kill flies (read books) with a sledge hammer (a full tablet PC). Use a fly swatter (the Nook Simple Touch). It'll cost you a lot less, and it's designed to do one thing, and do it very well.

Have you had a chance to try out the new Simple Touch? Please share your impressions in the comments!


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Swap Stuff in Style: FreeCycle.org and TitleTrader.com
posted by Bryan Keithley on 5/26/11 · Comments

TitleTrader.com LogoFrom the first time a caveman swapped his goat for another caveman's spiked club, swapping has been a great way to unload your unwanted items and get free stuff back in return. Craigslist was “the” swapping site for a while, but it's often hit-or-miss (at best). In this entry, we take a look at two dedicated swapping sites—each with something unique to offer—that represent the “next generation” of getting free stuff online.

First up is FreeCycle.org. Probably the only thing better than getting free stuff is knowing you're helping out the environment while doing it, and that's the idea behind FreeCycle, a non-profit organization which has really blown up in recent months. For eco-conscious communities as well as corporations practicing eco-responsibility, FreeCycle makes a lot of sense.

FreeCycle was set up with the goal of reducing landfill waste by setting up a swapping program. The site organizes member groups according to geographical region, and members can either post unwanted items to donate to the membership, or ask for items they need. Members can then swap items for free, all in the spirit of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan, giving hand-me-down items a new home and saving some trash from going into the landfill in the process.

FreeCycle is especially useful for unloading your unwanted bulky items—table and chairs, computer monitors, unused lumber... the list is endless. Bulky items are a pain in the neck (and the back) to dispose of anyway, so why not find them a new home, brightening someone's day and de-cluttering your own life?

The second swapping site is called TitleTrader.com. TitleTrader goes by a points system, which seems like a very clean and efficient way to swap. As a member, you offer your unwanted items—they feature a lot of categories, but their most popular categories are stuff like DVDs, paperback books, and video games. These items are assigned points, and when another member wants your stuff, they pay only for shipping, and you get credit for your points. You can then use those points to pick out your own stuff.

It's an innovative system, and it seems to be working—over 180,000 items have been swapped thus far. TitleTrader is also offering 3 FREE items (points) for your first successful swap (with a positive feedback rating), so now is a great time to join. What are you waiting for? Get swapping!


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Top 10 Sega Genesis Games – Of All Time!
posted by Bryan Keithley on 5/23/11 · Comments

Gunstar HerosYou've waited. You've wondered. And now it's finally here: the list of the hands-down, no-doubt, slam-dunk top 10 Sega Genesis games of all time (and all parallel universes). This list will either be a quaint history lesson or a nostalgic trip down memory lane.





  1. Evander Holyfield Boxing – Why the pinnacle of video game boxing occurred in 1992, I have no idea. But literally anybody can pick up this game and have a good time, whether or not you're into boxing. It transcends its apparently limited appeal.
  2. General Chaos – Before Valve's Team Fortress there was EA's General Chaos, featuring some fun and breezy class-based warfare across a variety of well-designed mini-maps. The only flaw was the dynamite-throwing guy. He just... was not useful.
  3. Earthworm Jim – Yes, our favorite worm superhero got a mite overexposed with multiple games and a cartoon show and what not. But before all that, he blasted onto the scene with an amazingly inventive, sometimes hilarious, and never uninteresting piece of gaming heaven.
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog – You have to give it up to the iconic hedgehog. His debut was jaw-dropping at the time, especially the sheer speed of it all as Sonic raced through loops in his weird wilderness-meets-techno world and nabbed gold ring after gold ring.
  5. Beyond Oasis – This action RPG felt like an event when it came out. It had all the trappings of a big-budget blockbuster movie: great score, epic story, clean-as-a-whistle graphics. Definitely spent a lot of hours on this one.
  6. Ecco the Dolphin – Another Sega icon, Ecco brought us to a unique undersea world we had never seen before. It had this kind of casual, “this is beautiful” vibe, but it was hard, man!
  7. Landstalker – Everybody who has played this isometric action RPG has fond memories of it. Long, expansive, full of platforming and puzzle goodness. Plus, you have a smart-mouthed fairy sidekick. I liked her...


