Forget a New Bike, Get Your Kids a 3-D Printer this Holiday Season!

What holiday gifts do kids want these days? A new bike or an iPad? How about their very own 3-D printer.

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Qubea, a 3-D printing firm launched a new affordable 3-D printer for kids called the Rever. Normally, 3-D printers will cost a few thousand dollars, but the Rever now costs $229 and will eventually retail for $399. That’s cheaper than an iPad or an XBox One. This affordable 3-D printer allows for children to explore the world of 3-D printing by creating useable objects. It’s essentially a toy maker. Almost anything a kid may want can be created with the touch of a button. The company hopes to expose children to industrial design to foster creative thinking and an early interest in the field. The Rever even comes in white, red, blue, and yellow to appeal to a wide range of kids.

3_qubea-design-affordable-3d-printer-kids-project-kickstarter-5The device is paired with its child-friendly Rever app that allows kids to easily design the object they want. With just a wifi connection, the printer receives the design and starts printing. The app comes with many pre-set designs and the company hopes to work with toy makers and designers to add even more. The app also lets kids know when materials are running low or if there is something obstructing the printing area.

Traditionally, 3-D printers have exposed dangerous heating elements and sharp instruments, but the Rever encloses these elements while it prints. It has a transparent shield that swings down and locks while the printer prints. This eliminates injury by hot or sharp parts, but it also allows for kids to see the printing process. The filament, which is the plastic ingredient that is heated and formed into the 3-D objects, is non-toxic. This means that kids can create cups and bowls and actually use them to eat out of. Qubea has yet to set age restrictions for the product, but as long as there is adult supervision any aged child could be part of this safe and kid-friendly 3-D printing process.

Currently, Qubea is trying to raise funding to develop and produce the 3-D printers with a Kickstarter. They have raised almost $60,000 in 28 days and are well on their way to reaching their goal of $120,000. Once they reach their goal, the printers will be sold through retailers for $399.

The product and app are very well thought out and innovative, however, Qubea’s marketing department needs a wake-up call. This introductory video for the Rever shows very strong gender stereotypes. The boy wants to be a superhero, but the girls only want to be a prom queen and a little lady, whatever that means. The girls end up creating high heels and jewelry and the boy creates airplanes and a superhero costume. Why is the company limiting what kids create to these weird and outdated stereotypes? For such a forward-thinking tech company, Qubea needs to step up their marketing game and get in touch with what kids really want to create before the Rever hits retailers.

Once all the kinks are worked out, I foresee this product becoming a huge success in not only the industrial design industry but the toy industry as well. It is the most inexpensive, safe, and kid-friendly of its kind. Don’t be surprised if it makes it way onto your kids’ holiday wish list this season!

6 Ways to Turn Short Term Holiday Shoppers into Loyal Customers

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Around the later months of the year, retailers experience an influx of new customers online and in store due to holiday shopping. These customers are scouring the web and malls looking for the best deal on the best gift. They are even willing to enter territory, or stores, they have never entered before. This presents retailers with new customers and new visits to websites. All these new customers produce a great opportunity for growth for retailers if they can convert them into year-long customers.

However, holiday shoppers have proven to be unpredictable customers. They often have high bounce rates from stores and websites, which can be due to outside factors, such as time constraints and stress. They also tend to be easily influenced and indecisive, which can either be a great thing for retailers or can also contribute to high bounce rates. target-blackfriday2014Black Friday is a time when massive numbers of new customers arise, but these are their own breed of customer. These people are willing to wait in the line of a store they have committed to for hours, usually in the cold to grab the best deals. They are intense but dedicated, which could be a good foundation for a potentially loyal customer. It is beneficial for retailers to deal with the inconsistency of holiday shoppers because they create a huge potential for consumer growth. If a company snags just a fraction of their new holiday customers that could mean growing their customer base by thousands of new loyal customers. So how do retailers get holiday shoppers to stay?

Here are 6 ways to turn short term holiday (online and in store) shoppers into loyal customers:

1. Go above and beyond.

It doesn’t take much to make an impression on a customer, just small gestures can make a customer feel appreciated and wanting to return. Make customers feel like they matter even though it’s a crazy time of year. Give them something memorable such as a gift for shopping or a customized thank you. These small gestures take little effort and make all the difference.

