CNN’s use of ‘Holograms’

For those of us who were watching the election results last week on CNN, there was something new: ‘holograms’ were used to bring both reporter Jessica Yellin and rapper Will.i.am to the CNN press center in New York, although both were actually in Chicago at the time.

How did they do it? Sadly for Star Wars fans everywhere, the images were not true holograms – they were holographic images created using multiple high-definition cameras. It seemed as though Wolf Blitzer was able to conduct face-to-face interviews with Yellin and Will.i.am, and that their images were visible to those in the press center. In reality, the interviewees could only be seen on a monitor in the press room, and Blitzer use cues such as tape on the floor to know where to direct his questions.

Critics have remarked that the use of the holographic image technology was pointless in this situation, not really a hologram, and detracted from the ‘feel’ that comes from traditional on location interviews.

While the interviews did lack the scenery and background of the location due to the constraints of the technology, I don’t feel that CNN made a mistake here in choosing to debut it on that historic night. True, advantages of sending a reporter to a remote location are those background shots and sounds that can only be found there. However, CNN had plenty of other excellent footage from Chicago, and viewers were able to see what was going on without an interviewee standing in the way.

Additionally, I disagree with the idea that the technology makes sending a reporter pointless because of the lack of the background shots for viewers. Shouldn’t a reporter be able to relate what they’ve seen without having it right behind them? In this case, in which there wasn’t an action-packed car chase or a volcano erupting, I feel that it was actually very appropriate for CNN to focus on the interviewee and what they were saying.

There are some downsides to using the holographic image technology: as mentioned, ‘face-to-face’ remote interviews are still a few light years away, and the interviewee must stay in one spot during an interview. There is the risk of unethical use of the technology, in projecting realistic images onto shots without informing viewers. That being said, the upsides include more realistic remote interviews, without distractions.Is this the future of news media? If so, will Wolf start interviewing reporters in exotic locations from the comfort of his own home – two ‘holograms’ conversing in an empty press room?Not having participated in an interview like this myself, I can only guess that a lack of eye-contact and physical cues might detract from interviews. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing more ‘holograms’ in the future.

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Saving Green

With the current state of the economy, those of us who aren’t eco-friendly yet need to look into it – being environmentally savvy can save more than you think. The upsets of the financial markets in the United States are having effects across the globe; consumers everywhere are thinking again before making purchases, going a little longer before replacing things, and weighing the values of each purchase before heading to the checkout line. Depressing stuff, right? Luckily for people who think green, saving the planet can also mean saving dollars.

Here are some top tips I found that can help you conserve your dollars and the earth, chosen for their low-cost aspect and ease of adoption:

 

 1. Put on a sweater

Add degrees of warmth, and save money while you’re at it! Keep your heating bills down and enjoy sporting winter fashions at the same time. Layering is a really good idea for maintaining the temperature you want, wherever you go. Even if you’re just hanging around the house, putting on more clothes definitely beats turning up the thermostat when it comes the checkbook.      

Layer with one of each color ;-)

 

2. Stop drinking bottled water

Did you know that you can get bottled water for free, at home? All you have to do is take a bottle (preferably reusable) and fill it with water – from the tap. If you have a thirst emergency and you aren’t at home, or don’t own any bottles, hands work equally well as efficient (and free) cups. If you insisit on drinking bottled water, RECYCLE!

3. Cut back on meat

 

Yes, you can still get enough protein if you stop eating meat, or even reduce your consumption even one day a week. Eating less meat means saving lots of money – meat is pretty expensive compared to tofu, beans, vegetables, fruit, or grain staples. Additionally, cutting the fat for many people will mean saving on future medical bills as well – consider it a non-taxable investment in your personal health.

 

4. Keep your computer as long as possible, and recycle once you decide to buy a new one

 

Sure, we would all love to have the latest technology as soon as it comes out. This may be an option for some people, but a computer is a hefty investment to others. While your old machine may not be in the prime of its technological ‘life’, waiting to replace it saves the resources it would take to make it, the gas needed to transport it, and the moolah in your pocket from being spent. Upgrade your existing machine, and if it really is time to buy new, make sure to recycle your old computer appropriately.

