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January 10, 2014

It is easy to say that I am the most social one of the Sephone bunch.  I thrive on people, all people, from everywhere. Building relationships and providing an introduction for relationships is something I love to be part of.  Saying that, technology and people don’t always thrive in the same environment. And as Justin mentions in his post , the pendulum swings one way, it will eventually swing back the other way finding the middle where it will rest.

The Reason Video Is Big

People like to see people.  AND if you cannot meet face to face, then video on line helps a lot.  To go further, humans  enjoy the energy from another person. Sitting across the table from someone,  you can feel it.  My favorite days of my week are when I am out with clients and/or networking with other people. I enjoy the connection.

When that is impossible or it makes more sense to do it online, video chat tools like Google Hangouts and Skype can help.  When we are unable to meet face to face as a company, we have a Google Hangout. We can see one another, share documents, stuff like that.  It isn’t the same as face-to-face, but it is pretty close!  Google Hangouts are easy to use on mobile devices too, tablets, androids and there is FaceTime for Mac  iPods, iPad and  iPhone.  You can look at someone square in the eye from the palm of your hand.  Pretty amazing.

New Ways to Learn

Powhow is an interactive service that many people can use to take guitar lessons, exercise, yoga or meditation – just to name a few. Google also has a service called Google Help Out that does something similar. If you are a small business owner you too can use either of powhow_logo_148x73_transparentthese platforms to engage with students or clients.  AND you also can charge for the online “studio time.”

I mention these two things specifically, because I believe the pendulum, as Justin put it in his post will swing back to where people will demand that face to face contact rather than an email or text message. Using these tools whether being a student or instructor you can really learn new things. Each platform is very intuitive to set up and easy to use.

Even though people cannot always meet face to face, face to face applications and users of these applications will continue to grow in 2014, ever wondered how you may give better service to your clients by doing things this way?

 

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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January 8, 2014

This is one of a series of prediction posts for 2014 by our team members.

It seems like every year brings new advances and shifts in technology, some of which we’d never expect. Mobile devices and tablets have seen a huge surge in their market over the last few years, and we’ve seen an ever-growing expansion of social media as well. I think we’ll be imagining content in a different way by the end of 2014.

Using devices in new ways

There’s always a buzz about the next big device market. A few years ago, everyone started to talk about how tablets could change how we consume content. Lately the speculation has been about how we might use glasses, watches, or as Alan mentioned, televisions in new ways.

We talk a lot about responsive design, which lets you build a single site that adjusts its design based on what device you use to view it. In 2014 I believe we’ll really start to focus on moving beyond even responsive design to where we take a device’s strengths in mind. Maybe you’ll receive a custom notification on your phone if someone places an online order on your site. Maybe your watch will vibrate or beep if someone enters your store and you’re in the back room.

2014 may be the year where instead of thinking of the Internet as a bunch of HTML web pages and see it as the framework for new kinds of interaction and engagement.

Specialized social media

Facebook continues to be the social media king, but depending on who you believe, the site may be losing traction with younger users. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen growth in a number of social networks that specialize in one thing, such as Instagram and Pinterest. If Facebook users are worn out by Bitstrips, viral videos, and fake rumors, they may opt for networks where they can fine-tune who they choose as connections based on the type of content they want to see and share.

As the social pendulum swings back, there’s also a strong chance we’ll see services like Snapchat and Instagram Direct continue to rise in use. Controlling individual viewing seems to be a popular feature lately.

2014 promises to be an exciting year in tech. What do you think will be the hot tech gifts for the 2014 holiday season?

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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January 6, 2014

This is first of several posts about predictions for 2014 from a few of our team members.  Here are my speculations on what 2014 will hold for the tech world.

Television

9410825243_9e317eaed2_hThis will be the year that nearly everybody’s television gets wifi. Some already do through a Roku, Chromecast or similar device, but until now, that has mostly been to utilize content from Netflix or Amazon’s video service.  That will continue, but it’s my speculation that content providers will offer content directly.

For example, a content provider like A&E, distributes their content to cable and satellite companies like Time Warner Cable, that in turn provides content to the end customer. Or A&E may provide some of their older content to Netflix who in turn provides to the end customer.