2. Create memorable & shareable content

Video has become the best way to get information to consumers. Retailers and brands often create holiday themed videos to trigger customers to think about the season. This sets in the “hurry up and shop” panic that drives the holiday shopping season. These videos can create a fun and sometimes interactive experience that can be shared easily through social media. The videos do not have to be long at all, in fact, shorter videos are more easily shared by mobile. Below is a video from a Kate Spade’s holiday mini-series called, “#missadventure featuring Anna Kendrick. It is a short, fun video featuring a familiar face while showing off the brand’s seasonal pieces. Brick and mortar retailers should really focus on mobile content to connect with customers on the go, ideally right before customers visit their store.  

3. Take advantage of gift cards

Gift cards are the number one thing holiday shoppers are looking for, so make them available on the home page of a website or at the front of a store. They are more than likely being purchased as a gift, so retailers could also provide a gift incentive for the purchaser. For example, if it is a gift card to a restaurant, the gift giver could get a coupon for a free appetizer for themselves. It’s a little something special that is memorable, and they are more than likely going to purchase other food and drinks when they use the coupon.

4. Use analytics data

If analytics data is showing that a page has a high bounce rate, investigate! There may be navigation conflicts or customers may be ditching their full carts. Find out why these things are happening and fix them fast. Look at online and in-store user flows as well to see where customers are going and why. It is also wise to monitor and be involved in customer interactions on social media and in-store. Promptly respond to customer comments and concerns. 

5. Implement a low-effort customer rewards or loyalty program

screen322x572A lot of retailers have rewards cards, but they take up wallet room and customers are over them. Stores have developed apps to use in place of cards, but apps take up space and customers don’t want to download an app for every store they shop at. Apple has already created a digital wallet app that can store compatible store rewards “cards”, but not everyone is on board. Another option would be to take advantage of QR codes or barcodes that can be scanned at the register from the phone, possibly from a picture that’s saved in the phone’s photos. One photo takes up a minuscule amount of space on a phone and can be put in a folder with all the customers rewards “cards”. Create rewards that shoppers will want to rack up and receive year-round as well. 

 

6. Take advantage of returns

After the holidays, it is customer service’s job to really investigate the reasoning behind returns. Around the holidays, returns are more than likely unwanted gifts, but there is more to learn about why they were unwanted. Maybe it was a duplicate, or the consumer doesn’t like something about the product. This is a learning experience that needs to be taken advantage of. Even if it is the day after a holiday and the store is insanely busy, it’s a crucial moment to create a positive return experience so that the customer wants to come back to shop. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you convert holiday shoppers into loyal year-round customers.

Twitter’s Fallen Star

On Tuesday Twitter announced that they are changing their star icon into a heart and twitter users will now be able to “like” instead of “favorite” tweets. This change was made to create a more intuitive user experience similar to other social media sites. typingTwitter implemented hearts to track consumer interaction when they launched Periscope and now they are bringing them to Twitter and Vine to connect the three sites.

In Twitter’s announcement, they mention how using hearts brings emotion to the twitter world. Favoriting a tweet was always an arbitrary action that often confused newcomers. There was no concept of what favoriting really meant and why a star was relevant to that action. However, hearts are an internationally recognized symbol that are associated to things users like or even love thanks to other similar social sites. This may provoke a little more thought when users decide if they actually want to express that they like something via Twitter. The heart may prove to hold a little more weight than the fallen star used to, which may negatively effect user engagement.

What do you think of the new Twitter change? Do you “like” it?

Generation Lazy

THUMB_Chair-1What if you could lay down while on the job? Work would be way more enjoyable. Well for only $5900 you can buy the new horizontal workstation designed by Altwork and experience a luxurious work experience. It allows people that normally work at a desk in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day to lay back and relax while completing their daily tasks. Given your company approves of this alternative workspace, you could be designing the next big app while looking like you’re taking a nap.

Is this really a productive way to work? Knowing my work ethic, I would more than likely fall asleep which would really hurt my level of productivity. I would need twice as much coffee to keep my eyes open, but the device does have a cup holder so I’d be able to support all the additional caffeine.

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With productivity aside, laying down 8 more hours a day than usual must impact a person’s body. I have no medical experience, but I know that laying down affects blood circulation and heart rate. Eight hours is a long time to be horizontal and that’s added to the 8 hours you would already be horizontal while sleeping. However, it may not be that much different than sitting stagnant at a traditional desk. Altwork actually makes the claim that laying back is better for posture and overall health. The device does adjust so that you can stand, sit or lay down so users can find the best position for their body.

