Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

10 great Facebook apps

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

My latest article is up now on The Industry Standard10 cool Facebook apps that you’ve probably never heard of – but should. The article is a profile of some Facebook applications that aren’t in the list of the top 50 most popular applications – some aren’t even in the top 20,000! But they are cool apps, and ones that are worth a look. (Thanks to @fuzzy76 for the tip about Web Presence.)

This article was really fun to write. I can see why someone would want to write for a gaming magazine! Testing games all day was a delight – especially when I can call it “work” instead of “procrastination.” While all of the applications that I reviewed in the article were really good, there were two that stood out as my favorites: Traveler IQ Challenge and Who Has The Biggest Brain? 

Let me be clear – neither of these were favorites because I was any good at them. They were just both really fun to play.

As part of the testing experience, I also came away with two show-and-tell items.

The first is a pencil-sketch drawing of my Facebook profile picture, courtesy of an application called Sketch Me. Here is the before and after:

Melissa Chang Profile Picture Facebook sketch

Second is a cartoon I created with a really cool application called Pixton Comics. I don’t think that this app can really be called a Facebook application, but it is pretty fun nonetheless. (The comic is based on a real-life conversation documented here.) Be kind, this was my first-ever comic!

Irish 1
Irish 2
Irish 3

Tomorrow I’ll be posting an article on the top 10 tips for developing a killer Facebook app. Subscribe here or here to make sure you don’t miss it!

Google doodles winner

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I posted this article last week about the Doodle 4 Google contest, and today is the day that the winner appears on the www.google.com home page. Congratulations to Grace Moon, a 6th grader from California, whose vision of a world that’s “clean and fresh” where “people are social and enlightened” won first prize.

Google Doodle winner 2

Google doodles

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

This is fun. Looks like Google is holding a contest for kids in K-12 grades called Doodle 4 Google. According to the official Google page about the contest:

Doodle 4 Google is a competition where we invite K-12 students to reinvent Google’s homepage logo. This year we asked U.S. kids to doodle around the theme “What if…?”

You can see the 40 finalists on the Google 4 Doodle page, they are grouped in four different age groups. I’ve included my favorite from each group below, but they are all outstanding, go take a look and vote when you’re at it. The winner will replace the Google logo on the homepage on May 22.

What if…?

Grades K-3

Fish swollowed google

What if a fish swallowed a Google? He might oogle, zoogle, or boogle. He might get full before the gle and eat only the Goo. Poogle! The Goo comes out. And the fish goes swimming about.

Grades 4-6

Space Google

For my “what if” question, I thought and thought and the idea that kept coming into my head was, what if we could explore all of space. I mean if you think about it, we do not know that much about the universe that we live in. (This idea is especially relevant today, with this announcement pending at 1pm EST.)

Grades 7-9

 Escher Google

What if M.C. Escher and his perspective of unreal possibilities became a mascot for Google. He took our understanding of the world around us and re-examined it using his own personal lens. He helps us see possibilities before we could imagine them. Isn’t that what Google does today by fostering our own ability to invent and share new ideas?

Grades 10-12

Wisdom Google

What if… What if wisdom and power were at your fingertips. You just might have the answer for everything – Google

Blogging while delivering triplets!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

This post is obviously off the topic of work, but my cousin is very close to giving birth to triplets, and she is blogging from her hospital room! That’s right, she is scheduled to give birth on Wednesday, was admitted into the hospital last night, and she and her husband have been able to post about the pending-birth from their room. Their blog has really been cool for our family, which is spread all over the U.S. and is obviously very interested in how everything is going.

Count this as just one more way that the Internet has completely changed how people are living their lives.

10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

As I write this post, I’m getting ready to go away for a long weekend with Chris (my husband) to visit friends and family in Philadelphia. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that both of us are entrepreneurs – Chris helped start Spine Frontier a couple of years ago and I started Pure Incubation back in September. It may be obvious from that statement alone, but let me just come right out and say it – we are both insanely busy with our jobs. It is hard to get away for a vacation – even for a weekend – and to take a day off (gasp!) is practically impossible. But we are doing it this weekend.

