Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between


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Getting Cozy with Clutch PR

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It’s not every day you get a secret passcode for a holiday party, but the morning of Clutch PR‘s highly anticipated #GetCozy2014 party, invited guests received an email with detailed instructions of how to get into the swanky second-floor loft belonging to Gem Hunter Ron LeBlanc. Hidden behind a discreet door with a keypad is a surprisingly spacious and exquisitely decorated lounge, transformed by the party decorators into a cozy winter wonderland. With pumping music, free-flowing cider and a s’mores station, the scene was set for a party of epic proportions. There was only one rule: come dressed in flannel, ready to get “lumberjacked!”

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Who says technology makes people lose their social skills? My new friend Samantha and I bonded instantly when we discovered our mutual love of Windows Phones.

get_cozy_2014_holiday_party_3get_cozy_2014_clutch_pr_holiday_party_2 There’s something so great about a flannel party. Everyone is comfortable and you can romp around in your hot pink pajamas and furry mukluks late into the night while the DJ mixes away. And yesterday I found out I won the “coziest outfit” contest! I had a fantastic time with the gals and guys of Clutch PR’s awesome holiday party, what a great way to kick off the Christmas celebrations.

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Tech Girls Canada Portrait of Strength

As you start to make your way in any industry, finding groups and organizations that resonate with you is a great way to find support, friendships, and professional relationships in your field. As a young woman in tech, I’m part of a number of Women in Tech and Women in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) groups like Tech Girls Canada, CanWIT, and my school’s Women in Tech Society. These organizations have been a great way to network and meet like-minded women, and to find those relatable role models who have successfully built their careers. Every organization showcases its members differently – some have awards, some have meetups, and others simply do social media shoutouts. Tech Girls Canada chooses to showcase inspiring women in STEM with “Portraits of Strength,” and I am excited and honoured to share with you their latest portrait: Trendy Techie!

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According to Tech Girls Canada, “Portraits of Strength features women in STEM who have helped break barriers and achieved great things within their industry. These are the movers and shakers making a better world for future female leaders in STEM. Here are the stories of how they’re changing the ratio, serving as role models for girls and young women across Canada, and inspiring us all.” I feel so lucky to be part of such an amazing community of women, and to be featured alongside Soha El-Sabaawi, Ziya Tong, and so many other inspiring women. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

The biggest obstacle I have faced was distance, since I attend university 2000 km from home. Technology has made it easier to stay in touch, but sometimes streams of bits just can’t beat a real hug and face-to-face heart-to-heart. If I ever have the opportunity to work on teleportation devices, you can bet I will!

My advice to women is “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” (Henry Ford) It’s beyond true, and as a woman in a male-dominated field you have to learn to be fearless. Say yes to opportunities that are beyond your skillset, and prove to yourself – and to others – that you are limitless.

Check out TechGirls.ca and see the full interview here!

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Beauty Tool Review: KISS InstaWave Curling Wand

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If you knew me at the beginning of university, you probably thought I had curly hair. For my whole first year I would curl my hair every day, waking up half an hour early or more to make sure I got it perfect. I looked great but it was a lot of work, and as classes got more intense I slowly stopped making the time to do it because it was just too tedious. Nowadays I rarely curl my hair, partly because of the time commitment and partly because the curling iron I used made me look a little too Shirley Temple. But recently I was asked to test out a new curling tool called KISS InstaWave and, as well as giving me beautiful, natural-looking curls, it has cut my curling time in half!

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What makes the KISS InstaWave different from my old curling tools is it’s fully automatic and requires very little effort. My old tools had a clamp that you closed on the end of your hair as you rolled the scorching barrel towards your face, whereas the InstaWave is fully automatic and has a bidirectional curl dial that you press to gently twirl your hair around the wand. The gentle twist prevents your curls from having those wig-like sharp edges, and because you only need to use one hand on the tool you have a lot more control over the way the curls sit. There are two heat settings, so you can choose how hot you want the wand to get (maximum 420F). Another thing I really like about it is it automatically shuts off after 90 minutes, so I don’t have to rush back home for fear that I’ve left my iron on and burnt my house down.

