Posted: May 11th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
The cross-section of what I find amazing, interesting, absurdly funny or just plain discussion-worthy this week.
1.) Popular Science combines academic techniques with the most important of behavioral sciences to determine that guitars make guys more attractive to women. If you didn’t already know this sometime around your 13th birthday, I’m not sure that a pair of peer-reviewed studies are going to convince you. Also, these results are strictly related to the guitar, learning to play the recorder won’t help you.
These next few links will probably show that I was on a bit of an education kick this week. Probably because I’m waiting to hear back about my application to return to university, but also at least partly because continued education (especially self-discovery) is something I feel pretty strongly about. Of course, it helps that the field I’m in relies a lot on shared testing, discovery and shared knowledge.
2.) Every American school should teach code
Learn about a new “superpower” that isn’t being taught in in 90% of US schools.
Starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi.
3.) Every American school should actually TEACH
The first video inspired me, both in terms of how I should keep pushing myself to learn more, but also about how I should not hesitate to introduce my nephews to advanced knowledge they aren’t receiving in school.
Personally, I first learned how to write in BASIC when I came home from a summer spent at my Grandma’s house to find out that my family had gotten a Commodore 64. If I wanted to play any games on the computer, I had to practice my coding until my parents were satisfied. It wasn’t too long until I realized that if I spent my practice time actually working on code for simple games, I would enjoy the time a lot more, and sort of felt like I was pulling one over on my folks. Also, ASCII art FTW.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think everyone needs to know how to code by today’s standards, but I clearly see the value behind the type of thinking, process-coordination and methodologies which are natural by-products of coding well. Once upon a time nobody thought Algebra needed to be included in education, and we’ve clearly crossed this bridge. Now we can bridge the gap between math and language through a process we’ve founded so much of our economy on, so why not?
The second video reminds me of how disappointed I was once I got to High School & College, where even the “advanced” or “gifted” programs were a sham, and how disenfranchised some educators are. From my perspective, the issue isn’t entirely the emphasis on standardized testing, but rather the system that has done the same thing to teachers that it does to accountants and clerks and office-workers everywhere; when the expectations are so strictly communicated, where is the incentive to innovate? Of course, I had some great teachers who proved that the required curriculum could be covered quickly and we could move onto the stuff we really wanted to learn, the topics the teacher was happy to engage us on. Surely there are ways we can encourage that sort of behavior if we ever want to do more than hand out packets and expect our students to learn from a checklist.
4.) Along the same lines, this was a big week for the discussion of immigration reform, especially when it comes to visa for tech workers. Instead of devolving to an argument about America versus the rest of the world, I think Jeff Bussgang’s testimony before Congress does a great job of keeping a human face on the issue. For us to remain “the land of opportunity”, we need to fight the urge to turn insular and do what’s put us at the fore-front of innovation for over a century, embrace the great wide-open future and go for it.
5.) Rand’s blog on choosing how we experience the world, another great and honest read. This piece resonated with me all day and helped me reconcile some thoughts. I’ve been having an internal struggle regarding how I perceive some of my colleagues, the impact each of us has on the work we do, and planning for the future (both my own and the team I work on). In the end, it’s far less fruitful for me to focus on the inter-personal things that may be challenging me when I could put that same energy to use coming up with new and better projects and leaving behind those who would drag me down.
Perhaps our perceptions about the monotonous, frustrating, angering parts of our days aren’t always the ones we want to have, and perhaps, with a little effort, we can change them.
6.) and nothing proves that point more than this: http://youtu.be/9NjKgV65fpo
Posted: May 5th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Whoever said “water is the elixir of life” was clearly mistaken. Put plainly, water is coffee’s chauffeur.
Don’t get me wrong, water is a great way of conveying coffee beans directly into my blood stream. It’s a solid team player in that regard, for sure.
But if beverages are the ’95 Bulls, water is just Steve Kerr to coffee’s Jordan. Play your role, but know that the fans showed up for the main attraction; sweet, sweet caffeine.
By now you’re probably thinking:
1.) Damn, he’s right
2.) Is this guy following the title at all?
Kudos for being observant on both accounts above; you’re right, I should get back to the agenda here.
