Samsung’s Galaxy Note Series Gets an Upgrade

March 22, 2015  |  Guest Writers, Techie

[Disclaimer: Content Provided by Guest Writer from SocialMonsters]

The Galaxy Note 4, Samsung’s latest release, is easily one of the best phablets on the market. Designed to be the fastest, most responsive and easiest to use, the Galaxy Note 4 is quickly becoming the standard all future phablets will be judged against. Here are just a few features that make it stand out:

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Stylus

The Note 4 comes with a stylus that can be tucked away within the phone. It is the only mainstream device with a pen attachment of any kind, and it makes navigating, writing and drawing a breeze. It also lets you customize and choose from a quick use menu, which is accessible by just the touch of a button.

Display

With a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display and an industry-leading resolution of 2560 x 1440p, the display is easily one of the best on the market. The pixel density soars over last year’s model to an impressive 515 ppi, which means your pictures and videos will be crystal clear, even at the highest resolution.

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Doctor of the All-Nighter: How to Get a PhD in Binge Watching

March 15, 2015  |  Guest Writers, TV

Disclaimer: Content Provided by a Guest Writer from SocialMonsters

Are you a a long-suffering and closeted TV binge watcher? A study by Harris Interactive and Netflix discovered that among 1,500 TV streamers, 61 percent binge watch regularly. But there’s no shame involved — in fact, three-quarters of viewers said they feel positive about their decision to binge. So it’s time to take your popular habit public and embrace it as the new norm. But don’t just park it in front of the TV and settle in; we’ll show you how to take your binge watching to the next level.

bingewatching

Carve out a day … or a week

Binge watching your way through old favorites or an entire collection is not for the faint of heart. Carve out a day or an entire week to focus on your mass media consumption. But you need a strategy. Let’s do some math.

Watching the entire 190 episodes of “24” would take more than six days of nonstop viewing to cover the eight-seasons. Meanwhile, “Breaking Bad” would take less than two full days. You could start with a shorter series to build-up your binge muscles before moving onto something meatier. And if you must, compromise and break up your binge in shifts by dedicating specific days or evenings of the week to your new passion.

Perfect the mobile binge

Untether yourself from the couch and TV and take a few creative shortcuts without compromising the art of binge watching. Load up your media on your tablet or phone and install the necessary apps. Consider leveraging Amazon Prime to quickly access entire series, or rely on Fuugo or Crackle to help get through your week-long binge. Serious viewers can look to a service like DISH Anywhere to watch live TV online. It also lets you take your favorite shows with you. That means you can watch TV from your tablet, smartphone or laptop from your bedroom to the kitchen or even bathroom for uninterrupted viewing.

Order in everything humanly possible

You still need to eat and have access to day-to-day resources. Order in food from local restaurants and get someone to grocery shop for you with a service like Instacart to bring in everything from snacks to paper towels. Still need something like an errand run or your lawn mowed? Find someone on TaskRabbit to do it for you. You have more important things to do than drop off your taxes at your accountant’s (like a marathon of “Game of Thrones”).

Make it productive

Binge watching doesn’t have to be a slog through the best of what TV and movies have to offer. Pick a show that you not only care about, but that can help educate and inform. Binging on “Grey’s Anatomy” might teach you a thing or two about embracing your fear and learning to trust others. Consider live blogging your nonstop TV watching to help entertain a wider audience who wants to live vicariously through you without dedicating the man hours to commit to their own binge. And of course, binging with the ones you love means more time together. Whether it’s quality time or just quantity time is left to be determined.

Lighten Up! 4 Packing Tips for Your Next Trip

February 25, 2015  |  Guest Writers, Travel

Since its a nice long holiday weekend I thought it best to share some funky tips provided to me by a Guest Writer from SocialMonsters.  If you’re traveling I hope you enjoy these tips and have fun at your next destination if not then maybe they will be helpful for later :)

Travel can be a fun and even magical experience, but it can also be a bit on the stressful side. From trying to make your connecting flight to finding your way around an unfamiliar city, even the most seasoned traveler feels overwhelmed at times. One way to ease the burden of traveling – both literally and figuratively – is to pack as light as you can. In addition to being a lot easier to carry, a lightweight suitcase will save you on spendy bag fees from the airlines. To pack as lightly as possible and still bring what you need on your next vacation, consider the following tips.

