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February 6th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

Working in technology hubs on both side of the Atlantic, we’re always keen to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in Boston and London. Each week in our newsletter – The Prompt Byte – we interview a local startup to learn more about technology and inspiration that can be found at home.

This week, we garnered some great insights from Paul Blunden, creator of Usability 24/7 – a UK-based innovator revolutionizing multi-platform user experience. Get in touch with them on Twitter at @Usability247.

  1. What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is all about improvement. In some instances it means being brave enough to challenge the system. In others, it involves painstaking work to bring about incremental gains that result in positive change. It can be the work of one person or a team collaborating. It may not be a lightning bolt moment, but instead something seemingly trivial that still brings about a positive change. In the age in which we live technology is very exciting, but it is not the limit of innovation. In my view process innovation can be just as rewarding.

  1. Please tell us about Usability24/7’s vision.

Our vision is to change the world one interface at a time (if we have to). We want everything to be usable everywhere, for everyone all of the time. If we achieve this then it will be better for businesses and better for consumers. No one has ever disputed the ROI of user experience (UX) and usability research with me. In fact, most agree that it’s a good thing. And yet not all companies invest in it. I set up Usability24/7 to address this contradiction. In order to achieve our vision we are building an international network of senior, experienced UX researchers accredited to our quality standards. We are making sure that they are familiar with our methodologies, all of which have been designed to be repeatable so that outcomes are not entirely determined by those conducting the research. We’re structuring our services in a pragmatic way so that our customers don’t feel that they are paying for things they don’t need. We have invested in technologies to allow us to conduct research with almost any device in almost any location, and then stream that research to the client wherever they may be. If the client doesn’t want a report then that’s fine; we simply provide a verbal debrief instead. It’s all about being customer-centric and delivering services that are easier to understand and buy, while at the same time ensuring that the value in the deliverable is clear for the client.

  1. What do you predict or look forward to in 2015 with regards to London’s innovation culture?

It’s a really exciting time for London. We’re attracting talented people and combining that talent pool with investment capital and facilities. Incubators and hubs like the Google Campus are providing an environment where people can get together and develop their ideas. The job market for graduates is tough but I think that may drive innovation too. Young people, who can often be more fearless around innovation, strive for opportunities for work experience, and work harder to get their ideas off the ground. Major technology brands are injecting greater funds into the digital industry and driving individuals and organisations to be more innovative. This enables places like the Flux Innovation Lounge, which is genuinely driving innovation, to exist at all. Ten years ago these levels of financial investment simply weren’t available from big brands, and so the scale of innovation was different and the culture more constrained.

 

  1. What trends and challenges have you seen in the London technology scene?

A slightly worrying trend I have seen over the past few years is that in some areas innovation and design seems to have become disconnected with users. UX designers are increasingly expected to act as proxy for understanding the user, but not everyone is Jonathan Ive! This is a major challenge because as mobile adoption has increased our understanding of user behaviour struggles to keep pace. Users, consumers, customers – whatever we want to call them – are using technology in ways that we don’t fully understand. For example, users complete activities across smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops, often using all devices to complete a single task. Technology is not designed to track that diversity of horizontal behaviour, and is generally more suited to vertical action. This situation is going to become more complicated with the arrival of wearable technology into the main stream (think Michael Gove’s smartwatch), swiftly followed by different interface and display metaphors. All this in addition to putting remote drones in the hands of the public at large! With so much innovation and new technology reaching consumers, ensuring that it supports user behaviour is a major challenge. It can make or break an idea, however good that idea is. Innovators need to find new ways to understand users, get their ideas tested, and not be put off by failure.

  1. If you could meet any single innovator (alive or historical) over a coffee, who would you like to meet? What would you ask them or tell them about?

I’d like to meet Sir Ken Robinson, an innovator in the area of creativity in business and in education. I think he has answered almost every question I have about how we can help people be more creative so I would simply tell him what a profound impact he has had on me and the way I think about myself, run my business, motivate my colleagues and bring up my children.

  1. Please name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you really wanted, and why you bought it.

I’d prefer to talk about a number of pieces of usability technology which together fix a big problem in mobile research. It took me months to identify all the elements and work out how to use them together, but what they do is enable us to intelligently research people using mobile phones. The only alternative methods available previously involved attaching a camera to a phone or a person, and then have a researcher lean over the shoulder of the participant. Either that or use a software solution like Reflector which often proved unreliable over wireless networks. The new technology I’ve assembled now allows me to display the screen of a mobile phone on a test laptop which a researcher can see easily. We can then record and even stream the results to clients viewing remotely. It has literally changed the way in which we work, and it’s brilliant.

