[Tech Talk] Say Sayonara to Facebook Image Compression

No matter if you’re an amateur photographer or an expert photo editor, if you load your photos to any sort of web server or social media site then you face the issue of image compression and for some of us – the results can look like a near nightmare.  Vibrant nuances of color, sleek lines and keen tones are lost to algorithms that take redundant chunks of your data’s bits and bytes.  The eventual result is that by pairing down the “redundancies” you’re left with a photo that your 10 year old cousin could have taken with last year’s iPhone.  Yikes.  Good news is there’s a fix for that, and I’m here to share the good news.

In the past few years, I’ve grown a lot more accustomed to editing photos in Lightroom as opposed to Photoshop.  Though I’m proud of most everything I can do – it’s felt like the one thing I couldn’t do was get the pretty picture to appear in Facebook the way I want.  I’m incredibly thankful that first, I’m not the only person to experience this problem, and secondly that I’ve come across multiple resources helping me fix the issue. So I can’t very well take all the credit, but I did do all the internet sleuthing by myself, so I can at least own that part; and through trial and purposeful error, I’ve seen the results first hand.  First, for those super excellent editors out there – I’ve heard through the wire that the compression algorithm affects JPG files more than PNG files, so if you’re willing to convert all of your images to PNGs – your photos will retain their crisp clarity and luminescence.

Master the Settings

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Do you know what the real difference between the top and bottom picture are? The bottom picture has smooth lines on faces and an even keeled blast of water, while the top looks more grainy, and less appealing.  I’ve heard some conflicting advice out there about exporting with a length of 720 or 960, and what I can say after some hands on experience – including the photos above, is that you really want to export at 2048 pixels, which is what the bottom picture is set to.  How about the one below? Between the left and right image – the sharpness of the right one is retained more than the left, and that’s the difference of loading a smaller image size, approximately 100k or less, so Facebook doesn’t compress the image itself.

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One more time, for your cheat sheet:

Length at max: 2048

Resolution: 96

Image Size: 100kb

To save these proper settings – On the bottom left of your Export Window, toggle ‘Add’ to save your user pre-set. When you’re loading your pics, make sure that you Easy-peasy, happy exporting!

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What are your perfect export settings for lossless Facebook photo albums? I’ve read a lot of variations of the metrics I’m using and would love to hear from other photo gurus out there! Let me know in the comments below.

[Tech Tuesday] Loosen Facebook’s Uncomfortable Grasp On Your User Data

Somewhere between the excitement of the pure breadth of the internet and the desire to connect communities within it, Facebook was born.  And the world as we once knew it has never been the same.  My friends and I have casually joked about how we sit on the edge of an era, and we’re watching our counterparts on either side crumble from either too much, or too little, engagement with it.  The irony of social media’s evolution lies in two places.  First, instead of growing up with physical board games like Scrabble, people are  playing games like ‘Words with Friends‘ with absolute strangers that they have no intention of meeting.

Secondly, there’s this: over the course of our history as a country, Americans have felt a pretty specific way about Big Brother keeping all eyes and ears out of their business. Historically, the people to report for the census have by in large been representative of the middle to upper class white Majority in America.  By in large, it’s been the under-educated,the  low-income and first generation citizens of this country who either lack the capacity to fill out the forms, our a residence at which to receive the census.  As a Statistician and a Californian, I don’t put much stock in anything beyond AC Nielsen viewer data; but apparently the government doesn’t either, because they’re currently sitting on and turning to a wealth of data that we don’t even realize we’re contributing to on the daily.  Yep, you guessed it: Facebook.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, the government has always wanted this demographic data on citizens – but with something like Facebook, where we as users choose what to share, or not share – if what they originally wanted was a molehill, what we’re now giving them is an entire mountain of information.  Every click, every mouse hover, every statement typed out and then deleted – it’s stored somewhere.  All of your friends, and then non-friends, and even those sometimes boyfriends and your now significant other, they’ve become data points:  documented, analyzed and stored forever.  On your parents, your loved ones, your future children, your feelings – they’re bitcode players in this new cyber-board game of the world.

