November 26, 2009

Rosalina's Love Story

Jack (14) totally shot and edited this Super Mario Galaxy mashup of the love story between Rosalina and Luigi.

Posted via web from Todd's posterous

November 24, 2009

8 Ways to Effectively Butt in on Twitter

My friend Bryan is always quoting Newton's third law of motion, "For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction." Only he's not talking physics, he's talking economics. His theory is that there is no bad economic news at the macro level because when something bad happens in one area, an opposite and equal reaction transfers into something good in a other area. One person loses his job (that's clearly bad for him), but the company saves some money and others get to keep their job (that's good for them).

Personally, I don't buy into Bryan's distorted physics perspective on the economy. I see that a rising tide can lift all boats, or vice versa. But a couple of weeks ago, I was swept up in a spontaneous event that a least caused me to consider Bryan's perspective a little more seriously. Friends of ours (couple A) were planning to go see the musical "Wicked" with other friends of ours (couple B), when a bad action occurred. Couple A's son got sick. So Couple B called us and asked if we wanted to go in their place. We took full advantage of the good opposite and equal reaction and went to the theater with Couple B.

This is the first time the four of us were ever sitting together in comfy seats with very little leg room waiting for a major Broadway production on national tour to start. So it only seems natural that the conversation would lead to "Who has actually been to Broadway and what did you see?" Two of us had, and two of us hadn't. As we were sharing our respective views on New York, New York, the woman in the row in front us turned around and shared her enthusiasm and excitement for the city that never sleeps.

At first impression, she seemed friendly and engaging. "How nice to see strangers reach out and connect with others," I was thinking, until she started talking about going to visit ground zero. Then she went on a rant about how un-American it is that we haven't rebuild those towers. Which was a pretty strong opinion to state barely 53 seconds into this new relationship. She just went on and on about how disgraceful it was. She really brought the conversation down. But we were sitting waiting for the show to start, so we couldn't walk away, and she was sitting in front of us, so Couple B, my wife, and I couldn't even "debrief the incident" until the car ride home.

It was a clear example of how not to join a conversation. I recently read in Shel Israel's (@ShelIsrael) book, "Twitterville," that Twitter is perfect forum to hold conversations with others all around the world. In fact, Israel asserts, "Chances are that right now, there's a conversation going on in Twitterville that can impact what you do for a living." That got me thinking.

Since, I had just witnessed how not to enter a conversation, I brainstormed some tips on how to effectively butt in specifically on Twitter. Here are 8 to consider:

It's as old as Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence Others," but it's still true. Do less talking and more listening. On Twitter, that means asking plenty of questions and affirming what others say.

This one comes from "Twitterville." Don't hide behind a logo or fake avatar. Use your real name and a picture of you. People prefer to talk to people.

People love to get retweeted. If someone says something you like or you agree with, copy it and add a RT @source in front of it. But don't over RT, you could start to lose your credibility.

When you send a direct message to someone, still include their real first name. If you don't know it, you can often look it up on their profile page. I learned that nice touch from Shelly (@ShellyKramer).

There are lots of programs that help follow conversations in Twitter. I like TweetDeck because of all the other features it has. All you have to do to see the full conversation in TweetDeck is click on "in reply to..." in the bottom right-hand section of the Tweet. When you find a good conversationalist, follow them (don't worry if they don't follow you back).

I love watching "The Amazing Race" (#TAR). It's our weekly family TV time. I'm such a geek I watch it with my laptop and have TweetGrid pulled up where I search for Amazing Race and each of the different teams. I read funny tweets to my family and reply to ones that jump out at me. Only about a fifth of them lead to conversations, but I enjoy seeing how others are responding to what I'm watching.

Joel Comm (@JoelComm) gives this perfect good, better, best example of how to tweet a conversation-starting question in "Twitter Power":
Tweeting "I can't stand violent video games" could get you a discussion started in response. Tweeting "What do you think of violent video games?" could have a similar effect. But getting the discussion rolling by tweeting, "My son plays violent video games. I can't stand them. What do you think?" increases the chances that your followers will hit the reply button and toss in their two cents.
8. GIVE A COMPLIMENT > Find something you appreciate that someone else said. If you read an article or see something online, look to see if you can find the writer on Twitter. Then give them a genuine compliment. These two students at Purdue do a great job giving compliments in person. It's a great way to make someone's day.

What other tips do you have? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Hey, I guess this was another example proving Bryan's crackpot theory. The bad action of being interrupted at "Wicked" caused an opposite and equal good reaction of studying and sharing how to butt in effectively. Examples or not, I still think Bryan's theory is full of crap.

