Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


On The Running of Contests

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Ooo, shiny...,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m thinking about running a contest.

I’ve been thinking about running a contest to promote another site I’ve been working on.  Now, before anyone get’s too excited, this is something that I’m just speculating on right now and wouldn’t even start for months, if I do it at all.  For whatever reason, I’ve been a little nostalgic for the old, Internet “boom” days.  Those heady days when the Internet bubble hadn’t quite burst and receptionists might be paper millionaires.  It was that culture that launched many of the websites that we all love today, like Amazon.com, along with so, so many that never made it.  There are still some remnants from those days, like ThinkGeek.com, who sold us all crazy t-shirts and junk for our desks, a way to spend those ridiculous salaries so many geeks were making at the time.  I should note, however, I was not one of those making the giant salary.  I was just a “working-class” geek who ground out networks like some kind of piece-worker who lusted after so much of that material culture.  I especially loved the imported vinyl toys that were around then and have since passed into a kind of obscure subculture that still lives on the web.  (You can find examples of what it’s become at KidRobot.com)  So, the idea I had for the contest has been influenced by all that.  Also, I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of other people’s desks and bags.  I love to see the contents of their life as bounded by the confines of an office or the bag they carry.  Of course, there’s a trick writers use to help define their characters by what they carry in their bag, or luggage.  Obviously, the idea that what one carries on a daily basis in some way defines who they are.  I know I’m not the only one, too.  There’s a Flickr group dedicated to “what’s in your bag” that I find endlessly entertaining.

So, it’s with that in mind that I started thinking about the contest.  I had in mind to put together six or twelve bags, filled with junk, as if they belonged to a designer or geek who’s life one might covet.  Perhaps someone I wanted to be once, or wish to be in the future.  Maybe just what strikes me as an interesting character or someone I would like to meet.  I’d like to include some sort of branded merchandise, whether it’s the bag or pens or something else, I’m not sure.  Ah, but that does put me in mind of another theme from that era that seems to have changed some; schwag.  This was the stuff that was passed out at the trade shows that seemed to happen every week, advertising new companies and new services and even reminding us of the old companies.  There were companies back in the day that only seemed to exist long enough to produce a month or two worth of schwag and then slip silently beneath the waves.  (In fact, I suspect I have a few t-shirts from some of them!)  At one point, there was so much schwag floating around that there was a company who did nothing but package and ship schwag to subscribers, called ValleySchwag!  They don’t exist any more, but a new company has replaced them called Startup Schwag.  In any case, a lot of us who were in IT during that time have fond memories of running about collecting the “best” schwag at conferences and trade shows, so, I’d love to include some of that sort of junk in my contest give-aways, too.

At heart, I’m a marketer.  I have a degree in Marketing and, perhaps more importantly, I grew up with an inveterate salesman.  He was always talking about sales and marketing and how integrated that all is in business at every level and, somehow, that became supersaturated into my personality.  I’m always thinking about promotion and advertising.  People always talk about getting people to read their blog or look at their photographs or whatever, but they almost never do things to make that happen.  It’s not rocket science.  All you have to do is give people something they want, something they need.  Word will travel.  Honest.  So, that’s my intention with this contest.  I’m not entirely sure how to get everything squared away, but by the time I’m ready to launch it, I will.  Until then, though, what would you all like to see in the bags?  Keep in mind that I won’t include electronics like laptops or iPods, or weapons, or cash or anything that equates to cash like gift cards.  Most importantly, no “adult” products, like porn or condoms or anything crazy like that.  (Well, okay, maybe condoms because that strikes me as funny.)

So, if you want to see something in one of the bags, or have suggestions for running a blog contest or any other related comments, leave me a comment.  Also, if you have something that you’d like to include, let me know!  We can probably work something out to let you benefit from the advertising push.  This is, incidentally, a contest I plan to run for about a year, either monthly or bi-monthly, depending.  And, no, it won’t be on this blog, but another project which I don’t want to directly link to this.  Don’t worry, though, if you’re a regular commenter or an old friend or have suggestions about this contest, I’ll be sure to let you know what the project is and when the contest starts.


