seattle

Galaxy S7 Active Debut Party at AT&T’s Store of the Future

I hate going into my current mobile carrier’s store. The lines are long, and the counters are designed for quick purchases – not 30 minute change-of-service issues. Forget about even finding the accessories I need in store where the layout makes no sense. While I was traveling last week I had to stand in a 15 minute long line just to get help to find a portable battery. Throw kids in the mix and…ugh, forget it.

These are all reasons that AT&T’s Store of the Future in Bellevue, WA is a breath of fresh air. Even from the outside, the store is welcoming with a little porch and friendly orange awnings that make it a respite among the other storefronts in the very commercial Bellevue retail core.

Once you step inside, the first thing you notice is what’s missing, and that’s a good thing! There are no cash-wraps or registers, even the computers that are required for more complicated services like making a change to your plan, are tucked away in semi-private booths (with tables and seating!) towards the back. The store is large, with plenty of open space to move between tables.  They even offer beverages and popcorn!

Just popping in to grab an accessory?  The Store of the Future makes this super easy by presenting like items in “pavilions” based on their use. All of the external/Bluetooth speakers are together, and you can try them all.  All of the wearables are together, all of the in-car items are together.  Even the higher ticket items like home-security systems are presented together in a little home vignette that shows how your AT&T security, entertainment and home automation systems can all compliment each other. If you need more information about any of the items, there are screens stationed around the store to help you out without having to wait on someone. When you’re ready to check out, any of the friendly sales associates can help you out  right where you’re standing!

Guitar on a table surrounded by Bluetooth speakers.

The Music Pavilion at AT&T’s Store of the Future/

I was invited to the store this time around for a party to announce the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, an AT&T exclusive, and a phone you need in your life. Local journalists and influencers got a sneak-peek of the phone a few days before its public launch. The party was attended by some high-ups at AT&T, and some of the Samsung product team, their pride in this phone was palpable. I left pretty convinced that this is going to be the perfect phone for me.

Three people chatting.

Greg Kurtz, Director of Product Marketing Management for AT&T Mobility tells Rick and I what he loves about the S7 Active. Battery life for the win!

I got a little bit of hands-on time with the phone, and I was really impressed. I was a pretty hardcore Samsung Galaxy fan, but they lost me with the S6 by taking away too many features that I loved. The good news is that Samsung listens to their customers and brought back the most missed features. So not only does the S7 bring back the expandable memory and high-level water resistance of the S5, the AT&T exclusive Active adds a majorly ruggedized body casing and a long-life 4,000 mAh battery (the S7 regular only sports at 3,000 mAh battery).  AT&T will be providing me with an S7 Active, so look for a more detailed review of what I expect to be my new favorite phone soon.

People being shown a phone

An AT&T Retail Consultant shows off the features of the new AT&T exclusive Galaxy S7 Active.

In the meantime, swing by an AT&T Store of the Future, your local AT&T retail location, or the AT&T website to grab an AT&T exclusive Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.

Seattle Geeks: See the Premiere of Star Wars Rebels on the Big Screen

Seattle Geeks: See the Premiere of Star Wars Rebels on the Big Screen
Courtesy: Disney XD

On October 3rd, Disney Channel will be premiering Star Wars Rebels. (After that premiere the series will run on Disney XD starting on October 13th) Star Wars Rebels is a new animated series that takes place between the events of Episode III and Episode IV.  Here’s the synopsis:

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….
Against the might of the Galactic Empire, an unlikely band of heroes emerges to renew the fight for freedom. Witness the epic debut of the riveting animated series Star Wars Rebels, in this one-hour movie event – showing on the big screen one time only!
The story unfolds during a dark time when the evil Empire is tightening its grip of power on the galaxy. Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet and are ruining the lives of its people. The motley but clever crew of the starship Ghost — cowboy Jedi Kanan, ace pilot Hera, street-smart teenager Ezra, the “muscle” Zeb, explosives expert Sabine, and cantankerous old astromech droid Chopper — is among a select few who are brave enough to stand against the Empire. Together, they will face threatening new villains, encounter colorful adversaries, embark on thrilling adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg5YN3LAGw4

If you’d like to check out the one hour series premiere Star Wars Rebels: Spark of the Rebellion before it hits the small screen, you can see it on the big screen in Downtown Seattle on September 27th.  Prior to the screening there will be Star Wars themed events including face painting, a costume contest and balloon animals (Balloon Wampas maybe?).  Bring your Star Wars loving family and have a good time!