November 17, 2009

FROM THE BAD SIMILE FILES | Technology is Like a Train

Yesterday, I sat through a webinar about how technology could improve our business. One of the speakers boldly stated, "Technology is like a train. It's hard to stop, and once it leaves the station, you can't catch it." This image may have worked for the presenter, but he lost credibility with me by illustrating the power of innovation with such an "old school" image. After all, there hasn't been any innovation with the railroads since they decided to leave the caboose off the lagging end. It's like comparing technology to the buggy whip.

The second flaw with the simile was with the explanation, "Once it leaves the station, you can't catch it." I know trains can move fast, but I generally picture them going fairly slow, especially when they are leaving the station. Just think how many movie scenes there are where someone runs to catch the train, and usually makes it.

And finally, one of the most challenging things about dealing with technology is trying to figure out where it's headed. I can't think of anything more predictable than the path a train is headed down. You know the schedule, and the tracks pretty clearly map out where it's going to go.

What bad similes and metaphors have you heard? What would you compare technology to more accurately? Or more absurdly? Share your thoughts in the comments.

November 13, 2009

Did I Ever Tell You How Luck You Are?

One of the more memorable Dr. Seuss books from my childhood was "Did I Ever Tell You How Luck You Are," which begins:
When I was quite young
and quite small for my size,
I met an old man in the Desert of Drize.
And he sang me a song I will never forget.
At least, well, I haven't forgotten it yet.
The old man who is sitting precariously perched atop a cactus tells the young wide-eyed narrator:
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad...
you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!
The rest of the book is filled with example after example of characters in unfortunate and miserable situations. Think "Dirty Jobs" Dr. Seuss style. Yesterday, at the KU Natural History Museum, I saw a real life job that reminded me of the ones created in the book.

I feel so muchly much-much more lucky than the guy who has to clean tanks on the 6th floor snake exhibit. Although, I'm glad he has the job (and he appeared to enjoy it), because it provided great entertainment value for us. We went from cage to cage and watched through two layers of glass as he woke up a sleeping copperhead, unraveled a tiny bull snake from an artificial shrubbery, scooped up a water mocassin with a pole not nearly long enough, and kept a very close eye on a timber rattlesnake while he removed two dead mice from his lair.

What was really rewarding, was to watch the excitement and surprise from all the children in our group as he reached in and grabbed each snake. They were truly in awe as he calmly handled each snake. And then the real delightful moment happened. Once he had finished the last tank, my son said to all his friends, "Hey, let's go down to the door and when he comes out, let's all applaud."

Twelve children from 5-14 gathered in a small group and waited for a minute or two. When the twenty-something snake handler finally emerged from the restricted area, the children clapped and cheered. He smiled and took at brief bow.

Maybe he gets that kind of recognition everyday, but he truly looked surprised. I was proud of my son for recommending it, and really proud of all the children for sharing their gratitude. I felt ever so much-much, so muchly much-much more lucky to witness such spontaneous appreciation.

Patrick Dougherty - Stick Artist

Today outside the KU Natural History Museum, we saw an amazing stick sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. So I checked out his website where he has several videos of different installations he has completed. This is one of the longer videos, a little under 10 minutes, but I really liked the the way this one walks through the process he goes through in designing something specific for the location.

Posted via web from Todd's posterous

November 7, 2009

November 1, 2009

MAKE IT A GAME | The Web of Fortune

Yesterday, a good friend of mine was complaining about Halloween on facebook. The concern centered around the lack of gratitude and civility in 14 and 15-year-old boys knocking at his door. I had a sudden flashback to 10 years ago when I, too, was a Halloween Scrooge. I felt like October 31 was a panhandling holiday filled with bad-mannered kids and mandatory participation.

But then, I thought of my two sons (at the time they were 4 and 2) and the unsociable example I was setting. So, I started with the man in the mirror. I asked him to change his ways. Come on, you know what's next. No message could have been any clearer.

My transformation began with a simple question: what could I do that would make Halloween fun for myself? Well, I love games, and if kids were going to show up in weak customers and not tell jokes, then I could at least make them play a game. So I build the "Web of Fortune."

Every year we set up on the driveway, and ask trick-or-treaters to "Step right up and spin the Web of Fortune. The color you land on determines what kind of candy you win. If you land on a spider, you get an extra prize!"

The Web of Fortune provides a creative outlet for me, and the miniature ghouls, pirates, and princesses seem to like it as well. Sure, there is the occasional rude rug rat that screams, "That's not fair" at me because he only gets to spin once or didn't land on the spider, but I'm having so much more fun it outweighs those minor incidents.

What creative experiences did you see this Halloween? What other activities do you dread participating in that you could turn into a game?