5 Things That Aren’t Intuitive or Necessary About iOS7

Whenever there is an Apple software update or a new phone coming out, it is all I can think about, talk about, dream about…you get the picture. So on Wednesday when they were releasing the new iOS7, it wasn’t even a question that I was going to download it as soon as I could. So I obsessively checked my software updates all morning until at 12:55 PM EST I saw I could update. Luckily within about a half hour I had the new software (I say luckily because most of my friends couldn’t download it until much later).

So I started playing around with it…seeing what was new, what was the same, and I noticed that a lot of the commands I had grown used to were a lot different. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to do a lot of things until I Googled it. It was surprising considering Apple is known for creating software and products that you can just figure out – it is engrained in our nature. Also, there were other parts that just are slower. For someone like me who is constantly multi-tasking and looking to get things done as quickly as possible, it was a bit disappointing. So here are some things that may help you as you learn the new iOS7 software.

#1 Closing Apps

We have all grown to love (or maybe just me) how easy it is to close apps to help your battery life. It is the same as deleting apps from your phone so it is easy. Well, I am a chronic app closer. I probably close my apps at least 10-15 times a day. So when I went to do that on iOS7, I was searching for the little x to close our the app, and it wasn’t there. So I tried touching the screens, holding them down (both which opened the apps), and I ended up needing to look up how to actually do it. Turns out, you have to swipe the screen shot of the apps toward the top of your phone screen.

Swiping Apps to Close

Swiping Apps to Close

P.S. This is my first plug for Yahoo Weather. More to come.

#2 Finding The Search Bar vs. The Notifications Bar

With the numbers of apps I have, I tend to constantly use the search box of the phone. But when I went to swipe toward the left, I couldn’t do that. So after playing around some more, I found that when I swiped down on the home screen, I was able to access it. However, there were times when I would swipe down and get the notification bar, and then there were times I would wipe down and get the search box. WHAT WAS GOING ON!?

So after some searching online, I found that if you swipe from the top of your phone down, you will get the notifications tab. I do like that it is now organized to show you calendar on one tab, all of your notifications on another, and missed notifications on a third. +1 Apple. Then when you touch anywhere else on the home screen and swipe down you can access the Search bar. Much more efficient, but still surprising that it wasn’t as obvious.

Home Screen:

Home Screen(Second Yahoo Weather plug above)

Search Bar:
Search Bar

Notifications Bar:

Notifications Bar

#3 Calendar App

I really love the calendar app. And I heard there was going to be updates and wasn’t so sure how I felt about that. Well, turns out, I’m not thrilled. I’ll get used to it, but I’m still not thrilled. The app is a bit difficult to navigate. Sure they now have the yearly, monthly, and daily view that is a more accessible, but the design and layout doesn’t seem as user friendly as it used to. For instance, I want as much space to be dedicated to showing me what’s on my calendar for the day. But the view of the week gets in the way. Oh well, I’ll manage. But some of the features are just not as user friendly as I was hoping. I will say though that I love that there is a whole tab of the notifications bar dedicated to the calendar.

Year View:

Year ViewMonth View:

Month ViewDay View:

Day View

#4 Zooming In & Out

I love flashy new features. Let’s admit it, they are exciting. But after having iOS7 for a few days, I just wish it would get to the command a bit faster.

For instance, when I unlock my phone, it takes a bit longer to do the fancy zoom feature. It reminds me of the PowerPoint animation where the words would fly in. Definitely a cool animation, but as we got older, we stopped using it because you just needed to get to the content of the presentation. The same goes for when you are opening an app. Cool zooming feature. When you close the app. Cool zoom out feature. Exciting the first few times, but after awhile, just not efficient.

Zooming

Zooming

Zooming

#5 Folders

There’s nothing I love more than organizing my apps into folders (it’s what you get when you have a Type A personality). I also liked when Apple limited the number of apps you could have in a folder. Because let’s be serious, you aren’t really using as many apps as you have. But now when apps are in folders it takes a bit longer to get to them.

