Is VR becoming hot?

We have all heard the term VR, Virtual Reality.  What do you think of when you see these words.  I think of those 20 something nerds sitting in their basement with these crazy goggles on hooked into a computer playing a souped up Sims or D&D game where they get to make believe they are someone much cooler.  Only it’s better than your standard PC gaming system, because they are “really there”.  There are some niche aspects VR that have gained some innovators and early adopters: the military and police force, or medical professionals use VR for training purposes.  This way they can go into threatening or dangerous experiences without the risk.

Virtual simulators allow cadets to practice patrolling as a squad in a town, enter and clear a building, and perform other simulated operations.
Credit: United States Armed Forces

In general, however, VR is still not mainstream.  Initially this was because of price.  When the Oculus Rift came out as a consumer product, it started at $600 with touch controllers costing $199 each (because you need one for each hand in VR), pair that with a powerful enough PC and you’re forking out over $1500 for a fully functional gaming system and you’re still wired to your PC.  Other brands have entered into this space since Oculus pioneered VR, such as HTC (Vive), Playstation (headset), Samsung (Gear – from Oculus) and Google (Daydream and Cardboard) are venturing into the VR space.  Many of these are mobile, and  Google has just created the ability for their phones (that you will already be buying for ~ $800) to be turned into VR headsets.

It’s been 4 years since Rift was released as a development kit, and 2 years since they have been selling to a broader customer base.  This tech is still young and there are a lot of companies vying for position in the market.  Where they are benefiting is the growth of streaming media and introduction of 3D broadcasting.  3D is making it becoming mainstream, even the NFL was broadcasting some football games in 3D.

Netflix is providing a ton of content for VR as well as games being created specifically for it.  And now Occulus has the Go, a wireless system with a single controller.  The target for this product is wireless gaming and media immersion. Imagine sitting on an airplane putting on your headset and fully immersing yourself into a movie instead of watching it on that tiny screen on the back of the seat that keeps leaning closer and closer to you.  Ahh… that would be amazing.  Except to everyone around you, you look like a crazy person with that funky headset on.  Is the experience enough.  I say, yes.

And here comes the marketing.  Now, not marketed to developers, or to gamers.  Oculus is targeting the mass market.  Who better to sell these than our favorite movie and music stars.

Well, I believe that we are nearing a turning point in this VR cycle.  If it can make the jump over the chasm of adoption between the early adopters and the early majority we may have a product for the masses!  Wireless is one step in the right direction for more appeal, ease of use and comfort with watching the streaming media that they already know is another one.  The last big hurdle will be to see if VR can get out of the basement and into the public for the world to see and then it may be on fire.

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Is VR becoming hot?

5 Ways to Happily Mismanage Your Life

The world is filled with feel-good, optimistic approaches on how to establish a good lifestyle and improve yourself. This is not one of those … welcome to the dark side.
Whether you are student, working in a office or managing your personal life, below are some of the best ways to mismanage your life and be totally happy doing it.
1. Distract yourself
Internet and smart phones have brought the power to transform the world anytime and from anywhere into your palm.  If you are comfortable in your job/relationship already, you may want to seriously consider distracting yourself with as many gadgets and apps.  After all, there will always be another job tomorrow somewhere, but the latest viral news/post will be lost in the landfill of internet any minute.  Focus is overrated, go ahead and refresh.
2. Overspend your earnings
Saving for retirement is great only if you want all the resources at a time when you are physically incapable of enjoying anything those resources could buy.  The experience of enjoying your dream vacations in your youth in worth a lifetime of debt.  Go ahead and take that vacation on credit.
3. Aim for instant gratification
Successful people are able to deal with contradiction by doing what is necessary to resolve issues or, at least, neutralize it.  If you are turned off by the significant planning and thoughtful execution of tasks this mandates, then give into temptation and relish short-term rewards at the expense of long-term benefits.  No one knows what surprises tomorrow will bring.  Go ahead and enjoy everything now.
4. Become complacent
If you do not like your views to be challenged, then going to school is the best way to waste valuable years of your life.  Technology is evolving faster than humans.  Being unwilling to learn new skills may be the quickest way to make yourself worthless in the modern economy.  Even in personal relationships, unwillingness to keep the spark alive is the sure shot way to a long singles lifestyle. Put on those pajamas and get too comfortable.
5. Wreck personal connections
If you know that you are the better half, then separating yourself from the pesky human connections grounding you to reality may be your most gratifying decision.  Free your unique ideas from the grind of thoughtful collaborative team work.  Who needs allies when you are perfect … make yourself great again!
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3 Simple Steps to Boost Business Through Employee Morale

