Tech News

Four Quick Digital Marketing Tips
April 19, 2017 12:05 pm

Have you ever been interested in learning more about digital marketing? Perhaps you’re interested in building a website or tracking social media analytics for your business.

If you’re just starting out, navigating the world of digital marketing can be confusing.

To help us navigate this field more in-depthATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with Ashley Panter, an Athens, Georgia-based digital marketing specialist with substantial professional experience in areas including website design, graphic design, and social media marketing.

Panter currently works as the marketing manager of UGA Small Business Development Center, and as the creative director of her company, Blu Mountain Expressions.  She is also currently a master’s candidate in the Emerging Media program at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Here are several tips Panter swears have been instrumental in her own development as a marketing specialist and an entrepreneur.

1. For someone new to digital marketing, what are essential tips about your field?

“For someone new to digital marketing, knowing which social networks your audience is on is key,” Panter says. “Taking it one step further, knowing which days and times your audience is online are also critical.  You don’t want to be pushing out content at times when your audience isn’t present.”

According to Panter, maintaining a balance between content consistency and diversity is essential to engaging your target audience.  Pushing content through multiple channels, i.e. graphic design, website design, UX, email marketing, etc., is a good strategy for maintaining a wider audience.

“My last tip for someone new to digital marketing is to not discount the value of your website,” she says.

She referenced her recent article “How Poor Website Design Will Affect Your Business“.

 

2. Talk about building your freelance network. How long did it take? How did you gain new clients?

Panter started by creating free flyers for professors’ courses around Augusta State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a minor in art.

“The first client I picked up was a professor’s church friend who owned a medical billing business,” she says. “I created a website for her for a menial fee of $300. At the time, that was a lot of money for me though. She was so happy with her website, she referred two of her friends to me. And the chain then continued.”

After two years of freelancing, she had built a network of roughly 20 steady clients, doing work ranging from “websites to business cards, logos, brochures, ads, promotional products, etc.”

According to Panter, being willing to be flexible on pricing, or even do jobs for free, is essential to building your client list when starting out.

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“[Technology] also helps you pinpoint your exact target audience which ensures you are pushing out the right content and messaging to be the most engaging to your target group”—Ashley Panter, Blu Mountain Expressions

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3. What is the role of tech in your job?  How has technology made it easier to work as an entrepreneur?

“Technology plays a huge role in my day-to-day job, but an even bigger role in my freelance gigs,” Panter says. “The ability to reach people via social media by a targeted digital ad based on a user’s age, location, interests is huge.

She explains that things like the ability to take notes on an iPad and capture quality video and audio with her smartphone make her job as a marketer and business owner much easier.

“Can you imagine being a marketer and being asked to create a flyer and market an event before technology? No InDesign, no Photoshop, no Illustrator, no social media, no email marketing. Wow, that would be a tough job.”

 

4. Talk about work-life balance.  How do you manage your daily life while being a successful business woman?

“Usually, I take on 3-4 freelance projects monthly, which require 30 to 90 minutes of time each,” Panter explains. “So, as you can see, I live by a pretty packed schedule, but find it easy to manage as long as I can keep everything organized and the line of communication open.”

She says that maintaining a work-life balance while completing a master’s degree is sometimes tough to manage, but she manages her commitments by being extremely organized and communicative.

Check out more articles on ATYPICAL SOUNDS.

Interested in checking out more of Ashley Panter’s work? Check out her blog here.

Ads on Tumblr: Is Nowhere Safe?
November 17, 2016 1:18 pm

Earlier this summer, Tumblr, the common blog of choice for painfully hip and melancholy teens, decided to dip their toes into the realm of commercializing their user base by enabling the option of slathering ads site wide. The move allows for Tumblr users themselves to monetize their blogging hobby by running their own personal ads and allows sites like Yahoo to run advertisements. The decision came on the heels of Verizon purchasing Yahoo earlier this summer, with Yahoo itself having purchased Tumblr in the summer of 2013.

The practical decision was at first met with the usual reaction from those who are used to being provided a service with little to no catch: derision. But it hasn’t been all bad; Tumblr allows users to switch off the ads in their settings menu, a step that is more about maintaining good will with their user base than becoming money hungry. The ability to switch off ads usually comes at a price to the everyday consumer, most commonly in the form of a premium account.