18 Ways for Geeks to Make “Quick” Money

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:37 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Okay, I know I’m starting to make a bad habit of this, but…

But, you know I’m going to do it anyway.
So, I’ve recently seen two lists of ideas for making money. One is pretty specific to computer geeks, but the other is more generic. I’ll summarize and link to them below:

First, from TechRepublic; 10 Ways for Techs to Make Extra Cash

  1. Subcontracting
  2. National Account Work
  3. Database Consulting
  4. Teaching
  5. Software Training
  6. Home Networking
  7. Telecommunications
  8. Financial Software Consulting
  9. Security System/DVR Integration
  10. Online Expert

Okay, I have a few issues with this list. First of all, several of these things would really cut into a full-time gig! I mean, if you’re already in a consulting business of some kind, then branching out might be good, but some of these really aren’t for everyone. For instance, I know I’d be a bad fit for financial software of any kind. I mean, I don’t have any real Accounting training and can barely balance my checkbook, so that doesn’t seem like a great idea, does it? And, I know plenty of people who do a lot of what I do that would have no clue about database design or phone systems. The fact that I do know these things is a fluke, really. But, when times are tough, I suppose every network geek has the potential to become a consultant.

The second list is from MSN; 8 Ways to Boost Your Income

  1. Sell Your Junk
  2. Get a Second Job
  3. Sell Your Skills
  4. Rethink your Rent
  5. Claim Unclaimed Assets
  6. Adjust Your Tax Withholding
  7. Get “Paid” to buy the stuff you already do
  8. Hit up Mom and Dad

Okay, some good ideas, but again, I have some issues with it. Some of these are the old standbys, you know? The renting out a room thing, though, is a good idea. Well, mostly. If you pick the right person. I’m a little sketchy about the finding forgotten assets thing, though. I don’t really think I have anything I’ve left behind anywhere. I’m also a little dubious about playing around with taxes too much, too. That can go wrong in a hurry, and did for me during my divorce. (Of course, I made up for that by selling her junk instead of mine!) And, frankly, buying things on a card that “pays you back” seems like a pretty dangerous choice, too. That can go wrong fast, as my massive consumer debt shows. But, the worst is that last one. Uh, sorry, but I’m not moving in with my mom and dad in the “Over 55” community they live in now. Just not an option.

So, there you are. There might be a few ideas in there, but, honestly, I doubt there’s anything all that new to anyone who worked in IT during the late 90’s after the Internet bubble burst.
I hope all my readers are doing reasonably well, in spite of the downturn. And, if you all have more or better ideas, please, leave them in the comments!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong."
   --Warren Buffet


Branded Merchandise

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Or, why wear someone else’s logo?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about logos and branding lately.
I often wonder what makes people choose to wear particular logos or promotional “gear”. Now, as a die-hard Novell fan, I often wear Novell-branded polo shirts. Most of them I got from sales staff over the years as I renewed our company’s license agreement and support contract. But, I actually bought some Novell logo gear myself once. I needed shirts and Novell’s gear wasn’t any more expensive than plain golf shirts, so, I bought some. I also wear golf shirts with the Linux mascot on them. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Linux mascot is a cute, little cartoon penguin named Tux. The chicks dig him.)

But, now that I’m thinking about rebranding both this website and a future, creative website, I’ve been thinking about getting branded merchandise for my own, personal use that ties into those brands. I mean, if I’m going to wear a logo and advertise a product, I might as well advertise my own product, right?
So, I started looking around at various on-line retailers that did custom embroidery on shirts. Naturally, there’s CafePress, but they really cater to a more sales-oriented market and are a little more low-end than I was looking to wear. Back in the day, Branders was another option that was more upscale. But, that was back in the heyday of the Internet bubble, so they were a little more high-end than I’d been looking for. Also, they have significant minimums to buy and, honestly, I don’t need 17 of the same color shirt with a custom logo on it. Well, I did some more searching and found University Fashions. They seem to be the right blend of upscale product, reasonable pricing and no minimums to buy. But, there’s also Corporate Casuals and The Logo Centre, so I’ll have to compare them all, and most likely need to get actual quotes from all three places before I decide to go forward with a purchase or not. Oh, and one other factor is that the Logo Centre seems to be in the UK. That might effect the price a bit.

In any case, my thought was, “Why wear someone else’s logo when I can promote my own brand?” So, maybe, that’s just what I’ll do. If I follow through on getting my own logo merchandise, rest assured that I’ll get pictures of it up here somehow.

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