Why I Love The Olympics

by Kristin on February 13, 2010

It’s that time again, the torch is lit, Vancouver is ready, and the events have started. The 2010 Winter Olympics bring about the 21st Winter Olympic Games. On a normal winter weekend I won’t be seen watching skiing, snowboarding, or even speed skating, but for the next 16 days the events will be on both my computer and TV as much as possible. Opening Ceremonies is what I consider my Super Bowl. I love watching the athletes march in, the singing, and finally the lighting of the torch.

Why is that?

As Georgia lost a teammate during training yesterday the games were off to a somber start. Last night, amidst the magic of the Opening Ceremonies we were reminded of the reality. Usually the most memorable moment of Ceremonies for me is the lighting of the torch. Last night, it wasn’t the torch (probably to the delight of the Olympic Committee), it was when the team from Georgia walked in. Not a smile on any of their faces, but probably the biggest supporting cheer of the night. Watching everyone in the stadium stand up and applaud in support, knowing the tragedy from earlier in the day. Being able to watch athletes from countries who didn’t know him wear black bands around their arms, the stadium share the moment of silence, and watch the lowering of the flags all in Nodar Kumaritashvili’s honor really showed the world coming together. To me, that’s what the Olympics are all about.

It’s not just for the sports either. Every four years the Yarn Harlot organizes The Knitting Olympics, so knitters can test their skills like the athletes do. For 16 days your push yourself on a project and in the end either achieve that gold medal or not. For the 17 days (starting with the Opening Ceremonies, ending with the Closing Ceremonies) you knit with the motto Citius, Alitius Fortius.

For 17 days every two years (Summer and Winter Olympics) we can put the fighting, the politics, and all of the junk going on in the world behind us and come together as one. As we sit in our living rooms or in front of our computers we watch as miracles happen and life long dreams are achieved. For the next 16 days, it doesn’t matter what your country’s government is doing, it doesn’t matter what religion you are or what color your skin is. For the next 16 days there will be plenty of excitement as we come together as one world.

Let the games begin!

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Social Media Super Bowl

by Kristin on February 8, 2010

While most people watch the Super Bowl for the football, I watch it for the commercials. Last year, the commercials were fairly disappointing, nothing really stuck out or caught my eye. This year, the commercials were better and had a lot more stories to tell. Doritos® came through as the funniest commercials of the game, Google aired their first commercial ever on TV, and I only noticed one repeat commercial. Not bad for three and a half hours of football!

Most people pay attention through the main portion of the commercial and move on by the time the commercial is ending and showing their contact information. While I didn’t watch the end of every commercial that was on, I noticed something different in a lot of commercials… their Social Media information. For companies to list just their website, I’m sure they draw traffic in after the game, but how about listing their Twitter name. It is no secret that Twitter was buzzing during the game with comments about the players, the plays, and even the commercials. Using a mobile version of Twitter it’s not hard to do a search for the name and click follow. Simple as that, a company could gain hundreds of new fans.

Social media icons are slowly popping up around websites where people can find a businesses full list of contact information. Yet it has been lacking on TV. Nine times out of ten I won’t visit a website that is mentioned on TV, but I’ve found that I follow a lot of businesses on Twitter simply because I know they post daily updates and it’s all in one place. With the mention of them on TV I can pick up my phone and add them to my account and receive updates immediately.

With the more frequent updates on their social media account, viewers are more likely to turn around and follow them on social media than visit their website everyday. In turn this will continue to force their brand name in the viewers eyes whether they realize it or not. It’s a smart move for all businesses who are running any form of ad on TV or even on YouTube. The more traffic the better; the more people see a brand the more likely they are to buy it. Ignoring the fact that some businesses will pay millions of dollars for a 30 second to 1 minute ad during the super bowl, it’s worth the extra time to turn around and add one extra bit of contact information in.  Adding that one extra bit of text with their Twitter username could turn a whole lot more profit than it took to edit the commercial and add the text.

If businesses are planning to create new commercials in the future I think it is a wise decision to add their Social Media information in there by default. They don’t need to list everything down to their MySpace page, but something as simple as @BusinessTwitterAccount could turn their business traffic around in ways they could only imagine.

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Apple iPad – Why I Want One

by Kristin on January 30, 2010

Just in case you missed it, Apple has announced the iPad. Two days after its major release, there have been a variety of reviews. I’ve heard everything ranging from “it is pointless” to “When can I get it?” I’m in the middle on this new product.

I’ve never really been a fan of tablet computers; I never really saw the point of a tablet verses a normal laptop. I do not own an iPhone and I do not own an iPod touch. I love my iPod Classic and my Mac Book Pro. The one thing that I’ve hated since Apple released the iPhone, is that I do not have access to use the applications in the iTunes store. The iPad makes it possible to get not only the apps from the iTunes store but get additional apps that are not in the iTunes store.

