Thanks for the new 46″ Sony HDTV with Google TV!

Quick thank you video to Google/YouTube for sending me a new 46″ Sony HDTV powered by Google TV

Whoops, that’s not my TV

One day, as I was anxiously awaiting the delivery of my Sony HDTV powered by Google TV, I saw a tractor trailer delivery truck pull up and knew that it was magic time! Or was it?

After helping the delivery guy haul a TV into my house, I noticed something was up. Closer inspection of the TV box revealed that they had mistakenly delivered me a Sony 60″ HDTV, and a model that didn’t even have Google TV integration!

I proceeded to tell the delivery guy that I thought there was a mixup and this was not my TV. The box even had the name and address of some other dude on it, in a whole nuther state! But alas, my warnings were futile, as the delivery man didn’t care whatsoever! I believe he even said “Enjoy your bigger TV!” and off he went.

I knew better, so I kept the wrongly-delivered-sixty-incher safely wrapped in its original packaging, awaiting a frantic call from the delivery people or Sony, once someone figured out that there was something amiss. And after all, this was a FREE TV, so I figured I’d play nice with the shipping company & Sony, even though there had certainly been a massive screwup.

Corrective action

As expected, a few days later I got a frantic call from “dispatch” at the delivery company, with a lady “informing” me that they had delivered the wrong TV to my house. I cooperated and let them know that the TV was still in the original packaging and ready for pickup.

The next day, the delivery guy was back and I helped him carry the unopened 60″ behemoth back into his truck (as an aside, how can an HDTV delivery company get away with only using one delivery person? What if he was delivering to an elderly person or another individual who couldn’t help with carrying a TV?).

A week later, the correct TV showed up and I’ve been enjoying Google TV ever since!

How I won a Google TV

The story of the contest and winning the prize is a pretty interesting one, so if you haven’t read it yet, check out my post on it here.

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.

$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!

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?

Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience

Did you know that Foursquare collaborates with businesses to list official special offers on its venue pages? Yah, they do, and best of all, it’s free for businesses to participate.

The concept of real world businesses providing a tangible incentive to Foursquare users (who normally receive just a virtual reward) intrigued me, so I set out on a mission to redeem a few Foursquare special offers on my own.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Carrabba’s

My first experience occurred at Carrabba’s in Glendale, where I am, indeed, the not-so-mighty Mayor on Foursquare.

Upon checking in on the Foursquare Android app, I was greeted with a special offer screen that looked like the following image (taken from the Foursquare website).

Carrabbas-Foursquare-Special-Offer

Free dessert for the mayor? Yessir, I’ll take it, thankaverymuch.

I kept the foursquare special offer screen in focus on my Motorola Droid and set the phone aside for later.

After finishing our meal, I asked our waitress if she had heard of the Foursquare Mayor free dessert promotion. I then showed her the special offer info on my phone, but she had never heard of it. She said that she would have to get a manager, so we waited while she called a manager over to our table.

Getting shot down… sort of

When the manager arrived, she said something like “these kind of things always go up online and then Carrabba’s takes them down quickly and it’s probably a scam.”

Wow… really? I was shocked, but the experience didn’t end badly. Even though she didn’t believe the promotion was legitimate, the manager said she would honor it anyway, so we wound up with a free dessert.

I reported the incident to @Carrabbas and they later followed up with me on Twitter and email, exhibiting excellent customer service.

When I returned to Carrabba’s a second & third time, I had no problems whatsoever redeeming the Foursquare special offer. I suspect someone at corporate called the Glendale location and asked them to educate all employees on the Foursquare promotion. Well done, Carrabba’s.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Monti’s La Casa Vieja

The second location where I redeemed a Foursquare special offer was at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe.

Tera and I were enjoying the beautiful Arizona weather, hanging with our friends Jake and Mandy at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. When I mentioned the Monti’s 5 cent drink Foursquare special offer, our friends could hardly believe it.

We huffed it down to the end of Mill Ave, where Tera and I checked in on Foursquare before entering Monti’s. As we checked in, the Foursquare special offer splashed to life on our screens, which looked like the image below (again, taken from the Foursquare website).

