November 29, 2007

Elf Yourself!

Magda just couldn't help herself once she saw the Heimbuchs' version. Click the picture of us to watch the video! Even Mom & Gary got in on this Elf action!

November 27, 2007

Starting to Get Noticed!

The internet is amazing. Little ol' me sets up this here blog and starts using Twitter, and the next thing I know, a web start-up and presidential candidate (okay his campaign staff) discover me! How cool is that?

Earlier today, Debi from added a comment to one of my blog postings thanking me for my review of their product. Review? I don't work for a magazine or major media outlet--not even a major web site! But, ya, I guess it was a review, and today's web (the one that encourages more people than ever to publish their thoughts online) can be very influential. I know I don't buy things on Amazon without first reading user reviews to learn what everyday people think of a it. Many, many people value such real-world accounts of how well a product works. So, you're welcome, Debi. Glad I could review Gliffy and publish my opinions about your product for the world to see. Do you think Audi or Mercedes might send me a sample of their product to review for my next posting?

This afternoon, I watched presidential candidate Joe Biden speak as part of the UNI Presidential Candidate Forum on education policy (hosted by Ed in '08, BTW). Just after the event, I sent an update to Twitter describing how much I'd liked what I heard. An hour later, I get an email telling me that Joe Biden is now following me on Twitter! Wow, that's two presidential candidates now following me on Twitter!

I'd like to think that all of this is about me. My heart tells me that's so, but my mind says it's probably more likely the result of things such as Twitter Tracking and link checking. However it happens, the point is that it happens. The internet and Web 2.0 are creating amazing opportunities to find each other, communicate and collaborate with one another and discover infinite amounts of information. Amazing, huh?

November 25, 2007

Wish List and Free Stuff Online

I just added my Amazon wish list alongside my blog. I use my wish list year-round to keep track of good deals, things I'm considering buying, or stuff I'll buy once I finally win the lottery. This widget is a great way to share my list with family and friends for the holidays.

Amazon provides free buttons and widgets for sharing your lists on your own web sites. Once you create an Amazon wish list (you can create more than one list, by the way), then look for the button that says "Tell people about this list". A pop-up window will provide a unique URL and the HTML to copy and paste buttons or widgets onto your own web pages.

Looking for free stuff online? Check out Business Week's guide to 101 Best Web Freebies. There's a related article to read, but it's more fun just exploring the free programs, services and offers they've found. Browse by category by clicking on the pictures along the bottom of the page.

November 22, 2007

OLPC Give One Get One Program Extended

According to today, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Give One Get One program has been extended until Dec 31. While the official web site still indicates that the program is only available until Nov 26, the OLPC News site seems to verify the extended expiration date for people in the US and Canada to purchase one of these innovative laptops for themselves while simultaneously gifting a laptop to a child in a developing country. The cost is $399 with $200 being tax deductible as a charitable donation.

November 19, 2007

Back to Wally's

We're having a great time in Chicago & stocking up on Polish food at Wally's Market. Going downtown tonight to see the Christmas lights on Michigan Avenue. We missed the Christmas Parade Sat night, but we set a record for the longest drive to Chicago. Oh well, the Christmas music in the car made the time pass nicely. Check-out the awesome fuel mileage too--this was the average MPG of our diesel Jetta between home and Chicago!

November 17, 2007

Fast Food, Fast Info

Just saw this sign at the McDonalds outside Rockford, IL. Great--one more thing to slow down the drive-thru lane!

Look how Papa John's Pizza is capitalizing on the growing use of text messaging. I received this advertisement via email (click the picture to view a larger image). You can find the nearest Papa John's location by texting a zip code to 4PAPA, and you can save up to 4 pizza orders on their web site for placing future orders via text messaging.

If that doesn't satisfy your hunger, try using Google SMS or GOOG-411 (800-466-4411) or Free 411 (800-373-3411) to search for local restaurants or other businesses.

November 4, 2007

Lucy Talks Again

Check out Lucy's site for some new pictures.

Mr. Facebook, Tear Down This Wall

Everyone's heard of MySpace and FaceBook--what about Bebo, Orkut, Friendster, LinkedIn, or Ning? There are dozens of social networking sites, each with their own user base and virtual walls separating their users from "socializing" with members of other networks. In fact, many people maintain redundant accounts and profiles in more than one social network, because not everyone in their social network uses the same platform. Well, Google hopes to change this (for reasons more selfish than mentioned here) by making its own social network, Orkut, compatible with an open set of web standards and encouraging others to do the same.

The OpenSocial project aims to allow any web site to embed social networking within their site--creating a layer of social networking throughout the web to be used as a portable resource. It's rather like those Verizon commercials--you know, the ones showing "the network" represented as a mass of people and vehicles following one customer. Well, that's the idea--imagine the potential benefit (and potential harm) of being able to access your network of friends (and their friends) when searching for information, considering a purchase, making important life decisions, studying, etc. They would just follow you--you wouldn't have to seek them out (i.e. login to your MySpace).

We're not quite there yet, but so far this OpenSocial initiative has garnered commitments from all of the aforementioned networks, EXCEPT Facebook. Notably, both MySpace (number 1 social networking site in the U.S.) and Bebo (number 1 in the U.K.) have already joined the OpenSocial project.