October Tech Challenge: Consider a Tech Upgrade

The holiday season is fast approaching and retailers have some of their best sales between now and the new year, making this the perfect time to think about upgrading your tech.

How do I know if I need a tech upgrade?

As a general rule of thumb, you should upgrade your smartphone or laptop every 3 years. Beyond age, other signs your tech may need replacing:

  • not being able to run updates,
  • paying a lot for technology fixes,
  • a general slowing down or sluggishness in the operating speed of your device

Also consider how often you use the device in question and how much it would improve your personal or work life if the device was upgraded.

Ok, I need to upgrade. How do I decide what to buy?

Cost: One of the first considerations: what’s your budget? Is it worth spending the money for the latest and greatest, or would a refurbished, year-old device serve you and your budget just as well?

Needs: If you have multiple devices you think need upgrading, ask which device would create the most disruption to your life if it were lost or stolen. The answer will tell you which device is the most valuable to you and is, potentially, the one that should receive an upgrade.

Laptop, watch, phone, headphones on desk. Photo by Austin Poon

Take stock of what tech you have and what needs to be replaced and then wait for the sales to start!

Manufacturer: Do you have an iPhone and wonder if you’re missing out by not having an Android? Have you always bought Dell computers but think the new MacBook looks pretty awesome? It’s always worth looking at other manufacturers, even if you’ve been loyal to the same company for years.

Take an honest assessment about what you love about your current device and what you think could be improved, and then take a look at the competition. Read reviews and research the highest praise and biggest complaints for each manufacturer or device you’re considering. And don’t forget about the warranty and support.

That being said, compatibility is another factor. Generally your life is easier if your devices can talk to each other. You can create connectivity between incompatible devices, but that takes some tech savvy and time.

So when should I buy?

Having made the decision to buy something new and knowing what you want, it can be hard to wait. Fortunately for you, three of the best sales days for purchasing tech are still to come. Between Black Friday (Friday November 26), Cyber Monday (Monday November 29), and Boxing Day sales, you’re bound to find a deal.

We’ll see you next month for another tech challenge. In the meantime, good luck and happy shopping!


5 Ways Technology can Connect us this Holiday Season

With the snow falling outside and holiday songs playing in the malls (I’m assuming they’ve started playing, I haven’t actually been to a mall for a while), our thoughts turn to the time of year when we gather together to eat, drink, and be merry. While hopes are on the rise for coronavirus vaccine, we still have to face the reality that our holidays may not look exactly like a homecoming in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Normal Rockwell homecoming painting

The Homecoming Norman Rockwell December 25, 1948

COVID cases in Canada are once again on an upward trend, so travelling long distances and enjoying extended family get-togethers is off the table. Which means we need to find virtual ways to enjoy each other’s company.

Now I don’t know about you, but the weekly FaceTime call to parents and siblings has become a bit repetitive. With none of us going anywhere or doing anything, the most exciting thing we can find to talk about is which episode of The Queen’s Gambit we re-watched last night, and who is winning in the pool for “most number of days worked in PJs in a row”. With everyday feeling like a Wednesday, the hope for the holidays is that we can shake things up a bit. For anyone feeling the same way, following is a list of ideas for how to use your technology to spend time with family and friends this season, including online games, how to watch movies together, a virtual gift exchange, and even some suggestions for this year’s office party.

Start with a Plan

Begin by picking a time when you can all get “together” and decide how you will all see each other. Will you use FaceTime, a Zoom call, Houseparty? What platform is everyone comfortable with? Consider doing a test run to make sure everyone knows how to use the chosen platform and decide where to set up your devices so you can all see each other. 

Online & Mobile Games

man and woman playing games on smart phones

Turns out you can be physically distanced and still play the old classics like Uno and Scrabble. This link will help you host virtual game nights over the holidays.

Game Pigeon, available through the App Store on iPhones and iPads, allows you to play basketball, pool, chess, paintball, word games, and more through iMessage. It’s a fun way to feel connected and pass time while you’re waiting for your online shopping cart to update.

For Android users, there are alternatives to Game Pigeon. And in the event that you have an iPhone and your sister has an Android, there are still lots of cross-platform games you can play together.

Not Into Gaming?

Are you used to watching Home Alone together as a family and finding the movie title hits a little too close to home this year? This article provides links and descriptions of seven different ways that you can sync movies while you chat about these strange Home Alone fan theories at the same time.

Man and woman with popcorn watching movie on laptop

Need Something New to Talk About?

In case you do just want to talk but have run out of topics, check out this extensive list of conversation starters.

Creative Gift Giving

Gift giving can be fraught with tension at the best of times. If you’re not getting together to exchange gifts this year, check out this link for creative ways to exchange gifts virtually, as well as a few good gift ideas too.

two people exchanging gift with fireplace and Christmas tree in background

What About the Annual Holiday Office Party?

If your office is dealing with the disappointment of missing out on the yearly holiday karaoke, consider pulling together a virtual office party instead. While it may seem unconventional, there are a lot of benefits to the virtual party: no storms or bad weather threatening to postpone or cancel the event, no one has to drive long distances or cover cab costs, no long buffet lines or special diets to contend with, and no navigating freshly fallen snow and ice in three-inch heels. It also requires a lot less planning and organization.

holiday decorations surround a laptop screen with man and woman on screen wearing Santa hats and toasting with champagne

Set the Venue

First, pick the date, time, and “venue” (Zoom, Teams, or whatever other platform your office is comfortable using) and send out email invitations inviting everyone to the online party.

Pick a Theme

Decide if you want a theme: prizes can be awarded to participants who best embody the theme with outfits, decorations, virtual backgrounds, or dressed up pets.

Select a DJ

Pick a DJ and have them select a Spotify playlist or create one of their own. (Pro tip: Ask everyone in the company to notify the DJ of their favourite holiday song. This helps everyone feel more involved.)

Eat Together

Make sure everyone gets to eat together by sending Uber Eats gift certificates to everyone in the company a day or two ahead of the event. This way you can all order food to arrive at a specific time and enjoy together (no more cold buffet leftovers after 95% of the attendees have taken the best items!). 

Distribute Prizes

Have door prizes in the form of gift cards that can be mailed out, or physical items which can be ordered online and shipped to the winners’ homes. 

Use Technology to its Fullest Advantage this Holiday Season

Let’s face it, 2020 is going to live on in our collective memory as being a challenging year, to put it mildly. Not being able to be with friends and family IRL is going to make it harder for many of us, so we might as well use technology to its full advantage and find creative ways to spend time together this holiday season. Because if it’s going to be holiday none of us ever forget, we might as well make it a holiday to remember!