Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 Keys to Success in 2011 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Solid Ideas for Business Success!

~ Be Bigger Than You Ever Thought Possible!

Below, I have gathered some great information that may prove to be very beneficial to you and your business. Make it an amazing 2011!

Please feel free to add comments or call me with any questions.
Vincent Medina | 310 251 9728 | Great Stuff Is Just 1 CLICK Ahead!

1. Ideas That Spread, WIN!

2. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us!

3. Where Good Ideas Come From...Collaborative INNOVATION!

4. Business Process Reengineering

5. Six Sigma Process Improvement Training...simplified

6. Personal Branding - What COLOR is Your Brand?

7. Create & Market Your Brand...

8. 2010-2020 Shaping Ideas in Advertising...Target-ability!

9. Social Media Revolution

10. HAPPY NEW YEAR wishes from around the globe...

edited & posted by:
VINCENT MEDINA | ArtfulMind.Biz | 310 251 9728

Saturday, December 25, 2010

TOP 10 Vintage Christmas Cartoons (+1)

Compiled & Edited by Vincent Medina
Merry Christmas

Popeye "Seasin's Greetinks!" (1933) colorized version

The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933)

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936) by Max Fleischer

Peace On Earth — MGM (1939)

The Night Before X-mas (1941) Tom & Jerry

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1944/1948) Christmas Cartoon Classic by Max Fleischer

Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952) Directed by Jack Hannah

Frosty The Snowman (1953) First Original Animated Classic Cartoon

Christmas Don't Be Late (1958) Alvin & The Chipmunks

The Christmas Visitor (1959) 'Twas The Night Before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nicholas

+1 — Casper's ORIGINAL Christmas episode (1952)

Source: YouTube

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 10 Hot Christmas Toys of All Time! (+1)

This list encompasses the top 10 HOT CHRISTMAS TOYS OF ALL TIME! +1. When I say ‘hot,’ I mean the ones flying off the shelves, that every kid just HAS to have, the kind of toy that brings out the best in everyone. Kids (and some adults) spend their time feverishly begging and pleading for the item, while normally calm and level-headed people become hot-headed shopping maniacs.

I could have easily made a list of the top 50 hottest Christmas toys in history. It was hard to leave out the famous Spirograph, Star Wars, Slime and the Slinky, among others. I also came across some hot Christmas toys that I hadn’t heard of before, like the one million plastic bubble topped cars that sold in 1946 (made by Wannatoy).

In an effort to narrow the list down, I tried to focus on crazes that seem well, crazy, today or that have crazy stories related to their popularity. Toys got extra hot points if they were influential on the future of the toy industry (both developments and marketing).

Time to ride the crazy train through the last 60 years of Christmas toy history! Here is my top 10 list of hot Christmas toys of all time, placed in order of their release –

10. Mr. Potato Head

1 million sold


The Christmas Story
Originally George Lerner’s idea for this famous toy spud seemed like it might be a dud. At first, no one seemed interested in his idea, but eventually a small family-run toy company called Hasbro began production. Mr. Potato Head became so popular that a Mrs. Potato Head was introduced the next year.

The Craziness
Mr. Potato Head was the very first toy advertisement on TV. Thank you Hasbro for starting the never-ending chorus of ‘Can I have that?! I want that!” that started in living rooms in 1952 and hasn’t died down to this day. I think Tylenol probably owes Mr. Potato Head a kickback for a jump in profits, particularly around Christmas.

In more recent news, a six foot tall 150 pound Mr. Potato Head statue went missing from the entrance of a private estate on Rhode Island in 2003. It showed up in a field a few days later. Sgt. James Quinn stated that Mr. Potato Head was “mashed a little bit” during the incident (boston.com). No one knows how what happened, but there is some speculation that Mr. Potato Head had relocated to the field in an effort to get back to his roots.

9. Pet Rock

over 5 million sold in 6 months

Rock Bottom Productions

The Christmas Story
In his own words, Ad executive Larry Dahl “ hit on the idea while boozing with pals” (people.com). Next, he sent a press release out to “virtually every major media outlet” leading to articles in several local newspapers, Newsweek, and an appearance on The Tonight Show.

The fad peaked during the 1975 Christmas season and it is estimated that Dahl earned over 15 million dollars during the six months that Pet Rocks were popular.

The Craziness
Um, hellooooooooo – every day during the 1975 Christmas season 100,000 people were paying money for a pet rock. What is even more crazy? As I write this, Pet Rock USB buddies are sold out at thinkgeek.com and actual Pet Rocks are still selling on eBay for up to $15.00.

