Archive for February 2011

5 Great Links for LB   Leave a comment

On Saturday we had some beautiful sunny weather here in Knoxville, Tennessee. LB, I hope the bike event went well! Sunday was overcast with thunderstorms. It was a good grass growing day for my backyard and a good couch day for the Oscars. I’m glad Natalie Portman and Colin Firth won awards, even if The Social Network didn’t take home Best Picture (oh well). And now it’s Monday, which means the weather doesn’t matter, because you’re at work (although there is a tornado warning today, so be careful!). So here are some links to alleviate that gloom…

POTD: You can never go wrong with one stunning photo per day! Especially when it’s an underwater oasis.

Silly Mind Tricks: Spoiler alert! I thought of broccoli. Hope that doesn’t ruin it for you.

Snowflake What?!: I don’t believe this. This is not possible. Ok, maybe it is. But I have my doubts. Is this a hoax?

Popular Mechanics: Slash that utility bill! SLASH IT! A list of 19 ways to stop spending money on useless stuff.

Adam Savage’s Obsessions: TED gives us another great talk on a fascinating person. 15 minutes long, but really, really cool.

Enjoy the week!

~C

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How Do You Game?   1 comment

Farmville

Do any of you play online games? Who here does not play some sort of mobile or online game? For the vast majority of technology-equipped humans that do take the time to indulge, what are you playing? Do you partake in the simply addictive Farmville, Mafia Wars, or Angry Birds mobile apps? Are you a classic solitaire or minesweeper loyalist? Or are you more of an Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Black Ops or PC World of Warcraft enthusiast? When you play, do you like the mobility of an app game, or do you look forward to donning the headset and controller and parking yourself in front of the TV or PC for several dedicated hours? (Junk food & chronic sore back and/or thumbs available almost everywhere for no additional fee) Do you like teaming up with others, or leveling up alone?

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Single player games such as Farmville allow social interaction through adding real friends as “neighbors.” The higher level a player is, the more crops or animals are available for purchase at the market. In Call of Duty: Black Ops, you and your friends all log onto to Xbox Live and “party up.” Parties can either play side by side or against one another in the quest for experience points (XP), which allows for the purchase of more advanced weapons. A third type of gaming experience comes from the popular Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect, where players can get off the couch and interact with yoga, tennis, boxing, dancing, and other adventure games.

Angry Birds

With over 40,000 game apps available from the iPhone app store, there’s no shortage of mobile games to choose from. And not to be left behind in the mobile world, console games for the PS3 or Xbox have associated mobile apps where players can monitor or make live in-game purchases and tweak their characters. The ability to immerse oneself in a game from multiple avenues is what players want and developers hope for: New opportunities to interact with a game means people will invest more time in the game and won’t move onto the next Game Du Jour so quickly.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Back in the day, games were (and still are) sold as-is without the potential for patches or upgrades. Mixed in with all the good stuff, gamers would invariably experience glitches and less than stellar features. Updates would take months or years to come out, if at all. Things have changed for the better. Today, people expect games to be cheap, easily downloadable (via a mobile device or console) and socially interactive. Through discussions on various social media platforms, gamers can discuss the pros and cons of their gaming experiences, and be heard. Developers are taking note of this return on engagement, and aren’t shy to deliver what people want. Scott Steinberg wrote a great article for The Daily Beast on Sept 19, 2010 on the future of social gaming. He noted: “By connecting developers directly with fans and giving creators the tools to change game features rapidly based on real-time feedback, digital game distribution shatters the fiberglass ceiling.”

If you’re interested in more of what Scott Steinberg and his writers are talking about, I highly recommend checking out his blog and website, GameTheory. It’s packed with fascinating daily articles that run the gamut of the gaming world. From geek speak to business news and stats, his crack team leaves nothing to wonder about.

And finally, to wrap this post up, are you still unsure what Farmville is? Here’s a video that covers everything you need to know about it…

And as for Call of Duty: Black Ops (and a guide for n00b rage quitters), I can’t think of a better explanation than this really fantastic audiovisual story, that is completely Not Safe For Work (language & drug references).

Until next time, happy gaming. But do try to go outside once in a while – the weather is really nice this time of year.

