Category Archives: Business & Tech

UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy Ranked No. 2

Do we hear a GO KNIGHTS!?

The Princeton Review and PC Gamer magazine have ranked The University of Central Florida’s video game graduate school at No. 2 in North America for the second consecutive year. This is the fifth time The Princeton Review has ranked graduate-level video game development schools, placing UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy – or FIEA – behind only the University of Utah for 2015. The school has been ranked in the top five every year since the rankings began.


“With our 10-year anniversary approaching, it’s great to see the Princeton Review continue to recognize the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students,” said executive director Ben Noel. “We’re proud to be part of Central Florida’s growing digital economy.”

Since opening its doors in 2005, FIEA has graduated 412 alumni working at more than 125 companies around the world, including Google, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, Bungie, Zynga, Ubisoft, Disney, Microsoft, Bethesda, n-Space and Industrial Light & Magic.

“FIEA’s exceptional faculty members, first-class facilities and close connections with the gaming industry’s top companies have propelled the school to one of the very best of its kind in the country in less than 10 years,” said UCF Provost and Vice President A. Dale Whittaker. “This is a testament to UCF’s success with location-based education and valuable partnerships – our students thrive in the classroom and in the job market when they learn in an environment so closely immersed in their industry.”

The average starting salary for recent FIEA graduates is $60,359 and they are working on some of today’s most popular projects. Those games include NBA Live 15, Diablo III, Sunset Overdrive, Skyrim, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars 1313, Borderlands 2, Battlefield 4, The Walking Dead, Gears of War 3, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Bioshock Infinite, Transformers 3 and Dead Space 3.

The school is located at UCF’s Center For Emerging Media building, located in downtown Orlando near UCF’s future downtown campus. FIEA is designed to graduate talented and well-qualified professionals to work in video games, new media, film and simulation industries.

The Princeton Review ( chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2014-15 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

In addition to being published today on The Princeton Review website, the listing will also be featured in the May issue of PC Gamer magazine, on newsstands March 31.

See the full rankings.

Start-Up City Miami: Summit on Urban Tech Growth


With start-up culture and investment permeating Miami, The Atlantic presents Start-Up City: Miami, an annual gathering of ideas and inventors shaping the local—and global—start-up scene. The full-day program, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will take over the New World Center on Monday, March 30, 2015. Tickets are now available.

Building on the energy of the previous two years, the event will feature the people and companies at the heart of Miami’s start-up revolution who also serve as models for the growing brand of entrepreneurship and innovation in cities around the world.

“We are thrilled to be coming back to Miami. This will be a high energy day that captures the sense of possibility in this city and beyond. It will be a great place for making connections within the start-up community and for learning about what is building all around us,” said Margaret Low Smith, President of AtlanticLIVE.

“Since launching Start-Up City: Miami two years ago, the city’s start-up scene has grown immensely,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation. “We’re excited to bring the key players together again with national leaders to cement Miami’s reputation as a place where ideas are built.”

In its two years, Start-Up City: Miami has featured dozens of speakers whose work is transforming education, music, design, food, and technology. Previous attendees include Sam Altman of Y Combinator; Tony Hsieh of Zappos; Laura Maydon of Endeavor Miami; Ilan Zechory of Rap Genius; Michael Jones of Google Earth; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; and Joanna Schwartz of EarlyShares.

Editors from The Atlantic and will lead the conversations. Among them: urban studies expert Richard Florida, editor at large of CityLab; Steve Clemons, Washington editor of The Atlantic; Derek Thompson, staff writer for The Atlantic; and Mary Louise Kelley, contributing editor to AtlanticLIVE.



Local Entrepreneurs Running Bright Campaign on Kickstarter

Night Runner Shoe Lights Illuminate Paths from Dusk Until Dawn

(More soon check back for updates!)

Orlando entrepreneurs Doug and Renata Storer believe they have pioneered a way to keep runners, walkers and hikers safe and injury-free while exercising after the sun has gone down — Night Runner Shoe Lights. This week, they launched a month-long crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $35,000 for the first round of production.

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Night Runner consists of two small, featherweight, water-tight LED lights that clip securely to each shoe and flood the path ahead with light up to 30 feet. The light units provide 270 degrees of visibility so runners or walkers can be seen from the front, sides and even from behind. The rugged lights also feature rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that remain bright for four to eight hours.

“We have an innovative, affordable product that helps active people do more of what they enjoy whether it be running, walking or hiking from dusk until dawn,” Doug explained. “Night Runner Shoe Lights have many applications beyond running. Deliveree Company work with delivery workers, postal workers, first responders, kids walking to the bus stop in the morning could all benefit from Night Runners.”

For the next month, Kickstarter donors can exclusively order a pair of Night Runners for $20 less than the market value (MSRP $69.95) and help get this bright idea off the ground. Additional incentives for contributors to the Night Runner Shoe Light campaign include tech running t-shirts, Night Runner light packages, and even a personal one-on-one night run with the CEO. The campaign ends at 5PM EST on Wednesday, March 25. According the Kickstarter rules of conduct, the entirety of the $35,000 must be reached for Night Runner to receive any of the funds

Night Runner debuted at The Running Event in Austin, Texas and received national attention from 38 retailers who are ready to carry the product in the Fall. Within its first day on Kickstarter, Night Runner raised over $1000. The Storers also won both the Judges Award and the Audience Award at the 2014 4Q VenturePitch Orlando Startup Competition. Now, they need capital to move into manufacturing and they’re reaching out to the running community to make it happen.