The decision came shortly after one of the largest internet mergers in its history. Verizon added the social media website to their ever growing list of content sites that it has steadily consumed over the years. As Tumblr has been traditionally regarded as a bastion for those who feel cast aside or otherwise different than mainstream internet consumers, the strategy from Verizon, as harmless as it may seem, opens the door for future changes in a capitalistic direction. Hence the reason why internet activists fight so hard to keep what privacy rights they are given; once begun, it’s a slippery slope.

Monetizing previously free service websites has always been a compulsory first step after a previously agreed amount of time. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit made the jump long ago, sacrificing a small piece of community goodwill in order to serve the very concrete problems and issues that face internet companies. With the ease and familiarity that users navigate the web, it can often come as a shock to find things not only different, but to be thought of as the product instead of the consumer. It’s within that discomfort where a company can move in one of two different directions: to either appeases the users or appease the board and/or the stockholders. It takes a brave spirit to attempt both and time will tell whether Tumblr can keep its outsider shine amongst the gold.

VR ROLLER COASTER: NEW WAYS TO FLY
October 26, 2016 12:11 pm

We have covered Virtual Reality a handful of times here at Atypical Sounds, talking about its innovations and abilities, but people are already finding new and amazing ways to use these headsets, I’m pretty impressed.

A Virtual Reality Roller Coaster sounds like a vomit inducing headache. For those who get easy motion sickness with either roller coasters or VR probably shouldn’t go anywhere near these rides. But for those who love both of them and want to see something truly spectacular, this is the newest thing for you.

Here is the rundown, you hop onto a roller coaster, like the Superman: Ride of Steel from Six Flags, strap on a headset and that’s it! The display will move according to the coaster pretty smoothly and you look around like any other VR experience and enjoy the ride. Check out the video below and to see people ride it and see what it’ll look like compared a normal ride. I would highly recommend anyone that has a Six Flags near them to check out this incredible experience. VR has been pretty fun and amazing experience, but it is still pretty limited. This and other innovations are what we need to make VR an actual worth while investment for our culture, otherwise it will be like HD DVDs or 3D TVs, which died after a few years of being on the market.

The experience isn’t everywhere or on every ride, it is just in the starting phases. But you can be sure to see in the next 5 years the huge increase in VR roller coasters in places like Disney, Universal Studios, and Kings Dominion. Check out more about Six Flags VR and the upcoming Sea World VR.

SPIDER ROBOT BY LOCKHEED MARTIN REPAIRS HOLES IN AIRSHIPS
October 21, 2016 5:41 pm

Determining whether there are punctured areas in the body of an airship takes time, attention, and there is always the possibility of human error.  Now, Skunk Works, the advanced development programs division of the aerospace technology company Lockheed Martin, has developed a robot that can locate and repair pinholes on an airship.

Dubbed SPIDER, the robot is autonomous, and can complete scans of an airship while the craft is still being assembled. According to the video released by Lockheed Martin introducing SPIDER, multiple robots can be deployed on an airship at the same time, increasing the speed that pinholes can be located and repaired.

Although finding pinholes and repairing them is its primary function, SPIDER does not stop there. The robot notifies the maintenance team when it has found a hole and repaired it, and sends data back to the central processing station so the information can be reviewed. The machine is composed of two magnetically connected components. One half of the robot is on the outside of the airship, and the other half is on the inside.

Although SPIDER significantly cuts down on the potential for human error, there is still the possibility of machine error. What would happen if SPIDER was to malfunction? Or be unable to repair a pinhole?  Skunk Works’ solution is that other SPIDER bots that are monitoring the same airship can be re-routed with adjusted search patterns to target the hole that the initial robot failed to repair. 

SPIDER is an example of the automation of tasks by machines, both to decrease the probability of making a mistake, and increase the speed at which a task can be completed. Additionally, having SPIDER allows the airship maintenance team to focus on more tasks, and devote more attention to making the craft ready for flight. 

