Posts Tagged ‘Matt’

Happy Birthday Willow!

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

This is a personal post, unrelated to the Internet, and I don’t often write this type of post on this blog, but I thought I would make an exception. Today is my niece Willow’s first birthday. It’s practically a national holiday in my family as grandparents from both sides of the family are driving and flying into town for the party. I can’t believe a year has passed, and I just wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy Birthday to my first niece, who I love to pieces. Willow, you make everyone HGH around you so happy. You are so cute the way you laugh when your mom’s hair tickles your face, the way that you wave your hands around when you get excited to see someone or something that you like, and the way that when you’re really concentrating, that tongue that your daddy passed down comes out to play. You were such a good baby, and you’re such a fun one-year-old. I can’t wait until you grow up and read this and know that everyone loved you from the start. Happy Birthday! xoxoxo

Melissa and Willow

How Facebook is changing the world

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I realize that the title of this post might sound a little dramatic. But I entirely, whole-heartedly believe that it’s true. Facebook is changing the world.

First of all, the number of people who are joining is skyrocketing. According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook now has 150 million active users. This means that if Facebook was a country, it would be the 8th most populated in the world. And this isn’t just a group of passive users; almost half of Facebook’s members use the service every day. On Christmas day, Facebook accounted for 1 in every 22 online visits. This participation is staggering. Tons of new people are signing up to use the site daily – and Facebook is a service that gets more fun to use as more people join, so it’s doubtful that this participation will slow.

Facebook logo

But large numbers alone won’t change the world – it’s what Facebook is doing with those numbers that’s so exciting. Here are just a few things that I’ve observed:

Facebook is helping non-technical Web users begin to understand other Web services. I first noticed this because of Facebook’s “Status updates.” I have been promoting Twitter for about a year, but it wasn’t until Facebook’s Status Updates started getting popular that I was able to find a good way to describe Twitter to non-users. Now I just say “Twitter is like Facebook’s status updates, but that’s all it is, so you can update more frequently.” In another example, my cousin is organizing his 15th high school reunion using Facebook, and he wanted his event to be picked up by Google. This allowed me to give him a quick rundown on SEO and how search engines work. There are also reports that Facebook is gearing up to launch a “like” feature that will replicate a popular FriendFeed functionality. This not only will be incredibly popular with Facebook’s members, but will allow them a better understanding of FriendFeed. Facebook’s popularity and excellent user interface is helping to make Web use more mainstream and less frightening to Internet novices. This alone is a major game-changer.

Facebook is changing professional networks. I am currently looking to hire a part-time, contract Web developer to help out with my business. I am actively looking through my Facebook contacts to see if anyone in my network is a developer and might be interested in the job. I can recruit through Craigslist and Boston.com (and will likely pursue those routes, too); but if I can find someone I know – even if it’s someone who I haven’t worked with, seen or talked to in years – I am pre-disposed to hiring that person. Of course the decision will ultimately come down to experience and qualifications, but a network is very important in finding a job, and Facebook is suddenly adding people to my network who I haven’t spoken to in a decade.

Facebook is bringing friends closer. In the spectrum of being able to keep up with friends and staying in touch with people, I am pretty good. I would say slightly above average. Even so, I only have about 3 people who I talk to every day (my husband, my bf/co-worker, my business partner). Then there are about 6 other people who I talk to multiple times a week (my brother & sister-in-law, my neighbors who live downstairs and a few local friends). As my circle gets wider, the frequency of communication drops. Facebook is changing this, by facilitating daily communication with a much wider circle of friends. These are friends who I love dearly, but who just don’t live close to me and neither of us have the time to call and check in every day. But we can read each other’s status updates, look at the photos that we’ve posted and have at least an idea of what is going on in each other’s lives on a daily basis.

Facebook is connecting & creating communities. It would be pretty interesting to see the connections between friends in Facebook charted out, but it seems that most of the connections would be concentrated locally or with specific groups – work friends, high school and college friends, church buddies, soccer teammates, etc. But the really powerful thing is that each person’s connections make up a community of people who share at least one thing (or person) in common. If you expanded out even just one level of separation and looked at all of the connections of my connections, there would be a substantial community of people who likely share at least some commonalities. And when communities of people hook up and unite, it’s amazing what they accomplish.

