BloggingCareersEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

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We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

DSLR camera

Your product is ready to sell, and one of the most important aspects of selling a product is how you display it to your customers. Today I’ll give you some simple tips on how you can take amazing product photos on your own.

Eliminate Distractions

Remove any background distractions and place your object on a clean surface or in front of a clean bright wall. This gives your product all the attention it deserves. A clean background or surface keeps your products and photos looking crisp and professional.

Busy and distracting:

Crisp and clean:

Choose Your Lighting

Choose your lighting carefully, take a few seconds to find space near a window with indirect sunlight (natural light). Taking photos indoors can sometimes be tricky. If you’re under florescent lights your pictures may turn out more blue. If you are under incandescent lights, your picture will have more of an orange tint to them. Natural light gives a good balance and shows the products truest color. Steer clear of dark hallways or rooms as this will also distort your image and make it difficult to see the details and quality of your product.

Natural light:

Dark Hallway:

Incandescent:

Florescent:

Focus

Lets take your photography skills one step further now. A really simple trick that will set your pictures apart from the rest is to give your pictures a blurry background, called “bokeh.”  Bokeh  (BOH-kay) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. If you are shooting from a DSLR camera, like I am in these images, you can change whats called the aperture. On your camera it will look like this:  f/5

Changing the number higher like f/10 will give less blur but changing the number lower to f/4 will give more blur.

This image is at f/25

while this image is at f/4.5

See how the glass is blurred drawing the eye towards the mug. This feature is great to use if you are taking pictures of multiple products but want the closest one to stand out or if you want all products in focus. This simple trick takes your photography skills to a whole new level.

Choose your camera

If you take your pictures with a phone, the new iPhone’s have a feature called “portrait mode” in your camera settings that allow you to artificially create the bokeh look. Select Android phones offer this feature as well called “live focus.” Keep in mind with a smartphone camera your outcome may not always give the same effect. The trick is to keep a steady hand when using portrait mode. Shaky hands can confuse the camera and your outcome won’t be as impressive.

iPhone portrait mode (fail): Right corner of the mug has been incorrectly blurred. Shaky hands or improper focusing may have caused this. Sometimes, certain objects confuse the camera. In this case the clear glass and liquid was difficult for the camera to properly blur out.

iPhone portrait mode (success): Steady hands, focus is directly on the mug and a different background object is in place = success!

With these simple yet effective techniques you will notice a huge improvement on your images. It’s always worth the little bit of extra time to play around with your products and camera. Taking great pictures can seem intimidating. These tips will help your pictures look clean and professional, all from the comfort of your office, home, kitchen, shop, etc.

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsProductivitySecurity & PrivacyShoppingSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

In our office we share memes, eat cake and brainstorm… a lot. But there’s one thing we do even more of.

We use our phones, like a lot, a lot! We use them for testing apps, testing websites, social media management, communication, the list goes on. So with that said, we want to give you the inside scoop of what apps we love to use day in day out, and why they are vital to our entertainment, productivity, communication and lifestyle.

We wrote an article a few weeks back about some of our favorite phone gadgets. Some were for pleasure, others for productivity. If you missed it, you can check it out here as today’s article goes hand in hand. So between, web designers, developers, digital marketers and our CEO, these apps are the ones you need to download, like yesterday!

Let’s begin with entertainment.

Head phones

Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music, we need music like we need our coffee!

Podcast can be under entertainment and productivity as there are so many different types of podcasts out there. Our top favorite podcast apps are Podcasts (Apple) and Castbox. Castbox has over  95 million volumes of content and is available for almost all devices.

A few musicians came forward in the office and shared their favorite apps. Guitar Tuna was recommended by a few as an app to tune your guitar on the go or as a back up. It is available for both Apple and Android. Tabs is an app that has thousands of guitar, bass and ukulele tabs and chords for all your favorite songs. If you are looking to take up an instrument here’s two apps that are a go-to’s for the musicians in the office.

Audible is another app that fits into productivity and entertainment. Audible is a mobile library, with loads of books you can listen to or read.

Quora is an app to share opinions, knowledge and feedback. Ask a question and get a helpful answer.

Productivity

editing

Lynda.com is a popular app for taking online courses. You can choose a topic you would like to learn, for example: photography, web design, film, finance, interior design. The list is endless. You can also choose software you would like to learn. So if you are a photographer, maybe a course that is beneficial to your business is learning how to use Photoshop. If you are looking to get into finance industry, a valuable course might be learning QuickBooks, you can learn QuickBooks for payroll, online, for a Mac, etc.

We also have a lot of photographers in the office, so photo-shop apps or editing apps came up right away. Our favorites are Lightroom and Photoshop Fix, both are easy to use and high quality.

