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There is a space that exists between ambition and success, the dull and delicious, static and fresh – a demure gap of inspiration that can catalyze global movements, or remain entirely invisible.

That space is called the AHA. A flash instant, in which our entire perspectives are shifted, swirled and flipped inside out – revealing a new playing field of ideas and opportunities.

My spicy soul sister, Shauna Mei, harnessed her AHA moment and launched AHAlife this past Monday. And curious minds all over the world will soon be kowtowing in gratitude.

AHAlife.com is a discovery platform of innovative lifestyle products built for savvy, socially conscious consumers. The experience they have created is unerringly reflective of how we are growing as a society. As our lives become more and more cramped with information and shiny new things, we naturally begin searching for ways to filter and curate. We yearn to cut out the noise, so that we can save time and focus on what’s most important, interesting, inspiring. Which is exactly what AHAlife does for the consumer palette. 

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Their mantra, “1 product. 24 hours. 100% inspiring,” leverages urgency, scarcity and crowd-sourcing to break the heavymold of e-commerce by creating a shopping process where the only sales pitch is one we make to ourselves. Because the real ‘aha’ behind AHAlife is their growing network of curators who suggest fiercely inspired products from all over the world.  And though that list of curators includes the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, Tim Gunn and Vivienne Tam, anyone can submit products for consideration. The platform gives us the chance to be influential tastemakers, ultimately guiding ourselves to become a new generation of more sophisticated, conscious and self-generated consumers. You could say AHAlife is a tastemaker of tastemakers. And it is precisely this move that will be the source of their viral success.

Hey Shauna. You always said you loved when people make everyday objects beautiful. Well – look what you have done to the entire industries of e-commerce and media. You. Go. Girl.

There is a force that sits quietly, waiting to be noticed. A bolt of lightning willing the Earth to obtain a charge.

That force is called the AHA. It stops time, allowing us to discover and recognize a piece of life at its fullest. And it is that AHA that pulls our everyday ordinary into a state of infinite beauty.

*For more information, sign up to be a member at AHAlife.com

 
 
As if it wasn't bad enough that Hootsuite went and robbed me of their old, fresher user interface (see previous post), today I was also robbed of my beautiful MacBook Pro. As in, someone came into my boyfriend's apartment while I was ASLEEP, and took my baby away into the underground world of crack addicts, pawn shops and dirty bastards watching midget porn on the 15 inches of my laptop's glossy screen.  This is where the mind of a mother, whose Apple child has just been kidnapped, goes.

That thing was like my second brain and heart. The machine is replaceable, but the content is seriously priceless. Which is why I'm hating myself for not having backed up my work since October. That was nine fucking months ago. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This is the collection of incidents that led to this sad day:

My boyfriend, B, lives in the hood. He's a teacher, and therefore teaches where he is needed. And having moved to NYC not too long ago, his job and his unfamiliarity with the city landed him smack in the middle of Brownsville, two train stops away from where they filmed 'Brooklyn's Finest.' You know - the movie about the cops and drug dealers murdering each other. Yeah. That's two blocks away.

So I spend a portion of my time in the hood because B is there - and mostly everything seems okay because we have good neighbors, and B's apartment is part of a new section of housing on a one-sided, quiet street. But hood rats have legs, and they are around during the day. And they watch you, and wait. Or they're bored and decide to use any apartment they can slide their little greasy asses into, as a free-for-all candy store. Fucking bastards.

I never take naps in the middle of the day - but I've been working so many cross-border hours with China that I finally had to lie down this afternoon.

B never comes back for lunch in the middle of the day, and he just happened to today.

Those rat bastards must of seen him leaving after lunch and figured no one was in the apartment. 

Except I was. Dead asleep. IN the bedroom, while they snuck happily around and swiped my baby *tear* because I had left it sitting in the living room in all its silver glory. I wonder if they saw me lying in the dark. If they did, I hope it gave them a jolt, sending them scurrying out the back door with their tails between their legs, their heart skipping a beat. With my laptop in hand, but nevertheless, scared.

Ugh.

I won't even tell you how many policemen and women came storming into my apartment, more curious about my decor than the crime, more suspicious of B than the actual thief. 

