Lately, we've been seeing more and more Instagram pictures on our Twitter feed (@cawebhosting) and because of that, we wanted to continue this conversation related to online visual content following our recent article on how you can utilize infographics as a link building tool. If you are reading this post, you most likely know about Instagram and probably are a user yourself. Instagram is a very simple, free smartphone photo sharing application that uses optional filters to make original, sometimes, boring looking pictures into beautiful artwork. Then, depending on you, you can geolocate your picture and easily share your images across different social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, and they can even be emailed as well. For iPhone and Android users, with its popularity, it's become the smartphone's photographer's app of choice.
This app is by far one of the most popular and successful apps to this day, and their success story contain many facts that you might not be aware of. Through recent studies and findings, we know that:
- The power houses behind the app are co-founders, Kevin Systrom (CEO), and Mike Krieger. Between the two of them, they have experience at some of the most well respected technology related companies including Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Meebo.
- Their catchy blog showcase timely and insightful photosets such as news of the week, national days like National Dog Day, weekends or events, politics and current events. The format is visually pleasing, clean, big and easy to look at with an artistic feel to it.
- In early 2010, the co founders were initially working on a check-in mobile photography project called “Burbn." Kevin pivoted his original idea due to the user base.
- On October 6, 2010, Instagram launched in the iPhone App Store.
- By December 2010, one million users had registered.
- In 2011, Apple named Instagram as app of the year.
- On April 3, 2012, when the Android version was released, the app was downloaded over a million times in less than 24 hours.
- On April 9, 2012, Facebook announced that they would be acquiring Instagram in a staggering deal of $1 billion (US).
Finally, with our latest back-to-school article, this recent infographic provides more facts and figures geared towards college students that some might find relevant:
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Education and technology go hand in hand. However, with the rise of apps, the current and future technology will continue to change the world of education from the way students take notes to how they interact with all the gadgets available now and in the future including ultrabooks, studying apps, etextbooks, not to mention the free virtual resources all over the web. A recent study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center shows that since 2009, the percentage of apps for children in every age category from toddler to high school has risen. Additionally, a look at the top 25 apps reveals about 60% of those apps target children per a recent Techvibes article. Since school is just around the corner, we thought that it would be a great idea to share some useful apps (and site) for those who are in education and for those who have children going back to school. From toddlers to college students, these apps can really help our younger generations thrive and become successful in gaining knowledge in the classroom.
The list of apps geared towards education is endless and continues to grow. To get you started, we're sharing 6 apps that you might find helpful:
1. The Chemical Touch ($0.99 on iOS devices): this interactive app is a periodic table to help you learn chemistry in a fun way. When you select different elements, the app provides you with their properties and get definitions of nucleobases. When you can recolor the periodic table, you can visually identify periodic trends. The app will open Wikipedia entries if you have used up all of the app's built-in information.
2. Evernote Peek (Free on iOS devices): this app turns your iPad‘s SmartCover into a flashcard. You won't need any more hard copies of index cards to memorize anything from geography facts, language translations to geometric equations. Evernote helps you turn your notes, audio notes and images into study materials. If you don't have a SmartCover, you can still use virtual smart cover. Check out their video showing how it works.
3. Rate My Professors (site): this isn't an app, but since it could turn out to be a very useful site, we're including this one on our list. RateMyProfessors.com helps you figure out which professors to choose from or to avoid through more than 14 million student-generated comments and ratings. They cover 7,500 schools, 1.7 million professors from colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The best part is that it was built for college students, by college students.
4. Graphic Calculator (varies): for your math classes, you can avoid paying for a "real" calculator and invest a few bucks, usually less than $5 into this app. It can be found on iOS, Android OS, and more. Besides, why would you need to carry an extra gadget when you can use your smartphone to do the job? Let this app make your world easier when you're ready to crunch numbers and formulas to solve your classroom assignments.