Acquiring and retaining solid employees requires focus on their value to your organization..

More and more businesses recognize the correlation of increased employee morale with a greater sense of productivity, engagement and loyalty. Use these simple tips to transform the landscape of your organization and achieve greater success for your team.

1. Promote a healthy environment through emphasis on work-life balance 

Image result for work life balance

It’s important to provide flexibility that enables fostering a well-balanced personal and work life. Managers can improve their teams’ productivity and performance through encouragement of maintaining strong and healthy relationships. Advocating for employees to leave work on time can benefit both the organization and the individual, as this decreases likelihood of an eventual “burnout”.

2. Foster an atmosphere of inclusion for your employees

Image result for workplace inclusion

Employees need to be recognized to feel valued. Make them part of the big picture through clear and frequent communication of business updates, in addition to providing both group and individual direction. Driving transparency and honesty plays a significant role in increasing creativity and innovation from your team.

3. Identify career opportunities to enhance motivation

Image result for career development

Thoughtful conversations around potential career paths, coupled with relevant training recommendations can decrease likelihood of employees leaving your firm. By focusing on their individual ambitions, you can determine how to better align your staff to the business. Start by finding ways to help them grow in their current role, further developing their sense of drive and increasing their potential for success with your organization.

 

Nine Steps to More Successful Meetings

Let’s be honest: most of us don’t like meetings. Meetings often feel unproductive and like a waste of everyone’s time, yet we rarely do anything to make our meetings better. Here are nine guidelines you can implement today to make your meetings more valuable.

#1. Do we really need to meet?

If there’s no purpose, there’s no meeting. When we take up people’s time, there should be a specific reason or objective.

#2. Who really needs to be at this meeting?

 If you can’t feed a meeting with two pizzas, it’s too large. -Jeff Bezos

Meetings can become costly and inefficient when there are too many people involved. Every person in the room or on the call should be there to contribute. To fight this, try using the Jeff Bezos’s two pizza rule.

#3. Meetings are not for information sharing.

If there are materials to share, this should be done prior to the meeting. Consider LinkedIn, where they eliminated presentations: “At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content,” said LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

#4. Have an agenda and stick to it.

Share an agenda before the meeting so others can be prepared, and keep the group on task. It’s helpful to designate a facilitator to keep the discussion focused and moving forward. Meetings can be hijacked or get offtrack without a strong voice to keep the group on topic. Tip: Use the concept of a parking lot so people feel heard, but the conversation can return to purpose of the meeting. Don’t feel the need to address the parking lot items in the meeting, but instead include them in the notes, or as action items so they can be revisited at the proper time.

#5. Start on time.

Set the expectation that the meeting will start on time even if everyone is not in attendance. Communicate that this is out of respect for everyone’s time and ask that people notify others if they will be late. 

#6. Try keeping the meeting short and don’t be afraid to end early.

A lot can be covered in a short period, and research suggests our attention can be held for about 15-minutes before we tune out.

Related: ever wonder why TED Talks are 18-minutes? The Science Behind TED’s 18-Minute Rule

In addition, your coworkers will leave feeling productive and positive when a meeting finishes early. Remember the goal of the meeting is not to use all of the scheduled time, but to address a specific objective.

parkinson law

#7. No multi-tasking or devices unless necessary for the meeting.

