As Seen on TV: Black Friday Gadget Gifts

When we were tapped to share some gadgets on our  holiday wish list we naturally included some of the things that help us work hard and play hard! We shared a few of our favorite gadget gifts with the anchors at KHOU  this morning:

Jura ENA 9 One-Touch Espresso Machine  |$1,499 @  Sur La Table  stores

Coffee. Heaven.  Even the most elitist coffee drinker will fall in love with the ENA. In one touch you can have whatever your  caffeinated-powered heart desires.  This machine makes lattes, cappucinos, espresso, or just a really great cup of joe with the help of a built-in milk frother/steamer. It even has a spout that’ll give you just hot water for your tea. It’s slim so it fits on the counter and doesn’t fill much space. And it takes instruction quite well: tell it how you like your coffee and it’ll remember it for you next time. Your coffee goes from bean to cup in less than 60 seconds (not 30 … my bad).

I don’t know how the rest of the office feels about getting one of these, but I’m all for it. The major selling point for me: we’ll never have to play “Guess How Fresh” when it comes to the mystery pots of coffee. (Dear Ed: we want one of these.)

Kindle Fire Tablet | $199 @ Amazon.com

Schipulites are big on reading. And we’re obviously big on technology. Those powers combined yield the Kindle Fire Tablet. It’s the only Kindle with a color screen, and it’s a touch screen at that. Right now if you buy the Kindle Fire Tablet, you’ll get one free month of Amazon Prime (not two…my bad again). This little gem is more than a device for reading books. It’s equipped with wireless access that let’s you surf the web, read and email documents, stream Netflix. Basically: AWESOME! Our operations manager Jonti lent us hers for the segment. She may have experienced  withdrawals  without it.

Go Pro Hero 2  | $299 @  Best Buy stores

For the life of me, my brain would not let me be great. I Rick Perry-ed the name of this camera and it’s a shame because it’s so cool. The Go Pro Hero HD 2 is small but it has a lot of spirit. Made for the adventure seeker in your life, this digital camera takes photos and records footage quite well. We’ve used this camera to capture our annual Plasma Car Races. We hop on child-size wiggle cars, bring our knees up to our ears, and push one another down the incline of our parking garage with the Go Pro strapped to the car or a helmet. Even if we eat it, the camera keeps rolling and our experience is preserved for the internet and posterity.

Caitlin QCait Kaluza reels down hill in the annual Schipul Plasma Car Races
See? The tiny box protruding from the steering device? That's the Go Pro. Click the photo to see the footage.

 

Parrot AR Drone (Quadricopter) | $299 @ Brookstone

Ohhhhhhh Shinnnnnny. Let’s cut right to the chase: it’s a helicopter with four propellers (so it’s really a quadricopter — really), and you can fly it with any Apple device that lets you download the free app. It has a camera that streams live footage of your flight. It’s incredibly stable. And you can fly it indoors because it comes with a protective foam bumber-thingy that pretty much makes it crash-safe. We have one now. Come by and fly it!

We didn’t list these on the show, BUT they’re awesome and on our wish list as well:

iPhone Telephoto Lens | $35 @ photojojo.com

Also,  Photojojo needs your help!  Please consider joining the  Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Amit Gupta, founder of photojojo was recently diagnosed with acute  Leukemia  and is seeking a match for a marrow. Please consider becoming a donor and give the gift of life this holiday season.

Jambox Wireless Speaker and Bluetooth Speaker Phone  | $199 @ Brookstone

wireless speaker and bluetooth speaker phone

 

What’s on your list…or what should we add to ours?

Google is Crawling Facebook Comments Social Plug-In

Word on the Schipul SEM gossip street is that Facebook comments are being indexed by Google, which means BAM! More SEO love for your site — if you’re using the XFBML implementation.

A recent post on SearchEngineLand.com  explains how at one point add-on commenting systems made it difficult for search engines to index content on sites. But now that Facebook comments are being crawled by Google, things are changing.

Apparently, the XFBML type comments are specifically the ones being crawled.  That means it’s in your favor to add the Facebook Comment s social plug-in to your site. (Yes, I feel like we’re feeding the Facebook monster here…but…eh…whatchagonnado? (._.)/) Here’s how to add the plug-in:

1. Go to  https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/  and select Get Code:

2. Select the XFBML version of the code and copy it.

3. Go to your site and add the code just below the first <body> tag.  (This is in the index template of your site. If you have a Tendenci site, contact support if you need help with this.)