Featured Image source – New Atlas, Lockheed Martin 

Featured Video source – LockheedMartinVideos

WALKFORADOG IS AS EASY AS ITS NAME
October 14, 2016 9:51 am

Having to trudge through the overpopulated, polluted-as-all-hell maze that is New York City every day can be dispiriting. Shoulders are bumped, footwear gets dirty, and faith in humanity is questioned. Perhaps the one glimmer of hope most people here get all day is the moment a cute dog waltzes past them with a big smile on its face and no worries whatsoever.

Dogs have no idea that we’re all prisoners to capitalism, nor do they complain about being surrounded by concrete and steel barriers that are illegal for them to pee on. They’re just happy to be outside! It’s fresh air time. Dogs are the living embodiment of optimism and being able to see them throughout the day helps me treat others slightly better than I normally would have. Thank you, dogs. You inspire me to be a slightly less terrible person.

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More than anything, I want to show my appreciation for dogs and help out the ones not lucky enough to have a home yet. But because life, especially in the city, is just an endless cycle of work and commute, there isn’t much time to do that. This is why I got so excited when I heard about the app WalkForADog.

From a functionality standpoint, WalkForADog couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is set up an account, select an animal shelter you want to raise money for, keep the app open, and then walk. The more you walk, the more money you raise for that shelter. That’s it. Seriously, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Why aren’t you doing this.

You see? I shouldn’t have to persuade you any longer. Just download the app and start helping out some dogs in need. They already do so much for us!! It couldn’t be any easier and there is nothing stopping you from trying it out.

iOS 10: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE USELESS
October 4, 2016 5:52 pm

The craze of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus a few weeks ago and the flood of memes about it having no headphone jack is basically all everyone was talking about in September. Surprisingly though, iOS 10 seems to be where the actual rich changes are in Apple’s products. iOS 10 is good, a nice upgrade for those who are obsessed with more flash and less function. There is a huge amount updated, and I won’t go through all  of it, but here are my impressions of having it so far.

THE GOOD:

It is fun. It is entertaining. Siri is smarter and opens programs for you or just does what you ask with certain apps, like finding you directions to the closest gas station. The iMessanger has been greatly overhauled, almost too much for my blood. Maybe it is my age, but I don’t need ALL these features. You can draw with cool effects, send messages that slam into the conversation and search all sorts of gifs to send friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love all these things, but it getting to be too much. Like how often am I going to honestly send a neon drawn picture with kissy lips appearing all over it? The change in shape and design of alert banners seemed odd and unnecessary at first, but I’ve gotten used to them, they just hover for too long in my opinion. One of the best, and my favorite, things is that I can finally delete a lot of iPhone permanent apps that weren’t previously aloud to be deleted, so I am very happy about that. Also the quick menu that you get from the bottom is a little weird, but not terrible, the fact that you can swipe to media that is being played and change it there is pretty cool, but still slightly cumbersome.

 

THE BAD:

It is getting messy. I had to download ANOTHER app called Home which I automatically put into my group of dumb apps that I don’t need and just take up space. The messenger keyboard will sometimes get stuck sideways making me have to restart the app just to fix it so I can type. When I double click the home button, the app will shift sideways and I can’t select, scroll or close them, and so I have to lock my phone and unlock it to  get it to function correctly again.

 

THE USELESS:

Like I was saying in the “Good” section, the messenger is getting too cluttered, and has too much different functions that I am never going to use on a daily basis. The forced install app Home, which connects itself to you home system of light, TV or other electronics), seems cool, but if you don’t have everything already set up and have Apps or remotes for those things, you won’t ever need it. I guess it can be helpful because who really wants to get up to turn off lights with a light switch anymore? That was so last millennium (heavy sarcasm).  The new left swipe list of new and alerts looks unorganized and pointless to have, just like before, but now it is slightly different and I have no desire to learn how to use it effectively.

 

All in all getting the update isn’t that bad, it just has so much hullabaloo and so many bugs that it is kind of annoying. It is fun for sure, it really is, but it feels like a stupid app you download for fun because your friends did, but unfortunately it is permanently here and essential to the future function of you Apple device. I hope for some good updates and cleaning of iOS 10, because it does have the potential to be something great.

VIBBLE: SMALL START WITH GREAT POTENTIAL
September 28, 2016 11:18 am

Vibble, for all intensive purposes, is your personal mix board. With transitions, samples, and faders, Vibble gives you the sense of being a DJ while cutting out the complications. It is stylistic, easy and fun to play with, a for sure download for someone who asks always wants the AUX cord in the car. However, the app is pretty minimal and would need a lot of updates and expansions to amount to something of real substance.