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If these devices become super popular I imagine there will be backlash and disgust from the older crowd. I can already hear “back in my day we were on our feet all day!”, which yeah you probably were, but wouldn’t you have rather been laying down? Maybe “Millennials” are becoming too lazy for their own good or maybe they are just geniuses.

Regardless, I don’t know if I’ll take advantage of this new workspace if it becomes the norm. I like laying down as much as the next person, but I don’t think my employer would enjoy paying me to nap.

Are women the missing piece of the Computer Science code?

Grace Hopper, the woman who developed the first computer program that transforms source code into binary code. (a huge break through in programming) She also coined the term "debugging".
Grace Hopper, the woman who developed the first computer program that transforms source code into binary code. (a huge breakthrough in programming) She also coined the term “debugging”.

Computers have existed before both of my parents were born, but I can remember when it became normal for average families to have one in the home. Now, 83.8% of U.S. households reported that they own at least one computer in a 2013 Census Report. Even if computers aren’t available in the home, they contribute to all aspects of life from education to healthcare. They have revolutionized how people live and they will continue to do so in the future.

Computer programming was always a diverse industry consisting of men and women engineers. But, when the home computer became popular, there was a shift in the workforce. Women programmers almost disappeared.

According to code.org, by 2020, 1.4 million new computer science jobs will be available to the public. However, it’s predicted that there will only be 400,000
computer science students in 2020. That results in 1,000,000 jobs that need to be filled and a shortage of qualified programmers. Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 12.06.46 PMOnly 2.4% of U.S. college students graduate with a degree in computer science and only 15% of those graduates are women. Why did this happen? Where did they all go?

At some point in the last 30 years, women lost interest in coding. The best guess as to why this happened traces back to how home computers were marketed in the 1980s. The home computer was targeted to young boys who were interested in science and math and felt excluded as “the nerd” or “geek”. Pop culture began to present an opportunity for the nerd and geek to find solace in a new hobby through recently accessible computers. Computer games were the main selling point that provided a nonacademic escape for young boys. Soon boys were experts at how to use computers and began to have an understanding of how they work. A majority of young girls weren’t included in this new exploration of computer game software. Below is a RadioShack ad from the 80s targeted towards young boys, take note that the sister looks on, but doesn’t play.

Boys had begun to surpass girls’ knowledge of computer science which negatively affected young women’s decisions to pursue higher education in computer science. Women made up 37% of all computer science graduates in 1984 but only makeup 15% today. If they were interested in math or science, they went on to study physical sciences, such as biology and chemistry. Soon the field became almost entirely male dominated.

Today’s culture expects a high level of success from women at a young age. They must be presentable, polished and intelligent if they expect to be treated  professionally equal to men. Confidence was lost in women who wanted to pursue a career in computer science and engineering, forcing them to believe they weren’t good enough and that it was too hard. As Ellen Ullman stated in the New York Times article, How to be a ‘Women Programmer’, along with a lack of confidencethere are things all programmers and coders need that women sometimes lack today.

“The first requirement for programming is a passion for the work, a deep need to probe the mysterious space between human thoughts and what a machine can understand; between human desires and how machines might satisfy them.

The second requirement is a high tolerance for failure. Programming is the art of algorithm design and the craft of debugging errant code. In the words of the great John Backus, inventor of the Fortran programming language: ‘You need the willingness to fail all the time. You have to generate many ideas and then you have to work very hard only to discover that they don’t work. And you keep doing that over and over until you find one that does work.”

Passion is the first step to embarking on any career. However, even if the passion is there, it is not enough to motivate women to plunge into the coding world if they lack confidence. Computer science is just that, a science. It requires practice and as Backus stated above, a willingness to fail. Women are often scared to fail. I myself get frustrated and become hesitant to try again. But, we need to teach girls and women that it is okay to fail. It’s not the end of the world. Instead, it just rules out one more invalid solution, which gets you one step closer to the correct one. This mental shift will allow for huge breakthroughs for women in coding and programming.

As stated before, the computer science field is male dominated. This can be intimidating for women who want to enter the field. However, this shouldn’t be intimidating. Men are just people, they are just as flawed as women are. This is 2015, we know that women and men can coexist in the workplace to efficiently produce revolutionary work. Why do women still lack the confidence to compete in not only the computer science realm but in all industries. Women need to know that just because they don’t see a lot of successful female programmers, it is possible to become one. Andrew Meltzoff touches on this point in a University of Washington study about stereotypes of women in coding.

