Build a Better Mousetrap for the End of the World

Would you even guess this is a mousetrap? It’s vintage, from the 1930’s approximately. I first saw it on a video from Shawn Woods and then I went looking on eBay out of curiousity. Shawn Woods makes videos of how mousetraps actually work at catching mice. If you are especially squeamish or strongly against killing rodents, don’t watch. 
I think people have been trying to catch rodents, mice in particular, from the earliest days of deliberately planting anything with the idea of farming. You might think we should let all the urban wildlife live and, I’m not out to kill them all, but I do think we need to find some balance. Some animals are very good at surviving, adapting and scavenging. I’d rather see other animals keep their foothold instead of the planet being overrun by predatory scavengers. (I do include ourselves among those). 
I enjoyed watching the mousetrap videos for the engineering aspects really. My Father was an electrical engineer and I also like seeing the mechanics of things and how all the little parts work together and rely on each other. Vintage things especially because they were still made to last then. I like the heavy, solid feel of them and 100 years later they made need a little cleaning up but will still work. Often any repairs are simple enough you can manage yourself. 
I like to imagine the mousetraps people would come up with if there were an end of the world, a zombie apocalypse, a worldwide disaster, or some other possibility like the end of all fossil fuels. Could you make a mousetrap if you had to design and build it yourself? Don’t go with the “let all creatures live” thing. If it came down to the mouse or yourself for the last of the food you have on hand, I don’t think you would feel quite so charitable about sharing with a pack of rodents.

Start an Online Advertising Agency?

There are times when idea people get in their own way. Or, they at least need to take a step back and see what it is they really are thinking. Pulling it all together, from a distance. This happens to me. This has happened to me, today.

I’ve been making a web directory. But, I keep changing my mind about details, adjusting for new ideas and just generally fumbling around – knowing what I want but not getting it done.

Then, while looking at another site, I understood that I’ve been misleading myself. I don’t want a web directory, I want an online advertising agency. I want to be my own public relations business, online.

The funny thing is… although I feel like a fraud, I actually do have the background for it. Corporate Communications (my college education) included PR, writing and publishing. In actual experience I have been online since 1996 building my own sites, maintaining, managing, promoting, writing and publishing other sites. I’ve been doing it all, all along. But, mostly for myself or as a contracted employee (contributor) for others.

Am I rushing into this? Quite likely, I tend to jump in when I think I have a good idea, before I have the plan all sorted out.

But, it does feel right. It is what I’ve been trying to build without really putting a label on it.

From Entrepreneur:

Online Advertising Agency

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes

Not only will you be providing a valuable service for site visitors, but you will also be establishing your own potentially successful business. The business concept is very straightforward. Start by designing a website that features information about various advertising mediums including rates, contact information and any special promotions or discounts in terms of advertising rates. Business owners who visit the site simply locate the type of advertising that suits their marketing program and budgets. Income is earned by charging the advertising companies a fee to be listed on the site, as well as by selling advertising space featured on the site.

I think I have start up costs covered, one way or another. I know how to put things together, free, online. I’ve been working that way for twenty years.

Resources for Starting an Online Advertising Agency:

I’d start with an ad exchange. I already have all the links saved to become a directory. This would be a simple way to build the directory, see which sites want to be part of exchanging ads (which would help me eliminate those who are not active, don’t want to mess with code to make ads for themselves, etc.). The sites which want to exchange ads would have a fancier spot in the directory of links. I can give them an image, a larger description, and so on. All of that I can do with what I have now.

The next step would be finding outside advertisers from related businesses which would pay for ads (without being part of the ad exchange network). I’m not really confident/ bold when it comes to approaching people to ask for anything, but it could be done. I might even find someone to help me at that point.

That’s how I see it, for myself.

I do have the niche – urban exploration.

I have found a few ad exchange software possibilities, for free, just having a quick look this afternoon. I may be missing something but I am wondering where the people at Entrepreneur found a need for $2,000 start up costs? I guess I will find out along the way.

Software (RTB – Real-Time Bidder):

Plan a Hoax

Invent a hoax. Plan to fool the world, or at least your family and friends.

From the Shroud of Turin to the Patagonian giants these are 25 Forgotten Hoaxes That Fooled The World. You might just recognize some of them. A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences, or April Fools’ Day events that are passed along in good faith or as jokes. Even if you weren’t aware of its meaning it’s almost certain you’re aware of some of the most famous and “successful” hoaxes. Some have even managed to fool millions of people and last for ages or even decades. Take the Loch Ness monster for example. It may be easy for us to understand how a photograph can be manipulated (after all, photoshop skills are not that uncommon anymore), but for people back then, a photo manipulation was not something easily done.