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December 22nd, 2014

Prompt loves London: The London Eye

Prompt loves London: The London Eye

London Eye

Q: Why is the London Eye like a cell phone?
[A: Because it’s full of names and numbers!]

Most call it the London Eye. But this iconic structure is formally known as the Millennium Wheel. Depending on which company or corporation has sponsored it, it’s also gone by the British Airways London Eye; the Merlin Entertainments London Eye; and EDF Energy London Eye. Come 2015, the Ferris wheel goes fizzy: Coca-Cola will sponsor the wheel beginning at the end of January.

No matter what it’s called, Europe’s biggest Ferris wheel overlooks the River Thames, not far from Prompt London’s new offices on London’s South Bank.

Climate-controlled passenger observation capsules carry seated or standing passengers for a beautiful bird’s-eye view of the city. It’s beautiful to see it all lit up at night.

As for the numbers?

• The London Eye was built in 1999
• It is over 135 metres tall (it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until 2006)
• It has over 3.5 million visitors each year
• Six countries supplied the wheel’s construction components
• It has 32 passenger capsules, carrying up to 25 people in each
• The capsules are numbered 1 to 33; Number 13 is left out
• One revolution takes about 30 minutes

So if you’re in London, be sure to get a ticket for the best Ferris wheel ride in Europe.

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June 23rd, 2014

Securing press coverage: Media results for file transfer

Securing press coverage: Media results for file transfer

Over the past couple of years we’ve had the pleasure of working as part of the team for file transfer specialist vendor Ipswitch File Transfer. 

vault door secure file transfer blog post We’ve achieved a pace and volume of coverage and results for this client, Ipswitch File Transfer, that we’re proud of – that have supported the division’s sales, and driven the business forward in both UK and DACH regions.  We developed a PR plan consisting of press releases, thought leadership articles, case studies, web copy, events, and helped to launch an international customer reference programme to align with sales goals and wider businesses strategies.

Copywriting
From media alerts, to opinion piecesand social media, we have a proven track record when it comes to generating great thought provoking copy and securing coverage in top trade titles such as Computer Weekly, SC Magazine, Computing, and IT for CEOs.

As well as coverage in UK press, we’ve placed a number of news articles, and opinion pieces in DACH publications including iMittelstand, entwickler, IT Daily, and IP Insider to name a few. Wunderbar!

Customer Reference Programme

Prompt was instrumental in helping this file transfer client to launch an international customer comms programme.  We’ve dealt directly with the end users, resellers and distributors to produce relevant and timely releases, case studies and create marketing collateral.  Ipswitch has clients across UK and DACH regions that they secure file transfers for in the government, healthcare and financial industries such as NHS Wales, Cambridgeshire County Council, Transport for London, Capita TDS and German manufacturer Lantiq.  These studies have been featured in target publications including Government and Public Sector Journal, IT Pro Portal, and Channel Biz.  

Event Management
Events are expensive – so whenever you’re at an event you want to be maximizing your time, budget and efforts with great PR. For this client we attended and ran PR for Infosecurity 2013 and Infosecurity 2014 – we organised and supervised press briefings, handled prospects at the booth, created briefing documents, ensured the web portal was kept up to date with all the latest company news and completed an in-person survey on the show floor.  We designed and ran an industry survey, created press releases, opinion pieces and a supporting infographic.The data protection survey results were also featured in Information Age, Industrial Compliance, Information Security Solutions and a number of other IT, security and compliance titles.

To find out more about Prompt PR, and how we can help align your PR to drive visibility and sales, email us on: info@prompt-pr.com

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May 23rd, 2014

The benefits of good press coverage and how to get it

The benefits of good press coverage and how to get it

Here at Prompt PR, one of our core objectives for our clients is securing stellar press coverage. Whether it’s a two-page spread in the print (and online) edition of SC Magazine, influential fintech commentary on the Wall Street Journal or file transfer thought leadership in Storage Networking Solutions Europe, the value of a good media hit is immeasurable (unless of course, you’re still in the dark ages calculating AVEs…).

Scoring visibility in large-scale national press, like our clients have seen in USA Today, NBC News or The Drum, brings unparalleled levels of exposure and as such it’s important to keep a constant eye on the press. Always keep your wheels turning: What’s newsworthy right now? What can I add to the conversation?

While big national media attention is great, sometimes the vertical press is the biggest bang for your buck. When it comes to sales conversion, getting your company’s message – and wherever possible, your thought leadership and expertise – in front of a highly targeted audience is tremendous. Are you in the business of hospitality technology? Then contributing to a highly relevant piece in Eastern Hotelier, or offering industry tips in Hotel Management, is probably right up your alley – or should be.