According to Martin Smith, the producer of the exceptionally well done PBS Frontline series on ‘The United States of Secrets‘: “If the FBI came to your door and demanded photos of your wedding, the names and daily habits of your children, the restaurants you frequent, who you’ve called and texted for the past month, and where you’ll be staying on your upcoming vacation, you’d call your lawyer….But that’s exactly the sort of information we’re all sharing by living our lives digitally — and the government has taken notice in a big way.”

Facebook MessengerFor the better part of the past decade, I’ve been an active, eager and more than willing participant  in this social experiment. At first glance, they’re loaded words words but dive a little deeper and you’ll discover the unfortunate truth that it’s really not that far from it.  Our Facebook profiles are a better mirror of pop culture than personality.  In effect, they’ve become a written version of ‘The Sims’ where we’re allowed to embody and pursue any facet of our psyche – but now, advertisers profit from it and the government covets it.  So, it’s has to be time for us to break free from the ties of social media.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried deleting your account – but I have, and I can tell you that it’s a paradoxical statement. Your account will stay ‘live’ for two weeks just in case you have buyer’s remorse of that newfangled free time; and now there’s options to essentially put your account on temporary pause instead of deleting it.  Why?  Let’s face it, over time there’ll be better, brighter and bolder ways to analyze your clicks, catch-phrases and chat messages, so why not keep it stored somewhere in a digital locker until you need it?  From a data standpoint, it’s genius; too bad this is our lives we’re talking about here – and that’s no one’s fault but our own.

Facebook privacy changes roll out on a gross level fairly frequently, but whether we’ve been made aware or not, on a more nuanced level these changes constantly on our profiles. It’s not that I’m happy to announce this but every month or so I scour the internet in search of the latest in Facebook’s privacy predilection.  Partially, because I’m curious – and the other part, is as active as I am online I also want to be aware of how my data’s being used, especially if it’s being used without my permission.  There are so many uninformed people simply giving into this seemingly self gratifying system of social media – and I can say this, because I was one of them; but I’m not anymore and I’d love to share the wealth of my information. So, take some notes as I show y’all how to take back the reigns of your Facebook privacy settings.

A New, Optional Way to Share and Discover Music, TV and Movies_2

 

Earlier in May, Facebook altered the standard sharing setting of new users from ‘Public’ to ‘Friends’ – which was always a head scratching moment for me – and they let in on a new feature ‘audio sampling.’ If opted, Facebook can now access the microphone (if opted) and pick up on the soundtrack of your day, whether it’s ‘The Breakfast Club’ or ‘NOISIA’.

One thing that’s never made much sense to me was why Facebook Messenger needed a standalone application; sure, the UI is a little bit nicer, but functionality wise they do the same thing.  In the back of my always moving mind, it makes me wonder if it’s simply to store an even bigger wealth of user data for analysis.  So, it came as very little shock to me to me that Facebook continues to roll out impressive bold options with dire consequences.

Unfriending Facebook Messenger 

Just this week, there are two tweaks coming to the application that yes, helps streamline the process – but to what end?  If we download the actual messenger app, we can not only send pictures – but now, we can record and send videos via the Facebook app.  Video recording capabilities imply use of both the camera and our microphone, meaning that Facebook has access to both features on our phone.  The punchline? Since Facebook is part of PRISM: the government has access to them, too.  There’s an incredibly quick fix to this problem: stop using the application.  Yes, the stickers are adorable and there are so many ways to share – but put it in a text message and leave the third party applications (and the government) out of it.

Stop Facebook From Sharing Browser History

Last week, Gizmodo – one of my favorite Tech sites – raised some red flags about Facebook’s new advertising policy.  Since it’s gone public, the general public has been made increasingly clear just how much money Zuck has in his pocket and how much Facebook makes off of users via third party applications like Candy Crush and who knows what else.  Now, in an effort to streamline ads (read: increase revenue) Facebook’s browsing through our browser data for prime placement. Thankfully, there’s a way to ‘Opt Out of Ad-Sharing’ – head over to the Digital Advertising Alliance on each of your browsers and unsubscribe those snoopers. As a general rule with all things Facebook: when in doubt, opt out.