Philly loveAs I was thinking about leaving, though, all the reasons why we shouldn’t go away kept swirling through my head. And they almost kept us from going (we didn’t book our flights until 5 days ago, for example). So I thought it might be useful to give my fellow entrepreneurs a list of 10 reasons that they should take more vacations. Refer back to this post anytime you are considering going away, but almost back out. Be strong! Take that vacation!

1) You work too much. I have no problem with working hard – or long – but if you are an entrepreneur, it’s likely that you work too much. Like to the point where you aren’t getting enough sleep, exercising regularly or eating well. Working a lot isn’t necessarily the best way to be productive and it’s hard to stop once you’re in the habit. So stop everything for a couple of days, get some sanity back, and you’ll be able to return to the job with a more realistic outlook on work duration – and you’ll likely be more productive during the hours that you are working.

2) New environments spark creativity. Right before I quit my last job, I took a vacation to Arizona. On the trip, we went to visit Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright school of architecture. I know very little about architecture, but seeing the amazing creative environment that was built at that school was so inspiring to me that I know that I had to leave my job. It opened my heart up again to the creativity that was just dying to come out – and that I could bury in the sameness of my everyday life.

Dance Philadelphia3) You are getting boring to be around. This is happening to me. I meet with friends for a drink or dinner, and they ask me what’s going on, and pretty much the only thing that I have to tell them about is my business. And to me, it’s really exciting and fun and interesting to talk about my work. But I can tell that their eyes are starting to glaze over at times. Going on a vacation will give me something else to talk about – outside of my work.

4) It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

5) You need to reconnect. For me, the trip will be great because I’ll be able to reconnect with Chris. We see each other during the worst part of our days – in the mornings (when I can barely function) and after work (when all Chris wants to do is veg out and recover from the insanity of his day). A vacation is going to give us the opportunity to spend the good parts of our days together – and this is important. Maybe you need to reconnect with your spouse, or your friend, or your kids or your parents – or maybe you just need to reconnect with yourself (solo vacations are highly underrated in my opinion). Invite whoever it is that you’re missing to go away with you and spend the time reconnecting.

6) You need to get out of the house. OK, this one might just be for me. But my office is IN my house, and I can never escape work (or the house). I love where I live, I look at the ocean from my office window, but I need to get outside of these walls. If you work from home, which many entrepreneurs do for a season, you know what I mean.

7) It’s helpful to remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Most of us aren’t working our butts off for nothing. There is usually a dream, a goal, a vision to come at the end of it. For me, I want to be able to travel. So taking periodic vacations reminds me why I’m doing all of this.

Joan of arc of philly8) You need some fresh air. You’re probably working so hard and so much that you spend most of the daylight hours in your office, wherever it may be. You need to get outside, to breathe the air, to have the sun shine on your face. Typically people spend time outside on their vacations, whether it’s strolling through a neighborhood or doing something active.

9) Talking to people in other places will help your business. No matter what your company is doing or building, you have customers that you need to serve. And getting out of your familiar bubble will allow you to talk to people about what you’re doing – and will help you refine your ideas to make sure that you’re serving them better.

10) Vacations are fun. At least, they should be. And if a vacation isn’t fun to you, do something that is. The point is, you need to lighten up sometimes, have a little fun, laugh, joke around, remember that everything isn’t serious and at the point of imminent collapse (which is how entrepreneurs usually feel).

Bonus #11) Your employees want you to go away. (This is for those of you who have employees.) If you ever worked for someone else, you know how it is when the boss is away – there’s a feeling of freedom, of lightness, of relief. As the boss, you may not want your employees to feel this freedom. But it’s important not only for you to get a break, but for your employees to get a break from you. When you get back from vacation, you’ll find that they are refreshed, as well.

Happy travels!