1. Start with the Bag

Before you start packing, put your empty suitcase on the scale – the number might surprise you. If your favorite suitcase is more than a few years old, chances are good it’s pretty heavy all on its own. It’s time to upgrade to a newer, lighter option. Look for a suitcase that weighs less than six pounds empty. Briggs & Riley make a variety of lightweight, high-quality suitcases that look good, too.

And you get one carry-on, so go with a larger, functional bag that still meets the size requirement of the TSA. Guys might choose a nice laptop case or briefcase with lots of compartments for extra goodies, and gals can check out this “Getaway Chic” Pinterest page for cute carry-on bags.

2. Make Your Packing List

Next, create your packing list or use one you find online. And then – just to really hammer home how much stuff you intend to bring – go ahead and spread everything out on your dining room table or bed. Go through each item and ask yourself if you will really use it on your vacation. Remember, you’re not packing to survive any and all weather conditions; you just need to bring the basics. To further lighten your load, call the hotel and ask if they have certain amenities on hand for guests – hotels commonly supply hair dryers, irons and even bathrobes. (Or use the one I provided a while back ;))

3. Pack Smart

Both gents and ladies can pack smart and remain fashionable. Bring basics in neutral shades with matching dress shoes and one pair of good walking shoes. Instead of bringing a giant jacket, plan on bringing layers that you can add or remove while you’re at your destination. Ladies, bring one designer handbag that will carry you through daytime sightseeing and nights on the town. Coach makes gorgeous totes that will last you for years to come.

4. Downsize What You Can

Bring travel sizes of shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, lotion, sunscreen and other needed items. If you can’t find your beloved shampoo in a tiny bottle at your local store, order refillable TSA-approved travel bottles from Brincatti and fill them with your favorite toiletries. This tip alone can reduce your load by several pounds, and your back will thank you.

As always, the right preparation will help ensure a successful trip. Now go have fun on your next adventure.

Bon Voyage!

5 Must-Have Console Companion Apps for MMO Junkies

January 11, 2015  |  Gaming, Guest Writers

[Disclaimer: Article written by a Guest Writer provided by Social Monsters]

Console, leisure & entertainmentMMO gaming requires certain levels of commitment and dedication. You have to spend countless hours building your character, looting, ganking, tracking, developing strategies and acquiring weaponry. So, it’s a bummer when real life comes along, telling you that you have to go to class, to the post office, to the grocery store and to work, and you lose your momentum. But, just because you can’t be in front of your console doesn’t mean you can’t continue the game. Here are five console companion apps that allow you to take your character and clans along with you wherever life demands you go.

Call of Duty

A necessity for head of clan players, the CoD app for the iPhone offers tools for organizing your clan’s sessions. There is a loadout editor so you can create custom classes and gear loadouts while you’re away from your console. When you’re finished with your creations, they can be pushed directly to your CoD account so they are ready for use the next time you sign in.

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Video Games: Digital Download vs. Hardcopy

December 9, 2014  |  Gaming, Guest Writers, Techie

[Disclaimer: Article written by a Guest Writer provided by Social Monsters]

4291_shutterstock_187770899That 1978 song “Video Killed the Radio Star” sure had a point and makes us think about the recent physical vs. digital debate in the interactive entertainment industry. Sometimes media change is hard to deal with due to both cultural and technical factors. It has happened in most entertainment industries in the past two decades. As digital formats take over as the main content delivery system, some purists defend the physical format and claim that digital delivery will ruin the industry.

There is a hint of nostalgia for the old formats fueling their claims. As human beings, we are collectors by nature, and having a bookshelf full of CDs, DVDs, comic books, video games and books allow us to brag and to feel a sense of accomplishment (even if we have watched/listened/read only half of them). Remember how music CD aficionados cringed at the idea of digital-only collections? Or how DVD collectors suspiciously frowned upon Netflix? Having 16,000 songs on your iPod just doesn’t feel the same as having a gargantuan CD and LP collection, right?

However, anyone with a Netflix account, or similar, knows that watching the movie or TV show that you want, when you want it, is quite convenient. And what about digital and subscription music services like iTunes or Spotify? Digital delivery allows for more flexibility and freedom for the technically savvy and well-connected. After all, one of the promises of digital media is to render physical formats obsolete.

