It’s Just a Simple Shoe


This weekend is Awesome Con in Indianapolis. For those who don’t know, Awesome Con “is a comic-con that embraces all aspects of geekdom and pop culture, with a wide assortment of comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay, and more.” This will be my very first con and I cannot describe how excited I am! After years of hearing friends talk about it and seeing pictures online I finally get to go to one myself!

My roommate and I spent weeks planning our cosplay, or the costumes typically worn . To me, this is one of the most exciting aspects of these events. Cosplay ranges from simple tshirts and accessories to full body paint and elaborate head to toe ensembles. After weeks of deliberating I finally decided on being the main character from Kiki’s Delivery Service. The film is a popular anime from famed director Hayao Miyazaki‘s film studio Studio Ghibli that I used to watch at my grandmother’s house when I was little. Plus my pixie cut sort of resembles Kiki’s haircut when it’s grown out, which is another bonus.

On top of messy short hair, Kiki sports a flowy black dress, large red bow, a brown messenger bag, red ballet flats. Compared to other cosplays I’ve seen, this is insanely simple. I found the dress, bag, even a massive red bow all within a few shopping trips after work. Out of Kiki’s entire outfit, her red shoes were the hardest to find.

I’m not really sure why those shoes eluded me for so long. Flats have been popular for decades, worn by icons like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn, and even featured on fashion runways. Red is also a popular color on the runways for the fall. So why can’t these two fashion facts merge to create a simple red ballet flat? Honestly, there are people who make elaborate costumes made out of metal rods, LED lights, and things like that that probably cost thousands of dollars! The fact that I could not find a simple shoe, a mix of two of the biggest fall fashion trends, after weeks is insane.

After several hours running from shoe store to shoe store, I finally found the perfect pair of Kiki flats. Now all I need is a little Jiji to tuck in my bag and I’m set!

Loika, Pat. Comic-Con 2013. 20 July. 2013. Online image. Flickr. 28 Sept. 2014.


5 Tips to Promote Yourself on Twitter

Metropolitan Coach Lines employee

Networking is an important skill to learn and keep up with throughout your career, no matter what field you’re in. Networking can help you gain new clients, make important partnerships that can further your business, or even help you find a new job when you’re ready to advance or just need a change.

Since many of my college friends/recent grads are freelancing in one way or another (some need it for their career while others have taken up creative hobbies that they’re trying to make money off of) I’ve seen a lot of them turn to social media to network. While I’m glad to see so many of them make this choice, I often sometimes cringe when I see the results. Social media sites like Twitter can really help your career, but only when used correctly. Today I’m going to share 6 simple tips that can really help your business grow on Twitter.

1. Always keep content in mind

Keep your Twitter account focused on your career field. Post content that the people you want to reach will want to see. Since many people who freelance or are just starting out use their personal accounts to promote themselves, this is very important to remember. I wouldn’t be afraid to post things outside of that category (your dog in a birthday hat is totally worthy of the internet) but make sure that people can still tell what your about.

If you’re worried about your personal and professional lives colliding and would rather keep them separate, start a new Twitter account just for your career. Something simple like Jane Doe Web Designs will be easy for clients to see your work without worrying about how many pictures you take of your pets per day.

2. Keep it short and simple

Twitter only allows you 140 characters, so use them wisely. Adding a link to your products/services, no matter how shortened, can still take up valuable space. Attaching a picture can also use up characters. A good tweet will never use two words when one is just as good.

A good tweet will also attract reader’s attention and make them want to click a link or follow an account. While this seems simple, it’s often pretty difficult to do in under 140 characters. You get better with practice, but a simple tip to start off with is to engage the reader by asking them a question.

