Things I Love Thursday (Sort Of)

Instead of doing the traditional TILT this week, I figured I’d point you in the direction of the one place on the web where I’ve started automatically (and instantaneously, thanks to their awesome bookmarklet) sharing all the fun pics and pieces I come across during my daily travels on the world wide interwebs. It’s also home to any random pics I take with my iPhone while actually out and about in the real world (yes, sometimes I do leave my desk). It’s full of fun images that catch my eye, and it’s become my own little specially styled sanctuary on the web, full of pretty things that inspire and engage me. In other words, it’s where I put all sorts of  things I love all week long, not just the ones I’m loving on any given Thursday.

So, without further ado, please to enjoy…(drumroll please)…my Tumblr.

 

Home Technology For The House That Has It All (Except A Maid)

I consider myself a bit of an early adopter.  If it’s shiny and new and runs on batteries, I’m probably interested in it, if not salivating over it. I’m also a neat freak. And, one of those weird people who loves all things Sur La Table – from stand mixers to slotted spoons, mandolins to mixing bowls.  Which is how I found myself fantasizing about household gadgets I’d love to own, as I stood there scraping dried spaghetti sauce off a plate at my sink this evening.

Some of these exist. Some of them don’t. Some of them sort of do, but the reviews are so terrible I don’t think they’re worth investing in just yet (I’m looking at you, Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner). But either way, here’s what I was wishing for while I washed dishes tonight. . .

-A portable dishwasher that would fit in my small apartment kitchen and cost me less than a month’s rent.

-A shower cleaning roomba that actually worked.

-A carpet cleaning roomba that actually worked (and cost me less than a month’s rent).

-An automated recording of my mother, built into the TV, to nag me to get off the couch and go read a book…particular when I’m  stuck in one of those awful 16 & Pregnant loops on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

-A spider killing device that allows me to stay at least 5 feet away from any arachnids while also never having to actually deal with their little dead bodies.

-A warning meter for when any of the following are running out (preferably with a magical refill-o-getter so I don’t have to go to the store): laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, dish soap, skinny cow ice cream cones (yeah, I’m addicted). Actually, scratch that. Really, it’s the skinny cow cones I’m worried about running out of. The rest of it can wait.

-An extension cord that adjusts to fit the length I actually need at any given point, instead of turning into a space sucking snake of excess cordage or a tug of war fight to get it as far as I need it.

-A clapper for my heater and air conditioning.

-A clapper for everything else (yeah,  I’ve always wanted one of those).

-One of those awesome omelet-making Japanese cook robots (what can I say, their jaunty chef’s hats just tug at my heart strings).

-A recycling bin that carries itself to the dumpster.

-A smell tracker that could figure out where funky smells were coming from (come on, I can’t be the only one with the occasional funky smells emanating from god knows where in my kitchen) and preferably eradicate them on sight. . .or smell.

-Something that can predict when the really scary commercials (yeah, I hate the Saw clown guy) are about to come on the TV and automatically change the channel to something happy. Preferably House Hunters on HGTV, which is my new go-to happy place in TV-Land.

-A device that could make House Hunters magically appear on my TV 24 hours a day.

-A device that pops out new hangers when I need them…why am I always running out?

-A magic door in the back of my closet that leads to the mythical land of…more closet space.

What about you? What gadgets would you wish for from the home improvement genie?

What’s Next: Tech Trends To Watch In 2011

With 2010 drawing to a close, Girls in Tech LA is proud to be hosting a diverse range of tech industry experts who will be sharing their predictions, plans and perspectives about what’s next for tech in 2011.

The 7pm panel discussion will be held at the Border Stylo offices in Hollywood on November 17, and will be followed by light refreshments and networking. It will also be streamed on Ustream, and details of that stream will be available via the Girls in Tech Twitter and Facebook pages before the event.

Panelists participating in the discussion include Amanda Coolong (TechZulu), Heather Meeker (Whrrl), Tony Adam (MySpace), Erin Kotecki Vest (BlogHer), Laura Weidman (Border Stylo) and Lynn Langit (Microsoft).  Tickets are just $10, and space is very limited, so buy yours early to guarantee admission.

 

Halloween Costumes: Mad Men Me

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday. As an avowed theater nerd, the opportunity to play socially sanctioned dress-up all day was like manna from musical theater heaven. Throw in the free candy, and you’ve definitely got ‘best day of the year’ material. Of course, that was before I got to the age where all holidays just become giant pressure cookers of high expectations, competitive dressing and friend-wrangling so extreme I should probably have just dressed as a rodeo clown.

