Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Web Secret #225: I Live Like a Billionaire

Two months ago, while I was sitting in my virtual front row seat watching the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games on my HDTV, it occurred to me that I have a better quality of life than John Jacob Astor IV.

In 1912, Astor was considered to be the richest man in the world, with a fortune of close to $3 billion in 2012 dollars. In case you don't remember from watching Titanic reruns, he drowned during the sinking of the ship, (interesting but irrelevant to the point I am trying to make.)

True, I don't have a summer "cottage" in Newport, Rhode Island. Nor am I likely to travel first class anywhere, anytime. But in every other respect, compared to him, I live like a billionaire.
  • I have air conditioning (not in widespread use until the 1940s.)
  • I have hot and cold water, anytime, (not in widespread use until the 1920s.)
  • My car, a modest Honda CRV, is equipped with GPS (invented in 1990) and satellite radio (Sirius Satellite Radio, 1990.)
  • Through my cable TV set, I always have a seat to an endless list of concerts, shows, and sporting events, (HBO was created in November 1972.)
  • I am vaccinated against multiple horrific diseases, (polio vaccine 1952) and have access to antibiotics (penicillin, commercially available in 1945) if I get an infection, and insulin (discovered in 1922,) if I get diabetes.
  • I own or have access to a dozen other wonderful technical wonders that help make my life pleasant, safe, longer, and entertaining.
I am very rich indeed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Web Secret #224 - Sandwich Video

There is a man who has mastered the art of the under 2 minute promotional video. His name is Adam Lisagor and his company is called

Adam's videos are short and quirky, odd but entertaining. They do not use celebrities or supermodels. In fact most of his videos look like something that anyone could produce with an iPhone, if only they were smart and creative.

Here is an example of a classic Sandwich Video:

It's only one minute long!

Get inspired - watch all of Adam's videos. It will only take you 15 minutes...

Even if your self made promotional video is only half as good, (think half a sandwich,) why couldn't you do it too?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Web Secret #223: Generation Screwed

Our twins have left for college, but no empty nest angst for us - our recently graduated daughter has caromed back into our lives.

She is part of what Newsweek Magazine calls "Generation Screwed." To quote the article:
"How has this generation been screwed? Let’s count the ways, starting with the economy. No generation has suffered more from the Great Recession than the young. Median net worth of people under 35, according to the U.S. Census, fell 37 percent between 2005 and 2010; those over 65 took only a 13 percent hit. The wealth gap today between younger and older Americans now stands as the widest on record. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center."
In New York City, (where I live,) things are even worse. While I paid $280 for a studio apartment in Manhattan after I finished grad school, my daughter will eventually pay close to $1,000 to share a space with several roommates in Queens.

What has happened since I graduated? In New York City, from 1970 to 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), the median rent rose by 75 percent, while the median income remained stagnant (after adjusting for inflation). Further, in 2010, 54 percent of New Yorkers spent over 30 percent of their income on rent, compared with only 28.5 percent of New Yorkers in 1970.

Unsurprisingly, according to a Pew Study published early this year, employment for 18-to-24-year-olds is at 54 percent, the lowest rate for this age group since 1948, when the government started keeping track. The Pew Study also noted that one in four of all 18-to-34-year-olds said they had moved back in with their parents after having been on their own. Moving home is no longer necessarily indicative of laziness or pathology.

While these trends have been brewing for two decades, they are now at their peak. A popular blog written by 20 something Emma Koenig is aptly called "F**ck, I'm in my Twenties!"

The blog must resonate because Ms. Koenig has been offered a related book deal and TV show.

That's Blog Power.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Web Secret #222: Babbel

I spend a fair amount of time standing on line, waiting in airports and otherwise being unproductive. Sure there's "Words With Friends" but what about doing something more rewarding?

How about downloading Babbel and learning or perfecting another language?

Babbel is a free app (on iOS and Android) that allows you to study a choice of 11 different languages and have fun while doing it. Babbel:

Is a mobile vocabulary trainer. Make the most out of travel and waiting time: With Babbel Mobile you can study vocabulary even on your smartphone or tablet. Speech recognition and basic and advanced vocabularies are integrated.

Is interactive. The Babbel apps contain 2000-3000 vocabulary words per language. All words are accompanied by images and pronounced for you by native speakers.

Offers speech recognition. With our integrated speech recognition you can practice your pronunciation and make significant progress. Lose that fear of speaking!

Offers a review manager. Babbel gathers the words and phrases that you've studied and then presents them back to you for review at optimal intervals: all in good time. What you've learned automatically embeds itself in your long-term memory!

Gracias Babbel! Merci Babbel!