Category Archives: Picks

The First Pen I Ever Loved

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC 4 Color for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a child, I was an odd duck (though some would contend that I maintain a similar level of peculiarity).

I couldn’t stand sports, I didn’t really enjoy playing in the outdoors, and I wanted a BIC® 4-Color™ pen. I wanted other things, too (like Star Wars figures) – but, for some unknown reason, this writing instrument captured my attention.

BIC Vader

The pen was different… then again, so was I (at least, in comparison to everybody else in my neighborhood or school). There were 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen!

I remember thinking about what my life was like if – and when – I had this pen in my possession. Why, at a moment’s notice, I could go from red to green without wasting time to pick up a separate stylus. How cool would that be? And, you might recall, I was also the kid who couldn’t eat any of his chocolate-coated candies until they were first separated into color piles. Had I known about ROYGBIV back in the day, I would have taken my idiosyncrasies to an entirely new level.

Well, this was a pen for me. Different. Fun. Full of four colors. It was certainly something that would help me make every one of my assignments even more awesome (even though we weren’t really allowed to use red ink on our paperwork). Yes, I fantasized about how to better organize my notes.

You think I’m joking, don’t you?

Go ahead, laugh. I’ll wait.

But I had the last laugh, because once I finally had my hands on a BIC® 4-Color™ pen… my outlines were award-winning (if they gave awards for such things). Each level was written in a different color code, helping me further visually organize the information I had scrawled. Mind you, this was long before “word processor” was a common term. Actually, I was my own word processor.

No fancy fonts. No printer jams. Just original handwriting and a variety of usable colors for common paper types. While I cut my teeth (and fingertips) on white wide rule, I wound up preferring “college” rule because I was able to use more lines on a single sheet. Eventually, yellow legal pads won my heart… and the BIC 4-color pen’s ink.

Even today, I much prefer keeping most actionable / to-do notes for myself on some form of physical media (as in, something that doesn’t crash and has an adhesive on part of one side). Of course, I have pens aplenty… but none of them have ever been THIS pen.

I mean, what kind of kid actually dreams of owning a particular pen?! It’s been more than a dream come true for me, really – and it’s something I still treasure after all these years. Its magic will never dissipate.

We click, I think.

And now I can click with the BIC® on social, too – they’re on Twitter, Facebook, and have even created a few videos to further highlight the personalties of this pen. Of course, I’ve always liked the color red – and now that I’m no longer in school, I use red ink without fear of reprisal.

Each color has a personality – but you can only use one at a time (though, I’m quite guilty of doing the thing that’s surfaced in the “Crammed” video). Given that red is my favorite color, I’m happy to see that the red personality is in line with how I’d want to express myself with the pen.

Blue likes himself. Green is the jealous type. Black (although he doesn’t like to talk about it) is actually a blonde. Red likes it when things are correct.

I think you should know why I like red now.

Seems like an understatement to call this gadget simply a “pen.” It’s more like an awesomesauce instrument that’s capable of channeling your needs – no matter which color personality you feel like using at the time.

Get the BIC® 4-Color™ pretty much anywhere awesome pens are sold (like Amazon or Staples).

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I Hate Doing Reviews; The Future?

I Hate Doing Reviews; The Future?I hate doing reviews. Hate them.

Yet, they’re expected to be done — not by me, but by others who want to know how I feel about any given product.

Inevitably, you miss something in a review — or someone watching (or reading) expects you to cover something you didn’t think about or care to dive deeply into.

So it was my idea to trudge through a Samsung Galaxy S5 review last night after a few Russian Imperial Stouts. Great idea.

I also hate editing video. Hate.

So I tried to shoot something live-to-tape and (in my usual self-editing live style) I felt like I was just wasting my time with the “review” and wanted to quit. I decided to quit for the night, and went to bed.

I’m not quite sure I want to bother with doing a full-on Samsung Galaxy S5 review; I’ve tried coming up with a simple rubric to follow, but inevitably feel like I’m not doing it “right.”

When you force yourself to do something you hate, you actually hate it even more.

Perhaps if I do decide to publish reviews in the future, I don’t know if they’ll be done in video (certainly, not the way I’ve done it before). And, despite reviews being traffic drivers, I don’t know if I’ll be publishing any of my future reviews for the public to digest (perhaps making them viewable by patrons only).

