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Brian Shaw

Technology is always changing, with yesterday’s impossible evolving into today’s ‘must have.’ While there’s no way to predict everything that will surprise us in 2017, here are five upcoming tech products to keep your eye on in the New Year.

2017 tech

The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is an upcoming console/tablet hybrid that aims to revolutionize the way we play video games. Utilizing detachable game controllers and a special docking station, the Nintendo Switch can transform from a handheld gaming tablet to a complete gaming console within seconds. While there is plenty of skepticism on how well the Switch will work, Nintendo has surprised us before. And the device, set to launch in March of 2017, is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Amazon Echo with a Touch Screen

Digital assistants like Siri, Google Now and Alexa have already proven that they can be a compelling tool to make everyday life easier. And while we don’t know the specific sales numbers for Amazon’s Echo devices, it’s obvious that Amazon is heavily invested in developing the product. We can expect 2017 will yield several breakthroughs in the digital assistant category. Specifically, the current rumor is that the next Alexa-enabled device will launch with a 7-inch touchscreen. Does this mean Amazon will be merging their Echo and Fire device lines? Probably not. But it could mean a new device category is set to hit the market.

Surface Phone

It’s been a long time since Microsoft bought Nokia, and we have yet to see much innovation come from the acquisition. But next year, Microsoft announced that they want to start creating Windows 10 ARM-based PCs. This might not sound like much, but it means that Microsoft wants to start using phone processors to run a specially compiled version of Windows 10. This could be a sign that a fully-functioning Windows 10 Smartphone (maybe even the long-rumored “Surface Phone”) is being prepped to launch in 2017.

Android Wear 2.0

Google planned to release an update to its Android Wear platform (the software that runs on Android Smartwatches) earlier this year. For several different reasons, this update has been pushed to 2017. While smartwatch sales have been dwindling in recent months, this update could provide a much-needed boost of usage and popularity to bring smartwatches back into the limelight.

The Next iPhone

People always clamor over the latest iPhone releases every year, but 2017 might prove to be extra special, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the original launch of the iPhone. While it could be an incremental “7S” upgrade like we’ve seen in years past, many rumors point to a major overhaul, including a curved screen, removing the home button and more. Either way, the next iPhone will definitely turn a few heads in the tech world in 2017.

Again, there’s no way to predict what crazy and innovative products will surprise and amaze us this next year, but we can rest assured that there are many sleeper hits and major flops yet to come.

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It was hard to pick our top 10 movie selections – but the quality of television made it difficult to even leave our couches. So many shows (e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock) now deliver mini-movie episodes every week that look like big budget, big screen spectacles. And now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon just dump entire seasons on us to ignite rampant binge watching. OTT services and cable networks have become crack dealers and we are either addicted junkies or compulsive hoarders with overflowing DVRs and instant queues.

So here’s what we hoarded or became addicted to in 2016:

Game of Thrones (HBO) – Let’s get this out of the way. GoT is like that professional athlete that delivers so many great performances night in and night out that it becomes boring. The show doesn’t carry as much buzz as it used to (typical when you get to six seasons), but it still brings the goods and prompts plenty of water cooler chatter week after week at the office. With dragons, zombies, flesh-eating dogs and uppity bastards, this show is TV’s most epic.

Preacher (AMC) – During the lunch hour on any given summer weekday, you would find at Penna Powers a gaggle of gamers and geeks enthralled by the latest episode of this gonzo AMC series. Yet another comic adapted to the small screen, this one goes pretty far off the rails from any normal TV show. That’s a good thing according to our creative department. If you share a love of Preacher, they might kiss you on the Arseface.

This is Us (NBC) – Because we need to have a least one broadcast network show on our list. This is the perfect Parenthood replacement that will make you cry, laugh and get mad at yourself for laughing and crying.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix) – Netflix is pretty good at resurrecting old beloved shows. They didn’t do so well with Fuller House (despite big audiences, at least according to Netflix) but nailed it with this one. Cue more laughing and crying.

Daredevil (Netflix) – Another favorite for the Penna Powers’ creative department. Daredevil’s Season 2 was certainly no sophomore slump, despite what people have said. We’re glad Shane from Walking Dead got resurrected to keep his unbridled rage-flame burning as the Punisher.