- Facebook is starting to take a chunk out of my email inbox – in a way. I am getting a ton of messages from friends via Facebook now – both through Facebook’s inbox and the Wall-to-wall features. It seems that as people are spending time using Facebook, they just use the service to drop me a quick note to say hi, ask me a question, or just to connect. (This is only taking a chunk out of my email inbox in a way because a notification is sent to my email anytime someone comments on something that I’ve done or writes me a note.)

It’s becoming a verb. Chris’ new favorite expression is “I’m Facebooking.” The last major service that went from noun to verb was Google. Perhaps that is enough said.

I'm done saying it nicely. Sign up for a Twitter account now!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

I can’t emphasize this enough – if you are a professional, if you need to market anything, if you know anyone who is on Twitter, if you have a business or work for a company, if you use the Internet, GO AND SIGN UP FOR TWITTER TODAY. Here’s the link: https://twitter.com/signup

Just do it. Stop hesitating. Sign up now.

Twitter takes awhile to understand. So you need to get started today. If you use Facebook, it won’t take you too long to catch on – it’s just like the “Status updates” that you’re used to writing and reading from your friends every day. (By the way, if you’re not on Facebook, SIGN UP NOW!)

More and more companies are using Twitter. Dell just announced that it made $1 million dollars using Twitter. Politicians are using the site. So are celebrities and musicians and sports stars. They are talking about it on Fox Business and my brother and husband both have accounts. Santa can be tracked using Twitter. Twitter is moving from the early-adopter crowd to mass adoption and the earlier you start to use the service and understand it, the better off you’ll be.

When I started using Twitter in October 2007, I wasn’t sure that it would catch on. But adoption is skyrocketing (see the graph below from Compete.com). Even if you don’t like Twitter or use it all the time, it will help you in your work if you understand what the service is and how to use it. The only way to truly understand Twitter is to get an account.

Twitter growth

Just compare Twitter’s growth (above) to Facebook’s (below). Facebook has more total unique visitors, but the growth its growth slope is slower. And considering that many people who use Twitter never visit Twitter.com (instead using clients such as TweetDeck to follow the conversation), it’s likely that the chart UNDER-emphasizes Twitter’s growth.

Facebook trend

You must be part of the conversation, and to do that, you have to be on Twitter. So join today.

Follow me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/mchang16

UPDATE: I just saw Robert Scoble’s “thought for the morning” and realize that he’s totally right. Twitter is big, but Facebook is getting massive.

10 ways to stay positive when times are tough

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

When times are tough, one of the hardest things to do is stay positive. But being positive is important for every aspect of our lives. It improves our health. It improves our outlook on work and family. And it makes us more pleasant to be around.

Right now, the economic news is bad. Lots of companies are laying off employees. The housing market in the U.S. is continuing its slump. These definitely qualify as “tough times.”

I am an optimist, but I’ve been feeling this slump like everyone else. As an entrepreneur, I feel a little bit like I have a split personality, reminding myself of all the reasons that starting a company during a recession is a good idea, internalizing all the reasons that owning a business in a recession is a very difficult prospect. It’s emotionally draining.

But the optimist in me has been fighting to the top. So instead of dwelling on the bad, I came up with this list of 10 ways to stay positive, even when times are tough. Here are the first three tips; I’ll be posting the rest throughout the week.

1) Spend time doing something that makes you happy. What do you love to do? What is something that makes you happy just because you like doing it so much? Anything that has an ulterior motive attached doesn’t count. For example, I am happy when I go jogging because I know that it will help me get in shape, but I don’t really like jogging, and I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t have positive health benefits.

I usually would cite playing basketball as something that I love doing just for the sake of it. When I play, I get to hang out with friends, be competitive, exercise, and be social. It also takes my mind off everything else.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I got an even better example to use. My brother Matt and his wife Michele had their first daughter – my first niece – Willow. The only way that I can describe her birth is complete joy. Focusing my attention on her and my family is something that helps keep me optimistic and positive in a way that few other things ever have. Figure out what it is that you love, and spend some time doing it.

2) Vote! Living in the United States, the election is top of mind for me and most other Americans today. Being part of a larger movement of people who are all doing the same thing on the same day is empowering and gives you a sense of belonging. Today, a record number of voters are heading to the polls, and we will end the day with either a black President-elect or a woman Vice President-elect. History will be made either way.

voting in the United States

Get out to the polls and you’ll feel the energy and optimism there that is inherent in the voting process. Voting will give you a sense of optimism and hope for the future.