The App runs with Sound Cloud. You can search Sound Cloud through this app very smoothly and very fast and add the song you want to a simple playlist. You can play a number of different samples right over the tracks adding air horns, drum beats, and vinyl scratches to whatever you like on Sound Cloud.

I love Sound Cloud as much as the next person, but the fact that this app only uses Sound Cloud is pretty limiting. Even artists like Flume or Porter Robinson which have a strong presence there, don’t show up with any music inside the app. So unless you know a whole mess of small time artists off the top of your head, it’ll be difficult finding anything worth mixing and fooling with. I’m not a pro with this app either, so I might be missing how to use certain parts like saving music playlists or bookmarking artists, but as of now I haven’t found a way to retain any mixes or set-lists that I’ve made.

With all this said, it doesn’t mean the app is great in concept. The accessible fading and samples are refreshing, the design of the app is bright and fun, and the potential for greatness is there. I can’t wait to see this app a couple of months from now, it’ll be the new way to listen to your Sound Cloud favorites.

 

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE VCR
September 27, 2016 6:02 pm

As  I’m looking over the life of the VCR, I realize that DVDs aren’t that far from become an obsolete part of the technology spectrum just like VHS tapes. The tech world is evolving expeditiously faster every year and the last VHS has been produced this past summer.

I remember those fuzzy scratchy Disney movies with fat plastic cases. The big trilogy sets of Star Wars and rewinding videos right after watching them. I was never cool enough to have the super reminder machine that did it for you, but the wishing noise of the whirling tape and finishing click takes me back 20 years.

In Japan, the Funai Electric Company has still been producing VCRs up until August of this year. This really marks an end to an era, not just of the VCR, VHS and other tape recorded products, but that we are official past the analog age and well into a digital world.

Between Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and many more, we really have no need for and physical copies of any of our media anyways, Blu-Rays and DVDs are used less and less. Digital can be taken anywhere through either hard copies , cloud storage or streaming. I’ve spent all my college years without any physical copies of any of my papers, except when the teacher asks for them. I keep it all in my accounts online.

With this shift to digital media, a lot of people still buy physical items for nostalgia and because it’s nice to be able to actually hold something with your two hands. Physical CD albums, vinyls and DVD/Blu Ray collections are becoming more popular, but unfortunately it seems pretty certain that the VHS and VCR have seen there last days and it’s time to find a digital converter for them or just throw them out. Goodbye rewinding noise, goodbye Aladdin in crappy VHS quality and good night to the age of VCR.

THIS MONDO THING
September 26, 2016 9:59 am

At  the Mondo NYC music conference earlier this month, every conversation began the same way: “Sucks about CMJ, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, what do you think of this Mondo thing?”

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To be honest, I went into Mondo disappointed for various reasons; one, because it was not a rebirth of my favorite dance party, and two, because I was very much looking forward to (the currently defunct) CMJ. Though Mondo was created by Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green, the pair sold the conference in 2012. Could Mondo hold a candle to CMJ, my favorite local music conference? And could it ever grow to compete with the behemoth that is SXSW?

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to grab a few minutes with Austin natives Kelly Barnes and Brian Cole of the band Darkbird (who put on an absolutely incredible Saturday-night show at Pianos), and get their opinion on Mondo vs potential-future-competitor SXSW:

Kelly: My feelings about SXSW from years ago were great, because it was aimed at getting newer artists like ourselves up and running, getting seen by people that can actually take bands to the next level, and now it’s Kanye West performing or Bruce Springsteen. And there’s thousands and thousands of people coming to see that.

It’s just becoming this huge shit show, [which] is probably the best way to put it. And it’s just over-saturated. So it kind of lost its focus. I think if Mondo were to grow into what SXSW was…[SXSW] did have a time, and it peaked, and it was something really great and useful.

Brian: SXSW has turned into a monster that can barely contain itself. It’s having issues keeping itself together because it’s so big now. There’s lots of corporations involved now, like it’s “Lady Gaga on the Doritos stage”, and it’s not really about getting bands exposure, getting them in contact. It’s about the industry and the bands, giving them a place to meet, and that’s what I would like to see Mondo do. And I think they’re starting on the right foot. I went to a couple panels yesterday, and it was inspiring.