In other news, I’m sorry to report that you missed this year’s Pet Rock Festival. The festival is held in Worcester, Massachusetts and promotes kindness to all animals. Instead, you can sit down and listen to Teenage Fanclub’s song “Pet Rock” (Bandwagonesque, Spin’s Album of the Year, 1991) while you enjoy a glass of Pet Rock Wine.


150,000 sold


The Christmas Story
“Pong was an adaptation of the company’s popular arcade game of the same name, and it became the most popular game of the 1975 holiday season, with sales of $40,000,000 for the year” (ideafinder.com).

The Craziness
When it comes to home video games, Pong really started the ball rolling. When you see it in action now, it’s hard to believe that a few lines on a TV screen could cause such a ruckus, but Pong was 1975’s version of a Wii. “People were waiting two hours in line to sign up on a list just to get an Atari home version of Pong” (atarimuseum.com).

Frank Black may have asked “Whatever Happened to Pong?” on his album Teenager of the Year, but Pong’s legacy lives on in science and the arts. There are over 119 works of fan fiction about Pong at fanction.com. Also crazy (as in so cool, it’s crazy) ScienceDaily.com reported that students “have adapted an open source game called ‘Pong’… enabl[ing] the player to move the bat using their eye.” This innovation “could allow people with severe physical disabilities to become ‘gamers’ for the first time.”

7. Atari

1 million sold

Warner Communications

The Christmas Story
Atari again? Yes, Atari gets two spots on this list of hottest toys because their products were crazy popular during two Christmas seasons.

The Atari Video Computer System (VCS) originally came out in 1977, it came with one game (Combat) and about half a dozen other games were available. That year “was not a good time for video game systems as the market experienced a crash after it had been previously oversaturated with Pong clones” (consoledatabase.com). While the Atari VCS is considered the first successful console with interchangeable cartridges, its sales were disappointing during its first two years.

However, by 1979 there were 32 titles in their library, including the very first video game with an Easter Egg (Adventure) and the first game licensed from a movie franchise (Superman)… and the first generation of gamers had been born. That year the Atari CVS, renamed the Atari 2600, “was the bestselling Christmas present… and a million were sold that year”, while game cartridge sales were estimated at $100 million (wordiq.com).

The Craziness
Atari was the beginning of a new pastime (in some cases, passion). In fact, many of today’s gamers actually played games on the Atari 2600 since the average video game player in the U.S. today is 35 years old (itfacts.biz).

The cartridge format for games was used in many future systems until this was replaced with the CD format. The last system to use cartridges was Nintendo 64 (discontinued in 2001).

While I couldn’t find any evidence of Atari-related riots, there is a band called Atari Teenage Riot whose performances have allegedly incited violence, and even a riot with police in 1997. There is also a song called “Atari Baby” by Sigue Sigue Sputnick. Although I’m pretty sure it’s about the arcade version it’s such a good song, I’m mentioning it anyways.

6. Cabbage Patch Dolls

Almost 3 million sold


The Christmas Story
According to cabbagepatchkids.com, the dolls “go on record as the most successful new doll introduction in the history of the toy industry”. In 2000, they were featured in a U.S. stamp series highlighting the 1980’s (as far as I can see, the only other modern toy to ever be featured on a stamp is the Slinky).

It all started when celebrities were spotted toting them around, even President Jimmy Carter’s daughter Amy had one. Then, “Coleco began aggressively pushing the Cabbage Patch dolls–it sent them directly to reporters, a relatively new technique” (time.com). Over 2 million dolls were “adopted” in the first six months. By December of 1983, Cabbage Patch Dolls were on the cover of Newsweek and they were in short supply and high demand.

The Craziness
The shopping frenzy surrounding the dolls is well documented (check out the video above). According to, awesome80s.com dolls were being delivered to stores by armored car and Coleco pulled the TV commercials in an attempt to tame the madness; one desperate and doting Kansas City dad even flew to London to get his daughter a doll. Check out awesome80s.com for more crazy stories from the Cabbage Patch, which also says the dolls are “the first instance of a fad toy causing the phenomena now known as Christmas Gift Buying Rage.”

I also had to include two of the Cabbage Patch urban myths listed at Snopes.com (there are several, so check out the site for more). First, did you know the dolls were designed to get the masses comfortable with the mutated appearance of survivors of a thermonuclear war? Also, there were reports that children wouldn’t get their dolls back from the factory if they sent them in for repairs- they would receive a death certificate instead.

The questionably cute dolls even spawned a dance called The Cabbage Patch, made famous when it became San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice’s end zone dance. There is also the Cabbage Patch biker bar of Daytona Beach, famous for it’s annual coleslaw wrestling event, but I’m pretty sure it is not named after the doll.