Our office uses Microsoft Teams to communicate and share info with each other (as well as a truck load of memes) it’s a secure way to create group messages. There are so many features within the program to expand functionality: like creating different groups, include files, planners and meetings.

If you want to create logos or invitations an extremely useful app is Canva. You can create logos, Pinterest graphics, resize images to fit other social media platforms, create business cards and so much more! We use this everyday to create our graphics, and images.

Lifestyle

Family Organization

Everyone has those apps they use regularly or occasionally that just make your life so much easier. When it comes to lifestyle, the office has a variety of favorites.

Some of us are obsessed with the weather, so we’ve got you covered with choosing the best weather apps. WeatherCan and The Weather Network are our most reliable apps we would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Cozi is a popular app for family organization. You can add shopping lists, cleaning schedules and upcoming events that your family has planned. It’s the perfect app for a busy family and even busier parents.

If you are prone to migraines which some are in the office the Migraine Buddy app is the best app according to both patients and doctors. This app helps you record and identify all aspects of your migraine. For example; what triggers them, your symptoms, medications and so on.

Headspace is a meditation app that helps you let go of stress, learn to relax and get a better nights sleep. If you don’t already have this app it’s definitely a must! Everyone can use a few techniques to reduce stress and anxiety during our busy lives.

 

What are some apps that are essential for you or just plain fun? Let us know in the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom! We’d love to hear from you.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySEOSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

pinterest

Pinterest: An app where women find recipes and DIY projects, right?

recipes

Many people see Pinterest as an app women use to find home improvement ideas or recipes, but it has far progressed from when it was first released in 2010. Marketers are using it as a platform to drive more website traffic and increase sales. Pinterest has become a major visual search engine in the past few years. So how can you use it for your business in 2019?

 

Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter

traffic

1. Pinterest Drives Heavy Traffic 

Pinterest has a hover feature that when clicked it directs users directly to your site, This eliminates the amount of steps people have to take to get to your site. The other benefit is that users can pin pictures directly from your site, increasing your websites visibility.

watch

2. Longer Post Exposure

The average lifespan of a Pinterest post is three and half months,  that’s 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Pins last forever, meaning that it’s easier for people to search for you and easily find your latest pins. As time goes by and your pin gets shared by other users it continues to spread like wildfire. No need to re-share content and repeat your pin over and over.

3. Excellent SEO Strategy

Use keywords in your description for higher visibility and your target audience to find you easier. Continue to post with those keywords and create boards that are relevant.When a google search is made with that keyword, your pins will show up.

4. Free Marketing From Your Fans

The more your content is pinned the more visibility you gain, just like with any social media, although you don’t need to invest in content marketing, just spend time getting quality images and a good description and your pin is ready to be shared countless times. Users want to be inspired, so inspire them.

share

5. Engage Easier With Customers

Even though Pinterest is smaller than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to engage with people on this platform. Users are eager to share, they want to send their ideas and dreams with others, so if they like your content they will be eager to share it.

 

We’d love to hear your Pinterest strategies. Leave us a comment below!

 

EducationTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Panda Rose Learning Solutions

Online Training, Learning and Educational Platforms

At Panda Rose we really believe in offering technical solutions in a wide variety.

We offer many services, one of them being building programs and platforms online for clients. Check out a few examples of some of the work we have done for clients.

Ideas Roadshow 

Ideas Roadshow is a supplemental learning for people in IB (International Baccalaureate) programs and creates standardized international learning. This programs are offered through various channels such as specific school, libraries and teachers.

Panda Rose was able to supply support for the website, including code updating and also build the newest IB viewing version.

Aim

Aim is an online language learning platform.

Panda Rose did some of the textbook mapping, meaning we were able to create the online textbooks in multiple languages for resources for students/teachers. In addition we created a chat forum for teacher and students to be able to communicate with each other on the website, rather than needing a separate app or platform. Leaving the user on AIM’s site, instead of another’s.

Curriculum Services Canada

Curriculum Services Canada (CSC) is the Pan-Canadian standards agency for quality assurance in learning products and programs. CSC is a not-for-profit organization that provides services including the development, implementation, evaluation, and accreditation of teaching and learning resources.

Panda Rose was able to update the trillium list (the list of approved textbooks and resources for education) as well as offered updating of their code base. Their website was running on an older version, meaning they were no longer receiving updates, so updating their code allowed them to get them again.

 

 

EducationTechnology

If you are anything like me, you’d like to spend more time with your kids, but find it hard to connect with them in a way that means something to the both of you. Mine is a homeschooling family, and there are many hours to fill each day. A friend of mine has been pointing out the reasons to invest in a 3d printer for our family. I’ve been cautious about the whole subject… it is quite a bit of money to begin with (for us… we are on a tight budget). So I took some time to look at the benefits of saving up and getting a 3d printer, and I’d like to share them with you.