Don’t Give In To New Snapchat Rival, Slingshot

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about internet fads, everyone loves ‘New’ – and more often than not, the younger generation doesn’t want anything to do with Facebook or social media commitment of any kind (re: Snapchat).  It should be as no shock then that Facebook has produced a ‘worthy’ competitor with a different purpose.  With a catchy name and technology forward approach, Slingshot is a photo sharing app that only lets the viewer see a picture after they’ve sent one in response.  I love the concept – like a ‘Telephone’ game of photography, but don’t for one second think that this data – like Snapchats – is sitting somewhere, waiting to become a statistic.

After all this time, the photo albums, the Timeline updates, finding the perfect words for a status only to know that you’ve stored the previous 27 awkward versions -Facebook has truly become the government’s ‘long con’- so, how much longer are you going to give in? Phone a friend, step outside with a polaroid camera, write your parents a letter – but become an active participant in your life, as opposed to a passive member of this Matrix.

[Wednesday Watercooler]

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.
– 
Lao Tzu 

Hello, hello! It’s been an awful long time since I’ve done my little cliff notes round-up of the latest and greatest in breaking news, poignant stories, wacky tales and viral media that I love to call the ‘Wednesday Watercooler.’  When I started this segment, I was still frequenting the Disney Studios in Burbank.  As time’s gone on, people have ebbed and flowed from their positions and I’ve moved up in rank within my team; I rarely ever step foot in an office, let alone anywhere near a watercooler.  They don’t come frequently – especially given the vast amounts of freedom in time, wardrobe and scenery I have at home – but I have these fleeting moments where I solemnly wish I was a bigger part of my company’s ‘Corporate Culture.’

Part of it is the camaraderie that comes with a shared pursuit, the other part is that work is typically somewhat miserable – and misery loves company.  At home, there’s no one to coffee break with while I lament about current projects – or anyone in the cubicle next to mine as I plod through spreadsheet after spreadsheet, late into the night.  Instead, I can tan on the job while I work on spreadsheets in the front yard, lug my laptop into bed if I’ve decided it’s to early to put clothes on or get a few last e-mails out before I walk out the door to Coachella.  Some say the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but I think it’s greener where you choose to water it – so, you know…perspective helps.  But, if I were to be in the office today – these are definitely the stories that I’d be talking about; enjoy!

Mink: Fifth Element, Move Over – The Future of MakeUp Is Here

In the Fifth Element, Lilu picks up a futuristic Chanel makeup contraption, holds it to her face and voila – instabeauty, right at the tips of her fingers.  The movie was made back in ’97 – and now, 14 years later, it seems like we’re finally getting to the tip of the iceberg of how this technology is actually possible.  Right now, we’re living in the very exciting (sometimes, maybe too exciting) world of 3D printing, where almost everything can be created at the snap of our fingers. They’re developing technology to 3D print food, companies like Space-X custom 3D print their pieces internally so, why not 3D printed make-up? That’s exactly what Mink founder Grace Choi pondered.  This past weekend she debuted Mink at TechCrunch’s famed DisruptNY Hackathon.  Even though she wasn’t a winner at the event (those awards go to Vrban, Indulge and Mixtape – 1,2 and 3 respectively), she definitely get’s my vote.

Image: Business Insider

 

 

Some Food for Thought: Look Up, Spoken Word Piece

I’m not sure whether this qualifies as a ‘Viral Video’ yet, but I really hope it becomes one.  The message is loud and clear – social media is making us less social.  If you unplug from your electronics and interact with the physical world around you, you’ll finally be able to appreciate the richness that already exists in the world around you.