Are you a wedding photographer? Instead of tweeting “Wedding photographer available this summer. LINK” try something like “Who would you trust with your wedding photos? LINK.” The first example tells too much up front so people are less likely to click the link unless they are actively searching for a wedding photographer. The second example engages the reader with a question that elicits an emotional response about something as precious as wedding photos. It makes you click the link to find the answer to the question, which is good for you. Once you get the chance to show off your work people will be more likely to refer you to a friend or save your information for another special event they have.

Keeping tweets short are also important in terms of retweets. The shorter your tweets, the easier it is for people to quote your tweet to their followers while adding their own comments. People spreading your information means you reach a wider audience, and having a positive comment or two will give you word of mouth bonus points.

3. No more than 2 hashtags per tweet

According to How to Hashtag, a basic website that explains this latest media/marketing tool, “hashtags…were invented as a way to organise [sic] twitter conversations. Hashtags are simply keywords preceded by a hash symbol (#) that makes them both searchable and linkable on twitter.” Hashtags are used in all sorts of tweets. The media often develops a hashtag for ongoing news stories like #Ferguson for the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Major television premiers also create their own hashtag to generate viewers, like #VoicePremiere for the next season of The Voice. Something as simple as #homemade can be used to highlight one of the best features of your products.

Hashtags are searchable, which means that even people who aren’t following you can find your tweets and links. For this reason, you want to use no more than 2 hashtags per tweet. Any more than that looks like you’re spam that is simply throwing out random keywords to get attention. Plus, it’s obnoxious.

4. Be careful who you tag

I’ve seen this a few times were people try to promote themselves, their company, or their skills on twitter, and actually tag themselves in the tweet. This is a great way to waste characters. When you send a tweet, people can see that you were the one who wrote it. They can easily click on your Twitter name and the link will take them to your Twitter account. Tagging yourself is redundant and makes you look unprofessional. Your online presence is like any first impression – you only get one and it needs to be good.

5. Generalized hashtag vs Specific Hashtag

If you’re tweeting about your skills or company, you want to reach the right people. So do you tweet something generalized like #design or the more targeted #AdobeDreamweaver? Ultimately, that’s your call. My advice is never settle for one tweet. Post multiple tweets over several days or even weeks. Limit one tweet per day, and always use something different. Remember, hashtags are a search engine so just because no one responded to your #design tweet on Monday doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. The right person might not search for #design until Friday. However, someone could be looking for #AdobeDreamweaver the same day you send your next tweet highlighting your skills, so don’t give up.

Metro Library and Archive. Metropolitan Coach Lines employee. circa 1955. Online image. Flickr. 21 Sept. 2014.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. ‘”#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon).’ Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 24 Sept. 2013 Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

How the Public is Affecting the Nude Photo Hacking Scandal


The Jennifer Lawrence Hacking story is no longer the top news story it was a week ago, but its impact on society will last much longer.

Countless people have tried to benefit in some way from dozens of female celebrities’ stolen property. To start with, the nude photos that sparked the whole scandal were privately traded for Bitcoins before being “released” to the public. The person responsible for posting the photos even stated that their goal was to make money from revealing even more nude photos:

People wanted s*** for free. Sure, I got $120 with my bitcoin address, but when you consider how much time was put into acquiring this stuff (i’m not the hacker, just a collector), and the money (i paid a lot via bitcoin as well to get certain sets when this stuff was being privately traded Friday/Saturday) I really didn’t get close to what I was hoping.

Mainly because of the extra bitcoin spammers spamming their own address.. taking my original posts and passing them off as their own to try and get bitcoin.. but also because of the skeptics. I proved I had s***, but people wanted more and more for free. Well, fuck, you can’t get everything for free sometimes.

Then there’s the art exhibit that was set to feature some of the hacked nude images. Don’t worry, it isn’t going to happen anymore. Interestingly enough, it apparently has nothing to do with the legal issues surrounding the stolen property. It was the public’s response to the images that changed artist XVALA’s mind. “People were identifying with Jennifer Lawrence’s and Kate Upton’s victimisation, much more than I had anticipated, which is powerfully persuasive,” XVALA stated. Gee, thanks for that empowering message. Glad to know you were pleasantly surprised to find the public in favor of women.