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Life in the Cloud: Comparing Cloud Storage Solutions
posted by Bryan Keithley on 5/12/11 · Comments

CloudCloud computing is about OS nimbleness and cross-platform versatility, and in that spirit several next-gen storage solutions have emerged, promising to store your stuff, make it accessible across all your devices, and sync it up in real-time. In this entry, we take a look at three of the most popular cloud computing storage sites – ZumoDrive, Dropbox, and SugarSync – to see which one might be best for your storage needs.

Let's start with what these services have in common. All are freemium services. Dropbox features 2GB of storage free, ZumoDrive only 1GB, and SugarSync a generous 5GB. From there, you can step up to paid monthly subscriptions. ZumoDrive's 10GB service is only $2.99/mo, but its 500GB service is a pricey $79.99/mo (SugarSync's is only $39.99/mo). So, you have to choose pricing that fits your needs and that you're comfortable with.

Dropbox is perhaps the patriarch of the cloud storage sites. It's the most popular, and that leads to one of its key features: a vibrant community that frequently cranks out useful add-ons. For example, a user created “Send to Dropbox,” which allows you to email files to your dropbox rather than dragging-and-dropping like usual. Useful!

Another thing to really like about Dropbox is its rich history and version rollbacks, which is pretty much the best in the biz. A detailed and easily-accessed history will show you timestamped notes for all files changed and uploaded on Dropbox, which is valuable in collaborative environments. And for 30 days, all the versions of any files can be rolled back and retrieved. And a premium upgrade is “Pack-rat,” which allows for version rollbacks for the life of the file. In comparison, a drawback to SugarSync is that only the last 5 versions of any file are saved.

ZumoDrive can boast of a unique integration with a computer's file system. ZumoDrive is cloud storage that appears local to an OS, and this makes it perfect for integration with iTunes. You can import a playlist and play songs without saving to the local hard drive, for one example, so ZumoDrive is the absolute best for music swapping. And it ain't too shabby in terms of photo storage, either, as it integrates with iPhoto and Picasa as well.

SugarSync has positioned itself as cloud storage with the broadest platform compatibility. All three work with Mac, PC, and iPhone, but for example, SugarSync features support for Windows Mobile and Symbian whereas Dropbox does not. And ZumoDrive is the least platform-friendly, as it does not yet feature support for android or iPad.

SugarSync also has some key features for business and collaborative applications. This includes admin-style access controls with passwords and storage limits per user.

Personally, we like ZumoDrive for individuals with a moderate amount of data, Dropbox for people in need of a heftier storage solution, and SugarSync for larger corporate use, but check out each site and see what works for you.

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5 Terrific Educational iPad Apps for Preschoolers
posted by Mandy Chatsworth on 5/3/11 · Comments

Preschooler With iPadIt's been fun to see Apple's iPad (and now the iPad 2) morph from a techno-curiosity to a truly useful, and even indispensable, everyday device. And in the field of education, the iPad has made tremendous strides. The iPad's price tag still makes the device somewhat of a luxury, particularly in public school environments, but there are many reasons to get excited about the possibilities of our favorite tablet computer in educational contexts.

This entry focuses on our earliest learners, anywhere from ages 3 to 7. As any parent can tell you, grabbing and sustaining attention at this age is often a herculean task. And that's why iPad learning makes sense—not only do you have the “cool” factor of the technology and vibrant images, you have a truly multimedia and interactive learning tool, the type that can engage even the very young in ways conventional teaching can't.

If you're interested in iPad education for your preschooler, start with these popular and award-winning apps:

Math Bingo – this hugely popular app combines the simple game of bingo with some basic math concepts, like addition and subtraction. Fun cartoon avatars keep the game interesting, while three different difficulty levels mean this app can grow with your child.

Stack the States – if your child is learning about the states and state capitals, this is the app for you. Cartoony state shapes playfully bounce around in a wide variety of interesting and challenging games, like matching up capitals with states or learning about bordering states.

Wheels on the Bus – here's a special app that definitely presents a bonding opportunity with your little one. Children can interactively explore the bus of the title, but the real fun comes with singing along to the nursery rhyme. Different instruments can be used during the song, and there are five languages to listen to—not exactly a way to learn another language, but the exposure is in itself valuable. This app is made by Duck Duck Moose. Check them out for more great apps.

Shape-O ABC's – Learning your ABC's is a gimme for our earliest learners, but Shape-O ABC's puts a new twist on things by combining ABC's with a large amount of shape puzzles kids can put together on the screen. So along with ABC's, toddlers will learn motor coordination and shapes.