“We’ve been developing Night Runner for the last two years,” said Storer. “If this were a marathon we’d be less than a mile from the finish line.”


Demystifying Forensic Sciences at Science Night Live!

Live from Orlando… it’s Science Night Live! Now celebrating it’s 60th Anniversary! Let Orlando Science Center’s Mark Schaub tell you a little more about it…

Have you ever watched the Fox TV show Bones and wondered, “That’s really cool. How do they do that? How do they know all this stuff?” This Saturday, you can ask these burning questions and learn directly from the pros!

Orlando Science Center has partnered with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences for the first Science Night Live of the year to kick off its 60th Anniversary celebration! This month’s SNL will feature celebrities of science from the world of forensics including: Investigator Dr. Henry Lee, Forensic Anthropologist and author Dr. Kathy Reichs (who is also a producer on Bones!), Toxicologist and Director of the University of Florida’s Forensic Medicine division Dr. Bruce Goldberger and Central Florida’s favorite Medical Examiner, Jan Garavaglia, M.D. (better known as Dr. G) as they demystify the forensic sciences.

You can also conduct your own crime scene investigation in Dr. Dare’s Laboratory.  Play out the role of the forensics expert as you put the clues together using techniques from various forensic disciplines, as well as:

  • View stars and planets through the giant refractor telescope in the Crosby Observatory
  • Experience 3D films in the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience
  • Participate in Science Trivia
  • Delight in food and adult beverages available for purchase


General admission to Science Night Live is $15 (free for Members) and is only for adults 21 and older, and includes access to all four floors of exhibits and activities. VIP seats for the “Demystifying Forensic Science” presentation are available for $25 ($10 for members). Parking is free in Orlando Science Center’s parking garage and will fill up quickly, so get there early! Casual dress code.


Find Out The State of I-Drive on March 11

the state of idrive

We know what’s going on in the International Drive area, do you? Join Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh on March 11th to see what’s in store for the I-Drive corridor! The event and registration are FREE, but make sure to register at Topics on the table: growth on I-Drive, international investment, commercial real estate, tourism, transportation and more.

We represent quality-oriented builders that can build just the home you’re wanting at a fair price. All of our real estate agent olathe ks are Certified New Home Sale Professionals (CSP’s). This means we have taken the initiative to get the formal education and gain the experience to help you through the new home construction process. Visit site for more about real estate brokerage. The rise in the number of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages has increased so much that a very large number of them have decided that they cannot afford to stay in their homes. They would rather sell their home and buy a comparable home for a much lower price, and take the loss so that they can improve their cash flow situation by having a lower mortgage payment each month. And since there is no shortage of properties to buy, these people had no problem finding a suitable home for a good price. The problem comes in when a real estate agent has already gone through their current client list. The best way for them to get more clients is to somehow obtain more real estate leads. Not only do they need more leads, they need high quality leads if they are going to be successful in converting a high number of them into clients who actually follow through on buying and/or selling one or more properties. Purchasing real estate leads or subscribing to a lead generation website can also be expensive. This can be a very bad thing since the whole intent of buying leads is to find clients, sell properties, and make commissions, if the leads that you buy don’t turn into commissions. In that case, not only did you not sell any properties (or many properties), but you wasted money on worthless information, and you wasted time contacting worthless leads when you could have been working on finding good real estate leads instead. Real estate has traditionally been an avenue for considerable investment per se and investment opportunity for High Net-worth Individuals, Financial institutions as well as individuals looking at viable alternatives for investing money among stocks, bullion, property and other avenues. Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) would be structured as a company dedicated to owning and, in most cases, operating income-producing real estate, such as apartments, shopping centres, offices and warehouses. A REIT is a company that buys, develops, manages and sells real estate assets and allows participants to invest in a professionally managed portfolio of properties.

This address will take place at the Wyndham Orlando Resort (8001 International Drive, Orlando) from 6pm – 8pm and will be moderated by Channel 9’s Shannon Butler. Guests from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) will join Appraiser Singh as well as:

  • Chuck Whittall, President of Unicorp
  • Alejandro Pezzini,  COO of AMP Group
  • Joshua Wallack, COO of Mango’s & SKYPLEX
  • Susan Godorov, VP of Marketing & GM of Pointe Orlando
  • Rich Larkin, GM Wyndham Orlando Resort

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to launch February 8 at 6:10pm

WhenFebruary 8, 6:10 pm
WhereSLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX Rocket Launch: Falcon 9 | Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR)

SpaceX Falcon 9 Info

Falcon 9 is SpaceX’s two-stage rocket manufactured to successfully transport satellites and their Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Currently the only rocket fully designed and developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 delivers payloads to space aboard the Dragon spacecraft or inside a composite fairing. Safety and mission success were critical in the design of the Falcon 9 Rocket. With a minimal number of separation events and nine first-stage Merlin engines, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is designed so that even if two of the engines shut down, the rocket can still operate.