Seawater x25

Ever wondered what Seawater really looked like? Well, after taking a gander at the picture below you might want to eat your words.  Low and behold, that murky water is host to loads of diatoms, cyanobacteria, crab larva, marine worms, copepods and much, much more…

Daymaker: 100 Days of Dance, Project One Life

I don’t know about you, but music and dancing are a surefire way to boost my mood. Enter ‘Project One Life’ .  This kid’s taken to the internet to document his Bucket List  (which as an only child I love, because it’s asking your community to hold you accountable) and this is line item #117: 100 Days of Dance.  For 100 days, this kid performed the same dance move, in the same room, with different outfits – the result is a mashup meant to move you; enjoy!

[The Audiofiles] ‘Listn’ Up, Music Lovers – There’s A New App For You

One of the many amazing benefits to growing up in an excessively digital age, is our constant accessibility to music.  Whether it’s by our choice or not, it feels like our brains are being bombarded by beats on the daily: it’s the hold music on your company conference calls, the muzack playing in the elevators between the floors at the doctors office, your iPod at the gym, the SiriusXM radio in your car, the Spotify app you hooked up to your Facebook account or the occasional stop off on Soundcloud.  Believe you me – I’m not complaining by any means; in fact, if possible I would have an ongoing soundtrack to my life and I would always be in charge of the volume.

Listn’s Dashboard

Throughout the years of being expertly plugged into the interwebs, I’ve developed a network of sites that I use to feed my thirst for tunage.  Back in it’s inception, I dove right into Soundrop.fm – which is a great social resource for new music; slowly but surely, all that came from that was a reintegration into Spotify.   I currently dabble in Hypem and Soundcloud when I’m on the prowl for something new, Spotify when I’m curious what my friends are groovin’ to and then the occasional YouTube video for some visual treats.    The only downside to having multiple music platforms is that there hasn’t been a quick or easy way to streamline all of the sites into one. Thankfully, with the growing popularity of websites like Klout that aggregate your social media presence it only makes sense that some group of music loving techies thought to do the same with all of the streaming media around the web.  So, world – meet your new best friend, Listn: a social way to aggregate your audio and find out about the latest and greatest in the music scene.

photoTrust me when I say  – you don’t want to know how many tabs I have open in my browser right now and about a third of them are devoted to the pursuit of music. There are a host of stites that Listn uses to manifest user data, and right now that’s iTunes, Spotify, Hypem, Youtube and Soundcloud. The latest and greatest to addition is Rdio – a website that lets you stream high quality audio for a minimal fee: after 6 months of free listening, $4.99 a month or $9.99 for unlimited listening capabilities. If you’re like me, you’re thinking- WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER – and if you’re not, we might want to rethink the future of our relationship.

The brainchild of Montreal’s MFive Labs, Listn is currently being funded through Kickstarter – where creative endeavors (like Apps, Movies, etc) go for funding.  As of right now, they have raised approximately $500,000 and have released the application for free!   Right now the application is only available for the iPhone (le sighso if you’ve been eating your Apple a day, you’re in luck.  As with most everything in life, good apps come in due time for Android.  The iPhones have an essentially seamless interaction between their applications that Android simply doesn’t have yet,  so hopefully there will be a a version that can work with the upcoming Android KitKat 4.4 OS installation in January (fingers crossed).

Listn’s Userpage

   

 

[Make Your Own] Sparkling Mason Jar Candles

I remember back in the day when Pinterest first came out – for a while, I was confused how it was different than Tumblr and I put off getting an account.  But, over time – and the occasional peak at some kickass pin boards – I discovered that Pinterest was the perfect list-making tool for those out there like myself who enjoy being visually stimulated.  As with any new social media tool, the first thing I did was sit there with my new digital moniker in hand, stare at the computer screen and mumble to myself “Now what?!”  What I really should have said was – Now, what do I share?

You can compile pin boards on literally anything and everything under the sun like new recipes, fun nail polish colors, potential breeds for your future puppy, dream vacation spots, wardrobe upgrades, etc, etc – Maybe you’re beyond single but you love the idea of planning your dream wedding?  You can create a pinboard for that.  Or, let’s say you want to travel to Europe for a 20 day backpacking trip – you can save everything from destination photo spots, ideas for brunch, youth hostels, things to pack and books to read before you go into a pinboard.   I’m sure you get the picture – they’re as creative, whimsical or as literal as you feel like and have definitely become one of my online guilty pleasures.  Hands down, my favorite board to maintain is my DIY craft board because there’s nothing quite as rewarding as hand crafting a gift – whether its for family, friends, a stranger, your pets or yourself.

