Looking Ahead

Date Sat, July 5 2008

As much as I’m anxious to leave and about not knowing what will happen, leaving the friends I’ve made and the awesome Chinese food, I’m really looking forward to being someplace with more opportunities and 24-hour businesses. This has been an experience, don’t get me wrong, but it was completely different than anyone could have imagined. I think I’ll be very happy to be driving on the right side of roads that are not Japanese and without other Japanese drivers. Of course, I won’t have the amusement of seeing them dragging their golf bags over the course through the dead of winter but sometimes you gotta make sacrifices. ;)


Date Fri, July 4 2008

I’m anxiously waiting the move. Sometimes this month all our stuff will be packed up. I really have not idea what the process will be like and that makes me nervous. I know they’ll do 2 shipments, one which will be expedited and one which will take several months. We talked about sending my computer off with the first one because we all know how I can’t live without it. Then I suppose we’ll have his laptop for a while but he doesn’t want to bring it on the plane, arg! I should invest in the DS browser or maybe something like a compact flash card so that I can use with public computers. I had been looking into USB and flash drives before was Ryan said to wait because he had entered a contests for one and then I forgot after he didn’t win. Pfft

EntreCard? What’s the big deal?

Date Wed, July 2 2008

So I recently discovered EntreCard, a new site dedicated to helping blogger network by spreading word about their blogs and introducing them to others by allowing them to do the same. EntreCard is simple, sign up and add the EC widget to your blog. All members must display the widget so it’s easy to tell if another blog is apart of the EntreCard network.

Of course, none of this is completely ground breaking so far. What sets EntreCard apart is its “drop” system. When you come across a participating blog, you can “drop” your card – a 125 x125px image – to let the owner know you were there. When someone does this, it appears in your “drop inbox” via EntreCard’s dashboard.

This also is nothing new. It’s also nothing new that EntreCard displays the most recently updated member blogs (via RSS) on the main page or that you can add your favourite blogs.

What is new, however, is this: you earn points (1 per drop) for dropping your cards on others’ blogs or having cards dropped on yours. In turn, these points can be used to purchase things from the shop, buy advertising from other blogs, trade or gift to others.

Now this doesn’t seem like much, dropping alone is not the easiest or least time consuming method to earn EntreCard credits. However, rest assured that even the tiniest blog will have those vying for advertising space – their card is displayed in your widget during advertising – and this will earn EntreCard credits.

In the beginning when I accidentally – oops – mistyped my blog’s URL, I had people opting in to advertise on, what must have appeared to them, a nonexistant site. Not bad, eh? The amount of credits earned for advertises is exponentially more than that earned for dropping alone. The formula for calculating advertising price is automatically determined by the EntreCard system based on how many advertisements are waiting to be shown on your blog (each ad runs for 1 day and only 1 ad can run at a time). Thus, the more advertisers applying, the more your blog will be worth.

The one down side is that users do not see every credit earned; EntreCard members only see 25% of the price for advertising on their blog. The rest is swallowed up by the system to deter inflation.

Furthermore, members can earn credits by blogging. Members can earn 25 credits each time they blog, once every 3 days.

Since EntreCard credits are transferrable, there are many, many contests popping up around the blogosphere with credits as the prize.

If none of these methods sate your need for EntreCard credits, you can always sell items in the shop like blog reviews, links or graphic designs. Of course, if you’re really hard up, you can always buy credits with actual money.

Besides the dropping, credit earning, and advertising, EntreCard offers a fledgling community to bloggers.

The “Campaign” section lets you browse members’ blogs by category, account age, price or search term. You can even view random blogs. The results will let you view either the EntreCard profile – like mine – which provide extra information about the blog or go directly to the blog.

Profiles are pretty straight forward, informing you of blog name, category, tagline, URL, location, drop rank (a description of how often a blogger drops) and how many drops the blogger has on your widget. Profiles also show recent posts (via RSS) with a short post snippet and allow you add you to message the user, add to your favourites, gives credits, write a recommendation or report a site. Lastly, profiles show advertising statistics like how long it typically takes for an ad to be approved and the percentage of declined advertisements.

Favourites show up under the “Friends Feed” tab of the dashboard and show recent posts from all your favourites similar to a feed reader or Technorati. Writing a recommendation sends a message to all your friends (who have this feature turned on) with your recommendation for why a site is awesome.

The shop lets you browse or sell products and services in a variety of categories like advertising, domains and hosting, graphics design, upgrades, music and writing services.

The EntreCard blog is frequently updates about service changes and news. The names behind EntreCard are very involved with the community and take a very casual approach to their interactions.

