Mobile AppsProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial Media

Moment app screenshot

A tracking app you need

I spend an average of about 2 hours on my phone. Some days I spend as little as an hour and one day I almost spent 4 hours on my phone. I know this because of the iOS tracking app called Moment.

Moment app screenshot

I learned about this app as I was looking through a blog on medium which was one of the many on the topic of managing your phone, not letting your phone manage you. (Sadly I cannot find the blog I originally discovered the app from as this was a many weeks ago now.)

Once set up on your phone, Moment can tell you how long you have spent on your phone after having the app for a full day. Take a screenshot of the battery usage page in your settings and the app will be able to calculate how long you spent on each opened app. Your apps will be listed most to least used.

Moment requires that your location sharing is always on and you must leave the app on in the background of your phone at all times. These two conditions are easy to follow and the results you get are worth the small obligations on your end.

Like I said earlier, on average I spend about 2 hours and 20 minutes on my phone. It was reconfirmed by that app that my most used app is messages which was no surprise to me. The app tells me that I spend about 15–30 minutes on the messages. With Pinterest in a close second place as it has become my favourite pastime app now that I only have Facebook and Instagram on my phone during the weekends. The rest of the apps I use for about 3–12 minutes each.

traditional alarm clock

As I am typing this out now I have already spent 34 minutes on my phone today. I started my day at 7:40 am and it is now 10:47 am. Today I have spent time on my phone texting my family members to get this app. I spent some time reading on my phone during breakfast. I also have been on my phone to adjust the music I listen to as I work.

When I look back on the day I spent almost 4 hours on my phone, I am taken aback. But I looked into the details and apparently 21 of those minutes were spent on the home screen of my phone, meaning I probably didn’t know my phone was on. So that was sort of a relief.

4 hours is a long time. So much could be accomplished in that time. I could start and finish a big DIY project, go places and be productive! Instead all I have to show for that time is a guilting 4 hours on my phone.

red traffic lightI say guilting because the app changes the colour of each logged day. If you spend less than 2 hours on your phone the colour is green. If you spend between 2 and 3 hours on your phone, the colour is yellow. If you spend over 3 hours on your phone then the colour for that logged day is an alerting red.

I also had my social media apps on my phone that 4 hour day so that helps explain why I went so far over my average. Tsk tsk.

doughnut with bites out of it being held by woman with painted nailsMy weekends with my social media apps are kind of like a dieter’s cheat day but for my social media. I do not ever allow the app to send me notifications during this time though. This way I can still forget about the apps. I do this to train myself not to crave the platforms and all the sugary, fattening content. This system is working for me.

As I have now had Moment for almost a month, it has given me predictions such as the possibility that I could end up using my phone for 5 years of my life at my current rate. And that on average I get about 9 hours of sleep. This is based on when I last am on my phone to when I open it again in the morning. I love how informative the app is.


Like I told you before, as I was creating this blog post, I was texting different family members to ask them to get this app. It has now been a few weeks since then and some now they have well over 7 days of data that they have shared with us.

41 year old female

Average daily time on phone: Around 4 hours.
Most used apps: Facebook, Safari, Pinterest

42 year old male

Average daily time on phone: 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Most used apps: Facebook, Candy Crush, Safari

71 year old male

Average daily time on phone: Just over 3 hours.
Most used apps: Messenger, Safari, Life 360 (a family location tracking app.)

18 year old male

Average daily time on phone: 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Most used apps: Facebook, Instagram, Safari

13 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Most used apps: Pinterest and Messages

13 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Most used apps: Messages, Instagram, Pinterest

17 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Most used apps: Snapchat, Messages, Instagram

As you can see, the most popular apps are all about communication, Facebook and Messages are being used the most.

open Macbook Pro with smartphone, plant, and cup of coffeeI would also like to note that the 41 year olds and up claim that they are on their phone more on the days that they are working. Meaning their phones are used for their work.

I explained to them that this experiment was just to see what the averages were, not to guilt people into using their phones less.

A couple people who I made get the app for this blog ended up making deliberate choices to shorten the amount of time they spend on their phones. Others embraced their hours spent on their phones. (One of them liked to brag about having the “high score”…😏) But most just became self aware. Which was the point.

I encourage you to try the Moment app. Not to guilt you into changing your routine or anything, but to become aware.

Tess Houcher

606 views
FutureTechnology

Apple put cellular into a watch…

apple watch

This year was the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iPhone. The live event that showcased their newest products was exciting for everyone. They displayed their new iPhones, iOS, AR tech and the newest edition of the Apple watch. All incredible products. Over the years Apple has paved the way for mobile phones to take on the masses. They raised the standards and fulfilled the expectations (for the most part anyways).

But it seems that the attention of Apple and other developers has moved from devices that can fit in your pocket to devices that you can wear.

The Apple watch now uses LTE and is capable to function without your iPhone also being present. The watch can really do everything your phone can except for the functions that require a camera. (Somehow, I hope that changes in future upgrades.)

This is a remarkable product as it allows for people to leave their phones behind and still be connected. You can workout, swim, casually check a notification during a meeting, make calls, listen to music and the faster, smarter Siri will help you send texts on the go.

