Review: I Drank Beyonce’s Lemonade and It Was Delicious

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I just watched Lemonade in its entirety last night, and I was blown away.

My wife and I were watching Lemonade while eating dinner last night, and as the flames were engulfing the room Beyonce was lamenting in, I exclaimed, “Beyonce’s on the list.”

My wife asked, “she wasn’t already?”

“She is now.”

Review: Just Raspberries, LLC’s Raspberry Sunshine Jam

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It’s just raspberries man!

I write this, hopefully, as the first official review of a Just Raspberries, LLC jam after receiving their Commercial Processing License.  Receipt of which allows them to sell their great products to Maryland and the rest of the world.

Just Raspberries CEO and Unexpected Farmgirl, Erika Forsythe, has been making raspberry jam for a year now.  They just don’t make any old raspberry jam, Just Raspberries is an artisanal jam.  Erika offers an assortment of flavors, pairing raspberries with other ingredients spanning balsamic vinegar to hot habaneros.  When I discovered that Erika was curating raspberry jam flavors at her home a year ago, my curiosity was peaked because I have an affinity for the stuff.

Erika Forsythe: The Unexpected Farmgirl

Erika Forsythe: The Unexpected Farmgirl

theSync: The Samsung Galaxy Gear Distilled

We all love the Pebble, we’re looking forward to the Kreyos and this week Samsung released the Galaxy Gear, the newest smart watch hotness to hit the scene. Smartwatch afficianados have been patiently waiting for a watch from the big electronics companies and this watch may be the bees knees. Is this the smartwatch you’re finally going to get? Let’s see.

The Galaxy Gear’s Specs are Impressive

The Gear runs Android 4.3 powered by a 800 mHz processor with a 320 pixel square screen. Plus, it has a 1.9 megapixel shooter and can capture 10 second video helping you channel your inner Dick Tracy. In addition to it’s hardware support, Sammy announced the Gear with an app ecosystem already place with Evernote, myFitnessPal and other apps ready to go. That’s a big plus. Then when you throw in Samsung’s screen tech, the Gear doesn’t disappoint with its feature set and specifications.

It Looks Really Good

The Gear Samsung showcased wasn’t the wrap around watch we were titalized with in concept photos. The Gear has a traditionally flat face reminiscent of old-school electronics watches with a two piece build. Sporting a rainbow assortment of rubber straps, the Gear will pair nicely with your New Balances or lulu Lemon workout gear.

So what don’t we love. Well…

The Charge Sucks

According to Samsung, the Gear has a maximum daily charge. You read that right. 24 hours. This makes the Gear a bad choice to replace your activity tracker and function as a serious time piece. I’m all cool with the Gear being early adopter hardware, but I barely plug in any of my accessories and having to remind myself to plug my watch in everyday isn’t going to work. I can get down with the Gear if they gave me a weekly charge, or even 5 days, but remembering to plug this sucker in everyday sucks. And for many, the allure of having a Watch+ and using it as an activity tracker and sleep monitor, which is what I do with my FitBit flex, is what makes smart watches attractive.

10 App Limit

I understand the desire and greatness of running a real OS like Android on your watch, but the size of the OS and it’s strains on the hardware limit the app count to 10. In a world in which we’re used to installing 40 or 60 apps this won’t cut it in the Dick Tracy, James Bond department. If anything it would have been nice to see Samsung ship a smartwatch with it’s own brand of QNX or other power sipping operating system. It get the allure of running Android, I really do, but I’d bet real money that is light RTOS like QNX would provide more flexibility with fewer demands on the juice.

Price

I’m really not that upset over the price, I think $300 is priced right for a device like this, but when I spoke with friends and peers, at 300 large, the price is a bit steep for a watch that has a maximum charge of 1 day. Many will let the app count and crazy rubber band colors slide, but those I spoke with can’t stomach having to plug a watch in every day. And for me this doesn’t make the Gear a winner.

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With Qualcomm’s Toq, Sony’s SW2, and standard bearers like the Pebble competing against Sammy, we can be sure to expect more innovation in smart watch and wearable technology. What remains to be seen is what watch wearers like myself are willing to pay for and live with. For now we need battery life and watch makers need to take note. And…maybe Apple will announce a watch or wearable tomorrow.

