Save Money: Saving Secrets For The Geek Chic Chick

Nail Salon Money Save ManicureIt ain’t easy being fabulous — or at least being the kind of girl who aspires to be. And let’s face it, any girl raised on a steady diet of Sex and the City is going to want a spot at the fabulous feast. After years of thinking independent, successful woman was a phrase synonymous with manolos and manicures, it’s hard to crave anything but caviar wishes and champagne dreams.

Of course, if you happen to be a 20-something today, you know that champagne and caviar are more fantasy than reality. Let’s face it, fabulous these days is more recessionista than fashionista — especially if you’ve got a pricey gadget habit to feed along with that shoe addiction.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still indulge in the finer things in life too…you just have to master the art of one thing Carrie and the gals were always fabulous at: bargaining. And I don’t just mean haggling your way to a pricy pair of shoes by tapping into the salesman’s foot fetish. No, in this case bargaining means way more than that. It means finding a way to make your money count, stretch your dollar and all those other catchphrases that sell self help books.

It’s an art that requires more effort than just plopping down the nearest American Express card, but also provides way more satisfaction with every purchase. Instead of feeling guilty for spending on something self indulgent, you get to feel smart for spending your money…well…smartly.

It also just so happens to be an art that’s in my blood — thanks Jewish grandmothers!! So, I’m starting a new feature here on my lovely little blog where I share the tips and tricks of the geek chic chick trade. I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to get what I want without hearing my grandmother’s voice in my head, guilting me for spending too much on something “silly.” So, I figure, why not share the wealth?

And, if you appreciate my tips, feel free to send over some caviar. I’ll also take gratitude gifts in champagne form.

Tip: You Only Need One

Us geek chic chicks, we sure do like to type. From our phones to our full size ergonomic keyboards, we spend most of our time typing. Which, not surprisingly, is not conducive to keeping our nails looking their absolute best. I don’t know about anyone else, but I go through manicures more often than I update my facebook status, which is an awful lot of costly nailcare over the course of a year.

Of course, if I don’t get my nails done, I run them ragged biting and picking at them. It ends up being a big ol’ catch 22. Or at least it was — until the night my manicurist let me in on a little secret. Apparently, if you only get one coat of polish, the whole paint job lasts twice as long. I guess the single coat sticks to your nails better, so it’s less likely to chip. Or something. Anyway, the point is, I tried it and it totally works. Now, instead of having to go back for a new nailcare fix every week, I’m up to a mani every month or so.

I’m not gonna lie and say my biting habit doesn’t often land me in the chair more often than that, but during those rare times when I can go a few weeks without biting, I swear my manicures will last up to a whole month. Which saves about $60 a month if you go to my salon (Happy Nails at Santa Monica and La Brea). It’s a grooming godsend, and a total geek chic chick money saving tip.

iPhone Food Diary: Weight Loss + iPhone = Love

Okay, so it’s not technically the new year yet. But, as anyone who has ever stood in line with me will tell you, I’m like the least patient person you’ll ever meet.

I tend to like to get things going — whether it’s starting an apartment search months before my lease is up, or kicking off a weight loss campaign before the New Year’s Eve champagne buzz even kicks in, I’m just generally impatient like that.

Which is why I’ve already chosen to try something new for my annual ‘oh-god-i’ve-gained-ten-pounds-since-last-summer-and-i-need-to-get-back-in-shape-a-thon’ this year. After reading about the LoseIt iPhone app on one of my favorite blogs, I was intrigued. A few weeks ago, I actually downloaded it, although it sat unused on my screen until the morning after a particularly passionate personal moment between myself and a mega-sized slice of cheesecake.

So, I tentatively took the time to input my morning meal, only to see that half a bagel and a little butter is about the same amount of calories as I thought it would be. No big revelations there. But, around lunchtime, the app’s real usefulness really hit me. After seeing how quickly I could calculate that if I really wanted that extra piece of pizza I would have to add twenty minutes to my treadmill time, I was hooked.