First you have to open the folder (which takes a bit longer with the whole zooming thing).

Food Screen 1

Then you have to swipe to the right if the app isn’t on the first page.

Food Screen 2

Then you open the app (and the zooming commences).

It’s just a bit more work than necessary.

Yahoo Weather App Plug

Time to divert our attention for a second to an awesome app. After looking at this post, you may have seen the Yahoo Weather app on the home screen. This app completely took me by surprise and is actually the best weather app I have seen (and definitely in my top 10 favorite apps). Let’s look at the functionality…

First, easy to add locations and integration with other Yahoo products (which you see I don’t use), but definitely good to have.

Yahoo Weather App 1

Beautiful picture of Boston that shows what it is like when it is partly cloudy. When it’s rainy, there is a picture of Boston that is rainy. When it is sunny, there is a picture of Boston when it is sunny. And the pictures are never the same. Awesome.

Yahoo Weather App 2

Now of course the current weather, hourly weather, and weather for the week (available in 5 or 10 day increments).

Yahoo Weather App 3

Now some more details about the current weather, and what it will be like today and tonight. Then the map that shows the current weather (very helpful when it’s about to rain).

Yahoo Weather App 4

And finally information about rain, wind, pressure, and the sunrise & sunset. More awesome information.

Yahoo Weather App 5If you are not downloading the Yahoo Weather app now, let’s change that ;)

So back to iOS7, what other changes do you think aren’t intuitive or necessary?

5 Must-Have Apps

Last week I wrote a blog post for the HubSpot Marketing blog called 11 Apps Every Marketer Should Download. I always love writing posts about apps that help people with their jobs, but as I was writing that post, I couldn’t help but think of all the apps that I love but do not necessarily help me with my job. So here are 5 must-have apps that provide value outside of the workplace. (not including social media apps or any other productivity apps).

Songza

Everyone needs a playlist. Whether you are working, running, or relaxing, there is often a need to listen to some music. Songza takes this a step further than Pandora and Spotify by taking into account what day it is, what you may be doing, and chooses an appropriate playlist based on that.

So tonight for example, I am relaxing on a Saturday night after a long week and a busy weekend.

Step 1: It’s Saturday night. What are you doing?

Step 2: Based on what you are doing (relaxing at home), what genre do you want to listen to?

Step 3: Today’s Relaxing Hits? Okay. Pick a playlist.

This is awesome! Depending on the time of day and mood I am in, I always want to listen to different songs. During the work week, it recognizes that you may need an energy boost, may want to play music that is appropriate for the workplace (everyone has been there when your head phones don’t work for a second and everyone can hear your music), or you need music without lyrics to work to. Songza takes listening to music a step further to really pay attention to your mood and time of day. My personal favorite would probably be the “Drop-a-beat Workout” playlist when I work out in the mornings or after work.

HeyTell

Throughout the day, you are ALWAYS texting. But there are sometimes when you are driving and cannot text or just about to finish a project and do not want to take a time to stop what you are doing to send a text. That is where HeyTell comes in. HeyTell is basically a walkie talkie for your smart phone.

Simply hold down the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button, say whatever you need to say to the person you are sending the message to, let go of the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button and you message with be sent to another person. As soon as that person opens the apps, your message will be played aloud. It is simple, efficient, and easy to use. The picture above is someone sending else sending a message to me so as you can see, it appears in your phone just like other messages. If you tap the arrow to the right of my name, you can listen to past messages.

Dogsly

As a dog lover who is not quite at the point where I can buy my own dog, I use Dogsly to get my daily “fix.” Dogsly is basically Instagram for dogs. People post pictures of their dogs and share with others to see. There is an option to share pictures, “like” pictures, keep track of your own pictures, and even just look at your favorite pictures (as shown below).

This app targets dog lovers and has really garnered a lot of attention. After all, even Foursquare gives you the option to have cute puppies in its email communications!