Abby Monkey – Like Duck Duck Moose, 22Learn.com is another leading educational app maker. Their Abby Monkey series of apps features fun ways for kids to learn first words, like animals, colors, and fruits. And the animations for this series are really top-notch; they're so precious, you want to eat them up!

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Trying to Be Bad: A Gamer's Quandary
posted by Bryan Keithley on 4/25/11 · Comments

Donkey Kong jr A lot of games nowadays allow you to be good or evil. Champion or conqueror. Valorous or villainous. Savior... or sinner! All those great alliterative phrases. Only I can't really bring myself to be bad. Am I taking some sort of principled stand? Am I traveling the moral high ground? Or am I missing out on a good chunk of gaming goodness by being the party pooper? Is it good to be bad?

Back in the day, gamers didn't have such weighty questions to grapple with. There was Pong in the early 1970s. Two identical paddles. No good or evil going on there, just some sweet tennis sports. A little further on, you have something like Asteroids. Ship destroys a bunch of asteroids. Self-preservation versus inanimate flying rocks. Again, no real moral quagmire.

Then games added a little personality in the 1980s. Pac-Man chomping ghosts. No moral hazards there: ghosts are strange and evil! In Donkey Kong, you rescue a princess from a giant monkey. That's a good deed. I'll sleep just fine at night, thank you.

But Donkey Kong Jr. came out in 1982 as a sequel to Donkey Kong. The roles reversed. Now Mario was the villain, and Donkey Kong the poor and imprisoned victim! A real muddying of the moral waters, playing on the sympathies we established in the first game and causing us to doubt ourselves and our very place in the universe. It was awful, reader.

Despite the role reversal of Donkey Kong Jr., the goody-goody hero continued mostly unchallenged for a good decade. Then, the “evil” anti-hero came along in the mid 1990s. In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, you play a vampire jonesing for blood. In Loaded, you play—and I have to quote the Wikipedia page, it's pretty classic—“villains, anti-heroes, psychopaths, perverts, mutants, and flamboyant murderers.” Despite the evilness, even in these games you eventually become redeemed (Kain) or you're fighting a greater evil (Loaded), so we're not into true evil yet.

A series of RPGs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, mostly from Bioware, really started the trend toward giving you the freedom to choose good or evil. In Baldur's Gate, you could assemble a squad of evil-aligned people, giving you evil street cred. In Planescape: Torment, you could do some low-down dirty things, and you could choose alternate endings based on how bad you wanted to be. Knights of the Old Republic (2003) took it to the next level, taking a nod from the classic “Jedi versus Sith” dynamic set up in the Star Wars universe, and throughout you could choose good or evil actions to influence many factors of gameplay, including the ending.

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What the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Means for the Future of Nuclear Energy
posted by Mandy Chatsworth on 4/14/11 · Comments

Preface:

We have a couple members on staff at FFR that are native Japanese from northern Japan. The last couple months have been really hard for them being away from their families in the wake of the disaster. For that reason I've been almost hyper focused on any news I read or hear about the current situation in Japan. I was recently corresponding via email with Mandy Chatsworth, a contributor from our sister blog Finally Fast Blog, about the situation over there and the ramifications it might have on the future of nuclear energy. Oddly enough these are the kind of emails that we exchange..we’re an intellectual bunch!

My take was somewhat pessimistic. Personally I am a huge proponent of research into nuclear energy and in my eyes Fukushima’s effect on nuclear research seems all but lethal to that realm of nuclear research for the foreseeable future. To my surprise Mandy’s reply was refreshingly optimistic and even convinced me that the Fukushima event, while bad for nuclear energy specifically, may be good for research into and proliferation of forms of renewable energy, like wind power.

I was so blown away by her response that asked if she wouldn’t mind writing a guest post for FFR based on her reply to my email. If you are at all interested in renewable energy I think you’ll interested to read read what effect Fukushima looks to be having on investments in renewable energy.

-Bryan

Here's Mandy:

The recent tsunami disaster in Japan has had many consequences, but beyond the immediate and crucial disaster relief efforts, a longer-term consequence might just involve altering the course of nuclear energy proliferation around the world.