3) Volunteer. There are always opportunities to help people, especially in a time of economic uncertainty. There are volunteer opportunities for every personality type and skill level. My sister-in-law has donated her time to helping non-profits put together professional business plans. A co-worker is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. A friend and his family have donated their time in helping to raise Great Danes that are used for rehabilitation. Not only does helping others help you feel better about yourself, but it also reminds you to look outside yourself to put the needs of others first.

Up tomorrow on 16thLetter – reasons 4-6 to stay positive when times are tough.

*UPDATE: I obviously missed the “tomorrow” deadline! I should have said “Up next week…*

Photo by mudpig

Text search head-to-head: Google vs. Cha Cha

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The first time that I heard about Google text search I was at my sister-in-law’s parent’s house in Rochester, NY, and we were discussing how you can send a question to Google via text and get a quick response. Just sent a text to 466453 (‘GOOGLE’ on most devices) with a question, and Google will text you back with the answer.

My brother was there for that conversation, and was equally impressed, so when I got the following Twitter message from Matt a couple of weeks back, I was very interested:

Cha Cha Twitter

Cha Cha bills itself as a mobile search service. To get answers from Cha Cha, text your question to 242242 (spells ‘ChaCha’), and wait.

This sounded a lot like Google, but Matt claimed that it was better than Google, and I had some time on my hands (I was actually sitting at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA, at the time), so I thought I would do a totally unscientific head-to-head comparison sending random questions to both Google and Cha Cha and seeing what I got back. Here’s what I found:

QUESTION: Who sings It’s a heartache?

REPLIES:
Google:
Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: Janis Joplin’s version of “It’s a Heartache.”

QUESTION: What’s the water temperature in Gloucester, MA?

REPLIES:
Google:
Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: These are the only 2 I found for water temperatures in MA. Boston, MA 66.9 degrees F/19.4 degrees C Woods Hole, MA 72.0 degrees F

QUESTION: Who sings I need a hero?

REPLIES:
Google:
Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: I Need A Hero is sung by Bonnie Tyler.

QUESTION: Weather, Gloucester, MA

REPLIES:
Google: Weather: Gloucester, MA 72F, Clear Wind: W 0 mph Hum: 90%  Sat: 56F-79F, Clear Sun: 65F-79F, Mostly Sunny  Mon: 56F-81F, Chance of storm
Cha Cha: Gloucester, MA 76F, Fair Sat: 57F-77F, Sunny Sun: 66F-80F, Slight Chance Rain Showers

QUESTION: Circumference of the earth

REPLIES:
Google:
Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 mi, but, if you measure through the poles it measures 24,859.82 mi.

QUESTION: Distance to Mars

REPLIES:
Google: Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: The average distance to Mars is 48 million miles.

QUESTION: Movie theaters in 01915

REPLIES:
Google:
Movies: MA 01915  1. Tropic Thunder 2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars  3. Death Race  4. Mamma mia!  5. Pineapple Express  6. The Longshots  7. The Dark Knight  8. The House Bunny  9. The Rocker Send 1 to 9 for showtimes or NEXT for more movies. <I sent 5> Movies: Pineapple Express 1hr 45min, Rated R Drama 3.5/5 CinemaSalem 2:35  5:00  7:30  9:45 1 East India Square Salem, 01970  978-744-1400  AMC Loews Liberty Tree Mall 20  1:50  4:30  7:40  8:40  10:20  11:25  100 Independence Drive Danvers, MA  01923  978-750-9019
Cha Cha: Cabot Street Cinema on Cabot Street and Larcom Theater on Wallis Street.

QUESTION: How many calories in a donut?

REPLIES:
Google: Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: Calories range from 200-300 calories, is there one in specific you want the calories for?

QUESTION: Score Patriots

REPLIES:
Google: NFL *Philadelphia*: 27 New England: 17 Final, Aug 22  Recent game: Aug 17  New England: 10  *Tampa Bay*: 27  Next Game: Aug 28 7:00pm EDT New England at NY Giants
Cha Cha: Aug 22, 2008 Philadelphia VS Patriots lose 17-27. That is not good. They need to pick up their game before the season starts.

QUESTION: Who is the quarterback for the Patriots

REPLIES:
Google:
Sorry. Did not return any results.
Cha Cha: Tom Brady is the QB for the Patriots.