5. Game Boy

Over 1 million sold in the US during its first Christmas Season


The Christmas Story
A year after its release in Japan, the Game Boy came to the U.S.A. and conquered the Christmas shopping season. Contributing to its popularity: the Game Boy gave you 35 hours of play on one set of batteries, in contrast to its competitors at the time. Also, it came with Tetris- a game that appealed to all ages.

“Game Boy and Game Boy Color’s combined lifetime sales reached 118.7 million worldwide” (businessweek.com). Game Boy is “the longest running dynasty in the video game business” according to arstechnica.com.

The Craziness
The Game Boy console’s design is instantly recognizable and has become a pop culture icon. There are Game Boy condoms, wallets, handmade dresses, fully-functional Halloween costumes, and tattoos. Artists like NullSleep use the Game Boy to create music and Game Boys have been repurposed into external hard drives, while the game cartridges have been turned into USB drives.

4. Tickle Me Elmo

10 million and counting

The Christmas Story
It’s a case of Christmas in July, or at least that’s when this Christmas story begins. Rosie O’Donnell introduces Tickle Me Elmo to her viewers (mostly moms) and 200 Elmos are given out to her studio audience. By some accounts, Tyco had already sold 400,000 Tickle Me Elmos before he made his appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell show; by other accounts Tyco was not expecting the rather expensive doll to do well, and it was a slow seller. Similar to the Cabbage Patch craze, the low supply of dolls made it even more desirable, so that “in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Tickle Me Elmo dolls were in such scarce supply that ads cropped up in newspapers asking for as much as $2000 per doll” (media-awareness.ca).

The Craziness
One department store employee describes what happened to him on December 14, 1996:

“I was pulled under, trampled—the crotch was yanked out of my brand-new jeans…” says Waller, who suffered a pulled hamstring, injuries to his back, jaw and knee, a broken rib and a concussion. “I was kicked with a white Adidas before I became unconscious.” (Jan 13 1997, Just Tickled, people.com)

Other Tickle Me Elmo trauma can be found at customerssuck.com. You can buy the original dolls online for less than $20.00 U.S.

3. Furby

1.8 million sold
Tiger Electronics

The Christmas Story
Like most of the other toys appearing later on this list, the Furby was introduced at the Toy Industry Association’s annual Toy Fair. This introduction of the Furby took place in February, months before it’s planned release in October. Premature media coverage caught the attention of toy stores and Tiger had sold all of them before the factory had even started production. Parents were just as intrigued, because the toys sold out at the stores immediately.

Over 14 million Furbies sold in 1999, but the Christmas of 1998 was the height of the Furby fervor because of it’s lack of availability. Furbies were re-selling for hundreds of dollars (their original ticket price was $35 U.S.). For the first time in toy history, parents turned to the Internet to satisfy their Christmas toy cravings. To put this into context, eBay was only 4 years old in 1998 and only 26.2 percent of U.S. households had internet access. One eBay seller made at least $2600 selling Furbies to 33 Buyers. Unfortunately, most of them were buying Furbies of the imaginary variety because the eBay Seller was a scammer cashing in on the Furby frenzy (‘Burned eBay Furby Buyers Get Payback’, Jan 22 2009, news.cnet.com).

The Craziness
“Sometimes the hot toy is not such a good toy,” said one toy expert during the Furby craze (time.com). Apparently, the Furby was not only annoying – it also creeped quite a few kids (and adults) out. Only a few weeks ago my nieces (now in their 20’s) were describing how scary their Furby was to have in their rooms because it would suddenly start talking. A visit to a forum at tamatalk.com is full of similar stories of Furby owners who make their Furbies face the wall at night so their scary face isn’t visible, of Furbies that call out in the middle of the night, and family dogs who won’t go near them.

The main character of Bret Easton Ellis’ 2005 book Lunar Park is tormented by his step-daughter’s Terby toy – not just similar in name, the doll has a beak, is furry, and ‘comes to life’ (although in Ellis’ case the Terby flits around and, from what I can recall, tries to kill him).

The Pet Rock was (hopefully) obviously just a rock, so was not likely to be disappointing; the Cabbage Patch Kid was actually a popular and enduring toy (personally, I don’t understand it, but perhaps that’s just the bitter, doll-less little girl in me speaking); but the Furby just… sucked?

Not every agrees, because adoptafurby.com seems to be completely sold out of Furbies. They believe in “giving every Furby a chance at a new life, regardless of their past” and 851 Furbies have already been adopted through their site.

Furbies also enjoy new lives at the hands of hackers and circuit benders. Well, perhaps enjoy isn’t the right word… Hacking involves “getting sliced open, their guts torn out, and their insides replaced with odds and ends you can find at the local hobby store” (hackfurby.com). Circuit bending, “an electronic art which implements creative audio short-circuiting,” sounds friendlier but involves a similar operation (anti-theory.com).