360

When panoramic photography first came out, it was a big hit. The stand 3×5 or 4×6 pictures just didn’t do it for some people. But getting the longer view was valuable for people who wanted something more. Instead of piecing together 3 or 4 separate pictures, the camera automatically did it for you.

But here comes 360. 360 allows you to have a complete view of everything around you. The way the app works is you hit a record button, spin in a circle with your phone 2-3 times (to get the top, middle, and bottom shots), and then the app pieces your photos together. You can share the image on social media, email it to your friends, or just enjoy it on your phone. You can even use a gyroscope setting that allows you to move around in a circle after the picture has been taken so you really feel like you are in the place the picture was taken.

When I went hiking at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado, I used this app. To understand what I explained above, check out my picture here. You can click on the picture, and move left or right with your mouse to watch the picture spin.

Billr

At the end of a meal with a large group of people, everyone always scrambles to figure out how much he or she owes. Sometimes there is one person who will spend time splitting the bill with a pen and paper as everyone watches nervously to make sure they are not paying more than they ate or drank. I was usually the person who sat dividing up bills (which would take a good 5-10 minutes depending on the number of people at the table). But Billr does everything for you.

Step 1: Select the number of people at your table (up to 16 people which I did end up using a week ago). This time, let’s just use 3.

Step 2: Put in each item that the people at your table ate or drank.

Step 3: How much does everyone want to tip? Use the tax from your state (Boston, MA is 7%).

Step 4: See what everyone owes (down to the penny).

Step 5: Share the greatness of this app by texting or emailing your results!

And that’s that! What are the “must-have” apps that you use?

Instagram for $1 Billion…What’s Next?!

When I read that Facebook was buying Instagram for $1 billion, I had a bit of a different reaction than everyone else.  You heard a lot of complaints about Facebook continuing to take over other apps (first Gowalla and now Instagram!?)  You heard a lot of, “Are you serious!? ONE BILLION DOLLARS?”  You heard a lot of people just going crazy over two of their favorite pieces of technology coming together.

So what do I think?

I think this is awesome.  I love pictures.  Instagram brings me together with my friends from all over the country, takes away all of the noise from status updates and simply gives a picture.  I’m a visual person so it is perfect for me.  I, of course, love Facebook, but Facebook does not understand mobile apps and photography like they need to.  Sure they invented tagging pictures and created a more interactive experience for photography.  But Instagram can teach Facebook about what it takes for a good mobile experience and what mobile users are looking for.  Facebook has always struggled with their app, and Instagram has always been applauded by their app.  And after all, everything is headed toward mobile now so this will be important for Facebook’s business.

But what really made headlines was the fact that Instagram had 13 employees, has not been around as long as many of the other successful start-ups (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but has still found so much success.  How many times have you seen a new product or app and thought “Why didn’t I think of that?  That was so obvious!”  Photo sharing is not a new invention.  People have been sharing photos since the beginning of time.  But Instagram took it to the next step to make it a packaged experience.

This past weekend I was furniture shopping, and there was a couch with a chaise that could be replaced with a smaller cushion so it became a regular sized couch (aka 2-3 cushions straight across).  What an obvious but awesome invention!  And how many times have you looked at the Draw Something! app and thought, “Of course!  If Words With Friends, Chess With Friends, etc. have been so popular, of course ‘Pictionary With Friends’ would be popular!”  It is all about thinking about what people NEED or WANT and thinking of a way to solve that problem or meet that desire.

My junior year at Boston University, I took a series of four classes infamously known as Core.  You were put on a team with 7 other people and had to invent a product that doesn’t exist.  Then over the semester, you had to create a business plan that was as detailed as figuring out where your office building and production facilities would be and how much it would cost to produce the product.  There were marketing, finance, operations, and information systems sections that went into excruciating detail about your plan and future profitability.  We had to think of multiple products before ultimately deciding on the TripShield.  But the way we thought about it was by thinking of what problem people had — what they were unsatisfied with — and how we could fix it.  We thought about wires lying around college dorms and in dangerous places for young children.  We then thought of a way to fix it with the TripShield.

