Tag Archives: Technology

How a Social Media Nerd Proposes to his Girlfriend

29 Jun

On January 29, 2011 I proposed to my girlfriend Ashley overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco and invited all of my friends (and the internet) to watch as I did it. I love my fiancé Ashley. I also love the internet and social media. So, naturally, when it came time for me to propose to my girlfriend I decided to combine the two, and who doesn’t love hearing about (I think) creative ways of proposing? Here’s how it went down.
One week before the planned date my accomplice Lucas and I performed a reconnaissance mission to the planned location Hendrik Point on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was warm and sunny making for a picture perfect sunset across the Pacific’s horizon. Unfortunately, this weather would not remain through the week and would be replaced by cold rain and blustery wind. We tested the internet connection of our mobile hotspot and planned out each step I would take including the exact spot where I would drop the knee. After coming up with a few alternative scenarios just in case, we left, not to return for one week for go time.
That week, Lucas and I would meet after work and begin working on the specifics of the plan. First, we needed a platform where all the elements would live and where I could point everyone to go during the day. For that, we used a basic Tumblrtheme with a few custom modifications thanks to Lucas. I titled the site “Project:Proposal” and we began adding features.

Layout of the Tumblr site we created

At the top of the page we added a custom Google map that would be constantly updating our location throughout the day as we drove around San Francisco. Below that was a window for a slideshow of pictures that would automatically be updated as I took pictures using the Smug Mug iPhone app. Underneath the slideshow was a space for me to update the blog with status updates and/or videos. And finally, there was an embedded Ustream window which would be broadcasting the proposal live from the location in San Francisco. Once the day arrived I would use Hootsuite to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts throughout the day pointing everyone to the Tumblr page, which would also have an introduction video of me explaining the proposal plan.
You might be thinking to yourself “how did you insure that she wouldn’t get tipped off from her friends who had seen your status updates?”. This proved to be a challenge that almost became a deal breaker for the entire plan. Lucas and I brainstormed several different ways of getting ‘phone control’ as we called it. Ideas ranged from tricking her into forgetting it somewhere to straight up stealing it. We made an attempt the night before to cut off all the power to the place where she lived in hopes that her battery would be dead without enough time to charge it. This failed horribly and ended up just cutting the power to the rest of the house where she lived. We decided to take a drastic measure that Lucas brilliantly came up with. Knowing that Ashley’s mom was the account holder for her cell phone service, I called her and told her to call AT&T and temporarily ‘disable’ Ashley’s phone AND set a new password different than the main account password so Ashley wouldn’t be able to re-enable her phone.
The day finally arrived and I woke up to a HeyTell message from Ashley explaining that her phone wasn’t working. Excellent. With status updates locked and loaded, an iPad 3G tracking our location, and my iPhone ready to snap pictures, we left for San Francisco. Oh and I had the ring too. As I kept Ashley distracted window shopping and eating lunch, I anxiously looked at my watch as the time approached for the first status update to launch. Within five minutes of the first status going out I got a text message wishing me luck on my proposal. “Great” I thought, “I didn’t account for this”. Now I couldn’t let Ashley use my phone at the risk of someone sending me another text message or phone call. This wasn’t that easy because she constantly was asking for my phone in order to try and figure out the issue with her phone service. Using coded messages, Lucas kept me updated with the status of everything throughout the day. Things were, considering all the elements involved, going smoothly.
The time approached for us to cross the bridge and head up to ‘the spot’. I was sick to my stomach because I was so nervous. I told her I knew of this “cool spot” where you could see the whole city. After crossing the bridge and driving up the hill, I parked the car and, ever so carefully, hid the ring in my coat pocket. Unlike the week before when the weather was warm and calm, today was drizzly, windy, and cold. It took some convincing on my part to persuade Ashley to actually get out of the car into the blustery elements.

Ashley had no idea she would be engaged within 5 minutes

We walked up to the spot and out of the corner of my eye I could see Lucas and his girlfriend Amy in their positions quietly and inconspicuously following us with a video camera live streaming the whole thing (Lucas wore a hat and Amy wore a wig to guarantee Ashley wouldn’t notice them. I have dedicated friends). I carefully guided her along my predetermined route keeping her attention away from Lucas and Amy and then I had one last picture taken of us to be uploaded to the site.

