July 31, 2015

Could the New Google Glass Revolutionize the Workforce?

By Justin H.

Do you remember the rapture, and how December 21, 2012 was supposed to be the end of the world? Well, Google Glass was supposed to be the polar opposite of that. As soon as this video hit YouTube and amassed over 27 million views, it was set in stone that mankind was just a few short years away from morphing into fully-functioning pseudo-cyborgs who could do anything imaginable by simply talking to our glasses.

But then it never happened. So, here we are aimlessly drifting through life without being able to communicate with our glasses. What are we, cavemen?

July 30, 2015

Top 10 Tips for Proper Office Etiquette

Photo Courtesy of 4C Blog

By Lauren C.

College may teach you the history of ancient Greek civilization or the science of gene splicing, but basic everyday tips and tricks on how to fit into the office culture at your new job are mysteriously lacking. The Tek Team has compiled a list of the best tips for office etiquette from credible sources such as Business Insider and Forbes so you can avoid being the pariah that leaves your food in the community fridge too long.

1. Leave the smelly food at home. Why are you bringing in that special cheese from Norway that keeps your significant other at bay, even in your own home? Keep the food you eat simple and non-smelly, so others don’t have to run and plug their noses.

2. Refrain from too much fragrance. We all enjoy a good scented perfume or cologne, but there’s no need to leave a trail behind you that lasts for 20 minutes. Also, people might have allergies, so you need to be careful with the amount of fragrance you use.

July 29, 2015

Google Pledges to White House to Combat Climate Change

Two forests in the shape of human lungs, with one suffering from deforestation.
The need to work towards a healthier planet.  Image from Green Business Guide.

By Megan G.

Climate change is one of the most controversial topics in America.  Two days ago, the White House took a stand on the subject with 13 American companies at its back. 

This past Monday, July 27th, the Obama Administration launched the American Business Act on Climate, gaining pledges from 13 large companies across the nation to go green (or greener) in an effort to combat the warming of the planet.

The tech giants Google, Apple, and Microsoft joined the fray, and you can find all of their individual pledges on the White House Fact Sheet.  As usual, the Tek Team will focus on our favorite internet company--Google.

July 28, 2015

Quote of the Month: Ze Frank

A shining light bulb graphic illuminating the center of a rainbow flower.

By Nick K.
I think this is one of the greatest gifts of this era: Because of the Internet, we can start to type a question into Google and watch the question auto-fill. In that moment, we know someone else has asked that same question. The gift of realizing you’re not alone is incredibly powerful.” – Ze Frank, Brainy Quotes
This month’s quote is from Ze Frank, Executive Vice President of video at Buzzfeed. For those who are not familiar with Ze Frank, he has performed at many TED talks, and has produced other online media on his website. Ze Frank’s quote was well appreciated by the Tek Team because of how he perfectly summed up how truly unique the Internet has become. The Internet empowers us with endless knowledge and possibilities. Search engines like Google are a great example of how the Internet helps to create and build a sense of community for similar ideas.

July 27, 2015

The Evolution of Google+: 3 Important Updates

A woman lounges in a rainbow hammock and checks Google on her smartphone.

By Lauren C.

Many have written about the impending decline and demise of Google+. Experts and critics from across the board have proclaimed that the social networking platform is continuing to wither away before our very eyes. In fact, there are over 224,000,000 search results when you search the query:“Is Google+ dead?” Many of the answers conclude in a clear and loud: YES.

We, the Tek team, have explored the demise of Google+, and reiterated the reasons why Google will not allow Google+ to simply disintegrate into social networking heaven. Our suspicions now appear confirmed with an update from the Google Blog, which explains the changes that will be made to Google+ in the upcoming months. Here are three of the most important updates:

July 24, 2015

4 Improvements Google Made this Week!

By Nick K.

Since the Internet is a busy place full of content and news, it can easily fluctuate within the blink of an eye. So, the Tek Team has decided to make things easy on you by providing the top Google news stories this week. It has been a busy one for Google news, which includes Slack integration, Google My Business account news, iOS 360o app implementation, and Google Voice improvements. See the more in-depth details below!

Slack Integrates with Google Calendar

A few months back, Tek Shouts! wrote about the office communication tool called Slack. The platform was backed by Google and classified as a unicorn business, meaning it is a startup business which is highly valued by its investors. In addition, Slack does not advertise its services and relies solely on word of mouth. That’s probably why you have not seen an ad for Slack on the Internet before.  

July 23, 2015

Google is Trying to Figure Out Why We Age

A photograph of Google CEO Larry Page in front of a large screen depicting a map of the world.
Courtesy of: Reuters

By Joseph A.

Aging really isn’t fun. Sure, we gain knowledge and wisdom over time, but we also start losing the spring in our step, and nobody seems to know why. 