Honestly, after surviving the big to-do of UCSB’s Halloween festivities four years in a row and spending two years in the equally-insane streets of West Hollywood, I was pretty much ready to call it quits this year. Hole up with junk food and scary movies and leave the holiday to the happy hordes who would be much happier without me and my claustrophobic self trying to elbow my way through them.

Then I started thinking about costumes. For which I only have my Ranker’s massive collection of Halloween costume lists to blame. Could I really let the opportunity to get all dressed up pass me by? Of course not. Especially not when I’ve hit on this brilliant list of Mad Men costume suggestions, and the even more brilliant plan to make use of what my mama gave me and dress up as the inimitable Joan Holloway. Looks like I will be celebrating Halloween after all, if only to indulge my deep desire to flounce around in a cute dress with a pen around my neck.

That said, I’m really hoping to stick to just dressing as Joan this year and not as air traffic controller for all of my friends as well. Someone else can borrow that costume this time around. Me? I’ll be keeping it low key. Just a few friends, a cute costume and a full martini glass — to maintain the authenticity of my character, of course.

Things I Love Thursday

To be totally frank, I’m not exactly in a gracious and grateful mood today. My mental barometer is leaning more towards the stressed, drained and exhausted side of the spectrum. But, one of the reasons I decided to force myself to do a weekly roundup of things I love was exactly for this purpose — to force myself to appreciate all the blessings and bounty of my day to day (or week to week) life, even when I’m not feeling particularly appreciative.

So, here it is. . .

The amazing Irma Thomas, whose voice I just can’t get enough of (see case in point up above, and prepare to be converted) | This article in the New York Times, which makes me seriously miss crowding and cooking around the campfires of my summer camp days | Johnnie Walker Red and ginger, which I tried with Tyler at a scotch tasting last weekend and has now officially become my go-to drink order | Seeing the plans for our next Girls in Tech panel come together with the amazing Amanda Coolong, Lynn Langit, Tony Adam, Heather Meeker, Erin Kotecki Vest and Laura Weidman — an incredible lineup that we’re so lucky to have | The Cookbook Collector, which I’m finally getting around to reading on my kindle (aka: the kindle app on my iPhone) | Giving in to my OCD and going a little cleaning crazy earlier this week, resulting in finally getting rid of the funky smell in my kitchen once and for all (turns out it was coming from the recycling bin, which seems incongruous and not very fair karma-wise) | Finding out my cousin’s wife is pregnant with a brand new baby cousin, and getting an adorable pic of their soon-to-be-an-older-sibling son in my email earlier this week | Looking forward to finally having a low-key weekend where I will hopefully be able to kick back, relax, recharge and spend some time at dance class with Dianne and the pumpkin patch with Tyler — just what I need to get past the funk of the past few weeks

Social Media + Children: How To Introduce Kids To Social Networking

 

How young is too young when it comes to using the web? It’s a debate I’ve had with my parents pretty much since I started seriously working in social media. The more I learn about current and future tech trends, the more I’m convinced that the best thing a parent, teacher, family friend or – in my case – big sister, can do to help keep a kid safe in social media is to let them learn how to use it.

Now, this doesn’t mean I want my 14 year old brother Tweeting every time he gets a crush on a girl at school, or my baby cousin sending Facebook updates about her fun weekend plans.  But, I also think it’s extremely counterproductive and even harmful to keep a kid away from social media altogether, or ban them from using the same social networks their friends with more lenient parents are already addicted to. On the other hand, my mom and dad would like to keep my little brother locked as far away from Facebook as humanly possible – and understandably so, as they try to protect him from posting things that may seem cool at fourteen but won’t be so hot when he’s forty.

No matter how much they try to deny the kid access to the full spectrum of social networking sites, there’s no denying that he’s exposed to them every day anyway through his friends and (sorry Mom and Dad) his older siblings, who talk about them, post pictures on them, share with each other through them and make plans using them. Just because he’s not allowed to have an account, doesn’t mean he’s immune from being included in the social media mentions of others, or from the social pressure to engage in the online ecosystem. And, you can pretty much guarantee that he’s going to jump right into that ecosystem with full force the second the parental sanctions are lifted, particularly as social media becomes more and more ingrained in every aspect of our everyday lives — from finding a job to making plans with your friends.