(the pictures here are all from Philly – “Love” by vic15, Dance Philadelphia by my aim is true, Joan of Arc by pwbaker)

Washing an iPod

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Yesterday, I accidentally washed Chris’ iPod. I went into the washing machine to pull out the clean clothes and something clanked. You know that sound you hear when you know that something was left in the pocket of a pair of pants, and you fear what it might be? You hope it was just a penny, but worry it could be a lipstick…you just aren’t sure which way it will go until you find the culprit.

Here is the iPod post-wash. (Notice how it looks perfect.)

 iPod post wash

I was hopeful that the iPod would survived the wash when I saw how great it looked.

No such luck.

Moral of the story: Don’t wash your iPod.

Update: Jason Meserve just sent me a link to this podcast: I washed my iPhone, now what? Apparently this is more common than I thought!

March Madness & the Internet

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

NCAA TournamentI have always been a fan of March Madness. I grew up in upstate N.Y., loving the Orangemen, and the NCAA Tournament was always a light in the middle of a gloomy month. I don’t follow college basketball the way that I used to, but I still get a thrill out of tournament time (although I am not as excited as my friend Kim), especially when I pick a bracket and have a stake in who wins each game.

So I am really happy that my cousin Jeff is running “The Great Family Challenge,” this year, made possible by the new online bracket tools that CBS Sports offers. This tool is really cool – you can set up your own tournament, invite people to enter, and the tools do all the tallying for you. This is so much easier than the days when you passed around photocopies of the brackets and the organizer had to tally everything by hand.

Who are you routing for? I have UCLA to win.

Happy Pi Day!

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Pi DayMarch 14 is Pi Day, celebrated by math lovers, math teachers, and mathletes of all kind around the U.S. I am celebrating because this blog is named after pi  – the 16th letter of the Greek Alphabet.

I have never “celebrated” pi day before, but trust me – some people are avid fans. At piday.org, you can read up on all the fun activities that people have planned, watch pi raps, and send happy pi day post cards. Here are some other ways that people are celebrating the holiday:

“At my school we are making pi shirts with fun expressions like “Cutie Pi” or “Easy as Pi”. It will be very fun because we get to bring in pies too!” – Kyra

“I will recite all of the digits of pi that I have memorized (I know 113!), watch the excellent indepenedent film “Pi” (from 1998)! And eat lemon pie, Yum!” – Jared

“pi day has been celebrated by my family for years since we came from sweden. we turn off all the lights and pray in a circle. sometimes we eat pie or have fun pie fights with my little cousins. Pi day really does make the world go ROUND!! ” – Chris

“saying PI to everyone I greet.” – Kisa

Happy Pi Day! And if you plan to celebrate, please leave a comment to tell us all how.

Snowboarding

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I’m heading on vacation for the weekend, going to Jay Peak for a couple of days of snowboarding and relaxing with Chris and some friends. Next week, I’m going to be writing a series of posts related to entrepreneurship and starting a business based personal experience and the book Founders at Work. You won’t want to miss it, so subscribe to my RSS feed, or sign up to the email newsletter, and make sure you catch all the posts.

Until then…

Snowboarding
Photo by th0mi

Snowboarding 2
Photo by t a k k

Snowboarding 3
Photo by arriba 

(I don’t do anything hard like this, by the way. I mean, I can ride the lift up like the folks in the first picture, but the one time that I tried a jump and got 2 inches of air I was happy.   -melissa)

My iPhone Web Clip icon

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

This is pretty trivial, I admit, but since I heard that the most recent iPhone update allows you to create a custom icon for your Website that will be deposited on the iPhone home page, I have wanted one for 16th Letter. It doesn’t help that I saw BoingBoing’s and TechCrunch’s and had some Web clip envy.

And now I have one. So go ahead, add it to your iPhone (or iPod Touch)!

iPhone Web Clip icon

iPhone icon up close

Here are the instructions on how to create your own Web Clip icon, from Apple.

This is another set of step-by-step instructions.

I hear that this is pretty easy to do. (I had a developer who did this for me, but he said it was a piece of cake.)