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This wand was sent to me as a gift, but it’s available in Canada at WalMart and in the US at Target, Ulta and Amazon.com. I truly do like it and will be using it to get these beautiful, full curls much more often.

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Join the Hour of Code, December 8th-14th

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Next week, December 8th-14th, is Computer Science Education Week, a week-long event celebrating the rise of computer science and programming skills being taught and learned around the world. As part of this week, schools and tech giants are partnering with Code.org for Hour of Code, a global initiative to give people the tools they need to start learning to code. Technology is quickly being integrated into every aspect of our lives, and with it comes hundreds of thousands of jobs related to its creation and maintenance. But to fill these jobs we must learn the skills needed: and that starts with code.

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Currently, only 2% of students study computer programming, yet programming jobs are increasing at double the pace of other jobs [USA Today]. If we can increase the number of students with coding skills, we can fill more jobs and boost the economy with impact in every sector. As a computer science student, I know firsthand how beneficial coding skills are – they are so sought-after and can open up doors to a career in any industry. I was fortunate enough to have my first coding class in high school, and I hope that programming will soon be recognized as one of the pillars of modern education like math, science and humanities, so that every student has an equal opportunity in this huge segment of the job market.

I am proud to announce that I will be co-hosting Microsoft’s Hour of Code webcast on Monday December 8th at 9AM PDT/12PM EST, one week from today! My teammate Susan Ibach and I will be fixing a broken game using TouchDevelop, Microsoft’s cross-platform, all-ages app. Tune in to Channel9.msdn.com at that time and take part in changing the world with Hour of Code!

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Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent, or friend, I encourage you to take part in Hour of Code next week. There are endless ways to get involved with Hour of Code, from code-along videos to interactive tutorials with Frozen’s Elsa and Anna. Check out Code.org’s website for resources to get started – you could host a session at a school, post a video tutorial, or share your thoughts and creations on social media using the #HourOfCode hashtag. Whether you’re Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or even President Obama, everyone starts somewhere with their first hour of code.

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Startup Spotlight: Ear-O-Smart Smart Earrings

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One of the biggest challenges of designing health-focused wearables is making sure that people want to wear them for their looks as much as for their functionality. Fitbit and Jawbone are not known for their style factor – in fact, there are many companies now producing covers and charms to make these wearables, well, wearable. But how do you pack a ton of tech into a sleek, sexy accessory? This is exactly the problem that one startup, Ear-O-Smart, is aiming to solve with their smart earrings.

Leveraging Bluetooth 4.0 to connect wirelessly to your iOS or Android phone, Ear-O-Smart smart earrings are the world’s first earrings that can monitor your heart rate, calories and activity level throughout the day.

By default, the earrings come in a simple white gem style, but DIY kits are also available for the more adventurous buyers who want to design their own earrings. The startup is in an early stage right now and are currently funding on Kickstarter with expectations to begin shipping in June 2015.

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Dealing With It

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You may have noticed it’s been quieter than usual here on Trendy Techie. Normally I keep up my blog like it’s a second job, but lately life is getting in the way. Some of you know what’s going on in my life right now, and some of you only see what appears here on the site, but without going into detail I’ll say my family has been hit hard with a pretty big blow, and as a result a good portion of my mental and emotional energy has gone to, well, dealing with it.

In the past year it’s become increasingly apparent to me that a great deal of “dealing with it” is simply staying alive and being present. When you see stuff like this in the movies the whole plotline changes and bends around the catastrophic event, to the point where every decision and every spoken word holds inflections of what happened. But real life is not like the movies, because in the real world everything else keeps moving when your life comes to a standstill.

