Monday, 1 September 2014

Grow your #Vocabulary - 10 Descriptive Words for Character

Below you will find ten words to describe one's character that you may not have heard of or used before. Why not grow your vocabulary and try using them in your conversation or writing today?

  1. Bumptious: Offensively self-assertive or conceited.
  2. Choleric: Easily angered; bad-tempered.
  3. Craven: Characterized by object fear; cowardly. 
  4. Didactic: Inclined to teach or moralize excessively.
  5. Erudite: Having or showing extensive scholarship; learned.
  6. Haughty: Scornfully and condescendingly proud.
  7. Mulish: Stubborn, recalcitrant, obstinate, headstrong.
  8. Obsequious: Obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner.
  9. Irascible: Prone to outbursts of anger; easily angered.
  10. Ribald: Characterized by indulging in vulgar, lewd humour.

The above definitions were found at  The Free Dictionary 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about descriptive words.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Food 4 Thought: Worth the Read 29/08/2014 Love the Product, Hate the Brand

I read interesting informative posts and articles about business, social media, marketing, networking and the like all the time. I'm a bit of a junkie when it comes to this type of thing. So I thought I would share on Cathy Thinking Out Loud  at least one said post or article every Friday, and maybe send you into your weekend with some food for thought.

It has been a while since I have shared a Food for Thought post and that is mostly due to summer scheduling or lack there of. This week instead of sharing other people's posts I am sharing some of my own thoughts. I hope you find some food for thought and that it was worth the read. 

Love the Product, Hate the Brand

Brands are like people, in that, we look for the same qualities in them as we look for in people. We look for integrity, honesty, and loyalty. We are drawn to those that are caring and give back to the communities they are in. We view brands as a people, because in the end it is the people behind the brands that set the tone, culture, goals and messages for those brands.  

With back to school around the corner for many of us, and if you are like me, you have spent considerable time and money organizing, preparing and shopping for back to school. Somehow no matter how organized I am the demands on my bank account seem to be endless, and at some point in the process it starts to stress me out. During times of stress it is doubly important that I feel good about the products and brands I purchase, so even if  I have to spend a small fortune at least I feel good about the shopping experience, quality of my purchases, and that I have gotten value for my money. 

I have a theory that at least 50% of cases of buyer remorse are misdiagnosed, and are actually a case of love the product, hate the brand. I almost always regret a purchase where the buying experience or the brand interaction and engagement has been indifferent or negative, no matter how much I love the product. So my question to you is what do you do when you love the product but hate the brand's tone, engagement, service (or lack there of), environmental or human rights policies, or whatever is important to your purchasing experience? Do you even care? Is price the only driving factor for you?

Even if price is a factor, and lets face it price is a factor for all of us, if I am able to buy a similar or comparable product at a price that is comparable from a brand I like, I do. If I have the opportunity to share my positive experiences about a brand I love on social media or in person with friends and family, I do. In general I don't share about brands I don't like unless someone specifically asks and, or the experience was truly bad. 

For me to not like a brand is about more than a single bad experience, but more a feeling that has developed over time. It's not that I'm angry at the brand I just don't like them, and they don't know or care that me, Average Joe feels that way because they don't care. I should never feel like the scene out of Pretty Women where I am not good enough or important enough for a brand. Brands shouldn't be snobs, and my guess is some (not all) people at certain brands are snobs, believe and portray their feelings, that it is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to spend my hard earned money on their brand. But they are wrong. 

I can't be the only one who feels this way, and doesn't buy from or share about the brands they don't like. There must be me x 1000's and that must add up to some substantial loss of potential free advertising, profit and sales. You know nothing about me, and never took the time to find out. It is a privilege for a brand to have even a minute of my precious time and money. Just as it is a privilege for me to have even one minute of my readers precious time. In the end brands are responsible for who they hire and the messages they sent. Sometimes what looks good on paper does not translate into real life experience. You may not be able to put into words what it is about a person or a brand that you like, but you know it when you see it. Loyalty, integrity, and honesty are always in style, and there are plenty of brands out there with these qualities that I can deal with. 