It’s my speculation that content providers will push their content directly to the end consumer through their own Roku channel or Chromecast channel.

Related to the Roku (a wifi device that controls something in your home), I also expect tons of fun gadgets this year. For example, a thermostat with wifi that through an app on your phone you can control the temperature of your home.

Responsive design

We have talked a goodly sum about responsive design in the past. And we have implemented many sites that utilize this. This is going to be the year that I think nearly every project we work on will have responsive or at least some type of mobile support. Really, it’s time for this to happen.

In closing

I think flip phones will come back in fashion and Santa just decides to use Amazon’s drone service for delivery. Just kidding on that last part, if you didn’t catch that.

Thanks to Sam Howzit for sharing the photo in this post with a Creative Commons license!

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.
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January 3, 2014

Now that we’ve reached another new year, it’s time for the latest installment in our State of the Browser series. In these posts we periodically look at what browsers visitors are using to visit some of our sites with the highest amount of traffic to get a snapshot of what’s popular with the general web community.

For the month of December we’ve picked three sites and averaged their browser usage. Here’s what we found:

Browser Usage Share

We found some continuing trends in the numbers from last month.

  • Internet Explorer usage overall continues to decline. In June 2008, Internet Explorer usage was at approximately 80%. Today it’s just over 30%. The number today is pretty evenly spread between the latest 4 versions of the browser, with 1.69% holding onto the ancient relic of IE 7. Internet Explorer 8, which is the most recent version available for Windows XP, may continue to decline as XP support ends in April.
  • At 22.8%, Chrome has become a close second to IE in terms of browser usage.
  • We split Safari up into mobile and desktop versions, and the mobile version continues to be popular at 13.7%.
  • While Android phones and tablets continue to be more popular, it seems like iOS users use the web more often, at least on the three sites we calculated. Total Android use (Android Browser + Chrome on mobile) is at 4.6% while Mobile Safari takes up 11.2% of the pie.

Here’s another interesting chart. One of every five visits on the three sites we used comes from a mobile device (phone or tablet):

 Traffic by Device Type

That number is one in four for many of our sites, and we even have sites where almost half of traffic comes from either a phone or tablet! If you’re not already thinking about mobile, now is the time.

Take a look at some of our other State of the Browser reports from the last few years.

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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December 26, 2013

GiftsIf you’re one of the millions who found a new piece of technology under the tree, you’ve probably been spending a lot of time tapping buttons and playing around with new apps. But whether this is a replacement gizmo or your first step into tablets, e-readers, and smartphones, adjusting to a new device can take some time. Luckily, there are a lot of resources available to help with your next steps.

Free stuff

What fun is a new device if you don’t personalize it with your own apps and games? Whether you found an Android or an iOS device under the tree, developers are offering some great deals to fill your bytes with cheer.

If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, check out Apple’s 12 Days of Gifts app. They’ll be giving away apps, music, and more for each of the twelve days following Christmas.

If Android is your flavor of choice, Google has a section of the Google Play store set up with some free suggestions to fill your new toy.

But you better hurry – some of these offers will be gone quicker than St. Nick!

Training & instruction

If you’re looking for some help to get the most out of your device, there are plenty of options. Check with libraries around your area to see if they’re holding any workshops for tablets and phones. They’ll also often hold classes to help you figure out how to use that brand new e-reader to buy books – or in some cases even borrow books from the library. (In Sephone’s backyard, for example, the Bangor Public Library, the Orono Public Library, and the Maine State Library all regularly have programs to help with e-gadgets.)

Many adult education programs also offer technology programs for really reasonable rates. It’s a great way to learn in a group setting about what your device can do.

No matter which device you’re tapping this season, don’t be afraid to learn more and use it to its fullest potential! Happy app-ing!

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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December 23, 2013

If you are where we are in Maine, the ground is white with a weekend Ice Storm that is spilling over into the approaching days of Christmas.  Most schools are closed anyway, some have lost power but Santa is coming in 2 days and the kids are ready!  In the age of mobile everything why wouldn’t the famous elf have apps too?Santa Apps

Just a Few For Fun!

