Category: social media


A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Dakota’s Personalized Gifts. She asked if I would be willing to do a product review for her company, and I was more than happy to oblige.

I chose the Engraved Photo Marble Keepsake and sent in a picture of Isabella for them to use. Within a few days, I had this item in my hands. I was really surprised at the quick turn around. They have some great photo gifts on the site.

When I opened the package, I found a nice, solid piece of marble with a beautiful engraving of the photo I sent in. The edges have a really cool ‘wavy’ texture to them, along with a black and white marble combination. I am really pleased with the quality of this product.

You’ll notice our star model posing with her picture throughout this review. Isabella approved of this product as well. It was originally her Christmas picture. Here is the original and the finished product.

Here is a bio from Dakota’s Gifts;

We started in a spare bedroom about 5 years ago more as a part time hobby than a business with The Anniversary Rose making roses for the traditional anniversary gifts (i.e. 1st year paper, 2nd year cotton, 5th year wood etc) cutting rose petals by hand with scissors. It quickly grew from a part time hobby to a full time business, adding help and equipment to keep up. Then, we started expanding into personalized anniversary gifts. We started getting many requests from our customers for personalized wedding, Mother’s & Father’s Day and Christmas gifts etc. That’s when we started Dakota’s Personalized Gifts. Soon the business took over a second bedroom and the garage, the following year it occupying two bedrooms, the garage & a full basement. With no room left to expand we were forced to move into a commercial location in 2009. We continue to expand with new products and updated equipment all the time which allows us to produce most of the personalized items in house.

Buy It: Engraved Photo Marble Keepsake retails for $31.95. Use the following coupon codes on your order:

10OFF50 for $10 off when you spend $50

15OFF75 for $15 off when you spend $75

GRD-OCT31 for free ground shipping when you spend $35

Win It: Dakota’s Gifts has been kind enough to offer a $50 gift certificate and free US shipping to one of my lucky readers.

If you’d like to enter to win this prize, please follow this link to my new blog site to enter.  I am migrating all further posts over there.

We started in a spare bedroom about 5 years ago more as a part time hobby than a business with The Anniversary Rose making roses for the traditional anniversary gifts (i.e. 1st year paper, 2nd year cotton, 5th year wood etc) cutting rose petals by hand with scissors. It quickly grew from a part time hobby to a full time business, adding help and equipment to keep up. Then, we started expanding into personalized anniversary gifts. We started getting many requests from our customers for personalized wedding, Mother’s & Father’s Day and Christmas gifts etc. That’s when we started Dakota’s Personalized Gifts. Soon the business took over a second bedroom and the garage, the following year it occupying two bedrooms, the garage & a full basement. With no room left to expand we were forced to move into a commercial location in 2009. We continue to expand with new products and updated equipment all the time which allows us to produce most of the personalized items in house.

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Yesterday, I attended the Liberteks Smalbany 5th Annual Small Business day at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  I was invited to be a Guest VIP Blogger and take some pictures for the event.  I didn’t get to take many pictures, but I did get to sit in on some pretty good seminars about how social media can help grow your business.

I was going to sit down and write a long, drawn out blog series about what was said, by whom in each seminar.  I decided against that, because almost everyone said the exact same thing:

Your business needs to be active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As someone who has been using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for a few years, this was not news to me.  For those looking to drive more traffic to their company, this was an excellent place to spend the day learning how the web can work for you.  It was nice to see that these methods have been effective for many other businesses and continue to drive business to their sites.

I wanted to highlight some of the key parts of the seminars that I thought would be of importance to my readers and keep this from being a novel that no one wants to finish.  So, here are some of the best parts, in my opinion, of course.

The first speaker I heard from was Lisbeth Calandrino.  She was full of spunk and looked nothing like her claimed age of 70.  Lisbeth told us that being partners with your customers is a must.  She also mentioned that Sam’s club asked their small business customers what they need to stay in business, and they replied “money”.