I’m a person who’s all about traveling and being out and about. I love taking my computer with me, but at times it’s a lot to pull out when you’re in an airport or hanging out with friends at a local coffee shop. While a mobile phone serves the purpose of the instant email check or a Google search, I’m not about to write a blog entry on a phone. Additionally, as Rae Hoffman mentioned in her article, Preparing for the Age of Mobile, not all websites are mobile friendly. The iPad takes the iPhone and gives me a larger mobile device that will allow me to update my blog, use the iTunes app store, and visit websites that are not necessarily mobile friendly. Finally, I will not have to be required to pay a monthly fee if I don’t want to.

What about flash?
One of the biggest complaints about the iPad is that Apple is still not offering flash support. I don’t see a need for flash support within the iPad. It is not meant to fully replace a computer. Yes, it would be nice to be able to visit every single website out there, but you’re always going to run into compatibility issues with at least one website, no matter what browser you’re using. Very few websites I visit on a daily basis are flash based. Those that are, I’ll check on a computer.

Will it replace my Amazon Kindle?
While Apple is pushing the iPad as a new eReader, I will not let it replace my Kindle. One of the biggest reasons I chose to get a Kindle over any of the other eReaders is because of the screen. It is not a computer screen. I spend all day in front of a computer screen; if I want to curl up with a book, I want something that will be easy on my eyes. The Kindle is easy to read off of and it’s attached to my Amazon account. The iBook won’t be as easy to read off of since it will still be a computer screen. The eBook portion of it will not have the books I’ve already bought from Amazon. If I’m that desperate to read my Kindle books on an iPad… I’ll download the Kindle application.

Don’t you want the camera?
I have a digital camera that takes great pictures and my phone takes pictures. Is there a reason to have yet another device that takes pictures? Many people are complaining about not being able to use it for video conferencing. If I were going to use a device for video conferencing, I’d rather get my laptop out and use that. The memory is better, the web cam would be a better quality, and there’s not as high of a chance of it overheating. It also allows me to use other applications while doing the video conference.

In my opinion, the iPad is a great product that Apple has put out. It may or may not be the most competitive in every market but I think they definitely have a market out there that will make the iPad successful. Mobile browsing, no monthly subscription, and a keyboard big enough to write from… all are great reasons to buy an iPad in my book.

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Twitter – What’s The Point?

by Kristin on January 26, 2010

Twitter -> Kristypage

Twitter as a Personal Tool and a Resource

A friend and I have an on-going debate… what’s the point of Twitter? He is constantly telling me that there is no reason to use Twitter, it is worthless, and it is a waste of time… I told him I’m going to write a blog entry and prove to him there’s a point to using Twitter.

I joined twitter in May of 2008… I tweeted for one or two weeks and that was it. I used Facebook status updates a whole lot more and didn’t really see too much to Twitter. I came back to Twitter within the last year and realized how much more is out there. Twitter has grown from a personal status update to a whole library of data. If you follow some of the right people you can get more articles and blog entries than you could imagine.

A few examples:

Guy Kawasaki – Guy posts all sorts of content. Most of the articles he posts are ones that he has taken, done a short review of on his blog, and linked to the full article. The articles range from latest tech news to weird things people have done. His tweets aren’t personal by any means, but they give you a whole bunch of news and information in one place.

Lisa Barone – Lisa does a great job of mixing business and personal life on Twitter. Her tweets are hilarious to read, yet most of the time bring up very good points. She often shares interesting links to other articles and her own opinions as she writes for Outspoken Media.

Beebow – Lauren spends her days writing blogs for her company and sharing tons of information on Search Engine Optimization. Her tweets range from other SEO people to follow to articles and blog entries.

A day has not gone by in the last six or seven months where I have not found at least two articles from Twitter worth reading. Instead of having to Google a specific subject to find the information someone else starts up a discussion about it. Different subjects you might not have thought of can come up just by watching what people tweet. The more time I’ve spent on Twitter the more I’ve learned about social media, search engine optimization, and the benefits of using both to market a website.

Yes, Twitter can be used as a personal tool, but don’t turn away just because people are tweeting about what they ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Twitter can worth your time if you use it the right way.

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Confidence is something that everyone holds differently. For me, I’m incredibly confident in my hobbies but when it comes to the things I do in my day-to-day life… my confidence needs work. Back in September, my mom had sent me an article from the Toledo Blade about a girl who became a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine. One of her inspirations was a book called “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be” written by Paul Arden. Self help books, not generally my thing; books with a whole bunch of one-line quotes and large print, those are my thing. This book was definitely my thing.