In my experiment, the overall winner was definitely Cha Cha. This is how I would break it down:

Cha Cha

Cha Cha logoPros: Cha Cha dominated the random facts categories. I was able to get more answers to more types of questions from Cha Cha than from Google.

Cons: Speed – Cha Cha sometimes takes quite awhile to reply – the longest reply actually took 57 minutes. Most answers came in about 5 minutes. Also, the reply to movie theaters in 01915 was not exactly right – the Larcom Theater is no longer a movie theater although it was at one time.

Neither pro nor con: One thing about Cha Cha is that it is real people looking up the answers to your questions. This felt kind of weird to me as I was sitting in my beach chair sending people on information missions, but you might like having people at your disposal to do your bidding. It was also a little odd to get occasional editorial comments with my answers (see the Patriots question, above), but I kind of liked that and thought it was fun. Again, some people might find this annoying.

Google:

Google Mobile logoPros: Speed – answers came to me lightning quick. No waiting, or maybe a couple of seconds wait. Google also has the lead in pretty much any question that it answers – if Google has the answer, it’s thorough and complete, and I trust the information. Google also definitely takes the lead in local search.

Cons: Limited types of questions can be answered by Google. There is also a way to send questions to Google that ensures a better answer, this convention can take some getting used to.

What SkyMall can teach you about user testing

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I’m on the plane right now, on the way to Jamaica with Chris, who is going to a conference (I’m tagging along), and we just spent about half an hour looking through SkyMall, the catalog of often-quirky products that they have in the seat-backs on the plane. I love looking through SkyMall, mostly because it makes me laugh the things that people come up with and actually sell. Some of our favorites from this issue:

  • Gravity Defyer shoes (page 13) – Really Alexander the Innovation Wizard that is the best part of these shoes. Chris’ title is “Chief Innovation Officer” so I was trying to get him to change it to “Chief Innovation Wizard” after seeing this picture of Alexander.
    Alexander the Innovation Wizard
  • Spring Flex UX (page 66) – This ad features a man wearing nothing but white – shorts? underpants? – working out at his desk. Ummm…
    SpringFlex UX
  • CD case(page 79) – This case holds 2,262 CDs – they better sell these fast before people stop buying CDs (does anyone own 2,262?) and the music industry implodes!
    2262 CD rack
  • Caddie Cooler (page 80) – “Cleverly disguised as a 3-wood,” I sincerely doubt that my dad or brother will be bringing this out on the course anytime soon.
    Caddie Cooler
  • The Neckpro Traction Device (page 108) – The picture speaks for itself, but there must be a very limited market for this device.
    Neckpro traction device
  • Big Foot the Garden Yeti Sculpture (Page 161) – Definitely not something to welcome the neighbors
    Big foot the garden yeti
  • Basho the Sumo Wrestler table(page 160) – Will go well with any decor, unless you’re sitting behind it…
    Basho sumo wrestler table

And these were just the products that made us laugh the most. Every page of the catalog we were pointing at things and commenting and talking about the good ideas, the bad ideas and how to improve some of the products that had a nugget of a good idea, but executed it poorly.

This made me wonder if the SkyMall people do user testing. Do they have consumers come to the SkyMall offices, give them the most recent copies of the catalog, and watch them interact with it? It is impossible to watch every person read and use their product, but how much testing do they do, and how much do they use the data they collect to make changes and to help them pick what will be included in the catalog in the future?

There is a really good correlation to the Web here. Any business that has a Web site (and every business should have a Web site) should also have some kind of analytics tool running on their site. I use Google Analytics on my Web sites, but I have used Omnitureand others in the past as well – any of them work (but I whole-heartedly recommend Google Analytics – it is free and very easy to set up).

Once you have analytics set up on your site, you should be able to do some user testing – you will be able to check out, among many other things, what pages people visit on your Web site, their navigation path, what pages they linger on, what are the most and least popular sections of the site. And if you sell things on your Web site, you can easily evaluate how appealing various products are to your market.