If this is the present day tech, what does our future hold?

Movies have always been good at sparking our imaginations. Giving us ideas of the potential technology we could see in the great tomorrow. For instance, watches we communicate through, personal robots, self driving cars, spy glasses, augmented reality and virtual reality possibilities…

Developers have already made these once abstract ideas available for the public to purchase. We are on our way to a world where these are not dreams, but a reality for everone.


It is odd to think of a time in future tense, when Apple isn’t releasing a new iPhone every year. Though I imagine that Apple would keep up with the times. Creating the next best wearable tech. Would Samsung fall apart? Would Google pull ahead of the rest?

Person wearing Google glassesThere has already been development in glasses as wearable tech in the form of Google Glass. These glasses were being tested in 2014 then seemed to be forgotten. But earlier this year the glasses were found being used in factories where they are now used as informative assistants to the factory workers improving productivity.

Cars can drive themselves and we have home assistants in the form of a small speaker. The futuristic imaginary world we aspire to have is nearly in our grasp.

But I don’t think that phones are leaving picture for a long time. I believe this because of the iPhone X. It’s not perfect yet.

The concept of your phone recognizing your face to unlock is super cool. Animated characters that are replicating your face is incredible. Animation is known for its days of work with giant teams of professionals for creating animated big screen movies. Now you can do the same thing just on a much smaller scale. It’s crazy! The iPhone X makes us feel like we are holding the future.

But it isn’t perfect yet. The phone has been hacked by family members of those owning the special iPhone. Until they perfect the phone, my guess is that we will see new ones out each year. If Apple cannot perfect the iPhone with their current technology and knowledge then we can be sure that they will not get a watch or glasses that is made to be superior to our phones.


Without phones, would the human race replace our addictive boxes with other tech, or would we use the watches and glasses as tools and not become addicted?

That is where I am unsure if we will steer away from our mobile phones. There is a limited number of games made for the watch due to its size. Could people be comfortable with leaving their games on home devices? What about Snapchat?

hands holding phones

If we could forget about the games and lack of social media for on the go, could people be satisfied with just a watch?I imagine that the watches and glasses would be improved so they can better suit the gamers and those who need their social media.

…Could there eventually be a chip that we insert into our brains to replace all visible tech? If that becomes a reality, I will gladly be the old lady who is dedicated to her legendary iPhone refusing to upgrade to a chip.

What tech do you think we will all have on our person in the next 12 years concerning tech?

Tess Houcher

320 views
MarketingSocial Media

I went to the waterpark with my siblings and my boyfriend the other day, we all had a blast. The many slides, giant wave pool and the hyperness we all experienced at some point made for a pretty spectacular day together.

I came to the conclusion that the waterpark shares some similarities with social media.

For starters, you are surrounded by all types at the waterpark. There are the other girls in cute swimsuits you wish you owned, the large group of rowdy young adult males, the elderly that are taking the stairs better than you, the parents who wished they didn’t even try bringing their children to the water park, the crazy kids and the creeper.

Social media is the same. The picture perfect girls on Instagram, the people who share every opinion they have ever had (those groups can get a little rowdy too), there is the grandparents who will post about how great their grandkids are constantly, the parents who share every moment of their busy lives, the crazy kids and the creeper.

It is odd though, the waterpark is full of many people’s fears. Heights, giant slides, deep water, crowds, the potential to see someone you don’t want to, potential harm or embarrassment. Yet the waterpark is always full of excited people. The water park obviously has more fun features than fears for the average person. Some people love the crazy slides, maybe heights don’t scare them, crowds exhilarate them and seeing old friends sounds like a pleasant surprise.

 

There is definitely both sides in social media as well. Some may love the ability to be connected to everyone they could ever want to connect with and love the ability to influence the masses with their words, pictures or embarrassing videos. This is all while other people could hate the idea of these experiences.

All of these comparisons are important because they adjust the temperature or vibe of a trip to the waterpark…

It can be freezing outside but the temperature in the waterpark is 31 degrees Celsius. Then there is a temperature change again when you only get slightly wet on certain slides, then you dry waiting in line, get soaked, go to the hot tub then the wave pool then back to the slides… your body experiences all these changes even though you are in an atmosphere of 31 degrees and the weather outside is -15 degrees.

A grumpy lifeguard or dropping your soft pretzel can lower the ‘temperature’ of your experience, while a short line to a water slide and a free tube for the wave pool can make your day — raising your ‘temperature’ or vibe.

I mention temperature because Facebook is the same. Maybe the overall feel, vibe, or temperature of your feed is mainly positive posts, funny videos and full of your favourite people (warm and sunny). But then the country can be hit with political issues and your feed will then have upsetting posts in the mix (icy).

Later you see that your friend from high school is getting engaged and the proposal was adorable (warm and fuzzy). But the next post is your aunty letting friends and family know your cousin is sick in the hospital again (cold). Then you see an advertisement stating that your favourite store is having a sale (warming up). But your brother’s dog died and he wrote the sweetest post about him (chilly).