If any of the coverage above has you feeling a pang of jealousy, get in touch! We’d love to help you secure opportunities and hard-hitting results. Reach us at boston@prompt-pr.com or london@prompt-pr.com.

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June 18th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #1: London, UK

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #1: London, UK

Yesterday we promised you a trip around the technology world in 80 days, and today we’ve set out on our travels and arrived in London!

No longer the bustling centre of the British Empire that it was in Verne and Fogg’s day, London still remains a thriving city of diversity, and one of the world’s pivotal hubs of finance, culture, politics, education, arts, science, entertainment and of course technology.

Over the last 2,000 years or so, London has been the birthplace of far too many notable fathers and mothers of technology to mention (including Prompt London!). But if we were to assemble a select crowd of notable historical figures to send us off on our travels, we would definitely have to make room for Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace, Edmond Halley, Jonathan Ive, Tim Berners-Lee and many, many ‘plus ones’. And let’s not forget all the notable technologists travelling from the rest of the UK, including Frank Whittle, Robert Watson-Watt, John Logie Baird, George Stephenson, Percy Shaw, Christopher Cockerell, Thomas Wedgewood, Joseph Swan, Alan Blumenlein, Alexander Graham Bell and more than enough fellow geniuses to pack out the platform at Liverpool Street station.

So, with the electric motor, trains, cat’s eyes, jet engines, photography, stereophonic sound, light bulbs, radar, iPods, television, telephones, computing and the world wide web pretty much covered before our first embarkation, it’s definitely time to brush over the UK’s other technology luminaries in order to leave a few discoveries for our other destinations.

Like Phileas Fogg, we’re proud of our London roots, but we expect to find other countries contending some of the UK’s claims during our expedition.

Next stop – the Netherlands!

MAP_UK in red

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May 31st, 2013

Remembering London’s colourful past

Remembering London’s colourful past

LondonLondoner Claude Friese-Greene was the inventor of an additive colour film process called Biocolour, or the Fries-Green Colour Process. In 1927 he filmed one of the first coloured motion pictures ever made, documenting London life when the city wasn’t just capital of England, but remained the centre an enduring British Empire accounting for more than a fifth of the world’s population.

This remarkable film captures a snapshot of hatted Londoners enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the city between the wars. Interstitial captions point out that more than ‘4000 motor busses’ now patrol London’s streets, and that “more than one American has offered to buy our Tower and erect it on Palm Beach as a bungalow!”

By exposing alternate frames of black and white film through a different-coloured filter, then staining the resulting prints either red or green, Friese-Greene was able to project an illusion of genuine colour. The British Film Institute (BFI) has now used the very latest computer techniques to clean up the nostalgic film and reduce flickering so it can be enjoyed by a modern audience.

The results, which we first viewed courtesy of PetaPixel, are fascinating for anyone like us here at Prompt London who work in the city daily, and still walk the same streets, only with very different views. Still, some things haven’t changed – Petticoat Lane market is still impossibly busy, Hyde Park and St. James look just as inviting on a sunny afternoon, and we’re still winning Cricket test matches!

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April 1st, 2013

Why email etiquette hasn’t reached extinction

Why email etiquette hasn’t reached extinction

As a public relations consultant, I am constantly using email as a means of communication – whether I’m sending an internal note to a colleague across the pond in London, or a media pitch to a journalist in New York City.

Whatever the area code (or time zone), one thing is for certain – my email won’t be a one-liner. Almost always, I frame my email drafts to include a proper greeting and a positive sign off, even during a time when many question if such forms of etiquette are the digital definition of ‘rude’.

Last month, Nick Bilton of The New York Times expressed his thoughts on communicating during the digital era, stating ‘thank you’ emails, ‘sincerely’ sign offs and even voicemails are irksome time wasters. In an age where 140-character tweets and texting has taken over, is a lengthier, friendly email really such a bad thing?

Typing a lengthy email

To me, the answer is, and will always be, no. It takes one second to glance over the opening sentence that wished you a good afternoon, and even less time to get through a sign off. At the end of the day, being nice won’t cause any harm – in fact, it will most likely bring a small smile to your contact’s face.

So, the next time you’re writing an email, take a moment to consider just how you’re responding. If the sender took his or her time to ask how you were doing, don’t just respond with a snappy demand or request. Yes, email communication exists to accomplish tasks remotely, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your personality along the way.

After all, presenting yourself in the best light – whether by email or any other form of communication – is what public relations is all about.

Do you have an email etiquette tip of your own? Why not share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, or – you guessed it – email today.