5. World Atlas ($0.99 on iOS and free on Android OS): this app makes learning easy for your geography class. It provides high-res images with detail and accuracy beyond any Google image. It helps with your history class with visuals such as world flags and facts about each country, including government types and capitals. Some apps may have different map styles, so that you can choose the viewing style that you prefer. Bookmark your favourite places can also be an option depending on the OS that you're using. You may even be able to view the current time or weather, as well.
6. Astrid Tasks/To-do List (Free on both iOS and Android OS): as a student, you have lots of homework, projects and extra curricular activities to keep track of. This app is your personal assistant to help you become more productive and efficient. You'll feel organized and ready to tackle each day with this app that lets you prioritize each to-do activity on your list with due dates (as needed), priority levels and even a calendar. The filters can help you jump quickly from one category to another such as home to school. It's easy to use and you can even share your list with your roommate or other students when you're working on a team project. Now, you can stay on track with your busy student lives.
Finally, Edudemic has a thorough list of 50 apps that you can browse through including DropBox, Mint.com, Instapaper, iTranslator, WebMD, Street Safe and Math Ref to share some of their finding. What other educational apps do you or your students use? Feel free to share your findings below in our comment section.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
In the past year, an effective but under-utilized search engine technique to bait other websites to link to you is to create infographics (short for information graphics). According to Wikipedia, "infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge". "These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly." An example of infographic is history of the food blender and combating global warming.
In exchange for the use of the infographic on a website, the creator requests a link back to their website. This can create an enormous boost in social medial signals generating tool and also Google PR. The only problem is infographics are very difficult to produce. It requires a great idea, strong research and fact gathering, great visualization and a decent graphic artist to create it.
There is a great DIY Infographic Process that's a great read for anyone wanting to create one. The graphic explains the process in detail but can be summarized in the following 6 steps:
1. Ideation - select an idea that will generate interest and research
2. Idea Selection - find and flesh out your idea
3. Research - fact gathering to support your idea
4. Conceptual Visualization - graphic direction
5. First Full Draft - self explanatory
6. Revisions - polish and revise as needed
See how much easier it is to look at a graphic representation:
Another cool website to bookmark and review is the industry website, Cool Infograhics. It features daily new infographics created by companies worldwide. It's a great resource to generate new ideas and for thoese interested in understanding and correcting mistakes used in past infographics.
Then there's the Infographic of Ingraphics which assists with the topic of data visualization. It provides pointers on chart, font and color recommendations and how many words to use in the title. It's a great reference when you're creating your own.
Once you've completed your infographic, what do you do with it and how do you promote it? Well, there's a large number of infographic databases where you can submit for promotion.
Here's a quick list of a few of them (more can be found by Googling "infographics directories"):
Infographics are an effective link building option to add as one of the options in your link building toolbox in 2012.
But Matt Cutts of Google spoke on this topic, warning that many infographics are misused. He specifically pointed out that infographics are often on topics that are not relevant to the site they link from (example, infographics about babies but linked from a gambling site). He also warned that any information included within the infographic had better be accurate. There are so much infographics popping up as link bait and publishing poorly researched information. He went as far as to say that in the future, Google will start to discount these infographic-type links if they are abused.
He was quoted saying the following:
"Any infographics you create will do better if they're closely related to your business, and it needs to be fully disclosed what you are doing. The big key is that the person publishing the infographic has to know, and agree with, including an endorsement to your site as attribution with the infographic. Even then, there is reason to believe that the link is more about the barter to get the infographic than a real endorsement of your site."
Here's his recent interview on the use of infographics.
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Last week, we shared an exciting event, Vancouver Startup Weekend and as expected, after attending, it was a very full 54-hours of creativity, innovation, collaboration and a whole lot of hustle that occurred at Emily Carr University of Art + Design on Granville Island in Vancouver, including 150 participants plus a group of facilitators, organizers and many volunteers on site, this past weekend.