While XVALA was changing his art exhibit to reflect public opinion, many celebs (male and female) were taking to social media site Twitter to express their own opinions on the hacking scandal.

Actress Mary E. Winstead, a victim of the iCloud leak, sent a couple of tweets that reveal just how deep the hackers went to access those photos.

Actress Emma Watson used the social media site to share disgust over the many responses shared online that blamed the victims of the hacking instead of the hacker(s) themselves.

Lena Dunham is on the same page as Watson and explained in the simplest terms why such an argument is ridiculous.

And finally, Seth Rogan on why this we shouldn’t victim blame in this or any similar “scandal”:

While this story is still developing, there are some facts we can be certain of no matter what is revealed later on. Society’s views on women are extremely contradictory. We all know that the phrase “sex sells” is used to push every product on the market these days (a simple search of “sexualized advertisements” on Google Images reveals a plethora of examples over the years), yet women are punished for accepting this sexuality and displaying it in their own lives. Even more absurd are the countless female celebrities who are persecuted for being as sexual in their personal lives as the fictional characters they portray in movies, television, or ads.

Just because these women are famous does not mean they have no right to privacy. Just because women have a sexual side does not mean that it should be exploited for the world to see or condemned due to sexist opinions. Just because there is any sort of demand for an item does not mean it is acceptable to supply that demand. The acts of the hackers as well as those victim blaming the females who were violated contribute to an alarming problem in the United States: a never ending cycle of sexism that not only prevents justice from being served, but also allows crime to occur.

Victim blaming prevents those actually responsible from ever being punished for their crimes. Why even bother to be a law abiding citizen if there’s no consequence for breaking the law?  The cycle continues until someone sees the injustice and speaks out. Thankfully, the celebrity tweets above show a break in the cycle as more and more people refuse to accept such a pathetic status quo. However, the endless victim blaming remarks online show that we have a long way to go.

hobvias sudoneighm. free internet. 23 Jan. 2005. Online image. Flickr. 14 Sept. 2014.

What Does the iCloud Leak Mean for Non Celebrities?


One of the biggest stories in the past week has been the Jennifer Lawrence Nude Picture Leak. Even though over 100 female celebrities were affected by hackers to their Apple devices, for some reason Lawrence’s name is the one most attached to the infamous incident. On August 31 pictures of the celebrities first appeared on image-sharing website 4chan. While Apple has claimed that the hack was caused by  “a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions” as opposed to “any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone,” many are still criticizing the tech empire.

Apple has branded itself as being user-friendly. Unfortunately, this emphasis on accessibility comes with a more relaxed attitude towards security features. The Wall Street Journal has quoted Ashkan Soltani, an independent security researcher who has worked with them in the past, that “more often than not, Apple chooses to err on the side of usability to make it easier for the user that gets locked out from their kid’s baby photos than to employ strong protections for the high-risk individuals.”

It makes sense that security and user-friendly lie on opposite sides of the spectrum. With everything from the social media accounts used to share family photos to online accounts to pay bills, it might seem like more trouble than it’s worth for the average person to create a strong and truly unique password for every account. Apple markets itself to this person, not the celebrity who constantly worries about privacy violations. However, I can’t help feeling that the average consumer should worry more like a celebrity.

Everyone remembers the backlash Target experienced after its hacking scandal in 2013. The average American learned what was at stake when security is not the top priority. So why is Apple still marketing itself as user-friendly? Why not pay more attention to the opposite end of the spectrum? While there’s a multitude of aspects that could affect that decision, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has to do with users’ willingness to use security measures.

Soltani’s comment about making devices easier for users to access their information rather than keeping hackers from accessing their information speaks volumes about how users want their security handled. While Americans were upset with Target for mishandling their personal information, they seem to be willing to take shortcuts in their own security measures just to make things easier on themselves.