To register for tickets you just need to go to: http://www.seeitfirst.net/pin/167614.
Event Code: 167614

I’ll be there, and would love to have you join me!

For those of you not in the Seattle area, you can learn more about the series here.

EMP ICONS of Science Fiction

EMP ICONS of Science Fiction

On Friday night I had the opportunity to preview the new ICONS of Science Fiction exhibit at the EMP Museum here in Seattle.

The new exhibit was celebrated with an fantastic opening party.  Brooks Peck, the curator opened the party by telling the geeks in attendance that they were letting him down.  “When is the last time you told the bus driver to live long and prosper?”  And suggested that the watered down vampire stories and romance novels were turning SciFi readers into…well, romance readers. He suggested that we get back to our Science Fiction roots and that checking out the new exhibit was a good first step.

The party was great.  Geek Girl Con was in attendance playing “Dr. Guess Who”, the folks from Star Trek: Phoenix were enlisting guests into Starfleet, Geeks who Drink ran trivia, BJ Shea’s Geek Nation podcast was sketching bacon and DABooth had a fantastic Dr. Who themed photo booth set up.

I think I’d make a good Companion.

Are you a fan of both Dr. Who and Star Trek?  Well, then you need to get a giant screen like the one set up in the EMP’s Sky Church.  It showed all of the tweets coming in with the hashtag #EMPIcons while playing  a show on each side.  If you look carefully you can see that I tweeted “Shatner’s head looks almost life sized over there —->” because I’m hilarious like that.

How many parties do you go to where you are harassed by Klingons?

“Okay, Sharon, you got to go to an awesome party, we get it.  What’s in the actual exhibit? Can I bring my kids?”  That’s what I’m imagining you’re saying right now, so…

The exhibit was broken up into a series of questions.  Each had corresponding books, props and information that tied into the question being asked.

“What if you were the chosen one?” 
This showcases props and info from Dune, The Matrix (Neo’s coat), Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica  

“What if you had superpowers?”
This part of the exhibit explores what it would be like to be super-human.  Here you can see Christopher Reeve’s Superman IV costume, info about The Watchmen, and (adorably) an animation cell from The Powerpuff Girls

“What if we fought a war with aliens?”
This part of the exhibit showcases guns from Men in Black, the Anubis headdress from the Stargate film, and a toy spaceship used as a model in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.

“What if we were enslaved by our machines?”
Featured two of my favorite artifacts, the T-800 skull used in Terminator 2 and a Dalek from the Dr. Who episode “Rememberance of the Daleks”.

“What if we could design our own children?”
Here, you can see the creepy teddy bear from A.I. and Data’s uniform from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Because of the way the exhibit is grouped by question and not chronology or subject, the exhibit is really engaging, and would be interesting to those who are not necessarily fans of the genre.

It’s worth mentioning that Peck mentioned that one of his “dream items” for the exhibit would be a screen-used prop or costume from Joss Whedon’s Firefly because he feels that with it’s limited run and cult-following it really embodies sci-fi culture.  So if you have such an item, or know where to get one and would like to display it for the world to see contact the EMP.

It’s a really, really fun exhibit.  I think most older kids (10+) who are fans of science fiction would enjoy it.  While you’re at EMP you can also check out the very interactive exhibit based on James Cameron’s Avatar, and the rest of the EMP which is dedicated to rock memorabilia.

One caveat: The EMP is currently hosting an exhibit called “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film”  There is a small section of crossover with a small gallery between the two exhibits showcasing artifacts that span both the horror and science fiction genres.  Here you can see a facehugger and Alien from Aliens, Buffy’s stake “Mr. Pointy”, and the axe from The Shining.  The items in this space border on scary (the Alien model pictured at right is taller than I am.  I was convinced it was going to burst out of it’s metal cage at any moment), and the adjacent “Can’t Look Away” is definitely a PG-13 experience.  If you go, look for a picture of me on the “scream wall”.  I posed for one, but didn’t see it in the short time I was there.  The first reader to spot it and snap a photo will get a prize!

For more information and to buy tickets: http://www.empmuseum.org