 

5. Have a winter party!

 

Be resourceful: invite your friends over for a gathering, and harvest their body heat! Each guest is the equivalent of a 175-watt heater, so the more peeps you invite, the warmer your house (and your heart). Seriously though, at one point all of us have been in an unbearably hot bar or club and know that body heat gets places hot. There are no rules on feeding or watering your guests, so let them provide the hot air while you bask in the glow of free heat.

If you really want to be extra-green, consider trying to live a life in the day of this family. For those of you just trying to save a buck, I would recommend The Daily Green, The Budget Ecoist, or the Frugalist. I hope that this entry helps you save money, but more importantly, look at your spending habits and evaluate your consumption and its effects on the environment. If you do end up saving so much money that you want to share the wealth, contact me and we can arrange an (eco-friendly) e-Transfer.

Out of the Loopt

Loopt is a social networking tool that enables users to connect, share, and explore using their mobile phones. On the Eco-Friendly Internship blog I previously discussed mobile marketing – Loopt offers subscribers the chance to become mobile marketers, of themselves and of places and events they recommend. An interesting feature of Loopt is that it can alert you when a friend is nearby, effectively turning your phone into a social compass. You can also use Loopt to give a heads’ up about a great place or event in your area, and in turn use your friends’ recommendations to find new activities you might enjoy. To learn more, you can take a tour.

To use Loopt, you need to first make sure that its technology will work with your phone. You also might want to check out their pricing policies, as well as your mobile providers’ messaging rates (Loopt currently requires the use of SMS text messages). Once you have established that Loopt is compatible and affordable for you, you can register your phone, verify your phone number, and download Loopt to your mobile.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish exploring all the Loopt has to offer – upon receiving the ten digit code necessary to verify my phone number I entered it into the appropriate field but my code was rejected by the site. I re-sent the code to my mobile in the hopes that I would receive a new code, or that the site would recognize the old code if I sent it again, but still no luck. There is a forum to post questions, problems, and discussions, but in order to use it you must create yet another user account.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Loopt; until then, my social compass is out of commission.

A Green Fall

With autumn upon us, what are some seasonal eco-friendly tips that can be used to make this year even more sustainable and energy efficient?

Home at Yellow advises you to harness the power of the sun; keep your blinds or curtains open during the day to let in light and heat your home, for free! Once the sun goes down, pull the shades to keep out cold drafts and add an extra layer of insulation to your windows.

When leaves begin to change their colors, it is a welcome sign that fall has arrived. Leaves that fall all over the yard, however, are not such a soothing sight as they symbolize work to come, and raking to do. What to do with the piles of leaves before they blow back onto your lawn? Throw them away? Burn them? These options aren’t really the most eco-friendly disposal methods. Instead, look into composting your leaves, as it keeps waste to a minimum.

Compost your yard waste!

Compost your yard waste!

If you or family members are going back to school or the office, make sure that your supply shopping is eco-friendly as well. If possible, re-use supplies from last year, and purchase products that use recycled materials. Smencils are a great example of an innovative green product that even kids can get excited about, as well as fundraise for their schools. And who doesn’t love a smelly pencil?

Tips from Environmentally Friendly Hybrid Green Cars include remembering to switch off all electrical units such as the sound system, heating system, compartment lights, and headlights to reduce drain on your car battery as well as maintenance costs. If you are able to park your car in a covered garage as the weather gets colder, your car will take less time to heat up. Additionally, even if your car is cold, don’t use the seat warmer! This luxury feature sucks up tons of energy, so use it very sparingly.

For those of us who live in cooler climates, autumn means saying goodbye to summer and preparing for the snow and ice of winter – but by making eco-friendly choices in your everyday life, you can stay green all year long.

The Real (Digital) World

As a current student at Michigan State University, one subject of intense interest to myself and my fellow students is graduation, and how to prepare for it. Taking those first steps from university to the real world can be intimidating, and many current students are unsure of how to make a smooth transition from co-ed to corporate. How can current college students take charge of their digital personas and put them to work for themselves?

My first piece of advice would be to Google yourself, and look carefully at the results. They might display one of several things:

  1. That article you wrote for the high school paper
  2. Pictures of you from last year’s spring break in Cancun
  3. Nothing at all.