Temperature changing in seconds is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. In most cases, we can’t do anything about the changes.

This comparison reminds us that we have a big water park to play in (Facebook/Instagram), with a wide variety of people (tired moms, awkward teenagers, proud grandparents etc.) this means that targeting your market is important.

The tired mom and the awkward teenager cannot be reached by the same ad campaign. It is essential that your business sells itself to the correct demographic in the way that they can be sold to.

What is the temperature or vibe of your marketing strategy? Are you going to display the amazing benefits that your product or service can provide your audience? (Warm.) Or is it valuable for your ad campaign to reveal the obstacles your customers will face without your assistance? (Chilly.)

At Panda Rose we can help you identify the different audiences you need to target, how to market to them and how to do it efficiently. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tess Houcher

486 views
Self-ImprovementShoppingTechnology

How does this impact you?

This isn’t new information. Millennials are not into material things. (Sorry Madonna.) Sure we still enjoy our Starbucks and Amazon products like anyone, but I proudly speak for Millennials everywhere when I say, we are not strictly material girls in this material world.

This may sound false but when you think about it, it makes total sense. We have already been labelled as spoiled because we have had multitudes of ‘things’ available to us. As we’ve grown up, we have learnt about the lack of purpose in our extravagant things.

Does this statement threaten your business?

We have found worth in our experiences! Don’t bother telling us we won a TV or a Michael Kors bag. Instead we want to win the trips to warm places, a weekend away in the mountains or a free meal at a unique restaurant. Pretty much anything that is worth being Instagrammed.

A trip overseas, concerts, charity events, parties, road trips, extravagant group dates, (or less extravagant like McDonald’s) are all experiences that we can do with friends. There are also dates like pumpkin carving, skating, picnics, a day at the river, bowling, mini golf, the list goes on. Sharing experiences with people we love is much more appealing especially when large amounts of money are not always needed!

Yes, sometimes our experiences do cost money… a lot of money. But with our lack of care about brand names we can get everything we want without breaking the bank. I for one, shop at the thrift shop whenever I can as I know I can find my needs and some wants without breaking the bank. And trust me, my wardrobe is still full of beautiful clothing pieces. Because I shop at thrift stores, I am able to save up for the things I value more than brands, like overseas trips.

My friends bought cheap toy guns that fire foam darts so we could have battles in their apartment rather than perhaps purchasing a brand new TV. (An example of adulting at it’s finest.) And what do we get out of our childishness? We have awesome stories to tell and memories that will last a lifetime. Yes their TV works less than great but they don’t need a new one so why would they buy one now?

The experience outweighs the material.

My examples of today’s biggest craze really does seem much less superficial than the picture painted of the roaring 20s or Madonna’s song, but is it? Well yes having less and appreciating more is beautiful. I am just not convinced that we as humans have changed so that we no longer wish to be better then the person next to us. I think this because of the nature of Instagram.

We still feel the need to post all of these experiences. Is it just because we want grandma to know we spent our birthday on an amazing road trip? Or to tell your mom you are being safe at the concert? Of course not. We post so that we make sure everyone knows where we are, what we are doing, and that we are #blessed.

Marketing to millennials requires a promised experience. Does your product have a cute label worth being Instagrammed? Is your office space welcoming and trendy? Is your shop current and appealing? What about your website, is it simple to use and engaging? Have you managed to market your product through word of mouth and social media? I hope that you can answer yes to these questions if millennials are your target market. If you can’t say that your business thrives in these necessary categories, I suggest making some upgrades that are sure to improve your company’s overall position.

I love that more of us are working to gain experiences over the material things. I hope that this trend will never die as it is fulfilling and fun!

What changes have you made to better market to millennials? What experiences have businesses offered you to make you appreciate their business?

Tess Houcher

284 views
FutureProductivityTechnology

Each college student’s avatar is popping up in the desks around you. Most of them look like actual humans. There are a couple avatars that look alien like. The people who use those avatar types as their identities are usually artsy and can create pretty cool looking creatures. You tried making one of those but you don’t usually wear it out.

Some people display their brands on their avatar clothing. Though, this isn’t common in a classroom setting compared to social media platforms where each person is wearing their brand. This is the case as everyone collectively realizes that the classroom setting is not a place for marketing. It’s like an unspoken rule. Those who do try marketing in settings like a classroom are usually hurting their brands more than helping.

Your hour long class ends and you double check to make sure the notes were saved to your system. You decide to give your brain a break by looking through Facebook.

To look at posts on Facebook you are transported to a small, box shaped, white room. This is your profile. There is a special desk against one of the walls which you can sit at to create a post. There are pictures, posts and your shared content on another wall and your settings on the third wall. The fourth wall has a door which leads you to a hallway.

You exit the room through this door. The hallway is filled with labeled doors. Each door brings you to different group chats, Facebook groups or your feed. For now, all you want is to browse through is your feed, so you open that door and enter. As you enter, the door shrinks and puts itself in your “pocket tools” so you can access it later.