Don’t allow others to waste other people’s time by not giving your full attention to the discussion. Tip: If the meeting includes remote attendees, stick to video conferencing to help reduce the urge to multitask.

#8. Agree to, and distribute, action items or decisions at the conclusion of the meeting.

Always document and share action items or decisions. No matter how good the discussion, in order for it to make a difference it must make it outside the four walls of the meeting.

#9. Don’t feel bad about calling people out on any of the above.

Accountability is critical to lasting success, and people will respect you for keeping them, and others, accountable.

 

So who’s ready for a great meeting?

 

Hopsy Review: The Keurig machine for Beer Gave me Buyers Remorse

Hopsy Review: The Keurig machine for Beer Gave me Buyers Remorse

Connor Harber

After literally swallowing what was left of my pride in flat, watery tasting beer I felt defeated but hydrated ….

———————————————————–

My experience:

The coupon got me! These were the words of the first sip of my freshly tapped beer using the SUB of my recently purchased Hopsy beer machine. I had recently seen an advertisement on Instagram for a nifty looking product that looked like a giant speaker dispensing freshly tapped beer, and with the picture of an Oktoberfest coupon fluorescently glowing in my face, I knew this $100 off was enough for me to pull the trigger to make the purchase. What I thought would become my new “Keurig” for beer quickly became a time-consuming process to get my money back for an experience that fell flat on its face!

 

Overview of Product:

Hopsy is a company that sells a Homedraft SUB draft system made by KRUPS which is designed to bring the taproom into your home. Hopsy then partners with dozens of breweries mostly located California to give you access to a rotation of beers. These products are offered online only through the company store to be purchased for delivery to your choice of home or office.

The SUB draft system is a plug and pour appliance that sits on any flat table top surface and with 4 simple steps; 1. Load 2. Tap 3. LOCK 4. Pour, you can enjoy the award-winning breweries on tap in your home.

The beer is stored in mini-kegs the company calls “Torps” which are plastic pressurized bottles holding about 2 liters of beer that you insert into the sub similar to a Keurig K-cup. Each Torp has a tube on the end that is used when inserting the container into the Sub to dispense the beer from the tap once plugged in and powered on.

To get the perfect pour, it takes about 6 to 8 hours for a Torp sitting in room temperature to cool down for the device to give you literally a green light to start pouring. A refrigerated torp takes about half or less the time of a non-refrigerated one.

The beer can be purchased individually per Torp or with a subscription-based monthly payment only through the Hopsy site due to the proprietary technology of the Torps and the SUB device. The SUB device is designed to only work by using the TORPS just like you can only use K-cups with a Keurig coffee machine.

 

The First 3 Torps and the Death of the 4th

“After the remains of beer were down the sink, on the sealing and drenched my clothes, I felt a little bit at peace with myself”

My SUB draft system, as well as the four different Torps I purchased, arrived within 5 to 7 business days and after I signed for proof of delivery, I had the machine turned on in less than 10 minutes. The torps I purchased to try were the Pineapple IPA, Citra Single Hop IPA, MT. Tam Pale Ale and Therapy Session IPA.

I started with the Pale Ale as this is a go-to favorite of mine and the idea was to work my way through the IPA’s after I had started with the Pale Ale. After inserting the Torp, the SUB device took about 6.5 hours to cool down from room temperature. Once I was given the green light to pour, I pulled the tap and could immediately feel the freezing sensation of the beer being poured into the glass my hand was holding. With some froth, I decided to let the foam settle and then took a big gulp of my ice-cold beer. I was immediately transported to a somewhat familiar place in my hazy memory where I was down to the last sip of my can of “Busch Light” or as some folks in Pullman, WA would call “Pullman water” and decided I would have the courage to drink the flat, watery tasting remains in the can.