Well, video games are no exception. Some gamers feel proud about their collections and claim that having an enormous list of games on Steam just doesn’t feel quite the same. Several gaming companies are leaning heavily toward downloaded content, in fact the percentage of digital games to physical games (now up to 92 percent) rises every year. Though you can still stop by the store to pick up a physical disc, titles like the new Dragon Age: Inquisition are easily downloaded straight to your computer. For some hardcore gamers who fall into the older age bracket, this represents quite a paradigm shift. But the fact that games such as DAI is available for download at a standarized price, bypassing the middle-man (your local video game store) is quite significant in terms of industry and media change. There is now a direct link between publishers and consumers, which represents both a new revenue model and a paradigm shift in how we consume video games. In fact, gamers are already creating digital collections: it was recently revealed that 37 percent of the games downloaded on Valve’s Steam engine have never been played.

However, the concerns of those in #TeamPhysical are valid on a technical level. In order for the gaming industry to go fully digital worldwide, there are a few things that need to happen:

  • Broadband: the Internet needs to be widely spread across the globe. There is a misconception among U.S., Australian and European gamers that everyone has good Internet access. However, in order for the video game industry to go fully digital, strong broadband connections need to be the standard across the world.
  • Internet plans need to be uniformly speed-based, not data-allowance-based. Some countries like Australia determine monthly Internet fees based on the amount of data that you download and upload, not on the speed. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need to standarize their model so all gamers can download games without concerns about surpassing the data allowance.
  • What about trading games? One of the most prominent cultural practices among gamers is exchanging games. Of course, digital formats make this a bit hard. The industry has to adopt models such as Amazon’s mechanism for lending and borrowing Kindle books.

As newer generations of gamers become the group with the most purchasing power, the physical and digital sides will continue to divide. Spoiler alert: digital will win.

New Technology: Know the Risks First

November 29, 2014  |  Guest Writers, Techie

[Disclaimer: Article written by a Guest Writer provided by Social Monsters]

In this age of global economy, online marketplaces and all things virtual, securing your personal data is more important than ever. And while many new technologies seem fun, exciting and designed to make your life easier and quicker, they can also put you at serious risk of having your identity stolen.

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High-Risk Technology

As technology continues to advance and we get closer to a completely wireless and paperless age, new gadgets and gizmos are continuously developed to automate nearly everything. But the speed at which those technologies are implemented and distributed oftentimes doesn’t provide enough testing in the safety and security that needs to go along with it in order to keep you and your family safe.

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The Best Times of Year to Buy Tech

October 24, 2014  |  Guest Writers, Techie

[Disclaimer: Article written by a Guest Writer provided by Social Monsters]

Successful woman onlineIf you are like most shoppers, you are always looking to save a little money, especially when it comes to tech purchases. According to GoRave, the average household spends more than $1,600 on consumer electronic devices annually. Oftentimes, getting the best deal simply requires choosing the right time to make your purchase. Here’s how you can figure out when is best to buy that new piece of tech you’ve had your eye on.

Video Games and Consoles

The best time of the year to save money on a video game varies. It’s best to wait several weeks after a game is released. Demand is always highest right when a game hits the market which leads to inflated price tags. According to Kotaku, many disc-based games will see their first price drop after just two weeks of sitting on shelves. Consoles are harder to predict timing. Price cuts seem arbitrary, and in some cases, infuriating if you bought your console the day before a price cut is announced. The holiday season is a common time for video game and console prices to drop in price. Give yourself an edge by signing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday email lists to receive alerts on upcoming holiday tech sales.The best deals of the year on consoles often surround the holidays, especially a year or two after their initial release.

Laptops

For many electronics, the best sales start when inventories are at their lowest and the current shopping season is ending, which is the case for laptops. April is usually the best time to grab a deal on laptops because so many new models are announced during this month each year. This is because April is the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year, and many manufacturers and developers of laptops are based in Japan. These companies don’t want to be saddled with old inventory when new models are on their way to the shelves. Laptops are often even cheaper in April than they are during back-to-school season. July could yield good prices as well but waiting until then could mean the model you want is out of stock.

Smartphones and Mobile Devices

The most difficult devices to predict price drops for are smartphones and similar mobile devices — the original iPhone launched at $599, but in just two months dropped $200. In some cases, price drops on smartphones occur right after tech conventions where new models and technological advances are announced. In this case, it pays to keep up-to-date with the industry. With so many manufacturers creating smartphones around the world, tracking the possible factors that might lead to a price drop is nearly impossible for the average consumer. When looking to score a deal on a smartphone, the best strategy is to shop around and find three or four models that would suit your needs. Monitor them each for a price drop. In the end, the best time of the year to buy a new smartphone is when you need it.