 However, there have been countless hoaxes throughout history. You might have heard of a few of them. These are 25 Forgotten Hoaxes That Fooled The World.

list25.comSource: 25 Forgotten Hoaxes That Fooled The World

Industrial Urban Noise to Write By

Some people like playlists as audio background while they write. I haven’t found that suits me. The music I like changes my mood, distracts me and I just don’t want to work that way. I could look for white noise, like the TV once the station has gone off the air for the night. But, that’s just a bit too plain and doesn’t seem worth spending the electricity on. I could try the sound of rain, or humpback whales, or the spa music my sister-in-law likes. Those would be nice, enjoyable but… mood altering in a way I don’t really want when I’m writing.

So, what did I think of next… ?

Industrial urban noise – the sound of the subway or street cars in particular. There must be other urban audio recordings for people who don’t want to listen to music or anything too peaceful and harmonious. I’m on the look out for mechanical noises to write by.

Get in the Road Trip Mood

Find a vintage motel or hotel postcard on eBay. Pick something from your local area so you will know the streets, more or less. Use Google Street View (find the location on the back view of the postcard) see if you can find the motel now. Is it still there at all? If so, is the name the same? Spot the differences between then and now.


Source: Caribou Motel Barrie Orilla Ontario ON Canada Vintage Chrome Postcard | eBay

Take it on the road and visit the site. Get a photograph and (if you have a site) post the then and now images. Find some history, if you can. Or design a history for the motel yourself. Who owned and operated it over the years? Did they love it, grow too tired to keep it going, run out of money? What changes happened around them in the local area?

I found the Caribou Motel in the present, it’s gone. Replaced by a new gas bar. Nothing left of the old motel and diner except the space around the new building. You can see some curb out by the road and the parking lot is bigger than the current commercial business would need. Small hints at what once was.

caribounow

You can see what became of the Caribou in urban exploration photos from CopySix and other explorers who posted to Flickr and Ontario Abandoned Places. Note: the CopySix post has a comment from the original owner’s family.

Submitted Myself for Reinstatement at the Open Directory Project

I was looking up something tonight and found a link to the Open Directory Project (aka Dmoz or ODP). I was an editor there, shedragon, for about ten years. I liked being part of the project, seeing it evolve and tweaking categories for topics I was interested or involved in.

odp dmoz

I forget why I left now. Something I was annoyed about. Isn’t that so often the story. I did seem to have upset someone in the upper management of the directory but I never found out what it was about. I think that’s actually why I did leave. I can remember being annoyed at the close mouthedness of it and feeling I couldn’t even defend myself because I had no idea what the problem/ issue was.

I put a lot of time and energy and care into the directory. I was quite proud to have become an editall and manage several larger categories in the directory. Likely I burnt out and I did leave and not regret the decision. I still don’t. I do tend to get absorbed into things so it is good for me to take some steps back and give myself space to find diversity instead of becoming too focused.

Anyway, today (just now) I checked if my old login still did anything. Not expecting it would. But, some part of it was still there. So I filled out the short form to ask to be reinstated.

It would be nice to fix up the categories for urban exploration and ASCII art again. But, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy sorting out my own link collections and sites. It is nice to be part of something though. I wish Dmoz had grown, along with Google. It’s a shame it didn’t. It’s still a decent resource if someone is looking after the section you’re looking in. That’s likely why I applied. I do like history and archives!

via – DMOZ – the Open Directory Project.

Retiring my Old HubPages Profile

Laura is secretly handling the Canadian World Domination plot. It’s all very polite and litter free but for the odd moose rampage.

Laura is an eccentric and reclusive ASCII artist. In her spare time she is a freelance writer, running several blogs and social media type sites. She calls herself an Earth Witch (or a Pagan atheist) when no one in particular is listening.

Laura disappears for hours, even days on urban and rural explorations. She travels with the wrong shoes and the right Ontario road map, looking for ruined buildings and abandoned farm houses.

Laura collects postcards, stones, old Canadian coins, bone china bouquets, hand drawn maps, dust bunnies, books about writing, dragons (real ones) and assorted oddities to which she won’t confess. She likes to crochet, embroider, crazy quilt and sew. Her Grandmother used to say, “Once Laura sews on a button it never comes off again.”

“Adorable, in a wicked, modest way that only the ego-maniacal can pull off.” – Says Gracie (friend and fellow web writer).

“This girl writes like other people breathe.” Comment from a regular reader.

Canadian freewriting niche blogger. Online since 1996.

This profile was written by Laura who thinks no one should have to type their own name this many times in a row.

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http://thatgrrl.hubpages.com/hubs/latest?rss

Just seemed like time for a change. Not even sure what I will do with two accounts on the same site. I would have stuck to just one but with the merge from Squidoo we all had to start fresh, new accounts on HubPages.

