GirlGuides – Google+ How To

November 17, 2011 in Reviews, Social Media

A couple of months ago, just after Google+ came out of Beta and was made available to the public, I wrote a How-to guide for GirlGuides. If anything’s confusin you a little about Google+ then you can check out the full review here

I’m putting together an article about the new Google+ Brand Pages capability at the moment, so keep an eye out for that, which will be up soon!

 

 

GirlGuides – Gmail has a New Look

November 15, 2011 in Reviews

Early last week, Gmail began the rollout of their new-look platform, with new spacing options, new search functionality, and HD themes to be implemented.

Check out the full article with all the changes here

I [heart] Sony and GirlGuides

August 31, 2011 in Events

Last week saw some of the Girl Guides girls, as well as a few journos at 10 Bompas Hotel for an evening of Sony product investigation, delicious savory nibbles (including smoked salmon yumminess, duck, spring rolls (my biggest weakness)) and even more delicious sweet nibbles (chocolate brownies with whipped cream and lamingtons).

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It was a lovely and lively evening with some mind blowing products and great conversation.

Keep your eyes on Sony coz they have some really exciting stuff coming out. Can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on some if it. The only problem I had was limiting myself to a list of four products that I really wanted to review (having already reviewed the Cybershot TX100V and already owning a digital photo frame.)

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And that’s to say nothing of the gorgeous goodie bag take aways.

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Spoiled brat?
Pick me!
X

Follow @GirlGuidesZA and @zaSony on Twitter

Zumba Fitness Wants You

July 25, 2011 in Advertising

We are just over 3 weeks down and just a few days to go of the one month Zumba Fitness challenge (Go Like the page and mention on the wall that I referred you). There are 7 Girl Guides jockeying for 1st place, and it’s every girl for themselves.

I sense a slight undercurrent of competitiveness (that doesn’t sound like a word?) from some of the girls, and even the potential for some sabotage, or if not actual sabotage, then definitely some shady reconnaissance. But hey, perhaps I’m totally over reacting…

Naturally, the idea of the challenge is awareness, and to reveal how great the product actually is. The product itself is Zumba Fitness for Wii and Xbox. And I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. Having grown up dancing throughout my school years I figured this would be a cinch. Little did I know! Zumba is completely different to any kind of dancing I’ve ever been trained in. I’m not sure it’s right that people’s hips should move that way to be honest!

More to come on the whole process, including embarrassing pictures and, you guessed it, video!

In the meantime, do me a favour and go (Like, and then) write on the Zumba Fitness SA Facebook wall “I was referred by Lauren Prior”. (Did I mention that already?

You could also win a Wii and Zumba goodies by entering their competition here (but you have to write a referral on the Facebook wall first. Not really, but please do!)

Get that bootay shakin’ baby

July 5, 2011 in Reviews

So this is what I’m up to this month. Courtesy of the lovely peeps at Zumba Fitness South Africa, and Girl Guides, I have myself a Wii for the month of July, as well as a Zumba Fitness for Wii game. There are 8 reviewers from Girl Guides who have been challenged to Zumba for a month and write a little about the experience. The whole point of this is to get Zumba out into the South African market and raise awareness of the product.

Naturally, there’s plenty in it for me, writing about it! Not only do I get the awesome opportunity to try out a newish game that has been at the top of the UK charts for about 31 weeks running, kicking off other new releases like Duke Nukem, and get some exercise in, in the form of a dance class, in the comfort of my own home, but I also have the opportunity to win a Wii at the end of the month. All I need is your help. What you need to do is go to the Zumba Fitness SA Facebook page, Like it, and write my name on the wall as your referrer. The more people who do that, the more likely I am to win (and I’ll even let you come play with my Wii when I win ;) if you tell your friends)

Here’s a little background about Zumba for you. Zumba is a fitness program inspired by Latin dance. Apparently it is Spanish slang for “to move fast and have fun”. It is an is an aerobic fitness program created by Miami-based dancer and choreographer Beto Perez and two entrepreneurs, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. It originated in Colombia in the 1990s and is taught by some 20,000 instructors in around 35 different countries. The Zumba for Wii has been developed so that you can learn the moves and see whether or not you are doing it right. With the Wii controller tucked into a special belt, the sensor registers your movement and changes colour when you match the movements you should be doing. By doing the moves correctly, the ‘instructor’ on screen turns green and you earn ‘energy’ on the bottom strip, sending you up to the next level when it’s full.

Sounds easy right? Wrong! I tested it out last night and did one simple tutorial which lasted about 6 or 7 minutes, by the end of which I was totally out of breath and breaking a sweat (that whole “girls don’t sweat, they glow” thing? Yeah, no!) So anyway, there are about 30 routines from beginner to advanced and you can start with the tutorials to try and get your hips moving in ways you didn’t know your hips could move.

