Tips to Optimize Instagram Stories

Social media has made it possible for everyone to document their everyday lives. What gastronomic delight you’ve eaten, what weird coffee concoction you had, what #OOTD you wore to an event, what books you can’t wait to read, and anything and everything in between.  These are the typical content of Instagram Stories – seconds-long tidbits shared on the app just for 24 hours.

If you’re a business or a brand, the list of reasons to use Instagram Stories is never-ending. Done correctly, this Instagram feature can boost brand engagement. Above all, the number of people you’re able to reach is much greater than on Snapchat, Instagram’s toughest competition.

Now, you may know the basics of Instagram Stories, but there are a few not-so-hidden tools that you can use to make your photos and videos more fun and engaging. Here’s one that is the most effective for business and personal brands:


Once you have a picture or a video ready, jazz it up with fun Instagram stickers. To access the variety of online decals available, tap the sticker icon seen in the upper right-hand corner of your mobile screen. Alternatively, you can just swipe up from the bottom of your screen.

Size: Add the sticker to your story. Pinch it to increase or decrease its size. To change its position, either tap or drag the online decal around the frame.

Variety: Instagram offers unique stickers all the time. They even release special ones relevant to an event, a celebration or a season. Just check the option before you share your story to see if there’s a timely sticker you can use.

Location: You can boost engagement using stickers by adding your location. Type in wherever you are. If you’re in a big city or a famous landmark, there’s a good chance that you can get a special geographic sticker of your location. Once your viewers tap your location sticker, they’ll be presented with photos and Stories from other Instagram users that have used the same geo-sticker.

Hashtag: This works pretty much the same as the location sticker. To make it work, choose the hashtag decal and simply type in the tag you want to use.

Poll: A poll sticker is great for business purposes or just for fun. Instagram Stories offers a two-option sticker poll. You can customize the possible replies if you don’t want to use the standard “yes or no” answer.


A Bonus…

To make your Stories more interesting, use Snapchat filters.

From the now infamous dog face to the vomiting rainbow, filters on Snapchat have become a well-loved means to engage with your followers. Instagram, unfortunately, doesn’t offer the same filter variety and creativity.  A clever trick to fix this problem is to take a Snap of yourself using a fun Snapchat filter. Save the Snap to your camera roll. Open your Instagram Stories and access your funny Snap. You can add stickers to make it livelier and more engaging.


For stronger brand recall, share several Instagram Stories throughout the day.

Gadget Gift Ideas for Foodies

A coffee lover. A budding cook. A chocoholic. A proficient gourmand. A seasoned chef. There is a neat gadget out there that is perfectly tailored to the needs and palates of these foodies. Here’s a list of some of the best gizmos designed for food lovers and rulers of the kitchen.

Auto-Measure Spice Carousel

Fiddling around for a quarter of a teaspoon of dried oregano can get annoying very fast. Estimating is a big no-no, too. The perfect solution for accurate spice measuring is the Auto-Measure Spice Carousel. With it, cooks and foodies don’t have to dig into the cabinet drawers for little measuring spoons. The cool gizmo features 12 of the most used spices. It also has a dial that releases spices in quarter-of-a-teaspoon batches.

Prep Pad

Prepping food, especially for busy health buffs, is an important step that can’t be missed. It can also be time-consuming, especially with the manual calculation of nutrients. It gets harder when the fresh foods don’t have a label. The Prep Pad cuts all these steps in half. Foodies can get the nutritional data for raw foods, even if they don’t come with labels. The gadget connects wirelessly to any Apple unit. Upon connection, it’ll show all the nutrition facts depending on the food’s weight. The info will appear on the Countertop app available on the Apple Store. The best benefit of the Prep Pad is its ability to sync with Jawbone UP. It can monitor the user’s daily activity and suggest the best post-workout meals.

Electric Salt and Pepper Mills

For fancy foodies who love freshly-cracked pepper on their food, the Electric Salt and Pepper Mills will be a definite hit. The dual gadget is a high-tech version of the typical salt and pepper dispenser. They have sensors that instantly trigger the blades when the mills are flipped over. The blades automatically stop whirling once they’re in an upright position.

Mr. Coffee 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew

For coffee lovers who are lazy to get out of bed or have hectic mornings, Mr. Coffee 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew is the perfect foodie present. It readies the morning coffee without the drinker getting out of bed. Using the WeMo app, the user can set a timetable for the much-needed caffeine fix. This schedule can be changed at the eleventh hour or turned off remotely.