In 2012, SpaceX became the first commercial company to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Although these flights have been unmanned, SpaceX continues to work toward their goal of one day carrying astronauts to space in Dragon’s pressurized capsule.


The DSCOVR satellite is crucial in maintaining the precision and delivery of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) space weather alerts and forecasts by continuing the nation’s solar wind observations. By placing DSCOVR in orbit in a neutral gravity point between the Earth and sun, it provides up to a 60 minute warning for geomagnetic storms which can disrupt transportation systems, power grids, telecommunications and GPS. This new-generation satellite improves the detection time and protects the technology that powers our national security and economy.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force and intended to replace NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) which is currently the only satellite providing real-time solar wind observations.

ProTip: Sign up for email Launch Alerts!

Launch Viewing

Experience the thunderous roar of a SpaceX rocket as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the DSCOVR mission. There are three viewing options available at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: both the LC-39 Observation Gantry and the Apollo/Saturn V Center are located within the secured areas of Kennedy Space Center or bleacher seating adjacent to Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ located at the main Visitor Complex.

ProTip #2: KSC’s Visitor Complex is currently displaying the first Dragon capsule (successfully delivered cargo to and from the ISS), which launched in 2012, through Monday, February 9th!


Viewing Location: LC-39 Observation Gantry

LC-39 Observation Gantry offers a premium, up-close view of the rocket on the launch. Feel the force of the rocket and hear the roar of the rocket engines from a premium launch viewing location located just 3.4 miles away from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This area features lawn and bleacher seating and live launch commentary. This premium viewing location is only available by calling 855.475.8415.

LC-39 Observation Gantry Package Includes: Launch transportation, a light snack and a souvenir t-shirt. Launch Transportation Tickets to the LC-39 Observation Gantry are $49 plus tax in addition to admission, multiday pass or annual pass. Launch transportation tickets are limited.

Bus Transportation Info: Transportation for LC-39 Observation Gantry ticket holders begins at 4:00 pm with the last bus leaving at 5:15 pm.

Viewing Location: Apollo /Saturn V Center

The Apollo/Saturn V Center is located within Kennedy Space Center and is approximately 6 miles from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad. The viewing area features an open lawn and bleacher section overlooking the scenic Banana River. The area includes live launch commentary and provides access to food, retail and restroom facilities.

Launch Transportation Tickets to Apollo/Saturn V Center are $20 plus tax in addition to admission, multiday pass or annual pass. Launch transportation tickets are limited. Purchase your tickets online or call 866.737.5235.

Bus Transportation Info: Transportation or the Apollo/Saturn V Center ticket holders begins at 3:30 pm. and last bus leaves at 5:15 pm.

Viewing Location: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Located at the main Visitor Complex, viewing adjacent to Space Shuttle Atlantis is included with admission, multiday pass or annual pass. The viewing area is approximately seven miles from the launch pad and affords guests a view of the rocket once it clears the tree line. Bleacher seating and live launch commentary is included.

Purchase admission, multiday pass or annual pass today.

Launch date, time, and viewing opportunities are subject to change. Launches can be affected by technical and mechanical issues as well as range operations and weather, either in advance or at the last minute. Learn more about KSCVC’s Launch Scrub Policy. 

Get up to the minute updates on Twitter: @ExploreSpaceKSC

Waterford Lakes Gets 12th Central Florida Woof Gang Bakery

Humans and furry citizens of Waterford Lakes, Your Neighborhood Pet Store is now right around the corner. Pup-pare yourselves…

This Saturday (January 17th, 9am to 8pm) you too will join the ranks of Lake Mary, Dr. Phillips, Thornton Park, Winter Park and seven other Central Florida locations. Yes, YOU will have your own Woof Gang Bakery! Incidentally, according to, ranks Woof Gang as one of their Top 25 Retailers and credits their clear focus on service and nutrition.

Pamper your pooch with gourmet samples, toys and treatments this Saturday beginning at 9am. The first twenty VIP(pooche)s through the doggy door will receive, among other great in-store samples, FREE TREATS FOR A YEAR! Also, Poodle and Pooch Rescue of Florida and Openheart Rescue Division will be on hand at around 1pm to lend a paw in connecting furry anipals to new families and learning about holistic at-home treatments for your pet like home remedies for ear mites in cat. Pets and human family members of all ages are welcome!

Address and phone number for the new Waterford Lakes location:

308 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, Florida 32828

(407) 219-4805

For more information, click over to Woof Gang Waterford’s Facebook Event Page.

Top 5 things we want to see at #CES2015

by @jenvargas

What’s that you say? What’s a “CES?” Does it need ointment? Is THIS post safe to view at work? For the benefit of our readers who are not familiar, I’ll explain…

Don’t worry, dear Top 5ers. CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show. It’s produced by the Consumer Electronics Association and it’s the big – no wait – HUGE international electronics event that happens every year in Las Vegas. CES is the place for what’s next in electronics. The industry reveals their newest, hottest most techiest gadgets, devices and items.  And you need to buy them all. RIGHT NOW. Or at least the businesses who participate hope you do, your family does and all of your friends.