For years, scientists have been struggling to figure out what our own DNA can tell us about how and why we age. Now, it appears that researchers may be getting closer to working with specific genes to potentially help people live longer. 

In a new partnership that will try to sort through genetic information, the genealogy company Ancestry, which helps you track your family history and has recently launched a genetics branch, AncestryDNA, will work with Google's Calico, a biotechnology company devoted to learning how to extend the average human lifespan. 

July 22, 2015

Google Knows If Your Paths Have Crossed

A smartphone screen depicts an explanation of Google's new Your Timeline Tool.
Courtesy of: androidcentral.com

By Joseph A

It’s late on a Friday night, and you’re sitting alone at the bar. Bored, you begin a conversation with the person next to you, discussing what you do for a living and what you do for fun. Soon, you realize that you share some common interests with your new friend, and recognize your paths may have crossed at a café you both like or a city you both lived in. As hard as you try to match dates of these events, you’ll never figure out how close you came to meeting. Until now.

A smartphone screen shows Your Timeline on Google Maps in action.
Recently, Google announced its new Your Timeline feature in Maps that lets you “view the places you’ve been on any given day, month or year." Like most things Google has done recently, it seems to be a little creepy, if not completely threatening in the post-Snowden era. But like most Google services, it can also be pretty extraordinary when looked at with optimism.

Right now Your Timeline is, as the name suggests, private and only visible to you. But it won’t be long before some enterprising developer (possibly Google) offers a way for people to compare their location histories and identify dates and places where paths have potentially crossed. Where those chance encounters might have happened had fate intervened at that moment. Once two individuals figure out that their paths have indeed crossed before, the name will almost undoubtedly transform into “Our Timeline.”

July 21, 2015

Tek This Out: 4 Great Blogs We Read to Generate Ideas

A yellow light bulb represents a bright idea with the eGumball, Inc. logo in the middle of it.
By Justin H.

A major part of every writer’s process is drawing inspiration from outside sources. For bloggers in particular, that requires tons of sifting through search pages and keywords, as well as simply keeping an eye open for anything interesting that might spark your interest, whether on social media or larger publications.

You may think that the team here at Tek Shouts! just pulls blog ideas out of the sky, or maybe from our endless internal database of knowledge that resides inside our own heads.

As much as we’d love to believe it, that is unfortunately not the case.

Reading what others have to say is a fun part of the blogging process, and these blogs below are just a few of the sites we love to frequent in order to light a fire under our creativity.

July 20, 2015

Trekker's Recent Google Maps Photos Will Blow Your Mind

A Google Maps Trekker partner takes photos of the Grand Canyon.

By Justin H.

Google Maps is obviously the premier mapping service in the world. Whether we need to turn-by-turn directions, a traffic update, or simply want to know the best route to take anywhere, we head straight for Google Maps. However, what happens when we want to go somewhere that Google Maps can’t access?

That’s where Google Trekker comes in. The Trekker Loan Program is one of Google’s most recent and enthralling endeavors. The program recently turned two years old, and is designed to invite partners such as tourism boards, non-profits, universities, research organizations, or other third party organizations help Google take Street View photos of all the world’s most jaw-dropping places. You can even apply right here to be a part of the program!

As you can see in the photo above, Trekker is a large backpack system that allows users to add imagery to Google Maps that is only accessible by foot. The camera itself is equipped with 15 lenses to ensure flawless 360-degree views. The inaugural venture was the Grand Canyon, which was the perfect location to showcase the new project.

July 17, 2015

Google Ensures the Kids are Alright With 3 New Tech Initiatives

By Megan G.

Happy Friday, Tekkies! :D 

Let’s end this week on a high note by covering some of the cool initiatives Google has been working on for kids!  

Amidst the Android voicemail update, Eddystone beacon project, and surprising GOOG stock market surges, Google has also created an online summer camp, joined forces with the White House to provide free broadband, and offered a coding summer school for youngsters!

July 16, 2015

Augmented Humanity: What's Up With Wearable Tech?

Two female athletes work out and use an Apple Watch to record their progress.
Athletes using the Apple Watch.  Original Image from Daily Tech.

By Megan G. 

A strange spell has been cast over my family.

At our latest familial gatherings, I have watched my aunts, cousins, and parents marching around the house, wearing trendy wristbands, comparing step counts on their mobile apps, and grumbling in discontent when another person has outpaced them.  What in the world has gotten into my kin?!

The answer, my Tekkie friends, is the allure of wearable technology.  My family has been overtaken by Fitbits, a popular brand of activity trackers… and I’m pretty sure they have secretly decided to get me my own digitized, wrist-encircling overlord.  Oh boy.