We posted the Google “Santa Tracker” on Facebook on Friday, but the Santa Tracker is an APP too.  Not only does this have a timer of when Santa leaves the North Pole, it has some fun games to play!  (You may want to have the headphones handy because like many game apps the music can be hypnotizing to the gamer but annoying to the non-player!)  Pocket Trains is also a fun one, that allows you to help deliver toys!

For You iPhone and iPad Folks Fans

Talking Santa is fun but you need a microphone.  Also there is Shave Santa for those that would like something a little unusual and whimsical.

From all of us at Sephone, we wish you the very best of Holidays with you and yours!  We also would like to send a special “SHOUT OUT” to those serving in far away lands away from friends and family.  Thank you for your service!

*Thank you to Google Drive for the use of your image

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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December 16, 2013

Someone said at a conference that I was attending that people notice 3 times faster that they have lost their cell phone than when they had lost their wallet.  I don’t recall the source, but for me personally, I can believe it may be 5 times faster than my wallet!

New Phone

About a year and a half ago “there was an incident” with my cell phone.  I was volunteering and a person I was helping stepped on it, crushed the screen completely by accident.  While it was difficult to read the screen, I still could, well at least for a couple days. Then the day before Labor Day Weekend – poof !  Dead phone. Actually the phone itself was fine but the screen was completely black so the operation of the phone was

Computers in our Hands

Here is a “flashback” for you… you got your first computer virus or your computer crash and your drive is toast.  You have to start all over again,  your photos are lost, your files are gone.  It is the same thing with your phone.  SO BE PREPARED.  Take the time to write down somewhere important information like user names or email addresses various accounts you have on your phone that you may have SAVED on your phone.  BACK UP things and with my Android, I can back things up or save much of my things automatically to accounts like Dropbox or my Google account.  Take into consideration when saving photos remotely, the quality of those photos when saving.  If you are using Facebook as your photo stash remember you can be hacked and at the very least your photos are compressed so Facebook can save space, this may not be what you were hoping for in restoring special photos you took thinking you were going to make a calendar for Christmas gifts!

The Power of the Pen

It is doubtful that I will ever be able to go completely digital.  I LOVE holding a pen in my hand and writing something down, it makes me feel like I own it.  I have a recipe box with my user names and passwords on it for every account I use, phone or otherwise.  When I got my new phone this time I was able to easily reconstruct my life on my phone a lot easier than I could the LAST TIME AROUND!   I had less anxiety in getting a new phone and more excitement of the new THINGS my phone could do!  FREEDOM!!

Insurance

It is like anything, we buy insurance hoping we don’t need it.  When a tree limb falls on the house or we get into a fender bender we have something to fall back on to help us get going again.  Keeping and Saving things in multiple places is OBVIOUS, but are we doing it?  This time of year is a good time to think about getting organized, because if  “Murphy” is working over time, you got your insurance and you are ready!!

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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December 6, 2013

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet ExplorerAs a web developer, one of the hardest things that we have to deal with is browser compatibility.  What this means is, to make sure  all of the projects we work on work in every way with all of the major browsers.  Those browsers would be Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.

When we build a new website or application, we test it in the latest versions of all of these browsers to make sure that all of the functions and features included work as expected.

Though there is a defined set of parameters these browsers should follow, each one tends to do things a little differently.  Many of them have jumped on board with standards in their latest releases, but some older versions, particularly Internet Explorer, still linger and cause headaches for those needing sites to work in older browsers.

What can you do to help?

Update your browser to the latest version.  In some cases, depending on your operating system, you can only upgrade so far in a browser series.  If that is the case, then I recommend trying an alternative browser.  You can use the links provided above, or feel free to check out Browse Happy.

Why should you update?

Updating your browser does not only help us as developers, but it also benefits you.  Every time a new version of your favorite browser comes out, it comes with things like security updates to keep you safe online, bug fixes to make the browser work better, support for new web technology so that we can make your website cooler and much more.  Having the latest and greatest when it comes to your browser is always a plus for both the guys “behind the curtain” and you, as a user.

Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.
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