Coffee fuels me to Get Things Done
Nothing shakes off the lethargy of the morning like that first cup. This isn’t news to anyone, I hope. (Actually, if this is news to you, de nada. Welcome to the rest of your life.)
Even living in the desert as I do, starting a morning without a hot cup of coffee is just a passive way of asking for the hazy feeling of first waking up to stick around a little while longer. Great for a sweat-pants-on-the-couch day, not so good the other six days a week when you’ve got to get up and go.
Personally, I may have ritualized it, but coffee is really the uniting factor that ties the rest of my morning together. By the time I’m done with my first cup, I should have already gone through all my email, read my first round of news & blogs, figured out an action plan, and jotted down at least one or two new project ideas. If I pair coffee with a cross-word puzzle, I can kick-start my mental vocabulary and find myself thoroughly prepared for whatever is going to be thrown at me.
Coffee keeps me thinking of that “one more thing”
Some people my call it antsy or jittery, I like to think of it as sort of a pinball energy, ricocheting off one topic and on to the next. For a guy who’s (whose?) brain is most comfortable when doing multiple things at the same time, this is a very welcome state.
I hear that some folks like to meditate for clarity, others like to run through picturesque landscapes and “be at one with nature”; for me it’s all about coffee and a walk through the urban core. Something about the ability to discover a new place, a new piece of street art, or even a new appreciation to for the architecture we usually pass by each day, it brings about a calming effect that allows my subconscious to draw connections that end up leading to my next best idea.
Think about those times when you’ve been sitting at your desk, working through a particularly troublesome project, or any other mental block. Add 12 to 48 ounces of arabica and you could be inventing the next iAnything instead. Sometimes it may seem that coffee is the enemy of focus and “attention to detail” but the same can be said of inspiration, and nobody ever speaks out against that.
Coffee shops make me more productive than being at home
As I write this, I’m comfortably sitting at one of my favorite coffee & breakfast spots. Without discussing the particular benefits provided by having a vibrant 3rd place to work at, the setting certainly provides a boost to my ability to Get Things Done. I imagine it’s the helpful level of ambient noise that both breaks the silence and is easily ignored, something that I struggle with when working at home and having the puppy & television both vying for my attention.
Of course, coffee shops are often like a microcosm unto themselves, so your mileage may vary until you find the space that’s just right for you. Whether it’s post-industrial kitsch, open & airy ambiance, or a dark cave that looks like an abandoned class room jammed behind a bodega, the act of being away from the home adds some extra ooomph to my mental jet engine and contributes it’s own specific kind of focus.
A mug of delicious, velvety wake-up-and-go, some kind of pastry, and my laptop; that’s the recipe for successfully translating whatever is banging around my head into a mass of letters and wit just in time for me to press publish before I have to jet back to the real world.
Posted: May 4th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
The cross-section of what I find amazing, interesting, absurdly funny or just plain discussion-worthy this week.
Ed note: I haven’t really done link packs on this blog before, but I figured instead of giving you a series of short posts, why not combine them all into something easy to navigate, or easy to skip if you’re in a rush to get back to my usual posts about comic books, dogs, menswear and marketing. (list accidentally alphabetic)
Gadzooks enchiladas are legit
1.) Starting off on a local note, it is Cinco de Mayo weekend here in the Southwest. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds at the typically places, I recommend starting your festivities off at Gadzooks, the new enchilada hot-spot in midtown. (Normally I wouldn’t link to Yelp, but Gadzooks’ site is still a little raw and I couldn’t find a Google places listing for them.)
2.) Content Strategy guru Kristina Halverson did an AMA (ask me anything) over on Inbound.org this week. You may have noticed that I’ve had her book on my “currently reading” widget since the fall, because everytime I start to read it, I get a new idea and want to act on it before I do anything else.
3.) Problogger is one of those sites I keep in my rss subscriptions, but rarely appreciate because of some of the poorly examined SEO advice they’ve given to bloggers in the past. This week, however, Darren posted a pair of updates that aggregated tips from some of my favorites (such as Rand Fishkin, Tina Roth & Neil Patel) on their daily writing routine.
True story, I borrowed tips from both of the above posts when I started writing today. I decided that I would only allot two hours to writing today, and whatever I finished during that timeframe was either going to be good enough to publish or not.