Who wouldn’t love a weight loss solution that says you can snack on as many Goldfish as you can fit on your desk, as long as you hit the gym for an equally energetic cardio session after work? After years of the kind of dieting drama that singlehandedly keeps most women’s magazines in business, this approach was a welcome relief. If I want to eat more, I just work out more. Since the app has a whole library of exercises you can mix and match throughout the day, I can literally plan to pump iron for 10 minutes, do a few jumping jacks for five more and make caloric room for that extra slice of something or other in no time.

Of course, like most weight loss resolutions, the true test of the LoseIt app’s effectiveness will be how well I can stick with it over time. I’ve already had a day or two where I forget to log a lunch or calculate a quick drink. But, on the whole, things are good so far. I feel like I’m finally able to balance being conscientious of my calories with being a person that just plain likes to eat and drink. And I’ve been finding myself being a lot more physically active as a result, which is always a good thing.

So, for now, I give the LoseIt app an enthusiastic two thumbs up, and highly recommend it for anyone looking to gear up for a good, healthy weight loss goal in the New Year. Of course, my only complaint is that I wish my own personal weight loss goal would hurry up and get here quicker. But according to LoseIt, if I keep going the way I’ve been, I should hit my target in mid-March. And in the meantime, the app’s got plenty of shiny buttons and pretty pictures to keep me distracted while I weight.

Christmas Cards: Jokes From Food Network Humor

See this? This little 1024 pixel page, on this little humor blog, on this little thing we call the internet? This. Made. My. Day. And I don’t say that lightly. Especially not on a day when pre-holiday malaise is setting in with the full force of a New York gym teacher’s right hook. So thank you Food Network Humor. Thank you from the bottom of my now-much-lighter heart.

Twitter Demographic & Twitter Followers: Stats Served Up Courtesy of Ad.ly

In honor of hitting follower #1,000 on Twitter this weekend, I figured I’d finally check out the new Ad.ly Analytics feature that Lalawag wrote up last week.

Apparently, 61% of my Twitter followers are male, most of my Twitter followers live in the US, and the vast majority of my Twitter followers live in California. Not that I couldn’t have gleaned all of that info just by — well, I don’t know, opening up my Twitter stream.

But, the Ad.Ly Analytics feature does provide some pretty graphics to dress it all up. And, presumably to take the sting out of the fact that only about half of my Twitter followers are engaged in what I have to say. Which, come to think of it, actually kind of takes the excitement out of that whole 1,000 followers thing…

Facebook Privacy Controls: Facebook Fan Page Management 101

Ranker.com Facebook Fan PageMy most recent Mashable post went up today. This time, it’s all about how to use the new Facebook publisher privacy controls to help you better target the content you push on your fan page.

An excerpt:

Lately it seems like Facebook changes its privacy options more often than most people change their statuses. Late last week, Facebook rolled out yet another set of new privacy settings, replacing regional networks with concentric circles of connections. Before, Facebook’s default privacy settings were largely location-based — people who lived near you, or went to the same college as you, were able to see more information about you. Now, access is all about who you know and who knows them.

The new Facebook publisher privacy controls are a core component of this change. Now, instead of simply posting something to your entire network, you can choose to specify who sees your posts. It’s pretty easy to figure out how to use these changes to your advantage when handling your personal Facebook page — those happy hour pics should probably only get posted to people who are actually your friends. But figuring them out for fan pages is a very different proposition, especially because privacy settings for Fan Pages are still all about location, location, location.

See the full post here.

Operation Chokehold: ATT Users Rally Around Steve Jobs Fake

In case you live under a rock — or you just have better things to do with yourself than check social media blogs every five minutes like I do (thanks, google reader!) — there’s a bit of a people’s revolution going on at the moment. And by people, I mean all those smartphone users ATT has unfairly cast as spoiled, selfish data hogs.

Who are we revolting against? The trough that feed us, of course. And why are we revolting? Because the folks responsible for filling that trough are blaming us when the trough runs low. Apparently, it’s our fault that the food runs out because our fancy iPhone apps are hogging all of  it. Or something like that.