4.  Select the line of code on the last line and place the line of code for the plug-in on the page where you’d like it to appear:

 

This should add the FB Comments social plug-in to your site. Of course it will vary across browsers, so be sure you follow the proper steps for the browser most of your site visitors use to access your content.

Help AMIGOS Win a $2 Million Dollar Grant

Schipul client Amigos de las Américas is in the running to be one of 5 charities to win $2 million in grants for the American Giving Award. And you can help by casting a vote for AMIGOS on facebook:  Vote for Amigos on Facebook.

AMIGOS is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing teens and young adults leadership skills and a passion for community service through volunteer opportunities in Latin America.

Earlier this year, AMIGOS became one of 25 charitable organizations awarded a grant from the Chase Community Giving movement. With more than 2700 votes, AMIGOS was one of two Houston-based charities awarded a Round 1 grant, and was chosen to compete for the American Giving Award.  This is the next level.

The 25 winning charities have been categorized by their focus areas. If you vote, AMIGOS could be a winner in the Youth Developer category.

Right now, AMIGOS is in 4th place and trailing by a little more than 500 votes. Of the 25 charities, it’s also the only charity representing not only Texas, but our fantastic city!

Click below to cast your vote, then invite your friends to do the same.

vote-for-amigos-on-facebook

Vote for Amigos on Facebook

 

 

 

 

Wild Night in Africa with Houston Zoo Giraffes. Giraffes!

The Houston Zoo's group of young supporters, Flock, were invited to the African Forest Exhibit to mix and mingle with the Masai giraffes and a few other animals.

Last night the Houston Zoo invited the Flock, the zoo’s group of young supporters, to visit the giraffe house at the new African Forest exhibit.

More than 100 visitors arrived to the after hours event and got an up-close encounter with eight Masai giraffes housed at the zoo. Guests were taken in groups to a barn where they were able to stand on an elevated platform to feed, pet and play with the long-necked, spotted herbivores. As it turns out, giraffes are wildly social and curious. Without much prodding they walked right up to the visitors to nibble from their hands, pose for photos and take a lick at guests’ toes.

The giraffes are just one area of the zoo’s African Forest exhibit, which opened late last year. The 6.5-acre habitat is home to a colony of chimps, white rhinos, and antelope. While guests didn’t get up close and personal with the rhinos,  keepers brought a few animals to the party including Olivia, one of the guinea hogs, and Ernie, the North American porcupine.

Last night’s event is one of the zoo’s many private group functions. If you missed the event, we posted photos from last night. And if you were there and miss the giraffes,  you can see them anytime on  the zoo’s live web camera of the giraffe platform and barn.

We’ve attended several Flock events, and applaud the group whose mission is to inspire a new generation of zoo supporters.  Flock is underwritten by Momentum Audi and the evening’s event was sponsored by Freebirds, Saint Arnold Brewing Company,  and Yelp of Houston.  For more information on joining the Flock, visit  www.houstonzoo.org/flock.

Be sure to check the Houston Zoo Event Calendar to plan your next visit to the zoo!

Last night’s photos!


SXSWi 2011 – The Extended Version

We all like a little closure.  Last week Scooter dropped her South by Southwest Interactive takeaways. Today we’ve compiled favorite takeaways from other  SXSWi Schipulites to share with you.

SXSWi 2011 Takeaways

From Melissa

Photo via www.fastcompany.com (SXSWi 2011 Scvngr feature)

The highlight of SXSW 2011 for me was definitely SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatsch’s keynote address.   Priebatsch explained how the developing ‘game layer” in the virtual world can be applied to solve problems in the physical world by taking advantage of principles of game play, including rules, rewards, and levels.   He even concluded the talk with a short game involving the audience to illustrate how game play can motivate people to work together to accomplish communal goals, regardless of locale of the players.

Not only did the talk itself cover a lot of real world problems (such as the inherent  problems with school model) and present some interesting solutions, but Priebatcsch’s energy and enthusiasm was unmatched and inspiring.  Listen to the audio of Seth Priebatsch’s Keynote Address

The high-profile presence of Gowalla and their SXSW-focused game of checking-in and collecting stamps throughout the conference was a lot of fun, too!

Also, I attended a panel session called Time Traveling: Interfaces for Geotemporal Visualization. The panel discussed how much data we are creating and storing in online systems, such as Google Maps, now that so many more people have access.