What a fucking day. Lesson learned. 

Move forward. Make more memories. Take more pictures. Re-do a little bit of what was lost, and BACK IT UP PEOPLE. Losing the computer itself hurt. But losing all the memories and work was absolutely devastating.
 
 
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Today has been a devastating social media day for me. One of my FAVORITE third party Twitter apps, Hootsuite, added some really cool geo-features, but decided to run a dirty rag over their user interface, letting the font and white space shrink like a pair of prepubescent balls stuck in a cold front. 

If you know me, you know that I'd rather get my wisdom teeth yanked out in Tijuana (true story) than have to look at bad UI. Hell, I'd rather have NO Internets than look at shitty Internets. 

And so, when my dear beloved Hootsuite decided that they would suck the life out of the style that made them who they are, I heaved a great sigh and re-downloaded Tweetdeck. I even tried changing all the colors to try and match Hootsuite's. But it's just not the same.

HEAR MY SIGH. HUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

That owl used to be cute and encouraging. But now, it's just mocking me.

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A few weeks ago, Mashable put out an article on how to customize a few real life treats via the Internet. Among them: mix your own chocolate bar, smoke your own jerky, create your own pet-food, shoes, handbags, shirts. And the one that stuck out the most to me (other than the jerky): customize your own jewelry.

Say what?

Every girl likes diamonds right?

And boys (in many cases) are the ideal deliverers.

Thanks, pop culture. It’s because of you that I have this grossly generalized fantasy in my head:

Girl meets Boy.

Boy is smitten.

First date.

First kiss.

Move in.


“Dear Boyfriend,

When you propose, it will preferably be on a cruise to Costa Rica.

Think that’s too cliché? I’ll ask again when our mouths are full of lobster, and we’re riding a horse named Steve through the rainforest.

But most importantly, I would like you to present me with a 10 carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum  setting . . . or was it a marquise in white gold with two emeralds on the side. Or maybe I . . .

On second thought. Don’t propose until I consult my jeweler to find out what the heck it is I want.

Love, your adoring, baby darling, shmoopie.”



Well, this is how it used to go in my head anyway. Except now, I want a wedding on the beach, and maybe a proposal that takes place on a ferris wheel. And the ring. Jewelry is either supposed to be extravagant or sentimental, right? So maybe expecting a bajillion-carat Harry Winston is a bit much. So, let’s go for sentimental. You know, like a test of how much the boy knows me. (It seems the boy never wins in my fantasies)

Except I haven’t found any jewelry that’s quite up to my taste and sentiment. Until now. Which is where Gemvara steps in – with the perfect combination of two things I love: bling and tech.

Everyone’s a critic and I am no exception. Owning a domain name and fingers with which to type a blog suddenly makes me an expert consumer, right? Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I want my cake and eat it too. That sort of thing. Which makes it no surprise that one of the first things I asked Cheryl Kremkow, Gemvara's VP of Content and Merchandising, was whether customers were uncomfortable with the idea of creating and buying jewelry online because they couldn’t try it on. I mean, half the fun of buying bling is putting it on and imagining the subsequent avalanche of compliments. Luckily, Kremkow was incredibly sweet, especially when pointing out that even if you are creating custom jewelry at a store, there is no way to actually visualize or touch the exact piece until it is too made – which is sometimes too late. But on Gemvara, you can pick and choose until you get it just right.  In fact, each gemstone has 16 different varieties, and there are eight different metals to choose from. So, take a standard ring, let’s say – a diamond with two supporting stones – add 16 different choices for each stone, and eight different metals, and thousands of designs: you do the math. The possibilities are endless. And here’s the cool part: you can SEE every single one of those possibilities, as long as your patience matches the number of times your index finger can click the mouse.

In fact, the endless customer stories Kremkow receives on a daily basis is proof of the platinum pudding that Gemvara is feeding a very hungry niche.

“One of the surprises for me, is the different colors of engagement stones. People want something different, and we can give that to them. Sapphire, amythest, emerald – even a black diamond. We’ve seen birthstones, and if it’s a second marriage and there are kids, the ring might even have the birthstones of the kids. I’ve discovered that people want to do so much more than just a diamond. There really are no rules. We want to help our customers express themselves. If you’re only going to do this once, you should do it right!"