You are put in another white room but it is so big you cannot tell the exact distance between all the walls. You cannot see where the walls meet the floor or ceiling. But you haven’t taken notice of these details in years. The room is full of avatars walking around.

The avatars are the people who you follow on Facebook who are also active for the moment. Those who are active can see you too but none of you are actually interacting. If you wanted, you could talk with groups of people or an individual but once you are doing so you and those involved in the chat become invisible to everyone else.

This is because the speech between you and the other starts to show up in the old school text bubbles between you and the person you are talking to. If you are in a group setting, the speech bubbles show on the left side of your peripheral so you can still view the avatars you are talking to.

For right now you just want to take a walk and view all of the posts hovering above. These hovering posts are high enough so that no one else walking around hinders your view. The posts appear in two rows facing forward going down the never ending room. You take your time and stroll through them. You pause a few times to watch videos that catch your attention. When the video senses that you are watching it the sound will turn on and the video will start again.

After spending 10 minutes walking through Facebook you remember that you were supposed to text your girlfriend after class. You quickly grab the exit door from your pocket tools and hop back into your profile where you switch to the texting portal.

You had changed this portal’s theme months ago from the original pure white to a deep blue that has small white lights resembling stars that move around like fireflies. You figure it’s time to switch up the theme of your texting rooms again, but right now you still need to get back to your girlfriend.

You click the tile on the wall with your girlfriend’s contact which was easy to locate as it was on your most recent conversations wall. This is opposed to the wall that you have to scroll or search for contacts. You speak a quick message that turns into text before your eyes and click send. Relieved you got back to her before it had been too long since your class ended, you decide to pull out your favourite game.

Suddenly everything turns black except for the light coming in through your bedroom door. Your mom has just walked into the room so the VR glasses have switched to AR. She lets you know that your aunt and uncle have made a surprise visit for supper and you have to clean your room before they head up.

You stretch, remove your glasses, click the ON button of your Roombot, fix your hair and head down the stairs.

Tess Houcher 

312 views
ProductivitySelf-ImprovementTechnology

My family has over a dozen chickens. They are laying hens. We use the eggs ourselves and sell what we don’t need to friends and family. You and I are a chickens, here’s why:

A chicken will lay eggs on a regular, daily schedule when she is happy. To make and to keep her happy, she needs to be free to wander, run, jump and sleep. Time to interact with fellow chickens, to feel safe and eat whenever she wants. A happy hen means good eggs on a regular basis.

In my odd scenario, my family is the HQ of the business. Expecting eggs, like tasks at work, to be fulfilled on time and done well. But if we don’t allow the chickens the ability to run around outside or provide them with good food, we cannot expect eggs at all.

At our jobs, we are expected to fulfill the tasks assigned to us. This guarantees long days when we aren’t always given the ability to wander, eat whenever we want, take multiple breaks, workout in the middle of the day instead of during the early or late hours and that phone of yours just keeps begging for your attention.

We have wants and needs that all attribute to a job well done. But, it is not the responsibility of the companies we work for to make sure we have our personalized list of necessities is met.

We need to put the power in our own hands. What can each of us do to ensure we are doing our best? Are the notifications on your phone stealing your attention? After work do you run to the couch, instead of taking time to work on your physical health? Do you bring healthy food to work or are you going out for fast food daily? These are questions we must ask ourselves.

There are two types of distractions which could cause you to not be efficient at work. Sensory distractions and emotional distractions.

Sensory distractions are caused by what is going on around you. A co-worker sneezing, not enough in your lunch that day, the weather outside is beautiful while you are inside. These are all examples of distractions that happen around you.

Emotional distractions are your drifting thoughts. Did you lock the door when you left the house this morning? Did Joe catch your sarcasm, or does he think you actually believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows? Did a family member say something to upset you? If you spill coffee on a t-shirt, is it still a t-shirt? These questions that take your mind off of the tasks you are supposed to be doing are emotional distractions.

There are distractions everywhere! It’s almost like they were placed there to avert our attention on purpose!

Not like this GIF which is obviously not at all distracting…

These distractions sound an awful lot like… you guessed it, social media! The notifications, beeps and buzzes are there to remind us of the world that is on our screens.

Our phones may inhibit our ability to think deeply about work. Therefore hindering our competence at work or any other place we should be focusing on an assignment.

Social media can be a welcoming break for the mind. It allows you to take in information that you don’t ever have to remember and all you have to do is scroll. But the problem occurs when we find ourselves unable to focus. Our attention spans have been shortened no thanks to our ever buzzing phones. In this day and age it takes self discipline and training to get a longer attention span.

Just like how you train for a marathon or practice an instrument. You never expect to be amazing after one day of practicing. The same goes with working on skills in keeping focused on one thing. It does sound odd, having to train our attention spans to be longer. But as that skill isn’t often practised in a natural setting it is necessary.

So maybe we aren’t exactly like chickens. Yes, our environment can make a big impact on our ability to work well but we can also be the difference. Thankfully, we are quite capable of taking matters into our own hands to ensure we are always completing a job well done.

