UNBOXING: The NEW BlackBerry Leap

This past Thursday, BlackBerry released their new smartphone, the BlackBerry Leap, in the United States.  Priced at an affordable $275, it was hard to pass up, considering how awesome Blackberry 10 is in terms of mobile operating systems.  I have always been a fan of BlackBerry and have been cheering on it’s survival after losing all of it’s domination over the past 5 years or so, and with the ability to run Android apps on it, I had no qualms switching from my Nexus 5 to a BlackBerry device!

BlackBerry Leap packaging

BlackBerry Leap packaging

I received the BlackBerry Leap on Friday from Amazon and immediately wanted to do an “unboxing”

I was at work, so I had to try and do it between work-related duties, so this won’t be very in-depth in terms of photos.

I was immediately impressed by the simple yet attractive black packaging.

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Blackberry Leap box contents

Blackberry Leap box contents

Inside the box was the phone, USB cord, wall charging port, wired headset, safety documents, and the “Getting Started” brochure that walks you through initial phone setup.

Blackberry Leap front

Blackberry Leap front

The phone has a 5 inch display, there is a power button on the top of the phone, volume and mute buttons are on the side to the right of the display, and the MicroSIM and MicroSD card slots are under a cover on the side to the left of the display.

BlackBerry Leap back

BlackBerry Leap back

The back is rubberized for a nice grip and has a speaker toward the bottom of the back.

As for specs:

  • 295 PPI on a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display
  • 2MP front facing, 8MP rear facing cameras
  • 2800 mAh non-removable battery
  • MSM 8960 Dual Core 1.5 GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash + Micro SD
  • Penta Band LTE + 4G Hotspot
  • Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n
  • BT 4.0 / DLNA / Miracast
  • Dual Microphone
  • Speakerphone
  • 9.5 mm profile

Much like the BlackBerry Passport, the BlackBerry Leap isn’t going to be a device for everyone and while the reasons for that are drastically different, that’s the reality. Some people are never even going to consider picking up a BlackBerry Leap because it will simply make them feel like they’re buying an almost identical device to what they already have just in a new package, while others can’t wait to pick up a BlackBerry Leap for the exact same reason.

After a weekend of using the phone, I find that it is a great phone all around. Tons of apps from the Amazon App Store and BlackBerry World (as well as the ability to side load the Google Play store onto it for even more apps) and the call quality and security BlackBerry is known for make for a phone that is a heck of a solid device for a low price.

Review: Gentleman’s Box

A new start-up company out of Detroit has launched something called the Gentleman’s Box.  Gentleman’s Box is a premier subscription box that for $25 per month sends you a uniquely themed box full of products for guys.  Each box contains 4-5 hand-selected items along with the latest issue of GQ magazine. 

I was intrigued so I signed up to receive the first ever box, which arrived today. 

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Gentleman's Box logo on top of box

I opened the box and was presented with instructions on how to “Unbox like a true gentleman.”

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Inside was a card with the month and theme on it and a breakdown of the items and retail prices of the items

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This first ever box contained the November issue of GQ, USB cufflinks (yes… Cufflinks with USB drives), stitched socks, facial cleanser, and a plaid skinny tie.  Total retail cost of this box’s items: $78.  Cost of box: $25. A good deal, right?

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I spent some time Googling the various items to try and see if the listed retail prices are legit, since only the GQ has a price listed on it.  For the most part, it seems like its not just a marketing ploy.  The tie lists for 26ish on various websites, the Billy Jealousy face cleanser checks out at $6 for a 2 oz bottle.  The socks are around $12.  The only thing I can’t find a price anywhere when Google searching for is the USB cufflinks.  The brand is unknown and I highly doubt they are the $100 pairs I see on Amazon.

Anyway, I am glad I tried out this service.  Its not bad for $25 per month.  I may occasionally subscribe to get some new guy things.  As for now, I cancelled.  I am taking a wait and see approach to see if the item quality improves or declines as the service takes off.

My Favourite News Sites: Grand Forks Herald

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Published in Grand Forks, North Dakota, it is the primary daily paper for northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.  It has the second largest circulation in the
state of North Dakota.  The site is not very “flashy” but it is easy to navigate and I like to stay on top of news in the area of my alma mater, the University of North Dakota.

http://www.grandforksherald.com

Associated Bank launching “Express Branch” concept

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By the beginning of December, Associated Bank is going to be launching a new “Express” concept branch after converting an existing branch to this new concept at 640 University Ave in Madison, WI.  Above is a rendering of this new branch.

The front half of the branch will have 24 hour ATM access.

Coming Soon: Worm Burner Golf

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Worm Burner Golf is launching a full site soon. This is the Google AdWords ad floating around Google now.

A new website is launching soon that will be THE place for average golfers to visit and see the latest golf clubs and equipment get reviewed.  Reviews in plain English for the average golfer.

For now, visit the landing page, follow them on Twitter, and get excited.

This is why no one follows you on Twitter

Twitter users often make the decision of whether or not to follow someone in seconds, meaning that you have very little time to impress.