30 Fun Things to do with a Digital Camera

  • Create a wish list. Make a catalogue of things you would like for your next birthday, Christmas or other event.
  • Take a photo of important information like a list of phone numbers, your Christmas card list, something you need to remember later and so on. Take a photo of your shopping list so you can send it to yourself if you forget the list at home.
  • Keep an idea file with photos of things you have seen and would like to make yourself. Or a hairstyle you would like next time you are getting a trim.
  • Photograph collections of things. An especially effective way to deal with clutter from collecting too many things. Choose which you really want to keep and photograph the collection before you disperse the rest. 
  • Play scavenger hunt with friends or family. Photograph something specific in your home or town and challenge others to find the item or place you photographed.
  • Turn a photo into a jigsaw puzzle instead of the more traditional greeting card sent for events, holidays and such occasions.
  • Become a photojournalist and collect all your photos to tell a story.
  • Use your photos for digital scrapbooking and keeping an art journal.
  • Choose something interesting or unique and take a photo of a day, create a series. See if you can take a photo a day for a full month, even a full year.
  • Take photos in black and white and see how different people, places and things look in shades of grey.
  • Photograph collections of things by colour. Display items of all sorts, but all of them are red, for instance.
  • Photograph the same place at sunset and again at sunrise, make sure you have the camera positioned in the same spot for both photographs.
  • Practice portrait photography using dolls, stuffed animals and other inanimate toys with faces. Pose them and sort them in patterns and try different light and shadows too.
  • Photograph reflections in windows, water and anything else creative. Mirrors don’t really count, too easy.
  • Try night photography. Make the most of available light or explore the flash features (avoid washed out photos from flash).
  • Take selfie photos. Explore new ways to take quick self portraits.
  • Photograph people with different facial expressions. Start a collection.
  • Create a household inventory. Useful for insurance but a good way to go through what you have and sort it out.
  • Take a photo of old photos and other things which will fade with time. A digital photo can keep them fresh, preserved.
  • Photograph your luggage when you travel. If anything goes missing you can show just what you had when you started out.
  • Play with macro and close up photos. Insects are a good challenge, interesting and not hard to find out in the garden. Flowers and plants are popular for up close pictures too.
  • Photograph anything you would like to sell and post the photo to online forums where people are buying.
  • Try street photography. If you’re too shy find a good place to people watch and pretend you’re checking your camera while you take the photos.
  • Try food photography. Learn how to display fruit, vegetables and home baked goodies for taking great images.
  • Take photos by candlelight. Make them romantic or spooky.
  • Try urban exploration, taking a photo of something forgotten or derelict in your area.
  • Play with focus. Focus on items near and then try the same photo with the focus on something in the background.
  • Try catching a water drop and the ripples they create in the standing water.
  • Go abstract, looking for interesting shapes, textures and colours to turn into unique images.
  • Take a drive and get into landscape and nature photography. Or, find a great spot where you can take a photo of the cityscape for your town/ city.

I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work

how i workI picked this up from Bianca Woods at e-Geeking.

David Kelly (@LnDDave) recently did his own fascinating version of the Lifehacker feature “How I Work” and challenged the rest of us in the industry to do the same.

I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work

Location

Barrie, Ontario, Canada (The bottom of Northern Ontario).

Current Gig

Self Employed/ freelancing.

Current mobile device

An HP mini laptop which seems to have MS Windows exploding out of it’s little computer brain. I’m going to change it to Linux.

Current computer

HP Desktop (I still love the desktop!) h8 1211 with Windows 7. Will not allow Linux or any other change to the OS. I was really annoyed when I found this out after buying the PC and telling the staff at the store that I wanted a computer I could run on Linux. This proves they don’t know anything you can’t read on the computer box. Don’t trust any advice you get from sales staff.

One word that best describes how you work

Cluttered.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My little HP scanner, even though I have not used it much lately. I love that it sits on my desk and has been reliable for more than ten years now. No problem with changing to new PCs or changing from Windows to Linux and back again.

What’s your workspace like?

Cluttered. Too cluttered to photograph and display for the world to see.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Procrastination. The things you procrastinate on should be reconsidered. If you can put it off maybe it just isn’t that important after all. I save time and energy by letting things fall off the to-do list in my head. It’s not very proactive, but it does keep me from putting time into things I can do without.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t manage to-do lists. I write one out, long hand and keep it until I’ve got most or all it done. Then I don’t have a list until the next time I write a list.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

I can live without my phone. I don’t have a smart/ super or mobile phone of any kind. I do especially like my camera, I even have two of them. One Canon which fits in my purse and one FujiFilm for urban and rural exploration photography, when the extra zoom is a really good thing.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Nothing. There are far too many people in the world to assume something like that.

What do you listen to while you work?

Silence usually. I put the TV on but don’t really watch it and sometimes hours go by and I haven’t noticed that I forgot to turn it on – even for the soap opera I like to take a break to watch in the afternoon.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert but I can forget myself and become involved enough to seem extroverted. Eventually though I have just had enough of being social.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Poor.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Can’t think of anyone. Most people I see day to day are not online this much.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Get to bed, Laura.