We continued walking and landed on my mark. I told Ashley I had something to show her and brought out my phone and played a slideshow of pictures from our 1 year anniversary. After the slideshow was finished I turned Ashley towards me said my sweet nothings to her, reached into my pocket, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. As you can see in the video, she was very, very, surprised and excited. And so was I, so much so, I forgot to put the ring actually on her finger and she asked me “aren’t you supposed to put the ring on?” and I responded “I don’t know, I’ve never done this before!”. After getting the ring on her finger and sharing some hugs and kisses I pointed over to where Lucas and Amy were positioned and they came out and handed Ashley roses and me a bottle of champagne.
Project:Proposal was a success and Ashley and I were officially engaged to be married! Once everyone watching was sure she, had in fact said ‘yes’, text messages started pouring in with congratulations and well-wishes (and also a few shout-out requests for the camera as it was still broadcasting live). I was excited everything went so smoothly AND she said yes! So excited, I shook up the champagne bottle and completely didn’t take into consideration the wind and exploded the champagne directly into a headwind all over myself and my new bride-to-be. It was a newbish move, but we had a good laugh (and so did everyone still watching live). That day, five months ago today, Ashley said “yes”, and one month from today, Ashley will say “I do”, and I cant wait.

Watch the recorded proposal video here

Project : Proposal

29 Jan

Today I am proposing to my lovely girlfriend Ashley! I’m not only proposing, but I am including friends and family who can’t be there in on the fun. I love Ashley, technology, and social media so I have decided to blend all of those things together into my marriage proposal. My friend Lucas and I created a makeshift website that will serve as the portal in which others can share in the experience.

On the site you will see:

– Video of me explaining the project

– Map of our location throughout the day

– Automatically uploaded pictures from my iPhone throughout the day

– Live stream of the actual proposal (approximately happening at 5 PM)

Go to the Project : Proposal site here and enjoy being part of my proposal!

New Mobile Application That Saves Lives

25 Jan

If you recall from my blog post from last month, I was involved in a big video production of a PSA. Well, the truth is, it was much bigger than just a PSA.

Today at a press conference in San Ramon, CA the San Ramon Fire Protection District released a truly innovative groundbreaking application that will literally save lives. If you look at my previous post you can read about the background of the project itself and about the SRVFPD and their innovative nature that lead to this app. The story behind this second version is really amazing.

When my friend Lucas first brought me on to the project he explained to me that him and Fire Chief Richard Price were out to lunch one day, while on duty, and they noticed an ambulance pull into the very shopping center where they were having lunch at. Later, they came to find out there was a person having a heart attack in the store right across the parking lot from them and they had no idea. Both Lucas and the Fire Chief are medically trained professionals who, if they had known of the incident, could have easily performed CPR in order to significantly improve the chances of that person surviving a cardiac arrest. This is where the idea came to form: During a cardiac arrest emergency the fire department will dispatch their trained citizens for assistance. Development of the app began immediately.

Some astonishing numbers given during the press conference today:

–       300,000 people nation-wide die from cardiac arrest every year

–       Less than 8% survival rate for a person having a cardiac arrest on the street

–       Average call response time is 7 minutes for first responders

–       When a Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED) is used survival rate rises to nearly 80%

–       AEDs only used 5% of cases

Obviously there is a great opportunity for an app like this to make a real impact.

Here’s how it works:

When someone has a cardiac arrest (in a public area) and 911 is contacted, the dispatch center dispatches both the emergency services and the iPhone app. The server searches all of the CPR-subscribed devices that are within a certain proximity to the medical emergency and sends their phone a push notification and a distinct alert tone.

CPR response screen

When the app is opened the user is shown the business name, the address, and where the AED is located, if available. The user chooses the “Go” button and a map with their current location and a pin of where the incident is taking place is shown. There is also a CPR button that will show key reminders of the proper way to do CPR. It is clear to see how effective this app can be in an emergency situation and the great life saving potential it has.

Today at the press conference it was also announced by Workday CEO Dave Duffield that they will be building the Android and Blackberry version of the application for free in order to encourage the adoption of the application by as many people as possible. Even more amazing is that the SRVFPD is giving the application away free of charge and have plans to make the code available as opensource to encourage the spread of the application and share the life saving capabilities.

I feel very honored to have been involved in this project and am thankful for Lucas and Fire Chief Price for including me in this groundbreaking project.

Watch the final PSA here and if you have an iPhone app be sure to download the app and get more information here.

