Woot Adds Tool and Garden

generator-wootI’m a big fan of Woot.com, the popular one-day one-deal shopping site. I’ve purchased several items from various departments of Woot (including home.woot and shirt.woot). Today, Woot announced the addition of a new department for tools and garden supplies: Tools.Woot.com.

Lest you think tools.woot is the same as home.woot, here is an explanation for you:

There are a lot of ways to look at it. You could say Tools & Garden is about building your space and Home is about how you live in that space. You could say Tools & Garden sells hard stuff and Home sells soft stuff. You could say Tools & Garden sells discarded avocado pits and Home sells custom oil-paint portraits of your dolls, but in that case you’d be wrong.

That generator is today’s deal at Tools and Garden, so if you need one, go get it. The deal only lasts for one day. That’s how we geeks woot. Cheers!

Will ChaCha Stomp on Google Search?

I heard about this local company on the evening news last week, and I thought I’d mention it. It’s called ChaCha®, and the Carmel, Indiana-based online search service is winning awards and fans while it’s still in beta.

How does it work? Unlike the big G, which uses computers to perform searches, ChaCha uses real people. Users can call (1-800-2CHA-CHA) to voice their questions, or text queries (242242 or CHACHA), for free from just about any cell phone. You can even use ChaCha on Twitter (@chacha).

Each question is routed to the appropriate ChaCha Guide, depending on the subject, and answers are returned within minutes. There are over 30,000 active guides throughout the United States, with hundreds online at any given time, and the service is available 24×7.

This sounds pretty cool, and it’s backed by some big investors. I can see ChaCha becoming a huge mobile app, once word gets around! It’s more interactive than Google, accessible without a browser, and seems especially suited to the Twitter/text generation of on-the-go users. Of course, the human touch will also appeal to people who are weary or leery of computerized services, and just want to connect with a real person!

Have you tried ChaCha? What do you think?

A neat little graphics tool: Stripe Generator

stripe generator sampleWell, despite the late winter blizzards we’ve been having here in the midwestern US, spring is officially just a week away! You know what that means: spring cleaning!

Do you need to freshen up your online home a bit? Is your background stale? Want to make your badges and banners a little more 2.0?

Here’s a fun, free online tool that you might like. It’s Stripe Generator 2.0.

You may be thinking, “So what? I can make stripes in my sleep.” Okay, yaay for you! 🙂

For the rest of us, this is a great shortcut. You choose the colors, angle, width, frequency, and gradient of your pattern. View a small sample, or try the full-page preview. Tweak the settings to your heart’s content, and click the preview update to see your changes *snap* just like that! When you get it just the way you want it, download it.

The best/worst thing about the stripe generator is that you can do whatever you want with it. If ugly colors and sickening angles that don’t tile well are what you like, you can do that! But, please, don’t put them where I have to see them.

For page backgrounds, I like light colors with soft contrast, so as not to distract from the real page content. Of course, there times when you need something bright and bold, too (see my sample above). I was thinking of spring tulips. What do you think?

Make your own digital signature image

sample signatures

Well, it won’t pass for your actual pen and paper signature, but if you want to add a little personal touch to your online writings, you might want to try this. MyLiveSignature.com has a nifty free service that lets you type in your name, choose from 120 fonts, several colors, sizes, and varying degrees of slant, to create a personalized “signature” that you can post on your blog.

Here are some of the fonts you can choose from. They range from elegant script to scratchy scrawls, and you should be able to find one that is close to your own style. Or you can cheat, and choose one that’s completely different from your own! If you have a few minutes to burn, go give it a try. Use it in your e-mail signature, at the end of your blog posts, or just as a personal touch on your profile pages.

And by the way, there are also some signature customizations you can pay extra for, but I didn’t try those. I’m cheap. Cheers!
geekmom pink signature

Make your own South Park cartoon avatar

GeekMom’s South Park Jedi avatarI’m not really a fan of South Park. (If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an animated television program with mature language and politically incorrect storylines.) However, I am a fan of cute cartoon avatars. And since I cannot draw anything myself, I love finding places online that will let me play around and create my own cartoons!