It’s easy to show either time or space/geography in visualizations, but combining them together makes visualizing the data a lot trickier.     It’s a new challenge and new opportunity to create and use tools to learn about history, current events, and trends and also presents new ways for storytelling on the web.

One of the panelists, Nick Rabinowitz, who works mainly as an information consultant with a focus on non-profit organizations, created a JavaScript library called Timemap.js that can be used to display geotemporal data in tons of ways, including progressing loading as you scroll through time.   He and his brother, panel moderator, Assistant Professor and Director of University of Texas’ Institute of Classical Archaeology Adam Rabinowitz, also created GEODIA, a system that visualizes the temporal, geographic and material aspects of ancient Mediterranean civilizations.

From David

We went to SXSWi with a strict goal to promote Schipul as a leader in the Drupal community, and while we promoted our Drupal Monster video, we had a wonderful time engaging the SXSW crowd with a content management system some were new to.

As part of our strategy, we printed out Moocards with a simple link on them, and we handed them out  guerrilla-style.

Drupal Monster Moocards

We got more of a response from DrupalCon the week before SXSWi. But that’s to be expected since the video is Drupal-related. That being said, our promotion at SXSWi kept the snowball rolling. Watch the Drupal Monster video.

From  Derek

Groupon SXSWi 2011

The panel that made a lasting impression on me was by Aaron With from Groupon called ‘Strange Business: Corporate Creativity that Doesn’t Suck.” It was about a lot of things they do that most people see as wasting endless amounts of time and money for no reason. They do fun, interesting things that have no plan at first then actually end up having value at some point (try unsubscribing and you’ll see). My favorite quote was Aaron describing one of their activities: “We made it for no good reason then it ended up having a business benefit.”

At Schipul,  we don’t go to the extremes Groupon does, but it’s good to see the idea reinforced by a large company. Our company realizes the potential of ‘wasting time” even when it may mean lack of productivity at that specific period of time. The Drupal Monster video or Plasma Car races are perfect examples.  Listen to the audio version of this panel

Random Photo Time!

While in Austin, we took every opportunity to live it up: nerd-style. That means Lyndia and I cuddled the xtranormals (you may remember them from @urbanhoustonian’s video); I met Dule Hill from  psych (USA) and The West Wing (NBC)  ; and between panels, the Schipulites enjoyed the beautiful weather on patios with free wireless internet access.

xtranormal cuddlies at SXSWi 2011
Lyndia and I cuddled the xtranormals.

 

Me to Dule Hill: Dude. You're hot.

 

We're mapping out the parties that have free beer. Priorities. Nerdery.

Looking ahead

We had a few SXSWi first-timers in our group (including me). Since the conference we’ve had opportunities to apply much of what we’ve learned in small doses. Between now and the next SXSWi, it’ll be interesting to see how we, and how others, expand on information from panels.

If you missed it, I’ve updated my takeaways with audio links to the panels. Check them out  here. And please feel free to share your takeaways and links with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Trend Tuesday: Tools for Working Remote

photo thanks to flickr user purprin!

While the concept of working remote isn’t new (it used to be called ‘telecommuting’), the tools to facilitate it have grown over the last few years.

The Internet is likely the most obvious tool that facilitates working remote, and the phone may be the most commonly overlooked. Beyond email and phone, consider other  third-party tools to extend your business beyond your home base and help your team continue to feel connected to one another. Let’s review the following tools for working remote:

  • Video Chat
  • Collaborative Tools
  • Web-based Teaching Tools

Substitute Conference Calls with Online Video Chats

Instead of  hearing only your remote team’s voices, enhance your conference calls with video chat so you can see them and experience a more engaging conversation. Skype and Google Video Chat are two free and easy-to-use tools that make meeting face-to-face a practical way to include your entire team in meetings.

Both are easy to set-up and install. You’ll need a stable internet connection, web cam and audio. Many webcams come with built-in audio devices (I have a LifeCam HD-6000 and really like it). All you do is plug ’em in, launch your video chat application and start your meeting.

Use Collaborative Tools to Create and Manage Documents

If you’ve saved, emailed, updated, saved again, and sent a follow-up email to spell out the changes you made, you may want to give collaborative tools a try.  Collaborative tools allow team members to work on the same document, together in real-time.  They’re also a workable solution for newsletter editors that are inundated with email attachments of articles and revisions of articles. This 3-minute video illustrates Google Docs, one of my favorite collaborative tools:

The documents and spreadsheets in Google Docs are very similar to those in MS Office. There’s no new software to learn, so getting started is just a matter of getting over the fear of trying something new. I recommend taking the tour to help get comfortable with the tool.