Not every company will have success like Instagram. They are really the black sheep of our time (see TechCrunch article). But every so often a company with an awesome ideas gets likely and, well, gets $1 billion dollars.

What do you think made them stand out more than other companies who have these awesome, unique ideas?

OpenTable + Foursquare

I am a big fan of OpenTable.  And I am a big fan of Foursquare.

Whenever I go out to dinner, I make a reservation on OpenTable (if the restaurant is on it).  Whenever I go anywhere, I check in on Foursquare.

When I use OpenTable, I get either 100 or 1,000 points (depending on the restaurant).  When I use Foursquare, I get between 1-5 points (or maybe even more depending on Foursquare).

Before you go to dinner, you make a reservation on OpenTable.  When you get to the restaurant, you check-in on Foursquare completing the cycle.  OpenTable is the proactive action, and Foursquare is the reactive action.  They are two halves to a whole.

So it only makes sense to bring the two together.

Imagine this: you make a reservation on OpenTable for your favorite restaurant worth 100 points.  When you get to the restaurant, you tell the host or hostess that you are there to redeem your 100 points.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You then check-in on Foursquare, sharing with your network of friends.  You get some bonus points.  Then you share on Facebook, Twitter or both and you get even more points.  But why does this matter?

OpenTable builds the app.

OpenTable would need to be the one to create the app to connect with Foursquare.  But why would they bother when they already rule the online reservation space?  And they already have millions of people using their services.  For every hundred points on OpenTable, you earn $1 in dining credit.  After you get 2,000 points, they will send a $20 gift certificate.  The only way to get points is to make a reservation, and it is a very private, intimate experience.  The only people who know about the reservation are the customer, merchant and OpenTable.

But if you could get more points by checking in on Foursquare, tweeting out the check-in and posting on Facebook, your friends would see the benefits of OpenTable.  OpenTable makes it easier to make a reservation without calling many restaurants.  And by checking in, tweeting or posting, you are endorsing OpenTable’s service.  The lazy tweets or posts would give credit to OpenTable while also spreading the world about the service.  The tweets and posts could even lead to a landing page that encourages visitors to immediately sign up for an OpenTable account, make your first reservation and download the mobile app.

Currently, when someone makes a reservation, OpenTable gets a lot of data about what a person’s dining habits are: what type of food someone likes, what restaurants they like more than others, what areas of a city a person frequents the most etc.  But there may be more than one OpenTable user present when the reservation is made, but the data is only recorded for the person who made the reservation.  Connecting Foursquare and being able to show how many OpenTable members are at a dinner can help them gather data and even make it more accurate.

OpenTable will also figure out the habits of its members by seeing where they are checking in on Foursquare when they don’t have OpenTable reservations.  OpenTable can use this data to sign on new restaurants that are popular to its members.

Customers can get extra points.

Why would customers be interested in this app?  Well they benefit by getting more points.  Instead of simply getting 100 points for a reservation, they can now get points much faster.  And they become advocates for the restaurant which will not go unnoticed.

Merchants will gain brand advocates.

Why would the restaurants be interested in this app?  Instead of having the private interaction with their customers by using OpenTable, they will now have customers who are broadcasting to their social networks that they have gone to a particular restaurant.  The amount of referrals will drastically increase.

So OpenTable, what do you think?

P.S. Foursquare could benefit from this too.  People complain about their points not meaning anything, right?  And they will not have more access to OpenTable’s millions of customers!  Seems like it could work for both parties…