Along with this day-to-day evaluation, it is also a good idea to occasionally do user experience testing. It is incredibly illuminating to be able to watch your users interact with your Web site. When we ran such tests at Ziff Davis Media, we used software called Morae, which worked well. When we ran the tests, we had two computers set up; one in the user testing area, the other in a viewing area where everyone else could watch the users go through a set of tasks. (Our stations were actually set up in two different states.) The users are taken through a series of tasks by a tester (a guide of sorts) who asks questions and gives the users various tasks to complete. The users are instructed to talk out loud about what they’re thinking when they are navigating the site, and the software on the testing computer records all the various motions that the user makes, their facial expressions and their voices. The viewing computer has a split screen, which allows the observers to watch both the users’ faces (which are recorded via a Webcam) and the users’ desktop displays at the same time. It’s amazing the things that you can learn in just a few short viewing sessions.

Do you do any user testing on your Web site? If not, start somewhere. Make sure that you have an analytics system installed, and begin checking it and learning what all the numbers mean. It won’t be long until you can make simple changes that will lead to vast improvements to your site.

Holidays and family history

Friday, December 28th, 2007

I’ve spent much of the last week traveling to Binghamton, spending time with my friends and family celebrating Christmas. It was a really nice break and I enjoyed all of it – the food, the parties, the presents – with the exception of missing my brother and Michele (who spent Christmas in Switzerland this year) and my cousin Jeff and his fiance (who were in Ohio).

Each year, it seems like there are a few truly memorable gifts that are given or received. Last year, Chris and I made “Fix-it-Club” hats for my dad, Carol & DJ, as part of the “club” that was founded based around DJ’s propensity to break things, and my dad’s skill at fixing them. And last year, Michele gave all the women in my family bracelets in support of Breast Cancer Research, in memory of my grandma – it was our first Christmas without her, and the first Christmas Eve that we celebrated in my lifetime that wasn’t at her house.

Vintage Christmas Postcard

This year, three gifts top my list. Chris gave me two of them – a flute, which I mentioned to him in passing that I would like to start playing again; and tickets to see the Nutcracker in Boston. We went to the show last night, and it was fun and magical, just like it is every time I see it. If you live in Boston, go next year! It is worth it.

The other gift was something that I got from my Aunt Mary, and is incredibly special. The back story is that when my grandma was alive, she used to have a collection of about 50-100 old postcards that she would pull out from time to time to show people. My grandma had a ton of information bits like this – she would clip articles from the newspaper or find old photos and she would keep them in a drawer in her living room and would show us various things when we came to visit. She also would write all over these pieces of paper in her cursive scrawl, I think to try to make sure that she remembered the names of the people in the photos for when she was telling the stories about them.

Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard

So for Christmas, my Aunt Mary framed this collection of holiday postcards and gave a bunch to all the people in my family. SO COOL! I love these things. She knew that I would love them so she gave me six – I’m still trying to decide how best to display them. My favorite three are pictured in this post.

Vintage Valentine's Day Postcard

The coolest thing about the postcards, though, is that you can still read the backs of them. All of these were sent to someone (an ancestor of mine, possibly?) named Miss Frances Jennings from Candor, N.Y. That’s all that can be found in the address line – I guess you didn’t need too much information to get the postcards to the right house back in 1909, when sending a postcard cost only 1 cent.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to do a bit of research on the people who sent and received the postcards. This is all speculative, because I can’t be sure that any of the people in the postcards are 100% definitely the people who I found on the Internet, but it’s interesting either way!

Back of Christmas postcard

The back of the first postcard (pictured above) provides a huge hint – which is that J. Herbert Jennings, Jr. was somehow associated with Miss Frances Jennings (likely her father). And I managed to find out some information about a J.H. Jennings Sr., namely that he was the local druggist at Candor Corners in 189? (random fact: at some point, the store burned down). It appears that he may have also been the town supervisor, the chief office in town, from 1894-1896. He married Matie Wells on December 21, 1871, in Oneonta, N.Y. I think that this is the father of J.H. Jennings, Jr. and the grandfather of Frances Jennings.

Some sad news for the Jennings family on September 29, 1904, when Mary Augusta Wells (the proper name of Matie?), wife of J.H. Jennings, passed away. In 1933, it appears that the Jennings were still in business and that both J.H. Jennings Sr. and Jr. were still living in Candor, based on the information in this old phone book.

