Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between

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5 Ways to Refresh Your Digital Workspace Without Spending Any Money

Windows 8 laptop, surface pro, and windows phone

This has been a very exciting week for Trendy Techie as I’ve started my second internship as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft! As part of my Bachelor of Computer Science degree I’m doing a co-op program, at the end of which I’ll have a full year of work experience in the industry. This particular program follows an alternating school/internship semester pattern, so every four months I switch between work and study. Every time I make the transition from student to employee or vice versa, I make an effort to refresh my digital workspace so it feels clean and new, kind of like spring cleaning only less physical work and more fun. I strongly recommend you give this a go at least every half-year, because it really does wonders for productivity. To give you an idea of how to begin, here are the top five ways I refresh my digital workspace – whether you’re a blogger, developer, student, or none of the above, you can apply these tips to your digital workspace and come out with a cleaner, neater computer.

1. BACK UP your files, then DELETE them

Back up files to external hard drive windows 8

Whether it be to the cloud or an external hard drive, it’s important that you store a backup – or two or three – of your files. DO: keep multiple copies of your files, especially your photographs, important legal docs, and anything else you absolutely wouldn’t want to lose. DON’T: fall into the trap of disorganization – label everything with real names (not “school_thing_1.docx” or “asdfghjk.jpg”), and sort them logically. Then, once you’re sure they’re safely backed up, DELETE the files from your computer to free up space for your next big thing!


2. UPDATE your software and apps (and take advantage of student deals!)


Software can be expensive, but there are many (legal!) ways to get it for free. Many companies offer free updates for their software suites, and even though the pop-ups may be annoying, it’s worthwhile to have an update hour here and there so you get all the new features. There are also opportunities to get full software suites for free through certain programs – many students don’t know this, but they can get a full suite of professional-grade software through company programs like Microsoft’s DreamSpark. Many of these offers are perpetual – if you take advantage of them while you’re a student or within the same calendar year as your graduation, you get to keep the software and the future updates of it.

A bit more about DreamSpark in particular: this is my favourite student deal ever, because if you’re a student in a technical program like Computer Science, Engineering or Informatics, you get access to even more software through your school! Learn more and sign up for DreamSpark here.


3. CLEAN UP your email, desktop and file folders


This one is pretty self-explanatory: everybody needs to do it, no one actually does. But having a clutter-free desktop can be a breath of fresh air, and having an empty inbox can take away a lot of the stress and pressure of needing to respond. I always remind myself that since that unread email has been unread for months now it’s probably no longer relevant, which means it can probably be deleted. And those hundreds of old promotions and newsletters from stores you don’t even shop at anymore can go too. Odds are you’ll never need many of these emails again – but if you’re feeling uneasy about that, you can back up your emails to a save file and store it in the cloud (then delete the originals, as per tip #1).


4. UNFOLLOW people who you don’t want updates from, and FOLLOW new people who are saying things relevant to your current position

Don't follow too many people on Twitter

Today on Twitter I saw a guy who followed 125 THOUSAND people. And while that’s excessive (and probably a ploy to capture the “follow-for-follow followers”), many people on social media – especially Twitter – follow a few hundred accounts or more. This leads to thousands of posts crossing our paths every day, often burying the content we really want to see under countless ads, contests and other jargon. Ironically t’s getting more and more difficult to make a personal connection through social media, but a regular refresh will ensure that you’re always seeing the content you want to see, and getting the most out of your precious minutes. When unfollowing accounts, DON’T worry about offending people or losing followers. The point of social media is to get interesting information from people you are interested in, not get as many people as possible scrolling over your posts. DO use hashtags in search to find content you’re interested in, and as a bonus DO use hashtags in your profile description so you’re easily found!


5. SYNCHRONIZE and AUTOMATE in every way possible

Windows 8 and Windows phone calendar synchronization

What I mean is, find ways to simplify the number of clicks it takes you to complete something. Synchronize your calendar across your phone, computer and tablet so you only have to put the appointment in one of them. Use Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, WordPress and more so you only have to go to one place to write and schedule the content. You can even apply this rule to your home by integrating a home automation system like Nest – but that’s another post.

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Emerging Atlantic Designers Shine at the Design and Artistry Showcase this Weekend

Welcome to world fashion month, where trendsetters rave about spring and summer fashion half a year before it becomes relevant in the consumers’ minds. The focus of this time of year is often on the big fashion houses and the one-off designers skilled/unique/lucky enough to make it to the runway with the big dogs. But there are thousands – scratch that – hundreds of thousands of designers across the world that are making chic, relevant, ready-to-wear pieces, and that’s what the Design and Artistry Showcase is all about.