One of the more hilarious things about Pinterest is the perceived high arts + crafts skill levels of the people posting.  For example, last year around Cinco de Mayo a blog I follow posted an awesomely daunting baking post about whipping up some Pinata Cookies.  They were rainbow, donkey shaped cookies filled with M&M minis…..so, naturally, I had to try it – right?  Well, suffice it to say that didn’t go so well.  At one point I had a picture, but I quickly deleted it in humiliation….after texting it to three of my friends so at least someone could get a good laugh out of it. Thankfully, there’s a website – Pinterest Fails – entirely devoted to people like me who have failed at Pinterest inspired arts, crafts or cooking adventure and lived to tell about it.  And yeah, even though that round of Donkey cookies ended up being a total bust – I discovered that I thoroughly enjoy finding new opportunities and ideas, otherwise known as “Pins” to their online community, to conquer.

Time to repurpose!

Time to repurpose!

One of the things I’ve learned my years of beading and crafting is that you need to learn how to work with the world around you – there are ample resources at your fingertips if you simply open your eyes and look.   Maybe you’re a wino in training – save the bottles and you could convert them into a menagerie of things: vases, candle holders or an essential oil diffuser; save the wine corks and you could create a pinboard, coffee table top or incense holder.  The opportunities for recycling and re purposing materials are endless if we just take a chance on our intuition and creative powers!  One thing that I’ve been compiling en masse lately are large mason jars – from pickles to pasta sauce and back down to large candles – I had a whole host of unused glass around the house.  I promised myself that eventually, I’d find a use for all of them – so I converted a few into change holders so I could keep track of quarters for the laundry, then another three into containers for my makeup brushes, eyeliner and mascara so I could keep them organized.  Well, that was a while ago and I was thirsty for a new project – after a few hours online, I had it all figured out; and quite frankly, was a little dumbfounded I didn’t get the idea on my own.  One thing that old mason jars – especially the candle holders – do exceptionally well….is (drumroll please) holding candles; tealight candles to be precise.  Per usual, I improvised from both the instructions and equipment in the original post because I’m a badass that abides by my own rules…plus, I trust the supplies I’ve acquired over time.  The end result? The perfect holiday decoration! The mason jars transform into awesome orbs with a glittery glow that you can place all around the house for some holiday flare. Now let’s get crafty!

The View From The Top

The View From The Top

Glitter + Glue - the essentials


Glitter + Glue – the essentials

Supplies:

  • Mason Jars [Pro Tip] – Next time you burn through a candle, keep the surrounding glass casing so you can reuse it!
  • Glitter: Silver, Gold, Irridescent, Multicolored….you get it, just make sure it’s sparkly and shit.
  • Craft Glue and small Brush[Pro Tip] I recommend Martha Stewart Crafts Decoupage ‘Glue + Sealer Brush Applicator’ because (a) its amazing and (b) the little applicator brush is perfect for this task
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Scissors
  • Tealight Candles
  • Ribbon

 

Swear By It: Martha Stewart Crafts Glue with Brush Applicator

Swear By It: Martha Stewart Crafts Glue with Brush Applicator

Get your scissors and ribbons ready

Get your scissors and ribbons ready

Aluminum Foil and my trusty Hole Punches

Aluminum Foil and my trusty Hole Punches

Tools

  • Scissors –> Next Level CraftyShaped Hole Punchers

Instructions – Time: 15-30  minutes depending on how anal much of a perfectionist you are

