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  • How to market Your Business With Snapchat (Source: Pixabay)

    Blink and you may have missed it, but the landscape of social media marketing is changing. The big four social networks that marketers once took for granted – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ – while still vital, are now just a piece of a larger social ecosystem.

    Enter Snapchat.

    Once dismissed as a gimmick, Snapchat has proven to have major staying power. With over 100 million daily users and a demographic that skews young (71% of Snapchat’s American users fall between 18 and 34 years old), Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks with the highest rates of audience engagement – and it’s a remarkable new resource for social marketers looking to expand their reach.

    Here’s what you need to know about Snapchat, along with four ideas of how to put it to work for your business:

  • Attribution: Robert Scoble (Flickr)There have been a good handful of Windows 8 users that just aren't fans of the Windows 8 start screen.  Luckily, there are some incredibly simple ways to make your screen much more useful.  Here are Lifehacker's ways to make your Start Screen into a positive place.

    "Start Screen Unlimited" - Create useful widgets and shortcuts

    Windows 8 is missing the built-in desktop gadgets that we've seen in previous versions, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to add them back. Start Screen Unlimited is a great 3rd party app that can add several useful widgets to your start screen, including a battery stats widget, wi-fi info widget, shutdown/restart shortcuts, and much more.

    Start Screen Unlimited also allows you to quickly jump to the control panel or other select pages from the system menu. The control panel is an exceptionally useful place to get to on Windows 8, but it usually involves a bit of searching to find.  This app puts it where you need it most - on your home screen.

    "To-Do Prime" - Bring your to-do list front and center

  • How to Set Goals in Google Calendar - And Keep Them! (Source: Pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

    One of our main focuses here at Geek Chicago is on helping our clients maximize their productivity. That might mean saving them time by helping manage their social media and email marketing, or it may mean educating them on how to use their technology more effectively.

    Whatever the case, we maintain that geekiness, growth, and efficiency all go hand-in-hand (in-hand).

    So when we see a great new opportunity for efficiency and task management come along, we’ve got to share it. The new “Goals” feature on Google Calendar is one of those golden opportunities, an intuitive addition that loads a ton of function and value into an app that most of us already use every single day.

  • Twitter is an amazingly active social media platform.  The feed is an ever-updating hub of information - sometimes useful, sometimes not.  Thankfully, there are a few ways to tidy up your Twitter feed to optimize the information that you're getting on a daily basis.  Here's how you can make your Twitter feed work for you, some information courtesy of LifeHacker.

    Only Follow Who You ACTUALLY Want to Follow

    "Follow Back!" is a frequent request from Twitter users as they follow you.  The neat thing about twitter is that you are not obligated to follow the tweets of those that are following you.  In fact, NOT adhering to the "follow back" rule is one of the best ways you can optimize your own news feed.  In this way, you're choosing sources that you actually want to be hearing from - not your distant college friend who's tweets constantly update you on their relationship woes.

    Categorize your feeds into "Lists"

    Twitter automatically feeds all tweets from all those you follow into one list.  While this can be a useful service, there is a way to create lists to separate those you follow into categories so you don't miss something.  You could create lists for those who tweet about tech news, health and awareness, world news, close friends... the possibilities are really endless.

    Create lists by adding users via the menu button (near the Follow button in most apps). You can then open up these lists individually and view them as separate feeds.

    Unfortunately, Twitter currently lets you only view these feeds one-at-a-time.  If you want to view all your separate feeds at the same time, you'll have to use one of these different apps:

    • TweetDeck (Windows/Mac): TweetDeck is a great in-browser app that compiles all of your twitter information in a consolidated area.  View multiple lists at once here.
    • Plume/Falcon Pro (Android): The Android equivalent unfortunately doesn't allow side-by-side twitter list viewing, but you can swipe between each list page quickly.

    Filter out what you don't want to read

  • Brett Jordan/Flickr: iWatch Rumored to Launch October 2014 With iOS8The long awaited iWatch from Apple is set to release this coming October, according to a recent report from Japanese business newspeper Nikkei.

    Sources (that remain unnamed) tell the paper that Apple has officially begun finalizing specs for the device.  

    Here are some of the projected features:

  • Make Your Professional Life More Efficient with Asana

    All the way back in 2014, we introduced you to Asana, which we called our “favorite task manager.”

    Two years later, we thought it was time to talk about the powerful platform again. Because Asana has become more than just a task manager – it’s an intuitive digital workspace that boosts our team’s productivity every day, on the clock and off.

    Here are four ways Asana can make your team more efficient:

    1.) Make Task Management a Breeze

  • Dropbox and MicrosoftMicrosoft recently announced their new partnership with Dropbox, with improved optimization between the two. We're expecting to see the Microsoft Office suite better supported by Dropbox, as well as Dropbox being directly integrated into the Office products themselves.

    This development is particularly exciting after seeing Box integrated with Office 365, and OneDrive improved with unlimited storage.

    The overall improvements

    This integration will give us 4 main improvements between the Office/Dropbox services.

