Microsoft Lumia 950: It Could Be Better

The Lumia 950 is Microsoft's attempt to turn your phone into something like a full-on Windows PC. It is built to move you to the next level of worker productivity. Unfortunately it comes up a little short.

The first Windows 10 device is designed to extend the benefits of the Windows experience to the smart phone. The goal is to use the phone to power a desk type experience to a monitor. This includes syncing office documents and photos across all your devices and connecting with the Windows store so your favorite apps, game, music and video are all in one place.

On the plus side, the phone does have a nice quad HD display, 5.2 inches, 564 pixels per square inch. USB-C for fast charging and a large capacity battery. The attractive display is easy to read outdoors. It is scratch resistant with a strong display glass.

Photo quality is on-par with the best smartphones. "Rich Capture" provides a triple LED natural flash. You can adjust the color saturation levels of bright or dark areas. A 20 MP sensor attempts to effectively eliminate motion blur. The quality camera image holds up even in low light.

The phone is constructed of plastic, a negative for some. The battery can be removed and it does has a microSD card slot which many phones do not. The Cortana voice assistant is also included.

Microsoft's secret sauce to all this is the Windows Continuum. The goal is to connect your Lumia 950 to a Microsoft Display Dock and use it with an external monitor, keyboard and a mouse. Office apps and Outlook can be scaled up to create a big screen optimized work environment. The idea is maintain productivity even without a laptop.

The Continuum feature is not really available in Android or iPhone devices. It will take some finesse to get it set up and some experimentation with the right type of cables etc. to make it work.

Once you have it together and working, whether it be in a hotel room or conference area, you can share a PowerPoint presentation or a video on large screen. When done you can undock your phone. Then you can resume working on the same project in a matter of minutes.

Many report problems with typing on the device. Automated spell check is not available. It will take longer to correct errors.

Windows 10 brings a few other additions to the Lumia 950. One is Windows Hello, now in beta mode. Hello is iris-scanning recognition software. It works by just starting into the phone.

App selection for a Windows phone still remains challenging. The platform is not supported by Google. Those who rely on Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Docs will have to find third party applications or go directly to the web for usage.

Pricing starts at $ 550 in the US and will be determined by carrier. A larger 5.7 "inch XL version is scheduled to be introduced later and will cost more.

The 950 is a good start for Microsoft to bring more productivity to the smart phone, but not the end result many were expecting. Unfortunately the design is not really anything new, Continuum set-up can be challenging, and a lack of apps is troublesome.

Windows fans may seize the opportunity to jump on the Lumia bandwagon and work through some of the phone's shortcomings.

Others will wait until Microsoft fixes some of the inherit problems with not only the phone but the Continuum system itself before giving it a more serious look.

There Are Famous Clocks in America, Too

When anyone mentions famous clocks, they probably think of Big Ben. This is most likely because the Clock Tower of Big Ben in London is the most recognized clock in the world. The clock tower was constructed in the 1830s, and the monument still retains the title of the World’s Largest 4-Faced Chiming Clock, even though it is no longer the largest clock in the world. You may not know it, but the United States has some landmark clocks, too.

The world’s largest four-faced clock is located in Milwaukee, WI. In fact, the clock faces of the Allen-Bradley clock are around twice the diameter of Big Ben. No chimes have been added to this clock so that Big Ben can keep the title of largest chiming clock. Each hour hand on this magnificent clock is 15.8 feet long and weighs 490 pounds while the minute hands are 20 feet long and weigh 530 pounds each. In addition, the numerals on the clock faces are 4 feet high.

Another large landmark timepiece is the Colgate Clock. At 40′ in diameter, it’s the largest single clock in North America. This clock is located at the Colgate-Palmolive plant which was the Indiana Reformatory for Men prior to being bought and renovated in 1923. Therefore, the Colgate Clock has been considered to be a major southern Indiana landmark for over seven decades.

The Loew’s Jersey movie palace has another architectural clock that is renowned in American history. The builders of the facility wanted to attract attention to their building. They decided that since it’s located in an area where thousands of shoppers and commuters were always rushing by that they could best attract attention by adding a clock designed by the famous clock maker, Seth Thomas. This gorgeous timepiece includes one of the few moving figure clocks that’s you can see on the east coast. The figures depicted St. George slaying the dragon, an accomplishment which was repeated every quarter hour accompanied by bells.

You need to visit Seattle in order to tour its famous Clock Walk. Free standing clocks with cast iron pedestals began to be erected as an advertising medium in the 1860s and ’70s. By the 1920s there were so many street clocks in Seattle that people began to refer to it as the “City of Clocks”. Although a number of the clocks have been removed in the past three decades, Seattle is still considered to have one of the most significant collections of street clocks in the country.

Buried in the small, central plains town of Spillville, IA, you will find the home of the Bily Brothers clocks. These two farmers whiled away the long winter hours starting back in 1913 by crafting some of the most unique floor clocks you can ever hope to see. Their first clock, produced in 1916, featured appearance of the 12 apostles every hour. The brothers were adamant about keeping their collection together. Even when Henry Ford offered a small fortune for one of their clocks, the Bily Brothers refused to sell. The entire collection was bequeathed to the small, nearby town of Spillville with the provision that the collection never be sold or separated.

