My 2013 top posts on Instagram

Statigram invited me to create a video containing my top 2013 most “hearted” posts on Instagram. The result is below (best viewed in Firefox or Internet Exploder 11).

It’s interesting to see that all of the most popular ‘grams were late 2013. I chalk this up to more and more people using Instagram (compared to the beginning of the year) and more and more friends following me on Instagram (compared to year begin).

If you want to check out the rest of my Hinstary, you can view my ‘grams on the web at http://instagram.com/wesleytech

I am a winner in the “I Want My Google TV” contest!

I am extremely PSYCHED to announce that I have been selected as 1 of 100 winners of the “I Want My Google TV” contest. Thanks to being selected as a winner, I now have a brand new Sony NSX46GT1 46″ LCD HDTV with Google TV on the way to my house.

Contest placing and scoring

My video submission landed me in 42nd place out of 100 winners (and thousands of entries). Not too shabby at all.

The videos submitted to the contest were scored by a panel of judges on the following criteria :

How original/creative/entertaining is the Video Submission?
How well do you explain why you love Google TV?
Why are you excited about watching YouTube videos on Google TV?
How is the technical execution (e.g., Camera/Sound/Lighting/Editing)?
Does your Video Submission inspire others to want to have a Google TV in their home?

My I Want My Google TV contest submission

Embedded below is my submission.

The story behind my last minute submission

I actually found out about this contest on the very last day (or the day before) that they were accepting submissions. Due to this, I didn’t have much time to come up with a good concept, do any fancy cinematography or do any editing. Nonetheless, even with these time constraints, I recognized that there was a good probability of winning if I submitted a video and adhered to the scoring guidelines as much as possible, specifically because they were giving out 100 prizes. I whipped up my webcam recorded video very quickly on the last night (December 22nd) that they were accepting submissions and fired it off to the contest.

To be frank, I actually wasn’t very happy with my submission. I thought it was crude, poorly made and not very unique. Even so, you can’t win if you don’t apply, so I had to give it a shot and it paid off!

Ye ole notary and document requirements

On January 5th, I was notified by the Google TV contest team that I had been selected as “a Potential Winner or an Alternate”. In order to be eligible, I had to download three documents; (1) an Affidavit of Eligibility (2) an Entrant Release Form, and (3) a W9 Tax Form to file taxes and return them to the contest administrators by January 13th. The affidavit required notarization.

I was actually out of town during this time frame, so I had to find a notary in unknown lands. I eventually found one via a UPS Store that was close to where I was staying, who popped me with a $10 notary charge. I wasn’t happy about that, but hey, it was worth it!

I was also notified that I was a winner last week, but they asked us not to disclose that we won until the official announcement (today). I was so stoked that I wanted to announce it to everyone right away, but I awaited their announcement as requested.

I’m really looking forward to my new Sony HDTV with Google TV. THANK YOU to Google, YouTube, Sony and everyone else involved in this contest!

My Life in DailyBooth Photos

Pummelvision is a handy new service that aggregates your photos from a specific source (such as Facebook photos your tagged in, Flickr, Tumblr, Dropbox, etc) and then generates a video that quickly flashes through all of those photos.

I welcomed this service with open arms, as I had already planned to make a video of all my DailyBooth photos as a video experiment. Alas, when I first checked out Pummelvision, they did not support DailyBooth. Not one to give up easily, I emailed Pummelvision support and requested that they add DailyBooth support. A few weeks later, they emailed me thanking me for the suggestion and letting me know that DailyBooth is now supported. Check out my DailyBooth Photo montage video below!

Thanks Pummelvision!

The Grobal Challenge

Grobal, a company who produces and sells self-watering pots for plants, recently made a call for participants in what they have dubbed “The Grobal Challenge“. The call to action stated that 25 people would be selected to participate in a contest that they were sponsoring.

To apply to be a part of the challenge, fans were required to “Like” the Grobal Facebook page and then post something on the wall stating that they wanted to enter the challenge and why.

I don’t know all the specific details of the challenge quite yet, but the premise is that Grobal is sending one Grobal self-watering pot to each of the 25 participants, who are asked to grow an indoor plant in their pot. Participants must then post weekly updates to the Grobal Facebook page wall over a period of 9 weeks to show their progress. One person will be selected to win an Apple iPad at the end of the challenge.

Grobal also indicated that users who posted photos or video would have an increased chance of being selected. I believe that I was the only person to post a video to the Grobal wall, which I have embedded below.

Since I was the lone applicant to actually submit a video, I figured my chances of being selected to be a participant were pretty high. I was right!