    1. The ability to quickly edit Office documents from the Dropbox mobile app
    2. The ability to access Dropbox docs from Office apps
    3. The ability to share Dropbox links of Office apps
    4. The creation of first-party Dropbox apps specifically for Microsoft's mobile offerings
  • Microsoft Free AppsMicrosoft is up to some exciting things recently. Not only did they strategically team up with Dropbox, they have now officially announced that their Office suite is free for iPad, iPhone, and Android.

    Yep. 100% free.

    This pleasant surprise offers Word, Excel, and Powerpoint apps completely free of charge and without need of an Office 365 subscription to create, edit, and store all forms of documents in the cloud.

    A new iPhone app is now released featuring Office complete with optimized integration with Dropbox.

    But...a free Office suite? Really?

    This move does seem a little absurd (or desperate?) on the surface. The company, however, says it is simply strategy. Microsoft's head of Office marketing, Michael, Atalla was recently quoted in The Verge, explaining the decision:

  • It may come of no surprise to you to hear that the already heavily criticized Facebook Messenger app has come under even more scrutiny in recent times. Tech blog Gizmodo recently posted that, in addition to its rather assuming list of permissions users are forced to grant the app, Messenger logs a shocking amount of your personal data too.

    The startling cache of data looks something like this tweet from iOS forensics specialist Jonathan Zdziarski:

    11Sept14-Zdziarski2

    After dissembling the app'd binary, here is what Zdzarski revealed to Motherboard:

    In an email, Zdziarski said that Messenger is logging practically everything a user might do within the app, from what and where they tap, to how often a device is held in portrait versus landscape orientation; even time spent in the Messenger app, versus the time it spends running in the background.

    ..."[Facebook is] using some private APIs I didn't even know were available inside the sandbox to be able to pull out your WiFi SSID (which could be used to snoop on which WiFi networks you're connected to) and are even tapping the process list for various information on the device," he wrote in an email.

    We'll articulate that again. An experienced technologist who has worked for surveillance software companies was not even aware this kind of data access was even possible. A little troubling? Perhaps.

    Should we be worried about our privacy?

  • New Google Photos App Release Unveils Stellar Features (Background Images Source: Wikimedia Commons)

    Photos have officially gotten their own platform on Google, thanks to the recent launch of the eagerly awaited Google Photos. This new, free service has broken away from Google+ and has become so much more than a social network add-on feature. Here are the specs that TechCrunch recently reported.

    Google Photos Key Features

  • 2June15 OfflineFunctionality

    The CTA and Google Maps have never really mixed - nor has any offline situation, really, with Google Maps, Chrome, and YouTube.

    Until now, that is.

    Gizmodo recently reported that a series of lighter apps developed for "the next billion" audience that use phones as personal computers. These apps feature offline support, demonstrated at the I/O conference.

  • Take Advantage of the New Features in iOS8 Messages

    In the iOS8 update, Messages got a whole bevy of interesting new features that we're excited about, and we're sure you will be too. Here are some of the cool new features you can take advantage of (thanks Lifehacker)!

    Quick Reply

    When you see a message pop up on your lock screen, you can now reply directly to them there - without opening up the app. When you get a new banner message notification, you can swipe down on the message to reply.

    Send Self-Destructing Audio and Video

    This new auto-destruct audio and video feature is a nice way to send audio and videos that, well, just don't need to be saved! Hold down the camera icon in Messages and then record your video (or the microphone icon for audio). After 2 minutes, the media will be deleted from both phones.

    Sound an awful lot like Snapchat? It's actually a bit different. This audio and video can still be saved by pressing the "Keep" button. The purpose of this feature is mainly to save space in your messages.

    Clear Message Threads Automatically

  • The 12 Best Apps For Creating Social Videos

    Because most social media platforms now offer businesses a chance to up their marketing ante posting videos, you might be wondering how to use this medium to your advantage. Videos are a great way to make your content more shareable. 

    Of course, where there's filming, there should also be editing. Editing your videos before posting can increase the quality of their content and professional appeal, essentially taking your social media from a 10 to an 11

    Fortunately for marketers, a degree in cinema is not a requirement for the production of great social videos. Take a cue from Beyoncé, and look to your smartphone as your own personal film crew. Here are the top 12 apps for editing social video: 

    1. Replay

    Do you know the differences between "Kelvin" and "Vesper?" If so, you're probably a heavy Instagram user and the ideal candidate for Replay. Available through iTunes, Replay is a free app that allows users to quickly select up to 200 pictures, set them to one of 24 video styles, and then share the finished product directly to social media. It's a great way to recycle older content while giving your audience a chance to get a feel for your visual content. 

  • Best Smartphone Photo Apps (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MSC_2014_Smartphone-Audience_Mueller_MSC2014.jpg)

    The digital media world is saturated with photos (pun intended.)

    In fact, there has even been some pretty compelling information published by CBS News which indicates teenagers have adopted Instagram as their #1 social media platform of choice, recently coming in at the very top, 76% of teens saying they used Instagram, compared to runners-up Twitter (59%) and Facebook (45%).

