Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
for now, at least.
I’ve had a lot of fun updating this blog since I started it nearly three years ago, but the time has come (at least, for now) to move on.
I started this blog back in January 2007 after returning from my first ever trip to CES. As lame as it sounds, that trip literally changed my life and ultimately the direction I wanted to take it. I met some amazing people during and shortly after that trip that showed me anything was possible and I could make one of my dreams a reality.
This blog has been online and active for 2 1/2 years which is an eternity in the blogsphere. So why am I deciding to end it now?
The first reason is time, or lack of. I don’t seem to have as much free time as I did when I started this adventure. I have since moved backed closer to all of my friends and have taken on additional review opportunities online. This gives me less time to devote to the blog, which needs a lot of attention and dedication to be successful. Not only do you have to update your blog frequently, it is also important that you read other blogs and comment there as well. Stuff like this helps to drive traffic to your own site.
In what seems to make very little sense, now that I have moved closer to my friends, I tend to do less “exciting” things and thus, there really isn’t as much interesting stuff for me to post here. Blog posts used to come naturally and I always had something to talk about or an opinion to voice, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I guess you can say I got boring!
When I started this site, social networking was still relatively new. Now that Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we communicate and share information online, I can simply share my experiences through these mediums instead. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or add me as a friend on Facebook and I will do the same.
I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish and unfortunately this blog is at the bottom of the list. I toyed with the idea of monetizing this blog and changing its focus or even starting a new niche blog altogether, but as I have said in the past, that just didn’t feel right. There are a lot of things about blog marketing and such that I would have to research beforehand and again, I don’t have the time for that right now.
For now, however, I am just going to keep on keeping on and doing the things I love. I still love photography and will continue to post pictures on Facebook and Flickr. I’m still a big Dave Ramsey fan and hard at working paying off all of my old debt. Heck, I might even change my outlook on being single LOL.
All kidding aside, I want to thank everyone who has stopped by, read a post and commented on something here. I am certain the site wouldn’t have lasted this long had it not been for the reader participation during some of the blog’s more active times. I will be leaving the site online as I feel there are some valuable posts that others could learn from.
Final blog stats:
769 total posts
Even after I swore I never would, I gave Twitter an honest try, I really did. In the short 24 days that I have been a member, it has pretty much been a disaster from the start.
My first day with Twitter was frustrating, as it appeared their service was having technical issues and I couldn’t do simple tasks like update my profile picture… or at times, even refresh my page. Then a few days later, I had a very strange problem where it seemed my account had been taken over… sorta. Some of my updates were still visible, and some of my followers and those I am following were listed, but most weren’t. It seemed they just disappeared.
I created a brand new profile but again, the same problems started popping up almost immediately. After some help from a friend, I changed my password and magically everything was back to normal. Odd.
Another week or so passed and again, the same thing happened, but this time, it was showing a different user’s name on my page. What? I reverted back to changing my password and again, was up and running as if nothing had happened.
The final nail in the coffin occurred late last week, when again, the same thing happened. In the above screenshot, you can see MY page on the right (my URL in the address bar), with “cracker_mandi” as the user name. The funny thing here is that those are MY updates listed below, although only a fraction of them. Now on the left side is what i found on Google as her cached page. It appears this is a real person… very strange.
But this time, I was unable to change my password, as I never received the password change notification email from Twitter. I did some research on Twitter’s page and it seems this is a known issue. I tried contacting Twitter about this but their customer service is a total joke, so no help there. It appears I am now permanently locked out of my account.
I really wanted Twitter to work as I think it could be a powerful marketing tool if used correctly, but after having so many problems in less than a month, is it really worth starting ALL over again?
Have you had any problems with Twitter like this or anything else that went unresolved?
UPDATE - Not five minutes after this post, I was FINALLY able to reset my password and everything is back to normal. Don’t know if I should even fool with it anymore…
I finally caved in and signed up for Twitter, something I said I would never do! Why did I finally give in and do this?