Well, the Fake Steve Jobs ain’t gonna take it anymore. And he’s organizing a digital flash mob on Friday to prove it. Smartphone users from across that sad blue map of ATT’s 3G coverage are coming together to try to bring down AT&T’s networks once and for all by using as many data-intensive apps as they can get their hooves on. Not that AT&T doesn’t do a great job of screwing up its own network without our help. But hey, who am I to argue with a flash mob for a good cause?

And it is a good cause indeed. As software gets better, it also gets greedier. The best browsers eat up the most memory. The prettiest programs take up the most processor space. Running data-intensive iPhone apps will decimate the data delivery process.  But that’s not the fault of the user.

When companies start blaming their customers for being too cutting edge, too excited about emerging technologies, or too greedy to try all their new gadgets, it not only hurts the customers. It hurts the company too. All of a sudden, Apple looks a whole lot less like someone I want to spend my money with. Not if they’re going to go around telling the whole country that my data-hogging ways are hurting their simple cell phone usage.

The problem is, until more people join us at the data trough, it’s easy to blame the relatively smaller percentage of early adopters for screwing things up for everybody. And of course, imposing penalties and punishments on data usage is only going to discourage more people from, well…adopting.

I guess, as much as I love a good flash mob, I do worry that this one could just as easily give AT&T one more excuse to marginalize and demonize the data-hogging customers — or at least one more reason not to care about losing those customers if they do impose penalties and punishments for data usage. In the end, there’s gotta be a better way to do these things – for all parties involved. ATT did take a good first step with their free customer service app, and maybe that’s the direction we should be taking this discussion in. I’d love to say that with more certainty, but I don’t have any 3G on my iPhone right now, and my google maps won’t load my location, so I’m in no position to be giving directions.

Marissa Mayer: Google Gets A Blushing Bride

It’s no secret that I idolize Marissa Mayer. She’s arguably the web’s most powerful product manager, and she’s personally responsible for seeing some of the most influential innovations of the past decade into fruition. It’s easy to admire her on professional merits alone. Her accomplishments at Google are certainly enough to garner role model status in and of themselves.

But that’s not why I idolize her. I adolize her for her cupcake recipe database, for her love of art and for her killer shoe collection. I idolize her because she supposedly works 8am to 3am, and she’s totally unapologetic about that claim. I idolize her because she just announced her wedding on Twitter, and she’s totally unapologetic about that claim too.

It’s no wonder she inspired so much Valleywag vitriol. It’s easy to hate on Mayer – to call her a strident, striving social climber who only got where she is because she’s attractive  or cunning, or a combination of the two. Particularly when you’re one of the many men in this boys’ club of a business who aren’t used to spending so much time with women. Or at least not with women who aren’t rocking the same ironic Star Trek tees you are.

Don’t get me wrong. I get it. After all, the woman is a contradiction in terms – ironic for the chick who championed simple search at google, but it’s true. She’s a smart, savvy engineer with the wardrobe of a celebrity and the tastes of a socialite. Not exactly the dev next door. Some people love her for that. Some people hate her for it. Either way, most people in the web world have an opinion on Ms. Mayer.

As for me, all of the qualities that make Mayer such a complicated contradiction are the same qualities that make her an inspiration for me. And the fact that this intelligent, successful woman landed an intelligent successful man and got to wear Naeem Khan down the aisle almost makes her like my very own social media Cinderella – proving once and for all that fairy tales can come true. Or at least that good PR people can make it sound that way.

The Bride Wore Snowflakes: Vogue’s Daily Coverage of Fashion, Beauty, Parties and More on Style.com.

HOW TO: Get Your Feedback Heard on Social Networks

My first Mashable article ran on Friday. Hopefully, it’s the first of many more to come. In the meantime, please check it out and feel free to let me know what you think. Please to enjoy…

Mollie Vandor is the Product Manager for Ranker.com and Media Director for Girls in Tech LA. You can find her on Twitter and on her blog, where she writes about the web, the world and what it’s like to be a geek chic chick.

The customer may always be right, but that won’t matter much if he or she isn’t heard. For companies with a global reach on the Web, it can be difficult for them to filter the noise that comes with addressing customer feedback.

