Holidays

Merry Christmas from Panda Rose card with reindeer

Merry Christmas from Panda Rose card with reindeer
Panda Rose Christmas Card

We would like to take a moment to thank you all for making the year 2017 spectacular. It would not be possible to to meet our business goals and grow as we did without you. Thank you for that.

We would also like to wish each of you a wonderful holiday season, a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

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HolidaysShoppingTechnology

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Christmas is coming up and I hope that you have all of your presents bought and wrapped… I know that I don’t. So, if you are in the same boat as me, perhaps you would appreciate a list of the best products your loved ones would be ecstatic to receive from you this year.

If you are not in this stressful situation like the rest of us, here is a list of tech products that are awesome! Maybe you could ask for them yourself!

The iPhone X

I’ve talked about the iPhone in another blog describing the release of the new era of iPhone. From the beginning the iPhone X has been magical. It unlocks by knowing its owners face even when they change their appearance. Talk about futuristic tech! The iPhone X has the best camera Apple has ever created. It has the ability to produce studio-quality photos using its depth-sensing cameras and its provided lighting effects. This iPhone can be charged using a wireless charging station created to change the world of wires.
Apple really wanted to start a new generation by introducing this phone. Maybe you too could be apart of the change!
$999.00

Amazon Echo and Alexa Devices

The intelligent personal assistant is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts and audiobooks, providing weather, traffic and the news. She is like a robot friend created to help you, directed by the sound of your voice.
$29.99-$129.00

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

I know from experience how cool the iPad Pro is. This 10.5” or 12.9” screen gives you the ability to write, sketch, markup and photoshop with ease. Multitasking, drag and drop, and the app switcher are used to the best of their potential on this device making simple tasks simpler!
$1,229.00

The Apple Pencil is what brings out the full potential of the iPad Pro. Like Apple says, “It’s only a magic wand.” This is what makes the note taking, drawing, markup and photoshop amazing. It provides “new ways to interact with the apps…” like we have never experienced before.
$99.00

Oculus Rift

The Oculus rift feels like a portal to a different planet. The technology brings you into the first person position of any situation, and if you allow your mind, you can experience the thoughts and emotions of the characters you see through. All I can say is, it’s amazing. The Oculus Rift bundle includes the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch motion controllers which now costs $399.00.

Apple Watch Series 3

I also know from experience that this watch is worth the purchase. I have written a previous blog on the Newest Apple Watch which can be found here. This watch can connect to LTE meaning that users can leave their phones at home. Check a text in a meeting, run to the grocery store, workout and swim all with the Apple Watch Series 3. This Watch is focused on fitness and health and has the capacity to inform users on their current health. The many wristbands and backgrounds allow for full customization.
$429-$989.

JIM by Jim Beam

What is “JIM” you ask? JIM is a smart home device from Jim Beam created to serve a shot of Beam’s Bourbon. The device is voice activated and voiced by the “7th Generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe”. I picture this device being very influential when it comes to bars and parties in the upcoming future.
$34.90

R2-D2 by Sphero

If I am going to list a strictly adult age Christmas gift, I better list one made for kids too! This is the closest we have come to having the lovable robot on our planet. Being only 7” tall means that the bot is never in the way. (And can stay on the desks of us adults.) With the R2-D2 you use the app to control the little bot. He acts and responds just like the character in the films. Whether for the long time Star Wars fan, or the super-fan in training, this gift is bound to be fun.
$179.99

I hope this list helps, or at least gets you excited about the amazing tech we have available to us today. I know I am!

Tess Houcher

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Tech to Add to Your Wishlist was originally published in Panda Rose on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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HolidaysShoppingTechnology

Christmas at a shopping mall

Christmas shopping in the movies paints us a picture of the “holiday hustle and bustle”. People waiting outside of toy stores early in the morning so they can grab the holiday toy of the year for their children. Standing in lines that go all the way down the street. People running around with their arms full of pre-wrapped gifts and over sized bags. Then they probably fall, dropping all of their packages, then they get help from a handsome stranger, most likely fall in love instantly and end up living happily ever after.

Christmas at a shopping mall

This isn’t exactly a reality and not just the sappy love story part. Thanks for the high standards Hallmark.

I myself have never ran around town last minute with arms full of gifts and this is not because I have no friends to buy for, it’s thanks to the Internet!

Between time and money and all the ways that you can save, online shopping is a game changer.

Christmas light on Christmas treeOnline holiday shopping means you don’t have to drive to multiple stores or spend all your time grazing the aisles looking for products they may or may not have in stock. You don’t have to wait in line and you don’t have to drive all the way home again. Plus, no money spent on gas.

Watching holiday classics, eating holiday food, drinking holiday drinks, wearing comfy holiday clothing, surrounded by holiday decorations all while sitting comfortably at home and holiday shopping at the same time is a reality! And it is awesome.

How could we ever go back?

My mom went on a quick shopping trip for Christmas presents the other day even though she is a loyal Amazon customer. She explained to me that it felt like a waste of her time. One of the reasons she loves online shopping is because she can find the best deals offered by all the best brands. She can easily move from site to site looking for the best reviews and deals. No point in making a trip on icy roads to town in hopes of finding all the items on your shopping lists.

Going to the literal stores means she just has to hope that the few stores on her route have all that she planned to purchase currently in stock and that the price is the lowest she could get.

Instead of hoping, she would much rather know.

decorated Christmas treeEven wish lists can be made online now. I made one this year using Pinterest. I filled a dedicated board with pins of all the things I could materialistically want from my family this Christmas season. I pinned beautiful pictures of new hiking backpacks, ballcaps, iPad cases and of course pictures of chocolate. (Incase anyone was wondering.😉) I let my family know how to find it anytime they ask what I want for Christmas. It’s the perfect system.

This way I can show people the exact brands and styles of the products I wish for through pictures! Whenever I see something I like on my Pinterest feed I can just add it to the list. This is opposed to forgetting what I saw and loved, wishing I had taken note for future reference- A concern of the past!😊

My sisters and mother made wish list boards on Pinterest as well. Making it easy to find what they each want. In some cases you can even click on the picture to be brought to the website and purchase the exact product instantly.

There are apps like CheckedTwice.com or Wishlistr that were created to allow consumers to surf the Internet, take note of things they would like and then share that list with their loved ones.

We just need to get everyone onboard. To get our friends and family to all make online wish lists of their own. Christmas shopping could be a breeze! Just look up their name and shop away.

christmas ornamentsOf course life is never simple and I do have one fairly major concern, I believe there is great value in shopping locally. My father is a local business man as well as my employer, Panda Rose. There are many great reasons to keep our money in our closer economic circles. Supporting local business literally feeds our community. That is definitely worth waiting in line for.

Now I must also admit, I love the Christmas decorations that are put up by malls and shops. It’s just one of those traditions I am fond of. A website that took the time to add Christmasy looking features and images are not quite the same as giant trees, thousands of colourful lights and hanging ornaments the size of beach balls.

Are you an Amazon loyalist or do prefer the authenticity that comes with shopping local? Let me know.

Cheers to you and yours as we have stepped into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Tess Houcher

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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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