Unlike most people, I plan to primarily use it as a business tool. Social networks are very powerful and as I have said many times before, the majority of business (especially online) is based on who you know. It is this exact reason that I am a member of sites like LinkedIn.
My first day with Twitter was frustrating, as it appeared their service was having technical issues and I couldn’t do simple tasks like update my profile picture… or at times, even refresh my page. But that has all been cleared up now and I am starting to get the hang of things. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to mess around with it just yet but I do have a handful of followers already. With some more dedication, I am sure I can get a lot more followers in the near future and really harness the power of this social networking tool.
Feel free to follow me and check out what goes on in my daily life, and of course I will return the favor
Posted in Business
by Shawn Knight
on February 22, 2009
I found something very strange when checking the mail the other day. The flyer you see above was in my mail box - burnt!
Did a mail truck catch on fire? Why would a postal worker deliver a half-burnt piece of mail? In all my years, I have never received something in the mail that apparently went through a fire. Keith and I were kinda shocked but then when Josh took a look at it, we began to question it more…
Something about this seems fishy. It almost seems like the burns are too perfect. Looking at the whole flyer again, only a small segment of text from the center is “burnt” away - all of the other text and necessary information is still intact. And that small section that is missing only contains the first letter of the street name and the first word of the city, both of which are common knowledge if you live around here.
We also noticed that the pre sorted postage paid area was not damaged and the only address, both to and from, was ECRWSS Local Postal Customer. ECRWSS stands for Extended Carrier Route Walking Sequence Saturation, which is a type of saturation mail where someone mails out to every customer in a specific area or ZIP code instead of to each named individual.
We came to one of two conclusions. Either this piece of mail was actually burnt and still placed in my box, or this is a clever marketing scheme. After all, it’s sure to garner attention (see, I am blogging about it!) and as we saw here, no vital piece of information was missing from the “damaged” flyer.
I am personally leaning towards marketing. What do you think? Have you ever received anything like this before?
Online communities like MySpace, Facebook and Friendster have totally revolutionized the way we keep in touch with friends and family members online. While this is great and all for leisure and entertainment, these sites don’t really offer any benefits for business-minded people. Its this void that sites like LinkedIn aim to fill.
LinkedIn is an online community for business professionals to meet, share ideas and keep in contact with each other. Networking in any business setting is essential if you plan to grow and expand your company. As I have said before, its all about “who you know”, especially in the tech industry. You really do need to know as many people as you can and get your name out there. You never know when having the right contact will benefit you.
The site is free to join and once you have created an account, you can begin to set up your profile. If you have worked with any online communities, you should already be familiar with most everything.
Your profile page is more or less an online resume. You can list previous jobs and your education background, as well as provide as little or as much detail about each as you wish. You can even receive recommendations from others on your connections list, like a business reference or a letter of recommendation. Stuff like this goes a long way when job hunting!
The meat and potatoes of LinkedIn, however, is the networking. A powerful search tool is provided which makes it pretty easy to find contacts you have worked with. Once you have established a contact, you can look at their connections list to find others you might know or have done business with. You can request that a friend introduce you to a new contact or elect to initiate contact yourself.
LinkedIn also offers a ton of other features, like job searches and a very neat question and answer section where you can post questions to your contacts or the community in general.
I joined LinkedIn last year but just recently started making a heavy push for new contacts and it is already starting to pay off as a few new business opportunities have developed. If you are already on LinkedIn, feel free to add me as a connection. See you there!
Today marks the two year anniversary of this blog! It was on January 20, 2007 that I made my very first post to this blog. I started this blog just after attending the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show where I met some really beneficial people, like Bob Buskirk, a fellow tech site owner.
Since that time, this blog has seen 745 posts and 1940 comments over the past two years, which is pretty decent for a non-niche blog. I have really enjoyed updating the blog, sharing aspects of my tech site and personal life with my readers.
I have toyed with the idea of monetizing this blog or perhaps starting a niche blog (probably personal finance), but thus far, I haven’t acted on either of those ideas. We shall see what happens in 2009.