Use Web-based Tools to Demonstrate

Screen shots are helpful for walking clients and co-workers through online processes. Sometimes, when you can’t be there, talking a client or co-worker through the process is the most efficient way. While both methods work, tools like GoToMeeting let you share your computer screen with others to demonstrate processes in real-time. This tool has proven helpful in our web-based trainings and one-to-one client demonstrations.

What Tools do you use?

These are some of the tools we train our clients on using. Since opening our web marketing office in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve incorporated more of the video tools for getting face-time with our leading lady April Kyle. What are some of the tools you use or would like to know more about for working remote?

 

 

SXSWi Catch-Up: Sex, BestBuy & Gaming

We’re still wreaking havoc in Austin! Here’s a an overview of what I’ve been up to –sending a little SXSWi report to give you a peek at what’s going on here. We’ll take a more comprehensive look at these panels and others we attended when it’s all said and done.

SXSW Newcomer

This is my first time at SXSW. I knew it would be impossible to do everything so I set a few goals to help get the most out of the experience. One of my goals is to attend panels that cover topics that interest me as a woman, a web marketer, a writer and a minority in America.  I have to admit, I’m pleased with my panel selections so far.

The Yoga Panel

SXSWi free hug guy

No. This guy wasn’t the instructor, but he totally was giving out free hugs.

About the yoga though: It was interesting to see yoga offered as a panel. And it was an actual yoga class that any beginner could get through easily. It was a good experience for advanced yoga folks, too. The panel was surprisingly popular and we had to modify a few of the poses for the sake of space. Ari Stiles was a great instructor who made light of the crowded room and kept us all at ease. I left feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. If you missed Saturday Yoga, no worries. Tuesday Yoga will help you close out the conference feeling peaceful.

#sxswyoga

The Sex Part

SXSWi panel by Bedsider on re-branding birth control

Listen to the Bedsider SXSWi 2011 presentation

Bedsider.org is funny, human and interesting enough that it got women to share their personal experiences with sex and protection on camera. They’re also a free support network for birth control. It sounds boring. I know. But it’s so not.

One of the major take aways from the panel Re-Branding Birth Control: Behavior Change through Design, was simply that it’s easier to have sex than to talk about how to have sex responsibly.  Jennifer Maer and Lawrence Swiader did a beautiful job of illustrating how Bedsider has a conversation about sex and protection in a way that women can relate to: through girl talk.

Despite sex ed classes, religious teachings and Maury baby daddy episodes, young adults who say they don’t want to have kids yet also say they use birth control inconsistently. To that, the Bedsider team says awareness isn’t enough, and that part of the solution is to have the right tools and an agile approach to educating young adults about safe sex. Bedsider is a community supporting women who use birth control and rewarding them for getting it right. And they’re doing it all by design and conscious content creation.

If you’re into sex (no joke), check out this evening’s panel on Subtle Sexuality on TV.

#bedsider

Latino Link: Marketing to Spanish Speakers Using Digital Platforms

SXSWi panel on marketing to spanish speaking consumers on the web

Ana Grace and Joe Kutchera facilitated a brilliant discussion on including Spanish speaking consumers in online marketing campaigns. Ana is leading the charge at BestBuy. She presented a case study on BestBuy’s Spanish language website that gave attendees an idea of how to approach this form of online inclusion. Some of the challenges the company overcame included deciding which version of Spanish to use (they went with universal Spanish), and whether or not to highlight special content to try to appeal to their Spanish speaking customers.

The major takeaway from this panel is that in the BestBuy case study, they learned consumers didn’t want different or “customized” content on the Spanish language site. Their target audience wanted the content to be identical to the content on the English language site. Also, it was an integrated campaign that relied a lot on the support of off line (in-store) components. The offline components included helping customers identify Spanish-speaking customer service reps that could help them in the store.

#latism

Keynote by SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch

Seth Priebatsch Simulcast at SXSWi

Listen to the audio of Seth Priebatsch’s Keynote Address

Seth Priebatsch (founder of  SCVNGR mobile check-in app) delivered a compelling keynote presentation.  The main conference room was jam-packed so we watched the simulcast from a nearby conference room.

Priebatsch proposed a theory that suggests that we can solve some pretty big problems if we apply key elements of gaming to real life. He demonstrated the premise of his theory by getting the audience involved in a little bit of play time.