Possibly more disturbing than hacking a Furby apart, the Adult Lovers of Furbys group (ALOF) on Yahoo had 18 new messages and 18 new photos posted just this week…

2. Playstation 3

Sales Unavailable


The Christmas Story
The PS3 had several features that set it apart. It’s ‘unified online gaming service’ encouraged online play, it had functionality for multimedia storage and play (photos, music and movies) and it primarily used Blu-Ray disks for storage.

The Play Station 3 was unveiled at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (May) and shown again at the Tokyo Game Show (September) but there wasn’t an operating version of the game system to demonstrate at either of these shows. The international release date was originally set for November, but the PAL version (Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Western Europe) was delayed until Spring 2007). Over 81,000 PS3’s sold within the first 24 hours of the Japan release.

The Craziness
All of these factors contributed to a tense environment surrounding the U.S. release. PS3’s pre-sold for thousands of dollars online and, more than ever, people were camping outside stores. The long build up of anticipation resulted in numerous reports of gun violence in the news (armed robbery, shootings, drive-bys) and brawls (in one case, 60 shoppers were involved).

Don’t forget the story of the customer who “treated people ahead of him in line to coffee spiked with laxatives” when he found out there wasn’t enough PS 3’s to go around. Talk about playing dirty (Esquire).

1. Zhu Zhu Pets

10 million


The Christmas Story
Russell Hornsby, the man who came up with the idea for these robotic hamsters, was inspired by the popularity of hamster footage on YouTube. The toy was tested out at a few stores in Arizona and sold out in a few weeks. “Following in the footsteps of must-haves of seasons past — the Furby, Tickle-me Elmo, Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies — supply seems to grow short just when demand is high, and Zhu Zhu Pets are flying off store shelves” (abcnews). Another reason for its success: you could buy a hamster for under $10. Also, “Unlike actual hamsters, they don’t bite, they don’t smell, and they don’t poop” (pennlive.com).

Yes, they’re cute – but are they really robots? Terese Polletti at Market Watch argues that they are not and quotes Jimmy Kimmel, who described Zhu Zhu’s as “Matchbox cars with hair on them.”

Yet, they seem to have appeared at the right place at the right time: created by a small St. Louis toy company (but manufactured in China) and selling for a reasonable ticket price. Finally, a genuinely cute and fun toy, whose popularity hasn’t been spurred on by an innovative or expensive marketing campaign or celebrity endorsements.

The Craziness
Yet, by the end of November Zhu Zhu pets were selling for $250 on eBay and several Target employees were fired for purchasing Zhu Zhu pets earlier than the company policy allowed (consumerist.com). ‘Tis the Season! Now stop reading, it’s time to rush down to the store and wrestle some other desperate shopper for this year’s toy!

1.1. Balloon Buddies



The Christmas Story

• Patented, Original and/or Licensed Characters that are light enough to suspend (float) with helium balloon(s) & tethered to a base that is filled/weighted with treats.
• Exponential growth opportunity in brand expansion, product proliferation, internal / external licensing contracts, calculable revenue streams.


Balloon Buddies Inc.
The Original Balloon Buddy –
Anchor / Party Treat Box.
310 251 9728

Check out our TopTenz playlist: Hot Christmas Toys for more footage, videos of the songs mentioned, and other toys.

Additional Resources

toyassociation.org - “a list of classic toys that are still on the market, along with their first year of introduction and current manufacturer”

List of all inductees into the Toy Industry Association’s National Toy Hall of Fame

Langley Sommer, Robin, I Had One of Those: Toys of Our Generation, Random House.

Note: unless noted otherwise, the sales figures listed under the year of release indicate number of units sold during that one year.

International readers: this list is based on popular toys in North America and may not reflect your country (for example, Action Man was an extremely successful toy in the UK in 1966). What was the toy you just had to have?

Source: TopTenz

Friday, December 17, 2010

How To Get Contact Information From Open House Visitors.

Have something REAL buyers want... knowledge works best!
  1. You know more about the real estate market and the houses in it than they do.
  2. You know the current inventory.
  3. You know which houses are priced right and which ones aren't.
  4. You know that homes built by this builder cost more than ones by that builder, and why (and whether they're worth the extra $).
  5. You know if the neighborhood of your open house is out of the buyer's price range;
  6. You know of alternative neighborhoods that might work for them.
  7. You know a lot...share your wealth of knowledge and impress your prospects with business acumen.
Bottom line, you should, and do, have a conversational familiarity with your local real estate market.

Also... Not everyone who comes to an open house is a good prospect for you. In fact, most probably aren't, for reasons you're already aware of. Just let 'em go. Don't be rude, of course, but don't fret about getting their digits or demonstrating your expertise to them. Just let them wander thru, politely and pleasantly answer their questions, and relax. You may leave your open house with only one or two folks to follow-up with and that's okay. It's perfectly fine to cherry-pick your future clients, selecting only those with whom you have a natural rapport, who seem to be open to hearing from you again.