  • If you’re reusing an old candle – handwash the glass candle holder to remove the outside label and leftover wax, then dry before next step
  • Use a small applicator brush to cover the inside of the glass in a layer of glue (but not the bottom!)
  • Dump a sizable amount of glitter into the glass and tumble it around until evenly distributed
  • Wait about 5 minutes to see where the glitter dries – retouch if necessary.
  • Cut a section of aluminum foil to fit around the top
  • Choose one of two adventures:
  • (a) Get your 1st grader snowflake making skills on: Bend the foil twice and cut a few geometric shapes – voila, snowflake!
  • (b) If you’re a next level ninja and have shaped hole punches, bend that foil and then let the foil have it
  • Light a tealight, light it and place it in the candle holder
  • Put your patterned aluminum foil on top and tie the foil down to the holder with a section of ribbon
  • Voila, you’ve successfully started your army of sparkly candle holders!
The Final Product

The Final Product

 

[Doing it Right] A Night Out with the Bev Cen + Klout

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years in LA – it’s that there’s a very real power behind social media.  It’s an idea shared by many, especially the beautiful minds over at Klout.  I touched on the company a bit last year – almost a year to the day, if you want to get ironic about it! So here’s a refresher if you don’t feel like time traveling through my page:

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Klout aggregates your social relevance  by measuring your reach across multiple platforms, including – but not limited to – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress; ‘m sure you get the picture.  Then it spits out a score from 1-100 based on how influential it thinks you are.  How does this benefit you, you might ask? Well – Perks; Klout Perks if you want to get specific.  From small things like a $5 McDonalds Giftcard to care packages with Crest Toothpaste, a To Go Container of Scope and a $10 Wal Mart Gift Card, Klout rewards us social media whores connoisseurs in kind for our hard work and cult like devotion.

Last night I was invited to an event at the Beverly Center with fashion aficionados from far and wide.  They were diving into photo booths, digging through goodie bags and frolicking through the mall with some of the hottest in the fashion and blogging industries.   The purpose?  The Beverly Center “Show us Your Style” Challenge.  The entrants –  submitted pictures of their hottest fall fashion for under $125 and the winner was gifted a $1000 shopping spree to the Beverly Center.  And thanks to Klout, selected people with scores of 65 and up were invited to rub bows with the best of ’em.  The event was hosted by three of LA’s hottest fashion and lifestyle bloggers: Shea Marie of Peace, Love, Shea , Chriselle Lim from The Chriselle Factor and last but definitely not least Liz Cherkasova who pens the Late Afternoon.  Now, I blog about lots of things – life, laughter, my love of music, cats and photography – but clothing and accessories, eh – not as much! So it was fun masquerading around under the guise of fashion blogger all night.

They had a live DJ,  yummy specialty made cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes, delicious sangria thanks to Pavan Liqueur and some awesome swag to take home.  Thank you a thousand times over to the lovely staff of the Beverly Center and Klout for throwing such a classy event, a day later and I’m still feeling truly honored to have been a part of it.

Swag bag, what!

More coupons and gift cards; can't wait to go back to the Bev Cen!

More coupons and gift cards; can’t wait to go back to the Bev Cen!

Forever21 Goodie Bag with Gloss and Tweezers

Forever21 Goodie Bag with Gloss and Tweezers

New journal; love the binding!

New journal; love the binding!

[Doing it Right] Yelping + Yachting Around Marina Del Rey

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There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as manifesting your own reality and thanks to social media, I firmly believe that each and every one of us is fully capable of doing so.  Whether it’s attending the right events, donning the right duds, being up on the latest makeup tips or rocking out to the latest and greatest jams – sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr,  Hypem, Soundcloud and Yelp.  Over the past few years, we’ve essentially been watching sites like Facebook and MySpace – broad, umbrella social media sites that encompass the entire breadth of what you would want to share – dissolve into specialized verticals.  If you’re shaking your head saying “No, that doesn’t seem right”, take these facts into account; in 2012 Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 Billion and last May Yahoo bought microblogging site Tumblr  for about $1.1 Billion.   Whether it’s to be part of the competition, or remove the idea of it by purchasing the competitors – both Facebook and Yahoo! seem more than aware that there are other verticals to conquer; so it only seems right to be jumping on that social media train with them and watching the journeys unfold!  Now, social media (in my opinion) has primarily one of two functions – either individually promoted posts strewn across the interwebs in hopes that someone – anyone – will acknowledge them, or interactive and community building. Tumblr, for me, sits happily between the two as the perfect fusion of sharing and caring whereas sites like Instagram, Hypem and Pinterest rest their laurels on promoting your individual posts, siding more on the sharing and a little less about the caring.  Yelp, for me at least, is on the other end of the spectrum – they’ve built an entire enterprise on helping people cultivate a “small town” community in a big ass city; exhibit (a): me in Los Angeles.