I was immediately perplexed with the situation I found myself in and wondered if the non-carbonated taste of the first Torp was due to user error or supposed to taste that way. As I powered through the rest of the first Torp to see no improvements in taste, I hoped maybe it was just the Pale Ale, and the rest of the IPA Torps would taste fine.   

I moved on to the next two IPA’s (Pineapple and Citra Single Hop) and saw my hope diminish as these Torps also suffered from the same taste issues. The beer was so flat that it reminded me of the lack of carbonation of the last sip from a can of any name brand beer. After literally swallowing what was left of my pride in flat, watery tasting beer, I felt defeated, but hydrated. I knew I could not take this pain anymore and decided to make a peace offering with the fourth Torp.

In the same way Happy Gilmore got payback at the laughing clown, or the dudes in Office Space used a baseball bat to unleash their rage on a malfunctioning printer, I also sought out to release a fury of revenge. I grabbed the last remaining untapped Torp called “Therapy Session” and placed it gently in the kitchen sink, reached for the nearest kitchen knife and began to go full on “Lian Neason” on this pressurized plastic bottle of beer. After the remains of beer were down the sink, on the ceiling and my clothes were drenched, I felt a little bit at peace with myself but knew this was only the first step in trying to recover my financial loss. This was the therapy I needed after that heartbreak.  

 

 

 

 

The Return of my dignity:

The next day I emailed the company asking for my money back due to my unsatisfactory experience with the product. After emailing back and forth with a very responsive customer service representative, I was able to receive a credit for my purchase and canceled my monthly subscription. The only cost ended up being a small nonrefundable shipping fee. I was very pleased in the end with the way the company handled this situation and was able to provide me a credit for my purchase.

Pros / Cons

In hindsight, I wish I would have done a bit more research and had taken the following Amazon Customer Review from Corey Williamson more seriously:

Rating:

The verdict is in, and Hopsy failed to keep me as a customer as they could not deliver on the most important fundamental aspect of their product and business model; providing quality beer that resembles the taproom or bar in your home. This is without a doubt the most crucial aspect of delivering value to the customer and resulted in me in wanting to return the device. Aside from taste, the product was easy to set up and use, but did have its pitfalls such as time taken to cool a Torp and that I could purchase the same Beers in a local grocery store for a cheaper price. What seems like a good design on the surface, Hopsy lacks in durability by using cheap plastic materials. Hopsy did dilute my frustrations in the end by providing great customer service and crediting me for my loses. After recovering my financial loss, I wish I would have ignored the advertisement and just stuck with the beer I can get locally.

BAD: Hopsy delivered on ease of use and great customer service but failed on taste and design.

Overall: 4.0

Taste: 1.0

Design: 6.0

Customer Service: 9.0

 

All the Cool People Make These…

Around the end of the year the “Top 10” lists for 2018 usually come out. These range from everything like the top trends of 2018 to something like the top 10 hipster foods of 2018. Basically if you’re cool then you have a similar list, and since we are obviously the coolest people around we should go along and introduce our top trends in the digital world of advertising and business. Since the year isn’t complete we’ll only give you half of a top 10.