It’s possible that with a production team around me, I’ll revisit the idea of doing reviews for the public in one way or another. Maybe I’ll just scribble out my thoughts and find a decent narrator, video editor person, or animator to superimpose those bits atop “epic” product visuals?

Maybe. Eventually.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: the S5 is a fine product that has been marred by Samsung’s sloppiness and apparent apathy in executing a cohesive user experience.

BedBug Detective Sniffs Out Critters

Even the cleanest of homes, hotel rooms and movie theaters could have a bedbug problem. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about them is enough to make my skin literally crawl. I’ve seen reports of even upscale hotels having an issue with the lovely little creatures. I happen to travel a lot, and would love to be able to quickly detect whether or not my room was infested. Thanks to the new BedBug Detective, I could be able to do just that.

This little handheld device – which should retail for about two hundred bucks – promises to detect the critters even if there is a small concentration of them in the room. Sweep it over bedding, furniture and walls. An alarm will sound when it sniffs the bedbug’s specific pheromones at 200 parts per million in the air. That tiny of a concentration is purportedly able to be picked up by the gadget.

No more worries about creepy-crawlies in your hotel room bed! The BedBug Detective should be released later this year, and will be marketed to exterminators, business and individuals.

Don’t forget to stop by our software site today.

Angry Birds Valentine’s Edition Ready to Perch on Your Device

Not only will you unlock new love-themed levels with this Angry Birds update, you can also send an Angry Birds Valentine to your friends and loved ones! Connect the game with Facebook to send the missives or use the new Facebook application.

This update brings you fifteen new levels featuring the usual types of challenges and offering up three golden eggs. Special Bing integration will add in-game links to web searches giving out information, tips and tricks to help complete the game.

Don’t forget to stop by our software center today.

How to Get Rid of Old Electronics

Over on Lockergnome, a user was wondering what is the best way to get rid of old, unwanted electronics and devices. Several people chimed in with suggestions, most of which are excellent ideas. The problem is that while getting some cash back is tempting, most e-waste recyclers aren’t compliant with healthy & safe recycling practices. There are, thankfully, several reputable – and excellent – organizations out there.

InterConnection is right here in Seattle, and donates your old computers to organizations who may not otherwise have any. Electronic Recyclers International is in the process of becoming certified. There are any number of clubs, assisted-living complexes and companies right in your hometown who could put your old machine to good use, as well.

Be smart, and make sure you properly erase all of the information off of your device before handing it over to anyone.

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to find all of the applications you could possibly need.

MySpace is Totally For Sale

We’ve thought for a while now that News Corp has given up on MySpace. We all speculated that the company would go up for sale when the big layoffs hit last month. Even though they aren’t advertising it, the website is most definitely for sale. News Corp COO Chase Carey told a reporter over at PaidContent that “With a new structure in place, now is the right time to consider strategic options for this business. The new MySpace has been very well received by the market and we have some very encouraging metrics. But the plan to allow MySpace to reach it’s full potential may be best achieved under a new owner.”

Carey makes it clear that while they haven’t offered the social space to the sale block, offers have been coming in. He is quick to point out that they will entertain all offers, including those which may keep his company involved in some way.

Subterfuge aside, it’s pretty clear that Tom’s site is about to change hands. What would it take for someone new to breathe life back into it and make it more viable again?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

Mozy Getting Rid of Unlimited Backup Plans

For those of you who have long enjoyed having an unlimited amount of space within your Mozy account to back up your data are about to cry on your keyboard. As soon as your current subscription runs out, there will be no more “unlimited” plans to choose from. Instead, Mozy will start charging nearly six bucks each month for up to 50GB of data. If you need more space, you will have to pay another two dollars per month per 20GB. If you have more than one machine to back up, you can choose the new multi-machine option: $9.99 per month for up to 125GB and three computers.

“There has been a change in consumer behavior,” said Russ Stockdale, Mozy’s vice president of product management. “What we have seen since we launched an unlimited service five years ago is there has been an explosion in digital content, specifically digital photos and video.” Many customers store many MANY Gigabytes’ worth of videos and photos on their machines – and on Mozy’s servers.

If you’re a Mozy customer, what’s your reaction? Do you plan to stick with the company or start shopping around for something new?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to check out today’s hot deals.