Updates as of late have been few and far between, which haven’t been on purpose. It just seems that I have less and less time to devote to the blog, but I will look to change that from this point forward. So, what’s been going on since my last update?
A CES 2009 No-Show
This was the first year since I started going to CES that I didn’t make it to Vegas for the annual technology trade show. I tossed around the idea of attending late last year but ultimately decided against it, mostly for financial reasons. CES is such a blast and equally as beneficial for my tech site, as I get to network and make new contacts with potential sponsors and other site owners which is invaluable. But, I didn’t let that get me down and did what I could from home and managed to secure a relationship with Intel, which is absolutely huge!
CES 2010 is definitely in my future, granted the show doesn’t go the way of COMDEX and cease to exist next year. Attendance was down this year but let’s hope they give it a few more years to rebound.
Ole Miss Wins 2009 Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss shocked the country and took Texas Tech to the woodshed in the 2009 Cotton Bowl on January 2, coming away with a 47-34 victory and proving once again that the Big 12 is overrated. The Rebs finished the season very strong, with a 31-13 win over LSU in the 1st annual Magnolia Bowl and absolutely dismantled Mississippi State 45-0 in the Egg Bowl. Ole Miss finished 15th nationally and is already being ranked as high as 5th in preseason polls for next year.
These accolades are well earned. After all, Ole Miss was the only team to beat Florida, the eventual National Champion. 2009 will be a great year for sure. Can you say SEC Champions?
I told myself I would probably never buy another gaming console, especially a current-generation unit. They are just too expensive and I don’t play games enough to warrant the expense. But here I am, with a 360!
I ended up buying a Pro model from Josh after our last LAN party. He purchased two additional units for use at the party but turns out, we didn’t need them. I got a heck of a deal which is really the reason I bought it. And thanks to Left 4 Dead, I have actually been playing it quite a bit, as a group of about 5-6 of us play multiplayer almost nightly. If you are on Live and want to add me, just leave a comment with your Gamertag or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paying Off Debt
Since I started following Dave Ramsey about a year ago, I have cut out a ton of useless spending in my budget and have been working very hard to pay off debt that I have accumulated over the years. About 85% of my debt is student loans and I have been paying those off as fast as I can. I have only a single payment left on the one loan I have been attacking which is pretty exciting. My focus after that is the one remaining credit card balance I am carrying, then it is full steam ahead on my large student loan.
At first, it was really tough to cut back on unnecessary spending and trying to save money, but now that I have been doing it for almost a year, it is actually fun. I enjoy seeing how frugal I can be each month and how little I can get by on. Odd, yes, but it is very motivating.
Keeping Busy With Work
Many people wish they could work for themselves at home, create their own schedules and be their own boss. The reality is, it is tough. The reason I say this is because you are never “off work”. With a traditional job, once you leave the office, you are free. You don’t have to worry with work until the next day or after the weekend. When you work for yourself, you are always thinking about work and what needs to be done and when you are going to do it. I love what I do but it is pretty stressful and there is a lot of responsibility. I don’t think most people could do it.
Anyway, things with OCIA.net are still going strong. I have been focusing on attaining more sponsorships for the site, which means sharing the latest and greatest hardware with our readers. Things look bright for 2009 and I can’t wait to see what the year brings!
I have been looking to hire an additional reviewer and have taken a chance on two people in the past several months, both of which have screwed me over and basically stole the review items without doing any work. Its frustrating when someone with no morals comes along and throws a monkey wrench into what you have worked hard to do just for a free product. Its even more frustrating when you see these people move on to the next site they plan to scam.
On that note, if you are into the tech scene and think you might be interested in writing for my site, shoot me an email and we can talk.
I have also been doing some freelance writing for another tech site based in Mexico, Techspot. Things with this site have been going really well and I have had a good time reviewing for them and look forward to continue our relationship in 2009.
I had never heard of a Texas Pickle until just recently. Adam had been telling me about then for a while and finally decided to make a batch.
Basically, you take jalapenos, remove the insides, fill with cheese then wrap the entire thing in bacon. Bake in the oven or cook on the grill and you end up with what you see above!