        1. Streaming services for premium channels: Our first one is getting us started with a bang. Now streaming services are still relatively new especially when it comes to singular channels running their own services. It seems like this trend actually may have started with Netflix, this is totally not backed up by sources other than my giant brain. Netflix almost acted like a proof of concept service and when they started producing their own shows then it became more obvious to other services that this was viable. Now major cable companies like CBS have streaming services that act as another source of revenue, not just that but the ad buys probably come with an inflated CPM. Lately ESPN launched their own service and within the past couple of weeks Disney announced an upcoming service that comes with original programming and actually takes away from Netflix due to Disney pulling their programming from Netflix and putting it on their own service. With cord cutting becoming more and more of a thing these services are becoming more and more popular.
        2. Streaming live events: Similar to the streaming of premium channels; live event streaming has become more popular. These events aren’t just streaming on app-like channels ala ESPN+, but actually are becoming more common on sites you wouldn’t expect. For example companies like the MLB and WWE have started using Facebook as a streaming service. Lately Amazon, of course, has gotten in on the action and is using Amazon Prime as a streaming service for Thursday Night Football games. Especially when it comes to the social media streaming services, this is a new way for companies to connect directly to consumers while upping the convenience fee. I don’t know about you but if I see a game going on, no matter who’s playing, on Facebook I’ll watch it because it’s there. On the other hand if that same game is on TV I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it.
        3. Trolling: Yes, trolling has become a legitimate strategy for companies to use on social media. It may seem a little out there but take a look at Wendy’s or any sports team after they beat a rival and you’ll see the value. When these companies make us laugh by doing something a little unexpected it almost normalizes them. Not just in our eyes but the eyes of the public as well. Blog writers and journalists pick this up and write articles about how this one company “eviscerated” this other company/person/whatever. That’s free press, and more times than not what’s being written is positive of your company. Even if what’s being written is negative, the context that these posts are going out in invite those assumptions. That way you’ll be able to go back to the time tested opinion that any press is good press.
        4. Social media influencers: Excuse me while I throw up writing about this. I don’t like influencers. All they really do is take whatever semi-fame they have/had and leverage that into basically being paid promoters. It’s either that or they’re professional hot people. These influencers are why the Kardashians are a thing. Yet it’s a tactic that has paid dividends to getting the word out about a product. In fact some companies only tactics are leveraging these influencers to build their brand. At the start of the semester we talked about the segway and how it wasn’t cool but hoverboards were, even though they were essentially the same thing. That’s because hoverboards were heavily promoted by these influencers like Justin Bieber (side note since it’s around Christmas time do yourself a favor and listen to Mistletoe by Justin Bieber because that song is FIRE!!!). Unfortunately, the more and more success stories get built from leveraging these influencers, the more this becomes a legitimate strategy for growing companies. That means these “Insta-Famous” people aren’t going away…
        5. Controversy: Ask Nike if this is a good strategy. Honestly, this may be the trend in 2018 and it all stems from an ad campaign. Colin Kaepernick is such a divisive figure that no one would even think about using in an ad let alone being the central figure of one. With all the backlash they received you’d think that it would hit the stock price quite a bit, and it did…initially. After the campaign had time to breath Nike actually came out ahead of where they were. This alone gives credibility to this trend. Whether it’s one that we’ll be seeing more as time goes on is anyone’s guess. For now though it has become a new tactic that has a proven sample.  

Cats vs. Dogs: who does the internet love more?

This has to be the greatest debate facing our generation today – who do we love more (on the Internet)? We all are well aware that animals, not only cats and dogs, hold a warm fuzzy place in our hearts, especially when it comes to videos, memes, GIFs, and more.

You might think that cats rule the Internet. There are the hero cats – such as those that save little boys biking in their neighborhoods from pitbull attacks – and cats that are pure purrodigies such as those that know how to stroke the keys effortlessly on the piano.  

So are meowsers truly the mascot of the Internet? Or are bowsers taking over? According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Perhaps then, by nature of the alignment of the stars, dogs are more popular than cats. We dug deeper into some web analytics to find out who’s the Internet’s favorite animal:

  1.   Top Most Followed Instagram Pets in 2017

According to Instagram, the majority of pets (6 out of 10) followed on Instagram were dogs. Ok, so that’s probably not enough to justify that dogs are more popular than cats online. Let’s look at some other statistics.

2.   Top Instagram Posts

When it comes to number of total posts, there were 31M more dogs posts than cat posts in 2017 on Instagram. Although dogs had more posts, there were over 323M posts about dogs and cats combined. People sure do like to share the love for these critters and they’re winning on Instagram content, but it’s still hard to conclude that dogs are truly more loved than cats online.