Digital Measuring Cup

This kitchen gadget may look like a standard measuring cup, but it’s nothing common or ordinary. The Digital Measuring Cup is loaded with fantastic digital features. It makes cooking and baking faster, easier, and more fun. The usual measurable ingredients like oil, flour, milk, sugar, and water have their own weight setting. The digital cup has a built-in conversion unit. And as a bonus, it also doubles as a weighing scale for meat.


For home cooks and professional chefs who have busy schedules, Plated is a godsend. It is a subscription service that delivers fresh ingredients anywhere. It also provides gourmet recipes that can be made using the distributed ingredients. Best of all, the fresh foods are individually packed and portioned according to the given recipes


Shop for these kitchen gizmos and online services for your foodie loved ones. And perhaps, you’ll get a free meal out of ‘em!

How is Facebook Local Different from Foursquare?

Facebook has a quest to be the one-stop source for anything and everything. That’s evident with its new app, Facebook Local. The app delivers an impressive push into helping people find things to do, places to go, and services to try, all of which are based on the recommendations of others.  

Sounds familiar? It should be since it’s basically an app that merges the primary services of Yelp and Foursquare. But since it’s Facebook, the social media giant, Facebook Local has its own twist.


What Makes Local Different from Yelp and Foursquare?

Facebook Local is a refurbished variation of Facebook Events. Its goal is to assist people in finding and locating nearby activities and services to try. Its other goal is to make Facebook a much more visible and usable player in the local search.

Using the app, users can look for places such as cafes, theaters, restaurants, and gyms. They can also search for events like concerts and festivals. Facebook Local requires users to log in using their Facebook accounts. As such, it can use locations that a user’s friends have liked or events they’ve RSVPed to using the site.

Activities and locations are searchable in three ways: by name, by category, or by browsing the site listings. The categories include food, drinks, fitness, movies, music, and health. Results are sorted by popularity, distance, relevance, and rating. Keywords can also be used for easy look-up. Choosing a location displays its operating hours, address, as well as Facebook rating. Users can even get directions using a third-party map, view the event, or look at the place’s website or Facebook Page.

When people install the app on their phone, they can accept or decline Facebook’s request to track their locations. Also, they can set up a city as their preferred search recommendation, even if they don’t live there.

The home tab of Facebook Local also features places and events broken down into three subcategories: For You, Events, and Guides. “For You” provides services and activities trending in the neighborhood. It also shows the events that Facebook friends have RSVPed to. “Events” details local activities and functions arranged by day in chronological order. “Guides” divides activities and events by interest such as arts, culture, music, games, and fundraisers.


Facebook Gains through Facebook Local

Facebook hasn’t released any information yet if Facebook Local will soon feature ads. As such, it’s still ambiguous how the app can specifically contribute to the company’s ROI. But, its indirect benefits are more obvious.

Regardless if the users allow the app to track their location or not, they still must set an area when using the app. This helps Facebook measure people’s interests in that particular location. Choosing specific places further indicates interest. This is particularly true if users take action, like calling a restaurant or getting directions.

And even if users don’t give the app authorization to track their locations, they could have previously allowed Facebook to do so. The social media giant has empowered brands to retarget the users that have RSVPed to their activities or stopped at their physical stores. Facebook, at some point, can retarget Facebook Local users to benefit the site’s ecosystem.

The Best Gadget Stories of 2017

The year has brought us cutting-edge gadgets and sophisticated social platforms. It seemed like a new flagship phone had to be reviewed every other week. And there’s a never-ending cycle of new gadgets and gizmos.

Here is our short list of the best gadget stories of 2017.

Apple AirPods

Technically, AirPods launched in 2016. However, it was almost the end of December when they were made available to the public. Even then, it was hard to buy a pair. So, in a way, AirPods are 2017 babies. And they were worth the wait. Some tech experts say that Apple’s latest ear accessory is the best output the company has launched in a long time.

Think of the AirPods as the upgraded version of the EarPods, but without the wires. They basically have the same functions and properties. Although with the AirPods, the controls are tapped onscreen rather than through the wired remote. That being said, the absence of the wires plus the extra sensors on the AirPods made a massive difference. Obviously, you no longer have to deal with the tangles. But more importantly, there is no more reverberating noise in your ears.

Nintendo Switch

There’s a long list of Nintendo controllers and they’ve always been unexpected, but in a good way. What users can expect is that they are all manufactured to make the games even better. But through the Nintendo Switch, the video game company showed the value of “teamwork” between hardware and software. The company’s hardware generally differentiates itself from the competition through its awesome controllers.