Overall the book was a lot more about making money then it was gaining the motivation I needed. Granted, it was still a good book and helped me put a new perspective on life. I’m generally a person who plays by the rules, or sticks close to them. One of the best quotes that from the book was “If you can’t solve a problem it’s because you are playing by the rules.” It seems like a simple quote and a simple answer, but it made me step back and think a little bit about everything. This book was far from a book teaching readers how to play by the rules. In fact it was encouraging readers not to.

When I say not playing by the rules, I’m not referring to going out and robbing a bank. His advice was focused on making people take you seriously and making them listen. At the same time, he was encouraging readers to be realistic about things. For example, one of the headlines is “Don’t promise what you can’t deliver”.  A headline not too much further on in the book is “Don’t take no for an answer”. Both are two great pieces of advice and both go hand in hand when working with anyone. The book is more focused on a work environment, but did a great job of advice for all aspects of life.

The design of the book was also well done. It’s a smaller book so it was easy to throw into a computer bag without taking up too much room. The font was bigger so it wasn’t squinting to read and there were plenty of pictures to illustrate his points. This book was not your every day self help book, it was far from it but it had some great advice to offer and of course, was filled with some great quotes!

Some interesting advice he had to offer at the end of the book was “Present on Tuesday”. Why is that? You’ll have to pick up a copy of the book to find out why!

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The Showdown: Facebook vs. Twitter

by Kristin on November 4, 2009

It’s a debate I’ve heard way too often lately: “Which is better? Facebook? Twitter? None of the Above?” Facebook has been around longer than Twitter, but does that mean it’s any better or worse than Twitter? For me, at the end of the day, Twitter and Facebook serve two very different purposes.

Facebook came about my freshman year of college. Like most of my school, I spent my spring break basking in the excitement that our school finally had the privileged of being on Facebook. (It was February, in the midwest, and it was snowing… yes I spent it on a computer). I friended people I hardly knew, but that didn’t matter. My classmates and I spent our days seeing who could get more friends, meeting new people, and exchanging homework information. With college in the past, Facebook has been the place for me to keep up with my friends from college, family, and friends from high school. I haven’t used it too much for networking outside of that. For the most part, it’s been about keeping in touch. When I’m frustrated, my Facebook status will show that.

Twitter on the other hand is all about meeting new people and learning new things. With a new found love for social media as a marketing tool over the last five or six months, I wanted to learn everything there was to know about it. Google got me some articles, but never the in-depth conversation I was looking for. Enter Twitter. Twitter gave me exactly what I needed to interact with people who have the same interests as me. I found article after article on social media and search engine optimization. It was the outlet I was looking for to learn from.

I still will use Facebook from time to time for non-personal things and I will use Twitter to post quotes, love songs, etc when I’m in that kind of a mood. But overall the two websites serve two very different purposes for me.

How do you use Twitter and Facebook?

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As the next generation is introduced to search engines, it wont be just Google

"As the next generation is introduced to search engines, it won't be just Google"

Google recently celebrated their 11th birthday. There’s no surprise they’ve been around that long and it’s not like they’re going anywhere…  I’ve been a huge advocate of Google and once wrote a paper on “The Google Guys” being my idols when asked to write about who I look up to (yes I’m a geek, and I’m not afraid to admit it). I’ve never seen a problem with the phrase “just Google it” until today.

In talking with a friend, they were trying to tell me how they were told something was on Google maps, but it wasn’t showing up when they were doing a search. We talked for a few minutes and I just couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. It was RIGHT THERE when I looked it up. Finally I asked him what he was seeing instead of the item he was looking for. He told me “I went to msn.com and typed it in… it’s not showing up”.

We have adopted the verb “google” into the English language. Dictionary.com defines that verb as:

“to search for information on the Internet, esp. using the Google search engine”.

The problem with adopting it is that we assume that everyone is using Google. As the next generation is introduced to search engines, it won’t be just Google.

For those of us who use Google on a daily basis, it is an accurate assumption. Yet, when talking to friends who might use msn/bing we run the risk of pulling up completely different results. No two search engines think exactly alike. Google has plenty of apps and so many more coming down the line, that it is not about to disappear, but the competition is getting greater.

People who don’t spend a great deal of time on a computer don’t always know that there is a difference between Google and Bing. Imagine being a business owner and looking at your rankings between the two search engines. Chances are they’re not going to be the same.

Don’t get me wrong, my loyalty remains in Google as a search engine.

The moral of the story is be careful when you tell someone to ”just google it”. If you know that a story or event is listed on the top of Google, make sure you friends you’re sharing the story with using Google to find it. If not, who knows where they might end up!