So, I went online and expressed myself. Here is my wish list:

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Ok, so I happened to choose the most expensive engagement ring of the bunch. Lucky boyfriend.
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Thangka Pendant in 14K Rose Gold
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So many colors, so little time!
So that’s the bling part. Now the tech.

One of the reasons Gemvara is doing so well is because this sort of thing has never been done before. And one of the main reasons it’s doing so well now is that the technology is just starting to exist for jewelry designers. The CAD cam (computer aided design) is just now becoming more accessible. And along with CAD comes a whole new community of designers who are becoming well-versed in this tool. And that’s what tech is for right? A niche need surfaces; a tool is built to aid that need; a community is born to aid that tool; everyone goes home with a nice piece of bling.

And the women in tech? No women developers yet, although their Chairman of the Board is female, and a lot of their designers are women. But Gemvara is looking to expand their team, looking for: online marketers, graphic designers, front end developers, and people who are familiar with the CAD system, particularly those who use Rhino and Matrix design and manufacturing platforms. So if any of you ladies (or gents) are partial to the industry of bling, you might want to consider a Gemvara career. And if not, you can just join the rest of us who are relishing in the luxury of creating our own treasure troves of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and rivers of yellow gold. Not a bad way to indulge in a few hours online, I’d say.

For more info, visit Gemvara’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

 
 
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I'm taking 10,000 steps a day. And I'm using a pedometer to count them. Pedometer strapped to my hip = unsexy. But achieving 10,000 steps a day = very very sexy.

I'm doing it to cure the acute sense of agoraphobia that builds up when I've spent too much time working. 

To cure the fact that I've been in NYC for almost eight months now, and still haven't seen as much of the city as I'd like. 

To cure the few extra pounds as a result of sitting on top of a computer every day, with my fingers jammed on the keys as if this little piggy had no roast beef and went wah-wah-wah, all the way home.  

To cure any fears of not being able to achieve something when all you have to do is get off your ass and take a few steps forward. 

There will be more to follow, I hope. Because it's Monday. Because it's time to move those happy feet. Because there are no more excuses left to not do it. Unless I find an iPad app that closes business deals for me, and takes me on tours of the city while putting chocolate in my mouth. Because then, I wouldn't really need 10,000 steps, would I. 
 
 
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This past Saturday (May 8th) saw the Launch of Girls in Tech China

WHAT an experience:

Because I planned the entire event in Beijing . . .FROM New York.
Because I have an amazing team (special shout out to @acrosstheC and @eiyssa for being excellent mid-wives for the deliverance of #GITChina).
Because we launched an amazing #GITChina cocktail: Girls in TECHquila by @beijingboyce.
Because we had an amazing panel of female Influencers (Tudou, Wall Street Journal, Mobinode, Zebra Media) moderated by Twittamentary's @sioksiok
Because we officially announced the 2010 Search for Girl 2.0 (to be launched on June 1st).
Because it's history in the making. 


Video of the event will be out soon. Watch this space. 
 
 
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I'm all for some Robin, George, Juju and Sam in the morning, but Good Morning America is slowly starting to piss me off.

Mostly because I'm a Twitter evangelist. And because I actually use Twitter in a meaningful way. Which means I understand and have experienced the value and effects of sharing real-time information and connections.

So, when #GMA keeps inviting dumbasses onto their show, who say things like "I just don't get Twitter. I don't understand why people would want to know when you go to the bathroom and that you're drinking coffee," there is a lot of credibility to be lost. 

First, on the part of the dumbass who opens her old fart mouth and blindly comments on a platform she obviously doesn't use. Because if she did use it, she would know that while there is a population of other dumbasses who solely use Twitter as their personal journal of simultaneously creepy and banal entries, the platform has really altered communication as we know it. Ever heard of GOOGLE, lady? Maybe if you had, you would have done your research and found the thousands of stories of how Twitter has changed lives and industries, before pretending to be a snarky know-it-all and embarrassing yourself in front of millions. Where is the 'Dumbass' censorship when we need it?