A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

50 Reasons I Love My iPhone

  1. When I tell Siri I love her, she tells me “You are the wind beneath my wings.”
  2. The battery life is a champ.  I don’t need to charge it all day long like I did with my Android.
  3. I can move and delete my apps effortlessly.
  4. The camera is incredible.
  5. There’s an app for that. It’s actually true.
  6. I FINALLY have access to the “iPhone only” apps.
  7. I can group my apps into categories (love this about Apple).
  8. Find my iPhone. Need I say more?
  9. It is simple connecting to wifi.
  10. The GPS is 1000x better than my old Android GPS.
  11. When I type in a contact’s name, it pops up immediately (definitely did not have that on my last phone – the delay was very long).
  12. iMessage is AWESOME.  Such an easy way to talk to other iPhone users.
  13. Auto correct is REALLY good (it even knows to capitalize the “S” in HubSpot).
  14. Pocket MBTA – it actually tells me exactly how long it will take until the next bus arrives.
  15. It’s white. I’m a sucker for white phones.
  16. It syncs with my iPad and Mac. Thank you Apple; thank you iCloud.
  17. Privacy. Every time I have to open the App Store, it asks for my password. I like that I am the only one who will be able to download apps.
  18. The QR code scanner works.
  19. All it takes to clear my apps is double clicking the home button and deleting the apps currently running.
  20. All it takes to mute my phone is clicking a button. Literally one button.
  21. You can record much longer videos.
  22. All the Apple cords are the same to charge my devices.
  23. Getting the iPhone makes me look like this: 
  24. I get to have a Timeline that looks like this: 
  25. Facetime. I absolutely love Facetime.
  26. I have a camera on both sides.
  27. My apps don’t have to “force close” constantly.
  28. Downloading more apps doesn’t make it slower.
  29. If something happens to my phone, Apple Care will give me a new phone for $49.
  30. Posting pictures right to Twitter ACTUALLY works.  (Note the pattern of things ACTUALLY working on the iPhone)
  31. The phone automatically shows my updates.
  32. Siri recognizes my location and will tell me places that are nearby.
  33. Siri knows me by name.
  34. The notifications for Twitter come immediately.
  35. Streaming videos on YouTube is quick and easy.
  36. Flixster will find movies near me by location.
  37. I will get Foursquare updates before the Android and Blackberry users.
  38. My phone’s apps are sleek and organized.
  39. The games I paid for on the iPad are now on my iPhone.
  40. I’m finally part of the cool kids club (by having an iPhone).
  41. Deleting emails takes a second and does not have any delay.
  42. I can put as many accounts as I want in my apps.
  43. Siri can easily bring up my schedule for each day.
  44. I can simply tell Siri to text someone, give her the message and it sends.
  45. Running one app doesn’t kill my battery.
  46. I have many choices for accessories and apps.
  47. When I have notifications and my screen is locked, I can swipe the app icon across the screen to immediately go to that app.
  48. I have a pull down on the phone of all my notifications.
  49. When I pay for an app, it is worth the money.
  50. Did I mention I’m REALLY excited about having an iPhone?
What’s your favorite part?  Have any unboxing videos to share?

The End of an Era – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I recently wrote a post on the HubSpot blog about marketing lessons from the Harry Potter series.  However, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to get into what this series REALLY means to me.  You have probably seen a lot of tweets and Facebook posts and heard a lot of people talking about their childhood ending with the ending of the series.  And I think that really captures what this series means to me.

I have always been a bit overly excited when it comes to anything Harry Potter related.  When the 7th book came out, I took off of work, got the book at midnight, read until I fell asleep that night and finished the book by the end of the day.  I always saw the movies as soon as they came out (gotta love the midnight premieres) and was beyond excited when I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

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I also wrote a blog post after I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  I think the last paragraph will give you a better idea of my excitement:

I guess all I can say now is 492 days until Part I of the 7th book comes out in theaters, and 730 days until Part II of the 7th book comes out in theaters!  Then we can finally hear Molly Weasley say “Get away from my daughter, bitch!”

So between the trailer and this Hillywood spoof of Harry Potter and “Friday,” I was counting down the days.  Better yet, my birthday is July 14 so right as my birthday ended at midnight, the premiere started.

I was first in line for the premiere (IMAX 3D of course), but I do have to say I’m not the craziest person out there.  I love that everyone dresses up, but our theater was crazy to the point that someone who was dressed in an owl costume (as Hedwig) was flying around the theater for a good amount of time.  Someone else also hushed the theater and then ran in yelling TROLL!  TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!  And the theater started singing Harry Potter Puppet Pals (I may have joined in with this one.)

