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Yelping Back: Using Yelp to Turn Customers Into Fans
August 12, 2014
After writing a positive review of Roy's Hawaiian Grill on Yelp, Matt Siltala received a "thank you" from the company. It's that kind of active involvement with Yelp that Avalaunch Media President Siltala recommends to his clients. "I love Roy's Hawaiian Grill because it's done that for me," Siltala said. "It makes you love the brand even more and go back more and spend more."
The Digital Writing Revolution
May 07, 2014
It's natural to reach for a pad and pen when you need to take notes, but the end result can be frustratingly limited. Yet clicking away on a keypad doesn't quite cut it for all situations. "The cool thing about using the pen with the computer is that it gives you choices," said Doug Little, public relations manager at Wacom. "You're able to draw, write -- basically do anything you want."
Digital Tech Gives Wordsmiths a Whole New World
April 30, 2014
Lexicographer Erin McKean gave a TED talk in 2007 called "The Joy of Lexicography," in which she pointed out the limitations of print dictionaries. After that talk, she decided to make her vision of a new kind of dictionary a reality. Thus was born Wordnik. "Our mission with Wordnik is to put all the words in the dictionary, and show as much data as we can for any word someone is interested in."
E-Book Self-Publishing: Brave New Words
April 17, 2014
Mark and Lesleyann Coker wrote a novel, Boob Tube, based on her experiences as a soap opera reporter. They found an agent, who shopped it around to traditional publishers to no avail. Rather than give up, however, they decided to start their own e-book publishing company, Smashwords. "That experience really opened my eyes to how publishing works," said Mark Coker.
Cool Running: Gear and Gadgets for Runners
February 27, 2014
You don't need much to become a serious runner. There's no big investment in gear or apparel required. "Running is definitely a low-cost sport, which is why it is so attractive," said certified strength and conditioning specialist Scott Greenberg. "I think it can remain that way," he said. "However, some new tools can and will definitely have an impact on those looking to maximize performance."
A Deep Dive Into New Scuba Tech
February 13, 2014
Scuba divers always have relied on gear that lets the essentially fragile, air-dependent human body descend into oceanic depths. While air tanks, regulators, buoyancy control devices and dive computers have been around for years, digital technologies are altering how they function, how they're used, and how well they work. One recent innovation is iGills.
Gear and Gadgets for Hitting the Slopes
January 29, 2014
Skiing technologies have undergone a revolution in recent years, with skis, gear and gadgets changing how a new generation experiences the sport. These new technologies are making skiing safer, greener and more connected. Rocker design is one trend that has been finding its way into the skiing world over the last several years -- with lift and curvature on both tips and tails.
Tech and the Art of Text
January 15, 2014
In 1999, Chris Baty was looking for inspiration to write a novel. He got together with some friends in coffee shops and started writing, with rewards of coffee for those who reached their word counts. It was the birth of National Novel Writing Month, which the following year would become NaNoWriMo, a Web-based community of writers who commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
Portrait of the Artist as a Social Media Fan
December 18, 2013
Artists are using social media to market their work, communicate their ideas and even create new forms. Kiran Umapathy's Headphones Project, for example, documents what randomly selected headphone-wearing strangers are listening to with a story, photo and link to the song. This project -- like many other art projects these days -- lends itself well to social media sharing.
Technology's Artsy Side
November 20, 2013
Google Earth sometimes makes mistakes: Freeways look like they are upside down or waterfalls flow sideways. For engineers or programmers, these might seem like things to fix. For artists like Clement Valla, however, they're artistic opportunities. Valla's project Postcards from Google Earth, for instance, looks at these mistakes and asks not how to get rid of them, but what they mean.
The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Robots
November 13, 2013
Robotic instruments that could be programmed to play music, respond to human musicians, and even improvise were a source of fascination for Steven Kemper during his graduate student days. To bring to life his machine music vision, Kemper and colleagues Scott Barton and Troy Rogers founded Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, and began designing PAM.
