Like any good Christmas looney, blogging is the last thing on my mind right now, way, WAY behind playing with all my, er, I mean, helping my daughter play with all her new toys. >.>
So this is just a quick pop in to say that I hope everyone had a great holiday and that you’re all recovering nicely from all the stress/fatigue/food/alcohol/family. 🙂
We had an excellent day here in the Tobin household, even though the husband and I were feeling a little under-the-weather. The little missy set out at her presents after only about 7 hours of sleep (not much for a three-year-old!) and went around like a lunatic until about 9 in the evening, only after I forced her to go to bed because she looked like she was going to drop. She got everything she could have wanted and more and is currently learning how to use her brand new LeapPad Ultra…which will hopefully keep her away from my tablet!
The hubby got the present he wanted most…a PS4, and I got lots of awesome stuff like the Marvel and DC worlds books that hubby bought me to learn all about superheroes, because yes I’m an enormous nerd, shut up. 😛
So again, to everyone out there, a very Happy Holiday! Hope you had an awesome time if you celebrate a gift-giving holiday I hope that you got everything you wanted! ❤
Now here’s the thing…chances are that if you haven’t already purchased this present for your loved one, it’s not going to happen before the holiday season. As I mentioned in a previous post these two devices are THE THINGS to get this year, so if didn’t either pre-order one or camp out all night for a midnight release, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re not going to get one. Good luck.
That said, I still felt I should mention them because, again, they’re going to be THE THINGS this year. Every gamer out there (except for the PC gamers, who we will not speak of here…;)) is going to want one or the other, or perhaps even both, so if your loved one is anything like my husband, the fastest way to their heart is one of these two devices.
Just makes sure you’re get the proper one. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of a console war. @_@
A Media “Box”
Do you have a loved one in your life who watches a lot of their media on their computer? Someone who has tons of movies and TV shows on their hard drive, or who prefers Netflix and Hoolu to satellite television? You may want to consider getting them a media box!
There are a variety of brands out there, but the basic idea of each of them is that they allow you to stream a variety of file types and utilize a number of internet-based services on your television. Depending on which box you decide on you can either place your files on a personal hard drive and connect directly to the box, or you can set up your internet and network sharing options so that the box can stream files over the network from your computer to your television. Additionally, many of the options out there have access to all kinds of internet services.
This one might require a bit of research to decide which box is best for your particular loved one. My husband and I personally have two WDTV boxes (one older one that doesn’t have wireless internet capabilities, and a newer one that has both wireless and it’s own internal hard drive), and while we’ve had our issues with them (WDTV support is effectively useless) we’ve definitely made great use of them. For this time of the year my husband has a collection of Christmas specials on a hard drive so that we can enjoy holiday fun on any television in the house all season long. 🙂
Depending on which one you choose, this gift will run you anywhere from about $80 to $200+.
Plan you strategy carefully…when considering a gift that will actually end up costing the recipient money (hello, monthly data plan!) you must be very careful. If your recipient is currently on a plan with an older phone, you don’t want to set up a new plan that will be costing them three times as much each month. Similarly, if your recipient doesn’t currently have a cell phone at all, you must take into consideration that they have no intention of paying a monthly bill for something they hadn’t bothered to buy for themselves.
That said, if you have someone who is looking to upgrade their phone, or you’re in a situation in which you’re going to be paying the bill anyway (such as a gift between spouses), this is a great idea. My personal experience has shown time and again that even people who think that they have no use for a smart phone almost always end up loving them in the end. Even if your recipient is not the kind of person to hang out on Facebook or feels the need to check their email a hundred times a day, smart phones are just outrageously useful in a number of ways. My husband and I might have wasted our entire shopping trip to New Brunswick being as lost as a blind puppy if it weren’t for our phones and the Google Maps app.
Of course the price-range on this gift can vary dramatically depending on what you’re looking at. Some dealers will be offering last-gen phones (which are still perfectly excellent devices) for $0 with certain packages and contracts. The newest phones will cost anywhere up to several hundred dollars, depending on what you’re buying, whether you’re buying it outright or with a contract, and whether or not you’re paying for the contract in question yourself. Again, plan carefully.