The Crown (Netflix) – Seriously, stop making such great shows Netflix – it might go to your head and then you’ll start making really crappy stuff. But in the meantime, Penna Powers dug The Crown, which explores the rise of Queen Elizabeth II, when she first took the crown at the age of 25. If you’re having Downton Abbey withdrawals, this may be the costume drama for you.

Atlanta (FX) – If you enjoyed Donald Glover and the meta-comedy of Community, you might like this one. FX pretty much gave Glover the keys to the car to drive wherever he wanted. The road had lots of curves and rest stops, but it took us to a place TV’s never been. Never has a series created such a unique sense of place and time – it’s like he mixed Coen brothers absurdist humor with Spike Lee, Kanye West and Samuel Beckett. Now go watch it.

Black Mirror (Netflix) – The Twilight Zone for the new generation – this anthology series focuses on the scary side of technology and extrapolates the terrifying conclusion of what may happen as a result of our “progress”.  Season 3 dropped a healthy dose of six episodes. You’ll want to permanently tape up your laptop camera or go off the grid entirely after watching (with the exception of the unusually positive “San Junipero” episode). Warning: trailer video has some salty language – those bloody Brits.

Westworld (HBO) – HBO’s hoping Westworld will be it’s next Game of Thrones. The ratings have been good and the show has stirred up online discussion forums debating and conjecturing each episode. The series has certainly begged more questions than delivered answers, but the intrigue is contagious and addictive. And Anthony Hopkins is at his best, delivering a calm yet mad scientist version of his Hannibal Lecter character.

Stranger Things (Netflix) – We saved the best for last. The overwhelming favorite for the Penna Powers staff was this eight-part series that dropped out of nowhere over the summer.  If you were to mix the eighties versions of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, all the while keeping the rating at an usual and somewhat family-friendly TV-14 (OTT services and premium cable seem to relish the TV-MA rating), you would get Stranger Things. Take 11 by the hand for a trip to the Upside Down world and witness outstanding performances from Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine and the best kids cast assembled since Super 8. And please keep a candle lit for our beloved Barb and her puffy jeans.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Robot, Billions, Shamless, New Girl, Madame Secretary, Luke Cage, Silicon Valley, Veep, Insecure, Atlanta, Narcos, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Last Week Tonight, Broad City, The Good Wife, Scandal, The Great Indoors, Ray Donovan, Goliath, The Path, Catastrophe, How to Get Away With Murder, Candle Cove

What did you watch in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2016 movie selections and keep refreshing for more end of year selections from the Penna Powers staff.

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Movies are struggling to stay relevant these days, what with the quality of TV and with so many other things grabbing the headlines this year. Here’s a list of films that got noticed by the Penna Powers staff. As you’ll see, many got the attention they deserved and some quietly came and went:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – JK Rowling keeps the checks coming with this first installment of a planned five-film series. Of course, we would be breaking our pattern of picking the movie that inspires our annual holiday card if we didn’t include this one. This was a worthy first film, although it certainly coasts on its Harry Potter credentials for a bit. Once things start moving along, this film becomes something entirely different than what the trailers would have you believe. And considerably darker as well. Oh Colin Farrel, you’re so creepy.

Deadpool – The fan boys finally get the Deadpool movie they’ve been drooling for. Ryan Reynolds actually stars as the titular anti-hero for the second time (anyone remember the much reviled first attempt of the same character in X Men Origins: Wolverine?). Noted for being Marvel’s first major R-rated film and also noted for Stan Lee’s cameo as a dirty old man in a strip club, the movie proved that comic-book films no longer need to stay in the safe PG-13 realm and still make money. Funny, irreverent and self-referential (Deadpool often breaks the fourth-wall with snarky comments, making fun of X-Men movies and Hugh Jackman), it was an unexpected box office sensation, especially for one released on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  – The first stand-alone Star Wars film without the likes of Han, Luke, Leia or even Lando, the installment explains how the Rebels acquired and relayed knowledge of the Death Star’s fatal flaw. If you didn’t care about that little plot point, the film still works, introducing new characters that you do care about and makes Star Wars: A New Hope so much better in context. Plus, there’s a Vader sighting, and he’s not a happy camper. Plus plus, the movie actually delivers on the potent power of the original teaser trailer, despite not including many of those scenes.