I’d love to know what you think about Sammy’s Galaxy Gear, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for listening and reading. You’ve been synced.

Review: Twinkie 2.0 Unboxed, Unwrapped, Loved

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The Sweetest Comeback Ever: We Shall See

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must realize that there are elements in this world that are beyond his control. For this reviewer, one of those moments was the day Hostess reported that it could no longer continue making the Twinkie. The Twinkie IS an American icon. Just like Apple pie, Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Miley Cyrus twerking; you need American inqenuity to produce this beloved snack cake.

Stay Away

Stay Away

So it was with great delight, that in the late Spring, we learned that the Twinkie would make a comeback mid-summer. In the meantime we were feted with cheap imitators and wannabees such as that sponge monster, the Dreamie, released by Tastykake.

Like a pheonix rising from the ashes, Hostess Brands released the Twinkie 2.0 and returned its greasy, sugar goodness to the supermarket end-cap where it belongs. I know, I’m a bit late, but I wanted to be thorough and took my time to write a real review of Twinkie 2.0 and not let my giddiness and excitement influence an otherwised unbiased review.

 

Unboxing

Hostess Brands, LLC, the company emerging from Hostess Inc.’s bankruptcy, certainly cashed in on “the return” of the Twinkie and splashed “The Sweetest Comback Ever” prominently on the Twinkie 2.0’s packaging. Other than this addition the packaging remained the same. Previously, Hostess would pack Twinkies in one row or two row configurations. Hostess Brands, LLC went for the two row configuration with this new release.

Individually Wrapped Goodness

When purchasing Twinkies at retail you get 2 cakes per package with the soft cardboard backing in plastic wrapping. Depending on your local gas station or 7-11, you’ll be paying between $0.89 to $1.29 for the two pack. At super market pricing expect to pay about $4.00 on average. I received my review units from Food Lion for $3.79 before Extra Value Savings.

I Started Salivating

I Started Salivating

The cakes are individually secured in plastic wrappings in a two row configuration. The wrapping hasn’t changed with the typical clear red and white wrapping.

Lots of our childhood treats taste differently now; and being a nastalgic GenX-er, my primary concern was whether or not Hostess Brands changed the formula. After unwrapping and flipping the Twinkie over I was pleased to see the tell-tale filling holes where the pipets or offset spatulas loaded the Twinkie. Keeping the old features in a new release are very promising.

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At the time of this writing, news reports have been circulating that the size of the Twinkie is smaller and is reported to have a longer shelf life than Twinkies of days past. I suspect this is due to freezing.  What’s unfortunate is that the reseller has the choice of receiving frozen Twinkies.  Any lover of cake desserts knows that the cold chill adversely affects the snack’s consistency and flavor.  We’ll have to wait and see what actually shakes out.  Either way, thawed Twinkies don’t inspire confidence.

The Taste

I am happy to report that Twinkie 2.0 doesn’t disappoint. The sponge is there, the oiliness sticks to your fingers, and the filling has that familiar mouth feel. For those that may not know, the Twinkie is a yellow cake, but that doesn’t imply that it’s a lemon cake or has a prominent vanilla flavor. The flavor is Twinkie and users will be in for disappointment if they expect a traditional cake flavor.

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The cakes were sweet, satisfying, and firmer than what you will experience with Tastykake’s Dreamie. Some users may desire a lighter or fluffier cake, but cakes in this configuration usually fall apart during the eating experience. This happens with cheaper imitations and you should just avoid these with extreme prejudice.

Admittedly, the units available during my review felt a little heavier than I recall, but we are early on in the production process. Remember, Twinkies have a long shelf life, and it may take some time for the tweaks to kick in and be made available for general consumption.

There were some other inconsistencies noted in my review units. The filling holes were inconsistently distributed amongst the cakes; meaning, that the holes were not centered in the same location from one cake to another. Not a big deal, but this could lead to some users not getting the same amount of filling+cake in every bite during their eating experience. Not a big deal, but possibly an annoyance depending on the individual user’s mouth size.

I couldn’t confirm whether or not the volume of filling has changed. As a part of ongoing product evaluation I’ll determine if the filling amount has changed.