I’m happy to announce that I have been selected as 1 of the 25 Grobal Challenge participants. I’ll be receiving my Grobal pot in the mail next week and I look forward to getting my new indoor plant growing! I’ve got my eye on that iPad prize too. 🙂

Interview with LeapFish PR & Social Media Manager

Today, I won earned an Apple iPad in the LeapFish $100,00 Cash Dash contest. One portion of the contest awards contestants with prizes for creating content related to LeapFish. This content can be blog posts, tweets, videos and other things. There are also many other ways to earn points.

You can also enter into the cash prize drawings simply by registering, without any additional work needed.

For one of my video submissions for the Cash Dash contest, I thought it would be a good idea to interview the LeapFish PR & Social Media Manager, Lena Shaw.

Check out the Skype Video call interview in the embedded video below. We discuss the LeapFish service, social media strategy, how the contest came about and a few other topics.

In the video, Lena talks about how the $100,000 Cash Dash came about, as LeapFish was looking for a way to give back to the community while also promoting their brand and increasing awareness of their service.

Lena also mentioned that the gaming aspect of the contest was at least partially inspired by Foursquare and Gowalla, the popular geo-location (GPS) social networking games that made big appearances at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year.

Some of the strengths of the LeapFish service itself include connectivity to Facebook and Twitter, allowing you a quick glance at your streams and internet news all from one page, search results from all 3 major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and multiple types of search results (video, images, news, real time, etc).

I’m still working hard on the contest and aiming to win a MacBook pro next! If you want to see more of my Cash Dash entries, check out my other LeapFish videos.

Using LeapFish for SEO

Yes, I’m doing the LeapFish $100,000 Cash Dash. Yes, you get points (raffle tickets) for doing blog posts and making videos about LeapFish. Yes, they are giving away prizes (iPads, MacBook Pro’s, Samsung TV’s & cash awards) to contestants.

I’ve explored high and low all over the LeapFish website and one of the more interesting things I’ve discovered is the ability to add your own links to your LeapFish Social Profile page, using whatever anchor text you want. This can provide some excellent link juice for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Watch the screencast video below to find out more.

As you can see from the video, LeapFish allows users to register and create a free “LeapFish Social Profile”. On the “Edit Social Profile” page, near the bottom, there is a section that allows you to add hyperlinks.

I’ve checked the Google Page Rank for www.leapfish.com and it comes up with a Page Rank of 6. This is good. Getting links from a PR 6 website can be very valuable and can certainly help you gain higher rankings in Search Engine Result Pages for a certain keyword or keyword set that you are targeting.

The source code on the leapfish social profile page also shows that it’s a legitimate hyperlink. There is no “nofollow” attribute added to the hyperlinks, which means that the search engines should give them value.

It also appears that you can added an unlimited number of links, which is pretty cool. So check it out and gain some SEO benefits from LeapFish.

See my post from yesterday for a more thorough overview and explanation of the LeapFish Cash Dash contest.

$100,000 in cash & prizes up for grabs via LeapFish

LeapFish.com is giving away $100,000 in cash and prizes in its Cash Dash contest. It is free and easy to enter. Simply register here to get added to the cash prize raffle drawings. Check out my screencast video below to learn more.

All you have to do to get entered into the cash prize drawings is register for free, but while you are at it, you might as well set your homepage to LeapFish.com and snag the extra points (raffle tickets) for trying the service out as your home base on the web. The more people that set their homepage to LeapFish.com, the more cash prizes they will give away.

I’ve been using the site as my homepage and my default search engine (on all browsers) for a few days now and it is a pretty comfortable experience. You’ll still get search results from Google, Bing and Yahoo, so it’s not like you’ll be getting listings from some unknown search entity. It is the same results you are used to, just presented in a different method, with multimedia search results thrown into your searches to make them more useful.

Due to the Cash Dash contest, I have been exploring just about every facet of LeapFish’s website and services, so if you have any questions feel free to hit me up. Good luck, I hope you enter & win some prizes!

Podcasting from a bicycle

Did you know that April is Valley Bike Month in the Phoenix area? Yep, sure is. And with the awesome weather we’re having, it’s an opportune time to use a bicycle for transportation, exercise, leisure, fun or whatever suits you.

This past Sunday, Tera and I took advantage of the most excellent weather and rode our bicycles to US Egg in North Phoenix for breakfast. In mid bicycle ride, I tested out CinchCast‘s telephone podcast call in service.

Check out my bicycle-cast by clicking the play button below:

So far, I’m digging the CinchCast service. After signing up for a free account and specifying your mobile phone number, you can call the dedicated CinchCast phone number and record a podcast from anywhere, at anytime. You can also record from any computer that supports Flash. They also have an iPhone app and an Android app is in the works.