Each person in the audience had a card with two colors – one color on each side of the card. (Only in the live presentation, not the simulcast ones). The cards were placed randomly. The colors varied on each card and the room was filled to capacity. The challenge: get each person on a row the same color card. The prize: SCVNGR would donate $10k to The National Wildlife Federation.

It was a fairly difficult task. And it was timed –they got about 2.5 minutes to win the game. Players couldn’t get up from their seats (though I saw some people standing). The audience did well and completed the challenge with almost one minute to spare.

Seth Priesbatsch keynote at SXSWi

#GameLayer

Branding Panel: Congratulations! Your Brand is about be Obsolete

SXSWi panel #savebrands Congratulations! Your Brand is about to be obsolete.

Listen to the audio of  Congratulations! Your Brand is about to be Obsolete

This panel rocked my socks off. I was hesitant to go because, straight up, I didn’t want to get duped into watching a power point slide show about extinct brands and what they should’ve done. This panel was not that at all. The panel played to a packed house.

SXSWi panel on keeping brands from becoming obsolete

Andrea Ring and William Charnock of R/GA presented the audience with what would be a tough sell to the client of a marketing or branding agency:

Dear client,

Hey! Things couldn’t be better. You’re at the top of the game right now. Your brand is doing well –you’re the hottest thing going right now. In a word: you’re winning. Now let’s change everything completely. Don’t worry.

Thank me later.

Your Branding Agency

Scary. Charnock and Ring painted a clear picture of why changing while a brand is at the peak of its influence helps it avoid becoming obsolete. It’s a form of adapting overlooked by some brands that have failed. As an example, Ring and Charnock pointed out that lots of companies built their brands around selling fur, but cultural shifts made that change. You have to be ready to shift when “shift happens.”  The key to brands shifting when at the height of their success, according to Charnock and Ring, is to find your higher purpose as a company rather than focusing solely on a product.

#savebrands

Stay Tuned! There’s More.

These takeaways are just snippets of what I learned in each panel. There’s more information and takeaways from the rest of the team still to come. We’re taking in new ideas and making new friends every day we’re here. Look forward to seeing more of what we learned as we return from SXSW.  Can’t wait for the wrap-up posts? Follow our tweets to participate in our SXSWi experiences!

Derek Key, Schipul Business DevelopmentDavid Stagg, Schipul Creative Director Ed Schipul, CEO of Schipul- The Web Marketing Company Katrina Esco - Schipul Communications Team Lyndia Makol - Schipul Web Designer Katrina Kakoska - Schipul Project Manager Melissa Lonchambon - Schipul Project Manager Iris McAlpine - Schipul-The Web Marketing Company Michael Coppens - Schipul Business Development

WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg #SXSWWP

Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder speaks at SXSWi

Wooohooo! We’ve made it to Austin for the Interactive portion of SXSW. In the celebratory spirit of Houston, we chose Matt Mullenweg’s panel as our first to attend!

Matt Mullenweg is the founder of WordPress, the open source platform that powers at least 12% of the internet. (That’s significant considering the platform is open source — free.)

Takeaways from Mullenweg’s panel:

  • “The more we give it away (WordPress software), the more we get.”
  • The future of WP is to use it as a CMS, not just as a blog, but to power websites.
  • 40,000 people a day sign up for WordPress
  • The jetpack plug-in is a great tool that contains the most popular WordPress plug-ins all in one package. (Available for WordPress.org sites)
  • The thing that makes young tech executives more successful than any other web executives, is that they’re willing to outwork everyone else.
  • The goal of WordPress is to make it fun for authors to use – hence the full-screen mode. (It’s a hidden feature many people don’t know about along with  “The Kitchen Sink” mode.)

Facts about Mullenweg

  • He’s from Houston
  • He went to HSPVA
  • First went to SXSW when he was 19
  • Played the saxophone
  • Thinks everyone should learn some code because, “It’s like literacy.”

Panel attendees were able to live tweet questions using the hashtag #sxswWP. The moderator, John Battelle of Federated Media, led the conversation and  fielded questions from the audience, which largely centered around wondering the future of the CMS.

Mullenweg said that for now, he and his team are just coming off of the release of 3.1 and have not begun plans for the next version. Mullenweg said that eventually they’d like to make upgrading WordPress invisible to users to make the process of transitioning much simpler than having users manually upgrade to the latest version.

Stay tuned for more SXSWi updates from the Schipul team, and be sure to give us a shout if you see us around!