~C

What Would You Store Underground?   4 comments

I was browsing Wired Magazine this morning and found a really cool article by Erin Biba about some new uses for “retired” underground mines or caverns. If you have 10 minutes, check it out here. It’s an amazing picture gallery with brief explanations. It’s really interesting to hear about these places –  I thought they only existed in movies! I guess for some organizations (like Wikileaks), security, safety, and relative obscurity from the public are top priorities.

If you had  beaucoup bucks to squirrel stuff away inside a secret underground facility, what would you keep there? Personally I don’t own anything that requires protection from potential nuclear fallout, so instead, I guess I’d want an emergency underground bunker in the event that nuclear fallout does happen. I’d kit it out with all the essentials – tons of nonperishable food, some kind of perpetual motion geothermal heating and cooling system, enough beds and couches for me and all my friends, a swimming pool and hot tub…I could go on and on. But really, what would you guys do with an empty, secure, underground cavern? Remember, money is no object in this hypothetical situation!

 

At my previous job as a TV producer, I conducted a lot of archive acquisitions – digital photo and video clip licensing – for use in the various episodes we produced. Corbis was one of my main sources for these archives. I remember at least two instances  when my Corbis rep explained to me that a particular photograph would take longer to deliver than usual, because someone would have to “go into the vault” to retrieve it. After reading this article, I now know what she was talking about! The image below shows where Corbis keeps its collection. Inside Iron Mountain, Pennsylvania. At sub-zero temperatures. Wow. Just, wow. That’s so cool. Literally. 🙂

Where Corbis stores its archives. Wired Magazine

Here’s a news report on Iron Mountain by KOMO 4 News, a local station out of Seattle, Washington. The reporter takes her viewers inside the mountain for an intriguing look at what’s being stored underground, and why.

~C

Posted February 23, 2011 by Elfawin in Random

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5 Great Links For LB   1 comment

Good morning, LB. Are you at work yet? Great! Here are some links for you to check out once you fill out that TPS report.

An Internet Timeline – This is just funny, and also useful for you people under 18.

The Good Guide – Ever wondered how your shampoo scientifically & environmentally ranks against other shampoos? Well now you can find out!

You Grow Girl – For the resourceful and humble gardener with little gardening space and even less money.

The Dangerous Sports Club – Pretty much explains itself.

Energy Fiend – So you really think you can drink that much Vanilla Coke and survive, huh? How much hot cocoa do you think it would take to keel you over?

Enjoy!

~C

Aussie Slang Word Of The Day   Leave a comment

“Shark Biscuit”

Pronunciation: As it sounds

Meaning: A new or inexperienced surfer. Shark attacks happen pretty frequently in the cold current waters around Australia. To a Great White, surfers or body boarders are bite-sized! That’s why wetsuits come in an array of neon danger colors like Tennessee orange, lime green, and electric blue. South of Adelaide, where I’m from, there’s a sleepy coastal town called Victor Harbor. Part of the shoreline is a steep and rocky cliff line, and the Southern Ocean is merciless when the currents are coming in. Translate: It’s perfect for morning surf sessions. My mates Tom and Chris would go surfing there every weekend. I went up there with them once to try it out, but I was too terrified of getting bit by a shark to get in the water. Yeah, I’m a real go-getter.

Usage example: “You’re not going to see many shark biscuits at today’s surfing competition. These guys are all pro.”

A body boarder takes the wave. South Coast Register

Top 5 Tips For The PR SuperAgent   2 comments

On Friday I attended the Real World Atlanta Conference in downtown Atlanta. Hosted by the PRSA Georgia Chapter, about 150 public relations students attend, as well as a healthy mix of agency and corporate public relations professionals. Overall, the conference was fantastic. I networked with some really interesting people, and gained valuable tips, tricks, and insight into the public relations profession.

Instead of doing a play-by-play of the day, I’m going to list the top five lessons I took away from the experience. The following list is geared towards public relations practitioners, but it probably applies to almost any professional industry…

1) Facebook is a major, major component of your online presence.