I’m really looking forward to the Android app and I’ve also suggested that they support the ability to email an audio file in to publish to Cinch. This would avoid poor audio quality/reception issues that are common when using a mobile phone.

Props to marshallk for inspiring my bicycle-cast.

Promoted tweets Twitter advertising

Twitter announced and launched its new advertising platform this week.

We knew this was coming, but we didn’t know quite what it would be, until now. Many people have long wondered how the company would monetize the service and now we’re starting to see a glimpse of their future plans to generate revenue.

The advertising is dubbed “Promoted Tweets” and is currently live on Twitter.com in the Search section. In the image below, I searched for the word “coffee” and a promoted tweet from Starbucks appeared at the top of my search results.

Promoted tweet snapshot below

Promoted-Tweets-Twitter-advertising

Notice the highlighted area underneath the promoted tweet that reads “Promoted by Starbucks Coffee”.

Interestingly enough, it appears that promoted tweets are NOT yet live on search.twitter.com, only on the primary site.

So what does this mean for end-users right now? At this point, relatively little. The current promoted tweets advertising system in the search results section is very unobtrusive and I bet that the majority of Twitter users don’t use the search function on the website that much.

Promoted Tweets, the future of Twitter advertising

But what about the future? Twitter has announced that promoted tweets will eventually be inserted into the users’ Twitter streams.

From an end-user perspective, this sounds like it will suck, but there are many factors involved that will determine how much of a “suck” it will be.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors and hypothetical situations that could arise in response to promoted tweets.

Frequency. If I get one promoted tweet inserted into my Twitter stream per day, no biggie, right? But if I’m getting an advertisement every 5 minutes, I’m going to be very, very annoyed with Twitter.

Opt out? Will Twitter allow users to opt-out of advertising? Possibly via paying a subscription fee (think Pandora). This might be a good compromise to allow users to continue using the service without being bothered by ads.

Third party clients removing ads. It seems like it would be relatively easy for a Twitter client to identify and then remove any promoted tweets from a user’s stream. But will Twitter define this as an API Terms of Service violation? That’s the big question…

What are your thoughts on promoted tweets and Twitter advertising?

Arizona Foursquare special offers

To followup on my post Redeeming Foursquare promo offers: my experience, I thought I’d list out all the current Foursquare promo offers that are available in Arizona (as of 04/13/2010).

arizona-foursquare-promo-offers
Photo: Foursquare.com

Arizona Foursquare special offers

Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Chandler): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Avondale): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Oro Valley): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Glendale): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Surprise): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Gilbert): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Scottsdale): Free dessert with the purchase of an entree for the Mayor.
Cartel Coffee Lab (Tempe): Free cappuccino for the Mayor.
Cartel Coffee Lab (Phoenix): Free cappuccino for the Mayor.
CK’s Tavern & Grill (Phoenix): Food & drink happy hour pricing all the time for the Mayor.
Hana Japanese Eatery (Phoenix): Free order of sashimi of choice for the Mayor.
Java Rush Cafe (Lake Havasu City): Rewards card double stamp for checking in on Foursquare.
Leo’s Coffeehouse (Anthem): Show them your foursquare checkin and get a free espresso with any coffee purchase. Every Monday, the Mayor gets free coffee.
Liberty Market (Gilbert): Free double cortadito for the Mayor. Show the barista your checkin screen.
Manuel’s (Tempe): 20% off for the Mayor.
Maui Wowi (Gilbert): 15% off your drink purchase if you show you have checked in.
Monti’s La Casa Vieja (Tempe): Checkin and get a well, house wine or house draft beer for a nickel.
SideBar (Phoenix): Free first drink (beer and well) for the Mayor every Tuesday and Thursday night. Free shot (house choice) every 10th visit. Show the bartender after checking in.
Spicy Pickle (Chandler): Mayors eat free! Also, check in and get a free drink.
Sweet Republic (Scottsdale): Free single scoop for the Mayor. Show your server to redeem.

Get yer Foursquare free stuff!

As you can see, there are quite a few businesses in Arizona that are now offering incentives for Foursquare users. I expect more and more businesses to jump on board this year, so now is a good time to at least get yourself a Foursquare account.

I’ve redeemed Foursquare special offers for some great stuff at Carrabba’s (Glendale) and Monti’s (Tempe). So get out there, get checked in and get some free stuff!

Note: The Foursquare special offers listed above are subject to change at any time, this list is simply a snapshot of all Foursquare special offers in Arizona on 04/13/2010.