July 15, 2015

Google Feeds Your Shopping Addiction by Launching the Purchase Feature

The Google Logo at their headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

By Lauren C.

Do you have a secret online shopping addiction? Thanks to Google, you no longer have to hop to and from different websites like Amazon, Fry’s, or Oriental Trading Post to feed your hunger for the latest hot products. Google finally unveiled a new feature that allows users to make direct purchases from Google Search results, so your shopping experience became much simpler. You and millions of other online shopping addicts can finally make a purchase directly from Google-simply through the click of a mouse, or a tap of the finger.

The Tek Team talked about the Buy Button feature that Google was looking to unveil this past May. After some time, Google announced that they named it “Purchase,” and details regarding the feature are finally being relayed to the public right now. Basically, when you see an advertisement for a product that you’re interested in on search results, you will be able to click on the product and select a checkout option to purchase the item.

So far, there are about a dozen participants in the Purchase feature. If Google succeeds in this endeavor, the hope is that number will rapidly increase. Here are four other new features that Google is launching that cater towards shopping addicts:

July 14, 2015

Innovator of the Month: Chris Messina

A cartoon tag shows the Twitter logo with the text "#hashtag" underneath.  A photo of Chris Messina smiles next to it.
Courtesy of blog.hubspider.com

By Lauren C.

Who is Chris Messina?

Chris Messina is a former Google designer and also the inventor of the ubiquitous Twitter hashtag. He is well-known for helping to create the BarCamp, or user-generated conferences focused around technology, as well as promoting the spread of Firefox. Prior to working with Google, he was employed as an open source advocate at a company called Vidoop, and was also a co-founder of a marketing agency called Citizen Agency.

Moreover, Messina is famous for sending out an infamous tweet that inspired a generation of people to write #blessed on their Twitter accounts. In 2007, Messina sent this out: “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg)?” The purpose was to categorize tweets so users could search for keywords and find information pertaining to specific topics.

July 13, 2015

Google Search Adds a New Knowledge Graph Review Feature

By Nick K. 

Throughout the years, Google has continued to find innovative ways to enhance user experience with answering search queries. One of Google’s greatest search advancements was the development of the “Knowledge Graph,” which they began compiling back in 2012. The Knowledge Graph is primarily used to answer specific search queries in a visually appealing way. Most of you have already seen Knowledge Graph results before. A Knowledge Panel filled with info on a celebrity, topic, famous person, or retail item appears to the right of your search results, as you can see below. When searching for a purchasable product, for example, relevant information about the product searched will include “brand, price, and type of products to its store outlets.”

Recently, Google has further upgraded their Knowledge Panels so that they now include customer review scores and snippets of customer testimonies answering common questions like, price, features, and quality. True to this kind of Knowledge Graph results, it can only been seen when searching for specific products, such as an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S6. This new product review section is located at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel. 

July 10, 2015

Is It Right For Google Maps to Avoid Left Turns?

A "Left Turn Lane" sign has fallen onto an urban street.  A bike rides away from it.
Courtesy of: Jen Gallardo / Flickr

By Joseph A.

Traffic safety has long been an issue in New York City.  With the newly-started Vision Zero attempting to make streets safer, some policymakers have embraced the three E’s: education, enforcement, and engineering. 

While engineering is usually interpreted as involving street design elements, a new idea from New York City Council members expands the concept to include software. 

Can you imagine if you could program driving safety into the same tools that assist driver navigation?

July 9, 2015

Customer Question: How Can I Receive Online Reviews for My Business?

By Nick K. 

TekShouts! continues our Customer Question of the Month series with another common query from eGumball, Inc. clients. Each month we answer common customer questions and provide insights on how to further grow your business online!

This month’s question is: “How come whenever my customers leave a review on my business using my business computer, they are later taken down?”

Let’s begin by discussing how to even receive an online review in the first place. When it comes to having a successful online presence for your business, there is a series of checklist of items to complete to ensure its success. First, you should create a Google My Business account for your company so that people are able to find it on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+. Web users will also be able to find your business’ reviews when they search for specific keywords to your work. Next, you verify your business listing with Google to increase your business credibility and page ranking.

July 8, 2015

How Emojis Help Business and Social Media Presence

Four bouncy balls painted with different emotions:  happiness, fright, apathy, and curiosity.

By Justin H.

As with any new and fun creation in this world, novelty inevitably wears off. Think about that barrel of monkeys you played with as a kid or the video game you just had to have for Christmas. They were fun for five minutes before you moved onto the next toy or gadget.

Sometimes this hedonic treadmill we all live on stops for something truly great that we still love after those initial five minutes. Of course, I am talking about the glory of emojis.