4.) Days App Launch. I’m curious to see how this one plays out. When Path first debuted, I was a big fan and tried to get some of my more visual friends onboard with that app. As we know in the end Path turned out to be a monument to Path; it was a great app that was better at showing off how good the app was than at replacing all the sources that fed it. I have an inkling that Days may end up being the same if the “instagram with gifs” angle doesn’t take off.
5.) Katie Couric, do you even know how lost you are? I actually really used to like Katie on the Today Show, but this week’s scare-mongering against video games is just shameful for someone who used to be an actual journalist. Welcome to your Maury moment, I guess, Katie. I’m glad Kotaku put some weight behind the response.
6.) Korean SNL. I didn’t even know this existed, but man did it tank my between-meetings productivity Friday afternoon. Of course, put Hyuna in front of a camera and I’d be hard-pressed not to watch, but that’s besides the point. I shared this with a few of the teammates at work, and the first response was “man, why is this so entertaining”. Kudos Korean for doing what Japan tried for years, giving us highly engaging comedy in a language we don’t even speak but will watch anyways. Not since Telemundo have I been so enthralled.
7.) Free Comic Book Day. Go, get out there. Support your local shop. These places are great community resources and as much as I love comixology app, we can’t abandon the brick-and-motor that fostered our nerd community all those decades before the internet made us triumphant.
Plus, you know, you do whatever Wolverine tells you to do, right?
Test Matt Dexter Site Search
Posted: March 25th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
One year ago today I lost every shred of common sense I had, and agreed with the girlfriend that we should get a dog. Perhaps I just didn’t want to be the stick-in-the-mud anymore, or perhaps I’ve always wanted a dog and just decided to throw caution to the wind; either way we ended up saving a life that day, and forever impacting the course of our lives in the process.
To be clear, I have always been a dog person. My first dog was a black terrier of some sort, maybe a Scottie, that we got when I was in kindergarten. Much to my parent’s chagrin, I named the dog “Pups” and we were fast friends. As I grew up we had other dogs; a shar-pei/pit-bull mix and later a pound puppy that I was convinced was a grey hound/dingo mix.
These dogs were incredibly loyal and terrific companions for my siblings and I, and each one of them came from a family friend or from the pound.
When I moved out of my parent’s house, I adopted what I was told was a chow-mix from the pound. To my grateful surprise, he turned out to be a German Shepard/ Rhodesian Ridgeback mix; an incredibly bright and dedicated dog who was probably the best thing from that time in my life.
Fast forward to 2012 and I’ve been living in Downtown Phoenix dog-free for ~7 years. Four of those years I lived in a ground-floor apartment with a view of Portland Park and saw dozens & dozens of neighbors walk by day and night with their dogs. I’d come home after work and there would be a congregation of dog-owners hanging out in the park, humans and canines each socializing in this common need.
Talk about an impetus for propinquity, how many meetings and talks have I been to where the topic of how to increase pedestrian traffic and urban density comes up, and here puppies were the answer all along!
Truthfully, to live in the Roosevelt, three things are required:
- a bike
- a love of coffee
- a dog
So, despite my logical arguments that my lifestyle didn’t really support the level of responsibility that dog ownership requires, the allure of that special kind of unconditional love and companionship was too much, and with that, we were off on a tour of local shelters to find a new member of our family.
The Quest for The Pup
The first place we went to was the Humane Society. As a no-kill shelter, I have always held the Humane Society in high esteem. With two sizable campuses in Phoenix, this organization is doing great work to help man’s best friend. Unfortunately, when we visited, both locations were packed with 95% pitbulls and chihuahuas; neither of which matched our idea of the kind of dog we wanted. (I also had to be reminded to not read the bios attached to the cage, as I had an aptitude to become quickly sympathetic to the downtrodden and abandoned dogs.)
After that, the next place to turn was the Maricopa County Animal Care Center, otherwise known as “the pound”. MCACC is the second largest animal shelter in the country, taking in over 200 pets everyday. Sadly, they are not a no-kill shelter and, per their 2010 statistics, nearly half of the animals they accept have to be euthanized. Knowing this before we went in, and having adopted my previous dog from there, I forewarned my girlfriend that this was a pretty sad place and that setting foot in there would skyrocket my urge to take home a dog.