Post about a number of topics with other EC users and even staff on the forums. Topics range from support to suggestions to promotions to EC economy even to “Hostile, aggressive, uncivil posts.”

Lastly, check out your statistics in a unique 3D bar graph style. This expands on the “Quickstats” shown in the dashboard and also has suggestions to increase your success.

So now that you have a run down of the features, do they work?

I would definitely say my blog is seeing new traffic through EntreCard, which I can tell from the number of drops I get. It would seem that the days I am most active are the days which I see more traffic so EntreCard is not a service that will work if you just sit back. However, for those who like to view other blogs and have the time to surf the web, this won’t seem like a lot of work. If you don’t have the time or motivation, EntreCard probably won’t do much for you unless your blog is already on the A-list.

On the other hand, the new traffic probably isn’t repeat traffic and I haven’t seen much in the way of comments. The latter is, generally, what I use to determine the success of my blogs and if EntreCard isn’t helping it, then I’m not getting as much out of this service as I would like.

EntreCard has definitely helped me discover new, interesting sites and also ones that are good for advertising. Nevertheless, many of the sites in the EntreCard network are simply crap. Many are riddled with advertisements to the point that content is unrecognizable and exist solely for the purpose of revenue. Most are poorly designed. A shocking number are in Engrish and are painful to read!

Few actually have content I like and are what I would deem acceptable when it comes to having ads placed on my site. If you’re a discerning blogger, you may find that those applying for advertising on your site obviously haven’t looked at it, have completely irrelevant content or fall into any of the piss poor categories I outlined in the previous paragraph.

To be a discerning blogger, unless your site is already well known and successful, means that you’ll have few legitimate advertisement options thus you won’t be an EntreCard millionaire any time soon. Unfortunately, I suspect many otherwise picky users have reduced themselves to accepting all advertisements in the name of making a buck – or credit – or two.

And for what, having credits used for advertising via a system full of mediocre, ad-riddled blogs in poor English?

At this point, I think EntreCard is a good idea and has obvious perks; it could become a strong tool for blog networking. Still, there’s a lot of kinks to work out to bring up the overall quality of blogs in the system (I would say most reputable blogs have either skipped over EntreCard or have not yet heard of it because it’s rampant in the slums of the blogosphere only) which would actually make it worth the effort small bloggers like myself have to put in to see a result.

Keep trying EntreCard and so will I.

In Other News

Date Tue, July 1 2008

Today the paper had an article about some soldiers who became addicted to cough medicine and while I’m not at risk for that at all, most drugs I take are prescription and the ones that aren’t are not habit forming, I still am wary, especially when it comes to things like Phentermine without a prescription. There are no conclusive studies but I think it might be a better idea t simpyl go the route of a healthy lifestyle – something I hope to improve concerning myself in the near future – adjust sating habits and icnrease exercise to lose weight, instead. My aunt took and over-the-counter drug for weight loss at one point, and while I’m not sure what kind it was, it seemed to be addictive and it caused her some health problems such as passing out. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that.

Computers, Ugh!

Date Sun, June 29 2008

When Ryan decided he wanted a new computer, he basically told me “I want to be able to run Crysis.” He doesn’t necessarily want to actually play the game, I don’t think; he just wants to be able to play it should he desire to do so. I never realized how difficult it is to compare graphics hardware, CPUs and video cards! Especially graphics cards. I can bumble my way through with memory and CPUs make a little bit of sense but this and that-cards are something totally new for me. Thankfully I have techy friends (Ben)!


Date Fri, June 27 2008

Of course, not the surgical botox kind but the website theme update kind. I’ve switched the colours and headers a bit; this is more of a temporary bridging-the-gap move but it will give you a very good idea of what’s to come. I hope you enjoy it!

With this done, I have some free time to continue my internet-enabled window shopping. Still considering Ryan’s “future computer” and while we think we know what was want, there’s still the matter of the monitor. LCD, flatscreen for sure. Perhaps something like a viewsonic monitor but it’s still up in the air right now.

MP3 Player Shopping

Date Fri, June 27 2008

So, even though I love my MP3 player, which you can probably tell from my review, I’m afraid it will be dying soon and this makes me sad. Rest assured I’ll use it until it can be used no longer, and do silly things to prolong this inevitable moment like cover it in duct tape but I’ll need to start shopping eventually.

I have considered buying a used model of the same one; these runny pretty cheap. I’m not really sure what’s on the market for MP3 players as I haven’t looked for several years. Maybe it’s time for me to look at ipods. What do you think?

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