Here's the thing. Trying to create rapport with every warm body who walks in the door can be exhausting. And discouraging. Frankly, not everyone wants to be chatted with; in fact, most probably don't. By the end of the open house, if you've tried to build rapport with everyone who came in, you can end up an emotional mess, especially since many of them have probably rejected your advances. But if you save your emotional energy for those with whom you "click," you'll be far more charming!

So, what's the punch line?

  1. Be conversationally familiar with the neighborhood, amenities and alternatives to the neighborhood of the house you're holding open and be willing to freely share your knowledge with visitors, and
  2. Save your emotional energy for the visitors with whom you feel a natural rapport. Be pleasant and polite to everyone else, but don't stress yourself out trying to get contact information from them.

If you've done a good job preparing for your open house and you choose your targets wisely, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that many visitors will initiate further contact with you. Either they'll offer up their contact information voluntarily or they'll ask for yours. Focus on how you can better demonstrate to your visitors that you are the Realtor® they're looking for.


Published: December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top 10 Eccentric Buildings...

In a world of bland, corporate buildings...
thank goodness for those architects & designers who express their individuality.
They brighten up our world.
From works of art to the downright wacky, here is a list, some of which I have been fortunate to see in the flesh.

10. Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao, Spain


No list is possible without the architect Frank Gehry. Built alongside the Nervion River, the curves are typical Gehry and were designed to catch the light. The museum, opened to the public in 1997, exhibits Spanish and international artists and the unusual design made it an important tourist attraction for the town. Gehry wanted the design to resemble a ship in honour of Bilbao’s status as a port. The building is made of limestone and glass, and titanium panels made to look like fish scales.

9. Dali Theatre and Museum – Figueras, Spain


Another Spanish art museum, this houses the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s artwork in the world. Figueras was the artist’s birthplace and he wanted to rebuild the old theatre from the ruins left by the bombs of the Spanish Civil War. The museum opened in 1974 and was expanded through the 1980s. Dali supervised the design, which matched the eccentricity of his paintings and sculptures, particularly in the giant eggs on the roof. Dali’s crypt is in the basement.

8. Turning the Place Over – Liverpool, England


This is an art installation contained within a derelict building, which has served as an attraction during Liverpool’s tenure as European City of Culture. Sculptor Richard Wilson’s creation surprises passers-by. An oval shaped 8-metre diameter section of the wall was cut and made to spin round on a pivot to reveal the interior of the building.

7. The Mushroom Tree House – Cincinnati, Ohio


This other worldly construction looks as if it was transplanted from a children's picture book. It doesn’t appear to have been built at all and looks like it sprung up from the ground. The effect was achieved by the former Professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati, the late Terry Brown. Brown’s students helped with the project and were graded for it. It can be found in the Hyde Park district of the city.

6. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Building – Branson, Missouri


The Branson museum is one of a chain of museums, housing the bizarre artifacts owned by the Ripley franchise. The building was designed to commemorate the devastating earthquake, which registered over 8.0 on the Richter Scale, in 1812 in New Madrid, Missouri. The crack across the building gives the impression that it has just survived its own earthquake. The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Orlando, Florida is designed to appear as if it is sinking into the ground.

5. The Robot Building – Bangkok, Thailand


The robotic design, by the architect Sumet Jumsai, houses the United Overseas Bank headquarters. Located in the Sathorn business district, it was completed in 1986 when contemporary design was in vogue. It’s a friendly looking robot with lidded eyeballs for windows. The architect’s remit was to design something that made a statement about the modern, computerised nature of banking.

4. Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain


Many visitors go to Barcelona just to see the work of the architect, Antoni Gaudi. He didn’t like straight lines and he avoided them whenever possible! His most ambitious construction, the Sagrada Familia Roman Catholic Church is still to be finished. Gaudi worked on it from 1852 until his death in 1926. It is scheduled to be open to the public for worship in 2010. Its towers are the most iconic image of Barcelona and it looks as if it belongs in a fairy story. The church is full of Christian symbolism, dedicated to the saints. Gaudi’s other famous Barcelona landmarks include Casa Mila and Park Guell.

3. The Basket Building – Newark, Ohio


Not many people get to work in a replica of a hand woven gift basket! This environment is headquarters to the Longaberger Company, a successful basket manufacturer. The founder, Dave Longaberger, wanted all his company buildings to be in the shape of a basket but his daughters countered his wishes following his death. However, this 7-story replica of one of the company’s products is not the only giant Longaberger basket in the area. Dave had also instigated the Apple Basket in Frazeysburg, the house sized Picnic Basket in Dresden, and the Big Easter Basket in Lorain.