Zootopia – The spot for best animated feature usually goes to the annual Pixar offering, but darn it if Disney Animation isn’t giving them a run for their money. Currently suffering from sequelitis, Pixar dropped Finding Dory and not one of our staffers listed it as a favorite (although Moana didn’t get any either). Last year’s outstanding Inside Out was sandwiched between uninspired outings like The Good Dinosaur and a sequel no one asked for, Monsters University. Incredibly but not surprisingly, three of the next four Pixar releases will be sequels. So that leaves room for this little original gem that no one saw coming. Everyone loves an unexpected hit with a theme that challenges our own temptation to buy into stereotypes. And it has the best ever comedic use of sloths.

 

Dr. Strange – Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched in 2016 with this and another film we’ll talk about later. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect choice for the egotistical surgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme of New York. What could have been completely hokey was actually a smart, fun and visually arresting spectacle. And a bald Tilda Swinton is never a bad thing, right?

Captain America: Civil War – This was basically The Avengers 3, but I guess it can’t be if we’re missing Hulk and Thor? Doesn’t quite make sense. The other part of Marvel’s Phase 3 was this release. It was expected to be a big hit and it delivered. With the Russo brothers at the helm (they did the last Captain America film), the movie aptly juggled all of the characters and their struggles, introduced new ones and culminated in a bruising battle between the good guys. That darn Bucky is causing so many problems.

Eddie the Eagle – Our official inspirational sports movie of the year award went to Eddie the Eagle, about the unlikely popularity of the frumpy British ski jumper who managed to steal the hearts of the 1988 Olympics fans despite not actually being very good at ski jumping. It hit all of the usual sports movie cliches but was so charming and fun, we were even okay with Hugh Jackman as the grizzled, reluctant coach with a complicated past. And Christopher Walken also stops by to pick up his paycheck.

OJ: Made in America – Officially a movie and not a TV show, so we’re putting it on this list. This five-part ESPN-produced masterpiece on the OJ story revealed how his story is also the story of contemporary American society and its complicated race relations. If you think you know enough because you saw The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on FX, you don’t know the half of it.

Various Horror Movies – Following 2015’s hypnotic It Follows, this year turned out to be quite a good one for the horror genre. Are you looking for a horror movie that is so scary that it’s rated R not for language, nudity or violence, but for just being plain creepy? Check out The Conjuring 2, continuing an impressive run for the Catholic Horror genre. The Puritan Horror genre got its first installment this year with The Witch, which will make you afraid of goats and people who speak Old English. And finally, there’s the Skinhead Horror genre, which gave us The Green Room, a tense little film featuring an outstanding, creepy and subdued performance by Patrick Stewart, chief executive skinhead of a dingy punk rock club in rural Oregon.

La La Land – We still go to the movies to have fun, right? Well, La La Land burns fun right into the celluloid and doesn’t apologize for it. If 2016 has proved too unsettling to spend it watching depressing, serious, mean, ironic and provocative films, then this movie musical is your antidote to all that. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling light up the screen with their chemistry and unbridled exuberance. If you saw director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, this film is as joyful as that movie was intense.

Honorable Mentions: Moonlight, Arrival, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hunt for Wilderpeople, Sing Street, The Accountant, Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty, The Magnificent Seven, Kubo & the Two Strings, Race, Weiner

What do you think we missed? Let us know what you liked in 2016 in the comments below. And be sure to check out the Penna Powers Picks: Best Movies of 2015.

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Called “More than just a badge of distinction” by the Salt Lake Tribune, “Top Workplaces are not only better places to work but are more likely to be successful than peer organizations.”

Only 65 companies were named a 2016 Top Workplace, we think it’s pretty cool that we’ve now made this list two years in a row.

The Salt Lake Tribune Top Workplaces Award is awarded based solely on employee surveys and comments about the environment in which they work. Not just compensation and benefits keep us here, but we have tons of fun. From annual Lagoon Day, Halloween and Bowl-ffet (bowling and pizza) parties, to cooking classes and employee anniversary celebrations, P2 is truly a Top Workplace.