The Nintendo Switch is basically a multi-touch screen, much like a smartphone. It has easy-to-detach controllers on both ends. To make a standalone wireless controller, the Switch’s controllers are separated and recombined using a plastic handle. The screen is put on a dock connected to a monitor. Think of it as a home gaming console and a Game Boy rolled into one.

Amazon Echo Show

Alexa is phenomenal. Amazon’s smart assistant is functional, fun, and clever enough to work on both simple and complex tasks at home. In fact, it’s pretty great as a voice assistant. But incorporating a 7-inch screen to it makes a huge difference. With Amazon Echo Show, you get visual feedback based on your commands. You also can do other new things, like monitor security cams and make video calls. It has features that are accessible with just a simple voice command for everyone in the household.

eSight 3

In this era of web-connected gadgets, it’s great to find devices that provide solutions to problems of a higher order. For instance, the eSight 3 is an over-eye visor. This nifty gadget helps legally blind people get around. It uses a special combination of a high-def camera and a video display. eSight 3 provides a live feed on OLED displays positioned in front of the eyes of the wearer. The gizmo is compact and doesn’t need the use of hands. More importantly, it can do pretty much everything a blind person needs – from reading to providing directions.


What about you? What are your favorite 2017 gadgets?

Hidden Features of iOS 11 You May Not Know

You don’t need an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X to enjoy the newly released Apple features. You simply need to upgrade your operating system to iOS 11 to get in on a lot of fresh updates and extravaganza. Apple’s latest OS has visible upgraded features, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Here are some exciting features you may not know about after downloading the operating system on your smartphone.

FaceTime Upgraded

When you take a screenshot while doing FaceTime with your loved ones, the image will be cleaner and clearer than before.  These high-quality screenshots are due to the new operating system’s built-in feature. Try it out by pressing the shutter button on your phone. iOS 11 will use the other person’s phone camera to take a Live Photo shot. Just make sure the other party is also using a device that runs the new system.

Drag and Drop

The new drag and drop feature stands out on iPads, but it’s functional on iPhones, too.  To make this work, enable both the Notes and Camera apps on your device.

DND for Driving

Apple is trying its best to lessen or completely wipe out distracted driving. The new iOS can detect if you’re in a moving car. If you want, you can also enable the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature automatically.

Optimize Storage Space

Regardless of how big or new your iPhone is, its storage will be a concern sooner or later. With iOS, it’s more of the latter thanks to its new space-saving suggestions. There are three options available: offload unused apps, auto delete old conversations, and review large attachments. The recommended storage options offer to wipe out old data for extra space. They are also tailored to your needs. Each one will inform you the exact storage space you’ll be able to get back.

Screenshot Annotation

Now you can promptly annotate screenshots before sharing them with other people. Unlike before, you no longer need the help of a third-party app to accomplish this task. After taking a screenshot, click its thumbnail and start to annotate it. You may delete the file using the same interface immediately or after a while.

Socialized Apple Music

In its latest attempt to be an all-around, social-oriented service provider, iOS 11 has made changes to Apple Music profiles. Upon launching Apple Music after the update, the app will walk you through the process of creating your profile and privacy configurations. Later on, you can find your profile and settings in the “For You” tab on your profile image.

Type and Translations via Siri

For the very first time, you may now engage with Siri without saying anything. iOS 11’s “type to Siri” feature enables you to key in your questions for your IA assistant. Another Siri upgrade available are the Siri translations. As the name suggests, Siri can now translate foreign words real-time. This is a helpful tool, especially when you’re traveling.

Though most of the new features of iOS 11 are geared toward iPad users, it comes with different fun and unique features for iPhone users too.



Holiday Gift Ideas for Techie Teens

Granting the needs and wishes of teenagers during the holidays can be challenging. Not to mention, it could break your wallet. Teens may be the most difficult to please on your Christmas gift list. This is particularly true for techie teens who seem to know every gadget online.

But, don’t fret. Here’s a list of techie stuff that will make you the coolest Santa this Christmas.

Sony Bloggie Touch

Virtually every teenager these days is social media savvy. The Sony Bloggie Touch makes it easy for them to post photos and videos on their various social media sites. The gadget features a complete 1080p high-definition recording resolution. Camera-wise, it boasts of a 12.8-megapixel feature. It’s also the perfect gizmo for teens interested in directing and making videos. To make it easy to charge, the Bloggie Touch also comes with a flip-out USB arm.