As we have all heard on the news, the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were damaged by the March 11 earthquake that rocked northern Japan. Officials have just increased the alert level from 5 to 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, bringing the disaster to the same threat level as the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.

The dangerous fallout from radiation in the area—prompting massive evacuations—will be paired with a different kind of fallout: public perception about the relative safety of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy has always had uneasy associations in the public imagination, and particularly in the United States. In the popular mind, nuclear power seems to involve a bomb ready to go off (the nuclear reactor) and an all-too-dangerous, never-disposed -of byproduct (toxic waste). Strange creatures or superheroes of fiction often have origin stories involving exposure to radiation or toxic sludge. Of course, nuclear energy technology—at least energy involving uranium as opposed to “safer” designs using thorium—also has the “dark side” of being potentially used for nuclear weapons.
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Don't Crack your 401(k) Nest Egg
posted by Bryan Keithley on 4/11/11 · Comments
Ever since Congress added subsection k to section 401 of the Internal Revenue Code in 1980, the 401(k) retirement account has become the primary savings source for many Americans. And the baby boomer generation—all 77 million of them, who are just now beginning to enter retirement age—is the first generation for which the 401(k) forms a crucial piece of the retirement puzzle.

Unfortunately, the 401(k) came late for baby boomers—loosely defined as those born after the close of World War II and into the early 1960s. Even if a person born in 1946 started putting money into their new 401(k) plan when the plan first appeared in 1980, they would have begun at age 34, which is a little late to enjoy full compounding of the money by age 65.

Add to that the fact that most people simply don't stow away quite enough cash on a consistent basis to maintain their standard of living in retirement from a 401(k) alone, and you have a potential crisis. But if you're a baby boomer nearing retirement, and you haven't quite saved enough, there are still some things you can do.

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Child's Play: E-Reading for the Little Ones
posted by Bryan Keithley on 4/8/11 · Comments
The Kindle and other popular e-book readers are great for grown-ups, but what about the kids? You remember being a kid: a wall of text isn't that interesting, whether it's in a book or on an LCD screen. A great e-reading option for kids has to have a sense of fun, and it definitely has to have some multimedia dazzle to spice up the text—but not too much, of course, as you want your kids learning, not just looking at pretty pictures. We think the V.Reader by VTech does the job admirably.

Designed for children three to seven, the V.Reader is more “interactive learning tablet” than a straight-up e-book reader. Nonetheless, the device puts the focus where it needs to be: the text. Kids can read the story line by line and page by page, and can choose to have the text read aloud (via built-in speaker). They can also use the included stylus to tap words on the screen and have only those words read aloud. A dictionary comes along with the story, ready to help your child out with any tough words.

All along, the text is accompanied by fun music, sound effects, and animation, just to make things interesting. And VTech has an A-list cast of characters along for the ride, including Dora the Explorer, Elmo, the Disney princesses, Spongebob Squarepants, and Shrek, virtually eliminating any “this isn't cool” naysaying. And along with storybook tales, readers will be treated to related games that put their reading comprehension skills to the test.

The V.Reader features a colorful, kidproof design, with friendly curves and rounded edges. It's also more durable than your Kindle, perfect for the... enthusiastic... handling it will endure. The device retails for $59.99, though it can be had for around $49.99 on Amazon and elsewhere. Stories come on cartridges that sell for $19.99—a little pricier than a normal new e-book, but considering the interactive games and multimedia presentation, not terrible. You can also download books online—even free ones—via the V.Reader's USB connectivity.
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Why Education is Adopting the E-book
posted by Bryan Keithley on 4/4/11 · Comments
With devices like the Amazon Kindle and Apple's iPad selling like the proverbial hotcakes, it's clear the world at large is embracing the advantages of e-book technology. But what about public education? Budgets are tighter than ever, and education (particularly public education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels) simply tends to lag behind the times a bit. But there are a plethora of reasons why e-books make sense for educators all across the spectrum.

Innovation – Gorgeous pictures, crisp audio, and full-motion video give e-books a multimedia power physical books can't match. Students learn in different ways, and e-books give them more options for absorbing and retaining material. Plus, the massive information repository that is the Internet gives students more diverse and up-to-date sources from which to pull.

Text-to-Speech – Students might find text-to-speech options useful in a variety of contexts, and this feature is particularly useful for those just learning to read, those struggling with reading, or those with learning disabilities. In any case, text-to-speech is simply one more way for students to learn material, and that can never hurt.