These cute little faces are commonly associated with texting on smartphones, but as that novelty went out the window, their unprofessional and childish stigma went out right along with it. We have previously detailed how Google has put the personality back into email by adding emojis and new themes to Gmail. See? Even huge, influential tech companies are jumping on the smiley face bandwagon.

When iOS 10 is released, we will be blessed with 74 brand new emojis! How we've survived this long without an avocado emoji, I simply don't know. The year 2015 also brought us the Kim Kardashian emojis, which you can purchase as well if you hate yourself.

But why stop there? Emojis aren’t only used to add charisma to a conversation. They are also vital tools when it comes to boosting a brand or business.

Why So Serious? Show Your Customers and Employees the Real You

Imagine texting somebody you don’t know all that well as opposed to messaging your best friend. Your buddy will surely understand all of your sarcasm or quips, whereas they could go right over the head of a new compadre. This ideology is just as applicable in the workplace as it is amongst your friends.

When it comes to written communication, many aspects such as tone, humor and emotions can easily get lost in translation. Emojis serve as a subtle way of emphasizing whatever mood you would like to convey.

According to Will Schwalbe, co-author of the email etiquette book Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better, “The biggest problem about all electronic communication is that it’s toneless. In the absence of tone, people read negative tone into it.”

Quick history lesson: It is believed that the first ever Internet emoticon was sent by professor Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University at 11:44 a.m. on Sep. 19, 1982. On a computer science department bulletin board, he simply posted, “I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-). Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use: :-(.“

This certainly foreshadowed a trend. The way businesses communicate with their customers is shifting. Social media and live chat are more common than ever before, while the good old fashioned email still maintains its professional importance. What better way to establish a friendly working relationship with a customer than with some light-hearted smileys?

The same goes for around the office. If you get an email from upper management stating, “Meeting at 3. Don’t be late,” you can pretty much assume you’re all getting fired. However, “Meeting at 3. Don’t be late B)” implies you are all doing great, and you can look forward to a simple gathering to discuss how awesome you all are. Sunglasses optional.

Establish Your Brand on Social Media

Obviously, there is a time and place for emojis. If a customer has a complaint or if you are exchanging emails with a client or business associate for the first time, handle it professionally and without emojis.

However, social media is that time and place to get your emoji on.

Instagram reports show that nearly half of all captions and comments on the photo-sharing site now contain at least one emoji. This other emoji study from Fusion.net shows which 10 emojis were most popular, with the always enjoyable heart earning top billing. If your business is looking to build a strong presence on everyone’s favorite photo platform, it might be time to get serious about emojis.

Emojis are not exclusive to Instagram, either. This University of Cambridge study analyzed over 31 million tweets and 500,000 Facebook posts, also finding that the use of positive emojis linked to social power. Considering how smartphones have overthrown desktops when it comes to Internet searches (and the fact that most people update Facebook and tweet from on mobile), having social power and developing your brand is crucial.

Google+ takes the emoji game one step further. If you include emojis in your Google+ post, they will show up in Google search results. We knew you were hip, Google!

Social media is supposed to be exactly that: social! You can’t be social without showing emotions and being relatable. It behooves businesses that target millennials to embrace emojis across the board. Including one in a simple tweet or Facebook post every now and then could be all it takes to humanize your brand and appeal to your niche market.

Implementing emojis into the workplace can have an array of positive impacts. Your emails will be more pleasant. Your brand will be more fun. Those social media accounts will be more interactive. These little faces could be all it takes to have your customers, followers and employers all looking much more like a happy emoji!

Do you send emojis at work or use them in your marketing strategy? If so, in what capacity? Feel free to let us know in the comment section!

*Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated.

July 7, 2015

Put Personality Back into Email with Gmail’s Latest Appearance Upgrades!

By Joseph A.

We all know that email will never die, it’s too important in both our professional and private affairs. But to be quite honest, after checking and sending out emails all day at the office, email isn’t all that fun when we come home at the end of the day. In fact, email really isn’t fun at all when you think about it. 

However, Google is set to announce some Gmail improvements to make it feel more “personal and fun” by integrating emojis and new themes!

July 6, 2015

Where Will You Go With Google My Maps?

By Megan G. 

Sometimes pranksters ruin the fun for everyone.  The childish spam attacks conducted on Google Map Maker back in May, which included an image of a Google Android relieving itself on an Apple Logo, resulted in Google shutting down the popular tool until further notice.  

Since then, web users have been without a way to customize and create their own content on Google Maps… or have they?

What is Google My Maps?
Apparently, an application called Google My Maps has existed somewhere for quite awhile, though many people have never heard of it.  I know I hadn’t.  

Today is a new day, however!  According to the Official Google for Work Blog, the Google My Maps app is now getting some fresh exposure on Google Drive.