We all had that friend in college who, having been sheltered their whole lives, went crazy the second their parents disappeared from their dorm rooms. And, because that friend had never learned how to healthily build up boundaries, tolerance and self control, that particular friend almost always took things too far. I worry that without parentally-sanctioned social networking time, kids like my brother will turn out the same way.

Which is why I think blanket banning of social media use isn’t the answer. I’m just as protective of my baby brother as my parents are — heck, sometimes even more so. And I don’t want him posting potentially dangerous or damning information on the web any more than they do. But, I think the best approach to teaching a kid how to navigate on the information superhighway is similar to the best approach to teaching them how to drive down the street.

Start with a learner’s permit — they can only take the social media out for a spin with you literally sitting behind them, guiding them about what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Teach them  the rules of the road:  the permanence of every post, the importance of keeping private information private, the consequences of putting up controversial content, etc. Teach them by literally doing it with them, just like you would show them how to parallel park or make a three point turn.

When they’ve reached the point where you think they’re ready to take the wheel without you, give them a driver’s test — a trial period where they can surf without you, but be subject to periodic checks of their content by mom and dad. By the time they’re ready to really take on the internet on their own, you can rest assured knowing they’ve gotten all the training they’ll need to be smart, savvy surfers. And, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches, heartaches and forcibly deleted Facebook accounts along the way.

This post was inspired by 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children on Mashable. (No, it wasn’t just an excuse to post some adorable pictures of babies + computers).

Things I Love Thursday: Mea Culpa Edition

Okay, so I know I haven’t posted a TILT in a while. My bad. I could give a litany of excuses about how swamped I’ve been, but suffice it to say, forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I’ll do 10 hail Scobles and try to do better going forward. There, now that we’re all sufficiently blogsolved (get it, like absolved, but for blogging), let’s get on with it…

Here’s what I’m loving this week:

 The fact that — after an admittedly lackluster wind-down last season — Glee is finally back to consistently producing the kinds of witty, heartwarming moments it does best | And, speaking of TV, I’m loving that the good TV is back on. There were only so many Top Chef reruns I could take this summer | Nikita. Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m loving it | So happy it finally feels like fall in LA. Bring on the sweater & scarf weather | Can’t get enough of the easter egg I just found on my iPhone 4 – can’t believe my iPhone guru @mayhemstudios didn’t bring this one to my attention earlier | Very excited for the upcoming Girls in Tech panel at Border Stylo here in Hollywood. We’ve got some of the biggest names in LA tech attending, and I can’t wait to make the official announcement next week | Whole wheat goldfish = my favorite snack in a form I can almost pretend is healthy | Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, which I’m currently reading on my Kindle for iPhone and loving every word of | The ability to rent TV shows on iTunes, which lets me grab last week’s Grey’s Anatomy to watch at the gym without paying full price for it | Pumpkin lattes & my planned trip to the pumpkin patch with @tyvick | My brand new netbook, which I am absolutely obsessed with. It fits in my purse! | Finally feeling the fresh-start of fall in earnest, and loving every productive, creative second of it.

Cooking & Code: Why What Happens In My Kitchen Is A Lot Like What Happens At My Office

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I cooked. I mean, it’s not like I made beef borguignon – I just cooked up a pot of what I used to call ‘kitchen sink risotto’. Also known as ‘throw a bunch of ingredients that taste good together in a pot with brown rice, add some herbs and spices, simmer and top with parmesan.’

But, the point is, it reminded me of how much I love to come home and cook a meal, which is something I haven’t had as much time to do lately as I’d like. It also reminded me of how similar cooking is to the thing I do end up spending most of my time on lately — building a website.

In both cases, you’re throwing a bunch of stuff together and hoping it works. You’re taking a chance on an idea that makes sense in theory, but might end up a disaster in reality. You need the right tools, but everyone’s got an opinion about what those tools are. And, even if you’ve got them, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t always work exactly the way you want them to.

You may have some experience putting it all together, or a time tested formula to follow,  but that doesn’t guarantee it’ll work out perfectly this time. All your hard work can either result in something fantastic or create something fraught with issues. You may make a huge mess while you’re building it, but you pray it will be worth the cleanup. And the final product might not please everyone’s palate, but you hope it’ll end up pretty good regardless.

Long story short, cooking is an awful lot like building a website.  Although there doesn’t seem to be a debugging program for my paella recipe. And, I highly doubt someone could build an entire network around watching people code. Then again, that show would probably still be way more interesting than the last season of Top Chef.