I love trying new foods and the Texas Pickle was no exception and in fact, it was very good. I am not a huge fan of spicy foods but once gutted and cooked, the jalapeno was not spicy at all. I would recommend you give them a try sometime for sure.
And with that, I’m off to go make dinner…
As you can probably tell by my absence of posts lately, things have been pretty busy on my end. This is the “busy season” for hardware sites, as manufacturers are looking to get as much exposure as possible for the holiday buying season. I have been busy getting all of my staff “stocked up” with review items and have even taken a few on myself.
This is the latest item I am working on, a SilverStone FT01 Case, which features a Uni-body frame construction from the flagship Temjin TJ07.
We saw this TJ07 at SilverStone’s booth at the 2007 CES and have been anxious to check out their uni-body design ever since. Look for my review of the FT01 to hit OCIA.net sometime next week. We are also working on putting together a holiday contest / giveaway of sorts. Look for that to hit sometime right after Thanksgiving!
In other hardware news, I have started doing some freelance writing for another tech site, which has given me the opportunity to check out some really cool hardware and has been a blast so far. I have a big article in the works as well as two other reviews for that site, which I will link to when they are published.
Aside from computer work, there has been quite a bit going on lately that I want to take a minute and touch on.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we all know what that means: lots of great food!
Josh and I are going to make deep fried turkey(s) this year. I first had deep fried turkey a few years ago at Keith’s sister’s house and OMG, it’s the best food I’ve ever had! A deep fried turkey is so juicy and tender - the exact opposite of what a traditionally cooked turkey is. I will be recording the cooking process and posting the video on here and YouTube, so be sure to check that out.
Other than that, Keith’s family has invited me over once again for their Thanksgiving dinner. They have invited me the past several years and I am really appreciative of that. I don’t really have a lot of family so it’s cool to be around them around the holidays.
On a sad note, Thanksgiving time has been a bit less happy, as it always reminds me of my mom. She passed away 7 years ago today, so this time of year always brings back those memories
The CHL hockey season kicked off about a month ago. Josh and I purchased half-season tickets for the Mississippi RiverKings and have attended a handful of games so far. As of writing, we are off to a 7 - 6 season… not the best, but it could always be worse!
If you have never attended a hockey game, I would encourage you to give it a try. I never liked hockey but was invited to go to a game with a friend nearly 13 years ago (wow, has it been that long?!) and have been hooked ever since. Being there in person is so much fun and is nothing like watching it on TV, which I agree is pretty boring!
In other sports news, my college football team, the Ole Miss Rebels, have been having a pretty good season, especially compared to last year. We are 6 - 4 on the season and gained bowl eligibility last Saturday. This is the first time the Rebs have been bowl eligible since the 2003 season. The only question that remains now is, which bowl will we be headed for?
The final two games of the regular season will determine that. We play LSU this Saturday (2:30 pm CST on CBS) and Mississippi State on Black Friday. If we win out, which is very possible, we are almost 100% headed to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. A loss or two losses and we are more than likely headed to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.
I am hoping for a bid to the Cotton Bowl, as that is a much better bowl, but a trip to the Liberty Bowl would mean I could possibly attend, which would be sweet in itself. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, especially the LSU game this weekend. I’m betting Ole Miss pulls out the victory - you heard it here first!
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been putting on some pretty good events lately. Since moving to my new place, we have ordered each UFC pay-per-view and have been having parties here on fight night. The most recent was UFC 91, which pitted champ Randy Couture against the 3 - 1 newcomer Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar, formerly in the WWE, is an absolute monster and I fully expected him to be the new UFC Heavyweight champion after the night was over. He came in weighing 40 pounds more than Couture, is 18 years younger and is super quick and agile for his size.
And sure enough, Lesnar ended things in the 2nd round after catching Couture with a shot that dropped him to the mat. Lesnar capitalized and reigned down a series of hammer fists that forced the ref to call the fight. Congrats to Lesnar on this victory and I will be looking forward to seeing him defend the title against the winner of Nogueira / Mir.