Next week Twitter will be flooded with tons talk and photos of gadget pr0n. (I’ll save you some spam bait and not type out the ‘other’ spelling of that last word.) The next, biggest, up-and-coming 4k television, smartphone, smart fridge, smart charger or drone copter will most likely debut to the world in Vegas. It’s the only thing Vegas isn’t keeping a secret!

What am I looking forward to most? In no particular order, here is a very small list of our gadget geek outs:


Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

Our longtime friends at Ford Motor Company are making your car even smarter than it was waaay back in 2014. Sync 3 is an entertainment and communications hub for your car. Ford let me borrow a car last year, a C-MAX hybrid, to drive to New Orleans when our award-winning short film TechSquad screened at the legendary Joy Theater. This was my first experience with (then Microsoft) SYNC technology, and it was great! You could play music, find a place to eat, get directions control the climate (and more), access your contacts and make calls all using your voice, USB and Bluetooth technology. iPhone or Android, connecting was easy. It even recognized my Google Glass. I can’t wait to try it out in person! (Building efficiency leaves via the SmartGauge is ADDICTING, and I mastered the BreakCoach!)

#throughglass: This is about as nerdy as it gets, folks!

The (IoT) Internet of Things Showcase

Check out the highlight reel from last year’s Internet of Things, then imagine that even BIGGER. This year’s Internet of Things Showcase will be the largest in the world! Products, services and technologies from over 900 exhibitors will be shown at CES 2015. “The ‘Internet of Things’ is the hottest topic in tech right now,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, CEA. “It’s all about the opportunity to connect everyday items  like cars, home security systems and kitchen appliances to networked devices like PCs and smartphones for greater control and management of our everyday lives. We’re excited that the 2015 CES will bring together all of the companies and products that are making this a reality.” Think Back to the Future Part II. Jaws 19, Self-lacing Nikes, controlling your appliances by voice, using smart glasses in Augmented and Virtual Reality environments (think E.P.C.O.T or Carousel of Progress)… the future is NOW people! (Well, maybe not the Nikes or Jaws 19. Not yet. But! Where there’s a Spielberg, there’s a way!)

Smart Homes, Smart Body and… Smart Pets?!

2015 seems to be the year where everything in your home connects with you – literally. Smartphones, Smart TVs in 4K, devices inside your home, on your feet,  on your wrist, on your head, on your face, in the kitchen, at the hospital, to monitor your health – on yourself AND your pet. All this and more will explode on to the scene even more than it did in 2014.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and get a sneak peek of what’s to come!

Top 5 Developments Coming to Orlando-Area Malls

mall co

Living in metro Orlando, we’re fortunate to have more than a dozen fantastic shopping malls. And for those visiting from around the world, it provides a fabulous escape from the attractions.

From the luxurious Mall at Millenia to deal-minded outlets, there’s no shortage of places to spend money and go home with countless shopping bags.

But like the convention center, downtown area and airport, the mall scene continues to evolve and improve upon itself.

Central Florida Top 5 presents the top five developments coming to Orlando-area malls.

  1. Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept
  2. Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience
  3. Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley
  4. From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”
  5. I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept

Remember Festival Bay Mall? Forget about it because Artegon Marketplace Orlando is taking over on November 20, 2014.

Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC has redeveloped the spot into a new shopping concept in the heart of Orlando tourism’s district on International Drive. Rather than host a bevy of traditional mall retailers, Artegon Marketplace Orlando boasts itself as an artisan showcase with 165 craftspeople. They’ll offer Buying Guide provided by YourDiamondTeacher, accessories; soaps; jewelry; sculpture; mixed media artwork; custom clothing and more. That’s not to mention hand-crafted foods including popcorn, hot sauces, nuts, local honey plus other surprises.

With studies indicating that half of the American workforce will soon consist of entrepreneurs, this artisan concept doesn’t appear to be short-sighted and should enjoy a lengthier stay than its predecessor.

Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience

Brands want to offer more than a place to purchase goods and are creating an experience that creates a psychological connection.

Gods & Monsters is set to open at Artegon Marketplace Orlando and revolutionize the high-end comics and collectibles store with its theme park-quality decor, inspired product presentation and immersive lounge areas. It’s not just about reading your favorite comic book, but rather stepping into one.

The Florida Mall is also set to open a couple stores that introduce a new way to experience your favorite brands with American Girl and The Crayola Experience.

American Girl will open its 18th location in Orlando on November 15, 2014 and will let little girls shop for their favorite American Girl products; enjoy lunch, dinner and dessert in the Bistro; treat their doll to a new ‘do in the Doll Hair Salon; and celebrate birthdays and other special events. The days of walking into the store and pointing to your mom what doll you wanted are in the past with an experience you can see, taste and touch.

And who would’ve thought there’d be an attraction based on the popular crayon company Crayola? The Crayola Experience is set to open in summer 2015 also at The Florida Mall and features 25 hands-on experiences for families to enjoy. It will also contain a store and cafe and, like most attractions in town, require an admission fee.

Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley

Once upon a time, Orlando Fashion Square was the mall to be at. Increased competition stole market share and now it’s time to claim some of that back. Like Artegon Marketplace Orlando is branding itself as something different, Orlando Fashion Square is doing the same behind it’s new ownership group UP Development.

While it’s a shopping mall first and foremost, it also aims to stand for what others can’t — community. While The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall can boast a laundry list of brands and retailers, Orlando Fashion Square is taking the grassroots approach, luring shoppers in with community-based events and resources and surrounding them with brands they know and trust.

That’s why they’ve provided a new place for your family to hang out with StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment. The bowling alley is on the second floor across from the movie theater and offers 12 lanes of fun. If that wasn’t enough, get your game on in the arcade and rack up points for prizes. There’s also a sports bar area where you can enjoy the game with a brew or mix it up in a game of pool.

Oh, and the food! Enjoy a cheeseburger, fries, wings, milkshakes and sweets galore.

On the horizon, the mall is opening Element by Westin — a product of Starwood Hotels and Resorts — and breaks ground in fall 2014. The idea is that business travelers can stay at this mall’s hotel at the edge of downtown and do all their shopping all under one roof.

Orlando Fashion Square will also introduce at least two new restaurants to entice visitors.

From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”

The Florida Mall continues to invest in itself and rethink how malls should operate. Saks Fifth Avenue closed in the spring and the space is being transformed into a 105,000-square-foot “Dining Pavilion.”

That means eateries in the current food court will make a move and that spot will become the home to new retailers. If you thought seating was scarce now, you’ll be happy to know the Dining Pavilion will seat twice as many and offer high-top tables and even couches.

Word is it’ll offer more options for the health-conscious.

Look for it and satisfy your hunger in 2015.

I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Nothing might be more radical than the proposed “megamall” set to open on International Drive in the summer of 2017. With a name of The iSquare Mall + Hotel, it’s anything but normal.

But what exactly is a megamall?

Think Mall of America in Minnesota, which sees between 35 to 40 million people each year. That’s more visitors than Walt Disney World.

While this project isn’t on the scale of that mall (which is just plain monstrous!), iSquare Mall + Hotel’s impending impact is expected to be quite large. Combine it with the fact it will also be the first seven-star hotel in all of North America, it deserves the “mega” prefix.

It will feature 749 hotel rooms, 490,213 square feet of vertical retail space, a restaurant, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, an indoor ice-skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space. The parking garage is mega, too, at 11 stories tall and 2,780-spaces.

If that wasn’t enough for you, the building even has a heliport to park your helicopter.

mark sMark Schaub is an Orlando mall enthusiast. A self-proclaimed mallrat, he’s not there to shop, he’s not there to work, he’s just there. Mark has taken his love for malls and turned it into “Orlando Mall Guide” (

Everyone always wonders what happened to the store that closed and what is being built behind that drywall. Mark tells you and goes beyond the news to explain just who are these mall-walkers and  how you can get a job at the mall. Follow on Twitter at @OMGmalls.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014: Orlando’s BIG Exchange

Orlando has never had a week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week…until now

The BIG Exchange is Orlando’s first week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We’re inviting Thinkers, Educators, Artists & Makers to work together to solve pressing problems through a series of workshops designed to move teams through from problem to solution.

For one week, the BIG Exchange lets anyone help create the next for profit, nonprofit or social enterprise startup. Passes start at just $89. Many of the workshops can be viewed remotely if you can’t escape from your desk the entire week.

Top 5 things you NEED to Know:

  1. A prize pack of over $20k will be given to one team to sustain their solution for 1 year (thru till GEW 2015)
  2. At the 11/17 Monday Kickoff Session at Dewey’s Indoor Golf (a multi-million dollar, Vegas-style interactive golf venue, this site have a full line of remote control carts starting) teams will form around the problem they want to solve and if you are going to challenge yourself there is a great Titleist ap3 review if you’re thinking of buying these clubs.
  3. Workshops will be offered throughout the week to help teams progress from problem to viable solution
  4. Open office hours will be hosted across the city for teams to reach leaders, mentors, service providers and other resource centers for help
  5. At the 11/21 Friday Showcase Solution at Rollins College one solution will be presented with a year-long prize pack valued at over $20k
Full details @

Visit The National Entrepreneur Center in the Orlando Fashion Square Mall

by Kelly Green
Orlando attracts visitors from around the world, so it’s only fitting that an organization that connects local businesses with the rest of the Nec360world would have its headquarters here. The National Entrepreneur Center was founded in 2003, and was originally called the Disney Entrepreneur Center. Today the NEC is located in the Orlando Fashion Square at 3201 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida.

Small business owners can receive free one-on-one business coaching, as well as access to reasonably priced meeting space, low-cost seminars, publicity opportunities, networking events and more.

The center offers training and tips on how to turn business ideas into reality, what steps to follow, and guides business owners so they have the tools necessary to make their business succeed.

We were invited to tour the facility as part of their first ever Blogger Bash, and it’s impressive seeing not only the myriad ways the National Entrepreneur Center can help local business (and businesses around the country), but how the facility itself is a place where businesses are working in a shared space. Instead of each group buying certain office equipment et al, they share resources to keep operational costs low.