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If you’ve given us a ring at Penna Powers in the last year, you may have noticed that we’ve abandoned the tired jingles and elevator music of yesteryear. Instead, we utilize your waiting time to inspire and share a little bit about who we are. Here are a few examples of our latest on-hold recordings…

For more fun entries, call us anytime at: 801.487.4800

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From Utah Business, “Best Companies to Work For Honored at Event:”

Success can be measured in many ways: growth, revenue, community impact, to name a few. Having an objective means of saying a company has the happiest employees, though, is a special kind of accomplishment.

Utah’s 50 happiest companies—as tabulated from anonymous surveys by the bulk or entirety of each company’s in-state workforce—were recognized by Utah Business for their efforts to go above and beyond to make their offices comfortable and engaging places for their employees. Donnie Welch, publisher of Utah Business magazine, said while the perks like free food or employee gatherings were nice, the most important benefits workers mentioned were centered around respect and recognizing effort and ability.

“They tell us what’s most important to them is the respect and autonomy they are given, the support from their leadership, the camaraderie that makes coming to work fun,” Welch said. “In their surveys, your employees explained that what they most appreciate are the opportunities to learn and advance their careers, especially when they have a leadership team that is willing to mentor them and support their aspirations.”

Kim Fisher, an evening anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 4 Utah, who emceed the event, said the efforts to make the workplace more welcoming for employees often brings economic benefits—employees who are happy, after all, tend to work harder. And in turn, she said, that helps make Utah a better place to be.

“You’re creating a wonderful place to work,” she said. “When you have a good place to work, it helps make it a good place to live.”

The 2016 Best Small Companies to Work For are:

Animal Care Center

Apex Dental

Beehive Broadband

Disruptive Advertising

FJ Management

GPS Capital Markets

Grant Victor

MassMutual Intermountain

NaviTrust

Penna Powers

PrincePerelson & Associates

Xima Software

TestOut Corporation

Your Employment Solutions

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From more than 75 entries ranging from agencies, universities, companies, nonprofits and government organizations, P2 was honored with the coveted “Best of Show” award for “Sundance—Helping Sundance Share Its Story Nationwide.”

Best of Show is earned by to the campaign that delivered on the outlined objectives and the entry was judged with a perfect score.

While we couldn’t be more proud of this award, we along with our clients brought home some other notable hardware too:

Golden Spike in media relations: UCAIR ShowUCAIR Winter Campaign

Golden Spike in creative tactics: Zero Fatalities VMS messages

Golden Spike in outdoor: UCAIR Digital Boards

Golden Spike in marketing products or services: Sundance

Finalist in media relations: Cabela’s Grand Opening

Finalist in interactive communications: Zero Fatalities epidemic.org

Finalist in public service advocacy: Zero Fatalities influencer campaign

Heralded as “Utah’s longest-running, most prestigious public relations and communications awards,” the annual best practice award competition was sponsored by the Greater Salt Lake and Utah Valley Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) organizations.

The Colorado PRSA chapter judged award entries. Different from most award programs, the Golden Spike awards criterion includes measurable demonstrations of increasing awareness, changing behavior and modifying perceptions. The annual competition is sponsored by the Utah Chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicator and the Utah Society for Healthcare Communication and Marketing.

We applaud or clients for the experiences, products, safety and health programs that improve our quality of life and love being a partner on their team.

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If you have friends or family who always have their noses in their phones, who shoot “quick” emails at 10 PM, whose blood runs thick with coffee, you may know someone who works in marketing and communications. And we have the top 10 gifts to give them…

Lump of Coal

To send to those coworkers they’ve been complaining about

Nerf Gun 

For downtime at the office, and so they can get a few shots in on the coworkers you sent coal to

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Elf on the Shelf

To make sure they don’t spend too much time shooting people on their naughty list with Nerf darts and actually meet their deadlines

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Pillow Pet

To keep them company and keep them comfy for those late nights in the office

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Wine 

To help them unwind from a long day of back-to-back meetings

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Fidget Cube

To channel their knee-shaking, foot-tapping, pen-clicking addiction without endlessly annoying everyone around them

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Noise Cancelling Headphones

If other people around them don’t have a Fidget Cube and their desk-tapping is driving them up the wall

BS Button

So they can call out their coworkers for being late, being loud, or just being plain annoying

Magic 8 Ball

For those days when they just can’t make a decision

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Caffeine, Caffeine, Caffeine

Enough said…

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Which of these top 10 gifts will you give YOUR marketing guru? Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!

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