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Microsoft’s First Digital Assistant, Cortana, Is Here

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:30

Sometime ago buzz began about a new digital assistant that would be available with the unveiling of Windows Phone 8.1.

Now, Microsoft’s first assistant, Cortana, is here. Microsoft has made the new Windows Phone 8.1 available to developers which means your carrier will have the phone available very soon.

The name Cortana apparently comes from a holographic character in Microsoft’s video game franchise, Halo.

Whatever the inspiration, the Cortana assistant acts much like Apple’s digital assistant Siri and Google Now. It’s designed to be your personal assistant keeping track of things that are important to you and searching for information on your Windows Phone. Cortana will be able to set your alarms and even reserve a table at a restaurant. She will remind you of meetings in your calendar and even tell you how long it will take you to travel to your next business meeting.

Cortana works inside just about every other app on Windows Phone 8.1, too. Tapping on a magnifying glass inside the app you’re running allows you to multitask. So, if you’re listening to music while on the road, you can tap to activate Cortana to also set a reminder or alarm, schedule a meeting, or run a Bing search.

Here’s a look at how Cortana works, from Windows Phone Central:

Outside of Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 features new live tiles that you can customize with a unique skin. The Verge also notes that the update improves support for dual SIM cards, calendar views, and app updates.

“On one hand, Windows Phone 8.1 is a push toward the future, full of new things and new ways to do old things. But it’s also simply Microsoft’s biggest effort yet to bring its mobile platform closer in line with iOS and Android, to make it seem less alien to those who might switch.”

There is actually a way to get access to the updated mobile operating system. But be aware, this process will void the warranty on your device until your carrier releases the operating system update, according to The Verge in a different post.

If you’re not an app developer and are too anxious to wait for your mobile carrier to release the update, here’s how you can get Windows Phone 8.1 now.

First, go to the Windows Phone App Studio and sign in with your Microsoft account. The next step is to create a project. If you already have Windows Phone 8, you can download a free preview app. When you sign in to the app, your phone will detect the Windows Phone 8.1 update.

Image: Xbox

The post Microsoft’s First Digital Assistant, Cortana, Is Here appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Maui Wowi Hawaiian sets up shop in Coney Island - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:30

Maui Wowi Hawaiian opened this week at Luna Park in Coney Island, the famous New York City attraction and home to The Cyclone, a historic Coney Island roller coaster. Luna Park is a perfect fit for …


Expert in real estate analytics joins Luna Grill - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:30

Luna Grill, a San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, has added retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team as its VP of Real Estate, according to a company press …


Exclusive: KFC brings back the Double Down

Topix - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:28

Back in 2010 it was hard to escape news of the KFC Double Down. From The Colbert Report to YouTube to USA TODAY, it was hard not to be intrigued by a bacon 'n' cheese sandwich that used two fried chicken Back in 2010 it was hard to escape news of the KFC Double Down.

Categories: Today's Food News

Pizza Studio, sweetFrog opening in Kansas City outdoor mall - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:25

Pizza Studio, a fast casual pizza chain based in Los Angeles, and sweetFrog, a premium frozen yogurt chain based in Richmond, Va., will open in Kansas City, Kan., at the Legends Outlets, an outdoor …


TauNigma Company Expands to Dubai

PR Web - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:23

Dubai makes two: TauNigma Company opens second service center in UAE to expand innovative payment delivery services network. Customers to enjoy self-serve kiosks offering ATM services, money transfer,...

(PRWeb April 10, 2014)

Read the full story at

Garbanzo announces leadership additions - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:20

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill has announced updates to its board of directors and senior leadership team to better align with long-term growth objectives, according to a company press release. Rob …


Pancheros expands Jersey presence - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:20

Pancheros Mexican Grill opens its newest New Jersey this month in Bridgewater. In honor of the opening, the location will offer a $1-burrito promotion from 4 to 6 p.m., April 22. "We look forward to …


North Dakota's first Potbelly to open in Fargo - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:20

Potbelly Sandwich Shop announced today an agreement that will soon bring North Dakota its first shop. Currently slated to open this summer, the shop is in development at Fargo's new Prairie Stone …


Beer pairings: Public House

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:00
General manager Mark Del Monte pairs a porter with short ribs Public House general manager Mark Del Monte pairs a beer with short ribs

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A Small Irish Whiskey Brand Takes on Bacardi Over Trademark

BusinessWeek - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:59
Entrepreneur Andre Levy says the liquor giant's "actions are a danger to all entrepreneurs and to Irish heritage"

Why 'Flash Boys' and pricing complexity matter to retailers

Store Front Talk Back - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:29

Michael Lewis's new book, "Flash Boys, A Wall Street Revolt" is a great read and certainly helps explain why Wall Street has seemed so finicky over the past few years with erratic, unexplained ups and downs getting way too common.

read more

Congressman Tells Low-Income Worker: Higher Minimum Wage Is 'Not Right'

Topix - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:28

People like Shaneeka Rainer are often told that they shouldn't try to get the minimum wage increased because it only really applies to teenagers working entry-level jobs.

Categories: Today's Food News

Creative Learning Corporation Announces Bricks 4 Kidz® Master...

PR Web - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:13

Bricks 4 Kidz® rolls out the first Master Franchise in New South Wales, with plans for 50 sub-franchises. The award-winning concepts of Creative Learning Corporation are now in 26 countries, with...