Montis-La-Casa-Vieja-Foursquare-Special-Offer

We scuttled on over to the bar area, where Jake and Mandy tried to check-in on Foursquare to join in on the special offer fun. Oops, no service inside the building (thanks AT&T).

When our waitress arrived, I asked her if she was aware of the Foursquare promotion. Nope! She had no idea what I was talking about. She took our orders, presumably spoke with management and then came back to ask me how many of us had checked in on Foursquare. Tera got a glass of wine for 5 cents, I got a tasty Four Peaks draft beer for 5 cents.

Five cent drinks FTW!

Foursquare special offers final thoughts

Providing tangible rewards for Foursquare users is a very smart business move and a compelling incentive to get more people using Foursquare. A win-win for the business and Foursquare.

Like anything new, the Foursquare special offer redemption process will be bumpy at first. The best thing that a business can do to ensure a smooth process is to make sure that all of their staff is aware of the Foursquare special offer, once they start running one.

Foursquare might not be mainstream quite yet, but the folks who are using it are tech-savvy, vocal, ahead-of-the-pack power users. Adding a free Foursquare special offer for your business will attract these people as well as increase awareness and conversations about your business. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity.

Tips on redeeming a Foursquare special offer

Check-in before entering a business, to avoid wireless service issues indoors.
Don’t expect the staff to be aware of the Foursquare special offer, or even know what Foursquare is.
Keep the special offer image & text available on your phone to show the staff, if needed.
Be polite and ask the staff to check with management if they need further direction.
If you run into a problem, follow-up with a higher up (manager, owner, corporate office) to get things ironed out.

More resources on Foursquare

Learn more about Foursquare for businesses (official site).
10 Ways a Small Business can Leverage Foursquare by Joe Manna
Local Search Marketing using Foursquare by Chuck Reynolds

10 reasons you should attend Twestival Phoenix

Tweet, Meet, Give. Sounds simple enough right?

Twestival Phoenix is occurring at 7pm on Thursday, March 25th at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale.

This is a 100% volunteer run event. All money raised will benefit Concern Worldwide, a non-profit, non-government organization that provides aid to areas in extreme poverty around the world, with a focus on building schools, training teachers, providing clean drinking water, health education, disaster relief, etc.

Social media is fun. It’s educational, it helps us communicate, but it can also be used for a good cause, such as this.

10 reasons you should attend Twestival Phoenix

  • It’s for a great cause.
  • It’s fun! We had a great time at Twestival Phoenix last year.
  • The drinks! Each attendee receives 2 drink tickets and Twestival Phoenix will have beverages on hand from Cruz tequila, Karlsson’s Gold vodka and Full Sail Brewing.
  • Food! Twestival Phoenix will have complimentary bites on hand from Kabuki, Petit Fromage, Fairytale Brownies, SuperFarm, Udder Delights, Wildflower Bread Company and more!
  • Network. Twestival Phoenix attempts to draw together everyone in the Phoenix social media community. There will be many a networking opportunity available at the event.
  • Win prizes! Twestival Phoenix will be running a raffle and giving away a slew of prizes to attendees. Tons of gift certificates, gift baskets and prizes from local area businesses will be handed out.
  • Rock out! The Surfside IV will be jamming the house at Twestival Phoenix. The best surf-rock band in the valley.
  • Silent auction. Twestival Phoenix will feature many high value items & services in the silent auction. This is your chance to pick up some very cool stuff at a discount, all the while supporting a great cause.
  • Get a cool t-shirt. You have the option of purchasing a slick Twestival Phoenix t-shirt, which you will receive at the event.
  • Did I mention music? Green Ears (hip-hop & reggae cover band) and Radio Maker are also scheduled to play Martini Ranch the night of Twestival Phoenix.

Please attend Twestival Phoenix!

We need as many attendees as possible to make this a successful event. Please come! Please bring some friends! Purchase tickets here.

We also need help spreading the word. Please tweet, blog, Facebook status update or whatever else you can think of to help make people aware of the event.

I hope to see you on March 25th!

Official website: http://phoenix.twestival.com