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March 27th, 2013

Calling all software testing professionals: TESTA nominations now open

Calling all software testing professionals: TESTA nominations now open

The European Software Testing Awards, commonly referred to as TESTA, has officially opened its doors for nomination entries. The awards ceremony, set for Wednesday, November 20th in Grosvenor Square, London, is the premiere place to meet some of the most innovative individuals and teams in the software testing industry today. Naturally, as a high tech public relations firm with a nearby office in Covent Garden, we are already counting down the days until the big event.

Software testing awardsOrganised by the leading industry journal Test Magazine, TESTA is open to any individual or business within the software testing community, regardless of vertical sector or business size. Categories include (but are not limited to) Best in Agile, Mobile and Testing Automation Projects, along with Best Use of Tools and Young Tester of the Year. Finalists will be judged beside the best of the best, so snagging one of these coveted awards is a true honor.

When it comes to TESTA, the phrase “everybody’s a winner” is no longer an elementary sports mantra – it holds true. With countless opportunities given to those in attendance, including valuable networking and the acquisition of knowledge from Europe’s most highly regarded software testing professionals, the event is the perfect place for industry and personal growth.

To learn more about submissions, sponsorship and the judging process, please visit TESTA’s official website here and be sure to keep us up-to-date on your nomination.

For more on Prompt’s past experience with high tech clients, read up on case studies from KANA Software, Orchestria, Tatara Systems and more on our site, or email one of our consultants today.

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March 4th, 2013

Prompt Communications wins Ipswitch File Transfer international PR account

Prompt Communications wins Ipswitch File Transfer international PR account

 – Specialist comms agency to drive international PR programme for leading secure managed file transfer & B2Bi solutions provider –

 Prompt Communications, a PR and communications agency specialising in innovative markets including sustainability, technology and healthcare with offices in Boston, San Francisco and London, has been selected by Ipswitch File Transfer to lead its international media outreach programme.

With offices across the globe, Ipswitch File Transfer offers secure managed file transfer solutions that are enterprise-class, user friendly and easily implemented.  The company’s solutions address needs from person-to-person transfer through to enterprise-wide B2B integration, giving corporate users and businesses security and safety of information.

The company’s provides file transfer solutions to support the range of organizations’ requirements including basic file transfer capabilities (WS_FTP), end-to-end Managed File Transfer (MOVEit ), and a B2Bi MFT platform to support sophisticated workflows, integration with systems and applications and data translation. 

Ipswitch File TransferSophie Pellissier, director, International Marketing for Ipswitch File Transfer said: “We are a leading player in the secure file transfer and secure collaboration market, with over two decades of experience in providing B2Bi solutions.  We’re looking forward to working with a team that understands our business and our customers’ needs. Prompt will promote our media relations campaign and advise on how to maximise our editorial opportunities in order to further build our brand reputation and thought leadership across the international markets. We look forward to seeing our international programme of thought leadership evolve and expand.”

Prompt Communications CEO Hazel Butters said: “We’re excited to be working alongside Ipswitch File Transfer to support the company’s continued growth across the globe.  There’s a growing demand for secure, professional, business-orientated file transfer platforms as businesses operate across multiple sites and time zones, so we are looking forward to spreading Ipswitch File Transfer’s core messaging to an international audience. No modern organisation can risk the exposure of critical files falling into the wrong hands, and we are delighted to be working with a company that places such emphasis on the safety and security of business data.”

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December 14th, 2012

(Public Relations viewpoint) Reasons tech PRs love Covent Garden #29: The world’s largest LEGO advent calendar

(Public Relations viewpoint) Reasons tech PRs love Covent Garden #29: The world’s largest LEGO advent calendar

Advent calendar picture by public relations firm, Prompt CommunicationsJust around the corner from PromptLondon’s Covent Garden office is the world’s biggest LEGO advent calendar.   It was designed and built by Duncan Titmarsh, who, if you didn’t already know, holds the title  “the UK’s only certified LEGO professional” [As a sidenote, we’d like to know who handles his public relations].   

Every day at 4pm a new window is opened to reveal a new festive LEGO surprise.   Yesterday’s is below – it’s a bowl of Brussels sprouts (if you can’t make it out you go and try to recreate some  Brassica oleracea out of small plastic bricks).Lego sprout tech PR photo by Prompt Communications

The LEGO advent calendar raises two sets of questions. First:  what items will the other windows reveal?   We’re rooting for the obvious stuff: snowmen, the three kings, Christmas trees, turkey dinner, baubles, beautifully-wrapped presents – as well as some more off-the-wall 3D creations:  everyone asleep during the Queen’s speech, several empty bottles of Baileys, an inferno-esque Christmas pudding,  or the look on your aunt’s face when you ask if she kept the receipt.  