“Our work uncovers a kind of double whammy that discourages women from the field — a combination of false stereotypes about women’s abilities, coupled with a narrow view of the culture of the field and who can be successful computer scientists,”

It’s clear that this is the problem, but how do we get girls and women excited about coding and programming again?

In my opinion, computer science is providing the biggest opportunity for women since women’s suffrage. Women can gain leverage enough to not only participate in but potentially dominate a hugely progressive workforce. We just need to start empowering girls and women early on so that they are confident enough to jump into a demanding, but rewarding career, even if they are scared. We have to provide them with resources so that they can get involved at a young age to have an upper hand in the industry once they start their career.

Reshma Saujani founder and CEO of Girls Who Code along with a few girls coding in a GWC course.
Reshma Saujani founder and CEO of Girls Who Code along with a few girls coding in a GWC course.

As Ullman stated in her New York Times article, “computer science, hardware and software engineering, the creation of operating systems and deep algorithms [are] the levels at which the future of technology is being defined.” This is the where technology is going, women can not afford to pass up on this revolution. It’s now or never.

To learn more about computer programming or coding here are some great resources that offer affordable or FREE courses!

Girl Develop It! – Located in Burlington!

ADA Developers Academy

Black Girls Code

Codebar.io

Code Chix

Code First Girls

Girls Learning Code

Girls Who Code

Hackbright Academy

Hacking For Women

Ladies Learning Code

PyLadies

Rails Bridge

Rails Girls

SkillCrush

TechGirlz

Women’s Coding Collective

What is happening to dating?

http://chinabuzzreport.com/2015/02/5-alternatives-dating-apps-to-tinder-in-china/
http://chinabuzzreport.com/2015/02/5-alternatives-dating-apps-to-tinder-in-china/

It would be difficult to find a young adult that hasn’t used a dating app or at least downloaded one. As of February 2015, Dailymail.com reports over 91 million people use dating apps around the world. 70% of those users are between 16 and 34 years old. Dating apps have become a way to shop for your next “Netflix and chill” buddy without changing out of your sweatpants. It’s much less effort than getting ready, going out then finding someone to have an awkward drunk conversation with who you may end up having nothing in common with. By developing a profile that links to your social media accounts and your phone’s GPS, you can view your common interests and places before meeting with your matches. Not to mention you know right away if they are into you, which eliminates uncertainty and levels the playing field. Dating apps have rescued dating life for lazy or socially inept young adults everywhere.

Tinder, the leading dating app, has acquired over 8 billion matches and gets 16,000 swipes a second as of June 2015. This translates to 195 million matches per month. They were only reaching 50 million a month in October 2014. App dating is becoming a new movement and almost everyone is jumping on board.

However, one can’t ignore the lingering social stigma. The number of users has increased for dating apps, but that doesn’t mean people feel less guilty for using them. Two of my close friends met on Tinder two years ago and still hesitate when they’re asked how they met. They usually tell people they met at a concert and hope they leave it at that. Why do they feel that they have to lie? Pew Research Center’s new study shows that soon they won’t feel as though they have to.

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Pew’s study revealed that the stigma behind online and app dating has diminished in the past few years and will continue to become more socially acceptable. Now users can even see people they know in real life who are also using the apps. This pokes holes in this stigma by reassuring people that they aren’t alone. The stigma is deflating for romantic relationships, but what about hookups?

There has been a lot of controversy around the idea that dating apps are ruining traditional dating. It is believed that a growing group of 20-somethings are no longer interested in meeting someone in person, asking them out and then developing a relationship. It’s too much work and the end goal is in fact, a relationship. A phobia has developed among young adults towards relationships and a new “hookup culture” has emerged. This new culture results in the actually preferred end result for these relationship phobic young adults, sex. The “hookup culture” touches on other social issues such as slut shaming and double standards for different genders. There are added stigmas that come with this newly explored culture that may create more barriers for people trying to find connections on dating apps. However, this new dating technology is breaking down social barriers faster than society is creating stigmas.