To my surprise, the quality of environment had drastically improved from the facility I visited in 2001, and it now looked more like the Humane Society campus and much less like the canine concentration camp I’d been to before. Regardless, we understood the reality that every dog in this place was here before they were abandoned or surrendered and each of them needed a loving “forever home” to accept them.
Luckily, this time, amidst all the pitbulls and chihuahuas, we saw one bin full of puppies, and asked the volunteer to let us check out one that was particularly tiny with wiry fur and a big head. Maybe it was the awkward way he walked and reluctantly explored the small cement cell we were sat in, maybe it was the look in his eyes when I picked up his frail body and checked him out, maybe it was just how tightly he clung to us immediately, either way, it only took me a couple minutes sitting on the floor with him for me to declare that I was “100 percent” in favor of rescuing this dog and bringing him into our lives.
Rescuing a dog; rewarding ourselves
In the 365 days since we rescued our dog, our lives certainly have changed quite a bit. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few additional stresses.
- Coming home from work at lunch to let the puppy out when he was too young to hold it the entire day,
- Waking up far earlier than I was used to because the dog gets up with the sun,
- And, of course, the exercise in zen/patience that is house-training a puppy
If my biggest hardship of the day is having to come home and play with a puppy during my lunch break, I really need to take a look at myself. In truth, these adjustments seem small in hindsight, especially when weighed against the balance of the benefits he has brought into our lives.
- A constant companion,
- Endless source of entertainment,
- An ongoing project with immediately feedback (you don’t know conversion-testing until you’ve tried training a dog to give you a high-five!)
- Someone who is always eager to welcome you home, even if you just left 2 minutes ago to take out the trash,
- An expert in zombie detection,
- That kind of unconditional love that you can’t find anywhere else
As implied above, dog-ownership has also brought me closer to my community. The only neighbors I know are all dog-owners; before that, I had no clue who any of the hundreds of people in my building were. I’ve enjoyed the parks in my city before, but whereas I would visit annually before, it has turned into weekly or semi-weekly trips now. Add to this the countless laps around the block and occasional expeditions through the surrounding neighborhood, and it’s plain to see that the puppy brought me out to experience the city I love.
While I know dog ownership is not a good fit for everyone, I whole-heartedly recommend adopting a rescue dog to anyone who is interested.
After all, rescuing a dog was one of the best decisions Ned Stark ever made. You should try it.
Happy Homecoming Day, Dewey Decimal. I am glad we are your forever home.
Posted: March 9th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Deadlines Can’t Touch Me
This week I learned a thing or two about deadlines.
Admittedly, my typical experience with deadlines went like this:
- Receive Assignment
- Procrastinate and do whatever I want
- Begin work on task ~10 minutes before it’s due
- Cruise on to greatness
I’d like to say that this laissez-faire (lazy-fair?) approach to time management started early in my childhood, when I realized that homework didn’t really need to be done at-home, as it was usually so simple I could finish it during the downtime in class. When you learn this in the 2nd or 3rd grade, you develop a sort of pragmaticism that says “why not play video games all night and just do my homework during attendance”.
This is a habit that I carried into my adult life and typically have rationalized it as “I will work on whatever is inspiring me the most right now”. I still hold that this approach has led to some of the best ideas, discoveries and improvements I’ve come up with throughout my professional life. Reminds me of Tesla from Atomic Robo having tea while his brain solved problems of the universe on it’s own.
Deadlines OP; nerf Deadlines
Regardless, as I was saying, this week I had a new experience with deadlines on my team, not just myself. Wednesday night we learned that we had half a day to work on a surprise presentation recapping a year’s worth of accomplishments. Boy of boy, there is nothing quite as privately humorous as the frantic flailing of colleagues who are not used to copy-writing or giving presentations trying to L2PowerPoint. Needless to say, we huddled up, cranked the hustle-o-tron to 11, and accomplished what we needed with entire minutes to spare.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some deadline resources to help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
(To be clear, these aren’t tips on how to meet a deadline in an organized fashion; this is purely for the “holy cow, let’s hammer this out like all-stars” last minute variety.)