Lydia Kulbida led a panel of bloggers and also offered a very important piece of advice for using online media to sell your product – Read it out loud to yourself.  Would you want to buy it?  Great advice.  Plus, she like LOST, so she’s OK in my book!

Mary Darcy from All Over Albany backed this theory up by saying “would you tell this to someone else?”  I really enjoyed Mary’s feedback on how she gets information to post on the AOA blog.  I wish she had more time to talk, as it was not only informative, but very interesting.

Mike Huber led a panel called Local Social Media and Your Customers.  He asked about blogging and tweeting – why would you want to do it, and why would people care?  Sonya Stark said to create lists.  People love lists.  Lisa D’Aquanni and Vic Christopher shared some great  information about blogging and what it can do for your business.

My favorite panelist was Rev. Al Rudnick.  I am not huge on religion, but he explained how people are using Twitter and Facebook during church and how they encourage it.  They even project it on a large screen so people can see it and participate.  I think I will try this on Sunday.  I bet the people in our church wont be as accepting…

Rhea Drysdale from Outspoken Media put on a great presentation about the Mobile revolution.  She detailed how Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare play a huge part in the mobile arena.  Rhea mentioned that you should protect your brand.  Make sure you get your company name on every outlet you can.

Alexis Grant (@AlexisGrant) held a great seminar about Using Social Media For Your Job Hunt.  She recommended three ways to make the web work for you;

Facebook – They are more likely to help you because you are already friends.

Twitter – Network outside of your friends.  Prove yourself as an expert.  Make connections with companies and employers.  Connect with people through Twitter that you might have been too intimidated to talk to at a job fair.

I think this event was a huge success.  It offered many great ways to promote your small business with social media.  Thanks to Tim Cronin and Larry Zimbler for letting me be a part of this event.  I hope to participate again next year.

Here is the text of the first post I have made on the Times Union Biker Blog.  This entry can be found here.  Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Rose Winters

Over the last few months, I have been talking with Mike Huber about blogging for the Times Union. I first met him in March at the Media 2010: How Blogs Shape The New Conversation conference at St. Rose. I have since been to a few other Times Union sponsored events we would always end up talking about creating a biker blog.

I wanted to write this blog for two main reasons. 1) To help raise awareness of motorcycles on the roads. 2) To share my love for the open road with other bikers. I have recently had a few friends involved in serious motorcycle accidents, one unavoidable and one because of someone’s carelessness behind the wheel.

I would also like to shed a little light on the stereotype that bikers are “bad people.” Sure, there are bad apples here and there, but for the most part, bikers are the most kind, charitable people you will ever meet.

Some of the regular readers may already know me from my interactions on many of the current Times Union blogs. For those that may not know me, I am (obviously) an avid motorcycle rider. I have been riding for ten years and really enjoy being out “in the wind” on the bike any chance I can get.

I am also a photographer. My love for photography is just as strong as my passion for motorcycles. That’s why I created the Capital Region Photography Meetup Group. The initials of this group (TCRPMG) make up the username I have been using on the blogs and on Twitter.

Now that you know a little about me, let’s find out a little about you. What do you know about motorcycles? Do you ride them? Do you have family that rides?

Yesterday began just as any other day usually does.  I got up, checked my email, my guest blog on Kristi Gustafson’s Times UnionOn The Edge‘ Blog  and then went out to check the garden and turn on the pool pump.  It was already getting hot, so I decided to mow the lawn.  I knew that we had plans later that night, so I wouldn’t be able to do it after it cooled down.  Today wasn’t looking more promising either.

So, I hop on the mower and cut the grass.  We have an acre, so it takes about an hour to cut it.  After I was done with the riding mower, I grabbed the push mower and did the areas I couldn’t get to with the rider.  When I was done with that, I was pretty hot and was sweating like crazy.  I came in the house and changed into my bathing suit, then headed out to the pool.

I dove off the diving board, and instantly felt much cooler.  As I swam to the shallow end of the pool, something caught my eye.  I looked again and saw a small animal in the skimmer.  At first I thought it was a chipmunk.  I got out of the pool and ripped the cover off the skimmer.  Then, I realized what it was.  It was a little baby bunny.  He was fighting for all he had against the suction of the skimmer.

I ran over to the pump and switched off the power so the suction would stop.  I didn’t know what he would do, so I didn’t just reach in and grab him.  I grabbed the wide mouth net and when he tried to hop up, I grabbed him in the net.  What happened next surprised me quite a bit.

Fresh out of the skimmer

I set the net down on the concrete in the shade, laid out so he could just hop out and be on his way.  He was obviously a little traumatized and out of it, so he stayed put.  I let him sit there for a few minutes while I ran inside and got Rose and some paper towels.  I picked him up and wrapped him in some paper towels.  He didn’t seem phased at all.  He just laid there.  Every now and then, I would check his sides to see if they were moving and he was still breathing.

We used what we had to give him water

As we sat there with him for an hour or two, he dried out and was still very mellow.  Rose would hold him in the paper towel, and if she moved it, he would re-position himself, so we knew he was getting a little better.  We kept him on the paper towel because he has some seriously sharp nails.  He started climbing up my chest at one point and it was a little painful.

After a few calls from friends in the veterinarian field and tons of people on Twitter giving us feedback, we put the bunny on the ground to see if he would hop away.  Eventually he did, but he started going towards the road.  I had to chase him down and catch him, which wasn’t an easy task, but refreshing, as he was moving quickly.

When I grabbed him, he made this crazy squealing noise that we hadn’t heard before.  I guess he was feeling better and that is a noise they make when they are scared.  I picked him up and took him to the other side of the yard where I released him into an overgrown area where we see lots of bunnies.  I hope he has a great life and stays away from the pool.

All dried out

When I started blogging back in January, I had two ideas in mind.  First, I wanted a blog that was about photography.  I wanted to share my love for photography with my readers, and offer help should they want it.  Second, I wanted to start doing product reviews.

From time to time, companies will send products to bloggers to let them test it out and write about them.  The logic behind this being that the blogger can get the word out about their product to many, many people with a real world opinion about the product.  It helps the company gain potential customers and gets the bloggers more traffic.

A few months ago, I started a second blog solely dedicated to product reviews.  I also post the reviews on this blog when I do them, but that blog will only have product reviews on it.  When I review a product, it goes on both sites.

I have only found a few companies so far to review products for, and would really like to find a few more.  So far, LowePro has been great about sending me camera bags to test and review.  I am trying to keep the focus of the blog to photography products, but will add motorcycle products as well.  Both genres play a huge part in my life, and I think I can bring a great deal of info to both markets.

Not only do I have my reader base, but I have Twitter and Facebook.  Along with them, I have 2,700 people that are members of The Product Review Place to share the information with.  So, the products would get a ton of exposure.  My reviews are posted on that site as well.

So, if you are a company that has a product that you need reviewed, please leave me a comment and I will get in touch with you about what we may be able to do for each other.  See ya soon!

*Image courtesy of Consolidated Freight Co.

As some of you may already know, I currently have some of my photos hanging in a gallery in Kingston, NY.  I received word yesterday that next Saturday will be the gallery reception.

I would like to invite you all to come to Barista’s Espresso Cafe in the Hudson Valley mall on June 26th to view the work Angela and I have on display.  Angela is the co-organizer of my photo group, and a good friend.

For those of you in Albany, I know it is quite a hike to Kingston (about 45 minutes), but I would love to see you there if you can make it.  It would mean a lot to me.  The event is open to the public and children are welcome.

Place: Barista’s Espresso Cafe1300 Ulster Avenue Kingston, NY

Date: June 26

Time: 4-7pm

If you need directions, please do not hesitate to leave a message here or shoot me an email if you have my email address.  I hope to see you there!  See ya soon!

I am following up on a previous blog I wrote about some of the people I interact with on an almost daily basis. Some of these you will have seen before, but I have added a few others to the list that I have met over the last month or so.  I read a post a few months ago that said instead of clogging up Twitter with the #ff’s, make a list in a blog and have people follow from there.  So, here ya go…

The coolest of the cool

Dom P. – One of the funniest guys I know.
Jerry P. – Dom’s brother and the other funniest guy I know.  Check out his blog.
Cassie – Organizer extraordinaire of the Albany Tweetup.
Kelly – See Kelly for special ‘meat’ sales.
Emily – Kelly’s co-worker and photographer. Check out her blog.
John J. – Albany’s own celebrity. Everyone knows John.
Bill – Beer guru and tech dood.
Keith – Web designer and all around good guy.
Andrew – Code guru and blogger.
Rose – My honey. She also has a blog.
Brian – Shoots video like a pro with his Canon 7d.
Humbearto – Reporter for the Times Union. Moved to Seattle and Albany misses him greatly.
CuteElla – Heart of gold and she also has a blog
Jim – Phish fanatic
Stickfigureman – awesome Stick Figure posts
Angelos – Beer and wine brewer
Amy – PR, Social Media consultant and blogger
Kevin – No nonsense, tell it like it is kinda guy. He has a blog too. Also a self proclaimed “sex symbol”.
Terri – Our favorite Realtor. She is the best. Her blog rocks too.
Sue – Local 911 dispatcher.
AllOverAlbany – Great blog and good people.
John G. – Producer and voice actor in Albany
TonyWeb designer.
IrisiraBlog
Jaci Sabolsky
Jennifer McIntosh
Katie the Intern
Kate Birch
Trish – Painfully shy chick.  Go say hi and make her come out of her shell
Mike Bucc – News junkie and really funny
Di – Bangin’ Canadian and my 90s hip hop buddy
Roz – My source for good information
Goose – Entertainer extraordinaire and funny guy.
Mike Keane – Great guy.  Funny too!
Sue – Helped me in a huge way with the pool!
GoldWing987 – A fellow rider

Here’s a few categories of people or companies that I follow and interact with on a regular basis. Feel free to follow them if you’re interested.

Photography

Scott BournePhotofocus blogger and photography pioneer.
Trey Ratcliff – AKA Stuck in Customs. Some of the most amazing HDR I have ever seen.
Amazing Pics – They pick out great pics and share them.
Nikon – The best cameras in the world.
Alex Suarez – Photography and technology blog.
Adorama – Photography supplies.
Fluck – Photography blog
Canvas On DemandSite for great canvas prints. I had them print a 16×20 for me and it was gorgeous.
Peta Pixel – Awesome blog with tips and tricks for photographers.

Motorcycles

Harley Brother – Harley events
Joe Rocket – A motorcycle junkie with some great links
Harley-Davidson© – The motorcycle company, silly.
Kurt Sutter – Executive Producer of Sons of Anarchy.
Motorcycle Fans – Awesome news and a daily photo blog

News

Kristi Gustafson – Times Union’s OTE blogger.
Amanda Talar – Times Union’s East Greenbush blogger.
Naomi Seldon – Times Union’s Simpler Living blogger.
Mike Huber – Times Union’s Interactive Audience Manager
Channel 10 News
Metroland

Cars

Top Gear
Keeler Motor Car

Blogs (Those not mentioned previously)

Rude Cactus Blog
GreebleMonkeyPhotoblog
WordPressBlogging platform
Christa WatsonIt’s Like Christ with an A
Albany InsuranceAlbany Insurance Professional
Rob MadeoMan of a Certain Age
Kari VanAlstineChronicles of Chronic Pain and Wreckless Abandon
Jen HernandezSweetly Tart

Miscellaneous

Uncommon Grounds – Coffee house in Albany and Saratoga
Price Chopper – Grocery shopping
511 Traffic – Local traffic
Boob Emancipate – Who doesn’t like boobs?
InTune GP -My cousin’s husband. He makes guitar picks for a majority of the rock bands out there.
Newegg – Computer parts at great prices.
Woot – Daily deals.
Wootoff – Crazy specials.
Shawn KingYour Mac Life
Alyssa Milano – Yes, the actress from Who’s the Boss.  She has some really great Tweets.  I really enjoy reading them.

That’s quite a few of the people I follow. I know I have missed a bunch, but this is a good start.  Please feel free to add people or businesses that I missed or that you think would be good to follow. Please follow me at TCRPMG and subscribe to this blog. See ya soon!

**Image borrowed from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/ ***

A few nights ago, the TCRPMG members had a model shoot in Hudson, NY.  As we were shooting, my eye wandered up an enormous flag pole to see the flag among this gorgeous blue sky.  I couldn’t help but shoot it.  It was so gorgeous.

You see, ever since I was a kid, I have been in love with the flag that represents this great country of ours.  I always try to get good shots of it to share.  That flag represents our freedom.  That flag represents those risking their lives so we may keep our freedom.  Many have given their lives for us. Unfortunately, a lot of people take that freedom for granted.

Kristi was tweeting and talking on Facebook the other day about people that wouldn’t stop talking during the National Anthem.  It made me pretty mad.  I have noticed that people have become incredibly rude and just don’t care anymore.  And it’s not only during the National Anthem.  There have been a few instances where I was probably sitting in my chair with my mouth wide open, amazed at how rude people are.

My cousin’s wedding was a great example.  My cousin and his wife were at the altar and the priest was doing conducting the ceremony.  There was a crowd of people in the back of the room that were carrying on a loud conversation.  I was getting pretty angry.  They were disrupting the service and didn’t even care.

Last week, at Baseball and Bloggers, the panel was speaking and the people in the back of the room were so loud I could barely hear the speakers.  It baffles me that this is becoming so common.  Why would you go to an event and ignore the lecture just to chat with your friends?  Pick up the phone and call them.  Go to a bar.

I know that I have no control over the way people act in public.  I am just saddened by the lack of respect that seems to have become OK in society.  What happened?  I can only assume it’s because parents can’t (or wont) discipline their kids anymore.  The world is going to be a very scary place in another twenty years.

Now that my whining is over, I want to add one more thing.  Find a Vietnam Veteran, an Iraq Veteran or a current military member and thank them for protecting this great country of ours.  It’s because of them that we have the freedom we have.  And don’t forget all of those that have lost their life fighting for us and those that are POW-MIA.

See ya soon.

Last night, Rose and I attended the Times Union Baseball and Bloggers event at the  Dale Miller Restaurant in downtown Albany. The event was put on by Mike Huber, the Interactive Audience Manager for the Blogs portion of the site.  Mark McGuire was the MC for the night. Mark is a sports columnist and also blogs for the Times Union.  In the first two hot seats were Jordan Carleo-Evangelist and Chris Churchill.  They both root for different teams, but it seems they put aside their differences when they write.  Jennifer Gish was the third member in the hot seat.  She is a newcomer to baseball, and admitted that she grew up watching football.  I got a laugh when she said they should just get rid of the (Pittsburgh) Pirates.

Personally, I am not a sports fan in the least.  I don’t know much about baseball or any other sport, but I did want to attend to see what it was all about.  Just like the Media 2010: How blogs shape the new conversation blogging event a few months ago, I really enjoyed being a part of this event.  It was fun, informative and great for networking with other bloggers.

Jordan and Chris exchanged a witty banter and had me laughing quite a bit.  Even though I don’t know much about sports, I did enjoy listening to them interact with the audience.  The audience did a great job of participating as well.  Unfortunately, the game was delayed due to rain and the guys stretched it out as long as they could, but had to release us to mingle as the delay was going to be another 40 minutes or so.

Mike did an awesome job of organizing this event.  Dale Miller Restaurant is a beautiful place.  We were on the 13th floor (or P1 as the elevator displayed).  The view of the city was quite incredible from there.  I am glad it rained, because I would have been upset to have that gorgeous outdoor patio with 360 degree views of downtown and not have my camera with me.  If anyone from Dale Miller reads this, I would love to have the opportunity to do some photography from that patio.  The shots I could get from there would be amazing!  End of shameless begging…

I had the opportunity to meet some Twitter friends and writers of blogs I read frequently while I was there.  I finally got to meet Amanda Talar, who may or may not know how to flirt, but she likes motorcycles.  That is OK in my book!  Kari VanAlstyne was there, and so was local self-proclaimed sex symbol Kevin Marshall.  I also met Mike Keane and got to chat him up about jobs and blogs.  At some point he realized that I lost my mouth filter a while ago and I just let things fly.  It catches people off guard sometimes.  They see me dressed in Brooks Brothers slacks and a nice button down shirt,  so they don’t necessarily know that I am a heavily tattooed biker.  I love it.

Oh, and if anyone sees the nice lady that was taking pictures of the guests at the party, please send her my apologies.  I can be a bit of a wiseass.  She came up to us at the beginning of the event and asked if she could take our picture.  I said, “No, you can’t take my picture.  I am anonymous.”  I was totally kidding, and she never took my picture.  Oops.  It is a bit of an inside joke.  As a photographer I hate having my picture taken.  Ironic, isn’t it?  So, in most online sources, you wont see a picture of me.  I will post a picture of my reflection in the chrome of my Harley, or wearing a helmet, but you’ll rarely see my face.  Trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

I really think that a motorcycle blog should be a part of the Times Union Blog section.  I would be happy to contribute with perhaps a few other bloggers sharing the blog.  Have your people call my people and they can do lunch together!

See ya soon!

Yesterday we went to Price Chopper to pick up a few things for dinner and while we were there, I started thinking about those summer foods that I love.  You know, the foods you don’t go out of your way to get most of the year, but during the warmer months, you really enjoy them.  My summer food today was strawberries.

We walked into Price Chopper and as soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have them.  It was at least 86 degrees here yesterday.  That’s what the car thermometer said anyway.  The ones at the house were aver 90.  For Upstate New York in the Spring, that is a little toasty.  I am not complaining ( a lot), I just wish we could ease into it.  One of the local weather channels posted a Tweet saying we had a run last week that was a perfect temperature range.  Tuesday was in the 40s followed by Wednesday in the 50s, Thursday was in the 60s, Friday was in the 70s and then Saturday and Sunday were in the 80s.  That is how it should be.  The only problem is that for the beginning of the week, it was in the 30s and windy as hell overnight.

Ok, back on topic…I was looking for a snack tonight, when all of a sudden I remembered the strawberries were in the fridge.  I washed them and cut them up in a bowl.  Next, I grabbed some sugar and sprinkled it over them to take the bite away.  It just so happened that I had a fresh bowl of Cool Whip sitting in the fridge and I covered the strawberries with it.  Delish!

So, what I’d like to know from you is this – What food do you consider a summer food? A few others that I like are (on rare occasion) tomatoes eaten like an apple with a salt shaker, peaches, plums and grapes.  I really like freezer pops too.

Something I don’t like that is considered summer food is watermelon.  Unless you cut a hole in the top of it and fill it with (Insert favorite alcohol here) and let it marinate for a few days.  On the rare occasion that I partake in that ritual, I like Parrot Bay Coconut Rum in it.  Mmmm…but I ain’t one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me!

Tell me what you like.  Don’t be shy!  See ya soon!