Over the course of my five years in Los Angeles I’ve developed quite the knack for being social media savvy – especially when you consider the fact I dropped my Communications major before the first week of college had started.  Not to say that I hadn’t grown up around all sorts of cutting edge technology and extravagant modes of communication + connection, but compared to my close circle of friends it’s something that I’ve gotten to hone in on and develop on my own time as opposed to it being force fed down my throat.  When Yelp surfaced a few years back, it was a resource – a way of determining what’s hot and what’s definitely not and to be honest, it fell more on the end of promoted posts versus community outreach.  Back in the beginning, I was I guess what you’d call a ‘Lurker’ – I was a non contributing member of the community down to search some data and get what I wanted but somewhere, deep in the heart of my second year something changed: I found businesses – like retail boutiques and family owned restaurants – that I thought were either misrepresented or underrepresented on Yelp and I took it upon myself to start reviewing them.  And then, well, it just kinda kept going…and going; what started out as a save-me-from-my-own-boredom style hobby fully escalated to being a Yelp Elite in ’11.  What’s that you ask? Oh, just a collection of the nicest, friendliest foodies you’ll ever meet: we get to go to kickass events, try out tasting menus and explore the heart of our cities thanks to our amazing Elite Team Leaders  but get something straight before you join, you gotta give a little to get a little – kapish? Over the course of a calendar year, I probably pen at least 100 reviews – yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that’s a lot of opinion! But I love it…I love telling stories and letting people in on the good parts of my life; I like letting people live vicariously through my proudest moments and my failures.  Ultimately, it comes down to this – I love sharing, and Yelp has given me a great, warm and welcoming community to do it with.

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My +1, with his flare

This past Monday, our Fearless LA Leaders took us out on the town to celebrate the amazing things that we’ve done and give us a taste of good things to come!  Due to scheduling, time conflicts and availability I’ve only been to a handful of Elite events – of the ones I can remember, only a tasting at The Grill at the Beverly Center and a Spa Night at Blue Medi Spa.  Truth be told, after I won their amazing Spa Package I had a heart-to-heart with myself and thought I’d rather sit a few out since I’d been so blessed with amazing luck and opportunity; but, when Yelp’s ‘Rock the Yacht’ event cshowed up on my radar there was absolutely no way I could say no – especially since there was a plus one! Ps. Ladies, take note – the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach – so, due to the transitive properties of math: being Yelp Elite is sexy, right? Right!

When Monday night came around I literally couldn’t sit still at work because I was so excited! One perk about working from home is that every half hour, I’d peruse my closet in search of anything nautical – I had snazzy stripes and a crisp color combination of blue, white and black in mind; and my closet delivered! We showed up to the Hornblower in Marina Del Rey around 6:30 and I’m so glad we did, the yacht was almost at capacity and it would have been beyond a shame to not get in.  There was a hosted, open bar and so, so many vendors – including, but definitely not limited to: Bombay Sapphire, Hamilton Wines, Beach Pizza, Pork Belly’s Sandwich Shop, Krave Jerky, Balvenie Single Malt Scotch, Grants Scotch Whisky, Scott Cellars, B Sweet, Sapporo and Stella Rosa Wines.  Needless to say, I left with a big smile and a full (and slightly tipsy!) belly.  Kudos to Hamilton Wines, Beach Pizza, Grants Whiskey and B Sweet for finding permanent homes in my heart and a mega-huge thank you to Katie B, The LA Yelp Elites and Yelp in general for always putting on such great events with amazing crowds.  Until the next one; xx!

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The collection of Cheesecakes from B Sweet

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The Winner: Glazed Donut Cheesecake

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Sunset on the Marina