If you’re interviewing for a job, make sure you have cleaned up your Facebook profile ahead of time. Even if all of your privacy settings are customized for “friends only” or even “only me”, chances are high that you’ve been tagged in other photos by friends. Dimyka Roberts, Recruiter at Digitas Health, and Tia Jackson, Human Resources Manager at Porter Novelli, both stressed that potential employers will search and search until they find a back door into your Facebook profile. Employers want to know the real you, and that means Facebook. So do yourself a favor and untag or delete all those photos where you’ve got a drink in your hand, or you look drunk. Sure, Bonnaroo was an amazing experience. And sure, you were sober the entire time, but a prospective employer might perceive otherwise if they see a photo of you standing in the Hippie Fountain with some dude toking up in the background. Another good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’d want “that photo” to show up on the front page of the New York Times. If you’re okay with the consequences of that hypothetical situation, chances are, a future employer wouldn’t have a problem with it either.

2) Work-life “blending” is the new balance.

These days, the public relations professional is a busy, busy person. Public relations is one of those professions that’s often hard to leave at work once you head home for the day. People often refer to finding a balance between work and home, to avoid heavy bias in either direction. But with the integration of social media and the ease of multi-platform, mobile communication in so many facets of daily life, where does work stop and home begin? It has become far too easy to work at home, or play at work. Craig Hodges, Vice President at Edelman, talked about “blending” work and life to find a sustainable mix of the two. If you’re still emailing clients or working on a project once you get home, are you also able to simultaneously interact with your partner/children/pets? How long do you keep the laptop open once you’re home? Do you answer emails on your phone during dinner? Do you care? Does your partner care? The answer is different for everybody, but it’s important to keep tabs on your own happiness, your professional productivity, and your personal relationships (whether it’s with another human or your pet), and find the best blend for your situation.

3) Underpromise and overdeliver.

For entry level public relations professionals, being able to meet expectations is essential to gaining trust and respect from your boss. For long-term professionals, the same is true in client situations. Elizabeth McMillan, Account Director at William Mills Agency stated that an excellent strategy is to under promise what you believe is possible in a situation, but then always strive to over deliver. Of course, if a deadline is crucial, you’re not going to say it can’t be met, but make sure you understand what is being asked of you, and seriously consider the resources you have available to accomplish the task at hand. If you need help, it’s always okay to ask for it. If you can consistently over deliver, people will take notice. Another question: If you’ve got an internship, do you always leave five minutes early? Are you unsure what you should be working on? At the end of each day, employers love it when interns ask if anything else needs to be done before heading home. A strong work ethic and flexibility with hours are easily recognized traits in a good intern. Interns with those qualities are typically the ones offered full time positions when an internship is over.

4) What’s your elevator speech?

If you found yourself in an elevator with the hiring manager or VP from the agency that you desperately want to work for, and the ride from the lobby to the 16th floor takes 30 seconds, how would you use those crucial seconds? Would you make small talk, mumble, or look down at your shoes the whole time? Would you stare at the doors, silently freaking out about what you should be saying, but are too afraid? Hopefully not! Instead, you should pitch yourself like it’s the only chance you’ll ever get. Stephen Brown, the Senior VP of MSL Group in Atlanta says that it’s a great idea to have 2 or 3 scenarios rehearsed beforehand, so you can nail that once-in-a-lifetime elevator ride with confidence and ease. Keep it simple, straightforward and to the point. The most important part to remember is that you are, in no way, asking for a job (that’s what the formal interview is for, right?): Instead, use the 30 seconds to tell this VP one interesting idea you have, what amazing skill you can bring to his or her agency, and how you can make his or her life easier. It’s as simple as that. With any luck you’ll make a great first impression and give yourself a head start over the other candidates applying for the same job.

5) Interpersonal networking is still incredibly relevant.

The past two to six years have exploded with opportunities to connect with industry professionals via online social networks. It’s great that you’ve created a LinkedIn profile, and you’re following the PR industry heavyweights on Twitter. But do they know who you are? What’s your in? As a public relations n00b, you need more than a digital presence. Stephen Brown kicked off Real World Atlanta, 2011, with a great talk on the advantages of interpersonal networking. He stressed the importance of going to local PR events or conferences and talking to people face-to-face. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t work in the same PR sphere as where you want to be, they might know somebody who does. You need to work that room and let people know who you are. Dress professionally, keep a stash of business cards on you (even if it just has your name and blog URL, that’s good enough), and stay positive! It’s a small world: Work some charm, establish some  connections, and you’ll be surprised at how far it can take you.

