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Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Breathing Right

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, May 30th, 2013

We breathe 20 thousand times a day without realizing it. But often we can be breathing incorrectly. If we’re feeling sad, happy, angry or stressed then we may start breathing wrong. And if we’re feeling a certain way for a long period of time, for example if we’re stressed for several weeks then an incorrect breathing pattern can set in. And according to physiotherapist Jessica DeMars who is a specialist in breathing retraining, these negative breathing patterns can lead to a whole host of health problems.

Jessica says we can experience shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, muscle pain, digestive upset, poor concentration and an increase in pain levels.

So what Jessica tries to do is teach patients to return to a natural breathing state. This means breathing in through the nose and right into the belly and slowing it all down. She says many of us only breathe into the upper chest which can trigger the ‘flight or fight’ response, when in fact breathing into the belly triggers the ‘rest and digest’ response. We need both responses in a balanced state to achieve optimum wellness.

If you visit Jessica to assess your breathing, she’ll do a patient history, an assessment, and then use a computer program to look at your respiratory chemistry. She’ll then educate you about breathing properly and teach you some exercises which you need to practice to change your breathing patterns.

Breathing naturally will help you feel better and help you cope with life’s certain stresses.

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Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the BlackBerry Q10

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, May 16th, 2013

What goes into designing a successful smartphone? Turns out there’s a lot more to the design process than many realize. Take the BlackBerry Q10 for example. The design appears to be quite simple. In fact, some may say it shares the same design as the Bold, or any other classic qwerty style BlackBerry device. Take a closer look.

“There are millions of decisions that go into every Blackberry.” says Todd Wood, SVP of Design for BlackBerry as he sat down with me at BlackBerry Live, the annual developer conference in Orlando, Florida. “It’s a creative process. It’s about teamwork. It’s sort of a village raising a baby if you will”

More than 100 people helped design the latest BlackBerry device, spending countless hours discussing the shape, form, look and feel. A lot of thought went into every single aspect of the device. Wood let me in on some of the secrets of the BlackBerery Q10’s design. Here’s a few things you may not know about the Q10.

You helped Design the BlackBerry Q10

BlackBerry likes to listen to customer feedback on its devices. If you’ve ever reached out to BlackBerry to complain about a feature you didn’t like on one of its smartphones, there’s a good chance the company listened carefully to what you said.

“We involve a lot of customers. We do a lot of interviews with end users. We do a lot of testing” Wood tells me.

Waterloo, Ontario is home to BlackBerry’s head office, but hidden away on campus is a facility many people don’t know about. BlackBerry has a production line where it creates first run handsets right on site. BlackBerry can physically create each prototype for testing, and then not only gives them to engineers to test in the field, but also to avid BlackBerry users who agree to help in the testing process under strict non-disclosure agreements.

“The first run is always internal but we do bring in end users. They have to sign an non-disclosure and all that stuff.” Says Wood. ”There’s always some glitches or bugs and you can run down to the production factory and deal with it right away. Once it’s mature we can hit the send button and send the software of this is how you make a certain BlackBerry to manufacturing plants all around the world.”

The Keyboard Frets Play Tricks with Your Mind

Nestled in between the rows of keys on your keyboard are metal bars BlackBerry refers to as frets. While many would guess these are placed there for aesthetics, these frets actually play a trick on your brain, making you think the keys are really further apart on the phone than they really are.

“They separate the rows of keys. That visually makes it simpler. It’s like putting a bunch of books on a shelf” says Wood.

One way to think about it is like frets on a guitar. Wood says guitarists find it easier to play music with an instrument with frets. However you take the frets away and it becomes much more difficult to play. The same goes with typing on a keyboard whether it’s physical or virtual.

“There are 35 keys but the graphic read is quite simple. That makes it much more approachable.”

The frets on the BlackBerry Q10 also act as a structural component. If you look at the side of the phone you’ll notice the frets intercept with the outer frame. This is known as a dovetail, a common technique in furniture making.

