Archives for October 2013

Will You Upgrade This Holiday Season?


Oh, the holidays. A time for turkey, jingle bells, and retail madness. In the past few years, the holiday season has also been one of technology upgrades. Many tech companies conveniently choose the early fall to debut new and upgraded products, just in time for the holiday season. I think it’s safe to say that there are new cell phones or tablets under many, many Christmas trees each year.

So will you upgrade this holiday season? Here are some of the new offerings to consider:

iPhone 5S or 5C – Apple is undeniably a giant when it comes to phones and tablets. Their newest phone offerings come in two versions – the iPhone 5S and 5C. The 5S is what you would expect from a typical Apple upgrade, with fancy new colors and fingerprint technology. The iPhone 5C is basically last year’s iPhone 5, repackaged in a colorful plastic housing. Rumor has it that so far, the iPhone 5C is not selling as well as anticipated.

iPad Air – The iPad Air is the most recent Apple offering. While it seems as though a lot of the specs of the iPad have only gotten minor tweaks, the look of it is very different. Weighing in at a sleek one pound, the iPad Air is even more portable than its predecessors. The newest iPad also boasts a bigger screen.

iPad Mini with Retina – The iPad mini has gotten an upgrade, too. While the look of the device is basically the same, it now has the same technology as its larger sibling, adding Retina display.

Galaxy S4 – Samsung’s direct competitor for the iPhone is their Galaxy line. The newest model, the Galaxy S4, has a few changes from its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. It has a larger screen (5” instead of 4.8”) although the size of the phone itself has only become slimmer, not bigger. Along with these changes, it also features an upgraded display and new apps that are formatted specifically for the S4.

Galaxy Note 3 – Samsung’s Galaxy Note series is something of an anomaly in the cell phone world. It’s huge, almost tablet-like display definitely isn’t for everyone. But for those who don’t mind its large size, the new Note 3 has some cool features. The Note 3 is available in 3 colors, which is new. Users say that the Note 3 has one of the best displays on the market.

Google Nexus – Google’s Nexus line is still a bit of a mystery. They have not yet unveiled their new products, likely to be the Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 8 tablet. Hopefully we will hear more about these products soon, as they are likely to be major players in the holiday tech-buying frenzy.

So which of these new gadgets will you be buying or gifting this holiday season?

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Pinterest is a Bigger Influencer Than You Think


Any fellow Pinterest addicts out there? The first step is admitting that you have a problem, and I definitely do. When I’ve exhausted checking Facebook, Instagram, and a parenting message board that I frequent, Pinterest in my next stop. And then the next thing I know, it’s four hours later, my mouth is watering with visions of desserts and delicious recipes and my wallet is cringing at the impending trip to Hobby Lobby for craft supplies.

Pinterest has done a lot of things right in its first few years. It has gained a huge following, opened itself up to businesses, and launched very user friendly mobile apps so that people can use the site on the go. While the network is not free of all Internet issues (think spam) it’s definitely a great example of a company that is run really, really well.

When you think about it, Pinterest is genius for everyone involved. Designed to be an online bulletin board, it’s perfect for users to keep track of recipes, craft ideas, decorating inspiration, and so much more. But it also drives traffic to websites. When you click “see more” you’ll visit an actual website. This has been a boon for many small blogs and companies that might not have gained exposure otherwise.

In light of all of this info, it should come as no surprise that Pinterest is the second largest referrer of web traffic when it comes to social media. Eclipsed only by Facebook and its more than one billion users, Pinterest is really in a league of its own when it comes to referral traffic. According to Mashable, Pinterest drives more traffic than the four other major social networks (LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, and Google +) combined. I particularly love Pinterest because the traffic is primarily organic and sites are getting people to click through because they are genuinely interested in what they are seeing.

There’s no doubt that Pinterest is a juggernaut when it comes to the Internet. I’m interested to see what the company will do next.

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Maddie Heinen is a regular contributor to She is a freelance writer who specializes in blogging, content creation, and social media. When she is not working, she is taking care of her two kids, husband, and home in Central Florida. Maddie enjoys reading, shopping, and is interested in real estate. She is currently working on establishing her own internet-based media company, Red Hibiscus Media, which will specialize in both online content as well as print material.

How Do You “Talk” Online?


How Do You “Talk” Online?

I have to admit – I’m a Gchat junkie. Gchat, the nickname for Google’s popular Google Talk platform, is used relatively widely. So when the company updated to Google+ Hangouts many people either refused to make the change or didn’t realize that they were able to update (and some would say upgrade) to Hangouts.

Gchat and Hangouts are just the most recent incarnation of chat applications that are offered. There’s AOL Instant Messenger, which is one of the very first chat clients; Microsoft, who offers a chat through its Hotmail client; Jabber, which many big companies use as an internal chat option; and of course, Facebook chat, which continues to grow in popularity. With so many people using the Internet as a primary communication tool, it’s no wonder that there are a plethora of chat options to choose from.

Let’s explore some chat options:

Google+ Hangouts (formerly known as Gchat or Google Talk)

I have to admit that after reading this article I made the switch from Gchat to Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts now offers you the option to share photos and emoticons through the chat client. It now also offers an app for Hangouts, while before you had to resort to aftermarket apps to get mobile access to the Google chat client.

Facebook Chat

While the ability to chat within Facebook still has a bit of a rudimentary look, it’s very popular with Facebook users. Personally, I don’t like that it treats chat messages like actual private messages. You can also get caught up in a chat/message chain that seems to go on forever. But having the ability to talk with people that you normally communicate with through status updates is nice. You can keep some conversations off of your Facebook page and not in the so-called public record.

Windows Live Messenger

I think that Windows messenger looks like a hybrid of Google Talk and what AIM used to look like. It has many of the same capabilities. If you have contacts who primarily use Hotmail or Outlook, choosing to use Windows messenger regularly may be a good thing for you.


Many companies use this free chat client to connect people within their office and improve their business communication. It’s a pretty basic chat but it does have many, many emoticons to choose from, which is fun.

So how do you talk online? I’m curious to hear which of the chat clients that I’ve listed is the most popular. Any pros and cons for each on that I didn’t list?

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.