It’s also worth mentioning that you might want to suss out the recipient of this gift on what kind of phone they might be most interested in. There are lots of iPhone enthusiasts out there, just as there are many people who would want literally any other phone before an iPhone. I personally love my iPhone, but if I were going to buy a new phone now I would definitely go for one in the Samsung series. Be careful not to get the exact opposite thing that your loved one would want!
Do you have any awesome suggestions for electronic gifts? Please share!
Stay tuned for Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 3 – TOYS!
This slightly late, fatigue-riddled post is brought to you by a mother who loves Christmas and loathes shopping.
Ladies and Gents, there are less than six weeks to shop before Christmas, and while that may seem like plenty I’m here to tell you that it is NOT. As I mentioned before, my husband and I have a method of shopping for Christmas all year through…if we see something in January that we think is a good gift for someone, we’ll pick it up. But we do still do some actual shopping coming up to the holidays because obviously.
Yesterday we made one of those such shopping trips to the city, hoping to tie things up as best we could so we wouldn’t have to worry about it. I won’t say that the stores and malls were packed, but for a Wednesday they were pretty darn busy.
And here’s the thing. It’s only going to explode from here on out. You just watch; before you know what happened it’s going to take you an hour and half a bottle of Advil just to pick up some milk after work.
Tonight, at midnight, stores are going to be having late night releases of the Playstation 4. Shortly after, there will be similar releases for the XBox One. This is the first stage in insanity, because no matter how hard you try to explain to people that something is the biggest device of the season and that “we’re all sold out dammit, and no we’re not hiding any in the back, why the hell would we do that?”, people will still flood the stores, kicking and screaming and positively losing their minds because they weren’t on-the-ball enough to pre-order the most important thing that their loved one wants for Christmas. The stores will be packed with these people from tomorrow straight up to Christmas Eve, mark my words.
The second stage in the insanity comes two weeks from now. I’m not sure how many people have noticed this besides my husband and I, but I’m willing to bet it’s not many…see, because of the timing of US Thanksgiving this year, Black Friday lands at the very end of the month. The sales and warnings (ONLY X-NUMBER OF DAYS LEFT, DAMMIT!) that prompt people to run to the stores with credit card in hand are coming late this year, which can only incite further “Oh crap, I haven’t started shopping yet!” panic. On a similar note, Cyber Monday (which, reasonably, comes after Black Friday) will also be late, meaning that the post and shipping companies are going to be slogged with goods purchased online that absolutely must make it to their destinations by Christmas even though they have significantly less time to do so than they have in the past. (In other words, if you’re planning on shipping something to a loved one for Christmas, you better take into consideration that delivery times are going to be much worse this year than they were last year).
The third stage in the insanity is, quite simply, the same stage we deal with every year. People wait until the last minute. They rush in with heads full of stress, short fuses, and no idea what they’re going to buy. They traipse into stores with only the vaguest idea of the toy their kid wants and expect every sales associate to know exactly what they’re talking about when all they can offer is broad descriptions like, “this princess” or “this superhero”. They don’t plan ahead, is what I’m getting at here.
I beg you, don’t be these people. These people are the reason that Christmas turns into a huge, stress-filled ball of anger and frustration. Plan ahead. Start shopping NOW (if you haven’t already), and put some effort into it beforehand. It’s really not that difficult to open a Sears Wish Book and get your kid to point to the exact toys they want, or get them to write a letter to Santa. And (though it’s too late now for the PS4 and XBox One), if someone you love is super-excited for something that’s highly anticipated enough to be having huge midnight-release parties all across the continent, you may want to consider getting that item ordered in advance. If there’s one thing everyone should have learned the year the Nintendo Wii came out it’s that just because you want it doesn’t mean that the stores are going to have it for you, especially of ten million other people want it at the same time.
This Christmas PSA brought to you by a woman who watches this stuff happen year after year and wonders how nobody ever seems to catch on.
Early this week, Sony took a step toward teaching its video-game industry competition how to deal with demanding customers: listen to them.
For those who don’t know, this week is E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) during which, amongst other things, the big video-game companies announce what will be upcoming from them over the next year. This year Sony (Playstation) and Microsoft (XBox) are talking about their new consoles coming out this holiday season: the Playstation 4 and the XBox One. There have been a lot of interesting bits of information floating around on these consoles for a while now, but over the past couple of days Sony has all but secured their place in the consumer’s hearts (and wallets).