Using technology to throw personal data on a mass level at potential suitors has created a dating experience that is almost incomparable to traditional dating. Online personal profiles have been used for years on online dating sites and social media. Now, dating apps have compacted and transformed this info into a mini personal advertisement. Users show their face, some information about their likes and interests, a catchy slogan and hope for the best. It’s like speed dating that requires even less effort. You just move your finger to accept or reject the person in front of you. But, what are these snap decisions telling us about where dating is going? Are dating apps actually ruining traditional dating?

Every bit of user information is collected by the apps through user profiles, connected social media accounts, and phone GPS data. Date selection is also recorded which allows for companies to learn more about how users are deciding on the people they are connecting with. Dating apps are taking advantage of mobile technology and digital analytics to piece together an algorithm for love and/or lust to provide a more efficient user experience. Tinder, having the most data available, has started to notice that males searching for females are predictable, but females searching for males are extremely unpredictable. There are too many variables involved in nailing down why women pick who they pick.

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Traditional dating has faced this same problem since human relationships began. It’s the uncertainty of whether someone likes you or not. In traditional dating, people have to take a risk to find this out. Today, fewer people are willing to take this risk. Fortunately for these people, technology has provided them with a low risk and automatic cop-out. Dating apps have also lessened the burn of rejection. Digital rejection lasts maybe seconds and doesn’t involve an awkward face-to-face interaction. Clearly technology is changing the way we pick our potential partners, but this isn’t something that we should fear as a society.

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Social change has always sparked fear of the unknown in society, much like the internet caused when it launched. Dating apps are not here to take over the dating scene and ruin human interaction. They were made to make interacting easier and more convenient. Clearly there was a demand for an increase in accessibility of eligible lovers. There are over 7 billion people in the world and there is no way one person could meet even a fraction of that in their lifetime. Technology has allowed for people to connect and meet with people they may have never had the chance of meeting, regardless of whether they lived in the same town or 3000 miles apart.

Let’s stop panicking!

Dating apps have just become part of the dating experience. In a decade or two, we won’t even be discussing dating apps, they will be the norm. By then, it’s likely that society will have phased them out completely and adopt an even newer dating technology that connects users even more efficiently and on a deeper level. The purpose of technology is to aid humans to become more efficient, it is not here to ruin the human experience. There will always be a need for in-person human interaction, without it, we go extinct. Fearing a downloadable app that lets you shop for dates is absurd and shouldn’t be what society uses to blame for the demise of human relations. There are way more pressing issues in the world interfering with human connections. So don’t feel guilty next time you swipe right or left, you are just an evolving human participating in progressive societal change.

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Free And Food Are The Best Words, But When You Put Them Together…

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Like most college towns, Burlington is filled with young people that love local food, drink, and the arts. There are tons of lively restaurants, bars, and venues that support this lifestyle, but Burlington takes it to the next level by taking the festivities outside.

At any given time of the year, there is an event being planned around local libation. The most popular time of year to hold events is during the season where Burlington’s landscape really shines, Autumn! Not only does the landscape shine, but the fruits of this vibrant town (and state) are at peak freshness. Everyone gravitates to festivals that offer access to all the local food & drink as well as art produced in and around Burlington. These types of festivals have always attracted families and older folk, but now there has been a new wave of interested twentysomethings. This is due to many festivals providing free admittance and vendors selling reasonably priced goods for local/high-quality products.

One festival that has taken advantage of free admittance is the Eat By Northeast Vermont Food Festival. EnteranceThis festival focuses on the farm to table concept which highlights the importance of locally grown food in Vermont. Vermont has always prided itself in taking advantage of all the food it grows and produces, so it is logical to hold a festival that honors this. Eat By Northeast honors local breweries and cideries as well as local musicians and artists. This attracts a younger crowd because we all know the youngins love fresh brews and free tunes.
The festival does hold events that have paid admission, but a majority of what the festival has to offer is free. The festival has it’s own Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and is advertised on Higher Ground Music‘s website every year. All of these are platforms in which twentysomethings in Burlington check for upcoming local events. Twentysomethings in Burlington have Couple httpswww.facebook.comEATXNEphotosms.c.eJxFzUEKADEIQ9EbDZrYpt7~;YoWR6vbxQxwwkBZOMEOfP4i9hGMNrOI07L~;QQBasgZrggaOKgbqlBpRp29igKuICIjMhjw~-~-.bps.a.1220233007990617.1073741835.8871146279691251220233044657280type=expressed that they too want fresh, local (and maybe free) food, drink, and art, and now Burlington has listened!