So for the next month I’m gonna be shakin’ my bootay to test out this bad boy but I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Hopefully it’ll have awesome get-fit, slim down effects (fingers crossed) but I guess we shall have to wait and see.

Ditch the workout, join the party!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIa357zToww&feature=player_embedded]

now, go like the Facebook page :)

xx

Girl Guides In-depth Review – Sony Cybershot

June 23, 2011 in Reviews, technology

Sony Cybershot TX100V in depth review

This little camera has a lot of functionality and despite this it is light, slim and easy to use. There are so many different things you can do with this little beauty that it’s actually hard to believe.

Quick Look:

  • 16.2 megapixel Exmor R Cmos censor
  • 4x optical zoom
  • 25mm wide angle lens (35mm format)
  • 3.5 inch wide touch screen display
  • Full HD movie
  • GPS compass to geo-locate your images

I’m not much of a manual reader. When I get new toys I like to be able to switch them on and play from the word go. This means that gadgets need to be intuitive so that i don’t need to put it down and pick up a booklet to figure out how to make something do what I want it to. This Cybershot was just right for me. I switched it on, played with the zoom, located the settings, and changed some of them, switched the sounds off and had the basics figured out fairly quickly.

The great thing about this camera though is that there is so much functionality that you can keep figuring things out for days. There are various different settings such as superior auto, intelligent auto, background de-focus and so on, and within each of these settings is another set of settings, which vary from one to the next. So on one setting you will have 4 or 5 options, and when you change that setting your options change to suit the setting. For example, with the background de-focus setting on, you can also choose the soft skin option which smoothes out your skin to a massive degree – who needs anti-wrinkle creams anyway? Whereas, your smile shutter option may only be available with certain other settings.

I was rather impressed with the 4x optical zoom within the 35mm format as this means that even at full zoom, you don’t have a lens popping out of the front of the camera, enabling it to retain it’s sleek appearance while giving you the most advantage.

the sunset from my window - no zoom

Same sunset, from same room, zoom engaged

With the 16.2 megapixels that this cyber-shot offers, you can blow those embarrassing photos up to epic proportions for a 21st gift, thrill granny with great big portraits of her grand-kids, or turn those stunning landscape or sunset photos into real works of art.

“Sony is one of the first camera manufacturers in the industry to provide a 16.2MP CMOS sensor, which is a great benefit for consumers,” said Kelly Davis, director of the digital imaging group at Sony Electronics. “They are getting the best image quality as well as all of the benefits of the “Exmor R” CMOS sensor technology in very compact, stylish cameras.”

The incorporated wide angle lens means that even when objects are very very close to you as you shoot them, you’ll get that little bit extra into the picture.

I love the landscape panoramic option. Although I’m really not sure how much use one would get out of it, it’s definitely a fun extra to have and I’m sure the quirkyness of it will captivate many a new user, for a little while at least.

180 degrees of the garden

I’ve also just discovered that there is a high resolution portrait panoramic option that produces a 42megabyte file. If you set the Panorama image size to High Resolution, a 43 megapxel-size panoramic image can be shot. (10480×4096)

I think my favorite feature of this camera is the background de-focus option. Being able to focus on the foreground and have a blurry background is something I’ve always wanted a fancy SLR camera for. Now that I can do it with this point and shoot digital there’s no need!

background defocus option

My second favourite feature is the soft-skin function. As mentioned earlier, this is only available within certain settings, one of which is the background de-focus. It does exactly what it sounds like it does – softens the look of your skin. It glosses over small blemishes and wrinkles and basically makes you look like you’ve just had a studio shoot (well, maybe not quite that good, but it is very impressive). 10 years younger? Who needs L’Oreal anyway?

Softskin option - who needs anti-wrinkle creams?

The video recording is of very good quality and it records club-loud sound perfectly adequately. I recorded an electric violinist playing to a club beat background in Movida the other night and on playback the sound is very clear and not distorted at all. The box does specify, in case anyone was wondering about the HD video option, that “an optional HDMI cable and a TV supporting HDMI input are required for viewing HD still images and movies”. Another cool function within the video recoding is that you can capture stills while continuing to record.

Impressive capture in low light situations

The camera takes the picture as soon as you press the button so there’s much less chance of missing that perfect shot as you wait for the shutter to close which I have found with other point and shoot cameras. It has pretty decent low light recognition and options, and the HD video recording is also a great extra.