One of the best things about Nova Scotia is the emphasis on living local. The Canadian East Coast is rich with food, culture and creativity, and there are often events to showcase all it has to offer, like this weekend’s Design and Artistry Showcase at Sunnyside Mall in Bedford, where emerging designers and artists have set up to reveal their fall collections and latest works. Here’s a first look at the showcase from their VIP launch party Thursday night!

designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_1Sage (Trendy Techie) sizing up a Zafira dress from the fall collection designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_jennifer_atkinson designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_middle_spoon designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_distinguished_designs_2 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_sage_2 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_distinguished_designs_1 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_distinguished_designs_3 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_sage_1 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_2 designer_showcase_halifax_sunnyside_mall_bedford_zafira_2esme_coat_designer_showcase_halifax

Featured designers include Zafira, Esme Original, Ashley Reading, Distinguished Designs Jewelry, and Perlae Couture; and featured artists include Jennifer Atkinson and Prince Fuze. The showcase runs September 12-14th.

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top: Club Monaco

trousers: Club Monaco

shoes: Jessica Simpson

necklace: Le Chateau

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Apple’s Announcements are Big, But Not Groundbreaking

Apple Live Event 2014

In typical Apple style, the September 9 keynote was all about grandeur. The tech giant announced its three new gadgets: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and, moving away from the iBlank moniker, Apple Watch. These releases have been highly anticipated for months now, and though Apple’s announcements were big, they are nowhere near groundbreaking. Here’s why:

iPhone 6 and 6+ are Apple’s way of playing catch-up with the mega-popular phablet trend.

In fact, it’s a wonder that Apple is still considered so ahead-of-the-times, considering they’re only now releasing phablet-comparable phones and still don’t have touch screen devices larger than the iPad. Yes, the camera on the 6 and 6+ is great and the screen resolutions promise great user experience, but when you really look at the specs you see that the iPhone 6 and 6+ are, in effect, bigger iPhone 5’s.

The big takeaways are:

  • Apple has finally introduced NFC (Near-Field Communication) to their phones
  • Apple Pay replaces your wallet and allows you to pay with a tap or a touch
  • Added barometer sensor can track your altitude, making fitness tracking easier (stair climbs, hilly runs, etc)
  • Seamless-transition voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows you to make regular calls over wifi when available, and transition your call seamlessly to cellular when you move out of range
  • Dramatically increased battery life in the 6+ compared to the 5 level series, and marginally increased battery life in the iPhone 6
  • “Improved” processors, though it is unclear at this time how exactly they have been improved

Aside from those, there aren’t many differences, and the iPhone 6 and 6+ are a well-disguised “you were right” from Apple to the makers of existing phablets. Don’t believe me? Check out this awesome article from Mashable comparing the iPhone 6 Plus to its top phablet competitors.


Apple Watch was released to deter people from adopting Android Wear.

Apple Watch faces including Mickey Mouse

The watch will not be available until a yet-undisclosed 2015 date, and some of the most important specs went entirely unacknowledged during the keynote: battery life and durability, two of the biggest buying factors, were omitted (but they sure made a big deal of the emojis and the Mickey Mouse watch face!). So if the watch is not ready to ship, what warrants this announcement at this time? The desire to give Apple fanboys something to wait for while much less expensive Android watches like the Moto 360 (priced at $249, compared to Apple Watch’s $349) start taking their places on thousands of wrists around the world.

That said, Apple Watch does look like it will be one of the better wearables once it comes to market, with vast customizability and, as always, impeccably beautiful design both on the OS and hardware. With Siri integration, Apple Pay usability and a strong emphasis on fitness, Apple Watch has the potential to take a dominant place in the wearables market. The biggest downside, aside from no left-handed version available (at least not appearing in the keynote or press as of the time I write this post), is that ONLY users of the newer Apple ecosystem will be able to use the watch, as it must be connected to an iPhone (5 or later) in order to function. Finally, it is worth mentioning the name, “Watch,” which plainly attempts to encompass the entire smart watch market by snagging the fundamental word for multipurpose-wrist-worn-device. As reflected in the twittersphere, people are still calling it the iWatch anyways.


In short, the problem with Apple’s new products is they feel on-trend, not futuristic.

Many of the features we see implemented in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been present in competing brands’ devices for years, and the Apple Watch feels like a rushed attempt on Apple’s part to reserve a portion of the smartwatch market before Android gains monopoly. Coupled with extreme technical difficulties with the live stream and a new album release by U2, today’s 2014 Apple keynote would have fallen on more starstruck eyes if it had taken place about five years ago.

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Celebrate Fashion, Tech and Business at the World’s First Startup Fashion Week

Breaking alert: the fashion industry is no longer an old boys’ club. Though fashion houses still define much of the trends, they no longer have autonomy over what becomes successful and gets sold or worn by the masses. The voracious nature of today’s social media-driven world puts much more of the power in the hands of smaller companies and startups who, in the past, would have been limited geographically, but who now have millions of eyes on their work through the internet.

But not only has the elitism of fashion changed, the definition has as well. With the concept of wearables being redefined every day, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes something more technology or more fashion. There’s an emerging growth of wearable tech, retail tech, and fashion tech startups, that don’t necessarily fit in at the fashion weeks and the technology conferences. It’s time we showcase them in their own right, and celebrate this new niche of fashion startups. Enter Startup Fashion Week, the world’s first and only fashion week that celebrates fashion, tech and business.