We can start by minimizing the notifications received on our phones. Take a break from the desk and walk around. Sitting for hours on end doesn’t allow us gain perspective and everyone knows that walking just simply gets the blood moving. To make sure we bring a lunch that fills us up with real food. Maybe a fidget could be beneficial as they boost attention and memory.

There are so many ways you can help yourself be more productive at the office. As much as we would love to have the same freedoms given to a chicken, having the ability to decide for yourself what you need and don’t need to fulfill your day is a pretty great skill.

How are you working to have a prosperous work day? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

Tess Houcher

343 views
MarketingSEOWeb Development

Even yours

I am not one of the web designers at Panda Rose, but I have worked with a couple websites and have visited many over the years. Lately I’ve been noticing that some websites draw me in and others I just scroll on by. Some companies neglect simple website guidelines and unfortunately, they end up missing out on customers they could otherwise do business with. These problems can be fixed so easily. Here are my tips which I hope you already practice.

Photography

One issue that is always interesting to address is the images displayed on a website. Images are a very powerful tool when it comes to your business. But a poor photo quality puts up red flags for potential customers and this should be avoided at any cost.

What qualifies as a poor quality picture?

  • The image is unclear as to what the featured item is.
  • Poorly displayed.
  • A mess in the picture. Or if something is dirty without purpose.
  • Bad lighting or blurry
  • Not trendy

If a photo is not done professionally and obviously so, it is a major distraction to the customers on your site. I find that when a site has beautiful pictures I am easily convinced that the product or service is legit and exceptional without even thinking about it. All because of the great impression.

If the picture on the right was on a bakery website you would be concerned about the quality of the business. (Note the lighting and crumbs.) But if the picture on the left was on the bakery website you wouldn’t even stop to think about the picture.

People notice problems, they don’t notice when things are as they should be. Don’t give your customers a reason to second guess your website.

Poor quality pictures leave me wondering if the company doesn’t have the money to update their pictures, therefore they do not have a good product or service. Now I know that I cannot make that assumption about all companies but it is an honest thought that comes to mind.

Get. A. Professional. Photographer. I know that it sounds like a hassle but trust me, it will allow your website to give a good first impression and everyone knows that first impressions are everything. Please just do it, you won’t regret it.

Navigation

Your website needs to be easy to look through. If someone is on your site looking for something and they cannot find it without clicking through all your of your pages, then your website is set up poorly. Make it very clear what they can find on each page and follow through with that initial description. If customers have to think up specific search terms to find what they are looking for, they will move on to a different site very quickly. I know that I do.

Keeping up with Trends

When was the last time your website had an update on its full appearance? Are the main colours red and white? Or this blue?

Time for a major update.

Black, white and one other accented colour can be a beautiful theme or at least a good start for those switching up their site. Which brings me to my next point.

Simplicity is Beautiful

Clean up the clutter. A site trying to fit all the info about them on their homepage is overwhelming for everyone. Simplify the homepage, not just because it is easier to take in but because it is pleasant to look at. Again, people notice problems, not when things are working well . . .

Organization is favoured by humans in general. Suit the needs of the masses by keeping organized. Use minimalism for not only aesthetic reasons but give people the ability to find the pages they want. Don’t throw everything their way before they have the chance to ask for it.

Mobile Friendly

When I am not at work, I hardly ever use a computer to search the Internet for anything. If I click on a site while I am on my phone and it is impossible to read or operate I move on to a different website. Sadly I am sure that I have missed out on many great products and services because the website did not work well with my phone.


My best advice is to remind you to think like a customer. Try to imagine that you know absolutely nothing about your business and see if it answers all the questions that a customer might have. Your site needs to be easy to navigate and easy to work with. If your website’s purpose is to book appointments, ensure that is an easy task for customers to accomplish. If your site is made for providing information for customers, construct your site so that everything is organized. And remember that aesthetics matter in every aspect of your site. I hope to see your beautiful site very soon!

Let me know how you fixed up a website in the comments!

Tess Houcher 

338 views
FutureTechnology

You’ve heard it a million times, “This is nothing like we have seen before.” “This is our first ever…” And “The new and improved..” Our world is in an era of new. This is a fascinating time to be alive. We are constantly seeing new brands, products and technologies made to be the biggest, best and improve our everyday lives. Please tell me I am not the only one who gets excited about our future technology and what it means for each of us personally.

All of this new, also means that there is a lot that we don’t know. We don’t know what consumers will actually use. We have to learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn about the benefits of our new tech along with the negative repercussions.

But I have a concern. What happens when our technology advances us? And this time I am not referring to a robot army taking over the planet. What I do mean is that robots could take all of our jobs.

Good quality customer service and homemade products are hard to beat. How could we replace the well trained friendly staff for robots? Customers want fresh products made by the people who care about what they are selling, there is no way a robot made meal will feel authentic. While there are these and other points to consider, what happens when a robot is considerably cheaper than human employees?

Employees need hours of training, maybe years of schooling, vacations, maternity or paternity leave, sick days and benefits. Compare that with a specially designed robot who can do everything a taxi driver can. This robot will most definitely cost a lot of money, but it will not need the list of necessities including interpersonal relationships and the HR department that a human does. Yes, computers crash and robots malfunction but they can be replaced. A human cannot, at least not without a company falling behind for a moment or for weeks.