If you really want to feel the scope of American clock making, you can visit the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, CT. This museum houses over 1400 unique timepieces, most of which were made in the USA. The majority of the clocks are still running and chiming, so when the time comes around to 12 Noon, this is one of the louder sites you can visit.

As you can see, clock making is a favorite pastime of the American people as well as the British. By traveling throughout this great country of ours, you’ll be able to find numerous lovely timepieces that have become part of our heritage.

Facebook Holiday Marketing Tips

Holiday shopping is right around the corner. And where do people like to talk about their consumer conquests? On Facebook, of course! With more than a billion users, Facebook is definitely going to be abuzz with the talk of shopping for friends and family.

Year after year, more consumers are turning to online shopping in order to avoid the crush of so many others at brick and mortar stores. If you have a business that sells a lot of products online, then you certainly need to have a good Facebook holiday marketing strategy. Even if your main focus is on in-store sales, a good social media plan can help boost traffic to your business.

Here are some tips that will help you with a strong holiday marketing plan on Facebook:

Show your holiday spirit

No one wants to see a constant stream of product plugging in their News Feed during this time of year. Use your time to increase the holiday spirit among your followers.

Post holiday-themed trivia. Make a top ten list of the best holiday movies. Offer tips for decorating the home or how to make the best hot chocolate. Another great idea is to ask followers to submit their favorite holiday photos to include in a Facebook album.

Hold special contests and sweepstakes

This is certainly the time of year when people appreciate a good contest. Contests are an excellent way for businesses to boost engagement and broaden their reach. It is also helpful in collecting more email addresses for your list to use all year.

There are several third-party apps that make it easy to set up a Facebook contest.

Be sure to offer something that is both desirable and related to your business. It might be awesome to give away a new iPad, but you are more likely to end up with short-term followers than people interested in you for the long-term.

Give valuable coupons

Another thing that people love during the holidays is to save money. Use Facebook coupons as a way to get more people excited to shop with you.

Coupons are a great way to increase customer loyalty. Having them on Facebook also makes them easy to share, so you can see an increase in your followers quickly.

A good coupon can be anything from a great BOGO offer to free shipping.

Focus more on mobile

A large percentage of social media users access their sites through a mobile device. That is why it is so important to make sure that every marketing campaign that you create works just as well when it is mobile.

Include eye-catching images, videos, and short text in your posts. Be sure to check the mobile news feed option when you pay for Facebook ads. Always insert a good call-to-action.

Speaking of calls-to-action, Facebook is now offering marketers a unique call-to-action button for ads, such as a "Shop Now" button.

Open a pop-up shop

During the holidays, it might be worthwhile for your business to create a temporary pop-up shop. This is good for new products that you are promoting or even just a listing of your top selling items.

Give them more

When people order from you at this time of year, it is always a good idea to give them a little something extra. This could be a coupon for a future purchase, a free item, or even a simple thank you note.

Small gestures like these will leave the customer with a positive impression. They could then post about their positive experience with you on their own Facebook page for their friends and family to see.

The right Facebook holiday marketing strategy is the gift that keeps on giving. When you do it well, you will create lasting relationships with your customers that extend well past the holiday season.

Are you ready for social media holiday marketing?

Perfect Europe Vacation Planning

Are you planning to go on a Europe Vacation some day? If so, you have picked an excellent place to venture to, as Europe has great cultural and historical significance, making it a hot locale for travelers. Places like Berlin, London, Venice, Nice, and Paris are very popular for people taking trips abroad. I have some tips for you, expert information, about how you can make your trip to Europe an experience you will never forget.

Keep an Open Mind

You should never settle on a rigid itinerary for your vacation. By traveling to a foreign location, you are giving yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture and lifestyle than what you are accredited to. For that reason, you should try looking into short-term rentals on homes and apartments. It is actually a very common practice in that part of the world, and you will find that renting is much cheaper than hotels or resorts. This will give you the opportunity to go into the streets and meet people, allowing you to learn more about the people and lifestyle of that country. That is the best way to have an unforgettable experience.

Stability

If you are looking for a more stable vacation, sometimes you should contact a travel agent and purchase a vacation package. Packages range in price, but you may be able to find a sale if you look hard enough. A discount package price will allow you to save more money for spending while you're in Europe. The benefit of vacation packages is that they will make sure you are on tours that explore all of the major attractions of a location, allowing for a worry- free vacation.

Bargain Vacations

The true key to getting a discount on a vacation, no matter where you go, is flexibility. You can save a great deal by taking advantage of bargains that only come up at certain times of the year and at certain places. These vacations are great if you can be flexible with:

* Which of the airlines you choose

* Which cruises you want to go on

* What you want to eat

* Where you want to stay

* When you want you leave

For example, if you have no particular goal in mind, but you just want to see Europe, then you will be able to find cheaper rates for traveling and staying in certain nations. Do not wait until the last-minute to start planning your vacation!

Stretching Every Dollar (or Euro)

Keep in mind that in other countries, prices are often times negotiable. Depending on where you go, especially in countries with weaker economies, you can often times haggle on the prices of your purchases, which will help you save a lot. This usually does not work with large-scale franchise businesses, but will almost always work with small local businesses.

Also, if you choose to eat at restaurants, a local restaurant is good in this respect because they will generally offer you lower prices then places that you are accredited to seeing in America. Remember, if you really want to make the most of your European vacation, then save money every chance you get, it will allow you to spend more on the things you like!