Whatever comes up about you, don’t despair – while high school accomplishments aren’t bad, they aren’t really current and don’t display all of the hard work you’ve been (hopefully) doing in college. While certainly great keepsakes, your spring break pictures don’t really convey a sense of professionalism. If you’re not coming up in search results, maybe you’ve kept a low profile, but isn’t it better to be proactive rather than reactive?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Take charge of your search results! Make a great impression when employers are looking to learn more about you, instead of keeping them in the dark about what a great candidate you would be for that newly-available position. To do this, create some professional profiles for yourself on sites like LinkedIn, Naymz, ZoomInfo, and AboutUs. Make sure that the information you offer up in these profiles is professional and highlights the skills that will help you find the job you want. The Washington Post offers some tips on what to include or keep private on your LinkedIn profile that can be applied to other social media sites.

Part of making the most of your online reputation is keeping some things out of the public eye – for those profiles that are more social than professional, you may want to restrict your privacy settings to make yourself invisible in search results. Facebook offers an option to take yourself out of search engine results, found in the Privacy Settings tab. If you’re proud of your Facebook profile, and think that it passes professional muster, you can also use this feature to create a public search listing for yourself – just make sure your profile isn’t going to keep employers from hiring you.

We’ve all heard about how your digital identity can work against you, but by showcasing your great features in a professional way, you too can feel confident with your online reputation. Social networking doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so you might as well make sure that your online image makes an excellent impression.

In today’s working world, employers are starting to embrace social networking as a time-saving, financially savvy way to keep their employees connected, according to USA Today, and as a college student or recent grad you will almost be expected to be a social networking guru. Make sure that you exceed the expectations and enhance both your digital and professional reputations.

The EFI Experiment . . .

How many times a day do you use Google to search for something, entering a particular word or combination of words to get the results that you want? In digital marketing, search-engine optimization (SEO) allows marketers to get their message to those people searching for information relevant to their product, reaching a larger audience and hopefully gaining some of that audience as new clients.

Part of search-engine optimization is using a unique phrase that you and you alone can claim as yours. Due to intense competition for the top spots, it isn’t uncommon to see millions of results when searching for a particular phrase (try googling Britney Spears if you don’t believe me). The goal of SEO is making sure that when a phrase is searched, your phrase is one of the top results.

Last week at Ingenex Digital Marketing we decided to conduct a small experiment and see if each of us could dominate the number one spot on Google. We each chose a phrase that we felt represented ourselves and our internships, and used that in our individual blogs, as well as using the phrases to link to each others’ blogs. My phrase of choice is ‘Digital Eco Fusion‘ and I believe that it truly does define both my internship and who I would like to be upon completing my internship. You can see a snapshot of the Google search results for ‘Digital Eco Fusion’ below; this is before I wrote using the term.

Before Experiment

Before Experiment

Once we wrote our blog posts, making sure to link back to each other, you can see the effect it had on my popularity:

After Experiment

After Experiment

Pretty cool right? Nice to see that SEO really works! This experiment has shown me that successful digital marketing requires both innovation and cooperation, and that I too can be as cool as Britney.

Ann Arbor Local Blog: Edward Vielmetti’s Vacuum

While scanning several years’ worth of blog posts to Edward Vielmetti’s Vacuum, I gained a new respect for blogging and its impact on the information age. Born in 2003, Vacuum chronicles the experiences and thoughts of the author over the last five years, on topics such as productivity, farmers’ markets, wikis, and spiders (see here for a summary of sorts). The dedication of Vielmetti to this blog show that with time and hard work, a blog can yield very rewarding results – for readers as well as for bloggers.

Vacuum is most definitely unique, and offers up an interesting perspective on living, working, and raising a family in Ann Arbor, as well as documenting Vielmetti’s ongoing quest for increased productivity. I appreciate that any advice offered is based from personal experiences, including home recipes, exploring new web apps, and raising his children. This blog is true to life, helps give a sense of Ann Arbor, and also features some niche information that could definitely prove helpful. Vacuum doesn’t strive to be overly reader-oriented; Vielmetti lives his life, writes about it, and readers can glean what they may from his experiences.

My favorite entry thus far? Right here, in which Vielmetti proves to be not only a fascinating source on a variety of topics, but also a compelling writer. As someone who is not an expert in any of Vielmetti’s most mentioned themes, I have a lot to learn from reading his blog. Vacuum’s range continues to amaze me, and I’m looking forward to keeping up with its evolution.

