Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between


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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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Weekending in Vancouver

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This past weekend I flew farther West than I’ve ever been before, to beautiful Burnaby, BC. A suburb of Vancouver, Burnaby is home to the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), where I spent the weekend providing technical and moral support to hackers at the Hack Vancouver Kinect for Windows & Structure Sensor Hackathon. Over the course of 28 hours, students, developers, and creative minds came together to create projects using the augmented reality sensors. Some participants slept during the night while others stayed up working on their projects the whole time, fueled by energy drinks, junky snacks, and the occasional apple (though most used Windows). Here’s a look at my whirlwind of a weekend! For a more detailed account of the hackathon, visit my post on the Canadian Developer Connection blog here.

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What’s a travel post without a couple food photos? Above you see Toro Sashimi, a dish of fatty tuna that melts in your mouth. It’s quite expensive in many parts of the world (read: in the mainland), but I found it in a Japanese restaurant at the mall! It was fantastic. I highly recommend Toro to anyone who enjoys seafood. The strawberries you see below were sent to my room by the front desk at the Delta Burnaby hotel, hand delivered with a personal, handwritten card! How sweet. ;)

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Startup Spotlight: How SmartMat Will Change Yoga Forever

Eat your heart out Lululemon, SmartMat is about to make personal yoga practices so much better. With 22 days left in its crowdfunding campaign, SmartMat has already raised 248% of its $110,000 goal. Soon to be a member of the $27-Billion yoga industry, SmartMat is a portable, responsive yoga mat that uses sensors and apps to give you real-time data about your practice and help you perfect your postures through auditory and visual feedback. SmartMat talks to you, helps guide you to proper alignment, and records your practice so you can learn and improve over time – in short, SmartMat is the yoga teacher you always wanted, with the privacy you never got.

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SmartMat consists of a layer of micro-thin pressure sensors embedded between the two layers that make up a classic yoga mat. These sensors connect to your smartphone or tablet to provide you with real-time information and feedback about your practice, enabling you to make the most of your practice and truly understand what your body is doing and where your challenge areas are. With the SmartMat Marketplace you can download different practices, which the app guides you through in its soothing voice, just like a real yoga teacher.

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So much of yoga is about personal growth, inner peace and self-reflection, but until now it has been very difficult for those with little experience to practice on their own. It is also difficult for people with busy schedules to find time to go to a yoga studio – and let’s face it, the videos just don’t cut it. For such total-body engagement we need feedback to know when we are doing things correctly so we don’t misalign our bodies and do more damage than strengthening. SmartMat is a safe solution that brings self-driven yoga practices to everyone, on their own time.

With a retail price of $447, SmartMat is significantly more expensive than an average yoga mat. But paying for yoga classes – especially private ones – can add up: at the rate that I pay, I could buy a SmartMat with the cash from 23 yoga classes at my studio. And the Holiday Run perk on SmartMat’s Indiegogo campaign is selling the mat for $257 – that’s just 14 yoga classes.

SmartMat is the complete yoga experience, a mat and a private teacher all in one. It’s portable, it’s personal, and it’s the future of yoga as we know it.

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Tentacular Knitwear for Winter

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Let me just get right to it: I love Twinkie Chan’s quirky knitwear. She makes everything from the adorable to the totally weird, and the fact that I can now walk around with an elaborate knit tentacle around my neck makes me a happy girl. When I saw this “Tako” scarf (Tako = Octopus in Japanese) on her YummyYou website I just had to have it! It’s so quirky and cute and adorably plush, and I’m happy to announce that Twinkie is going to give away a Tako scarf to one lucky Trendy Techie winner! Click the orange link at the end of this post to enter!

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY!

OUTFIT:

scarf: c/o YummyYou

top: Club Monaco

jeans:  Guess

boots: Michael Kors

ring: Queen St. vendor in Toronto

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Black, White, and Chevron All Over – The Perfect Skirt Suit

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It’s been nearly a month since I went to Phoenix for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and in all the excitement of fashion week and birthday celebrations I haven’t yet finished my posts from that trip! Here’s a step back into Phoenix, where the weather was sunny and over 30 degrees every day, something I’m craving now that there’s been a light dusting of snow on the ground here in Toronto.

I picked up this skirt suit at Winners in September and it quickly became one of the most-used outfits in my wardrobe. It’s a thick, stretchy cotton knit that can be worn with bare legs in the heat of Phoenix or with thick tights and boots in the Toronto chill. It can even be worn as separates, the top with high-waisted jeans and the skirt with a white sweater (see below). It’s rare to find versatile business-appropriate pieces, and I’m so pleased to have found these.

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On the last evening of Grace Hopper I paired the skirt with my favourite white crop sweater (the same one from World MasterCard Fashion Week) and my 2D geek bag – where is it more appropriate than at a tech conference?

OUTFIT:

chevron skirt and top: Winners

white crop sweater: Club Monaco

geek bag: Microsoft gift shop

bracelet: Swarovski USB Crystal Cuff

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PS: My trip to Phoenix for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing has been sponsored by Dalhousie University and Syncfusion, my official corporate partner! A HUGE thanks to both, I am so grateful.