Customer feedback is a core component of the product development process, which is why services for gathering and processing that feedback are plentiful. With all these channels for voicing your consumer concerns, how do you make sure that your voice gets heard? Like most things on the Internet, it all depends on where you post…more

Good For The Brain: The Modern Intellectual & The Internet


My mom worries. She’s a Jewish mother, that’s what they do. If you don’t believe me, just ask the good folks behind Twitteleh. But seriously, my mom worries about everything. Am I eating enough? Am I eating too much? Am I wearing a sweater? Does the fact that I’m wearing a sweater mean that I’m feeling sick?

Like all good Jewish mothers, my mom doesn’t confine her concerns the simple realm of the practical. No, my mom likes to fret metaphysically too. Are her children leading productive lives? Are they satisfying their creativity and intellects, or are they simply filling their time with ‘mindless drek?’ ” Is all this modern technology really just making it easier for them to tune out, veg out and cop out when it comes to critical thinking?

Needless to say, my job in social media doesn’t exactly ease these worries of hers. From Twitter to Texts From Last Night, I know my mom worries that my time is being used for far too many less-than-meaningful pursuits. Not that I totally disagree. I too have to remind myself that sometimes it’s good to just turn off the computer and pick up a book. That my brain needs that kind of stimulation just as much as it needs to enjoy the latest viral video making the Twitter rounds.

But,  I’m still a firm believe that it’s entirely possible to inhabit both worlds at once;  intellectual life and internet life can co-exist, and in fact, complement one another.Like Michelle Slatalla says here, sometimes modern technology can actually help us find new ways to slot some cerebral activity into our distracted daily lives. Besides, if I hadn’t just read her post, I wouldn’t be nearly as excited to get done with work, get home & get back to the book I’ve been reading. Now, if everyone would just stop distracting me on Twitter…

Track Your Online Content: Privacy & Technology (And You)

See this post in its original home on the Girls in Tech blog

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement yesterday about the changes being made to Facebook’s privacy structure, it looks likeMichele Salahi State Dinner White House Crash Facebook Photos Salahi White House #privacy is about to have yet another run as the trending topic du jour. Well, that and that couple that crashed the White House dinner — as Demetri Martin would say, they’re like the herpes of hyped up news stories. Scheming social climbers aside, privacy is one of the web’s biggest concerns. As girls in tech, we talk about it all the time. Are our identities safe? Are our personal and professional brands secure? Are the kids in our lives making smart choices when they surf?

Months worth of memes have been made out of relatively minor changes to Facebook’s privacy policies in the past, and the comments are already piling in to the Mashable Article discussing this most recent development. It’s easy to understand why people get so worked up over what happens to their information on the internet. From cookies that track our every click to the fact that between docs, mail, maps and search, google knows more about you than your parents probably do, it’s clear that there’s plenty of reasons to make even the sanest surfer paranoid about what they post. As the product manager at a growing user generated content site, I deal with difficult decisions having to do with privacy all the time. What our decision making process always comes back to is a simple question: what would we want someone else to be doing with our data? Nine times out of ten, the answer is simple: give the user as much control over their content as you can.

Of course, as a user, it’s up to you to take advantage of that control. Fortunately, there are as many tools to track the people tracking you as there are mistresses in Tiger Woods’ skeleton closet. There’s google privacy dashboard, which allows you to see all the data points that google’s got about you. You can also set up a google alert that will let you know when new content about you is indexed by the search engine’s spiders. Keotag lets you put in a key word, and see what people are saying about it everywhere from Technorati to Twitter. And, Boardtracker lets you do the same sort of thing across multiple comment boards. Which means you can post your complaints about the new Facebook privacy policy today, and see all the trolls’ responses tomorrow.

It ain’t exactly privacy per se, but it’s pretty powerful stuff nonetheless.  At the end of the day, I strongly believe that the best privacy policy on the web is still the one you set up for yourself by watching what you post, where you post it and what gets said about it after you leave. However, if that’s too complicated for you, then just remember this simple rule: if you’re going to crash a White House dinner, don’t post photos of your uninvited self shaking hands with the president on Facebook. Unless, of course, your personal privacy policy involves a camera crew from Bravo and a hefty chunk of reality show change. In which case, I’ll see you on Thursdays at 10 in my living room.