Speaking of that fight, which will take place at UFC 92 on December 27, there are also two other headlining fights on that card. The first pits Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin against undefeated Rashad Evans in what should be a great fight. The other main event caliber fight that night is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Wanderlei Silva. Jackson has fought Silva twice and both times, he has pretty much been destroyed. Rampage is one of my favorite fighters so I am certainly hoping he pulls out the victory. As they say, third time is a charm, right?
Big 3 Bailout
Oh geez, don’t get me started! Are you friggin’ serious? It totally baffles me how companies that make SOO much money, as these three do… they have one “bad” year and they are on the verge of bankruptcy! Where the hell did all of that money you made over the past several years go? Seriously. Do they simply not keep money in the company?
I certainly hope Congress doesn’t bail out these idiots. What kind of message will that send to other companies if they do?
Just because people don’t want to buy your products in flocks, for whatever reason, you are instantly entitled to have your company saved by the government? What’s next, Nikon asking for help because they aren’t selling enough cameras, Microsoft asking for money because they aren’t selling enough copies of Windows? Seriously, where does it stop?
So let’s say the Big 3 go bankrupt and all those people lose their jobs. Guess what? THERE ARE OTHER JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY YOU CAN DO! So many people tend to think that losing their job would be the end of the world. No it won’t. Go get a different job.
Sure, it would be a change of pace and you may not even like it, but it isn’t disaster. You can still survive.
Economy In General
Stocks continue to drop, unemployment is up, etc. The world is coming to an end!
Gah, whatever. Have you been to Wal Mart recently? I went last Saturday and it was a mad house. Wonder where all of these people are getting their money! And when Black Friday rolls around, I have money that says you will still see people lined up in front of all the major retail stores hours before they open!!
Sales may be down this year compared to past years, but is that a bad thing? Maybe that just means people aren’t consuming like a fat kid sitting up to his neck in skittles. It’s amazing how much junk people buy and they think that junk is going to make them happy.
All jokes aside, 90% of the economy is between your ears. If things are right in your house and you know how to control your finances and not spend like a drunken Congressman, everything will be fine and you have nothing to worry about.
There are so many people that aren’t affected in the least by the current state of the economy. Those people call in every day to the Dave Ramsey show and tell their stories. How are they able to survive this horrible economy without losing any sleep about it?
They are debt free. They have no credit cards or other stupid payments holding them back.
So yeah, that’s about all I have for today. I will try to post updates a bit more frequently over the next few weeks. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below!
Many of us focus 100% of our marketing efforts in the online venue, but it is equally as important to build your brand and get your name known offline as well. Whether you realize it or not, there are a ton of offline promotional ideas out there. Some can be a bit more expensive than others, like t-shirts for example. But, you can still find some excellent promotional items for next to nothing - enter BICPromoPens.com.
The team over at BICPromoPens.com specialize in one thing - yep, you guessed it: BIC promotional pens! Promotional pens are a very cost-efficient way to advertise nearly anything - your business (both online and offline), blogs, or just about any other service or product that you can think of. Unlike a business card, a flyer or an ad in the yellow pages, useful items like pens and t-shirts won’t be tossed in the garbage and will be used frequently… each time, reminding the user of your business / product!
BICPromoPens.com sent over 20 of the BIC Tri Stic Promotional Pens you see above. Like all of their pens, you can customize it by specifying the trim and barrel color, as well as adding up to four lines of text. This style of pen can be had for as little as $.54 each!
Next up is the Brite Liner Grip Highlighter, again, fully customizable with four lines for your message and of course, your choice of ink color. These highlighters start at $94.each, with bulk orders receiving a nice discount!
If you have a bit of a bigger budget or want to really impress and showcase yourself as a professional, the BIC Executive Carbon Fiber Pen is what you are looking for. This is an extremely high-quality pen and it writes just as elegantly as it looks! This will certainly be replacing my current pen for use at my desk.
BICPromoPens.com even included this nice Polo style shirt! Talk about a complete package - I won’t need to purchase another pen for a very long time… well, that is until I order some for my tech site and this blog.