Second, on the part of #GMA. Come ON, #GMA! Robin! I heart you, but why are you jumping on the stupid bitch bandwagon? You're better than that! Just because your guest has as much insight as a bucket of cement, doesn't mean you have to pour her into your news crevices and let them harden into painful clumps of permanent dumb. If she ate a hundred donuts, would you also? I didn't think so. You want to keep your svelte figure. Just like we Tweeters want to keep the Twitter love going. And it's hard to do that and watch your show at the same time. Because when you guys make ignorant comments and then adorable Sam actually USES twitpics as a form of news, it makes me want to turn to 'My Name is Earl' on channel 9 and then gauge my eyes out and pour homemade lemonade into them. And that would be bad, because then I would have to make more lemonade. And more importantly, I wouldn't be able to tweet and rant, and tell everyone that #GMA seriously needs to get their act together. After all, you don't want a bunch of seething digerati, coming after you with their 90-words-per-minute wrath. Because we'll bring it. And it'll be more than just a stylized picture of an angry blue bird on some random person's blog.

And third, sort of on the part of Twitter. You guys probably didn't know that your initial intentions of creating a space where people were talking about what sandwich they just ate would be crowdsourced into a Mecca of international sharism. And sure, you're famous now, and have a bajillion users. But from a how-can-I-make-my-business-better, or hey-let's-conquer-the-world, or even, the-right-branding-and-positioning-will-land-us-more-users standpoint - there is a LOT you could be doing to gain more market mindshare. Don't you have a department of people who think up ways to take over the digital world or something? You should definitely send them a memo entitled: "Let's find a way to show non-Tweeters, in layman terms, the value our platform can bring to them." You could at least try, Twitter. Because then I wouldn't have to write blog posts like this, and everyone's day would be better. Momma would be so proud. 
 
 

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What's better than delicious REAL chocolate that costs you just one calorie? 

Nothing. That's what.

Unless we're talking about a lifetime supply of white tuna sashimi. But we're not. So let's focus on breathing in chocolate particles.

Yes, breathing. 

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Imagine this scenario. (It could happen to you)

You're in a cafe. You've just finished lunch. Salami on stale rye. You don't really like salami, or stale rye for that matter, but it's a crappy cafe and you realize you only have $2 to your name, which means the only thing you can buy is the bag lunch your server's mom packed. So you eat the salami, and wash down the rye with a glass of room temp tap water. 

Moral of the story: your lunch is below par. 

As you leave the cafe, stomach pouting, palette dejected, wishing you had a lifetime supply of sashimi (not salami), all of a sudden you realize . . . 

"Zut Alors! Le Whif!"

Passersby have to shade their eyes from the illuminant joy radiating from your face. They wonder what could possibly make anyone so happy. 


Then, they see this in your hand.


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credit: Phase One Photography

It's a lighter! It's a mini flashlight! It's a portable sanitizer! 

No, it's Le Whif, breathable chocolate! (available in pure chocolate, raspberry chocolate and mint chocolate)

Now before you whip out your judging stick and ruin your sweet tooth's chance for changing its life, be patient and read on.

Created by Harvard professor of biomedical engineering, David Edwards' ArtScience Labs network, Le Whif was launched in Paris this past January 31, 2010, as the world's only breathable chocolate. 

"Le Whif uses particle engineering to form chocolate in particle sizes that are small enough to become airborne, though too large to enter the lungs," says Professor Edwards. Its design is biodegradable, organic and contains less than one calorie. 

The design of this small tube of chocolate has been enhanced by the collaboration of university students, culinary artists and designers, and has  attracted global attention, launching in 32 countries. It is currently available online at www.lewhif.com for about $2.50. I'd say that's a small price to pay for innovation and ultimate mouth satisfaction.

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So, I'm going to the exclusive NYC launch of Le Whif tomorrow night (Friday, March 11, 2010) at Dylan's Candy Bar on Third Ave.  And I plan on Le Whiffing myself into oblivion. Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll have tales of how they found me under a table, covered in chocolate powder, hiding from the security guards because I tried to swipe everyone's Whif stick.

But in the meantime, I leave you with this picture, entitled: "the kick of coffee without the cup!" Yes. It's pure genius.


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credit: Phase One Photography
 
 
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