Brian Banmiller's blog

Super Mario


Everyone's favorite plumber is running his way onto your smartphone.

Since he debuted more than 30 years ago in the original Donkey Kong, Nintendo’s Mario has become a fan favorite appearing in more than 200 games. Last week Mario made his appearance for Apple's iPad and iPhone with three games; World Tour, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder. Now the plan is to bring Mario to android devices and spread it to 150 countries.  read more »

High Tech Trips to Santa


The holidays might be a time for tradition, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for an upgrade.

This year the trip to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, share your wish list and snap a picture is getting a little high tech. This year about 40 malls across the country and one in London added a little free entertainment to the long line. Children were able to hop on a virtual sleigh ride to the North Pole, stand on the naughty or nice meter, snap a selfie and see their face on a dancing elf. At one location the final stop right before seeing the big guy himself was a two story tall sleigh that dropped fake snow on them.  read more »

Surreal Moments


Merriam-Webster has named “surreal” as word of the year for 2016, and if the past twelve months of headlines are any indication surreal is just the beginning.

2016 was a big year for smartphones and selfie sticks. Everywhere you look people are documenting everything from their breakfast to their big adventure; so much so, that theme parks and public places are banning the use of selfies sticks to keep people from getting hurt. And that might not be such a bad idea.  read more »

Prison Phones


California is taking a new approach in an effort to disconnect the flow of cell phones into prison cells.

The state plans to install nearly one thousand metal detectors, scanners and secret security cameras at its prisons to stop the flow of illegal cell phones. They say despite the current efforts thousands of phones are making it inside and are being used to coordinate hits or other acts of crime from behind bars. And it's not just the low level offenders who are being found with phones.  read more »

Airbnb Expansion


Airbnb is looking to expand its services from giving you a place to stay, to getting you where you're going.

According to Bloomberg, Airbnb is planning to release a flight banking tool that will allow users to book a flight and secure a temporary home all within the confines of its website. The company says it hopes to get things off the ground within eighteen months and is still looking at a number of options for a successful launch.

So far those include acquiring an online travel agency or license data from a secondary provider. Once up and running Airbnb will be a direct competitor for companies such as Expedia which also allows people to book a hotel and flight from one site.  read more »

Fake Holiday Gifts


First there was fake news and now your holiday shopping list is facing some hijinks.

During the presidential election there were reports that fake news reports and stories were popping up on social media and potentially swaying the voting population. And now as you start picking up presents for your loved ones watch out for fake gift ideas that aren't really what they seem.  read more »

Final Thoughts


Need to get a few things off your chest at work? Consider the exit interview.

After thirty five years on the job Michael Stuben was one last questionnaire away from retiring from his job at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. But there were a few final thoughts he wanted to share and instead of directing them to HR, he sent them to two thousand of his colleagues.

He said that for 30 years he enjoyed his job, but the past five had become unbearable. He says the department had become too political and it was all about who you know instead of what you know. He says positions were being created for people who didn't know what they were doing and people were hired off the streets when more qualified people were already at the company.  read more »

High Tech Travel Gift Ideas


Looking for the perfect gift for the travel junkie in your life? Consider going high tech.

To help you pick the perfect gift for your favorite globe trotter Yahoo Tech has put together a list of the nine best gifts to help make their next trip a little easier. For example a carry-on bag with four wheels and a removable battery inside.

The battery allows you to charge your smartphone with the two USB ports under the handle. The bag also has an app that shows you how much battery power you have left and uses GPS to locate your bag in case it goes missing. The bag's app can also tell you how much your luggage weighs just in case you need to check it.  read more »

Disney After Dark


Once again Disney World is going dark, and it’s hoping the second time is the charm.

At the beginning of the year Disney World launched a new event called Disney After Hours which allowed access to more than two dozen attractions for three hours after the park closed. Tickets cost just under $150 each but after seven consecutive nights of low attendance the event came to a quiet end.

Now the park is trying again with Disney After Dark. A three hour, after hour’s event that will be held on select nights beginning early next year. Ticket prices have also dropped $30 which park officials hope will give the event a better chance of succeeding.  read more »

Mental Health


They say money doesn't buy happiness, and it turns out they might be right.

According to a team of researchers at the London School of Economics most human misery can be blamed on failed relationships and health rather than money problems and poverty. One of the purposes of the report was to determine what a country's government should focus on in order to keep its residents happy.

It found that eliminating depression and anxiety would reduce misery by 20% compared to just 5% if officials focused on poverty. The study, called "origins of happiness" was done using data from four countries including the U.S. and Germany.  read more »