And a big thank you to Foursquare for creating a Harry Potter badge!

So now for some of my thoughts on the movie.  SPOILER WARNING RIGHT HERE!

I wasn’t sure how they were going to pick off after the previous part, but I think they did a great job of getting right into it (instead of showing flashbacks from previous movies).  The first half had left off with Voldemort getting the Elder Wand, and I think it was right to start there.  At first, there was more talking than action in the movie, but that quickly ended. Harry, Hermione and Ron were quickly escaping death at Gringotts.

I didn’t realize how quickly Harry returns to Hogwarts, but I was excited that the movie got right to it.  I would have liked Harry and Dumbledore’s brother to go into more details about their history, but I understand that needed to be cut from the movie.  Harry confronting Snape soon after that scene definitely made up for that!

But the greatest part of the movie wasn’t the battle between Voldemort and Harry or event their encounter in the forrest. The movie completely overtook me when Snape was killed and Harry went back in his memories to find out the truth about his destiny, Snape’s love for his mother and why Voldemort has been after him.  I could hear everyone around me sniffling (including myself).  It was just such a beautiful portrayal of the Harry Potter story.

There were also many characters who really developed so well in this movie in comparison to previous ones.  Neville Longbottom was the perfect portrayal of a character who went from a scrawny, helpless boy to someone who could look evil straight in the face.  The scene when he stands up to Voldemort is overpowering and inspirational.  Ginny Weasley is also someone else who came into her character very well.  She is now 20 and began filming with the Harry Potter series at age 9 so we really saw her grow up.  But seeing her mourn when everyone thinks Harry Potter is dead was one of her greatest scenes.

Now I know a lot of people did not like the epilogue to the series, but I always loved it.  I loved reading about their lives in the future after the craziness of their years at Hogwarts.  It was AMAZING to see what they would look like in 20 years (and a bit funny for characters like Draco and Ron).  But watching Harry give advice to his son as he embarked on his journey at Hogwarts and seeing him reunite with the now married Ron and Hermione was the perfect way to end the book.

So to J.K. Rowling, thank you for 14 amazing years of Harry Potter.  Like many other people, I feel like I have grown up as Harry has grown up.  And I think I speak for everyone when I say, I cannot wait for Pottermore!

9/11/01 to 5/1/11

They say that you will always remember where you were when you heard breaking news.  My parents remember where they were when they found out about JFK.  I didn’t really grasp the concept of this until September 11.  I was in 7th grade, and I had no idea that anything was going on.  The administration at my school decided that we were too young to be told about the tragic events.  A lot of my classmates were pulled out of school, but there were just rumors flying around about why they were leaving.  My one friend supposedly “broke her ankle” and had to leave school.  When my mom picked me up at school that day, she told me what had happened.  It was my dad’s birthday, and we all felt awkward celebrating his birthday that day.  I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation until I went home and watched the footage.

Fast forward 9 years, 6 months and 2 weeks later to Penn State’s Regional Activity.  We discussed the PR issues surrounding Osama Bin Laden.  How could a country as powerful as the United States not know where he was hiding?  With all the military intelligence, did we actually know where he was?  What are the PR issues surrounding this issue?  What would happen when he was caught?  Would he be killed or would his life be spared?  We toyed with the possibility that the country may know where he is but were not prepared to deal with the public’s outcry once he was captured.  We even suggested that there was a possibility that we have known his whereabouts for years.

Well we were wrong about the “years” part, but little did we know that Obama and his team were tracking Osama Bin Laden for a few months.

Fast forward another month and 6 days to May 1.  I’m on Twitter and all of a sudden my stream starts exploding around 10:00 with news that Obama is going to address the nation at 10:30 EST.  A little under a half hour later people start speculating that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Obviously I don’t believe the news.  I basically have a rule that I don’t believe anything until the New York Times reports it.  Then at 10:44, the New York Times announced it, and my Twitter feed exploded even more.