“One of the designers who worked on this, he’s a wood worker and he was thinking of the structure of this and how we can get these edge to edge keys to work together to create a strong and efficient structure. It’s a very jewellery like detail.”

You may also notice there is a fret on the rear of the phone. While you may think this is for design, the fret serves a purpose. Wood says the fret actually keeps the lens of the rear camera off the surface you place your phone on, helping to prevent scratches. Who knew.

The Mystery Behind the Font

A lot of thought went into the font you see on the keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10. It’s known as Slate Pro and it was developed right here in Canada by 66 year-old Rod McDonald, who lives in Lake Echo Nova Scotia.

“It’s a sans serif font if you geek out about fonts. It’s a very functional font but it’s also humanistic. It has these very subtle lines and curves to it that you might now notice at first but after you live with the font you begin to notice these things.” says Wood.

The font was originally created back in 2008 and was one of two typefaces BlackBerry considered for the Z10 and Q10 smartphones. Slate Pro is also used on the virtual keyboard of the Z10, giving users a seamless experience.

The Back of the Phone is made from Glass

One of the first things I noticed when I picked up the Q10 was how it felt in my hand. The device is not only comfortable to hold, it has an unmistakeable silky, smooth grip. But it almost didn’t turn out that way.

“The first prototypes were made with carbon.” says Wood. “We tested the carbon and it turns out it interfered with the radios so we said, hmmm, we like the look, can we do a material which still has all those properties”.

Wood says engineers at BlackBerry spent years developing a special type of black glass which was woven to create the back panel you see today. It was inspired by extreme sports such as Formula One racing, boat paddles and Skis.

“Structurally it’s like re-enforced concrete. The fibres create the tension and the resign create shlep with compression so all the forces are managed in a very sophisticated system”.

Startup Screen Easter Egg

Like any computer, you have to wait for smartphones to boot up once they are turned on. Wood let me in on a little secret. BlackBerry has baked a tiny easter egg into its start up so you can get an idea of how long the start-up process will take.

“When the system boots up it’s actually going through all types of sophisticated things, checking its secure, decompressing data to boot up.” says Wood.

If you place your finger on the BlackBerry logo you will see a percentage show up on the screen, letting you know when the device will be ready to use.

“We made it entertaining. It’s like being in Disney Land and you’re waiting in line for a ride and a band comes along or some sort of entertainment comes a long to help you pass the time.”

If you look at the shape of the logo, you’ll also notice it resembles that of the track-pad used in the latest Bold devices.

Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: BlackBerry Q5

bt.calgary | posted Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

It may look like the recently launched BlackBerry Q10, but don’t confuse this new handset with its higher end cousin. The Q5 is a completely different, budget friendly phone, designed for emerging markets. So how does it compare to the Q10? I got my hands on one to see the changes BlackBerry made in order to keep the costs down on their latest smartphone.

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick it up the Q5 is the material it’s made from. You won’t find any metal on the Q5, it’s essentially all plastic (minus the screen). The smooth, matte plastic feels quite light in your hands and significantly cheaper than the Q10. The buttons along the sides are made from plastic and when you flip it over you’ll notice there is no back cover. BlackBerry decided on a non-removable battery to keep costs down.

The screen is surprisingly nice. At 3.1-inches, this touchscreen is not only the same size of screen as the Q10 but it also has the same resolution (720X720). What’s different is the tech inside the screen. The Q10 sports an OLED display while the newer Q5 has LCD technology.

Flipping the phone around in my hands I also noticed the lack of an mini HDMI port. A BlackBerry rep on hand confirmed there is no video out on this model.

Like the Q10, the Q5 has a front and back camera. The front camera is rated at 2 megapixels, while the rear camera has been downgraded. Instead of an 8 megapixel camera, BlackBerry opted to put in a 5 megapixel camera. I did take a few photos with the device and certainly noticed a difference, between the photos taken on the Q5 and my Q10. The room was somewhat dark which made some photos slightly soft. Unfortunately there is was no easy way for me to get the photos off the device so I can’t share them with you.

