Friday, March 28, 2014

When It Comes to Dogs, Don't Judge One By His Breed

When you think of a Rottweiler, what comes to mind? Vicious? Mean? Scary? How about friendly, playful and sweet? I will admit, a month ago, I probably would have said mean and scary, but today it's the latter. My family recently ended up adopting a Rotteweiler named Thor from a local no kill shelter. This is his story. 

Thor is a 3 year old 100 pound Rottweiler that we rescued from Yellow Brick Road Rescue in Big Bend, WI. His first family lost their house and surrendered him to the Humane Society. The Humane Society contacted Yellow Brick Road and told them he was too good of a dog and they should take him. They did. 

Some time later, Thor was adopted out to a single guy who just got back from the military. 9 months later Animal Control contacted Yellow Brick Road via Thor's microchip. His owner disappeared and left him locked in the basement for days. A neighbor called Animal Control and they found Thor very happy and excited to see people. Yellow Brick Road took him back in January of this year. 

The owners of Yellow Brick Road suggested we take Thor saying he would fit our family nicely. I refused to see him because I was not going to have a Rottweiler in my house. They showed us 2 dogs who were both very friendly and nice. They insisted that we should at least meet Thor and we finally did.

When they brought him out, my first words were "Dear God in heaven!". He is the size of a pony and he has a huge head. He looks like your typical junk yard dog. I was terrified. I finally got the courage to pet him and he looked up at me with these big brown eyes. He leaned up against me and rolled on his back waiting for me to rub his tummy and I obliged. I looked over at my wife and said "I want him."  

Thor has fit in nicely in our home. He broke out of his cage the first few times we left him alone. We think it's because he has separation anxiety and he was afraid we were going to leave him like his last owner. Other than that, he's been a big ol teddy bear. He's very gentle and sweet and he loves to be petted, particularly on his belly. He listens so well that the kids can easily manage him and he's a great fit for our family. Everyone that meets him says they want him. Too bad. They can't have him. 

A month ago, I would have told you there is no way I'd ever own a Rottweiler. After meeting Thor and bringing him into my home, I can say that a Rottweiler is one of the best dogs I have ever met in my life. To think that I almost didn't give him a chance because of his breed is absurd to me now. Every animal is different regardless of their breed. When it comes to adopting a pet, do it with an open mind or you might pass up a great dog.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

How to Set Up a Twitter Account Like a Pro

7 Tips to Make Your Twitter Profile Shine

by @dinoalphabet

As of May 2013, there are 554 million active Twitter users. With such high numbers, Twitter is a great opportunity to gain exposure for professionals and for businesses. Whether it is a professional account, personal account, or a business account, in order to maximize your Twitter experience, it is important to have your account set up professionally and correctly. Your Twitter presence can be perceived as a first impression to a potential client or employer and you can easily steer away people with an incomplete or boring Twitter profile. Here are some tips on how to intelligently set up your Twitter account.
  • Pick a good name. If you’re using Twitter for personal use, add your full name. If you’re using it to promote a business, use the name of the company you are trying to promote.
  • Pick a good handle. On Twitter, your username, or handle, is how people identify you. It is a way to get your readers attention and what they remember you by.  It should be plain and simple, yet unique.  If your name is Han Solo, some good Twitter handles for you might be @HanSolo or @CaptainSolo. Avoid using digits, symbols, and spaces at all cost.
  • Select good profile pictures. People use social media to be social. It puts a more personal touch to your account if you have a clear head shot of yourself. Not only do you come off as more professional, but if you set a picture of Spongebob to your profile no one will take you seriously, unless you're tweeting for Nickelodeon. If you are using Twitter for your company, use your company logo as a profile picture.
  • Utilize your background. Twitter allows you to select a background picture behind your profile photo. It makes no sense to not utilize this and it drives me nuts when I click on a Twitter page and find it black. Make a creative background, showcase some of your personal photography or use a picture from your company that you are promoting. Give your followers something to look at.
  • Fill out your bio correctly. I just came across a bio that only read “Peace&Love<3”. This tells me absolutely nothing about the user and gives me no reason to follow them. Your bio is a brief description about who you are and what you are about. Most people don’t realize that what you have in your bio can come up in Twitter search and can be found in search engines. This is key when trying to gain followers so describe yourself, your specialties and some of your interests. If you are representing a business, add the services you offer. Also, include your location in your bio. It is important for possible clients and employers to see where you are. Make sure you proofread and check for spelling errors in your bio, too.
  • Add a link to your website or blog to your Twitter bio. If you have a website or blog, Twitter is a great way to get some page views and website traffic. Its another tool in the toolbox so use it.
  • Follow a bunch of people. A good rule of thumb is anywhere from 75-100 people at first. Make sure they're people in your industry or users that you find interesting. Favorite celebrities, actors, athletes and news sites are always a good start.  