As I sat and watched the news await Obama’s announcement and watched Twitter, I thought that unless you were on Twitter or Facebook or watching the news at night, you would have no idea.  I called up my family (who often doubts the power of Twitter) to see if they knew about the news.  They were already in bed and had no idea what was going on.  Another family member told me she was taking a walk the next morning and a neighbor shouted to her, “The bastard is dead!” but she had no idea what he was talking about.  It is amazing what the power of social media can do.  Obama’s speech finally came on around 11:45.

I completely support Obama, but I did feel like I was watching a campaign speech.  However, I do feel like he should take some credit for the decisions he has had to make in the past few months that led to these events.  And after a week of being tormented by Donald Trump (whose show was interrupted for Obama’s speech! +1 for Obama), the nation is now applauding Obama.  It is also amazing when you think about the fact that while Obama was planning on capturing/killing Osama Bin Laden, he was dealing with Donald Trump’s petty birth certificate issues.  When Obama said he wanted to show the birth certificate because he had other important things to deal with, who knew it was THIS important.

Even more amazing was some of the articles that came out the next day.  Mashable provided a timeline of the announcement of the news. Techcrunch showed the tweets of a man who tweeted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden without even knowing it!  The New York Times posted one of the greatest articles ever posted called “Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden” that took you through the past eight months as the White House prepared for this raid.  Apparently, they had been following one of Osama Bin Laden’s most trusted drivers for months.  They also had to be very careful not to tell too many people that they thought they knew where he was in case his followers found out and helped him escape.  Everything had to be very carefully planned.

I did not participate in any of the celebratory rallies, but I do wonder what this will mean from a PR standpoint.  Already hundreds of people who lost family members on 9/11 are being called upon by journalists to see what this means to them.  Do they feel a send of revenge?  Do they feel like they have closure?  Does his death help sooth their pain?

There will also potentially be a retaliation against the country from Osama Bin Laden’s supporters especially if the picture of his corpse is released.  His body was already buried at sea to avoid his followers creating a shrine, but did Bin Laden have additional plans in case he was ever captured or killed?

And what does his death do for the image of the United States?  Does it show that we are a powerhouse?  Or will other countries look down upon us for celebrating with rallies across the country?

There are so many questions to be answered, and all we can do is wait as more details about his death are released and the months pass by to really see the reaction of the world.

Foursquare Day

A lot of people laugh at me that I check in wherever I go.  But ever since I got my smartphone in September, I have been addicted to checking in on Foursquare.  So when I heard that there was an actual Foursquare Day, I was obviously excited to celebrate.  Foursquare Day is on 4/16 every year.

For those of you who do not realize the connection:

Four = 4

Four Squared = 42 = 16

So, Foursquare Day is on 4/16.

To celebrate this holiday, I joined Allen & Gerritsen for a day of playing Foursquare in the Boston Common.  I had actually never played foursquare before (apparently I was deprived as a child during recess), but it was a lot of fun.  We ended up changing the rules a bit by allowing the mayor to make up a new rule.  That definitely added a twist to things and made it more exciting.  Check out more pictures from the day at Allen and Gerritsen’s Flickr for #4sqdayBOS.

Photo taken by Tina Yip (@tina_yip)

Thanks to the Digital Incubator at A&G, we also received a great deal at Boloco On the Common to celebrate Foursquare.  When you said “Digital Incubator,” you received discounted burritos.  (They pretended like they didn’t know what I was talking about at first so I went on and on about Foursquare Day, and they just laughed and said they knew what I was talking about from the beginning.  The staff there was really great and fun-spirited!)

To complete a day of recognizing Foursquare, the Explore feature that is part of Version 3.0 chose the places I was going to at night.  It was great to try a new restaurant and new bar in an area of Boston I had never really explored (aka Brookline Village).  I had used the Explore feature before, but I did not find anything I liked too much until this past weekend.  It was great to try out a new place especially on Foursquare Day.

I hope everyone had a great Foursquare Day this past weekend!  Til next year!