How did they do it? They listened to their customers.
Microsoft’s reveal was marred by a slew of announcements that had the consumers raving mad. Amongst these were:
– major restrictions on “used games” including that only pre-approved retailers will be allowed to take your trade-ins (meaning there’s less competition and you’ll end up getting less money for them) and that used games can only be sold once, at which time they are locked to that buyer’s Microsoft account for all time.
– games will be restricted to the Microsoft account that has purchased it, meaning that you can’t lend a game to a friend; it won’t work on their system because they didn’t pay for it.
– the XBox One must been connected to the internet, even if you aren’t using it. You must “check in” using the internet at least once every 24 hours, or your games will literally stop working. Yes, that includes single player games that do not require internet access in order to play.
– the console carries a starting price tag of $499.
All this, plus a few other startling concerns (the One has a camera and microphone that can never be turned off…look out folks, Big Brother Microsoft is watching!) combined to create a swirling storm of rage in consumers’ bellies. “When I buy a game it’s my right to resell it when I’m done!” they cried, “And checking in via the internet daily? Are you insane? What if I don’t even havethe internet?! And I can’t even lend a game to a friend? What the hell are you getting at? And for all this I’m expected to shell out $500 before even adding on the cost of games and peripherals?!”
And then Sony came along, and they did this:
For those who didn’t watch the video, here’s what Sony did in a nutshell: the exact opposite of Microsoft. They announced that they will be supporting the used game trade; there will be no restrictions on selling or buying used games. In addition to that they announced that your game is in no way restricted to your account; you can happily lend your game to a friend. Finally they announced that you will not require an internet connection to make your games work (unless, obviously, it’s an online multiplayer game) – you can play offline without restriction if that’s how you like to play. To top it all off, the PS4 is going to be $100 cheaper than the XBox One.
You see what Sony did there? They watched Microsoft, listened to all the complaints that consumers raised as a result of Microsoft’s announcements, and then went on stage and addressed those issues. Now, chances are that most of these issues were things that Sony had already addressed previously, but the fact that they brought them to the forefront, and effectively promised that they won’t be doing all the things that Microsoft is doing, is extremely effective marketing. E3 has barely begun and already people all over the Internet are saying that Sony has “won”. I tend to agree; I think Sony has done an excellent job of netting themselves the majority of gamers for this next console generation.
Now, would you believe that I’m going to turn this discussion around and make it about writing? Watch me.
Writers can take a cue from what Sony has done this week. In particular, I am referring to writers who blog, which is a kind of business in which you struggle to get, and keep, readers. Blogging can be a very fickle mistress. Sometimes you will spend a ton of time and effort pouring your heart and soul into a post, only to look at your site’s stats and find that no one has read it. Such a thing can be a huge slap in the face, but it can also be a helpful kick in the pants. Instead of sulking about the posts that barely got any views (and certainly no comments), focus on the ones that did get decent traffic, the ones that people seemed to enjoy. In other words, listen to your “customers”. Look at what they looked at, listen to their comments, and plan future posts accordingly. For instance, a while back I noticed that whenever I wrote about motherhood and little things that I’ve learned from my daughter I tended to get more visitors that day, so I began to make it a regular thing (“Things I Know About Kids”). Another example is how I noticed that posts (mine as well as other bloggers’) that feature at least one image tend to wind up with more visitors since people, even readers, are visual creatures; so I recently began making a point to try and include some kind of media into every post.
It’s a pretty simple concept, when you really think about it… Whether you’re a small-time blogger or a multi-billion dollar corporation, if you neglect to give the consumers what they’re looking for they’re going to go looking elsewhere. Microsoft failed in that lesson this week, while Sony leaped in with a grin on their collective face and showed that they did, in fact, have their ears open to the public. This excellent decision on their part, along with several bad ones on Microsoft’s, will mean a lot when it comes time for gamers to choose which of the new consoles they’re going to be spending their hard-earned money on. Take that lesson and apply it to blogging, and your ability to listen to the readers will determine which blogs they spend their hard-earned time on.
Will you take this lesson, learn to listen to your readers and give them what they want? Or will you be the blogging version of Microsoft, hanging your head and sulking in the corner while all the attention goes to someone else?