So now, you have your account and profile set up and you’re ready to dive into the vast Twitter Sea of knowledge. What do you do now? Engage. Social Media is about engaging with others. Its about communicating and meeting new people. The worst thing you can do on any social media platform is to not be social. Respond, retweet and favorite other peoples tweets and it will start happening to you.

Were these tips helpful? Are you an expert that has more tips that I may have missed? I'd love to hear back from you!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Suspended From Twitter: A Survival Story

How important is your Twitter account to you? How many times a day do you open your Twitter app and scroll through your news feed? What would you do if you checked your account one day and found all of your followers and followings down to zero? Well, that's what happened to me. Here is my story.

I love Twitter. I am on it constantly. It's where I get my news, where I communicate and it's where I go to pass the time. I have a modest amount of Twitter followers at 270-something and I am following about 590 people. Three days ago, I went into my Twitter account and it was all down to 0. I didn't panic right away. Instead, I checked my account through my wife's phone.

"This account is forbidden."

We're experiencing heavy turbulence. Make sure your seat backs and tray tables are upright and in a locked position.

Wait, what? Forbidden?!?!? I never post anything that is distasteful, nor do I Tweet profanity. Perhaps I was hacked? Nope. All of my recent Tweets were from me. Innocent and lighthearted posts with the occasional retweet all done by yours truly. And now, my sanctuary had been stripped away from me. I was exiled from the virtual community of my favorite social media outlet.

There had to be some mistake! Maybe my account wasn't working on mobile devices. I logged in on my laptop with my fingers crossed. "This account has been suspended."

Let the panicking begin.. 

My wife tried to calm me down in my miniature state of grief. To quote a famous figure skater, "Why me?!?!?" I couldn't believe this was happening. I had absolutely no idea why I would ever have any reason to be suspended from Twitter.

The message on my Twitter homepage said to click on a link to receive an email from Twitter support and so I did. Before I sent my email, I checked the internet and I found that many people have had the same problem. One guy said that he emailed them every day, multiple times a day and it took over 6 weeks before he got a response. 6 weeks!?!?!

We just lost cabin pressure.

I quickly checked my inbox and found an email from Twitter. It was delivered automatically and it said if I want to dispute the suspension, I needed to review the Twitter rules and respond to the email stating what I did wrong and tell them I wouldn't do it again. They also mentioned that from time to time, they make a mistake and suspend accounts on accident.

I emailed them back politely and with as much professionalism as I could in my messed up state of grace. I needed my account back and I would do just about anything at this point to retrieve it. I clicked send like I was sending away a messenger bird. Hopefully it would find its recipient in a timely manner. All I could do was wait. So I did what anyone who is addicted to Twitter would do when their Twitter account is down: Facebook and Candy Crush Saga.

I'll never make it.

Days passed but it seemed like months. I felt like I was missing out on so much and I was helpless. I felt like the guy on death row who was wrongly accused of a crime he didn't commit. All I could do was hope and pray that my S.O.S. email would be reviewed promptly by Twitter and my account would be restored.

Breathe, Dino.

So I went on with my new daily routine of checking Facebook way too often and crushing as much candy as I could. It wasn't all that bad, actually. It was like being on vacation and not having any cellular service. At first, you panic, but as time passes, it's a relief. It was a sense of freedom in a weird kind of way. When I was picking up my daughter from school on the playground, I just stood there and enjoyed the beautiful weather instead of having my face buried into the screen of my iPhone 5. I kind of got used to this unexpected change of pace. And then it happened. My S.O.S. was answered three days after I sent out my initial distress call.

"Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake. I've restored your account; sorry for the inconvenience. Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal."

Echo base? This is Rogue 2. I found them. Repeat. I found them.

With in minutes my Twitter account was back up and running. My news feed was functioning like a charm and my numbers were back to normal. It was time to shake the three day old dust off and return to my normal Social Media routine. I was back!