Planearium.de has a fun South Park avatar maker. You choose your skin tone, eyes, hairstyle, clothing, and facial expression. Plus, you can customize it quite a bit, by choosing various accessories, weapons, and a background color or scene. Do a screen capture to save your creation, and there you are! You have your very own South Park-ish cartoon avatar.

Here is one I made to represent myself. I decided to go with the Jedi look, complete with light saber, because I love Star Wars, and I’m about the same height as Yoda. “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Who Are You Calling “It?”

I was tagged by Peapod Squad Stuff, and although I don’t usually do these, I will this time. I’m a big fan of the aforementioned Squad, and I think this is a good way to share some early Valentine love with some of my bloggy friends.

Rule #1: Copy all the links below and replace a single link under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If your domain name, or even the title of your blog, starts with an “A,” you’d replace the link under that letter and put the replaced link at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to credit the tagger, or where you got the list from, at the end of the list with a full URL of the post so that a pingback gets generated.

  1. acowboyswife.com
  2. bloggingcents.com
  3. caffeine-overload.com
  4. delusionsofgrandeur.org
  5. everythingandanythingblog.com
  6. forumfinder.net
  7. GeekMomMashup.com
  8. happykeg.com
  9. ipentimento.com
  10. juliesjournal.com
  11. kabalyero.com
  12. ladylike4.com
  13. michaelpark.net
  14. notjustmama.net
  15. originalmx5.net
  16. peapodsquadstuff.com
  17. qweddings.com
  18. rowdigrl.com
  19. shirleysdelight.com
  20. thesocalledme.net
  21. utada-online.net
  22. valmg.com
  23. wickedbabylon.com
  24. xaviermedia.com
  25. yimto.com
  26. zbudapest.com

Replaced link: gothic-peach.net
Previous tagger: http://www.peapodsquadstuff.com/2008/01/tag-im-it.html

Rule #2: You now have to “tag” at least five people and encourage them to participate so that this thing spreads like a virus. Remember, though, that not everyone’s into these kinds of things, so don’t be upset if they don’t participate. Just simply replace your tag. Remember to tag blogs only and no pornographic ones as we do want to keep the integrity as a blogging community. TIP: Tag your frequent EntreCard droppers via its messaging system.

As for me, I will tag the following:

Rule #3: Just like any other “meme” out there, ask a question for your taggees to answer along with your own answer to the previous question. This is optional.

Here’s my question: What do you listen to in the car?

Five tips to make your blog load faster (and keep more visitors)

I have been looking at dozens of blogs lately, thanks to EntreCard and my obsessive-compulsive disorder. (That’s a whole other post.) I have found some really interesting sites, with great stories and helpful articles. I’m talking with people and making friends. I’m stumbling and subscribing. This is blogging at its best!

However, there are some sites that are so full of “stuff” that I can’t even stick around long enough to see how great the content might be, because I get annoyed waiting for all the widgets and ads to load. I just leave. Maybe I’m too impatient. Perhaps I’m being too critical. What can I say? I’m sorry.

I love a site that loads quickly and is not overburdened with junk! If you want to keep impatient clickers from leaving during loading, try these simple tips.

  1. Keep images to a minimum. If you must include photos on your front page, display a thumbnail or low-resolution image with a link to the real thing.
  2. Say no to auto-play audio/video files. Slow and annoying — not a good combination.
  3. Place the most important widgets above the fold (the portion of the page visible without scrolling down) so people can get right to the good stuff.
  4. Remember that savvy surfers are largely “banner blind.” Don’t fill your page with cumbersome ads that are just going to get ignored anyway.
  5. Resist the temptation to fill every bit of space. Leaving some blank areas is easier on the eyes, and white space takes no time to load.

I’m sure there are many more tips I haven’t included, but those are the ones that came to me just now. Feel free to throw in your two cents!