Customization – E-books individualize the experience of learning, and not just because of the great amount of stuff available on the Internet. Most e-books can be customized in a variety of ways—color, font size, orientation, etc. Once again (see a trend?), e-books are helping to facilitate the “transmission” of content.

Cost – The cost of printing documents and purchasing those ever-outdated textbooks will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, when a school/organization fully embraces the e-book evolution. And savings are not just for the teachers – creating, researching, and sending documents in an e-book environment will save students some coin as well.

Size – We all remember lugging around heavy books in our backpacks. Now that entire boulder-like backpack is condensed into a slim e-book reader. Very smart, and a heck of a lot better on the back!

Just-in-Time Education – the instant access of the Internet and a digital library of books mean less wasted time. Teachers/professors can send documents instantly to their students. Distance learning becomes a lot easier. Teachers can also mark up documents before they send them out, and include directions/annotations along with them. And hyperlinks will have everyone zipping around doc to doc. All told, e-book education is simply faster and more efficient if done right.
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Guitar, Meet iPad: Jamming Out with GarageBand and Apogee
posted by Bryan Keithley on 4/4/11 · Comments
Apple's iPad has been a “game changer” in a lot of ways, and music production has not been immune to the effects, especially with the recent introduction of GarageBand for iPad and iPad 2. The little tablet computer won't exactly replace a room full of high-end studio gear, but it gets close enough to make you say “Wow.” In any case, it's definitely an intriguing time to be a musician or audio engineer.

From stompbox effects to nine virtual amps, and from eight-track mixing to drum kits and an impressive array of multitouch instruments, GarageBand has a lot to salivate over. But sometimes—and particularly for professional musicians—you need to rock out with an actual instrument in a studio-quality way. Well, you're in luck. Apogee Electronics has released JAM for the GarageBand 2011. Deceptively simple, JAM lets you plug your electric guitar or bass directly into the iPad or iPhone via the dock connector. There's also an adapter for Mac.

Courtesy of Apogee's PureDIGITAL technology, this guitar sound ain't for just messing around or keeping the kids busy. JAM will deliver a kind of tone and richness you have to hear to believe. For those of you who've tried using apps like AmpKit or iRig, JAM delivers way less line noise. And in addition to a clean sound, the digital conversion is 44.1 kHz and 24-bit—better than CD quality. Record your guitar via GarageBand, and then you can slide it into a track and alter/mix it as you would any other track.
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Read the Archives:

05/10/10
Companies add more cities to their 4G broadband list
The companies will deliver the new generation of faster broadband speed to the new cities this summer. These cities include Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando and Tampa in Florida; Kansas City, Kansas; Nashville, Tennessee;

05/10/10
Mariposa botnet suspects applied for security jobs at firm that brought botnet down
The Register reported on Tuesday that two of the three suspects responsible for running the Mariposa botnet in February had applied for security jobs with Panda Security in Spain.

05/2/10
AT&T boosts broadband coverage in New York's Hudson Valley
Global communications provider AT&T recently announced that it had developed and activated two new 3G cellular service sites in Kerhonkson, New York and Accord, New York.

04/20/10
Texas receives $7.2 billion to increase broadband services
Texas agriculture commissioner Todd Staples announced Sunday that $7.2 billion has been given to the state by the federal stimulus funding in order to further broadband access in rural areas, the Standard-Times reported.

04/23/10
Google responds to cities' methods of luring broadband
In response to the actions of certain cities and towns across the United States aimed at attracting its new broadband service, Google issued a statement pleading with towns not to do anything too risky or dangerous in their attempts, according to Information Week.

04/21/10
Google Chrome only browser left standing
At the Pwn2Own hacking competition in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, professional hackers exploited vulnerabilities in several web browsers. Google Chrome, however, successfully staved off the attacks and finished as the only browser not to be penetrated.

04/06/10
Donation to improve broadband access, create jobs
The Golden LEAF Foundation recently announced that it has donated $24 million to an initiative that will provide broadband access to an additional 69 counties in North Carolina.

03/24/10
Google attempts to circumvent Great Firewall of China
A last-minute deal will keep search giant Google from shutting down its Chinese operations entirely, but the way the company handles web queries from Chinese internet users will change dramatically, according to the Associated Press.