Local businesses Tijuana Flats and Gigi’s Cupcakes provided dinner and dessert for our group, and The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also provided a pair of tickets to attend the Latin Food and Wine Festival in Altamonte Springs at Crane’s Roost this weekend. The Orlando Magic, also partnered to make the event a great success.

In addition, the NEC, in association with Southwest Airlines, is giving Exclusive Access to Central Florida Top 5 and other participating blogs. Our readers have a chance to win tRafflecopter logo linkwo round trip airline tickets! Click the icon at left to enter. The contest is live, and ends at midnight on October 24, 2014. Good luck.

Central Florida is a growing world market and is at the crossroads of trade lanes. Entrepreneurs and business owners should take advantage of the opportunities available at the National Entrepreneur Center so together we can create more jobs, bolster higher wages and secure economic benefits for us all.




Orlando’s Firestone Live to rebrand as Venue 578!

Details that were shared with us:

Firestone Live, already hailed as ”one of the freshest nightclubs in the world,” by Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone, will now open its doors as one of the most versatile entertainment complexes here in Orlando. With more than 20,000 square feet indoors and over seven acres outdoors, the opportunities are endless and the sky is the limit for any event”


and “Please note, our new addresses and emails will change over on​Monday, October 13, 2014; below is a quick guide. We ask that you update our emails into your systems so that we can continue our relationship. Website: FB/Twitter/Youtube/Linkedin/Instagram: @Venue578”


New Marilyn Monroe spa to debut at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Ladies, can I get an AMEN from the femmegregation?? Fans of the Marilyn Monroe Nail Lounge in the Mills 50 area and the Glamour Room at Isleworth in Windermere I’m sure will love this! A spa is coming! A spa is coming!!
The new Marilyn Monroe Spa location will open this December inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, and I am in serious need of a spa day! I’m not a fancy girlie girl, l but I am a HUGE fan of manicures, pedicures, facials and massages specialy at TranquilMe because they are the best. Gents, don’t worry. You can hang with Marilyn too. MANicures, pedicures and Wingtip Relief are available for your tootsies. In fact, a full menu of services may be downloaded HERE.
Follow the online adventures and get more sneak peeks by following @HRGrandCypress and the hashtag #NewGirlInTown!
Party at Marilyn’s? Let’s GO!
Marilyn Monroe Spa Coming to Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress December 2014
Marilyn Monroe™ Spa unveils its successful resort spa concept in Florida, offering the full breadth of signature spa services in one resort location.
Known and awarded for its long-standing grandeur, pristine outdoor recreation, privacy, and uncompromising standard of service, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress elevates the guest experience with the addition of Marilyn Monroe™ Spa, a national company that transforms traditional spa and salon concepts under the iconic Marilyn Monroe™ brand.
Design and redevelopment, estimated to total $1.5 million, is now underway for the 5,200 square-foot, full-service spa to feature a variety of glamour services for nail, face, hair, and body, bringing all of the Marilyn Monroe™ signature services to Orlando’s original luxury resort.  On the services menu, guests will discover more than 100 treatment options, including favorites such as Marilyn’s Signature Manicure/Pedicure, Marilyn’s Signature Fassage™, Gemstone Massage, Steamy WonderfulTM and many more.
We know women like to stay beautiful, that’s why the spa offers different beauty treatments that you can complement with a thrive diet, besides going to the spa. Because for many people is important to lost weight, they even try methods like tummy cinchers, that control waist.
The spa will be easily accessible from the main hotel lobby or dedicated portico entrance in front of the hotel and will feature:
  • Seven spa treatment rooms
  • A couples’ suite
  • Relaxation room
  • Full service men’s and women’s locker rooms with full height lockers, wet and dry grooming area, rain showers, and a full amenity offering
  • Glamour Room with three luxury “Nap and Nails” mani/pedi lounges, six pedicure stations,
  • Five blow dry bar / styling stations, a three-seat manicure bar, makeup bar, and brow wax bar
  • Exclusive Marilyn Monroe™ Spa retail products
“The partnership with Marilyn MonroeTM Spas elevates the resort experience once again for our loyal guests in search of a full array of pampering amenities.  Our company missions and leadership styles are both grounded by the rich tradition of exceptional service in a seamless and approachable manner,” said Pat Engfer, area vice president and general manager of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. “Together, our dedicated teams will continue to offer leisure and business travelers the highest quality resort and spa experience in one of the nation’s most popular destinations and make you think about buying the best home foot spa machine after you’ve experienced it.”
Led by Orlando hospitality industry veterans, Niki T. Bryan, founder and CEO and Allen “Al” R. Weiss, executive chairman, Marilyn MonroeTM is both a national and global icon, synonymous with timeless glamour and style.
“Marilyn continues to have a massive fan base that identify heavily with her beauty and star power.  We believe we are honoring her glamorous legacy and engaging personality by infusing them into every guest experience,” said Weiss.  “We have reenergized the spa model to be one of engagement, luxury, approachability and fun, which is aligned with Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – it’s the right spa, the right size, the right location and the right synergy.”
“Guests of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress will find that the fun, flirty, fabulous experience offered at Marilyn Monroe™ Spa lavish, yet an affordable luxury,” shared Bryan.  In true Marilyn Monroe fashion, the brand sets itself apart with its appealing aesthetics. “We are offering a fresh approach to spas.  The decor is sleek and chic and decidedly social.”
Updates will be available online. Guests may also visit for a full menu of services, online reservations, and event announcements for the December 2014 grand opening. For more information; call 407.239.1234; visit; like Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on Facebook; and follow on Twitter @HRGrandCypress.