Founded in 1945, BIC has stood the test of time and are the most well know pen manufacturers in the world, so you know they offer a quality product. If you are in need of some offline marketing material and are on a budget, I would certainly recommend you check out BICPromoPens.com. They have literally hundreds of different models and styles of pens to choose from!
The only question that remains… is, what am I going to do with all of these pens?
I booked my hotel room for the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show way back in May. At that point, everything seemed to be on track for another eventful week in Las Vegas come January. But now, I am not so sure we will be making the annual trip. Here’s why.
Since being on the Dave Ramsey plan, I have come to realize how valuable money really is. In 2007, I put the entire price of our hotel on a credit card. I didn’t think twice about it then but looking back, yeah, not a good idea. And now that I refuse to use credit cards anymore, that is no longer an option. BTW, keep in mind that Vegas hotels jack the price of rooms by as much as 4x the normal rates during CES week, so it gets very expensive.
Besides that, I checked airline prices last week and discovered prices had increased over $300 from last year! I also need to budget for food which is pretty spendy as well, especially if you don’t want to eat fast food every day. Can you tell this is already getting extremely expensive?
Next I have to factor in my current situation here at home. Since I moved back in July, living expenses have increased a bit - a fair trade-off most certainly, but that means more money going out each month.
So really, it all comes down to money and trying to justify spending that much money to make it happen. Our first year was certainly well worth the money spent, as it really got my foot into the door and I met a bunch of really great people, etc. Last year, I really don’t think I accomplished too much in terms of making new contacts, meeting potential sponsors, etc. My plan for this year, however, is (was?) to connect with companies we currently do not work with yet, thus making the whole trip worthwhile in the long run.
But, all hope is not lost. I have pretty much ruled out doing the hotel thing, but it may be possible that we could stay with our friend Joe again, like we did in 2007. Joe lives about 20-30 minutes from the Vegas strip, which means we would be limited with how much time we can spend out each day covering the show and more importantly, attending press events and late-night parties. The benefit here, of course, is there are no overpriced hotel fees, which then puts the trip back into the do-able column in terms of money.
So right now, I’m unsure what I am going to do but I plan to make a decision before the end of the month.
Posted in Business
by Shawn Knight
on September 4, 2008
One of the biggest issues with working for yourself is staying focused. Since you make your own schedule and work at your own pace, it is extremely easy to veer off course and before you know it, things aren’t getting accomplished.
Before I moved back close to my home town, I had no problem getting things done. All of my friends lived an hour away or more, so it was very easy to find time to accomplish things since there were no distractions during the day. I even found myself taking on more work than usual simply to occupy time.
Now that I am back in town and closer to everyone, I am finding that I have less free time to get work done. This is not a bad thing on the surface, as I love hanging out with everyone and catching up on time missed, since I was away for about five years total. But on the business end, it can be more difficult.
There are a few things, however, to help combat this that I have been doing. Here are just a few:
- Make a schedule, set goals and stick to them. Roughly planning out your entire day is a great start and something that most everyone should do. Plan for big events and know that you will be away from the office at those times. Tell yourself that you want to work X number of hours per day and actually do it!
- Work at night. If you are a night owl like myself, you will have no problem with this one. Things usually settle down at night and friends are either asleep or at work, so there is plenty of free time to concentrate on work.
- Turn the TV off! It’s almost impossible to get anything done with the TV on in the background, because odds are, you will find something interesting on and stop working all together. Using a DVR is a great way to record shows that you do want to watch and set them aside to watch during your designated leisure time.
- If you can’t find much time at night or are too tired, do a little work here and there during the day. Take a laptop or note pad with you and get some writing done here and there, check and reply to emails or make blog posts.
- Just say no! Sometimes, work is just more important and you will have to take a rain check on hanging out, going out to a movie or to dinner with friends, etc. It’s ok - your friends won’t hate you!
Like I said, these are just a few things to help keep you on track. Remember, at the end of the day, time equals money and success… so if you aren’t where you want to be or well on your way, perhaps you need to be more focused and invest some more time to get there