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Forget Your Autocorrect Woes With This Android App

Autocorrect is something to which smartphone users are no stranger.  It has lead to many an embarrassing (yet entertaining) conversation (like such) and certainly can be a pain to personalize. 

We'll wait while you spend the next half hour guffawing at the autocorrect mistakes....

Thankfully, there is a cool Android app entitled User Dictionary which may just be the solution to our autocorrect woes.

User Dictionary, first and foremost, is a workable app that learns from your online behaviors to create a dictionary that is uniquely suited to your typing style.  This includes not only your texting activity, but also e-mails, tweets, and facebook updates.  It notes what words you intentionally spell incorrectly on a frequent basis (like chat speak), names, places, and your own personal slang.

You can choose which online sources it draws its data from.  After analyzing and importing the words it thinks you would like to add to your dictionary, it then will display a list of its selections and you can choose which words you feel would be good to add to your dictionary.

If you wipe your phone or delete the app by accident, you don't need to worry about losing all your words.  User Dictionary has a way to export the dictionary to your SD card as a "backup" option.

There is a free version of the app, but do know that it doesn't analyze as many e-mails and tweets as its paid counterpart.  Still, we Geeks think the free version does its job quite nicely!

Mobile Devices Used for Shopping, Now More Than Ever

More smartphone and tablet users are beginning to shop through their mobile devices.  According to an article in Online Media Daily, 84% of mobile device users reported to have used their device for shopping within the past 30 days - a 5 point increase from last year.

"Mobile shopping", according to Nielsen data, encompasses purchasing a product, researching a product, finding a store, checking prices, reading or writing a review, use a shopping list, or commenting on social media websites about purchasing.

Within this percentage, gender is split relatively evenly (although women are more likely to shop online than men).  Purchasers are typically younger (under 45 years old) and earn lower to middle incomes, though high income earners are more active shoppers and make up 35% of the field.  The percentage of households with income under $50,000 a year using mobile devices for shopping has spiked, coming in at 21% - up 8% points from last year. 

According to a study done in the Pew Research Center last month, 34% of American adults own tablets, and 56% own smartphones - a majority.

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Is Paper Becoming Passé?

In this age of laptops, tablets, smartphones, and e-readers, viewing and receiving data either online or through mobile technology has become a normal part of 21st century lives. Why send a letter when you can instantly communicate with someone via e-mail, cell phone, or social media? How about receiving magazine and newspaper subscriptions on your tablet instead of at your front door? What about digital textbooks, or libraries entirely based online?

Technological devices are starting to win out over paper alternatives in a variety of workplaces. Most recently, JetBlue airline joined ranks with Southwest, American, and United Airlines in adopting iPads to replace bulky paper manuals. This replacement saves airlines money on paper and fuel costs. JetBlue claims it helps improve the overall customer experience as well, creating better communication resources from cockpit to cabin (such as real-time weather updates). Jeff Martin, JetBlue’s senior VP of operations, states that this update brings Jetblue "one step closer to a paperless cockpit" - the end goal?

Go Paperless

Becoming paperless is a trending idea, even outside of big corporations. Adam Dachis of Lifehacker, for example, wrote a compelling article entitled "How I Went Completely Paperless in Two Days," in which he used a relatively inexpensive personal scanner with an wireless (Eye-Fi X2) memory card (to help transfer scans to your computer via Wi-Fi), and a free digital paper organizer (Evernote). Once the general bulk is transferred and categorized, he says the upkeep is really simple and helps to eliminate clutter and improve organization.

Dachis' post was enough to put Geek | Chicago's Chief Geek Jason Finn over the edge (he was already teetering) to a paperless lifestyle. 

Today's paper-eliminating technology can make even the most disheveled professional seem downright organized. - Jason Finn

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The 4 Types of Media: Are You Doing Everything You Can to Reach Your Audience?

Business owners know that using "media" is the best way to target mass audiences.  But what does that word, media, encapsulate?  How do we classify and manage our buckets of media? 

We could try to communicate it ourselves, but our good friend Gini Dietrich, lead blogger at SpinSucks.com, and CEO of marketing and communications firm Arment Dietrich, nailed it in a blog post that spans just about two printed pages.  In The Four Different Types of Media, Gini describes: paid media, earned media, owned media, and shared media.  [If you like reading Gini, you should check out the book she co-authored with Geoff Livingston, Marketing in the Round. Love you Gini, and Go Steelers! (Liam made me do it.)]

Paid Media
Paid Media is essentially paid advertisements - commercials, Facebook ads, billboards...anything with a price tag on it.  Creative agencies come into play here, along with their design teams and sales experts.  While this is probably the most effective form of reaching your target audience, it is also the most expensive.
Earned Media
This falls under the public relations umbrella - aka publicity.  PR firms are consulted rather frequently to get a product or company out there on big name newspapers, magazines, news stations, or talk shows.  Unfortunately, hiring PR firms is expensive, time consuming, and will not necessarily yield the desired results, in particular if this effort is done in isolation, rather than a consolidated approach.

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Zombies, Video Games, and Patrick Swayze

Yes, you read the title right.  We were intrigued as well when New Millennium Theatre Company contacted us with their line-up for their 15th season: Crazy for Swayze: A Swayzical, SIlent Night of the Living Dead, and Princess Peach Conspiracy.  With titles like these, it sure sounds like both geeks and non-geeks would have a great time at these shows!