For those interested in the tech specs, the Q5 sports a 1.2 GHz dual core processor compared to the Q10’s 1.5 GHz dual core chip. I didn’t notice a huge difference in performance, however the phone wasn’t loaded with many apps so multi-tasking opportunities were limited.

So where else did BlackBerry cut back? Memory! The Q5 will come with half the memory found in the Q10. Yup, only 8GBs of built-in memory.
Yes, the BlackBerry Q5 will come in a variety of colours including red, white, black and pink

Yes, the BlackBerry Q5 will come in a variety of colours including red, white, black and pink

The BlackBerry Q5 may come across as a budget smartphone but it’s actually seems quite nice. Sure it doesn’t have the polish of the Q10, or the Z10 for that matter, but at least it will give users the BlackBerry 10 experience at a fraction of the cost. How much it will sell for remains to be seen.

The Q5 will come in a variety of colours including red, white, black and pink. Emerging markets such as Asia and South Africa can expect to get their hands on the Q5 this summer.

Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: BlackBerry Announces New Q5 Smartphone

bt.calgary | posted Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Good news for those who have traded in their BlackBerry but are still missing their beloved BBM. The popular messaging service is coming to iOS and Android.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins made the announcement to a room full of cheers at the company’s annual developers conference BlackBerry Live in Orlando Florida.

“BBM was a key element why people were going for Blackberry” says Thorsten. “We feel this product is ready to stand on its own legs. Now is the time to release BBM on a different level and let it flourish on its own.”

The app, which will work on iOS 6 and Android (Ice Cream sandwich and above), will initially only support text and group features, but expect it to include BBM video, screen share and the new Channels feature in the coming months.

“it’s a statement of confidence. We are confident for BBM to become an independent multi-platform solution” Thorstein told the crowd.

BlackBerry Messenger currently has 60 million monthly active users. More than 10 billion messages sent and received through BBM every day, most read within 20 seconds of being received.

BBM for iOS and Android will be free when it launches closer to summer.

Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: BlackBerry Announces New Q5 Smartphone

bt.calgary | posted Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

A very confident Thorsten Heins, taking to the stage in Orlando to reveal the latest device in the BlackBerry family; the BlackBerry Q5.

BlackBerry’s CEO revealed the new handset during his keynote speech at BlackBerry Live, the company’s annual developer conference.

The Q5 features BlackBerry’s famous physical qwerty keyboard along with a 3.1-inch screen and lower res camera. It will also run BlackBerry 10, the company’s latest operating system.

Thorsten did not reveal the price of the Q5, but he did say the handset is targeting emerging markets such as Asia and South America, who may not have the money to purchase one of BlackBerry’s higher end devices such as the Z10 or Q10.

The Q5 is expected in a number of different colours including red, black, white and pink and will hit select markets later this summer.

Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: Nintendo Reminding Gamers the Wii U is a New Console

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Nintendo Reminding Gamers the Wii U is a New Console

When Nintendo initially launched the Wii U late last year there was a lot of confusion over what exactly the device was. Many questioned if it was a brand new console or simply an upgrade to the existing (and aging) gaming machine. Turns out many are still confused.

Earlier this week, Nintendo sent out a software update for the Wii U, adding additional functionality. At the same time it pushed a notification to original Wii users, clarifying the Wii U is a brand new console.

“It’s time to discover Wii U” the statement read. “Wii U is the all-new home console from Nintendo. It’s not just an upgrade — it’s an entirely new system that will change the way you and your family experience games and entertainment.”

Adoption of the new console hasn’t met Nintendo’s expectations. Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata admitted during a recent financial results briefing the company hasn’t been able to demonstrate the purpose of the new console to customers.

Nintendo recently shocked gaming media last week when it announced it would not be holding a press event during the upcoming E3 gaming expo in June as it does each and every year. Instead it will hold “behind closed doors” events for the press to get hands on time with upcoming titles.

Both Microsoft and Sony are going ahead with plans for major press events at E3 to discuss details of their upcoming next gen consoles.