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Kelly: The business has changed so much. It’s not like someone sees your show and is like, “Come on, baby. Let’s make you a star!” Everyone’s kind of throwing their hands up in the air like “How does this work?”.

When [music] is something you do to try to make a living, it’s really frustrating – you’ve got the talent, you have all these things you want to do. But how do you do it? How do you get there? How do you get your music in the right hands? How do you get someone to listen to it? And maybe these conferences give you some tools and ideas that maybe you haven’t thought about. And you feel like you’re learning something very valuable. There’s so many question marks about how to do it anymore. It’s frustrating.

Brian: One aspect that I like about Mondo is they’re bringing in new technology, as well. The music industry is changing because of new technologies. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Nobody has the attention span to listen to a full album.

Kelly: Record deals from big labels aren’t worth anything anymore. Now it’s independent labels, or people are DIY-ing everything. But it’s possible that way. Here, you’re learning about how to utilize technology.

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The utilization of technology was an important topic throughout panel discussions at Mondo, which included talks called Why Can’t Music Apps Get Funding? and Digital Entertainment and Content. The honesty of many of the panelists was refreshing and informative. However, it was jarring to watch these presenters, some of whom with 20+ years of experience in the music industry, insinuating they don’t really know what’s going to happen with the music industry since file sharing essentially wiped them out. Then again, no one should have had to pay $20 for a CD in the first place, so they kind of had it coming. And there seems to be a lot of freedom right now to figure out what the “next big thing” in the music industry will be, so that’s at least one positive to come out of the Wild West the industry has become.

Mondo featured 3 days of panel talks, with 5 days of music showcases happening at venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The showcases were not all day and night (as in CMJ), but happened only at night after the panel talks. While conferences like CMJ and SXSW thrive on their ability to offer band exposure from constant showcases throughout, Mondo limited this time by keeping the showcases nightly. Spreading the showcases out between Manhattan and Brooklyn also limited the number of showcases that could be seen in one night, with attendees being forced to choose one borough over another.

Ultimately, for their first year, Mondo made a pretty decent go of things. Having corresponded with the organizers, it’s clear they’re looking to grow and improve, and are doing so through open communication with attendees. Because of their willingness to “give the people what they want”, Mondo could grow into a strong contender in music conferences in the coming years. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.

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SNOWDEN DESIGNS SMARTPHONE CASE THAT DETECTS HARMFUL MALWARE
September 23, 2016 9:18 am

According to a projection by Statista, the number of people using smartphones worldwide in 2016 is expected to be nearly 2.08 billion.  While the advantages of smartphones are numerous, they also present numerous opportunities for harmful attacks.

Malicious apps can transmit metadata to ad agencies, cyber criminals and identity thieves.  Hackers can access your phone’s native functions, such as the camera and voice-recorder.  These are merely a few examples.  There are numerous ways in which your phone can make your information vulnerable.  That said, there are several steps you can take to make your data more safe.

For example, recently Edward Snowden, and Andrew “Bunnie” Huang launched a malware detecting smartphone case, that can help protect your information and make you aware if your phone is at risk of unwanted surveillance.

In their paper titled “Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance,Snowden and Huang discuss the implications of smartphone attacks with specific regard to journalists, stating that surveillance and access to metadata from unwanted third-parties “leaves journalists, activists, and rights workers in a position of vulnerability.” – Snowden, Huang 

Snowden and Huang developed an open-source tool called the introspection engine, to be attached to a phone and used to determine if the device is secure.

“As the project is run largely through volunteer efforts on a shoestring budget, it will proceed at a pace reflecting the practical limitations of donated time.” – Snowden, Huang

According to the article, Snowden and Huang plan to prototype throughout this year.  Although the introspection engine was designed specifically with regard to the iPhone, the processes involved could potentially be applied to other mobile devices. Snowden and Huang proposed that in the future these processes could be more quickly retrofitted for other operating systems.

References: Andrew ‘bunnie’ Huang, Edward Snowden.  “Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance.”  PubPub, (2016)

Featured Image Source – Flickr