About 4.6 million people in the US alone work in retail and almost 5 million people drive a vehicle for a living. (Truckers, taxis, ubers, transit bus.) These are just two categories of jobs that could very soon be handed over to the robots. The amount of people in unemployment would be devastating.

A few more places of work that I can imagine being altered greatly by new technologies are libraries, pharmacies, restaurants, custodian work, sales and even farms. I obviously don’t know exactly what tech will affect the jobs involved in these businesses but I know that we have already seen these places of work changing to keep with the times.

Did you know that milk farms milk their cows with robots? This giant machine can feed and wash the cows all while the cow is milked. This cuts back on the number of people needed to get all this work done, meaning fewer jobs. I’m sure the cows love the 24 hour service though.

Our watches can diagnose us with a low or high heart rate. Imagine if we didn’t meet with a doctor to be diagnosed, but instead a robot was able to tell us the next steps we should take on the road to recovering from a flu or virus.

Japan has one of the first fully automated restaurants and America was quick to do the same. The orders are made digitally and in the Japan restaurant your food will be delivered via conveyor belt. In the American restaurant the order will appear in a cubby on the wall with your name and order number on the screen for you to take.

Then there is the Amazon go store. As you walk into this store you scan your amazon account code which signs you in. Then it is able to track when you pick up an item and it adds it to your cart. You are also able to put items back and not be charged for it. As you leave the store you pay for your purchase by exiting the building and the cost is charged to your amazon account. Pretty cool huh?

What will our world look like when all these places of work are occupied with robots to fulfill every task? Will our jobs become strictly management positions as we monitor robots? Would we go to school to basically learn about design to continue development of these robots? How would different political parties deal with automation and employment?

It’s hard to picture a world where robots are more than tools we use to assist us. In reality, it does sound very far away still. But what would that world look like? If you have thoughts on this topic I would love to hear them as none of us actually know what the future holds. Your hypothesis could be the opposite of mine and I would love to understand your thought process.

Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from you very soon.

Tess Houcher

Be sure to check out these posts as I was informed and amazed by them and I know you would love to be too. ❤

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HolidaysMobile AppsSelf-ImprovementSocial Media

No I didn’t go anywhere. But I was away. I deleted my social media apps from my phone for a week. Therefore, I was away.

If you want to know why I left for a week, check out my previous blog here.

During my time off from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (which I deleted from my phone two days into my week off of these other two apps.) I noticed a few things that I would love to highlight for you.

First off, it is challenging for the first 3ish days. The rest of the week wasn’t that bad. (So you could do it too!)

Yes, people did end up saying “Good for you.” After that first response there were a few different comments to follow. Some told me that they may try a week off from social media as well. Another person made sure I knew that just because I was doing it, that didn’t mean they were going to take a break too. Then there was just the eyebrow raise.

One unpleasant drawback was during down time in a group setting everyone ended up on their phones. In my attempt to bring my friends attention back to the world around them and not the ones on their screens is when I got those last two responses. This part of the social media cleanse was extra difficult. It also was a major eye opener to the norms of my life and of my peers.

It’s easier to go with the flow.

Another thing I learned about myself during this week is that I definitely had been prioritizing social media. Before I couldn’t tell if social media was really taking up that much time in my life. I realize now that it was, and that I now have time! Time that I no longer want to spend scrolling endlessly to fill empty time space.

During the week I was definitely hit with the cravings. I wanted to take a video on snapchat of my friends being stupid, I wanted to post the beautiful sunset over a lake on Instagram (with an inspirational quote of course) and I wanted to share the videos from my last concert on Facebook as I had said I would in a previous post.

If you didn’t post it, did it even happen?

These cravings made me realize how obscure my thought process had become in my years of social media and I am quite young! Why did I care to post all of these things? The people I love and care about and vice versa would find out about the truly important moments in my life. So why would I care about the likes on a post that is barely significant to even me?

It’s called FOMO- Fear of Missing Out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening where you are not, often stimulated by social media. I see FOMO as a mindset that believes the grass is greener on the other side- the inability to be satisfied.

We are always teaching people to not care about what others have to say about you and your life, so why have we trained our brains to crave online feedback in an unhealthy way? A little contradictory don’t you think?

I would once again like to mention that I still think social media can be a great thing. Communicating with loved ones, friends near and far and enjoying the features available on the social media apps are all great.

But, too much of a good thing is where we get in trouble, just like most aspects in our day to day lives. There needs to be a balance. Post that picture, share the funny dog video, like and comment all that you want to. Just don’t become dependant on these apps.

It’s like food. Go ahead, eat the cake, taste the cookie dough, and share a big bag of chips with your friends (… or don’t share. ;))

BUT, you and I should not need the cake, cookie dough or chips. There is a difference between treating yourself and becoming dependent on the things you do not need.


Social media is the way of the world, there is no denying that, but if you agree that the addiction of social media is a little too mainstream for your liking, maybe try working on your balanced social media diet like I did.

