How Technology Has Transformed Halloween

Halloween is a time for imagination, fright, social gatherings, and, of course… sugar!  Remember Halloween years ago – the frenzied parents looking for costume ideas that may appeal to their “tween”, and the search for a great scary movie with more than a cheap thrill – which can sometimes seem impossible to find; well, just as technology has shaped businesses and made things easier, so has it morphed Halloween!

The Tracking Application

With a simple download of a free application, every parent can now release their child from the ever embarrassing parent-chaperoned trick-or-treating and keep track of their child via Smartphone as they knock down doors for Halloween goodies! By downloading the various apps (i.e. Find my Friends, AirCover Family Locator, etc…) parents can rest-assured their child is safe with older siblings and/or friendly neighbors and allow their child a night of Halloween fun without compromising their child’s safety or their own peace-of-mind.

Social Media

Whether it’s a local haunted house that’s getting rave reviews, or the newest trends in costumes, social media and the Internet has changed Halloween forever! By finding reviews, costume pictures, and your favorite celebrities, technology has made it easier to enjoy Halloween and share it with people from around the globe. So, when you dress-up for the grown-up Halloween party or take a picture of your little pumpkin, you can now share that image with extended family members and those who are miles away.

YouTube

Although YouTube may be considered a social media platform, it deserved a spot on our list all on its own. YouTube has drastically changed Halloween costumes…

special FX

Any average Joe/Jane can now expertly apply special effects makeup to create more realistic costumes and make scaring others an even more frightful event! A few YouTube special effects/makeup channel favorites are:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SFXMakeupChannel?feature=watch

http://www.youtube.com/user/Promise21111?feature=watch

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2F18ACA5A9DC97A0

And so many more… (Literally type in “Halloween makeup effects” and you will be overwhelmed by what’s available)

Movie Enjoyment

Sure, as a kid the sound of a chainsaw starting, or a plain white mask may have scared the “bejeebus” out of you. Fortunately for the growing movie fanatic, technology has changed the way scary movies operate and the fear-factor they now ignite! Take the horror thrillers, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, for instance; these films changed the way many horror flicks are presented to audiences. By incorporating the technological advances of the handheld video-camera, these movies have now transformed unrealistic monster stories into “it-could-happen-to-you” point of view whodunits! Even more pivotal is the switch from character-scare to special effects chills. Before technological advances, films such as The Shining and The Poltergeist could only rely on characters for a frightful effect. Now, many modern horror films blend scary characters and special effects to create the ultimate in horror adventures.

 

Let us know what other amazing ways Technology has transformed Halloween!

Three Ways VoIP Systems Can Work for You

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By now, most people are familiar with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) thanks to software programs like Skype and Google Voice. But how many of us know exactly how VoIP systems work, and what benefit they have for your personal and business needs?

What are VoIP Systems?

Most simply put, VoIP systems take analog signals and turn them into digital ones that can be sent over the Internet. This might not sound so amazing, but when you consider what you can do with it, it becomes pretty impressive. Instead of paying your phone company (analog) a large amount and then having to shell out on top of that for Internet (digital) as well, you can make calls through the Internet, saving yourself a lot of money. Here, we’ll take a look at three different ways you can use VoIP to your benefit.

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Analog Telephone Adapter

An Analog Telephone Adapter, or ATA for short, is a device that connects your analog phone to a digital phone system- VoIP. All you do is plug your phone into the ATA with the regular telephone jack, plug the ATA into the wall for poewr, and computer via ethernet or USB, and you’re good to go. The ATA will take the analog signals from your phone, digitize them, and have you connected to VoIP faster than you can say. It’s an easy and basic way to keep the phone you’re familiar with, but get all the benefits of VoIP. This method is usually seen with individuals in their homes.

IP Phones

The next progression in VoIP is using an IP phone where your phone connects directly to VoIP without the need of an intermediary device. Usually, you’ll connect your phone to your router with an ethernet cable. By using an IP phone, you bypass the public switched telephone network (PSTN) directly, making calls over Wifi. One downside is that when your Wifi goes, so, too, does your ability to make calls, but Wifi stability has been increasing to the point where a Wifi outage is rare and usually only happens in power outages, such as those caused by storms or fallen trees.

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Computer-to-Computer

This method is the easiest and most inexpensive way of using VoIP, and probably the most familiar, too. If you’ve ever Skyped with someone with both of using laptops, you’re already familiar with computer-to-computer VoIP. Essentially, computer-to-computer just takes a software program (like Skype) and connects you to VoIP either on the Internet or a Local Area Network (LAN). Other than paying your monthly Internet bill, the only other thing you need is a computer with audio input and output so you can hear and be heard. The only thing to watch out for is how much bandwidth you have- how much data can be sent per second. You can still use VoIP with a bandwidth of 50 kbps, but the quality isn’t going to be very great. For better quality, using 100 kbps or more is better. To put this in perspective, streaming a a movie on Netflix with the best audio and video experience calls for about 5 Mbps, so 100 kbps isn’t that much at all.

“Keeping-Up” with Integrated Communications (POST #3)

With Halloween right around the corner, and the last bit of Fall weather slowly fading into the dark Winter abyss (note sure about you, but I saw snowflakes the other day), we wanted to share some of the experiences and joys team Integrated has encountered this Fall season!

AT THE OFFICE…

Our conference room is coming along, don’t you think? We’ve added quite the impressive monitor in our conference area, as well as phone displays! Kip has already hosted a few phone demos in the new presentation area, showing our clients that as a company we strive to provide them with solutions we comprehend first-hand.

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FAMILY HALLOWEEN FUN…

It looks as though Thalina and her family have enjoyed the fall season with extra Halloween flare! I love the picture on the right – (Thalina, her daughter, and her son… at least I think that’s them).

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SUPER DEAD ANIMALS…

Nate’s joked for the past few months that the only “update” pictures he has are of dead animals. Ha! So, enjoy these very rare, very dead, and very awesome pictures of the hunter himself and his prey!

Nate4     Nate2

Nate                   Nate3 (nice pants, by the way)!

 

NURSERY UPDATE…

Nick and Setara have been preparing for the birth of their first son, Lincoln! Less than 2 months to go – the nursery is complete! Here are a few pictures of the jungle-themed nursery the couple has designed for their little monkey to be.

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I CAN’T GET NO, ZOMBIE-FACTION…

So, while most were being productive with their Saturday night, Nick was in full Zombie garb for the 2013 MPLS Zombie Pub Crawl – just kidding, it was a fun time! Unfortunately, the awesome bald-cap he’s wearing (no, he’s not really bald) left quite the “impression” on his face the next day. Ouch!

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Have a great rest of your Fall, and be sure to check back for the next “Keeping-Up” with Integrated Communications post!