The camera comes with a lithium ion battery pack and can be charged either by connecting it to your computer via USB, or connecting it to the battery charger pack which plugs into the wall. Both of these options can be done without removing the battery pack from the camera. The battery seems to last quite a while – I had it for two weeks and only had to charge it right at the end. It takes around 2 and a half hours to charge fully so if you don’t plan ahead you could end up stuck with no battery at that all important moment.

There are so many things you can do with this camera that I reckon it will keep any new users entertained for weeks on end. There are quite a few available which I haven’t even mentioned here, such as the smile shutter, 3D shoot functionality which includes 3D still image, 3D sweep panorama and 3D sweep multi angle. I imagine a 3D TV would be required in order to get any benefit from this function. Another thing I haven’t mentioned is the GPS location so that you can geo-tag images. I imagine this would be a great function for all you adventurers out there, not only as proof that you’ve actually “been there, done that” but also got the photo, and the imprinted GPS evidence!

For all the technical details on the camera, go and check out the Sony website.

Turn-ons

  • Packed with fantastic features
  • Easy to get started with but still plenty to discover
  • Slim and stylish (love the red)
  • Shoots quickly and at great quality
  • Waterproof, freeze-proof, shock-proof, dust-proof

Turn-offs

  • Touch screen means finger prints all over the camera screen (yuck)
  • Video didn’t import automatically
  • Quite pricey

Price: R3800

For the original post and other great reviews, visit GirlGuides.co.za

Girl Guides Review – LG Flatron Colour pop Monitor

June 22, 2011 in Reviews, technology

LG Flatron W1930S Colour POP monitor – In-depth Review

At a glance

  • Colourful
  • Kickstand with tilt makes it easy to maneuver
  • 19-inch screen display

The monitor was designed for use as a secondary display for laptop or netbook users when they find their screens are just too small to accommodate everything they are trying to do, or to catch the eye colour of that hunk in the movie they’re watching. The kickstand means that the monitor will sit level with a notebook monitor, and the tilt function (which enables you to tilt the monitor up to about 30 degrees) means that you can line it up exactly with the tilt of your notebook screen. This reduces the movement required in order to look back and forth between the two.

The monitor has a 19-inch screen and a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. I found the display to be quite sharp and clear, although I did find that with it being more rectangular than square, certain things seemed too wide – my TweetDeck columns for example just seem a little squished. In the grand scheme of things though, this really isn’t a huge problem and I’m certain that if I were using the monitor for any length of time I would probably get used to it.

I think my favourite thing about this monitor is that it stands on any surface. This means that, at the height of laziness last weekend when I didn’t feel like sitting at my desk anymore, I picked the monitor up, shifted my tower along the floor a little, and plonked it on my bed. This, together with the fact that I have a wireless keyboard and mouse meant that I could lie on my bed, expending the least amount of energy possible while still breathing, and do research, type, add more episodes to a play list or skip to the next song without getting off my lazy butt. It was bliss!

Candy Purple

The monitor comes in 3 different colours – the pinky-purple colour pictured above (which almost matches my duvet cover), a pastel blue and a standard black. The colour is only in the front, while the back side of the monitors are all white. The monitor has an energy saving feature, and in sleep mode it uses under 1W. It also wakes up very quickly once you’ve moved the mouse or tapped the keyboard, unlike some other monitors I’ve used.

Laziness and bliss

The menu buttons can be found on the bottom right corner next to the power button. They offer the basic options where you can adjust the picture, colour, tracking and set up. I discovered thought that pressing factory reset has resulted in a shift of the display to the left of the screen leaving a strip down the right hand side not being utilised, effectively reducing the display size by about an inch. (And if you figure out how to get this back to using the full screen – let me know coz I’ve tried everything I can think of!)

To be fair, aside from the colour, it’s a pretty standard monitor that’s nice to have at home, with a no mess no fuss attitude, but it isn’t really portable. I wouldn’t mind seeing real portability by providing this monitor with a USB connection rather than a standard wall plug, however I do feel that it’s meant to be more of the part you leave behind when you pick up your laptop and go, or that you plug into because you want something a bit more substantial.

For the more “technical specs” you can go and have a look at the LG website.

Turn ons

  • The coloured options offer a refreshing option from the standard black monitors you see on a daily basis
  • The kickstand rocks – I love that it’s stable on my bed, and on pretty much any surface for that matter
  • The display is a good size and fair resolution
  • Wakes up quickly from sleep mode

Turn offs

  • Menu tool buttons are a bit fiddly
  • I can’t figure out how to get the display to reach across the full screen like it was initially (after fiddling with the menu buttons). I fear this may be a case of PICNIC – Problem In Chair Not In Computer!
For the original post on Girl Guides, go here, and if you’d like to read my initial impressions of the product, the Snapshot review is here.