Thanksgiving postcard back

The postcards were all sent by different people, but at least two of them seem to be from family members in Seattle, Washington – one from Auntie Ric (pictured above) and the other from Cousin Mable. They are postmarked with a stamp from the World’s Fair Seattle 1909, which appears to be the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, a fair that was put on to publicize the development of the Pacific Northwest. I have no idea if the relatives were involved in that World’s Fair, but it’s wild to think that they were in Seattle in the early 1900’s when Seattle still looked like this and there were no airliners to take you there from New York:

World's Fair Seattle

One of the most interesting people in the Jennings family line is Eleanor Jennings, whose obituary says that she was born on May 1, 1924, to J.H. Jennings Jr. and Daisy Wales Hunt Jennings. Eleanor graduated from Candor High School in 1941 and in 1944 magna cum laude from William Smith College. She wrote a book about her family and their role in Candor called Echoes from Yesterday. (I am trying to get a copy.) She also taught and travelled extensively, and published both prose and poetry. She had a half sister named Frances Mary Jennings, who I believe is the Frances from the postcards.

There was also an Eleanor Jennings from Candor, N.Y., who served as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1928, but this must have been a different Eleanor – maybe another family member? This is still amazing to me, however, as the first woman didn’t get elected to the Senate until 1932. (The first woman went to the Republican National Convention as a delegate in 1900.)

I realize that this is just a lot of rambling about the possible history of some people that may or may not be my ancestors, but it’s very cool how much of the past the Internet has opened to us now that many old documents have been scanned and indexed. I hope that one day all of the books and documents that we have stored in warehouses and libraries are archived digitally.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

St. Nicholas SwitzerlandLast night I had a delicious fondue dinner with Matt and Michele (my brother and sister-in-law) in honor of St. Nicholas Day, which is celebrated in Switzerland on December 6. Michele’s family is Swiss, and I lucked out in getting to partake of this year’s festivities.

Contrary to what I thought before I knew any better, in Switzerland, St. Nicholas Day is different than Christmas. On St. Nicholas Eve, children in Switzerland leave out a boot, and hopefully wake up on Dec. 6 to find it filled with chocolates, nuts and oranges. St. Nicholas – or Samichlaus – is accompanied on his journeys by a dark and scary friend Schmutzli and a donkey. Rumor has it that the bad kids get coal and a beating from Schmutzli’s switch. Lucky for me, I got a Lindt chocolate snowman instead. Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Photo from the Switzerland Traveler

Halloween and the Internet

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

For some reason, people love Halloween. I’m not sure if it’s just that creative people like Halloween because they can let their inspiration flow, or if it’s something else, but I know a lot of people who LOVE LOVE LOVE the holiday. It’s not my favorite, personally. But my sister-in-law Michele loves it. And she and my brother Matt throw the best Halloween party every year. I dressed up this year as Princess Fiona, the wife of Shrek. I picked the costume purposely because I have a Halloween day event that a lot of little kids will be at, and I wanted them to be able to recognize who I was and not run away. I’m not sure if I will be successful because I scared Matt and Cara with my green makeup – Matt kept looking at me and saying that I was freaking him out because I didn’t look like myself.

Anyway, I didn’t really know exactly what Fiona looked like before I dressed up, so I found pictures on the Internet to model my costume after. A good way to find image of the person or thing that you’re dressing up as is to use Google image search. That’s how I found my model. But there are a lot of other tools that you can use if you’re looking to create a last-minute Halloween costume. This post from Lifehacker gives a list of places that you can go to print your own mask. If you have the clothes that your character would wear, but just can’t make yourself look like that person, it’s an easy (and low-cost) way to “disguise” yourself. There are also a number of sites that help with inspiration if yours is lacking – two that I came across are Costumzee and Costume Idea Zone, which also provides some handy idea for the reluctant party-goer.

Blacksmiths & the Internet

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Blacksmith

This past weekend I went to Stow, Ohio, for my cousin Jay’s wedding, and we had some down time on Saturday so my husband, brother and sister-in-law all headed to Hale Farm & Village. Along with square dancing (which Chris and Michele participated in), and kettle corn (different from the sweet version that New Englanders are used to but even more delicious, in my opinion), there was a working forge with a couple of blacksmiths demonstrating their craft. I could stand and watch them make their products for hours. I figured it would be a stretch to figure out a way to connect this traditional craft with the Internet, but a quick search online turned up a whole host of resources for blacksmiths, including AnvilFire.com, which features a number of online chats and discussion boards, step-by-step guides to metalworking, a glossary of terms, and a store to buy products.

Working on metal