I am fortunate to work in an environment that has provided me with endless support and patience, and for that I am so grateful. They allow me to work on my own time, provide me with love and encouragement, and have rallied around me in times when my friends haven’t or couldn’t. Being part of a team with such good heart and positive energy has given me strength to deal with it when nothing else has.

The other day one of my teammates said, “time heals all things, and in the end when you look back you’ll see the only thing that changed was time.” She wasn’t talking about me, but her words have stuck with me. I hate what they mean, and I hate how true they are, but they’re right: when the situation is out of your hands, the only thing you can do is wait for time to pass and for things to sort themselves out around you. It’s awful, but there’s no way to get to that light at the end of the tunnel without going through the darkness. It may feel scary and hopeless and painful, but the only way out is to wait for milestones to come and go, and to deal with it.

-Sage


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Trendy Techie Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Do you hear them? The jingle bells approaching? Starbucks has brought out the red cups and Sephora has brought out the Benefit advent calendars – the pressure is on to start checking things off your Nice List. To help you with your seasonal shopping I’ve prepared a list to help you find the perfect gifts! I’ve divided it into two sections: Trendy and Techie (c’mon, what did you expect?) Click on the links to shop the products at their sites.

PART 1: TRENDY

Quirky Bifold Wallets, Fossil (click images to see on site)

Who says wallets are only good gifts for men? If you read my guide last year you may remember that Fossil’s wallets made it in even then. That’s because they make really cute, quirky pieces with undeniable quality! I’m a loyal Fossil customer and would recommend their wallets above everyone else’s. If you’re looking for a cute, functional, usable gift then this is a good one to go with! Shown below are my favourite styles from this year’s collection, but there are dozens of other styles as well, available on their site.

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Fossil Curiosity Watch

I strongly believe watches are the best accessories, and a good watch can elevate any look. This gorgeous rose gold watch from Fossil surrounds its exposed mechanics with classic, feminine jeweled Roman numerals, creating a beautiful balance of complexity and elegance.

MizDragonfly One-of-a-Kind Statement Jewelry

If you read my post about my quirky jewelry obsession, you know that I’m a fan of non-abstract statement jewelry. I met MizDragonfly at the World MasterCard Fashion Week Press and Buyers’ Brunch, where I got the chance to check out her unique jewelry in person. Among one-of-a-kind pieces that incorporate vintage components, she makes super quirky pieces like these: double-finger fortune rings (which come in a variety of fortunes) and Wonder Woman cuffs using real comics! These are great for the cosplayer in your life, or for any girl with the quirky sense of style.

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PART 2: TECHIE

Surface Pro 3

Said to be “the tablet that replaces your laptop,” the Surface Pro 3 is poised to be one of the most purchased devices this Christmas. I’m a big fan of the Surface family of devices, and I do all my work on my Surface Pro 2, which has absolutely lived up to its claims. I can do everything on it, from developing Kinect apps to editing my photos with touch and gesture, and I am seriously considering gifting myself a Surface Pro 3 this Christmas!

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Moto 360 Smartwatch

The first smartwatch with a circular interface, the Moto 360 packs a ton of tech into a small body, while maintaining the elegance of a classic watch. I’m absolutely captivated by its design, which boasts a big screen and all the features of the Android Wear operating system. Available for $249, this watch is comparable in price to many mid-range analog watches, but it also gives you directions, tells the weather and answers your calls.

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Sony QX10 Camera for iPhone and Android

This little lens is not just your average camera phone augmentation. Connecting via bluetooth or NFC to an app on your phone, the Sony QX10 turns your phone into a full camera by using the screen as the viewfinder and saving the photos directly in your phone’s storage. It attaches via a base, but the lens can be removed for extra mobility – say you want to take a selfie and see it before you shoot: you can take the lens off and still see your phone. Or, more respectably, you’re at a concert and can’t see the stage clearly: simply hold the lens up high and adjust its position by using your phone’s screen.

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