How often do you catch yourself using the phrase “just google it”?

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Review: Tune Up

by Kristin on October 27, 2009

For the last three or four years I’ve told myself that I would go through my iTunes library and clean it up. With close to 19,000 pieces of media (I’m a podcast junkie) the Track 01, Untitled, and blank names fill my iTunes library. Kevin Rose mentioned a new program on Diggnation called Tune Up. At first I was skeptical but decided to check it out. I’m so lazy when it comes to my music library, yet I always want it cleaned up.

Can I just say, WOW! I started out with the music that had no names to them, or had the generic track names. I was expecting it to get about half. Out of close to 1,000 songs it missed 22; that’s not bad at all!  That wasn’t even the best part.

One of my biggest pet peeves with my music is that an artist can be pulled into iTunes under so many different names. For example: The Beatles, Beatles, thebeatles, beatles, TheBeatles, you get the idea. With 15 different names for my Beatles collection I decided to put TuneUp to the test. They now are all named “The Beatles”. I started from a and I’m working my way to z to get all of my artists and albums finally synced up.

The one thing that has been a slight downside is that it recommends only doing 500 songs at a time. To be honest, it’s not a problem with the program; it’s what your computer can handle. I’ve been running between 500 and 700 at a time and then running a save of them all over night and it’s working perfectly. It does take a bit of time to run through it, it’s obviously not an instant process but at the end of the day when it’s all said and done, the process is worth it.

A one-year subscription is $19.99 and a lifetime subscription is $29.99. Hurry up; they’re having a Halloween sale!!!

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Balloon Boy – Thanks To Social Media

by Kristin on October 21, 2009

Screen Cap From Twitter - 7:30 PM - October 21, 2009

Screen Cap From Twitter - 7:30 PM - October 21, 2009

On October 15th , the US watched as a family feared that one of their own was “floating above Colorado”, as they believed their youngest boy had untied a UFO type balloon and was inside it as it floated away.  The story was more than one trending topic on twitter and was on all of the news stations. There was even a boyintheballoon twitter account was created before the balloon landed. Yet it was still hard to believe that this young boy was floating above Colorado.

People were right not to believe. By that night, the young boy had spilled the beans on Larry King Live that it was all for show. Within four days CNN broke the news that the authorities had reason to believe the incident was a hoax. Yet, a week later, Balloon Boy is still a trending topic on Twitter, is still in the news, and is the background of so many jokes that are out there.

Thanks to social media the Henne family got what they were looking for, attention. As a former reality TV family from Wife Swap, the Henne family was looking for another reality show. Was this the kind of reality show they wanted? In the past week they’ve been on a variety of TV shows, had plenty of national coverage, and have been one of the major topics in social media. You can’t really ask for more attention than that.

The exact details of what happened that day are known only by the members of the Henne family, and we may never know the full truth of what happened. Yet, do we even care? Using the tools that are at our fingertips daily, people around the country were able to come to their own conclusions of what happened and share them with thousands of people. The Henne family definitely got America’s attention.

So why are we continuing to talk about it almost a week later? Why am I writing this blog about it? Because it’s fascinating how a story out of a town in Colorado can spread across the country within minutes. Speculation beginning immediately after the story broke. When Michael Jackson passed away in June, it was a trending topic on Twitter for weeks. In fact a good portion of people found out on Twitter or Facebook. The day before that no one said much about Michael Jackson. Imagine what would have happened if we had Twitter during the OJ Simpson trial.

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Twitter: 140 Characters or Less

by Kristin on October 17, 2009

A few weeks ago, Jay Leno took Twitter to the Senior Citizens Home. They tried to explain to the senior citizens what Twitter is. In the last few weeks I’ve had to explain Twitter to a variety of people; some have understood it, some look at me dumbfounded.

I’ve used everything from “it’s a way to connect with people, to it’s a micro blog, to it’s a whole new form of communication”. For those who don’t get it, I get told to pick up a phone. I have to laugh because my main form of communication with friends is with a phone, but through text messaging. With texting you’re limited to 160 characters per text. Twitter took it one step further and dropped it down to 140 characters.

In all of my ways of trying to explain twitter to friends, family, and others, I have never found the best way to explain it without having to go into lots of detail. Saying it’s a micro blog, sometimes gets into “what is a blog”, saying it’s a form of communication leads into “who are you communicating with”.

I was trying to think of an easy way to explain Twitter to those who just don’t get it without having to go into detail, and still make it worth their time.

In exactly 140 characters, here’s how I would describe it:

A form of interaction with friends, family, etc. used to keep them up to date with inner workings of your daily life, business, or interests

How would you explain Twitter in 140 characters or less? Leave a comment and let me know.

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