Facebook Facts

31 Oct

I recently watched the movie The Social Network, based on the founding story of the website behemoth, Facebook. I found this story to be incredibly fascinating for many reasons. More than anything, thinking about the facts and figures about what Facebook has accomplished, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, in such a short period of time. In order to try and process some of the interesting information I decided to create a makeshift infographic. Take a look at it and take in just how huge Facebook is.

Click to enlarge and zoom

Oh, all of this started in a dorm room, by a Sophomore, with nothing more than an idea, computer, and an internet connection, all of which has lead to three billionaires under 30.Get inspired.

 

References:

1 http://mashable.com/2010/10/19/internet-2-billion/

2 http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

3 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7963608/Facebook-now-worth-33-billion.html

4 http://www.forbes.com/profile/mark-zuckerberg

http://www.forbes.com/profile/dustin-moskovitz

http://www.forbes.com/profile/eduardo-saverin

The Effect of Social Media on Business

7 Oct

I recently wrote about my reasons why I really enjoy Twitter and how I think it can be a great tool for people to use. One of the reasons I mentioned was that Twitter (or social media in general) holds companies accountable. Although briefly explained in my previous post, I wanted to write about it more thoroughly. Social media can effect business by having a substantial positive and negative effect on the perception of the organization as well as creating actual results that can lead to greater profitability in some cases.

First, I will start with the negative effects social media can have on business. I recently read a BBC article talking about how organizations are handling this new social media trend towards business. I think the opening sentence deserves to be repeated here:

“Once upon a time companies could afford to be rude. Unhappy customers would grumble to a few friends, withdraw their custom, but there was little else they could do.”

However, today, in a world of followers, friends, views, and fans, a company that behaves this way is likely to suffer serious repercussions that can seriously effect the business in negative ways. More and more customer service is becoming key to an organizations success. Look at Zappos. That is a company with customer service at its very core, which, because of that, was sold to Amazon for over $1 billion dollars in 2009. In this BBC article, the author describes the story of Dave Carrol whose expensive Taylor guitar had gotten broken by handlers at United Airlines. After “nine months of complaining” to United and receiving no compensation Mr. Carrol decided to take out his aggression online and make a music video and post it on YouTube. Within months the video received over 1 million views and now has over 9 million views! Think about how incredible this is. I bet more people have seen his video on YouTube bashing United Airlines than people have seen the company’s own commercials on TV.

Side note: In a brilliant move, Bob Taylor himself (from Taylor guitars) decided to use the attention from this video and make a video of his own to not only offer Mr. Carrol a sympathetic apology and state his support of him, he also gave helpful tips on how to travel with a guitar and tell everyone about their guitar repair service! Genius! Not only were they sincere and supportive of their customer they suggested helpful advice and reminded people of their services offered. Brilliantly executed.

What makes social media such a great environment for business is people’s recommendations; good or bad. For the most part, when the people who I follow on Twitter and am friends with on Facebook have opinions or recommendations about products or services, I listen, and so do their other followers and friends. That’s powerful. If my friend on Twitter tweets about horrible customer service they have received from somewhere I am sure to listen and second-guess giving that place my business. The flip side is true too. If my friend tweets about how great a place was, I will often make sure I make an effort to experience it for myself. This can be for any kind of business, from restaurants to specific products or services. This form of marketing is far more effective and concentrated than almost any other form.

Second, social media can also have a tremendous positive impact on businesses. The more people who talk positively about a product or service the more ‘viral’ it becomes and the more people listen and act on those recommendations. That is what every business that engages in social media hopes to accomplish with their efforts: going viral. Not only does this lead to potentially new business, it also opens a door for communication and customer relationships to be formed which are vital. Learning more about your customer is never a bad thing. I recently tweeted about how much I enjoyed using Chipotle’s iPhone app and within 10 minutes I got a reply from the official Chipotle twitter account agreeing with me and not trying to sell me anything. I was already excited about Chipotle before receiving that, but because they took the time and effort to say a simple comment made me even more excited about the company overall. So simple. I have heard and read about other amazing stories of companies using social media to connect with their customers in meaningful ways that have either fixed present issues or reinforced that customer’s appreciation for that company.

Lastly, social media for companies can lead to substantial results, other than positive comments. I have read several articles detailing how various organizations are creatively using social media to connect with customers in a way that had never existed before. Not only are there meaningful relationships being formed between business and customer, but also real substantial results are becoming of social media in business. Social media is no longer just something teenagers do to talk to their friends. Social media is where the people are, and where the people are is where businesses need to be. Facebook alone has over 500 million active users, not to mention the 120+ million users using Twitter, or the millions of users using other social media channels. Businesses wouldn’t second-guess having a website today even though plenty did when the web first came around.