It's kind of scary to think of how wrapped up we become in our smart phones and social media outlets. This experience was somewhat of a rude awakening for me and I learned a lot. First, take time away from your smart phone and start enjoying the things around you. Second, appreciate what you have. Validate what is important to you. Tomorrow is promised to no one. That includes your Twitter account.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Menzingers Rock the Brew City (Concert Review)

If you’re a music fan like me, then you know its a rare thing for a band to put out an album that is near perfect from start to finish. Well, the Scranton, PA punk band The Menzingers did just that. With the release of their third full length and most recent album, “On The Impossible Past” (Epitaph Records), The Menzingers produced a rare gem that has been on repeat since I downloaded the album late last year. On the album “On The Impossible Past”, The Menzingers sing about the carefree good times of growing up as well as some the bad times and tragedies they have experienced. Their clean three-chord sound, catchy lyrics, and strong vocals are captivating making “On The Impossible Past” an instant classic. When I found out that The Menzingers were stopping by my hometown of Milwaukee, WI on their summer tour, there was no way I was going to miss it.

The venue for the show was a small Milwaukee dive bar called The Cactus Club (2496 S Wentworth Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207). Located in a residential neighborhood in Milwaukee’s Bay View area, The Cactus Club has hosted scores of punk/alternative bands throughout the years. Its a dark, smaller venue with reasonably priced drinks, walls riddled with flyers from their previous shows, and a modest stage in the back of the place. It’s an intimate venue to see live music and great fit for The Menzingers.

The Menzingers took the stage and began their hour long set list at around 11:00 pm. They opened up with the fan favorite "Obituaries" electrifying the Sunday night crowd. The Menzingers kept good pace and went from one song to the next without missing a beat. The majority of the songs they played were from "On The Impossible Past" including "Good Things" and the upbeat "Burn After Writing". The Menzingers also played some of their best songs from their second album "Chamberlain Waits". The audience positively responded to their song selection by cheering and singing along with the band, often drowning out the lead vocals. Of course, the crowd demanded an encore and The Menzingers obliged playing their final song of the night, "Casey".

The Menzingers put on a great show. They played a good array of songs and they sounded amazing. The Menzingers performed with very high energy that was magnified in the small venue creating an electric atmosphere. It was a unique experience that took me back to my old days of going to punk shows as a kid. The Menzingers are still on their Summer Tour in the U.S. and they kick off their UK/European tour on July 12th. If you get the opportunity to see them, I would definitely go and see the best thing to come out of Scranton since Dunder Mifflin.

Set List from the show:

U.S. Tour Dates:
5/24 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church SOLD OUT
5/25 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
5/26 Amityville, NY @ Revolution
5/27 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
5/28 Buffalo, NY @ The Waiting Room
5/29 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
5/30 Detroit, MI @ Smalls
5/31 Indianapolis, IN @ Hoosier Dome
6/01 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean - SOLD OUT
6/02 Milwaukee, WI @ The Cactus Club
6/03 St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird
6/04 Newport, KY @ The Southgate House Revival
6/06 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
6/07 Orlando, FL @ The Social
6/08 Jacksonville, FL @ Phoenix Taproom
6/10 Washington, DC @ The Rock and Roll Hotel
6/11 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus - SOLD OUT
6/12 Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes

UK/European Tour Dates:
July 12 - Tolmin, Slovenia @ Punk Rock Holiday
July 13 - Milan, Italy @ Live Forum #
July 14 - Geneva, Switzerland @ Le Contertemps #
July 15 - St. Gallen, Switzerland @ Rumpeltum #
July 16 - Trier, Germany @ Ex-Haus #
July 17 - Oberhausen, Germany @ Druckluft #
July 19 - Prague, Czech Rep @ Mighty Sounds Festival
July 20 - Jarocin, Poland @ Jarocin Festival
July 22 - Dessau, Germany @ Panic Room #
July 23 - Braunschweig, Germany @ B58 #
July 24 - Bremen, Germany @ Tower #
July 25 - Aalborg, Denmark @ Rock Cafeen #
July 26 - Stockholm, Sweden @ IOGT-huset Skarpnack #
July 27 - Copenhagen, Denmark @ UnderWerket #
July 29 - Frankfurt, Germany @ 11er #
July 30 - Lyon, France @ Warmaudio *
July 31 - Bordeaux, France @ Heretic Club *
Aug 01 - Tours, France @ The Hurricane *
Aug 03 - Folkestone, UK @ Hevy Festival %
Aug 04 - Kingston, UK @ Fighting Cocks % SOLD OUT
Aug 05 - Kingston, UK @ Fighting Cocks % SOLD OUT
Aug 06 - Leeds, UK @ Cockpit  %
Aug 07 - Edinburgh, Scotland @ Bannermans % SOLD OUT
Aug 08 - Blackpool, UK @ Rebellion Festival
Aug 09 - Cardiff, UK @ Clwb Ifor Bach % SOLD OUT
Aug 10 - Cork, Ireland @ Cypress Avenue %
Aug 11 - Dublin, Ireland @ Fibber Magees %
Aug 13 - Paris, France @ La Miroiterie
Aug 14 - Lille, France @ Shaka Laka
Aug 16 - Biddinghuizen, Holland @ Lowlands Festival