Fire HD 8 Tablet

For techie and bookworm teens, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Tablet is the perfect gift. The e-Reader has a built-in 16 GB storage. If that’s not enough, it also has a MicroSD slot for expandable storage that can accommodate up to 200 GB. That makes the unit capable of storing more than a thousand e-Books. The reader/tablet can also save multimedia files, stream services, and access social channels. It also features 400,000+ apps available for download. Fire HD comes with a 12-hour battery life and comes in four colors (blue, black, tangerine, magenta). Best of all, it has FreeTime Parental Controls.

ARTIX Headphones

For the techie-slash-music lovers, go for the ARTIX headphones. This accessory is colorful, comfortable, compact and adjustable. The headphones have a padded band so it can fit heads of every size. ARTIX’s nylon cable is tangle-free. Its earpieces are foldable so the set can be easily stored in a backpack or a locker. Sound-wise, the headphones have a clear, crisp and balanced quality. They even have a microphone and a control pad to accept and end calls.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

A sure-fire hit, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a combination of retro and modern styles. Teenaged girls, in particular, love this gadget. It’s a fun update on the Polaroid camera. It’s cute and portable. It also comes in five fresh colors (cobalt, smokey white, lime green, ice blue and flamingo pink). Much like the Polaroid camera, Instax Mini is a point-and-shoot camera. The pictures are also developed in seconds. The teen-friendly camera has a built-in exposure measurement and recommended settings. And as a brand-new feature, Instax Mini 9 now has a selfie mirror for the perfect selfie alone or with friends.

LaCie Skwarim Portable Hard Drive

A portable hard drive is a device every teen needs. This is especially true for those who use different computers at home and in school. The LaCie Skwarim Portable Hard Drive is both practical and visually appealing. The latter being a big deal for teens. It is compact and provides 60 GB storage – enough space for homework and other media files.


All these gizmos are available in physical stores and e-commerce sites. Happy shopping!

HP Spectre x360 Convertible Laptop Review

HP Spectre x360 Convertible Laptop Review

Are you on the lookout for the best laptop in the market today? You’re in for a big decision as there are tons of choices out there.

It can be quite tough and tricky to pick one that best suits your needs and wants. The big brands continue to sell laptops that are competitive both in quality and performance. And as you look at the various brands, models and specs, your decision will vary too.

In this article, we will see how one of the most well-reviewed convertible laptops today — the HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop – fares against others.

HP Spectre x360 Specs

HP has already made a name in the electronics industry. The brand isn’t new to us, and their laptops speak of the company’s good reputation when it comes to quality.

The Spectre x360 lives up to the expectations of people who are looking for a 2-in-1 laptop. The unit’s exterior looks amazing, with a carefully crafted chassis that comes in two colors — ceramic white and dark ash silver. The pale gold and copper luxe accents make the laptop glow even more too.

The Spectre is also ultra-thin at only 10.4-mm in height, and lightweight at only 1.1kg.

One of the most notable features of this model is its hidden hinges. It makes it possible for you to completely fold the laptop in an instant. HP drew its inspiration from the mechanism of a high-quality cabinet.

The entire unit is made of aluminum carbon fiber coat. These materials do not only make the laptop look sleek and classy; they also make it durable.

As per hardware makeup, the Spectre poses great enhancements on its keyboard. It is now illuminated, so you wouldn’t have to worry about working or surfing the net in the dark. This especially helps when you’re in a plane, too.

The touchpad is wider so you can navigate through your display more conveniently. It also has built-in multi-touch support.

As for battery life, you can count on the Spectre. It lasts up to 11 hours and 15 minutes in total. It also adopts Fast Charge technology that will last you an entire day of not charging. The battery is slim but contains more power than other HP models.

The unit was also upgraded to the 8th generation Intel core processor. It supports both Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 quad-core U-series systems. This is a bonus for customers who want to upgrade to a much speedier laptop.

Spectre’s storage is another bonus. It has 1TB PCle-based storage that is 17 times faster than the average hard drive. The Spectre x360 model is sold for $1,149.

Overall Verdict    

If there are any cons to buying the HP Spectre x360, these would include the stiff volume buttons and the narrow view. However, the cons are relatively minimal. So if you are looking for a bang for the buck, this unit is an excellent option. It’s speedy, sleek, high-performing, and easy to use, giving you almost everything you’re probably asking for.