(PRWeb April 10, 2014)

Read the full story at

Spavia Announces Corporate Spa Programs

PR Web - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:13

The leading form of employee appreciation

(PRWeb April 10, 2014)

Read the full story at

Pancheros Expands Presence in New Jersey

QSR Magazine - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:43
Exclusive Brief:  no

Pancheros Mexican Grill, a fast-casual Mexican brand known for its creation of Bob the Tool, will open its newest New Jersey location in Bridgewater. In honor of the grand opening, the location will be offering a $1 burrito promotion on April 22, from 4–6 p.m.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.

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Broken Arrow restaurant robbed at gunpoint

Topix - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:23

Police tell FOX23 a manager at a fast food restaurant in Broken Arrow finished closing the store when two men robbed her at gunpoint.

Categories: Today's Food News

Domino's Fried Chicken Crust + KFC Fried Chicken Corsage = Fried End of World

Topix - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:23

At this point, the only way we'd top the amount of doomy metaphors is if Nostradamus were resurrected onto a 100 tortillas and the tortillas all rolled, upright like tires, to Stonehenge and burst into flame under a gaggle of crows.

Categories: Today's Food News

15 Hotel Room Grievances

Hotel Interactive - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:21
In case you didn’t know, here are the top things that can upset guests.

How Do You Optimize Your Facebook And Twitter Accounts?

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:00

Whether you need to promote your brand, share event pictures, connect with your clients or create a buzz, social media marketing is a necessity and not an option any more.

An optimized social media profile shows your strong social media presence. But how do you elevate your social media profile to establish a strong connection with your fans?

Let’s explore two of the most popular social media platforms and how you can optimize them.

Facebook Optimization Your Facebook Profile Demands a Vanity URL

Select a unique username for your business page through www.facebook/username. This will be used for your unique Facebook URL.  However, once the name is chosen, it cannot be modified later, so be sure to check for errors.

Add a Professional Touch to Your Profile Image

Your profile image should only consist of your name and logo of the company. This helps to build brand awareness every time your business updates, comments and shares content on Facebook.

Be Creative With Your Cover Photo

Think of roadside billboards. Your cover photo should follow the same path. It should be eye catching and express your brand clearly:

  • Highlight your team.
  • Feature a promotion.
  • Share a holiday message.
  • Use collage images to showcase your products and services.
  • Use fan photos shared with you of people enjoying your products, services, promotions, etc.
Use Apps

There are many Facebook applications that can help you promote links to your site, your articles and online retail space. Here are few commonly used ones:

  • SlideShare
  • Networked blogs
  • Static FBML (Facebook HTML)
  • Reviews
Update Your Business Status With Keywords and Visuals

Facebook pages are indexed by search engines. This means that public updates from your Facebook business page often show up in Google’s real time search results. So, next time you update something on your page, keep important keywords in mind.

And nothing is more boring than a page full of text so be sure to add images and videos.  Research shows that updates with images are clicked 54% more than text-only updates and 22% more with video updates.

Twitter Optimization Be Smart With Your Twitter Handle

What comes after the ‘@’ symbol is important. It should convey something to followers. For instance, an effective Twitter handle is your company name. However, keep in mind that your handle can only be 15 characters. So get creative if you have a lengthy name for your company.

Get Creative With Your Profile Image and Background

Your profile picture is attached to all tweets so keep it consistent with your business logo because it is the face of your brand. Twitter is all about what you have to say, so it should look like its coming directly from you and nowhere else. Be creative with how you present yourself. An engaging profile image should possess the following characteristics:

  • Different from your competition.
  • Visually engaging and professional.

An engaging image for your Twitter profile can make you stand out in a sea of thousands of tweets. Moreover, if you are successful with your universal value proposition and targeted value proposition, there are chances that lots of visitors will become your consistent followers because they identify with your overall value proposition.

Similarly, your background image can make a big difference in the conversion rate. Incorporating a compelling background image increases the amount of time visitors spend on your profile. Your Twitter background image should communicate and highlight your value proposition. Try some of the following ideas:

  • Use custom call-to-action that converses directly with Twitter users.
  • Share contact information including your phone number, social networks and blog.
  • Offer promotions.
  • Add testimonials.
  • Crowd source photos from followers that use or show off your products.
Pay Attention to the Color of Your Header Image

Your header image should not overshadow your profile image. Keep it dark and muted. If your image is too bright, your profile may not be readable.

Develop a Great Bio

Every business is unique and so are its requirements. It is important to be interesting and engaging. Your bio should be a unique 160 character summary of your company’s mission. This reflects who you are, why people should follow you and the benefit of following you.  Make sure to display:

  • What your business does.
  • Your brand’s character.
  • Who they are talking with.
Add Your Location and Link

This is the easiest thing to do and hopefully takes the least amount of time. If you do not want to add a specific location, pick a geographical location. Advanced search on Twitter allows users to search by location. Adding your location is a great way to connect with your local community.

Also add a link to your website. Chances are that the 160 character summary doesn’t explain everything you want to convey to someone who is genuinely interested in your company. Ideally, that is what your website does.

Tablet Photo via Shutterstock

The post How Do You Optimize Your Facebook And Twitter Accounts? appeared first on Small Business Trends.