Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free March 19, 2014 Google just announced Android Wear, a platform that extends the Android operating system to wearable devices. And already, two of the tech giant’s biggest hardware partners have said they will be releasing smartwatches for the Android-powered platform.South Korea-based LG has announced plans for the LG G, an Android-powered smartwatch. So far, LG hasn’t released many details, other than to say the LG G will be compatible with a wide range of Android smartphones and “will present relevant information to users just when they need it.”LG expects its Android smartwatch to be available sometime in the second quarter this year.Related: Google Gets More Serious About Wearables With ‘Android Wear’The other Android Wear smartwatch comes from Motorola — the company Google bought in 2011 but recently sold to China-based PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd. Motorola announced the Moto 360 smartwatch. Here’s a quick video preview:Other than that, Motorola hasn’t released many details about the device. It says it will feature “a round face and premium materials,” and will be available “in a variety of styles globally in Summer 2014, starting in the U.S.”One common feature among Android Wear smartwatches: voice activation. All a person needs to do is say “OK Google” to activate features like scheduling appointments, sending a text and more. Folks, get ready to get your Dick Tracy on.Related: Pebble (Finally) Opens Its App Store to Android Users 2 min read This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience.
January 19, 2016 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Register Now » Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Much to the glee of young blockheads everywhere, Microsoft is positioning Minecraft as the next big building block in education.The Redmond, Wash. tech giant today announced that it’s creating a new classroom version of the wildly popular block-building game. Simply called Minecraft Education Edition, the game will be tailored specifically to teachers and students, from grade schools to universities.The coming edition is intended to “empower educators to foster deeper student engagement and collaboration,” said Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s vice president of worldwide education.Related: How the Latest Fake Minecraft App Reached No. 4 on the iTunes Charts and Then DisappearedThe news comes on the heels of Microsoft’s acquisition of TeacherGaming LLC, creator of MinecraftEdu, a Mojang-supported modification of the original Minecraft built to help teachers integrate the game into their lesson plans. Microsoft recently scooped up the Finland-based startup for an undisclosed sum.Related: Here’s How One Tweet Led to Microsoft Buying Minecraft for $2.5 BillionIn a statement released today, Microsoft said it will build on the success of MinecraftEdu by decking it out with a fresh set of expanded features. Per Microsoft, MinecraftEdu, which launched in 2011, is already used in 7,000 classrooms in 40-plus countries across the globe.While its updated take on the existing game will initially roll out in free trial mode this summer, Microsoft plans to eventually charge a fee of $5 per student per year. School licensing fees for larger education institutions are also in the works, according to the Wall Street Journal.You might recall that, in the fall of 2014, Microsoft snapped up Mojang, the Swedish developer that created Minecraft, for a tidy total of $2.5 billion. Microsoft has since touted the educational benefits of the game, lauding the pixelated brainchild of Markus Persson (aka Notch) for inspiring students and teachers to be more intellectually creative, courageous and collaborative.“By creating a virtual world and then advancing in it, students can learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy,” Salcito said in today’s announcement, “while getting real time feedback on their problem-solving skills from the teacher.”Related: Microsoft’s Missed Opportunity: Not Getting Minecraft’s Founders?Microsoft officially kicked off its push to further mainstream the Minecraft brand in the classroom last November, when it unveiled a free Minecraft-themed tutorial in partnership with Code.org. Also aimed at students and teachers, the basic computer code training sessions feature Minecraft characters Alex and Steve.Former teacher Rafranz Davis, currently the executive director of professional and digital learning for the city of Lufkin, Texas, said she believes Minecraft offers a unique opportunity for young learners to acquire knowledge and confidence through trial and error. Better yet, it enables them to do so in an adventurous setting of their own creation.“You talk about the same experiences that computer programming gives, where you’re allowed to fail — Minecraft provides that same experience,” she said in a video Microsoft released alongside its announcement today. “To walk into the world that a child has created and to see their excitement, to watch their eyes light up, it is something that you honestly have to experience at least once in your life.”Related: Watch Microsoft’s Eye-Popping Hololens Demo Using Minecraft 3 min read
Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global March 16, 2016 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Ready to start your podcast? While many people think that podcasting is an expensive and complicated venture, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be.Related: Should You Really Start a Podcast?Launching a podcast is relatively straightforward, and you won’t need much to get started. In fact, you can start with just a microphone, headphones, recording and editing software and a publishing platform to share your work. Of course, you can get a bit more fancy, and chances are you may want to splurge on a few bigger ticket items, because they can, and will, make life easier, but that’s really all you need to get your show on the road.So, for your podcast, here are the tools, in both the gear and software categories, that you’ll want to consider before you start.1. A good microphoneAudio is one area that you won’t want to cut corners with. Your audience will be able to overlook a number of issues with your podcast — but poor audio is generally regarded as unforgivable. You’ll want to avoid the mic that comes built into your computer and, instead, opt for something like the Audio Technica ATR-2100-USB or Blue Microphones Yeti USB. Or, you could spend a bit more and choose a dedicated XLR microphone — like the Samson SAC01, and a mixer, for superior quality and better control over the sound. If you choose this option, don’t forget to grab an XLR cable to connect the mic to the mixer.2. Headphones Your headphones don’t have to be top of the line, but you will want something that’s up to the job. You’ll need to hear what you’re saying — and what your guests are saying if you’re doing Skype interviews, so choose some good, on-ear headphones, like the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x. Steer clear of headphone and mic combos; their sound quality is usually extremely poor.3. A pop filterWhen talking directly into the microphone, your b’s and p’s will sound amplified. You can avoid this by speaking to the side of your mic, rather than directly into it, or get yourself a pop filter. They’re cheap — but priceless.4. A boomThough they’re not strictly necessary when you’re first starting out, a suspension boom to hold the mic for you is necessary if you want to become a podcasting pro. Aside from saving you from arm cramps, a boom is also great for sound quality, as you won’t have to worry about the mic drifting away from you as you speak into it.Related: 5 Reasons Your Small Business Should Start a Podcast Today5. A Skype accountIf you’re going to be doing interviews on your show at some point, you’ll want to use Skype. This program has excellent sound quality, plus it’s free, which also helps. If your guests don’t already have a Skype account, it’s easy enough for them to set one up.6. Recording and editing softwareYou’ll need a way to edit your audio. You can start with a free program if you’d like. Adobe Audition is is an outstanding tool which gives you a lot of options for post-production. GarageBand is yet another good choice and comes pre-installed on Macs — so if you’re an Apple user, you already have it.7. ID3 EditorMost podcast and recording software will allow you to tag your podcasts using ID3 tags, but if not, you can easily do it with an ID3 editor. This will allow you to store important information such as the title, track number and artist in the podcast — and will allow the album art to appear when people download it.8. A podcast hosting accountDon’t worry about podcasts eating up your bandwidth; you don’t have to host on your website. There are a number of extremely affordable media hosts that you can use instead. Libsyn is one of the more popular hosting and publishing options, although you can also check out Soundcloud and Blubrry, two more great options.9. Design softwareThis one’s not entirely necessary — but again, it’s a very good idea. One of the best ways to extend your podcast’s reach is by listing it on iTunes. If you do this, you’ll want to have a sweet-looking image next to your show’s name — your cover art. This is the photo that people will see when browsing through shows or listening to yours — so it does matter. Buzzsprout offers some great tips on how to create the ultimate image, including size constraints, copy and color suggestions, as well as tips on where to find decent images. If you’re not able to do your own design, you can always hire someone on 99designs or Upwork to do it for you.10. A vanity URLFinally, if you’re serious about growing your podcast, you’ll want to make it easy for listeners to leave you reviews. One of the best ways to do this is to snatch up a vanity URL, discussed at sites like this one sponsored by Apple. Vanity URLs are links that you can use to redirect to your podcast’s reviews section on iTunes. This will save you from having to give out a long and complicated website address, simplifying the process for your listeners.When it comes to starting a podcast, you really can spend as much or as little money as you’d like to get started. Set your budget up-front, decide how serious you are, then get your gear together. As a minimum, though, I recommend purchasing a great mic and headphones; you’ll have a hard time growing your listener base if your broadcast has inferior sound quality.Related: These 10 Podcasts May Just Get You to Stop Listening to MusicI would also spend the money each month for a dedicated hosting site rather than try to host podcasts directly on your website. This asset will make life easier for you in the long run.Ready to start your podcast? What gear are you planning to get? 6 min read Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Register Now »