I would love it if you could take a precious minute of your time and share with me what you think is important in a brand, and what is a deal breaker.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what I think is worth the read. 

Note: I have not been compensated in anyway for this post. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers posts and articles I find interesting.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

WHAT 2 WATCH WED #W2WW Recommendation #26 #ChaletGirl & #SeekingaFriendfortheEndoftheWorld @Netflix_CA

I regularly have conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about which TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share these recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW). Please share yours in the comments section! These are a couple of comedies you can find on Netflix Canada. I hope you enjoy them. Sorry my tardiness, since clearly it's Thursday and not Wednesday, but I'm going to blame it on my "summer schedule". Hopefully I'll be better when the new school year starts.

Chalet Girl  

This movie might not win any awards but it was cute, and I love the skateboarding and snowboarding in the movie.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World  

As usual Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley are great and I thought this was very cute and worth the watch. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

When it comes to my teens & #tech apparently size matters. Top Tech Tips from @Marc_Saltzman & #Office365 Home #Giveaway

I have two teens boys that are very different in personality and interests. Both have and use multiple tech devices, but what they look for, use and see as important features and functions are very different. One thing they agree on is size matters:
  • the budget is small, but the wish list and cost is big.
  • they are big on style so it needs to look good and have great build quality.
  • tablets and laptops for school need to be small thin and lightweight, with maximum screen size.
  • cell phones need to be neither too big nor too small, like Goldilocks they like them just right.
  • memory and speed need to be big
  • battery life needs to be big, but battery needs to be small.
  • functionality needs to be big, and frustration using those functions needs to be small.
WOW as long as they are not demanding. So the challenge for me as a parent is how do I maximize what I get from my limited budget to meet as many of both my and my teens' "needs", while ensuring the substantial investment I make in tech tools for school will not be obsolete next week. It doesn't stop at devices. With those devices also comes a variety of plans, software, and apps, with associated costs and functionality.

My kids are heading into their final year of high school and I could use some help with the parental learning curve associated with tech tools for school. I am happy Tech-xpert Marc Saltzman  has put together his Top Tech Tips for students. 

  • Back It Up: The life of a student is busy at the best of times, and chaotic and crazy most of the time. No one has time for lost files or work, and it can definitely mean the difference between a stellar mark and an average mark. Marc's first tip is to is to back up your work. Loss of work or files "because of a hard drive crash, nasty virus, or power surge ... it is critical for students to back up their important files." Marc suggests you take "advantage of free cloud services, such as OneDrive " You can backup your files on OneDrive's 7 gigabytes of storage, while having access to your files and work by uploading, editing, and sharing them from your mobile devices, or PC.

  • The Right Stuff: Having the right tools for the job not only makes the work faster and easier, in general the end product is better. We tell our kids that their "job" is school, and our job is to make sure they have the tools to do the job. With assignments, essays, and slide presentations they need a way to easily access their information both at school, at home, and on the road. I can't tell you the number calls I have gotten from my kids in full on crisis mode because they have forgotten their USB keys, or their USB key is full. Marc's tip is to make use of productivity suites such as "Microsoft's Office 365 Home  ($99/year or $10/month) which gives students tried and true programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus OneNote for note-taking and research, Outlook to manage email and calendars, OneDrive for storage and sharing, and Skype for Skype-to-Skype and Skype-to-phone calling." Personally I like the time savings from being able to manage it all in a single account subscription, and sync family schedules and calendars. Plus the automatic updates gives you the most up to date features and applications. I like the dollars saved by the whole family being able to share the subscription and by using Skype.

  • Protect Your Mobile Device: With all the functions and information we store on our smart-phones and tablets these days it is important to be smart-phone-owners as well. Marc's advice is to "put safeguards in place to keep your data safe. There are a number of free apps that can help you remotely lock, wipe clean or better yet, locate a missing smart phone or tablet." A quick search for such apps appropriate for your device will show there is no shortage of options, including "Blackberry Protect for Blackberry Phones, Find My Phone for Windows Phones, Find My iPhone for iPhones, and Android Device Manager for Android Phones". So be smart about protecting your data!