These works were created through NMTC's Incubator Program, which takes new scripts and transforms them from concept to production in an audience-driven process.  New Millennium creates shows that they hope appeal to non-traditional audiences.

Chicaco IL, June 19th - New Millennium Theatre Company is thrilled to announce its line up for the 2013-2014 (its 15th!) season.  Fresh out of our new Incubator Program, two new shows and one modern classic will grace the NMTC docket this year.

NMTC kicks off the Fall with Crazy for Swayze: A Swayzical - an absolutely twisted tribute to one of the most loved and iconic leading men of the 1980s and 90s written by NMTC Company member Laura Coleman.  Join Patrick Swayze as he fights (and dances) his way back into our hearts this September.

 Click here to read the full press release

Facebook to Re-Work their Advertisement Tools

Facebook has taken a bold step in consolidating their advertisement base, announcing a move that they hope will create a more streamlined ad experience for user and advertiser alike.  Feedback from market analysts kept coming back to the same concept: simplify the product base.

We have long been proponents of Facebook ads, for the granular level options in targeting your audience.  Historically Facebook ads have had a lower response rate the some of the competition, but the ability to hone it to your audience at a granular level, alongside only having to pay for results (with a pay-per-click versus a cost per impression model) has reduced the importance of the click-per-impression metric.

At present, Facebook offers 27 different ways to promote a product.  Over the course of 6 months, they intend to cut that number by more than half, removing those which are not successful, and combining previous tools that produced virtually the same outcome into a single tool at its optimal state.

The tool which will be most drastically revised is what is known as "Sponsored Story Ads."  Sponsored Stories are essentially Facebook posts triggered by user activity.  For example, if you "like" a Page, event, or story that is sponsored, there is a strong likelihood of this activity showing up in your friend's news feeds. (So-and-so has "liked" Tomatoes - You should like Tomatoes too!)

As you can probably imagine, Facebook users have also been complaining about this type of advertising, as notification inboxes get filled up with Sponsored Stories - with no way to opt-out of receiving them.  The original "liker" also may not feel the greatest about being publicly attached to a product name while it is being promoted across all of their friend's Facebook feeds.

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Do You Use Mobile Point of Sale Technology? Take This Survey!

Tablet and smartphone-based payment systems, such as Square and Intuit GoPayment, are the trending way to pay for businesses.  Mobile Point of Sale (POS) systems compete with your standard cash register and change drawer by integrating modern-day technology into standard checkout procedures (click here to read about the new Square Stand, for example).

Softwareadvice.com is looking to see how Mobile POS technologies have changed how you do business.  Software Advice has helped over 100,000 buyers find software that is right for them, simply by collecting feedback from users like you.  If you've had any experience with these devices, your opinions are quite valuable to them!

Click here to take this 7 question survey on how POS systems have affected your business.  We're curious too.

Microsoft Office for the iPhone

Microsoft Office has, after long last, made an app for the iPhone.  The suite offers users the ability to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from your phone.  "Finally!", I'm sure some of you are thinking.

However, there is a catch.

While the app is free to download, it is unfortunately only compatible for users who have subscribed to the $10/month or $100/year Microsoft Office 365.  For users that are already subscribed, its no sweat - every Office file you create on your phone is automatically synced on the Office 365 cloud server, and to other devices.  Additionally, this service is currently only available on iPhone, having not yet migrated to iPad.

Reviews from The Verge suggest that the editing controls for the iPhone app are better than the Windows Phone app, but are still rather basic in reality and not incredibly straight-forward.  Highlighting words, for example, requires a "double-click" rather than the standard "touch-and-hold" action.  PowerPoint is the most basic of all, designed more for basic edits to preexisting presentations rather than actual creation.

Still, this app may prove useful to frequent Office users with on-the-go needs.  If you end up using the new Office iPhone app, let us know what you think!

Do you have an MS Office alternative that you've been using?  Do you plan to adopt Office 365 and Office for iOS?

Pandora, Spotify, and Grooveshark (oh my!) - Which Online Music Service is REALLY the Best for You?

Online music streaming is at a high point.  Including the recent emergence of "iTunes Radio", Apples' new addition to the online music streaming community, users now have over a dozen options to choose from when selecting their music streaming provider - and its definitely a challenge to compare them.  Which service offers the best comprehensive coverage?  Is it worth paying for premium services?

There are plenty of sources out there for different lifestyles and needs.  For users with extensive already-existing music libraries in iTunes or Google, iTunes Radio and Google Play are good options as they have "library integration" features - meaning they combine new music with your current library when creating your online listening station.  Spotify and Rdio are good for  those with less extensive libraries, and their premium features offer offline listening capabilities that their counterparts do not.

Tech blog GigaOM created this great table (left) to help you compare your options based on price, function, streaming, playlist capabilities, and purchase song options.

Jason Finn, Geek | Chicago's "Chief Geek", personally uses Spotify Premium.  While iTunes Radio has syncing capabilities with your iTunes music and is cheaper ($25/year vs. $10/month for Spotify Premium), it does not support offline listening - a big deterrent for those who listen mostly on-the-go.  With Spotify, there are playlist download capabilities so you can listen to music without internet or 3G data usage. 

If you're the type of person who doesn't know what you want to listen to and you don't want to spend any money, this Geek, Alex, yours truly, recommends Songza, which creates music playlists based on your mood or location rather than on a genre or artist (like Pandora).

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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).