Angry Birds Heading to Rio

No, your favorite game isn’t taking a vacation. The Angry Birds are going to have some fun down in Rio thanks to a partnership with Fox and an upcoming animated movie “Rio,” which hits theaters in mid-April. The game is scheduled to be released sometime in March, just ahead of the film. In Angry Birds Rio, the original flock is kidnapped and taken to Rio, where they then escape and seek to help their friends–the two macaws Blu and Jewel, who are the stars of “Rio.”

The new movie-based game will start with 45 levels of angry fun. Additional levels will be unlocked via an update. The game will be available for various smartphones and tablets.

Angry Birds does have one detour prior to getting to Rio. Rovio is planning a Valentine’s Day update to the seasonal game.

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

Verizon iPhone Pre-Orders to Start February 3rd

Verizon is offering existing customers a chance to buy the Verizon iPhone on February 3rd, a week before the general public. According to an email received by MacRumors, Verizon will begin pre-order sales at 3am Eastern on February 3rd. The email also indicates that the pre-sale inventory is limited, so when that inventory is depleted, customers will have to wait until the February 10th public launch date.

Make sure you have your My Verizon self-serve account set-up online. Orders can only be placed through your my Verizon account. On February 3rd at 3am EST, Verizon Wireless will allow our current customers to order upgrades or new lines to their accounts through your My Verizon online account (make sure you have registered before the 3rd).

Verizon is allowing certain existing AT&T customers to trade in their current iPhone for credit towards a new Verizon iPhone 4. Depending on which model you have, you could receive up to $360.00 in credits.

Are you planning to make a switch to Verizon?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

My, How Foursquare Has Grown

In a world of “gotta join it now” websites cropping up everywhere, we’ve become used to seeing astronomical growth on startup sites. We don’t usually so much as blink an eye when someone reports they’ve had “amazing growth” or “so much traffic the servers went down.” It happens almost every day it seems. I have to admit, though, I DID blink when I read a post over on Foursquare today. The company claims to have grown by 3400% in the past year. That isn’t a typo, nor is it an exaggeration.

I admit it – I’m not a user, nor will I ever be. I just don’t get the point of telling someone where I am at every moment of the day. Do you honestly care when your friends are at the grocery store or gas station? I digress, though… there are plenty of you who DO use the service. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of you are regular checker-in’ers. Foursquare reports that the 6,000,000th user signed up last week.

Are you one of millions who is using the service – or any other checkin site – on a regular basis?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

Facebook Launches Live Commenting

When Facebook absorbed Friendfeed, no one was certain what would become of the site that was loved so fiercely by so many. Since the two sites became one, we have seen a few Friendfeed-like integrations on the social networking giant. Just yesterday, Zuck and his team quietly launched a live-commenting feature which takes us back to the days of Friendfeed’s heydey.

It’s also important to note that page owners will now see Post Insights immediately, instead of having to wait several hours (or even days!) for that information to become available. I love how the little updates such as these show up magically – with no fanfare at all – to make my Facebook life even easier. Don’t you agree?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

How Would You Spend Your Last Hour?

You have just been told that your life will end in sixty minutes. How do you spend that last hour? I can’t help but think about what it is that I would do if I knew I had only an hour left to live. Would I call everyone I love to say goodbye? Would I cuddle with my beloved pets? Would I take a relaxing soak in the Jacuzzi and let the Grim Reaper take me the way I came in to the world – naked and wet?

In reality, I think I’d do my best to leave my mark on the world in those final moments. I’d like to believe that I could come up with something profound to say – some type of important advice to leave behind. There are plenty of things floating around in my noggin that have never been said or written down. Taking that last hour to get them out there for others to learn from would be a pretty cool way to wind down life.

Then again – why the hell are we waiting until our final hour to share our brain with the masses? Why aren’t we out there doing it every hour of every day?

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Netflix is Changing the Game and No One is Happy

Netflix Director of Product Management Jamie O’Dell announced today that the company will no longer allow customers to add physical DVDs to their queue from streaming devices such as the PS3 and iPhone. The claim is that they are trying to “concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly.” The powers-that-be at Netflix apparently feel that “providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”

The problem with this thought process is that many subscribers feel this is a huge step backwards. The desktop computer is becoming more obsolete in the days of mobile devices. Why, then, is Netflix only wanting to allow you to add movies to your queue when logged into the website itself? According to the comments being left on the announcement, people aren’t very happy – to say the least.

What are your thoughts? Is Netflix making the right move here, or have they gone a bit off the deep end?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s hot today.