Startup Fashion Week Toronto October 2014

Startup Fashion Week will take place in Toronto on October 7-9, 2014, and will feature three main events: Future of Fashion Evening Forum (Oct. 7); the Business of Fashion Full Day Conference (Oct. 8), and an evening showcase and closing party (Oct. 9). Speakers and guests from around the world have been confirmed, showcasing not only the local talent but the global startup community as well. Speakers include Veronica Becker of Beacon and Lively, Vatche Pirjanian of Pochetti, Mazen Elbawb of Heddoko, and more. For a full list of speakers and participating startups, visit the SFW site.

Startup Fashion Week Speakers Toronto 2014

Says Jodi Goodfellow, Managing Director of SFW, “Startup Fashion Week will not only create a much needed dialogue in Canada on how technology is influencing fashion, but it will also create various types of visibility and awareness for startup designers and entrepreneurs. It takes a community to build a business in fashion and our efforts are to recognize opportunities to strengthen the local economy and support entrepreneurs.”

Part of the proceeds of Startup Fashion Week will go to Wear White 4 Women, a charitable campaign empowering at-risk women to find new lives. Conference attendance costs $195 for the three-day pass, and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

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How SENSOREE’s Biometric Fashion Makes Your Mood a Conversationalist

You’ve seen fashion-tech, you’ve seen health-tech, but have you seen all three in one? SENSOREE‘s mood sweater – yes, you read that right! –  began as a research project to make a wearable technology for people with ADHD and autism, conditions that are both heavily connected to emotional state. Unlike the heat-sensitive mood rings that had little girls in a frenzy, Sensoree uses “therapeutic bio media” to monitor the body and respond with visual and tactile states, creating an extension of the self and making the wearer’s mood a silent but powerful contributor to the conversation.

Sensoree mood sweater aroused state

The GER: Mood Sweater has grown beyond its therapy roots into an interactive fashion project that projects the wearer’s mood to light up the room. For example, the pink glow of the collar in the image above means the model is “ruffled” – that is, excited or aroused. SENSOREE has assigned a range of colours to various moods as follows:

Sensoree mood light colour chart

Here’s how it works: sensors located on the hands read excitement levels through the palms, and translates that data into a palette of colour values. The high, bowl-shaped collar contains LED lights that shine onto the body and through the fabric to create an ambiance of the wearer’s mood – or, as SENSOREE calls it, “Extimacy.”

noun: externalized intimacy

Sensoree GER: Mood Sweater blue lighting

SENSOREE’s concept of extimacy is a new form of bodily communication. Like facial expressions and silent gestures, extimacy conveys one person’s feelings to another in a way beyond words. This is why the Mood Sweater would benefit wearers with severe forms of autism, which may hinder their ability to convey the way they are feeling. With a mood sweater, friends and family can tell how the wearer is feeling and know without disturbing them whether or not they are open to company.

Though not yet available on the market, SENSOREE has opened up pre-ordering for a limited run of 100 mood sweaters, which will be custom-sized, signed, and numbered by SENSOREE. As it says on the pre-order page, this is bespoke design for the unique individual, where technology becomes personal.

Would you wear a mood sweater?

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This is not a sponsored post. All images belong to SENSOREE.

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Photo Diary: Snapshots of Italy


July and August were a whirlwind of travel, exams and projects, during which I visited seven countries, took an impromptu detour through London and Paris to get to Italy (full story here), and spent time at Microsoft Headquarters with some of the top tech students in the world at the Microsoft Student Partner Summit (watch the recap and hear the CEO Satya Nadella’s inspiring words here!). In all the buzz I’ve shown you some pictures and videos, but haven’t yet had the chance to share this set of photos from my time in Northern Italy. From the hairpin turns of the Mendola Pass to the green waves of Lake Garda nestled between the mountains, the beauty in Northern Italy is astounding. Take a look!

hairpin_turns_passo_mendola_photography riva_del_garda_mountains_view_italy_photography riva_del_garda_swan_photographysage_riva_del_garda_photography bar_in_grocery_store_italy_photographypasso_mendola_italy_2014_photography grape_vines_riva_photographytiny_italy_alley_sage_photography mendola_dog_photography sage_flower_garden_italy_photography jesus_shrine_photography riva_del_garda_chapel_photography

Even in the smallest of towns there is no shortage of grandeur and grace. It’s one of the most peaceful places I have the pleasure of visiting, and I am so grateful to be a citizen of bella Italia.

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Trendy Techie Featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers


Now that fashion month has kicked off, one of the things that we’ll be thinking as the new season hits the runways is, “Is it wearable?” Well, not just the runways, in technology too. The “Internet of Things” gives us some interesting accessories to incorporate into our look. And just in time too… with school back in session, what better way to accessorize, than with things that make you smarter?

Every week, Independent Fashion Bloggers hosts a roundup of the top picks of the week. This week my post, How to Wear a Fitband With Any Outfit, was chosen – and featured in the main image! Here’s the full list, pop on over and check them out!

Independent Fashion Bloggers Best of the Week

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