  • Staying Safe: All Wi-Fi hotspots are not created equal and to some extent you get what you pay for. Free or public Wi-Fi can pose a security risk, and you need to be aware of that and take some steps to minimize your risk. For starters you can take advantage software to protect your mobile device from malware such as Avast Antivirus or Norton Mobile Security. Marc suggests "Whether it's the school's free wireless network or a local coffee shop, students should be careful when using public Wi-Fi , or "hotspots" - they're not as secure as you might think. These ... are fine for research, checking Facebook or reading emails, but resist the urge to do things like online banking  or shopping. Some Wi-Fi networks can appear legitimate -- when in fact they're fake. Nearby criminals create "rogue" networks that look legitimate but they're out to defraud users." So when in doubt check it out or do without Wi-Fi until you have secure and safe access. 

  • Double Duty: For a number of reasons it is important for students to have tech that multi-tasks. For starters buying a tablet and a laptop separately can be more expensive than something that does double duty. If you are not using Office 365 Home or a similar productivity suite of products the time investment of switching information from one device to another is high, and time is money. The key is to have tech that has both the convenience of a tablet and the functionality of a laptop. One such device is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet that can be customized to your needs with the addition of a keyboard. As Marc says "It's truly the best of both worlds." The Surface Pro 3 starts at $849 which is not the lowest price point, but I found often a good investment at the beginning saves you time and money in the long run. By buying the right tools productivity is increased and the need to invest in upgrades, replacements and add-ons can often be eliminated. Note to my loving husband I WANT A SURFACE PRO 3! xo   

  • Another option in multi-tasking devices is the 2-in-1 or convertible device that "resemble a laptop at first glance - equiped with a QWERTY keyboard and trackpad, attached to a screen - but when your school work is done, the screen twists back, folds down or detaches from the keyboard" and converts into a tablet. I love the idea of all the work being on a single device that has all the function of a laptop and the convenience of a tablet. It just makes sense. You will find 2-in-1 options in a variety of sizes, configurations, and price points. 

Keeping these tips in mind I hope your search for the best tech tools for school is a successful one, and you find tech that is the right fit for you. For more great tips and the latest tech updates and information you can find Marc Saltzman on twitter, on CJAD News Talk Radio - Tech Talk Blog with Marc Saltzman and at The Toronto Star as a contributing author. 

Be sure to check out Microsoft Office 365 Home  to see all the applications and features included in the subscription or follow Microsoft Canada on Facebook  Microsoft Canada on Twitter  Office365 on Twitter for all the latest news.

In order to start the school year off right I'm excited to give my readers a chance to win a 
Office 365 Home One Year Subscription. 
This giveaway runs from Aug 28th until Sept 12th, 2014, and is open to Canada. 
Good Luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Tech Teens and Tools for School.

Note: I was not compensated for this post. I do however appreciate the opportunity to share these tech tips with my readers and offer them a chance to win a Office 365 Home One Year Subscription. All opinions are my own and reflect my own experience with products and brands. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ruggedized USB Cable from @NexTekEnergy keeps #BTS teens charged up, ready to learn! #BTSTech

My kids are teens so that means we are what one would call a "plugged in family" with lots of devices and cells phone that "need" to be charged. For me they need to be charged so I can contact my kids for convenience and in an emergency. My kids definition of "need" is slightly different. They want to contact their friends, play a game, watch a You Tube video, and surf the web. Apparently the surfing is required for school research. Hey, Khan Academy started on You Tube so we am I to judge.

So as we prepare for back to school, and keeping in mind our "needs" being able to locate a cable to charge our devices is important to all of us. Here's the thing about teens ... they are not great at keeping these cables in an easy to locate place, and they aren't exactly gentle on ... well anything. Here's the thing about Moms ... they don't have either an endless budget to replace said items, or endless patience with lost and broken items.

With wi-fi at the high school more and more of the teachers are having students utilize their own devices in class, so my kids' phones and devices need to be charged and ready to go each morning. I added the NEXTEK Energy's Ruggedized Cable with braided sleeve to our back to school list and think it might be the perfect solution for both Mom and teens.  The price point makes it affordable enough to own a few, the nylon fabric braided sleeve makes it durable and it provides quick device charging. I like that the colour options make it easy to identify which cable belongs to whom. 