A Green Day at Ingenex

The choices any entity makes, be it a consumer or a business, have an effect on the environment. With this in mind, how can Ingenex Digital Marketing make the right choices to become more eco-friendly?

Morning Commute

If possible, walk, blade, bike, bus, or carpool to work. If none of those are at all feasible drive to the office, but unless you have an electric, hybrid, or air car using energy from non-combustion sources, this option should be used sparingly.

Rocket Fuel: Your A.M. Caffeine Fix

I heard that at the Brickyard RoosRoast is the morning brew of choice – way to kick it to the man and support a local business! When choosing your blend, aim for one of their various organic ones – it’s better for your health and the planet. When taking a sip, make sure it’s from a re-usable mug (don’t buy a new one, re-use, remember?). When you wash said mug, make sure you hand-wash it, preferably with cold water and phosphate-free soap.

On the Job

By using laptops at work, Ingenex is already saving energy, according to the Department of Energy. Here are some tips to conserve even more:

  •  When not using laptops, desktops, or other appliances, use a power strip to cut off energy use (or just unplug them). 
  • Make sure that power management settings on your computer are working to conserve energy as well.
  • Unplug chargers for laptops, mobile phones, and PDAs when they are not in use.

Lunch Time!

Speaking of local, when it is time for lunch after a long morning, ask not what you eat but where it is from. Eating local reduces your carbon footprint and supports local farmers, so ask at your favorite restaurant where they’re getting their produce. If it’s not local, ask the manager or owner why it isn’t. Wash down your lunch with a nice, big glass of Michigan tap water, and if you want to reduce your footprint even more, try to cut back on the meat and dairy. When dining out on the town, go somewhere within walking distance; when planning to eat at your desk, bring your noon-time nosh in a reusable lunchbag.

At the End of the Day

I’m not going to go so far to say that everyone who works at Ingenex should adopt a green hipster’s PDA (courtesy of No Impact Man, my new eco-friendly idol), but personal choices definitely have an effect, whether at home or at work. We only have one planet, so I’m excited to be interning at a company that wants to operate in the most sustainable manner!

Mobile Marketing

Whether referring to it as a wireless, cell, or mobile phone, many people would admit that they would have an extremely difficult time living without their (non-landline) phones. Gone are the days of tripping over twenty foot cords, remembering anyone’s telephone number, and of Mom picking up on the other line yet again to interrupt your two hour phone-fest with your BFF. This should be no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been on a tropical island, Castaway-style, for the last ten or so years.

More interesting is the emergence of mobile marketing, in which companies can contact their customers and vice versa using mobile phone technology. SMS (short message system) technology has enabled corporations to reach people on a medium that most have either on their bodies or extremely close to themselves all day long. In targeting users of mobile phones, marketers can more effectively reach their intended audience, and thus have a greater chance of gaining the interest of their recipients. This strategy for connecting with consumers is about to become very popular with marketers, according to the Mobile Marketing Association – so get ready for mobile campaigns to start arriving in your mobile’s Inbox.

Mobile marketing is not only an innovative way for companies to connect with consumers – it can also help to reduce consumption of paper. As part of mobile campaigns, paperless coupons for discounts on products, services, and event tickets are being sent out to mobile phone users. This is in contrast with coupons sent in e-mail messages or found on company websites, which the users must print out themselves. To receive the coupons on their mobile phone, consumers can send a message to the short (usually five digit) number advertised, and receive a reply with a coupon message or code that is enacted when they make a purchase. Kroger is just one retailer that will be going mobile with its marketing efforts, and surely won’t be the last.

Users can also subscribe to receive text messages from retailers by joining mobile communities, such as Coca Cola’s Sprite Yard, which will give people that join access to exclusive downloadable content. When used by brands that can offer perks such as games, sneak peeks of upcoming films, and sound bites from popular artists, mobile communities will appeal to a large demographic.

Marketers know that the mobile phone has become a key component for staying in touch all over the world, and are now adapting to connect with target audiences on the device that most can’t live without. How successful such efforts will be remains to be seen, but it won’t be long before mobile marketing comes to a phone near you.

Save time, paper, and cash!

Have you used a mobile coupon yet?