2. The Crooked House – Sopot, Poland


The architectural firm of Szotynscy Zaleski took inspiration from fairytale illustrations and from the designs of Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi to design this remarkable construction. The roof is covered with bluish green enamelled shingles that look like dragon scales. The interior is conventional and contains bars, shops and cafes.

1. The Dancing House – Prague, Czech Republic


Tourists from all over the world come to marvel at the beautiful churches and other historic buildings in Prague, so they are surprised to find this contemporary gem. It houses the Nationale-Nederlanden insurance company and was designed by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry. Construction was between 1992 and 1996 and was endorsed by the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel. A French restaurant occupies the roof, affording magnificent views over the city. Other nicknames for the building include the Fred and Ginger, and the Drunk House.

Source: Anne Iredale

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top 10 Free Tools To Monitor Your Online Reputation

With the explosion of Consumer Generated Media (CGM), ongoing monitoring of your personal or professional reputation has become a must. Consumer Generated Media consists largely of social networking websites; blogs; photo, audio and video sharing sites; discussion boards; and any other website that allows users to share their experience, opinion and knowledge.

Facebook, Twitter, BlogSpot, WordPress… people update and write about anything, anywhere, anytime. In fact, they might be writing about you. You can imagine the devastating ramifications of negative word of mouth about your company or yourself. However, you can be proactive and monitor online reputations before disaster strikes. You can monitor your name, product feedback, services, company, competitors, employers, even enemies. The sky is the limit and the tools are easy to set up and free to use, so take advantage of them.

Here are ten free basic tools to monitor online reputation:

10. Yahoo! Site Explorer

Yahoo Site Explorer

Monitor the external links to your blog, corporate website or personal web page through Yahoo’s Site Explorer. This free tool allows you to check who is linking back to your site. There is a very high probability that people who post negative comments, also provide a link to their source of disappointment.

9. Google SideWiki

Google SideWiki

Google SideWiki is a very useful browser plug-in that allows any Gmail user to annotate or post comments on any website. This web annotation feature also allows the website owner to leave an owners comment on their Sidewiki. It will appear at the top of all other listings. It is very important to regularly check your SideWiki entries to prevent spam and abuse or to address negative feedback. Don’t be offended if there are some legitimate negative comments, but make sure you address them: contact the complainer, post a comment letting the person know you’ve contacted them directly, and take the conversation offline.

8. Knowem


This tool will check the availability of your personal/corporate name or username on over 400 popular social networking and bookmarking platforms. Knowem is a good way to discover if someone is posing as you or if it’s just a coincidence. Checking usernames is becoming essential also for trademark protection and to protect yourself and your business from identity theft.

7. Delicious

Delicious social bookmarking

Delicious, the world’s premier social bookmarking service, is another handy tool. Almost everybody is bookmarking nowadays, so start discovering web bookmarks that mention your name, services, or competitors. Use the search box or the Delicious tag page to monitor your online reputation.

6. Versionista

Versionista monitors websites

If you have been facing online reputation problems and you want to keep an eye on a particular website, Versionista monitors any change of the web page of interest, visually showing the exact words and sentences that have been added or removed. It alerts you by sending email notifications.

5. SamePoint

Samepoint used to monitor your online reputation

SamePoint is a useful social media search and analytic platform that allows you to analyze millions of user-generated conversations and monitor online reputations. It is easily accessible, simply type your query into the search box and analyze the social tone: whether it is positive or negative. The “Social Tone” feature indicates how many negative/positive words have been found in the post. Remember to subscribe to your tracking feed.

4. SocialMention

Social Mention

SocialMention allows you to easily monitor and measure what people are saying about you, your organization, a new service, or any topic across the online social media landscape in real-time. According to SocialMention, “the tool monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.” You can create various alerts (similar to Google Alerts) based on your choice of search phrase.

3. Twitter

Use Twitter to monitor you or your company's online reputation

Twitter is one of the most popular and powerful social networking services. Conduct a search for your target keyword and then subscribe via RSS to get fresh search results. The TwitterSearch plug-in will help you find people by name, if you don’t know their Twitter account. It is a great plug-in. Type in “toptenz” and you will see for yourself. You can subscribe to the feed of your search query.

2. Technorati

Technorati - monitor your online reputation

Technorati is a leading search engine of the blogosphere. It indexes millions of blogs in real time. Technorati is probably the best tool to monitor blogger conversations. Conduct a search using the Technorati search box and if you are not happy with the returned results, try using quotation marks, for example: “toptenz“. Subscribe to the RSS feed and check it periodically.

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts

One of my favorite free tools is, of course, Google Alerts- a powerful content monitoring service. It’s a great way to stay informed. Google Alerts monitor both social and traditional media. You will receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your search term. If your Web search query contains two or more words, use quotation marks around your phrase to tell Google Alerts exactly what to retrieve. For instance, a Google Alert for “online reputation software” works better with quotes. Here’s a great trick: use negative keywords. If your name is similar (or the same) to another organization or another person, use the search phrase “your name –characteristic of the other company/person” as an alert. Using the negative keyword, Google Alerts will exclude almost all results about the second one. Let’s say that my name is John Smith and I am a Human Resources Manager but Johnsmithsport.com is the corporate website of a Spanish designer. The search phrase “John Smith -johnsmithsport.com” will eliminate results related to his website from my alert. The Google Alerts service has several other settings to help you customize your updates.

What free online tools do you use to monitor?

source: Timeea Vinerean

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top 10 Iconic Buildings

There are many different types of buildings all throughout the world, and occasionally a building is built that captivates a city or even a nation. Over time these buildings become the defining pinnacle of the greatness of the city they improve the skyline of. This is a list of buildings that the world wouldn’t be the same without.

10. Hagia Sophia

Built on the site of a 4th century church, of which nothing remains, the Hagia Sophia has been a focal point in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) ever since. The great church is now a museum but it wasn’t always so: for centuries it served as a pillar of the Greek Orthodox Church and then as an Islamic Mosque. The second church was destroyed by a fire during the Nika Riots in 532, although remnants of it can still be seen today. The Hagia Sophia that can be seen today was built between 532 and 537 and is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The biggest draw to the ancient church is the impressive 102 foot diameter dome which reaches 182 feet into the sky. Other stunning characteristics of the Hagia Sophia are the countless mosaics, the Loge of the Empress, the Marble Door, the Sultan’s Lodge, Mahmut I’s Library and the Marble Jars.

Who built it?
The first church was built on the spot where a pagan temple had stood, by Emperor Constantine himself in 360. In 405 the second church was built by Constantine’s son, Theodosius II. The third and final Hagia Sophia was built by Justinian in 532. In 1453 Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and turned it into a mosque, and subsequent sultans have made various additions since then.

9. The Louvre

One of the most easily recognizable museums in the world, the Louvre’s Palace and the recently added glass pyramid are as beautiful to those who visit as the priceless works of art that it houses. But it wasn’t always a museum, it was originally built in the 12th century as a museum but in the 14th century it was converted into a royal residence. In 1750 Louis XV turned it back into a royal museum to house parts of the royal collection. During the French Revolution it underwent another transformation, this time from royal to public museum. Throughout the years it has been added to by Napoleon I and restored by Louis XVIII and Charles X. Today the Louvre holds 380,000 pieces; 35,000 of which are on display, including such important works as The Mona Lisa and The Venus de Milo.

Who built it?
Philip II built the Louvre Palace as a fortress somewhere between 1190 and 1202, although most of the original structure has been destroyed. The Salle Basse (Lower Hall) is all that remains of the Medieval Louvre.

8. The Burj Al Arab

In a city famous for its architecture, the Burj Al Arab defines the Dubai skyline. The newest building on a long list of architecture built on a grand scale, the Burj Al Arab was built in 1994 and is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Perched on a man-made island in the Persian Gulf, it was built to mimic the sail of a dhow. The hotel features a 590-foot tall atrium, a large seawater aquarium, two restaurants (one of which was voted in the top 10 restaurants in the world by Conde Nast) and 202 luxuriously appointed suites.

Who built it?
The Burj Al Arab was designed by Tom Wright and built by Atkins for Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts. It is currently the second largest hotel in the world.

7. Sydney Opera House

Rising out of the Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House is not only the center of the arts scene in Australia but also stands out as a must see to anyone visiting the area. In the late 1940′s Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music lobbied for a new venue for large productions. In 1955 a design competition was held by NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, and by 1958 construction had begun. The winning design features several concrete shells and houses performance spaces like the concert hall, the opera theater, the drama theater, the studio, the Utzon room, the forecourt as well as a recording studio, five restaurants, four souvenir shops and a guided tour operation.

Who built it?
The winning designer was Jørn Utzon, an architect from Denmark. When Cahill insisted on radical changes to the design, Utzon resigned mid-construction and the project was finished without him. In the 90s, the Sydney Opera House Trust reconciled with Utzon, naming him a design consultant for future work but he died in November of 2008.