It’s a good idea to take a look at how most people will see your Twitter profile. If someone finds you in his or her Home stream, or clicks on a “Who to follow” suggestion, the Profile Summary pop-up below shows what your potential audience sees of your Twitter presence.

While some people may click “Go to full profile” to find out more before making a decision to follow or not, it’s safe to assume that most will make up their minds from your Profile Summary screen.

This means that you need to make the most of the screen real estate available to you, maximize the potential of your images, make sure your bio reads well and ensure that your tweets are attractive to potential followers.

Here are 10 important things you need to change in order to gain more Twitter followers.

1. You’re a ‘social media guru.’
The only people who call themselves “social media gurus” almost certainly aren’t, so don’t use this awful expression. The same goes for “maven,” “expert” or “ninja.”

You may work in the social media realm, but it’s such a fascinating and ever-changing communications landscape that there is always more to learn.

This came up time and time again in our research as a phrase that puts people off, so find a more creative way to describe yourself and you’ll find more followers.

2. You look like an egg.
The egg look really isn’t in vogue. You only have a few chances to engage people visually on Twitter, so don’t waste them.

Users are seriously dissuaded to follow an account if they can’t “see” the personality behind it. Don’t leave your avatar as the default egg, an image of a celebrity or someone who isn’t you, or anything too risqué. We’d also advise steering clear of GIFs as profile images, which don’t always display correctly across platforms.

The best Twitter avatar is a genuine pic of you and, considering how small the image is often displayed, preferably a head and shoulders shot. Remember: You can get more creative with your Twitter header photo and background.

3. You’re on #TeamFollowBack.
Begging people to follow you in your bio, and promising that you always follow back, is not an attractive premise.

Twitter isn’t about following blindly without good reason — it’s about curating your own stream of content that’s interesting and ultimately tailored to you. It’s perfectly acceptable not to follow people that choose to follow you.

If you’re making promises to follow everyone for the sole reason that they chose to follow you, you’re diluting your Twitter stream with content that may not be of interest, and ultimately cheapening the value of your own attention span.

4. Your following ratio is disproportionate.
A lopsided ratio of users you follow to users who follow you is often a red flag that an account is spam.

It’s understandable — and expected — that you’ll follow more accounts than are following you, but a large disparity in these numbers makes your profile look suspicious.

Try to gather some followers before you go crazy with the “Follow” button, or people won’t want to join your strangely small list of followers.

5. You wrote your bio in third person.
There is dubious advice out there that writing a bio in the third person, as if it’s been written by someone else, will make it sound more professional and objective.

This is bad advice. A third person bio makes you look pompous. It’s obvious you haven’t asked anyone else to write it — who would you ask, your mom? “Bob is very good at social media and always sets the table for dinner.”

Even if you’re using it for professional reasons, Twitter is a personal, social platform and your bio should reflect that. A simple, modest bio — or even a lighthearted, funny version — will attract more followers than a grandiose one.

6. You tweet too much.
Twitter went live mid-2006. If you joined the microblogging site at launch and tweeted three times a day every day since then, you would have penned around 8,000 tweets.

This helps put the number of tweets shown on your account in perspective. If you have tweeted over that 8,000 benchmark, then you’re obviously an above-average tweeter. If you’ve tweeted significantly over that number, it may give people pause when considering whether to follow you.

7. You humblebrag.
In addition to your bio basics and account stats, most people will read your last two tweets when they are checking out your Twitter profile.

One of the things that came up in our research was hatred of the “humblebrag,” and self-aggrandizement in general.

If one of your two most recent tweets contains even a hint of a humblebrag, that potential follower is going to think twice. If you retweet an entire compliment or flattering @ mention, that’s even worse.

8. Robots craft your tweets.
Do you schedule tweets? Or are you signed up to services that auto tweet on your behalf? If your recent tweets look like they were automatically generated, people aren’t going to follow you.

What people want on Twitter is to hear your genuine voice, in real time. They don’t want lofty quotes that you’ve scheduled to go live at strategic periods, stats from your latest workout or what your “top stories” are via a third-party curation service.

Twitter is about engagement, not just broadcasting meaningless words. If you don’t reply to other Twitter users, or otherwise react to tweets and trending topics you see in your stream, you’re doing it wrong.

9. You’re selling something.
If you work in a sales or marketing role, then by all means mention it in your bio. Do not, however, turn your bio into a sales pitch.

It’s bad enough if you use your bio to push a product or service, but if your recent tweets show that you’re all about the hard sell, too, no one is going to be interested in your profile.

Put simply, if you’re using Twitter to sell something in a crude manner, people will not follow you. We all see enough unwelcome advertising on a daily basis without it invading our Twitter streams.

10. You send DM spam.
Finally, if someone has made the decision to follow you, and you automatically DM them a self-promotional or sales message, chances are you can kiss that new follower goodbye.

Direct messages that thank the person for following and urge them to check out a link, such as a page on Facebook or a blog for “more amazing content,” are crass and impersonal.

Don’t be tempted by this ultra-lazy form of marketing, or you’ll deservedly lose followers as soon as you manage to gain them.