1.) Keurig & Latte K-Cups – Honestly, ever last-minute work effort is predicated on appropriate doses of caffienne administered at consistent intervals. The chart on coffee-to-productivity looks a lot like the Vickie Mendoza diagonal. When you’re down to the wire, you can’t really take time to get a proper latte or americano from a local coffee shop, or even send the interns out on what should be their primary errand; we’ve got work to do. Therefore, the Keurig machine is responsible for at least a 15-30% increase in deadline productivity. If you get the K-Cups that come with their own creamer included, you shave off a few more seconds and prevent the inevitable clean-up when someone (probably Susan ._.) forgets to close the creamer and the next party shakes it all over the place.
2.) Collaboration Software – If we were better planners, we probably should have used a good collaboration software solution, such as Trello or even TFS. Instead we ended up saving working copies of the presentation locally, then throwing them all into a folder on the network drive and running back and forth between work areas to let each other know that a new copy had been saved. We win at organization, I tell ya!
3.) Headphones – On a typical “I MUST be productive” day, I have my skull candy earbuds in and fire-up the “coding soundtrack” or “indie while you work” rooms on turntable.fm. When I’m up against a deadline, though, nothing beats classical music. Maybe it’s a confirmation-bias thing stemming from reading studies about how classical music helps you perform better, but one of the best investments I’ve made in the last year has to be getting The 100 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music album from itunes. Paired with some comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones, this combo has to give you at least +15 to Get Things Done.
4.) Data access and Excel – When you’re under the gun, there’s no time for amazing infographics or fancy data visualizations, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still make the data shine. Jump through the data you have available, even the stuff you never thought to explore, and grab a few conversation-starting granules. Everyone in business expects charts that are up-and-to-the-right, but the big win happens when you show them “Hey, remember that thing you were resistant to but we pushed you to do anyways? Yeah, you’re welcome for the 30% increase in highly-qualified traffic. GG designers (mic drop & exit)”. On a related note, only pivot-table when you must pivot-table. Bloated files are not anyone’s friend, especially when you can’t control the presentation environment.
5.) A dedicated team – This one probably goes without saying, but that doesn’t mean it should go without recognizing. When it’s time to drop everything and pull together, you need a team that’s ready to join you in the trenches. A proper ninja squadron will be ready to fire up at a moment’s notice and stay will the job is done and presented. After-all, you can’t get the celebratory beers if you’re sticking to banker’s hours.
With these five things in play, you and your team can form up like Captain Planet and put together a crazy good presentation that makes other departments look like inept fools. Just hope you’re not the goofy kid with the heart ring; that monkey was really the only redeeming thing about his character.
Bonus Item: Time Machine – Clearly if you have one of these, you probably should not have to read posts on meeting last-minute deadlines, but hey, maybe you’re too busy not saving Pompeii. I’m not here to judge. Just fire up your time-space continuum distorting device of choice and leave yourself a note on whatever day you were exceptionally bored a few months ago. You’ll be surprised how effective having a casual outline that you can fill in as you go can be.
Posted: March 3rd, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Dreams are sneaky.
Subconscious (Photo credit: kevin dooley)
Created deep within the unresolved issues of your own mind (or planted there by snow ninjas, including the girl from Juno), these nocturnal adventures can occasionally cause you to wake up in a cold sweat, or at least awaken to scratching your head and trying to figure out why you were just chasing after a giant cheese wheel being driven by Ben Franklin.
Given today’s random topic, here’s a quick list of 9 things that won’t happen in my dreams.
1.) Losing a sword fight
I have never once lost a sword fight in my dreams. I have done a fair share of running away, more-so since I started watching Dr. Who. I blame David Tennant, really. Regardless, I cannot recall a time when I was defeated.
2.) Winning the lottery
Even my subconscious mind knows that success comes from hard work and intuition, not luck. Either that or the times I do dream about being wealthy and successful are not times I was concerned about exploring my own back-story.
Probably same as above. Damn you, subconscious!!
4.) That thing where you can’t read because all the text is gibberish
When I was a kid I used to watch Batman everyday after school. I remember in Perchance to Dream, Bruce Wayne couldn’t read the
Batman: Child of Dreams
newspaper, allegedly because you cannot read in your dreams. I took this for the truth, of course, and was greatly astounded when I was able to do something Batman cannot. Pow!