On Friday night, Joey Aquino and Brett Nakatsu from Startup Weekend kicked off the event, with a room buzzing; you could tell that every single person was ready to get going with pitching and working on their fresh ideas. Following their introductions, two keynote speakers took the stage including Thomas Lewis, Principal Technical Evangelist of Microsoft, and Matt Mickiewicz, co-Founder of SitePoint, 99designs and Flippa. Both shared their personal journeys and how they got started in the startup world along with providing some key tips such as spending time with your spouse in order not to neglect the important relationship in your lives, continuing to exercise to stay healthy, to name a few. That evening, Matt tweeted a recent article on Why The Next Big Thing Won't Come From A Fortune 500 Company. Matt touched on similar ideas during his talk similarly to this article, "Questioning the status quo, cutting costs, eliminating hassles, bypassing middle-men, and removing fees certainly go a long way. But being naïve, clueless or wildly--and perhaps inappropriately--ambitious also helps." After two more ice breakers, 63 participants had a chance to pitch their ideas within a 60-second alloted time. 17 ideas were chosen by the attendees using sticky notes as a voting process. Whichever had the most got picked.
John Gray, one of the main organizers and a Techvibes writer, summarizes Saturday and Sunday thoroughly in his latest article, by saying that "all of Saturday and Sunday until 4pm, it was heads down, coding, designing, creating, validating, discovering, listening, pivoting and re-positioning. Original ideas were blown up, some teams blew up, people merged and migrated, and through it all everyone was having a blast."
By the end of Sunday, the judges had to pick the top three teams in front of a full crowd after every team's pitch. Each 5-minute pitch was followed by a quick question-and-answer that often brought out much laughter from the rest of the attendees. In the end, the third place was Rent2Play which was a idea that would make it easier for anyone to secure online recreational equipment rentals. The second place was 7PM Tickets which highlighted the fact that most ticket sellers don't sell their tickets until the day of and that this idea would help these event organizers to help do a final push to sell tickets and for consumers to be able to buy cheaper tickets right before an event. Finally, the first place went to Route Captain, an app that would build a route optimization for the courier industry. Marc Kuo, the leader of this team, mentioned his favourite part of the event on Tech Cocktail stating "[Vancouver Startup Weekend] allowed me to conceptualize this idea that’s been playing in my head for years, ever since I graduated, and actually form a really solid team around it."
In conclusion, Vancouver Startup Weekend was yet another great success for the Startup Weekend family and if you have an idea and you're ready to hustle (developers, designers, marketers, etc), you should definitely check out the next one that will happen in November or by checking the main website to find out about events near you. Otherwise, if you attended this event, you may find more visual content through their official site on Vancouver Startup Weekend 2012 in Photos. We'd be more than glad to help you get started with your hosting needs as well over at http://www.canadianwebhosting.com/.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Our next round of routine maintenances are from both of our facilities in Vancouver and Toronto, and below are four upcoming updates to be aware of:
Scheduled Network Maintenance in Toronto: August 19-20
The window is: Sunday, August 19th, from 23:59 EST to Monday, August 20th, at 05:00 EST. This maintenance is necessary to migrate a number of access layer switches into a newly provisioned switch segment. This service is service impacting.
Scheduled AC Maintenance in Vancouver: August 20-24
The window are: Monday, August 20th, through Friday, August 24th, from 06:00 PST to 20:00 PST, daily. This maintenance is necessary to perform the quarterly AC preventative maintenance and repair. This service is non service impacting.
Scheduled Electrical Maintenance in Vancouver: August 22-25
The window is: Wednesday, August 22nd, to Saturday, August 25th, 2012 from 21:00 PST to 06:00 PST, daily. This maintenance is required to perform the quarterly major UPS preventive maintenance on all UPS units. This service is non service impacting.
Scheduled Electrical Maintenance in Vancouver: August 27-29
The window is: Monday, August 27th, to Wednesday, August 29th, from 7:00 PST to 16:00 PST, daily. This maintenance is required to perform the quarterly load readings on all electrical panels. This service is non service impacting.
Please be assured that our team and the appropriate electrical and network staff will be present for the entire duration of this maintenance window. If you are a current Canadian Web Hosting customer and have any comments or concerns, you may contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 1-877-871-7888, by tweeting us at @cawebhosting or via our Facebook Page.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru