{November 3, 2007}   I heart Pandora

So last week I was at work and I wanted to listen to some music, but unfortunately I had left my adorable pink Shuffle on my bed when I switched tote bags that morning. Since I one of those kids who downloaded as many songs as I could on my dial-up connection when Napster was the hot new thing, my first thought was to download a bunch of songs. However, being that I am currently working on a copyright infringement awareness campaign, I decided that it would not be in my best interest to get caught illegally downloading music at work.

When I mentioned the dilemma of spending the day in a silent office, one of my coworkers suggested Pandora. Pandora is a free, online radio service that lets you listen to any of your favorite music. After you set up an account, you type in the name of a song or artist that you want to hear and it will create a station for you. You can create as many stations as you want, or just add new music to a single station.

In addition to the standard play and pause features, there are some really great benefits to using Pandora. First, it has every song or artist that I’ve searched for so far. It also constantly updates the selection so you get to hear new songs as soon as they are formally released. I made country station and searched for Carrie Underwood. One of the first songs that played was from her new CD that had come out a couple days earlier, which I thought was pretty cool. My favorite part of Pandora is the fact that it adds music to your stations that is similar to the artists that you have requested. It gives you the option to rate the song with a thumbs up or thumbs down and based on your opinions, it adds or deletes songs. This is a great way to find new music that you’ve never heard of.

As with any technology, there are a couple of downsides to using Pandora. Because of their copyright agreements, they can’t play multiple songs by one artist in a row. Also, you have the option to skip songs but you can’t go back and replay any songs, so if you want to use it as an iPod substitute, you will probably not be satisfied. Though it is a great application if you want to randomly listen to all of your favorite music and find some great new tunes along the way. Also, Pandora has been added as a Facebook application, so you can even listen to songs without ever leaving the site!

In light of all the recent legal drama surrounding file sharing and distributing music online, using Pandora is definitely a safe route to take. I’ve heard about ways to download the mp3s to your computer so that you can listen to them at your leisure or put them onto your iPod, but that a project for a rainy day.

Happy Listening!


{October 27, 2007}   Smartphones & Ringtones

So it’s a long held notion that girls spend a LOT more time talking on the phone than their male counterparts. Although it has a negative connotation, the fact that girls are constantly using this ever-evolving technology can be traced back to the early days of the telephone. Women were at the forefront of telephone use, being employed as telephone operators after it was determined that young boys were much too rowdy for the job.

In high school, I ruined several of my mother’s perfectly good telephone cords. I would stretch the phone into my room from the kitchen until the cord had lost nearly all of its spiral, then spend hours talking to my friends whom I had just spent all day with at school. I finally convinced my parents that the only solution was to put a phone in my room. Which really just gave my little brothers the opportunity to pick up the other phone and listen to all of my TOP SECRET conversations.

As you might imagine, I absolutely loved when I finally was able to get a cell phone. I wasn’t quite as early an adopter as Zach Morris, who was seemingly the only one at Bayside High with the ability to bring a phone to class, but my phone was still pretty cool. It was a Nokia brick that I outfitted with Zebra print faceplates. Currently, I’m sporting the LG Chocolate, simply because I fell in love with its candy apple green color as soon as I saw it on TV. Lately, I’ve been eyeing smart phones. I’m holding off on buying one partly because I have a year left on my contract and buying one at full price will run me a pretty penny, and partly because I will hopefully be starting a full-time job soon and I’m hoping that I might be able to get one as part of my work obligations.

Thinking about it now though, I probably should have sucked it up and dished out the cash earlier in college for a phone that would have kept me more organized than my paper planner that I usually lose by the third week of the semester. It would have been even better in high school, comparing notes and scheduling plans with my friends as we emailed each other in the back row of classrooms instead of paying attention to the lessons. It would have been a more high tech version of Cher and Dion in Clueless. If your high school allows it, I definitely think a smart phone would be a great way to keep your homework, practices, games, and social calendar organized, in addition to being able to dial up your friends to chat, all in one simple device. Some models to consider: Apple iPhone, T-Mobile Sidekick, and soon-to-be-released LG Voyager.

I think the coolest thing about cell phones is the ability to personalize them. My Nokia brick had maybe five midi tones to choose from, and there was no such thing as Bluetooth. Additionally, at the time, I had no idea that it would soon be possible to put my favorite songs onto my phone. Lucky for you, it’s very easy to create your own ringtones without paying 1.99 per tone per year. Don’t get any ideas about selling them to your friends, as that would get into copyright issues, but creating them for your own personal use will probably be just fine.

Happy Toning!

{October 21, 2007}   Create your own Podcast

So in my recent job search, I have been trying to think of a unique way to set myself apart from my competition. I am working on a portfolio website to showcase my work, but most everyone in my field has some sort of digital portfolio, so its almost expected by employers. On paper, my resume stands out because of its bold design, but when it has to be just text based for online applications, it probably looks like everyone else’s resume, which has prompted me to look for alternate ways to catch the attention of my future employer.

My latest great idea? A podcast. Podcasts are easy to create and I can add it to my website in just a few steps. Employers and hiring managers will simply have to click on a button and get to know me by listening to my podcast. I can talk about my experiences, my goals, my education, and my skills in a more vibrant, colorful way than any piece of paper could ever explain.

To check the appropriateness of my idea, I searched through different articles but couldn’t find much on my idea. I saw a couple of comments to blogs that agree that it is a way to get noticed and to set yourself apart from others, but even sites that discuss alternative resumes don’t really touch on podcasts.

Using a podcast as a resume got me thinking. What else is as competitive as the job market? Getting into your first choice college, of course. College admissions officers are always looking for essays that really let them see a person’s goals and personality. What better way to do that than by speaking to them about your experiences and goals? You will still have to write the required admissions essay, but adding a podcast may just set you apart from the thousands of other applicants. I think that this will work especially well if you are applying to a technical school because you will be showcasing your skills at the same time.

Both Windows and Mac users can follow the Beginner’s Guide to Podcast Creation, which includes downloading a free copy of Audacity to create your podcast. Mac users can also follow Apple’s Podcast Creation Guide, which gives you step by step instructions for creating a podcast using GarageBand and distributing it using iTunes.

Podcasts are also a way for musicians to record and distribute music, for writers to share their stories with others, and for you to keep your family up to date on what you are doing after you get accepted and start classes at your first choice school.

Happy Podcasting!

{September 29, 2007}   Nerdisms

Hey Ladies! The other day I realized that I am definitely a bit of a nerd. Not in the classic pocket protecting, glasses held together by tape, annoying kind of way; but rather in the sense that I love learning about new technologies and I can hold my own in a battle of wits with any Computer Science or IT kid.

But…its always been kind of a secret. In high school I was more concerned about my wardrobe and my friends than what made my Instant Messanger work. I only cared that it did work. Thinking back though, I do recall being interested in modern technologies. When my family got our first Windows machine, I immediately set up a Geocities account because I wanted to make a website. My lack of a topic kept my fabulous site from ever being launched, but I think thats where my geeky persuasion began.

Another secret? I saw Antitrust about 25 times. I was entranced by the thought of hacking and the idea of synergy. At the time, I didn’t understand the similarities to Microsoft or Bill Gates, but I still thought that the capabilities were incredible. There is a room on the first floor of the building where I work and it is completely empty except for a vending machine. It reminds me of that room in the movie that turns out to be a pretty important part of the plot. I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but I definitely suggest it for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

After thinking back on these brief encounters and spending four years at a school strongly devoted to making strides in the tech world, I almost wish that I had taken my interests more seriously and stopped being such a GIRL for awhile. I thought technology was better suited for boys who hid themselves away in dark basements with the greenish glow of their monitors as their only source of a tan.

So what is my point in all of this? Girls are just as well suited for a career in technology as boys are. Both of my college internships were in tech companies and I definitely plan to pursue employment a similar company in the future. It is so innovative and changes every day. This past week, an event called Women in Science Day was held at Washburn University. The event was held to encourage middle school girls to consider a future in science or technology. Even though those girls are a lot younger than me, I admire their curiosity and interest and I wish that their had been a day like that when I was in middle school.

My advice to you? If you are a middle or high school girl interested in technology….Go for it! Some of my favorite nerdy-pleasure websites are Digg, Engadget, and AppleInsider. Check them out! And if you are a chick pursuing your tech dreams? Let me know.

Happy Nerding!

et cetera