Now this is the hard part, I want to continue to not need social media but I do still want to keep my social media accounts active. I plan to leave the apps deleted from my phone. But I am going to allow myself to get the apps back when I want to post something. When I do this, I will also go through my feeds and probably creep a few friends then delete the apps once again.

This setup won’t last me forever, it is just a way to reteach my brain how to think. How to not need my news feeds whenever I am bored or in an awkward situation. I am still not sure if this applies to Snapchat too. (To better understand my thoughts on Snapchat, my previous blog can be found here.) But I guess I will see how my thoughts are directed and decide if I need to treat Snapchat the same as the other two apps or not.

Well there you have it, if you have read this whole blog post then whether you like it or not, you now have an idea on what it is like to not be consumed by social media. What are you going to do about it? The choice is completely yours.

Let me know if you have tried a break from social media or just your thoughts on this topic in general. I hope to hear from you soon!

Tess Houcher 

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MarketingMobile AppsSocial Media

To many marketers, Snapchat is a ridiculous, confusing app for the younger generations to fool around on. These people are not sure as to why the app still exists when it is such a difficult app to market on and wonder how the app is still running!

This article is for the marketers who are open to learning about the bizarre app. I hope to inform you on who Snapchat users are, what they are looking for, and how to market to them.

About 71% of Snapchat users are under the age of 34 and about ¾ of the users are female. Be sure to keep this in mind as you create your advertisements. I fall into both of these categories and would love to help marketers market to me.

What are Snapchat users looking for in content marketed to them you ask? Well, they aren’t looking to be marketed to at all. I have a previous blog explaining some of those thoughts and it can be found here.

The trick is to market to your audience without them knowing it. And you may already use this strategy in your other marketing platforms. For your advertisements to work on snapchat it is necessary that they feel “organic.” Snapchat gives you the opportunity to do so by placing the advertisement you create in between the stories of friends and the pages on Snapchats channels.

I have seen a couple of advertisement on Snapchat that have been in rotation and I thought they were actual posts from my friends. I would watch the whole advertisement (about a whole 5 seconds long) to the end and then realize it was an ad. I remember being impressed of their ability to make me believe the advertisement was a real story. Because they were able to do this, I was marketed to and awareness was grown.

“The more organic the ad feels and the later the branding appears, the more likely a user is to swipe up to view long-form content or web content,”- Liam Copeland

When a Snapchat user is advertised to, they have the ability to pass the video or to scroll up. If the user scrolls up, you did an awesome job in gaining user interest! (all the high fives to you!) When they scroll up they can be driven to the app store to download the app you just successfully advertised to them. They can be sent to your website, read your article or watch a longer video.

The way you want your potential customers react to your advertisement will help you create your Snapchat advertisement.

One aspect of Snapchat that draws in younger ages is how it is trendy and so are their best advertisements. An advertisement was created well when it is able to convince its young, contemporary audience that it’s product or service is cool. If your advertisement can convince Snapchat users that what you are selling will better their life with convenience or trendiness you are sure to gain customers as those two aspects are major sellers.

Pepsi and 7/11 filter on my sister

Another way to use Snapchat effectively for your advertising needs is through their face filters! Big industries create a filter that morphs the user’s face, usually in a funny way and also displays their logo on the screen. This is a great strategy as the users will take the good-humoured picture, post it and your brand will be shared via friends! Talk about innovative word of mouth referrals.

Canmore Alberta geofilter

You can also advertise by creating a geofilter. These are filters that display the place at which a person took a picture. Snapchat users use these to show their friends when they are at the concert in town or asking their friends if anyone else will be at the university till late that night and so on. These geofilters can be created to advertise your place of work or an event that you are hosting and again, work great for referrals from friends.

It is very possible to advertise on Snapchat and it is very possible to gain customers through Snapchat. Those that are successful to do this have the great potential of their brand becoming very popular with the young market Snapchat provides you with.

Good luck, I hope to see your amazing ad on my Snapchat feed!

Tess Houcher

Snapchat’s website to begin your advertising through them is right here!

 

448 views
Mobile AppsProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial Media

If you and I were having a conversation and I said “I deleted Instagram and Facebook.” I think it is safe to say that you would respond by saying something along the lines of a “Good for you.” We all seem to understand that really, we could do better without the pressures and time consumption that comes with social media. But then why do we struggle so much to give it up? Or have we given up on trying to give up.

As a society, we have been diagnosed with an addiction of social media. We know we don’t need it, we are aware of all the time it consumes, we can imagine the peace that comes with a lack of the worldwide connection.

So why haven’t we quit yet?

First off, social media is really good at branding itself. It is a business and we are its loyal customers. They will convince us that to be connected and have a good quality of life we need social media. This is not at all truth, but it seems to be the reality for many.

Not only is social media good at convincing us we need it, we end up convincing each other that we need social media without even saying it out loud. There is an underlying pressure to keep your profile up to date and to like the posts and updates of your many friends.

Side note: My Nana actually does tell me to keep my otherwise useless Facebook profile up to date so she can know about my life… so I guess in some cases, I am literally told to post more on Facebook.