This may seem like a “no duh” to some, but I have talked to and read about many business professionals in the business world who are completely ignorant to the importance of social media for their firm. However, it would be difficult to make the argument that social media could be a form of sustainable competitive advantage, but there is no doubt that there lies many opportunities to be had for businesses to take advantage of this new form of communication and connection.

Interesting Findings:

Businesses Using Social Media Well

Dell Computers Making $1 million Using Social Media

Why Social Media is Worth Your Time

Any other stories of businesses using social media effectively? Share in the comments.

Twitter Love

1 Oct

I am fascinated with social media. I am especially fond of Twitter. Many of my friends have asked me why I enjoy Twitter so much and in an effort to explain myself more thoroughly I deemed it worthy of writing a blog post about it.

For those of you un-aware of the 120 million active user website called Twitter, let me briefly explain what it is. Twitter is a website where you have 140 characters to answer the question ‘what’s happening?’ and each answer, or Tweet, is ‘delivered’ to all those who follow you. Those who follow you can read your Tweet and respond by re-Tweeting your message, or replying to what you had to say. You can also choose to follow other people who answer the same question and interact and engage with them as well. This may seem like an unnecessary tool and a great waste of time, but I would disagree with you and here is why.

First of all, Twitter is not just status updates. It is that, and it is so much more, and it is the so much more aspect of Twitter that is why I think it is such a great tool. One of the things I love about Twitter is that it is unique to everyone. The people who I follow and am interested in are not going to be the same people you follow and are interested in. For example: I love technology, entrepreneurs, and cycling so I follow a lot of people associated with those things and thus get updated with information regarding all those topics. On the other hand, my brother is obsessed with baseball and music and follows lots of musicians, athletes, managers, announcers, etc. So both my brother and I follow different people (with some overlap) and get very different things out of Twitter.

For me, what I enjoy most about Twitter is the content I come across. Because of the people I follow, and the content they share, I read a lot of really interesting articles, blogs, and amazing videos all ‘customized’ to my interests. It’s also a great way to interact and keep up to date with friends in a very easy and streamlined way.

I think the best way to explain how awesome this can be is to share what kind of experiences I have had because of Twitter. Although these are unique experiences and something not necessarily every person experiences, I still think it helps explain why I enjoy Twitter.

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

Like I said, I enjoy cycling and follow people who are involved with cycling. The most famous cyclist being Lance Armstrong who also happens to be an avid Tweeter. Last September Lance updated his Twitter saying he would be in L.A. and asked all his followers in the area to go on a

 

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

 

bike ride with him the following day. Since I lived a short distance away, my friend Corey and I woke up really early and drove to Griffith Park where we met up with 500 of Lances local followers for a bike ride. We rode for about 2 hours during which I made my way to the front and snapped a picture of Lance as we were riding. I also took some video while he was leaving right in front of me. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Special Events

I also follow John Mayer who was also a devoted Tweeter. Last Summer he Tweeted that he was going to play an impromptu set at Hotel Café in Hollywood and tickets were only $5. When my friends and I read about this we rushed over to Hollywood, found parking, ran to Hotel Café and were met with a long line

 

Paparazzi Taking Pictures of John Mayer

 

of people and a sold out Hotel Cafe. Although we didn’t get to see the concert, we did hang out with some paparazzi and when John did come we snapped some photos. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Products

One of the people I follow is an entrepreneur in the tech industry who said in a tweet that he had found the best case he has seen available for the iPad and shared a link to the website. Having just purchased an iPad and unsatisfied with the cases currently available, I clicked on the link he had posted which led me to the DODOcase website. It was love at first site and exactly what I was looking for for my new iPad. Because of that person tweeting about that case I purchased it. It’s an awesome case that I love and I purchased it all because of Twitter. (I even wrote a blog post about how much I love the case).

Keeping Companies Accountable

I also really love that more and more businesses are joining Twitter in order to connect with their customers more and promote their business. What this also does is give us consumers a direct line of communication to the company to voice our opinions (good or bad). In my case, it was bad. After a VERY unfavorable experience with a certain gym (BALLYS TOTAL FITNESS) I decided to see if they happened to be active on social media. They were and I was happy to see it. I told all 150 of my followers on Twitter and all 650 of my friends on Facebook how Bally’s Total Fitness has the worst customer service (it’s true, they do) and to NEVER join their gym (seriously don’t). This led to their social media person contacting me on both Twitter and Facebook to try and solve the issue. After many back-and-forths the issue, of course, was not resolved and I am still very dissatisfied and still very pissed. That said, although Bally’s Total Fitness is an awful example of a company doing social media well, it has been interesting to see how businesses are using Twitter (good or bad). Companies are held accountable and it’s awesome and it’s all thanks to social media (including Twitter). I really think Twitter is great for business, which I will save for another post.