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Syncfusion is the enterprise technology partner of choice for Windows development, delivering a broad range of software frameworks and tools. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Syncfusion has more than 10,000 customers, including large financial institutions, Fortune 100 companies, and global IT consultancies. Find out more in my announcement post about our partnership, and find me at Grace Hopper to get your FREE software license!


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Minnie Style Throughout the Decades: Mercedes-Benz Start Up Competition at World MasterCard Fashion Week

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Every year at World MasterCard Fashion Week, the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competitors have the opportunity to showcase their collections in the final element of their competition. As I mentioned in my Day 1 coverage post, Sid Neigum took home the big prize with his beautifully structured monochromatic garments. But the winner was not chosen based solely on his final collection, there were other layers to the competition as well. Among them, this year Disney partnered with Mercedes-Benz Start Up, adding a new element to the program: all finalists were asked to create a design inspired by Disney fashion darling Minnie Mouse throughout the decades.

In a beautiful, exclusive cocktail party, models showcased the designs amid a swirling crowd of media and special guests. Here’s a glimpse into the party and a look at the classic and quirky designs inspired by the world’s most fashionable mouse.

Sid Neigum

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Inspired by the classic Minnie and Mickey ear silhouettes, Sid Neigum’s winning design was composed of 1,928 laser-cut shapes.

BLAK.I

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BLAK.I captured Minnie’s fun energy with a dotty, colour-blocked dress. This model was fantastic too, she was so energetic and the crowd loved photographing her!

Eliza Faulkner

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Eliza Faulkner’s cute-casual take on Minnie played up the bold red and statement bows.

Beaufille

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Beaufille’s designers took inspiration from the classic black and white sketch-style drawings of the original Mickey and Minnie cartoons.

Vaiken

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Vaiken’s design was a futuristic rendition of the very first Minnie design from the 1920s. Perhaps if Minnie had been designed in the 2020’s she would have worn something like this! How killer are those holographic shoes?

Laura Siegel

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Laura Siegel custom-designed this textile to make her Minnie style come to life.

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I love this shot of me and my friend Kayla from Short Presents! We had a blast sipping champagne and Peroni together at the #MinnieStyle event, and can’t wait to see what Mercedes-Benz Start Up has in store next season!

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Tech Talk

lenovo_yoga_review_trendy_techie_5With the wonderful yet chaotic time that is fashion week, there has been a lot of fashion talk here lately. I get a lot of people asking me why I chose to write a blog about both fashion and technology, since the industries are so vastly different in many ways. But as someone with a foot on each side, I can see that the gap between fashion and tech is shrinking, and fast. Fashion designers are relying more and more on technology to produce their collections, some even integrating technological components into their work. And techies are always, always considering design because, whether you’re making an app, a game, or a wearable device, design is an integral factor in the success of any piece of customer-facing technology. I write Trendy Techie because there are so many parts of both worlds that fascinate and captivate me, and discovering new releases in both fashion and technology is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Since there has been almost exclusively fashion talk on Trendy Techie in the past few weeks, I thought I’d take a break to share with you a glimpse at my techie projects! Here are my top three tech projects on the go.

1. Kinect for Windows Development

You may already know that I’m currently on a work term as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft Canada. Among the many things I do in my work day, one of the things I’ve been focusing on is development using the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. I’ve written three blog posts about it so far, live on the Canadian Developer Connection blog, which you can find at these links:

Microsoft’s Dance Cube Proves Kinect for Windows v2 is Not to be Ignored

Kinect With Me Part 1: Setting Up Your Machine

Kinect With Me Part 2: Tracking Bodies and Overlaying Shapes on Infrared Data

If you follow along with these posts, which go live every Thursday morning, I’d love to hear your experience! Tweet at me using the hashtag #KinectWithMe to chat about all things Kinect.

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2. Internet of Things

Outside of work, the main technical project that consumes my time is Internet of Things. If you don’t already know, Internet of Things is the concept of connecting your everyday objects and appliances so they can work together intelligently; this can mean anything from using your smartphone to control the lights in your house, to using a sensor to recognize your face when you walk in the door and set all the lights, thermostats, and televisions to your preferred settings. Internet of Things is a complex and futuristic concept that is way closer to reality than most of us realize. While the masses are focused on wearables, our everyday items are being connected and forming webs of functionality that are changing the way we interact with the environments we know and love. It’s amazing and fascinating and, though I don’t yet know that much about it, I spend a good deal of my time researching and investigating the near future of the Internet of Things.

3. 3D Printing and Design

This one ties back in to fashion and one of my long-time passions: 3D modeling. Computer graphics is actually what inspired me to become a programmer: I saw my professor at UPenn create an animation of fire using a script he had written, and from that day I was hooked on code. I used to do quite a bit of animation back in the day, but now I’ve scaled it back and am focused more on static shapes and modern/minimalist designs.

Victoria’s Secret’s 3D printed lingerie – no, this is not the type of 3D printed design I’m getting into at this time, but it’s pretty darn cool.

I’m working on a collection using Blender to design and Shapeways to print – but I can’t tell you exactly what kind of a collection it is just yet! More on that coming up soon, right here on trendytechie.ca. ;)

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