The other question is how Duncan Titmarsh got certified, what it means, and how can we get certified?   We’re going to find out and will report back  – watch this space.

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November 16th, 2012

Tech to the rescue: Five reasons why you’ll want to upgrade to iOS 6.1

Tech to the rescue: Five reasons why you’ll want to upgrade to iOS 6.1

Here at Prompt, our PR and copywriting consultants are big fans of tech upgrades, especially those that make life that much easier. When it comes to smartphones, most of our ‘Promptees’ have some version of the iPhone, while others get by with a less popular, but just as reliable, Android device.

A look into the Apple store on Boylston Street in BostonFor those on team iPhone, the big news this week was Apple’s announcement of the second beta of iOS 6.1, with improvements and bug fixes that had been reported from the previous installment of iOS. While the upgrade has only been made available to developers, we decided to take a closer look for those considering making the move to 6.1 in the near future.

Here’s a breakdown of future features and some of the glitches the upgrade can fix:

1. Improved features on PassBook

Apple introduced PassBook with iOS 6, which allowed users to store tickets, gift cards, coupons, boarding passes and more all on their iPhone. Critics complained that Apple did not properly explain the e-wallet, or integrate it with third-party apps.

Problem solved: Apple fixed the issue in the new beta release by adding an explanatory note on the digital-wallet app.

2. Siri gets even smarter

An update to Siri, Apple’s ‘intelligent personal assistant’, can now help users purchase movie tickets and view show times at local theaters. By asking “what is playing nearby?” Siri searches and lists everything you need to plan a perfect movie night through third-party site Fandango.

The days of leaving the house early to secure show time passes are long gone. Thanks Siri!

3. So long static keyboard

Many users were complaining about static lines when typing across the iPhone’s keyboard.  With iOS 6.1, that bug is now fixed. No more eye-twitching? Hooray!

4. Wider spacing between music control buttons

With iOS 6, the music controls on the lock screen were very close together, making it easier for users to hit the wrong button – and we all know the aggravation that can cause.  On the second beta of iOS 6.1, Apple has increased the spacing between the controls, making playback easy and stress-free. Cue the classical music.

5. ‘Report a problem’ attempts to solve Maps problem

Users were complaining of misplaced location markers and unusual satellite images on Apple Maps with iOS 6.  Apple did not fix the Maps app, but they did add a ‘report a problem’ option.

But the ‘report a problem’ feature hasn’t completely satisfied iOwners. In Gizmodo.com, a blogger shared his thoughts on the option by writing, “[Apple] fix your own maps for the devices we paid hundreds of dollars for. We’re not you’re beta testers.”

Now if only the updated iOS 6.1 could solve the 100 percent customer satisfaction glitch – Siri, can you help?

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November 14th, 2012

Next stop, e-tickets: Boston’s commuter rail gets digital

Next stop, e-tickets: Boston’s commuter rail gets digital

As followers could sense from our tweet sent out earlier this week, PromptBoston is looking forward to the latest innovation stemming from the MBTA – a smartphone digital ticketing system.

Image of the MBTA commuter railFor those outside of the bay state, MBTA is an acronym for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the company in charge of Boston metro’s public transportation. Want to sound really Bostonian next time you’re in Beantown? Then just refer to the subway system as ‘the T’, common city slang for ‘the train’.

The implementation of a digital ticketing system makes the MBTA the first major US commuter rail to offer passengers a paperless alternative, according to Boston.com. Coincidentally, a British mobile-ticketing agency is the developer behind the historical move – here’s looking at you, PromptLondon!

On Monday, commuter rail riders at North Station were able to purchase and display tickets on their smartphones. South Station regulars will be able to do the same after Thanksgiving, meaning pesky paper passes will have to do for another week or so.

In my opinion, the move means great news for both the MBTA and commuters in general. Boston.com reported that the option of digital passes will eliminate the handling of nearly $20 million in cash, meaning a faster collection process for conductors and service members. E-tickets will also help cut back on littering – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen expired passes tossed onto the floor of the commuter rail.

Smartphone userFor commuter rail riders, the digital upgrade will reduce time spent waiting in lines at ticket windows or automated machines, and eliminate the hassle of digging for loose change in pockets and purses when the conductor comes around to collect.

The transition to digital seems like a no brainer – after all, in today’s world, who doesn’t have a smartphone? To try the e-ticketing out for yourself, download the MBTA mTicket app available in both Apple and Android stores.

For the latest in Boston happenings and tech news, follow us on Twitter – and why not browse through our feed on your smartphone while waiting for the next train to arrive?

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