# The Arteries
* Apologies I Have None
% Tigers Jaw

Official Menzingers Website:

The Menzingers “Good Things”:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Private Eyes: Is Google Glass going to be a privacy problem?

In recent tech news, Google Glass has taken the spotlight. Almost everyone in the industry is dying to get their hands on Project Glass, which is currently being Beta tested by thousands of "Explorers". When they hit the shelves, they'll sell like hot cakes, but, is the next big thing from Google an invasion of your privacy?

Google Glass is an interactive wearable computer that you put on like glasses. Equipped with a transparent computer screen over the right eye, Glass allows the user to send emails, post to social media outlets, take photos or videos and browse the Internet. It is all controlled by voice, touch and gesture. Sounds impressive to most, but it is scary to some. 

In a tidbit from New York Times video cast from March of this year, Scott Cleland (who is introduced as a "Consultant for Google's competitors") argues that Google Glass is a violation of ones privacy. Cleland mentions that if you're sitting in a Starbucks with a friend, someone could record your conversation with Glass and you would never know it. He also explains that all of the data that is saved on Glass is sent to Google and stored in their cloud. So is he hitting it on the head or is he just paranoid? 

I'm sure that Cleland is not alone when when he discusses privacy issues with Google. However, I don't really think it's a big deal. The fact is, almost everyone has a smart phone nowadays. Your Starbucks conversations can easily be recorded with these devices. Some stranger could take your picture and upload it to Facebook faster than you can say Venti Skinny Iced Caramel Macchiato. Realistically, this can happen anywhere you go at any given time. 

Does this stop me from having coffee in public with a few friends? Nope. I'm sure that there is an extreme minority that is using technology in a bad way, and they'll likely do the same thing with Glass. I'm just not convinced that Google Glass is going to spawn an invasion of privacy epidemic that hasn't already happened with the onset of smart phone technology. 

If someone wants to record my conversations about baseball or my last trip to the movies, be my guest. And if Google wants to use that data to create better, more innovative and technologically advanced products, I'm happy to oblige. 

What are your thoughts on Google Glass? Will Glass be a problem in regards to your privacy?

Follow me on Twitter @dinoalphabet

View The New York Times TimesCast below:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

David Blaine Pushes Through the Pain to Redefine Death-Defying 

By @dinoalphabet

Until recently, when I heard the name David Blaine, I thought of card tricks. A street magician that is pretty good at sleight of hand type entertainment that mesmerized people. Quite frankly, I was not impressed. I heard about a couple of his “magic” tricks that got a lot of press, like being buried alive and being frozen in a block of ice. I didn't really give him much thought. I had seen some of his street magic shows on cable T.V. and I could explain everything (at least I thought I could). “Its just an illusion”. Well, I stumbled upon a TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) video of Blaine and I have a new found respect for him.

In 2010, Blaine went on TED Talks to describe a stunt that he did which sounds absolutely absurd. He held his breath for 17 minutes and 4 seconds. I clicked on the link expecting to see how the trick was done and what type of illusions he had used. Boy, was I wrong.

David Blaine's TED Talks video was intense. I started watching it and within seconds I was hooked. Blaine dressed casually and  was nonchalantly narrating the show on a stage for  TED MED Talks, which is a TED Talks that had  Doctors and Scientists in the audience. Many were interested in how Blaine could hold his breath under water for so long without being brain dead, or just dead.