Maker Faire Orlando returns to Orlando Science Center Sep 13-14

by filmMaker @jenvargas

Remember waaaay back in February when we told you Maker Faire Orlando was expanding to TWO days then shared the even bigger news about Maker Faire Orlando dropping the “mini?” Well, that weekend has finally arrived! Triangulate all coordinates to Orlando Science Center because Maker Faire Orlando lands next weekend, September 13-14th!

A jammed packed 2 day schedule features Maker exhibits, workshops, talks for both makers and educators, panel discussions, a new Nerdy Derby, Power Racing, Combat Robotics, a retro arcade and more!

(Register for the Nerdy Derby early, as it is sure to fill up!)

Click HERE for Saturday’s Schedule

Click HERE for Sunday’s Schedule


Maker Faire Orlando 2014


Some of you may still be asking, “What or who is a ‘Maker,’ and why do they have a ‘faire?’ Is this a True Blood thing?”

Sorry, #Trubies. No vampires here, but the possibility of designing 3D printed fangs, building your own animatronic creature and watching dueling robots are absolutely possible. In fact, anything you can think of is possible at Maker Faire Orlando! And guess what? If you already make stuff, you are already a ‘Maker!’ Congratulations!!

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth – and Orlando 2014 is produced as a partnership between The Maker Effect Foundation and the Orlando Science Center. The Faire part is a community-organized, family-friendly celebration featuring local do-it-yourself science, art, rockets, robots, crafts, technology, music, hands-on-activities, and more. It’s an event where people show what they are making and share what they are learning. Also? Makers LOVE to share what they know, so don’t be afraid to ask a Maker for info or how to do something.

Top 5 Reasons To Drive a Manual

by Kelly Green

As part of our mission to #GoFurtherORL, I drove a manual (read about the adventure here and here). It had been a while, so I confess I was nervous. Once I got over my initial trepidation, I discovered a manual had lots to offer.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons To Drive a Manual:

1) Interactive driving = fewer distractions and no hands free to text. (Parents: Help your new Processed with Moldivdriver by removing the temptation.)

2) Great fuel economy

3) It’s a skill builder

4) Lower cost to operate (not just in fuel economy, but maintenance

5) More control and FUN!


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Grand Tour of a Perfect Orlando Home: Must See Tiny House

Hear the story of a “Tiny home” dweller and tiny community organizer

Elaine Walker, and Emily show you the tiny house (one Elaine once lived in) that resides in an RV park in Orlando, Florida- land of Mickey Mouse, The Magic Kingdom, and vacationing galore. This tiny house, a Tumbleweed Lusby, has trekked from California, to Washington D.C. and now to Florida over the past 5 or so years and Maid Complete have been taking care of the house cleaning. On Home related articles, if you need help for your HVAC systems at home, Click the link If you’re in the Chesapeake area, be sure to work with only reputable providers of HVAC Chesapeake VA. Its a Tumbleweed model formerly called “The Lusby”, which featured a sleep loft and a downstairs tiny bedroom. Elaine runs a website called

As it gets cold, moisture evaporates from the air outside. Inside, your furnace kicks on frequently to keep the ambient temperature of your home comfortable. If you’re planning to sell your house to a sure buyer you can visit this blog we buy houses. Because your furnace uses some of the moisture available indoors to heat the air, that can make it even drier inside your home than it is outside. Everyone has varying body temperatures, and your “comfort” zone is not the same as your partner. Items like body weight, household mould, natural temperature, skin moisture, and overall wellness also determine what indoor temperature is ideal. If you want a very relaxing sleep at your home you should try this best mattress for back pain. You must also consider Purple and Helix mattress. Purple has a unique and innovative comfort layer, while Helix has an innovative process that customizes the mattress based on your preferences. Magnolia Home by Joanna gaines rug line is a collection that emphasizes the elegance that we can find in the everyday. Using subdued colors, soft fabrics, and simple, but elegant, textures, Magnolia Home rugs utilize the same modern sensibilities, with a timeless flair, that have made Joanna the celebrated designer she is!

Also to keep your house clean is important to remodel it, check that here.

At Provincial Heating and Cooling, they are proud of their years of service to the Winnipeg area and look forward to helping you with your air conditioning and heating needs. . The contractors of Associated mechanical are also the best concerning shakopee mn commercial air conditioning for they’ve been in the mechanical industry for many years. They are pleased to serve both residential and commercial customers; their team is prepared to help you with the sales, service, and installation of the comfort system that is ideal for your home or business. carpet cleaner denver is a professional cleaning service company that you can call if you need help for your home.