Whether it’s because the saying that ‘Americans are lazy’ is true, or that we’re all so distracted with so many online accounts to focus on their security features, I have no way of showing the right answer. I do know that the past has shown that we’d rather have our security handled for us, which is a luxury that this latest celebrity scandal has proven we cannot afford.

A few days ago I was talking with a coworker about all the customers we see experiencing problems with their cell phones or tablets. They become angry when they cannot figure out how to instantly connect to the internet, have better cell phone service, etc. People use these tech devices on a regular basis, yet many seem confused about how they work. It’s probably time we all sit down and really learn about the technology that we rely on every day.

wicker_man. iPhone. 6 Nov. 2008. Online image. Flickr. 7 Sept. 2014.

5 Tips on Working for Startup Companies


I had big dreams about using my creative writing degree to be Editor-In-Chief or New Media Guru for some Big Established Company straight out of college, but reality quickly set me straight. While I still have those big dreams, I know that those Big Established Companies require years, sometimes even decades, of experience for my dream position. So I started small and looked into the only demographic literally begging for my skills: startup companies.

Start up companies were my best friend after graduation. While they knew they needed someone with my skill set, they couldn’t afford the salary of even one person with the years of experience Big Established Companies were asking. It’s a win-win really, I boosted my experience while the startup company got an employee to do the job. But, like any job, working with startups has it’s downsides.

I’ve experienced 3 startup companies, which is apparently a bit more than the average 20-something. So let me share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way on what it’s like to work with a startup company.

1. You probably won’t get paid for a while

A lot of startup companies I’ve seen either ask for college students or push back when they hire or even have their employees start. College students can earn college credit instead of a paycheck. If a startup is looking for paid employees, they’ll either put off hiring a candidate or even have employees wait to begin working while they get their funding sorted out. Either way, be prepared for this fact. Look for startups that have been running for at least a few months if starting immediately or having a paycheck right away is important to you.

2. You might be doing a lot of work

If your startup company is growing faster than the founders expected they might not be able to hire extra help the second it’s needed. That means all the extra work that comes with company growth will be split among the few employees they started with. While this is great to put on your resume or talk about in an interview, you need to be prepared to put in more than regular 9-5 hours or meet needs that weren’t on your original job description.

3. You might be doing very little work

Just because a company knows they need someone with your skill set doesn’t always mean they know what to do with you. There might be another aspect of the company that they need to focus on and this distraction can either prevent them from helping you reach your company goals or lead them to delay any approval you need from them. While you should always stay on top of your own productivity and make sure you’re achieving your employee goals, you should also be prepared to explain to your boss what you are doing and why it is the best way to achieve those goals.

4. Things are always changing

That’s just the nature of the beast. Start ups are new and small but founders often have aspirations of competing with Big Established Companies. That means they will often change everything behind the scenes to meet company goals or make customers/clients happy. While it will often help the company, and therefore you, in the end, it’s still a stressful time for all employees. Always be willing to learn new things and keep your communication skills sharp so you can explain your new changes to customers/clients.

5. You will need to network

This is an important piece of advice whether or not you work for a startup company. Today’s job market is much easier to navigate when you have the right people to help you advice your career. Networking is especially important in startups because you represent a company that is still growing. Networking with the right people means you find people who can help your company grow while also giving them something beneficial in return. Being able to provide a win-win situation creates a “business friendship” that makes future career help easier to obtain.

While startup companies can be wonderful for all types of employees, especially those straight out of college, it might not be the right fit for everyone. Start ups require employees to be flexible and have great self-management skills. Each startup I’ve worked with has been different though, so never remove a startup from your job search just because they’re the new kids on the block. While starting out with a startup company might not be the job you’ve always wanted, getting in on the ground floor might give you the opportunity to build your own path to your dream job.

The Library of Virginia. City, crowded office space. 19 August 2008. Online image. Flickr. 31 August 2014.