Social Media's Winning Educational Ways
October 30, 2013
Social media is changing the way teachers teach and students learn. When students from the Montclair Kimberley Academy visited Ireland a few years ago, they blogged on Wordpress, posted photos on Flickr, uploaded videos to YouTube, and tweeted. That social media engagement contributed to their education in new and profound ways, said their teacher, William Stites.
The Emergence of the Super-Smart Classroom
October 01, 2013
A teacher standing at the front of the room at a chalkboard is one of the iconic images of education. Smartboards and other digital technologies, however, are changing how classrooms are structured, how teachers teach, and how students learn. "We're all about increasing student engagement and achievement," said Neil Currie, director of education marketing with SMART Technologies.
Reinventing Play With Augmented Reality Toys
September 13, 2013
Augmented reality and other interactive technologies are changing what it means to play, read and interact. "For decades we have aspired to the holodeck as featured in Star Trek, whereby we can fully immerse ourselves in simulated surroundings," said toy consultant Steven Reece. This new breed of toys offers a kind of magic that kids -- and adults -- crave.
MOOCs: Tearing Down the Ivory Tower
September 10, 2013
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are served up by a variety of companies, organizations and educational institutions, including Coursera, Udemy, Iversity, EdX and many others. Together, they're garnering millions of students from around the world. People involved in the MOOC business tend to be passionate about what their work means for students and for education.
Having Fun on the Robotics Playing Field
August 30, 2013
From programmable robots to robotic family pets, toy robots are pushing the limits of interactive technologies. "Robotics is definitely influencing toys, and there are plenty of robots to talk about," said The Toy Insider's Laurie Schacht. With its Mindstorms robot sets, LEGO is one of the leaders in the toy robotics industry. Users can design and program their own robots.
Dolling Up for High-Tech Child's Play
August 02, 2013
Barbie's gone digital. She's wearing a new dress outfitted with programmable LED lights that let her change her look on a whim. "Today's girl is tech-savvy, and we created a Barbie doll that utilizes technology to provide a new way to play with Barbie," said Mattel. "Girls will like this doll because it allows them to be creative and tap into their inner fashion designer."
The Brave New World of Unmanned Vehicles
July 27, 2013
Remote-control vehicles once primarily inhabited the territory of hobbyists. People would take their planes out to a field on a Saturday afternoon and spin a few lazy circles in the sky. However, with the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones and the like, it has quickly become a brave new remote-control world. These days, UAVs are easy to use -- even for those with no experience.
Beginning of the End of the Supermarket Aisle?
July 09, 2013
Shopping for groceries might not be top of mind for many rail commuters -- at least, not until they see one of Peapod's virtual supermarkets in a train station. Peapod, which has long been at the forefront of online grocery sales, has pushed its virtual offerings into the real world, and its strategy appeals to people who otherwise might not have considered digital grocery shopping.
The Road to Health Is Paved With Good Nutrition Apps
June 25, 2013
To get rid of the clutter of meal ideas, recipes and grocery lists stuck on his family's refrigerator, Henrik Nielson decided to create an app that could do the job better. Food Planner lets users import recipes from the Web or create them manually, then generates shopping lists and meal plans. The app's goal is to make it easier and more convenient for people to make healthy meals at home.
Food Testing for Safe Tasting
May 21, 2013
As parents of children with peanut sensitivities well know, awareness of what's in their kids' food is of paramount importance. In order to detect this allergen -- and many others -- engineers at UCLA have created a system called iTube. It involves placing a small amount of food in a test tube, shining a light on it, and then using a smartphone's camera and a specially-designed app.
Consumers Warm to Infrared Grilling
May 14, 2013
Like many sailors, Tom Dougherty likes to grill a juicy steak on his boat. And he has found that infrared technology sears his steaks to perfection, even on a small, sailboat-sized grill. "It creates an intense heat that allows you to sear your steaks and chops and holds in the heat," said Dougherty, director of sales and marketing for boat grill manufacturer Magma Products.

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