6. Empire State Building

Once the tallest building in the world, no film or television show set in New York is complete without including a shot of the grand Art Deco skyscraper. Originally the site of the Waldorf-Astoria, construction of the Empire State Building began on St Patrick’s Day 1930. 410 days later construction was finished and it won the title of world’s tallest building, surpassing both 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, which were being built around the same time. The opening of the building coincided with the Great Depression so it sat almost empty for the next 20 years. This wasn’t the only challenge the building has had to face: there was a 1945 plane crash, shootings in 1997, and more than 30 suicides. Through it all the Empire State Building has endured as a timeless monument of New York City.

Who built it?
The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb, based on the designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem North Carolina and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati Ohio. Because of this, the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father’s Day card to the staff of the Reynolds Building every year.

5. Taj Mahal

The crowning jewel of India, the Taj Mahal is a testament to one man’s love for his wife. It looks like a palace, but it was actually built as a tomb for the Emperor’s favorite wife. Construction began one year after her death in 1632 and the mausoleum was completed in 1648 with the surrounding buildings and gardens taking another five years to complete. The construction took 20,000 workers and craftsmen that were recruited from all across northern India. Soon after the Taj Mahal was completed, the Emperor was deposed by his son Aurungzeb and put under house arrest. When the Emperor died in 1658, he was buried beside his wife inside the Taj Mahal. During world War II the Indian government erected scaffolding around the Taj to mislead German and Japanese bomber pilots. Today the Taj Mahal is under a different threat: acid rain and pollution from the Mathura Oil Refinery has begun to turn its white marble yellow.

Who built it?
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when his third wife Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. He exchanged a large palace in the center of Agra with Maharajah Jai Singh for the three acres of land where the Taj now sits.

4. Eiffel Tower

Towering high above Paris, the Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and acted as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, which marked the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years but it was a valuable communication tool and remained as an unmistakable element of the Paris skyline (especially as buildings in the city cannot surpass seven stories). During the German occupation of Paris during World War II, the lift cables were cut forcing German soldiers to climb the stairs to the top to hoist the swastika. Within hours of the Liberation of Paris, the lifts were back in working order.

Who built it?
The Eiffel tower was designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel who had originally submitted the design to Barcelona for the Universal Exposition in 1888 but they refused. When it was built, he engraved the names of 72 French scientists, engineers and other notable Frenchmen.

3. Big Ben

One of the world’s most famous clocks, Big Ben is actually the name of one of the bells but over the years it has come to be used for both the clock and the tower as well. It was completed during the restoration of the Palace of Westminster in 1858. The tower stands 316 feet tall, each clock face is 23 feet square with 4 foot numbers and the great bell is seven and a half feet tall and weighs 13 tons. Nobody knows exactly whom Big Ben is named after but common theories include Sir Benjamin Hall (who oversaw the installation of the bell) or English Heavyweight Boxing Champion Benjamin Count.

Who built it?
Charles Barry designed Westminster Palace, however, Augustus Pugin created the clock tower. Pugin fell into madness and died in 1852 and Big Ben was the last building he would ever design. The clock itself was designed by Beckett Denison.

2. The Colosseum

The largest Roman amphitheater ever built, the Colosseum is one of the greatest architectural feats ever achieved by the Ancient Romans. Construction began between 70 and 72 AD and was finished in 80 AD. It was capable of seating 50,000 people and was usually used for gladiatorial games, but could also be used for public spectacles, mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, reenactments of battles, and dramas based on Classical Mythology. During the medieval era its entertainment purposes ended and it has since been used as housing, workshops, a fortress, a quarry, quarters for a religious order, and a Christian shrine. Today the Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Who Built it?
The Colosseum was imagined by Emperor Vespasian who used the vast treasure seized during the Great Jewish Revolt in 70 AD to fund its construction. It was built up to the third story when Vespasian died in 79 AD, but his son Titus finished it and inaugurated it in 80 AD.

1. The Giza Pyramids

The oldest buildings on this list, the pyramids on the Giza plateau have intrigued mankind for centuries. Not only have they stood the test of time, but the accuracy with which they were built is impressive even by today’s standards. They were built as tombs for three separate pharaohs during the Third and Fourth Dynasty. It is also the only surviving wonder of the ancient world and was the tallest building in the world until 1300 when it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral. Despite their long history, or perhaps because of it, mysteries have swirled around the pyramids since they were found by the Ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. How were they built? How many people worked on the project? How long did the construction take? What was the Egyptians’ understanding of astronomy, mathematics, and geography? And even crazy questions like: did aliens help in their construction? While these questions go unanswered, all we are left to do is marvel at a culture who were master builders even before the invention of the wheel.

Who built it?
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids was built by Khufu between 2551 and 2531 BC. The second was built by Khufu’s grandson Khafre between 2558 and 2532 BC. And the third pyramid belongs to Khafre’s son Menkaure and despite not knowing the exact date of the construction many believe that it was finished somewhere around 2490 BC, several years after his death.

Source: TopTenz.net