Learn more about Emily and  be sure to Like on Facebook: And follow on twitter @TinyAdventureEm Emilystinyhouse

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By the way, there are many  local plumbers with an enviable reputation within the local community for reliability, fast, efficient workmanship, at competitive prices. They don’t just offer emergency repair services though, and in all honesty, prevention is much more economical and less stressful than cure, which is why they offer the following additional services to their customers. 

Let’s #GoFurtherORL With Ford Fiesta

By Kelly Green

How would you #GoFurtherORL? That was the question posed to Central Florida Top 5 before being given the keys for a week-long test drive.


Center photo: The Ford Fiesta in front of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Deciding how much further depended on a number of factors. As a budget-conscious family, we wondered about fuel economy. As weekend wanderers we wanted to know how comfortable our ride would be if we ventured far. And as parents of a child who has his own travel bed, toys, books, etc., we really wanted to know: Can an economy car possibly hold all the stuff we take on our Florida adventures?

Our first query was easily answered. A quick look-see online revealed the great 28/36 mpg. Manual transmissions are notoriously good achievers in the fuel economy world and did not disappoint. Our first tank-full netted a 395 mile trip!

Then to the comfy question. Is it nice to drive in/ride in?

Confession—My first thought on hearing of this project: It’s been years since I’ve driven a manual. Will I remember how to do it?

Reminding my foot how to operate the clutch did take a try or two, but once the memory kicked in, it was a fun, interactive ride.

As for passenger comfort, in the front there was plenty of leg room, though the seat-back adjustment was a little tricky to operate. Overall, though, it didn’t feel like a small car. Rear seat adult passengers reported nice back support and enough leg room to ride comfortably (read about our ride to Taste of the Nation here). Seven-year-old test rider Daniel had no trouble operating the rear seat belt around his booster and liked that there were accessible USB ports, a good sound system, and a “very effective” a/c. (Anyone else laughing that a 7-year-old is clued into the technology of the vehicle?!)

Our last hurdle centered around the inordinate amount of stuff we take on trips. How would the Fiesta handle it all?

As part of our test drive, we took the Ford Fiesta on a mini-vacation to Bonita Springs (read about the trip here), a 3-hour drive from Orlando. As residents of Central Florida, we have the luxury of being close to all the beautiful beaches, incredible activities, and amazing destinations our state has to offer. No time for a traditional vacation? No problem. Hop in the car and in just a few hours you’re in yet another fabulous corner of the Sunshine State.

On a jaunt like this we carry a travel bed for our son. (He once rolled up and over the pool noodles we put under hotel bed fitted sheets as bumpers and smashed his mouth on the only sharp thing in the room—the corner of the nightstand. Since then: travel bed that’s low to the ground!) It’s kind of bulky, and I wondered if the Fiesta could accommodate IT and the suitcases, toys, cameras…

Color me surprised, but despite its compact size, the Ford Fiesta was up to the task.

One travel bed, two suitcases, a LEGO travel box and a bag of stuffed animals, two parents and one kid all fit! It helped that we had a child seat that was designed for space and comfort. We found it on and it really made a difference on our long road trips.

Whether we went out of town, or were tooling about Central Florida, the Ford Fiesta took us where we wanted to go with fun, fuel economy, and sporting a ‘tude. The Ford Fiesta may be small, but it’s full of features and FUNctionality.

I know I’d like to #GoFurther again.

Orange County’s New Technology: #SocialMedia Workgroup to Advance Citizen Engagement and Support #DigitalCommunity

Successful Digital Outreach Initiatives in Orange County, Florida

As advocates for the region’s burgeoning tech community,Instagram Ads Agency, several online and social media influencers – who also played a significant role in amplifying the digital presence of Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ 2014 State of the County in June – will continue their role as innovators and collaborators in Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

To expand the online conversation and facilitate a dialogue with a broader demographic, Mayor Jacobs invited online influencers to be Social Media Ambassadors during the Mayor’s 2014 State of the County in June. The Ambassadors, who have large followings on social media networks, engaged citizens by sharing messages on social media to increase public engagement and awareness regarding Orange County’s Year of Transformation.”  Google Glass was used to record and share live from the eyes of one of the Ambassadors, making the event the first State of the County address in Florida to feature Google Glass.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

“Mayor Jacobs’ State of the County Social Media Ambassadors program definitely brought awareness to the region’s innovation that has propelled our community to the national stage as the new technology hub of the southeast,” said Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction Group andpresident ofOrlandoTech Inc.,a nonprofit organization supporting the Orlando technology community. “I look forward to Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup which will further support our dynamic community.”

The Orange County Technology and Social Media Workgroup will operate as a think-tank to advance new technologies, social media and mobile applications supported and developed by Orange County Government. The workgroup will also collaborate on how to best enhance online public engagement and support the growing the technology and digital community in our region.

“It is really impressive the way Mayor Jacobs and Orange County has brought together individuals from different sides of social media and the technology spectrum to work together,” said Ian Suarez, graphic designer and social media coordinator for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. “It is important to increase public awareness on what the county is doing for our community in today’s tech savvy world. I am honored to be part of such a talented group of leaders in our community.”