Conclusion

The Twinkie 2.0 is a winner. Hostess Brands has hit all of the right marks in appearance, texture, and most importantly flavor. There are some nagging issues with weight and consistency that can be overcome, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these cakes. Will Twinkie 2.0 keep Hostess Brands in the green this time around? Only time will tell, but for this reviewer, he hopes this Twinkie stays around till the end of time.

Twinkies are available at your local 7-11, supermarket, and gas station in wide circulation.

Milk not included.

theSync: The Art of Digital Storytelling

We’re in the second decade of the 21st century and we’ve witnessed a ton of changes regarding our business relationships with customers. Years ago, it was about setting up a website and making it easy for people to reach you by phone first, then email. Today we need to do more.

You need:
o Not a website, but a blog with functionality
o An e-book
o A podcast
o A YouTube channel

So, if you’ve noticed the big guys are moving in the direction of using the web as more of a media delivery mechanism that showcases the product vs. just communicating the product. It’s not enough to offer your products online, but you need interaction involving video, graphics, and music.

1. Use Tools to Produce Your Own Magazine

Tools like Periodical and Creativist can be used to distribute an online magazine to the web and tablets like the Kindle and iPad. Both tools allow you to publish to the web at no cost, and from 29 to 39 a year you can publish to Kindle and iOS devices. Periodical is simple so that you can create your magazine on their site and link to it from anywhere, and Creativist can be used to push great looking content everywhere.

2. Find an Audience for Your Blog

Discovery is the most challenging aspect to content creation. With more blogs, bloggers, and content being added to the Internet every hour, finding the best content can be tough. And for you the creator, finding an audience is just as tough. Glipho is a publishing network that helps you promote your work socially. Glipho is more than a tool; it’s a publishing system that helps you hook into a network of readers that can share your content. You will get SEO tools out-of-the-box to help your audience find you online. The founders of WordPress, though the blogging system was getting too big for its britches; therefore, they created a super simplified approach to blogging in Ghost. Ghost is built for the mobile web and is responsive first, and desktop second.

3. E-Books Are Easy to Distribute and Provide Value

The experts are promoting their services and brands using e-books. I personally read a lot of e-books. Well written e-books are specific, short, and provide real nuggets of value information. The guys that successfully use e-books to promote their products make sure they give enough information to prospects to make them dangerous but encourage them to come back for more. Usually, a user has to exchange their e-mail address for an e-book. This in effect helps the business build their prospect lists. New e-books aren’t just static text. Using tools like iBooks Author gives you the opportunity to ship e-books embedded with rich text, audio, and even video. iBooks Author is available at no cost for your Mac computer. If you decide to use iBooks Author make sure you take it all the way and publish your works in the iBookStore even if they are free. Right now, I bunch of y’all are howling, Will I don’t have a Mac. Don’t fret you can still get all of this e-book hotness. For $200, you can create interactive PDFs that have audio and video using Adobe Acrobat XI. I’ve seen some really slick resumes as well as e-books in PDF format. Acrobat Pro isn’t cheap, but it isn’t expensive either. If you want to stand out you should take a look at this product.

4. Appify Your Presentations

I know y’all love talking apps. Apps are great communications tools but I don’t think we should appify everything. Keep in mind, that Apple exercises the option to not allow apps in the App Store and we’ve worked with companies in which Apple has said their app would be better served as a web application.

But, if you can offer your customers a unique experience, building a custom app in which you can deliver more interactivity and deals is a great way to go. And keeping it simple will cost you less money.

Here’s what you need to pass the Appization test:
• Offer something the web can’t
• Provide a great experience
• Allow people to communicate with your business
• Lead generator

A local company, Fifth Tribe, has developed a tool that does all of this. Fifth Tribe is developing a tool that will convert your PowerPoint presentation into a fully operational iPad app. Modern PowerPoint gives you the capability to embed video, audio, and HTML, and Fifth Tribe as built a tool that brings all of your content over. Fifth Tribe is currently in beta and you can check them out at fifthtribe.com.

I’d love to know how you’re communicating your businesses capabilities, please leave a word in the comments.

Thanks for listening, and reading. You are synced.