 

Update (10/07): Here is that other post about social media and business.

Deals

Not one of my favorite uses of Twitter but something that a lot of people are interested in are the freebies you can gain from Twitter. In an effort to gain more followers, many companies will have drawings to give away products (seems to always be an iPad) to people who follow them and retweet their message. I have never won one of these contests nor has anyone I know, but that could be reason enough for people to get something out of Twitter. This is maybe thanks to Twitter.

Make Money

Making money using Twitter can happen in many different ways and people are still finding out really interesting ways to do so. I never have myself, but I have read and thoroughly enjoy reading how people have done it. One story I recently came across (through Twitter) was how an indie musician made $19,000 in 10 hours using Twitter. That is REALLY awesome and all thanks to Twitter.

Like I said, these experiences are fairly unique and more than anything they’re just really…cool. Even if I had not experienced these things I still would value Twitter because of all of the content I gain from it. I’m not talking about viral YouTube videos, but actual content that, for me, has seriously impacted me in significant ways. Not so much because of the individual tweets themselves, but for the places that the tweets lead me to on the internet, such as articles, blogs, breaking news, etc. Lot’s of people don’t see the point of social media and Twitter and that’s fine, but for me it is something that really interests me.

While Twitter is a great way to find interesting things and connect with people, actually connecting with people in real life is way better. So let’s not stop doing that.

If you’re unsure of how to get started and are really interested in Twitter or other social media I would suggest going The Yellow Sandbox to learn more about how to get started with social media.

Use Twitter? Have any cool experiences come from using Twitter? Let me know in the comments.

Searchable Legacy

20 Sep

Earlier this year it was announced that the Library of Congress (the largest library in the world whose mission is to “sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations”) will archive every tweet ever tweeted on Twitter since 2006 when the service first started. This is HUGE….kind of. Well, more like really interesting. This is INTERESTING. That’s better.

What is so interesting about this, at least to me, is to think about the implications this seemingly simple decision will have on our world. Think about it. Every tweet you have ever posted (assuming your profile is set to “public”, which most are) and will post in the future will be saved and archived in the Library of Congress….forever! That means my kids, grandkids, my great-grandkids, etc., etc., will be able to search and read every tweet I have ever posted for as long as I have Twitter. I can imagine my great-grandkids doing their family history project in Elementary school and the teacher encouraging her students to research the Twitter archives for their family history. That is part awesome and part scary. My future great-grandkids are going to think I’m super lame always tweeting about Apple products, blog posts, and other nerdy things from the early 2000’s. And who knows what kind of stuff I’ll be tweeting about in my 60’s or 70’s!? Think about it, old people love using the same products and brands they used in “their day.” I think we could still be tweeting and using Facebook and blogging the same when we’re all old hanging out in retirement centers with super fast Google wireless internet from space.

Maybe my Facebook profile will still be around by the time my great grandkids are alive and instead of a ‘fan’ page, you can create a ‘family tree’ page and connect all of your family members together, living and deceased. By that time I would imagine Facebook would be close to world domination so I don’t see why that couldn’t be possible. My future family members could look at my profile and see the progression of my life as it happened through pictures and wall posts.

You thought it was bad when your parents got on Facebook, imagine what it will be like when your KIDS get on Facebook!

Perhaps Facebook should start implementing family privacy preferences so our kids can’t look at your pictures past a certain year. You wouldn’t want them to leverage specific pictures from your college days in an argument.

Thanks to the Library of Congress I will literally have a searchable legacy. Every story I tell about my early life to my grandkids will be fact checked to make sure grandpa isn’t telling fibs again! This also puts things into perspective for me and makes me put a whole lot more thought into how I answer the question “what’s happening?” on Twitter. It’s interesting to think about this uncharted frontier we call Social Media and where its place will be in history. I’m sure we have only scratched the surface with what’s possible. When my great-grandkids read this one day maybe they’ll write about this blog post in their family history project…or maybe they’ll be too busy reading past updates from Ashton Kutcher.

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