Another back to school must is a portable battery charger. All the "research for school" means my kids' phone battery power barely lasts the school day. Be sure to read Cathy Thinking Out Loud's Review of the Pocket Booster 4200 by NEXTEK Energy

Once again NEXTEK Energy has been nice enough to offer my readers a chance to win a Ruggerized USB Cable in the colour and type (micro-USB or Apple Lightning) of their choice. This giveaway is open to Canada and runs from August 24th - Sept 12th. 
Good Luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway For more information about all their products be sure to check out the NEXTEK Energy website and follow NEXTEK Energy on Facebook  or NEXTEK Energy on Twitter  

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about getting ready for back to school.

Note: I received a Nextek Energy Ruggedized USB Cable for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with this product. 

Be sure to put #CanadasWonderland #AmusementPark on your summer To Do list! Fun for kids of all ages! @WonderlandNews #familytravel

I grew up and still have most of my family in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) so sometimes I take for granted all there is to do there. It is a perfect summer road trip and family travel destination. One of the attractions that should be on your "TO DO" list is Canada's Wonderland Amusement Park.

The Adventure Begins:

I was in my teens when "Wonderland" first opened and I still remember the excitement. My kids who are teens now have been going since they were toddlers. There is something for all ages, and every year the attraction and ride options seem to get bigger. Besides all the Thrill Seeker Rides and Attractions  like the Leviathan, and the Drop Tower, there is Splash Works Water Park  and Planet Snoopy and KidzvilleWonderland also hosts concerts and live entertainment that is both throughout the park and scheduled events. 

I am a mom and as a mom I have certain duties, one of which is feeding my evil brats lovely kids giving them the energy they need to move from the Leviathan to Wonder Mountain's Guardian. For our family The Marketplace International All-You-Can-Eat Buffet was a perfect fit for hungry teens, and had enough variety such as Pizza, A Taco Bar, and Chicken Strips & Fries to keep everyone in the family happy. The Coke Soda Mix Machine was not surprisingly a big hit with my kids! To finish off your meal there is a dessert bar and coffee and tea available. We found both the staff and service was great! If that is not your thing there are more than 20 dining options and a number of dining plans that are sure to meet everyone's meal and snack tastes and needs.

Although the official summer is coming to an end there is still time to enjoy all Canada's Wonderland has to offer including the Labour Day Fireworks, Season Pass Appreciation Days and the Halloween Haunt.

So my only question is: What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to the GTA and Canada's Wonderland today, and be sure to follow Canada's Wonderland on Facebook and WonderlandNews on Twitter for all the news about events and promotions.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about the Wonderful time we had at Canada's Wonderland.

Note: I received  complementary dining for 4 at The Marketplace International Buffet for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience at Canada's Wonderland. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Playing it Forward never looked so stylish! @MetoWe school supplies @StaplesCanada double your impact!

Every August the kids and I finalize our back to school lists. I tend to shop for school supplies all year long, watching for sales and deals and buy extra to donate to my kids' schools to pay it forward to kids who might not have the resources to buy the necessary supplies. In truth necessary is relative and I consider my kids VERY fortunate to have won the "birth lottery" in where they were born and in the fact we have been able to provide them what I consider to be a very privileged lifestyle.

Staples Canada is carrying Me to We school supplies that are not only very stylish but also provide an opportunity for a double-wammy pay it forward moment. The proceeds from these products go to help Free the Children provide the opportunity for children to learn in circumstances that are not limited by finances hunger or access to water. So simply by purchasing these for your child you are making a trackable impact on the life of a child. 
But if you have the courage to think bigger and purchase these school supplies not just for your child but also to donate to your local school just think of the expanded impact and the teachable moment you have created for your child, and the kids your child spends 6 hours 5 days a week with. 

Your kids are a product of their environment. Why not make it the best possible environment for learning for both your own children as well as those Me to We  and Free the Children help everyday.

Food for thought! 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking about paying it forward.

Note: I was not compensated for this post in any way. The purpose of this post is simply to inform my readers.