5.) Star Shock
Speaking of the Doctor, what’s the fun of going on an adventure if you’re going it alone? Quite often I’ll find myself hanging out with or doing work alongside some of the greatest personas in history, and yet never have I been too very impressed by who I met. I suppose it’s my mind and if they’re knocking about in there, no reason to be too bothered.
6.) The Trial Scene from Law & Order
Fighting crime is one of the recurring tropes in my dreams, yet as often as I track down evidence, chase a suspect through the streets and/or have it all culminate in a dashing sword fight, never does it move beyond that and into the classic Dick Wolf-esque trial scene at the end of a good Law & Order episode.
7.) Wearing pants at work
I know that the typical diagnosis of this trope is to say that you feel unprepared for something. I don’t really know what the reason could be, but I do know what I’ve had plenty of dreams when I suddenly found myself sans pants and stuck at work. Usually it’s a scenario where nobody else has noticed and I have an opportunity to sneak out, if only I can get down all 8 floors and out the door..and right onto a high-visibility block on a busy street… Why are there no pants when you really need them?!
8.)Writing down my own dreams
In my dreams, I have never had one of those handy steno pads next to my bed where I could write down what happened. I could be getting Inception‘d all the time and have no written record of it.
9.) Never bother finishing lists…
Posted: March 2nd, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
I love Data.
Me and Data go way back to a fling we had in college that got pretty serious before I backed out and chose to spend several years cuddling up to “community” and helping people not numbers.
But that flame never really died, and you know how it is, when that certain song comes on the radio and immediately transports you back to that place and time. Then, without even trying, you right back in the mood to crunch some data and make some solid business decisions. Oh man, that’s crazy when that happens.
Below are just a few ways you can examine the data you may already have, and pivot it into appealing or intriguing content for your audience.
- Segmentation by country
- Segmentation by day/hour
- Social Platform: Twitter vs FaceSpace vs Google+
- OS: Mac vs PC
- Mobile Device: iPhone vs Droid vs Blackberry*
- Device Type: Desktop vs Mobile
- Loyalty: Returning visitor vs New visitors
- Successful Marketing: Organic and Paid vs Direct and Referral
- Loyalty (Part 2): Branded traffic vs non-Branded traffic
- Attention Span & Intent: Time on Site displayed by Day & Hour
- Attention Span & Intent (The Sequel): Pages per Visit by Traffic Source
- Appeal: Conversion Rate by Type/Content of Message
Right off the bat, I have to say that a number of these ideas were greatly informed by Lexi Mills presentation at SearchLove last fall; thanks Lexi.
The core of the thing is to take a unique look at how you can split the data you or your site is already gathering and use it to launch some interesting conversations about human behavior and ultimately lead to a favorable impression of whatever you’re trying to promote.
Oh, did you notice that the title says “20 Ideas you can Steal from Data” and the list above is only 12 items long? Did you also notice that the D in Data is capitalized? Can’t sneak anything past you!
Alright, here’s a quick homage to Brent Spiner‘s classic portrayal from the 24th century:
- Apparently Androids can still have offspring, so don’t be afraid to throw convention on it’s ear from time to time.
- Having a clone helps. Remember when Data died at the end of that movie, and then a few moments later his heroic death was instantly ruined by the presentation of an exact clone already pre-loaded with Data’s memories…
- …actually, sometimes having a clone totally ruins your heroic sacrifice because all your friends will just accept the clone and give it credit for your heroism.
- Hawking trumps Einstein & Newton, at poker at least.
- Even robots can be unique. Just because something is automated doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting and revolutionary
- Evil twins really just don’t stop
- Androids like cats. Yet another reason to be a dog person.
- Having your own action figure doesn’t have to go to your head. Although it could be used as good reason to have a robot dance-off!
C-3PO vs. Data (Photo credit: JD Hancock)
Posted: February 28th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Note: This is the first post in my 30-day challenge to write about random topics using the Portent Content Idea Generator. The goal is that through this exercise I should become more efficient at learning/researching different topics and get back in the swing of writing regularly. With that said, on to today’s topic…
I’ll admit that I opted to start today in a hopeful note. Delving into this brave new world of randomized topics, I figured I’d serve myself up a softball and start with a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: sandwiches.