Blaine delivered his presentation using in depth slides and videos. At first, his goal was to create an illusion of holding his breath under water. Blaine showed the crowd slides of crude medical procedures that he was experimenting with to create this illusion and none of them were working. Blaine decided he would actually do the stunt without "tricks" Doctors were telling him that holding your breath for longer than 6 minutes had many health risks.
Blaine looked at it as a challenge. He learned the art of static-apnea, which is keeping your body functioning without breathing.
At the time, the static-apnea World Record holder Tom Sietas held his breath for 8 minutes and 58 seconds. Blaine was determined to make the impossible possible and on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he announced that he would attempt to break that record on live television.

In this TED Talk, Blaine went into great detail from his training all the way to breaking the World Record. Blaine documented his stunt from the very beginning and he showed the crowd images and videos on a screen of how he conditioned himself for this feat. He also talked about how doctors were monitoring him before, during and for weeks after this stunt, documenting his progress for the advancement of science and medicine. Blaine had a many videos in his TED Talk and he provided minute by minute commentary on his World Record breaking stunt which made his presentation compelling.

After watching this TED Talk, I was quite impressed with David Blaine. Not only is he a magician, illusionist, and a World Record breaker, he's a pretty darn good public speaker too. The audience was riveted by his explanation of how he defied death. Blaine's casual narration was comical at times and emotional at others. Blaine even got a bit teary eyed as he concluded the presentation by talking about all that how hard he worked to get himself to that point.

Blaine held the World Record for static-apnea for four months until it was broken by Tom Seitas. It has been broken a few times since and Seitas is the current record holder at 22 minutes and 22 seconds. But that's o.k. with David Blaine. He's already reached that goal and went above and beyond to achieve it. I'm sure that Blaine will continue to challenge himself and perform new stunts that will continue to amaze us, inspire us, and show us the impossible.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From Venti Updates to the McTweet, big companies are using social media to their advantage

Posted by Dino Anagnostopoulos

Companies are reaching out to tens of millions of people daily by using social media outlets. It is a cost efficient and simple way to get in touch with consumers, investors, and job applicants. Organizations across the world are using Facebook and Twitter to promote themselves but how are they doing it?

When is the last time you saw a Starbucks commercial on T.V.? I don’t think I ever have. With nearly 38 million “likes” and followers on Facebook and Twitter combined, they don’t need to pay for very many T.V. spots. They subtly reach out to consumers using social media. They utilize Twitter, Facebook and YouTube effectively to get customers through their doors. The Starbucks Facebook timeline has photos of their coffee drinks and sandwiches. They post updates on promotions and advertise new products. Click on the Locations button and you will see a map with pin-points on all of the Starbucks locations near you.

The Starbucks Twitter feed doesn’t just showcase tinyurls of Grande Caramel Macchiatos and current promotions. Their Twitter feed also displays their many volunteer organizations and how the average Joe can get involved to give back to their communities.

Starbucks is constantly engaging on Twitter with everyday people.  They have several Twitter handles for different countries around the globe. They also have a handle called @starbucksjobs where they post Job openings, which is a resourceful way to reach out to a vast array of applicants. One of the more unique Starbucks Twitter accounts is @MyStarbucksIdea. This account is linked to a Starbucks website that gives people a chance to contact the coffee giant and offer them ideas for items that they would like to see on their menu. A person might leave the comment “Low Carb Frappuccino” along with a recipe for it. Starbucks (and its customers) can leave comments and feedback on the idea which could possibly be implemented as a menu item. A revolutionary way to keep their customers interested and engaged.

McDonald’s is also keeping up with the social media trend. McDonalds updates Facebook and Twitter constantly. They more or less stick to the basics, Tweeting pictures of their Premium Wraps, Dollar Menu Items and current promotions. The McDonalds Facebook page has Job Openings, Locations, and has new Menu Items on it. Although their social media campaign has recently drawn criticism for their social media strategy on Twitter, McDonalds’ won’t miss a beat. I mean, come on. It’s McDonald’s. They are still reaching out their golden arches to a combined 30 million people just by sending out simple Tweets and status updates.

So, is social media effective for companies? Absolutely. Within a half hour of waking up everyday, I check my Facebook account and my Twitter feed. With large numbers of people using social media outlets, I am not alone. When I casually scroll through my Twitter feed, I may see a Tweet from Starbucks and I’ll be in the mood for a venti cup of Pike’s Place. A status update from McDonald’s might get those golden french fries in my head and I know where I’ll be going for lunch before I even eat breakfast. It is marketing brilliance and big companies know it.

Follow me on Twitter @dinoalphabet