03/20/10
Seattle and Boston top list of most malware-infected cities
Seattle and Boston finished first and second, respectively, on Symantec's recent study that ranked the U.S. cities with largest malware infection rates.

03/18/10
Google-China talks 'stall,' company prepares to shut down Chinese operations
Reports indicate that talks between search giant Google and the Chinese government have reached an impasse, and that the company is readying itself for a full-scale withdrawal from China since it will no longer honor the government's censorship demands.

03/05/10
Three states make it easier to find broadband access
Illinois, Tennessee and Ohio recently completed a project that allows residents and small business owners to research broadband providers in the state.

02/26/10
Federal agents bust internet Ponzi scheme
Federal agents reportedly served search warrants in downtown Minneapolis recently in search of evidence of a suspected internet-based Ponzi scheme.

02/23/10
Vote by Massachusetts Senator sets internet ablaze
Less than a month after the internet helped propel Scott Brown to the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, the web was abuzz again about the Republican Senator's first vote.

02/17/10
Microsoft said malware at the root of recent blue screen of death issues
While not issuing a hard and fast confirmation, Microsoft has issued a release that users who were greeted with the blue screen of death following a recent update may have actually been the victims of malware.

02/10/10
Many finding love online
It seems that Cupid's arrow may look more like a pointer on an internet page these days, according to a recent study at Stanford University.

02/05/10
Pew Research shows attention on Haiti shifts in cyberspace
They say it is hard to keep today's wired – and, increasingly, wireless – masses attention for very long.

01/26/10
More people spending more time on networking websites
Social media sites continue to captivate people's attention and time, according to a recent report.

01/19/10
New USB flash drive offers users a virtual privacy machine
Many who are tired of lugging a laptop to and from work to ensure secure access to much-needed information may now be able to leave the laptop behind thanks to a new “PC on a stick.”

01/13/10
Recent Android attacks may have been malware
While the free market is the basis of the American economy, a little security can go a long way – or so recent visitors to the Android Marketplace may have found out.

01/05/10
Although expected to speed up performance, Firefox 3.6 release is slowed down
As the web browser landscape continues to evolve and grow, Mozilla said it would not make a self-imposed 2009 deadline for releasing Firefox 3.6, according to several reports.

01/01/10
Android rumors continue to swirl
Android leaks are becoming more frequent as the Google-based mobile platform grows in popularity in only two years since its launch.

12/16/09
Apple may be leading music services to the computer clouds
It seems as if the internet music business may be heading to the clouds.

12/15/09
Official Ascentive Press Release on Recent Renewal Email
During the weekend of Dec 11th to Dec 13th, a subscription auto-renewal email was accidentally sent to everyone in the Ascentive email database.

12/14/09
Money the driving force behind malware
From Conficker to Koobface to jailbroken iPhones, and hundreds of viruses, worms and other malware, 2009 was a year of tremendous growth that was unaffected by the global recession, according to F-Secure's Data Security Wrap-Up for 2009.

12/09/09
Report: Social networks a growing target for hackers and malware
A yearly security report released by technology company Cisco says online social media and networks are among the fastest growing targets for cyber criminals.

12/07/09
Rick Astley worm creator 'Rickrolls' his way to a job designing iPhone
Who says crime doesn't pay? For one cyber criminal, his days as a hacker have led to a full-time – and legit – job.

12/01/09
Latest jailbreak iPhone malware deemed serious
Over the past couple of years, jailbroken iPhones have become as common as the phones themselves for users of all ages.

11/27/09
China warns of new computer virus
In what some see as an unusual move, China's government has beaten the rest of the world in issuing a warning about a new computer virus that has the potential to wreak havoc on computer users worldwide.

11/05/09
Real-world virus could cause virtual ills
The Government Accountability Office last week issued a report saying that rampant school and work absenteeism caused by pandemic swine flu could cause serious internet speed problems due to congestion.

11/05/09
New versions of online childproofing software becoming available for Windows 7 users
Windows XP users upgrading to Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system may have received several unpleasant surprises as they realized that some of their frequently used software was incompatible with the new OS.

11/05/09
Which processor? Intel vs. AMD can make a difference in performance
Prospective PC buyers should carefully consider their choice of processor, according to computer experts, because the two major microchip manufacturers – AMD and Intel – offer different advantages and disadvantages.

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