A good sandwich is like a good friend, and then some.
- Quickly accessible
- Can take them nearly anywhere
- As simple or as complex as you want them to be
- They don’t tend to ask you to change who you are or improve yourself
- They just really “get” you
3 1/2 sandwiches? Yup, that means 1/2 didn’t even last long enough to photo.
These are facts I already had when I started the day, so let’s see what Twitter could teach me.
Sandwiches > Tweetdeck
To set out on this, I thought I’d use Tweetdeck to set-up a query for “sandwiches” and see what came up. I figured I’d let it run for a while, then check back towards the end of the day and see what wisdom it had gleaned, that way I could open up a select few and embed the tweets here.
Should have been a solid win, right?
Very quickly I realized, however, that the stream of incoming tweets was just too intense for this tool to work well, and I’d be scrolling and scrolling and scrolling until carpal tunnel finally claimed me a young age.
What I needed here was some kind of aggregator.
Sandwich Tweets by Hour
A quick examination of the chart below shows that, despite including all global, english-language tweets, the data set for sandwich mentions is heavily influenced by the West Coast lunch crowd.
Largely unscientific data obtained from running Archivist and letting it grab all mentions of “sandwiches” today.
So, if you’re looking to get ahead of the curve on your sandwich marketing, maybe start launching these things in that lull around 11am MST. Also, maybe send me a free sample, because sandwiches are delicious.
Life is about making difficult…sandwiches
But, Ryan, what were people actually saying about sandwiches?
Good question. Tossing all those tweets from Archivist into a quick & dirty text analyser, it’s pretty clear that Michael Bluth rules the tweetdom:
Go ahead and put that up next to your mirror for some inspiration.
Actually, I’ve never been an Arrested Development fan, but a lot of folks on twitter are, as evidenced by the data.
Aside from showing what happens when you use a hasty analyzer, it’s pretty clear that on a random day, lots of folks are still keeping the Bluth hope alive.
Academically speaking, the type of sandwich that was most mentioned was the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie.
What in the actual hell?!
The last thing I thought I’d do was use Followerwonk’s bio search to see who were considered to be influential in this tasty realm. Boy was I surprised. Turns out, there’s a lot of people at the top of the social authority ranks with bios that include “shut up and make me a sandwich”.
These people must be amazingly influential if they manage to get their followers to not only make a sandwich, but also deliver it to them. I’ve been trying to get my Phoenix followers to bring me a coffee for 3+ years now, much less a sandwich.
I also spotted a couple more things here:
- This is February, aka Febru-ANY, and Jared is nowhere near the top of the list for sandwich influencers
- Also where’s Michael Strahan or Apollo Ono. Are you really telling me Apollo Ono has more important things to do in a non-Olympic year?
- 4 of the top 8 accounts somehow incorporate One Direction. Does this mean sandwich thought leaders have dropped Bieber?
- Scrolling beyond the top 8, I see more and more One Direction references…. oh my god… could it be?
After reviewing the startling data, it’s becoming clear to me how mistaken I was. Sandwiches aren’t meant for me. I’m not the key sandwich demographic anymore….
Twitter taught me that sandwiches are for teeny-boppers.
Posted: February 27th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
As I mentioned recently, I’ve been mulling over a few ideas for my next self-imposed 30-Day Challenge. A couple of the ideas I considered (and may still do in the future, but you’re more than welcome to steal the idea) include:
- Splitting up my workday/time between home and the office a la Rand’s three-workdays-in-one strategy
- Trying out this whole “8 hours of sleep” thing that people keep mentioning
- Cutting out all video games and entertainment media other than reading
With Game of Thrones and Dr. Who starting back up in the next month, that last one would have been just dumb.
Then, as I was biding my time, the high-level wizards over at Portent launched a snazzy new tool: Content/Title Generator.
To be fair, this sort of tool has existed before. Whether it was a linkbait tool or a list of article types, there have been methods in place to help people breathe new life into topics that they have covered before, or just flat-out “boring” topics.