3.   Search Trends

In 2012, we experienced a turning point in video searches. That is, globally, people became more interested in searching for dogs videos than cat videos. The graph below shows that cats have been on a somewhat steady decline since 2008. People desire more dog video content than cats.

Source: Google Trends 2018

Then another crazy thing happened. In 2014, the Google search term “cute dogs” was searched more for the first time than “funny cats” in the United States and globally in 2015. “Funny cats” has continued a steady decline ever since then while “cute dogs” have remained relatively stable. Does this mean that we yearn for playful Fluffy more than Grumpy Cat? Or could it be that the Sochi Olympics’ sweetheart Gus Kenworthy’s viral photos of stray puppies created a rise in online puppy love?

Source: Google Trends 2018

  1.     YouTube Content

While dogs are searched for much more than cats, there are less doggy videos actually uploaded.

  1.    Subreddits

And when it comes to one of the most popular subreddits for cats, dogs, babies, and more things that make you smile, /r/aww is a hotspot for “cute and cuddly pictures” with its massive following of 18.5M subscribers and growing. By sorting top posts on the subreddit by “past month”, there is a greater number of dog posts than cat posts. When it comes to indexing all subreddits though, there are more cat subreddits. This could mean that cat lovers are branching off to create their own subreddits and posting less on /r/aww subreddit.  

  1.  Kitty vs. Doggy GIFs

We love GIFs. When it comes to our GIF library, we have more cat GIFs to choose from than dog GIFs, according to GIPHY.com. As of today, there are 81K cat GIFs while only 77K dog GIFs. When it comes to GIFs with both dogs and cats, there are almost 70K. Clearly we’re attracted to the age-old entertainment of who’s the real Iron Man: cat v. dog.

  1.    “Cats and the Internet” is its own Wikipedia page.

Finally, the fact that there is a specific webpage for “Cats and the Internet” suggests the magnitude cats have on online culture. This type of page doesn’t exist for doggies on Wikipedia.

 

The Verdict: When it comes to searches and content, the winner is dogs. The reason for this may be that in the state of the world as it is today, we desire a sense of belonging and loyalty, something that dogs offer unconditionally. When it comes to viralness, cats take the cake. Maybe it’s the law of diminishing returns. As humans, we can only be interested in something for a specific period of time and then we redirect our interest somewhere else. Although there isn’t as much dog content online, the interest is there so get out there and start posting some cute pupperonis!

POODLE MARKETING 101

Everyone is looking for the best way to appeal to the perfect audience for their product.  We have identified an excellent tool to help market any product.  The Poodle!  Here are 8 reasons to use a poodle to drive your internet traffic.

1.  Perceived Wealth.  Poodles have been used as status symbols for the wealthy for many years due to their elegant features and elite intelligence. Use them to increase your perceived value. Be warned though that this perception of wealth  can also work against you if you’re trying to influence the common folk.

2. “Dog Food Marketing” is the term used when users of the product are not the decision makers. Placement of poodles on your products are great at appealing to those decision makers emotional weaknesses. Take this dog for example. Do you think they bought that bag of food?

3. Play Hard to Get: Draw in your target audience by being a free spirit and not rushing right into every relationship. It’s simple to do by not appearing needy and remaining as vague as possible.

4. Diversity: Poodles are loved by diverse communities…Build brand loyalty with your favorite groups. Poodle pride!

5. Sassy…Throw shade at your competition by humiliating them. Complaining will only turn your audience away so turn up the heat by throwing in some laughter at their expense.

6. Feminism: Poodles have a lot of feminine appeal…Establish better engagement with your female clientele by demonstrating all that female power. Just don’t take it too far, otherwise you might creep them out.

7. Masculinity: Poodles were originally hunting dogs before becoming delicate toys. Balance out all that feminine power with a little masculinity to appeal to a broader audience.

 Just put a poodle on it!

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