1. It’s economical.

This is the first consideration for our family and probably for most others as well. It’s normal, and it’s a fair question. The good news is that a 3d printer can save you thousands of dollars over the years. A kilogram of plastic costs thirty loonies, and most items (I’m told) are only 10 grams of plastic. Consider that for a moment… for $30, I could print 300 items that I would otherwise buy in a store. Recently, my friend printed cookie cutter party favors for his son’s birthday party… I would spend at least $10 in a store for this project. That’s only one consideration. I’d love to immerse my children in concepts such as art and architecture, even with them being seven years and younger. Instead of just reading about it, we could print out an exact replica model with the right plans, which anyone can find for free online (I checked). So many great 3d printing model instructions are online. With our homeschooling lifestyle, I’m sure a 3d printer would more than pay us back within the first year. For families who don’t homeschool, I can see the same being true, especially if it’s used for more than just educational purposes. This brings me to my next point…

2. It’s practical.

Did you know that the only true difference between AA batteries and C batteries is their size? This is certainly news to me! Yet, it was easy to find this info online when looking for easy 3d printing projects. You can print adapters to use AAs in C battery electronics. Need a quick cell phone holder and amplifier? Just download the plans and go. Do you desire a carabiner for your key chain? Bottle openers? Coasters? Yes. These are all easily accessed and free for use online. 3d printing is revolutionizing the way we consume goods in this new millennium, by making us producers as well. And when you get bored with those projects, you can build robots, candy sorting machines, alarm clocks, simple watches, and even droids like those seen in Star Wars films (it may be expert level, but it can, and has, been done).

3. It’s tangible.

Most of us learn more easily through the senses. By using a 3d printer, you are connecting one more sense to your children’s impression of the world and what they are studying. Architecture, airplanes, and the human skeletal structure can all be made more real to your child through this revolutionary technology… the possibilities are limitless. Is your child interested in chemistry? Print out some molecules. Do fossils fascinate your child? Make some trilobites and dinosaur bones. Australia, mate? You could easily teach a lesson in aerodynamics, featuring different boomerang designs.

4. It can help save the planet.

At first, I wondered how this could be true. I mean, it’s plastic and other materials, so how is this helping to save the planet? It helps because all those plastic goods that used to be bought in stores can be printed at home… saving the fuel spent on freight, whether It’s by ship, airline, truck, or railway. Also, you wouldn’t be packaging these goods after you print them at your house… you wouldn’t be testing and using different types of ink, scraping what didn’t test well with consumer panels, etc. You would have a specific idea in mind, find the plans for it, and just print it. That’s cutting out a load of energy waste. Much of the plastic material for printing is recycled, and there are possibilities for recycling your projects when you are done with them.

5. We’ve only just begun.

I recently learned that wood, ceramic, and even glass can be 3d printed. You may have to have some different kinds of extruders and work at different temperatures, but the idea that these materials can now easily be 3d printed blows my mind. Can you imagine how far 3d printing can take us within the next 10 years? Will we be able to print circuitry? I’d be interested in being able to print all the parts of a phone or camera at home. With imagination and such an adaptable medium, there seems to be no end to what we could invent, assemble, or artistically create.

I’m sure there are other reasons to own a 3d printer as well. Especially after the research for this article, I don’t know if I can imagine *not* buying one when we can afford it. I’d be thinking of all the fun we’d be missing.

by Sarah Bennage

EducationProductivityTechnologyWeb Development

A client who wants a web app, and their internal IT told them they should use Ruby on Rails. During our initial exploratory period, we discovered that there was no existing quality libraries or Ruby Gems that covered their needs in Ruby. Now, Ruby is not a terrible language by far, but there simply wasn’t the tools to build this at this time.

Now, if we were a Ruby-only house, we would just charge them more to develop everything from scratch, and charge them to maintain it for the foreseeable future. Great short-term business model for us, but not so perfect for them; In other words, precisely why we are not that way; we want to save our customers money because when they succeed, we succeed.

How do we help you reach your goals? Well, we are your dedicated CTO, we are not just a Ruby-only house. In our exploratory meetings, we had our PHP and Node.js experts on hand. Both of whom quickly pointed out that there were specialty libraries that were established and clean in their languages, and that we could implement this entire system in likely half the time using those software libraries.

So, we finished off the work outline document with a quote for Ruby which ended up being almost double the quote for developing the same app in Node.js or PHP. We explained the reasons we felt that we did not need to stick with Ruby; They wanted to use a cloud service that supported Ruby, and there were similar, equally-priced ones that supported other languages. Moreover, we explained why we felt that using PHP or Node.js would save money in the long run.

If we were a one-trick pony house, but exquisite at that one trick, you would not get the best options.

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