~C

My iPhone 4 And Me   2 comments

Wow, I’ve really had a busy week. I haven’t had time to blog at all until now! So here’s a recap of the highlights…

On Tuesday night, my new Verizon iPhone 4 arrived! The box was so crisp and new and perfect. Do you know that Steve Jobs personally helped design the iPhone box, so that when you open it, the top section slides effortlessly apart from the bottom section to reveal the phone? For you iPhone owners out there, you know what I’m talking about.

The phone itself felt slightly larger and possibly a wee bit heavier than my old iPhone 3 (hereafter known as Gerri). The design is beautiful – two sides of glass, held together by the surrounding metal rim/antenna.

My immediate thought was “Eeeeasy, eeeeeeasy there, be careful! BE CAREFUL!” I didn’t purchase a protective case with the phone (I ordered one online the next day, but it hasn’t arrived yet), so I left the temporary protective plastic on the back. Ghetto, I know, but seriously, I drop everything. If my life were a video game, my clumsiness factor would be set to “demigod.”

With the patience of a Venus Fly Trap just waiting to snatch up my new toy, my boyfriend John calmly waited for me to plug the new phone into my mac laptop and begin what he must have envisioned would be a life-altering experience for the both of us. An iPhone 4! Dinner can surely wait!

I was really impressed with not having to physically leave my house to activate the phone – after plugging it in, a prompt screen appeared in iTunes asking for some info for my new Verizon account. In about 17 seconds, I was up and running. Gerri was quietly crying on the other end of the couch, deactivated, cold, and alone. (Dramatic pause).

The other awesome thing about iPhone? The backup. All my stored info, apps, text messages and contacts were already in iTunes, so once I plugged up my new phone, it all transferred in. This process took what seemed like an eternity (1 minute, 38 seconds), but finally, it was ready for John to start messing with.

The first addition John recommended was Google Voice. If anyone out there has a smartphone, but does not yet have GVoice, GET IT. It’s fantastic! And free! It lets you customize your own phone number with any area code in the country (although all the good ones are unavailable).To me, the ability to choose my own number felt like I’d been given temporary superpowers. Imagine the possibilities! I tried all kinds of number combinations – my name spelled out, my dog’s name, my cell phone number with a different area code. Eventually I settled on a Connecticut number that was similar to my own, with an aesthetic ring to it. It had to be easy to say and remember.

Once that excitement had passed, John helped me configure the settings and add credit. International calls with Google Voice are supremely cheap. Like, two-cents-per-minute-to-Australia cheap. I had to call mum and test it out. I put $10 on the account, figuring that should last me a while. Mum answered with her professional work voice, so was totally surprised to hear me on the other end. Up until this point, we were one of those families that would reverse charge the national calling company, and then make an excuse as to why my parents couldn’t accept the call, and hang up. But would then call me back straight away with their cheaper calling card. Now I don’t have to cheat the phone company! Thanks, Google Voice! Talking to mum and dad that night cost me 14 cents. You can’t even buy a lollipop for 14 cents these days! Yes, you heard it first here – Google Voice: Cheaper than lollipops.

Anyway, it’s now Saturday and I’ve been using my iPhone 4 for four days. I absolutely love it, and I’m so glad I made the switch from AT&T to Verizon. I am supremely happy! My reception service has been fantastic, I’ve had no dropped calls, the clarity of voice is great, and most importantly, the phone is lightning fast! When I open an app, it responds immediately! Just last week, I was living in a world where I didn’t think immediate response from an app was even possible. The iPhone 4 camera also takes very crisp pictures, and video! I haven’t tried that out yet (remember, I’ve had a very busy week). Oh, and there’s a new feature called Face Time, which seems cool. I haven’t tried that yet either, but you can basically call a friend (who also has an iPhone 4) and video chat with them. Sweet! The only thing I’m still not sure about is the staying power of the battery. I’m going to have to wait and see how it does over the next few weeks. Oh, and I still haven’t dropped it. Aren’t you proud of me?!

~C

Posted February 19, 2011 by Elfawin in Random

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