  • The World's Most Customizable Phone Just Got More PowerfulYou've probably already heard us sing the praises of one of our favorite services, IFTTT (If This, Then That), the ultimate way to connect web services interactively.

    Now, we're pleased to discover, IFTTT has finally arrived in the Google Play Store - almost a year after the iOS app was released.  About time!

    IFTTT + Android = A Match Made in Heaven

    What has got most of us Geeks excited about this particular development, however, is freedom Android users will have with this new App.  Android technology is already the most easily customizable technology out there, which seems to go hand in hand with the functionality of IFTTT.

    This app comes with special Android channels that integrate directly with phone functions.  This adds a whole other dimension when it comes to drafting your IFTTT interaction-based recipes.  

    This means you can program your Android phone to notify you, for example, when it is going to start raining.  

    ...cool huh?

  • Top 5 Windows Apps You've Never Heard OfThere are some incredible Windows apps out there that just don't seem to get nearly enough attention.  These 5 programs, recently heralded by Lifehacker, are just too great to be left unnoticed - we agree.  Keep these top 5 apps ready for the occasions you'll need them.  You won't regret it.

    5. Wireless Network Watcher

    Now and then, you'll want to check up on your wireless network - whether that means you're planning your own network out or you're certain your upstairs neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, Wireless Network Watcher is your best friend.  Use it at home, or on the road!

    4. Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder

  • 10 Holiday iPhone Apps'Tis the season to be jolly... and treat yourself to some fun seasonal apps, of course!

    Whether you're looking for cooking, drinking, music, kid-friendly, shopping aids, advent calendars, or just plain ridiculous apps to get you in the holiday spirit, we've found an app for that.

    Here's a healthy mix of iPhone holiday apps, ranging from the silly to exceptionally useful. Don't forget to share your favorite apps with us below!

    1. The Christmas List

    Keep your christmas list organized this year with this handy shopping app. Take advantage of its ability to track your spending to keep your holiday shopping within your budget. It also comes with exceptional abilities to sort and categorize, integrate with your address book, and password protect your list. Email support is another benefit of this Christmas task manager you could take advantage of.

    2. Santa's Christmas Village

    This free app comes with 13 games with fun holiday themes to keep you in the spirit, including solitaire, checkers, hangman, minesweeper, and more. Choose from 20 different holiday songs to play in the background. Not a big game fan yourself? Not to worry; this app is family-friendly and suitable for kids.

    Christmas Music App3. Christmas Music

    This app boasts over 10,000 free Christmas Songs for your listening delight. All free, all legal, and all vetted music predominates this app to keep it completely creative commons friendly. Their christmas-themed music player also helps with the mood!

  • Top 5 Hacks For Our Favorite Media Apps (Source: Pixabay CC)

    Apps are like pizza. Yes, even when they're bad, they still sound good in theory.

    But, that's not the most important similarity between the two. Pizzas aren't just about the main toppings. They also depend on the crust and sauce, both of which take time to create and master. There are certain ingredients, techniques, and temperatures at play. Your apps work a lot like pizza in that respect. For example, there are a lot of music apps on the market, but each has certain unique functions and appearances to distinguish itself from the competition. A hack, then, is a secret ingredient that makes the app that much tastier.

    Be on the lookout for these time-saving and engaging hacks in these apps:

    1. Horizon

    We wrote our praises for Horizon last year, and we still love the steadiness, color, and ease it brings to video recording over iOS. 

  • The schism between Flash-based web content and mobile devices has lessened now, with Puffin's web browser app. Granted, having Flash may not be as necessary as it was in the past, but you may find yourself needing it time and again. Puffin is definitely your best choice, as it runs Flash and has a relatively speedy browser experience, according to LifeHacker.

    How does Puffin make Flash possible?

    Puffin does most of its heavy lifting in the cloud.  This enables it to render Flash quickly, and everything else for that matter, according to Phone Arena.

    A virtual trackpad and gamepad appear on the screen so you can control Flash games.  Here you can also use add-ons to share to Facebook, send something to Pocket, or elsewhere.

    Any downsides to the app?

    Puffin is a battery hog, as you may expect.  However, if you need to use Puffin for Flash every now and again, it could prove useful.

    We recommend using another browser as your primary - Chrome or Opera, for example - and keep Puffin around for the odd Flash-based site that you need to access on the go. 

    Note that the free version of the Puffin web browser lets you use Puffin only between the hours of 8am and 4pm.  You can also purchase a $0.99 subscription for 6 months unlimited access within the free app.  The paid version is $3.99 for unlimited access.

    Puffin Has an Educational Variant Too

  • Which Music Streaming Service Is For You? (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

    Listening to music is a personal experience. Whether you're showing off your vinyl collection to friends or screaming along the lyrics to "You Oughta Know" as you drive out of town, your music choices are a form of self-expression.

    On that note, it's important that your music streaming service suits your lifestyle by supporting your storage, travel, and listening needs. Here are our picks for music streaming services, arranged by type of listener.

    "Sometimes, I listen to music in the car, and by music, I mean whatever I still have on my iPod from college."

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).