Side note: I sat in on a table-topic at a conference that was specifically about content for boring industries and heard from a pair of guys who were tasked with writing about machinery used in oil rigs. Not the rigs themselves, the cogs and beams and bolts that went into them. Feel a little sorry for those guys; at least my industry can tap into the aspirational nature of moving.
The neat thing about the Portent tool is the added text it gives with each title it conjures up. (In hindsight, wouldn’t Content Conjurer have been a more catchy title? “I summon thee forth, foul headline!”) It’s one thing to replace the noun/verb in an existing headline and spin it for linkbait, but the simple notes scribbled in the margins on this tool almost write your outline for you.
So here we have it, folks. On top of the projects I mentioned on Sunday, I’m going to commit myself to 30 days of writing while incorporating the content generator to keep my on my toes.
I’ll take a random word each day, throw it into the Content Generator, and then write a post to match the assigned title. I think this will push me to write better, more engaging material, and will make me learn to research and formulate opinions faster so that I can keep up each day.
Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face like a poorly-cast Incendiary Slime.
Posted: February 24th, 2013 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
It’s been a month since my last update, holy cow! Despite the unintentional (though entirely forgiveable, right?) gap in coverage, rest assured I’ve been working on a few projects that I think will be great fun moving forward
New Food Blog
While I’m not yet ready to publicize the site yet, we’ve gotten a good share of the back-end stuff ready for launch and are working on
Gratuitous snack food image. Please don’t think I spent ALL my time eating these.
content for a local dining blog. I’d like to say that this new site is a product of my previous local dining challenge, but really this idea has been kicking around for nearly two years.
While I continue to contribute to the long-running gaming podcast I helped start in 2010, episodes are become less-regular since last summer, and I still have the itch to record. Recently I reached out to my friend Ray and launched a 10-minute podcast that’s aimed at reaching our audience multiple times a week and giving them just enough content to enjoy on their way to work/school.
This project has been a lot of fun, and has provided me with a number of learning opportunities, especially given how many things have changed in both WordPress and iTunes set-up since my last podcast launched nearly 3 years ago. (“I don’t have to write my own RSS feed by hand and pass through feedburner anymore?”)
Teaching myself outreach
Right now I’m about half-way through Paddy Moogan’s book The Link Building Book, and within the first few pages I got inspired to teach myself how to do proper outreach for link building. Actually doing outreach is something I’ve had internal struggles over for quite a while, going back to when I first pitched Taz to let me write for Blooming Rock. It’s about time I got organized and wrote down the lessons I learn as I go through this. Plus, with two new sites coming out, what better time to work on getting some links and building good relationships?
When I feel like I’m ready to summarize what I’ve learned, I’ll be sure to let you guys know. I may actually get “meta” about link-building and shop the summary as a guest post, or hopefully convince my boss to let us launch the inbound marketing blog I proposed a few months ago.
How am I doing on those goals I set out?
every day I’m not gaming twice a week for 5 weeks straight.
- Devise and complete at least 3 30-day challenges this year.
I’ve got an idea in the works to combine both of these; I’ll write more about that tomorrow.
- Either launch or put to bed the local dining blog I’ve been talking about for the last few years.
Think we’ve covered that.
- Build a sense of mind-share by leaving a comment on at least one of the blogs I read each day.
I’m not sure there’s a measurable metric for this, but I’ve been making sure to post a comment anytime I forward a link on to my friends or colleagues. This seems like a good way to make sure I’m not commenting for comments’ sake and trying sincere with my interactions.
- Finish the books I started in 2011 or 2012. This leaves Game of Thrones, Content Marketing for the Web, Boneshaker, and a few other SEO books I’ve forgetten the titles of.
As mentioned above, I’ve been drawn into The Link Building Book lately. Combine that with more industry blog reading and an upcoming guest post that required reading comic books as research (such a tough job), I’ve had to push this one off a bit. Plus I’ve come to realize that I’ll never read Song of Ice & Fire fast enough to catch up to the TV show, so that’s a bit less of an impetus.
Not Yet Addressed:
- Travel to at least three different places before next New Year.
- Write at least one guest blog each month.
- Apply for school so I can finish my degree.
Always more to do….