And once again, we seem to be addicted. These factors create a situation which has found to be quite difficult to escape.


Spring Break of 2016 I went to Mexico with a group of high school students and a couple adult leaders. The main reason for the trip was to help the people there. We went to a couple children centres, did maintenance and rebuilding at a couple different locations. We were there for a week and had no way to contact our families back home or use social media the entire time.

The trip was obviously amazing but the part that I will highlight now is my lack of connection with the whole wide world for that week. As stereotypical as it sounds, I felt free and at peace. I had no way to connect with anyone who was not next to me.

I loved how we never went on our phones to avoid awkward conversations, we were always present. The fact that there was no way to use our phones made it so we didn’t miss them. We were able to forget. It did help that we were in a mindset of helping others, being selfless and in a different part of the world.

It was very weird to cross the border, stop at a coffee shop and see all of the notifications I had received over the past week. Instantly we were reminded of what our reality feels like. As great as it felt to see all the texts from my loved ones, I was slightly repulsed at my instant urge to be connected again.

After spending a week with people who never feel obligated to post their thoughts, opinions, likes and tags, it was very odd to be back in a culture that does. I became aware of my selfishness. And what did I do about these feelings? I posted all about my trip on Facebook and Instagram awaiting the likes and comments.


It’s been over a year and a half since that trip and today I finally decided to give Instagram and Facebook a break again. Now how did I make this decision when I am so good at ignoring the issues that come with social media for me? 

I had a great talk with a friend last night. She told me it has been about a year since she has been on Facebook and about five months since she has used Instagram. With her decision to take this break she told me that she has more time. Not meaning she is always spending her time on productive items, but she does have more time.

She feels that she is now more connected to the people who really are apart of her life and she can invest more time into those people. She also appreciates that the urge to constantly be connected, to post, like and comment is gone.

I don’t think she has sworn off social media forever but for the time she is without it, she is definitely not missing it.

So, this morning I woke up and without over thinking anything, I deleted Instagram and Facebook….

iphone at sunsetI really don’t know how long I will last as my excuse to keep social media has always been that I love posting! I will start with a week without these two social media apps and then I will see how I am doing after that. I know I will get the apps again as I love to share posts when I am traveling and I don’t plan to stop myself from doing that.

This blog is not here to paint everyone with the same brush in saying that everyone is addicted to social media. I know many people who have these social apps but they are not at all addicted. I do however hope you are aware of the power of your self will. That you know that there is a life full of purpose and connections without social media. If you do take a break, you won’t regret it.

Tess Houcher

 

898 views
FutureMobile AppsSocial MediaTechnology

As futuristic as it sounds, the idea of a robot taking your every request and helping you with daily tasks around your home, the office and on the go, does not sound far off from reality. We are not at the point in technology when these luxuries are available to all of us but I do not doubt we are on our way to such a life. Our phones are already smart enough to text people for us, order takeout or groceries from our couches, replace a wallet, and can be used to make other devices function without that device even being in sight.

The next steps for our phone automated functions, start with bots. If you’re like me, when you hear the word bot, you imagine a small, friendly, helpful robot ready to help you as it would be their pleasure. Bots today, do happen to be those small, friendly, helpful individuals made to provide you with your requested assistance. Even though not long ago we would have considered such technology to be fictional. They may not look exactly as they do in the movies, but we do have bots at our very fingertips.

The bots that we have today are created for two main uses. Search bots are designed for searching information from a specific website or search the whole Internet. The utility bot accommodates you by fulfilling an assignment you give it.

We use search bots to see when the next showings of that new movie is in theaters or to find the latest news stories by simply speaking the request. The utility bot is used when you need to make a grocery purchase and the bot already has the groceries picked out for you as it has remembered your orders from last time. If you think about it, you use bots just like these all the time, we may just not think of them as bots.

Facebook has been working on bots of their own, they call them chatbots. They are creating these with hopes of providing a wide variety of services that could all be reached through their own app. During the development of these bots they noted that the bots were capable of conversing with humans intelligently. Which is a definite breakthrough as we all know how frustrating certain bots can be when they cannot follow the conversation needed in order to fulfill their tasks.

Some people I talk to about bots and the potential they have, are afraid of what will become of the human race if we create these robots to function better than our own species. For the time being, that is not at all a concern of the bot developers. These bots still need hands on development and constant upgrading to keep up with tasks required of them in order to become useful, let alone take over the planet.

When bots do fail while operational, it causes the same negative appearance that a poor website or unqualified sales rep gives the face of the company they work for. That situation is avoided at any cost, meaning highly intelligent bots are not normally released for our use until they really are highly intelligent. Though some of us would argue that we have already been in contact with these less than intelligent bots. But I guess that is all part of the learning and growing process for the bot builders.

 

Bots are capable of possessing the reliability and knowledge needed for great customer service or the ability to complete an assignment requested by just a text. This will make it possible to avoid human error and will allow for much less struggle for you! I am quite excited thinking about all the ways these bots will assist me as they start replacing the very applications that started them.

Tess Houcher 

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