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The Laid Off Chronicles — Chronicles End

This is not going to be a surprise for some,  but here it  goes: I am employed again!!

Who says you can’t go home again? I have gone back to where I enjoyed my greatest success- TracyLocke. I will be working with an independent Pepsi Bottler that is the largest in the U.S. From now on, my house will be fully stocked with Pepsi products: Shameless plug alert!

For example:






Since being laid off in November, I’ve had to adapt to a difficult way of life. Not only was my family’s well-being on my mind ,but I also struggled with my self-confidence. With that said, I want to thank all my family and friends for their support during my time being unemployed. I know it was only a short time, but your support got me through this difficult time. I made the realization that a positive outlook was the only way to get through this trying time. Yes ,I had my down days, but I never let that become my mind frame. I had too much at stake to let self-doubt consume me.

I would also like to share with everyone, the  keys to my finding a job so fast. For starters, I revamped my entire resume. I looked at my resume compared to other professionals in my field and noticed that my resume was an eyesore. In the end, I developed a “grown up” version of my resume that I believe got the attention of employers. I also credit my personal network, job boards, and social media for opening up doors that 10 years ago there wouldn’t be any.

Here are some of my top sites that helped me in my job search:

  • LinkedIn – This is where I would us my personal network to find job opportunities
  • Indeed.com – I used Indeed.com at least twice a day to help pull job listing from Charlotte and other cities.
  • TalentZoo – This site is great for people in marketing and advertising.
  • Monster and CareerBuilder –  Both sites are useful in searching for jobs. Just make sure you keep your resume fresh. Change it every 30 days to keep it current.
  • Elance.com – Elance is not a job board but an online freelance job site. Through Elance you can set yourself up as a freelancer and build a portfolio by contracting for jobs.

Social media also helped in my job searching. Sites like Twitter and Facebook helped me find opportunities through my personal network.

So it is with a heavy heart that I retire this segment of my blog……..

As always the Laid Off Chronicles are brought to you by FireFold.com. In need of HDMI Cables? Head to FireFold.com to get HDMI cable and all other computer accessories.

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The Norwegian Epic Review

There is something to be said on having your feet in the sand and a drink in your hand. I spent most of last week with a drink in hand and a couple of days with my feet in the sand. Where did I go? I spent 7 days aboard the Norwegian Epic.

For those of you that don’t know what the Epic is here are some highlights of the ship. The Epic is Norwegians new “freestyle” cruise ship what boasts a ton of entertainment for the family. At 1080 ft the Epic indeed lives up to its name. The ship is huge to say the least. There are 19 deck levels that consists of numerous activities. There are 20+ dining areas on the ship along with a rock and repelling wall, water slides, pool area, sport area, outdoor adult pool and dance area, casino and numerous theme bars and theaters.

The Norwegian Epic

Now that I have the specs out-of-the-way I can give you an actual account of the ship.

Let me preface this by telling you that this was my 7th cruise in all. I have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney but this was my first time on a Norwegian Ship. I was very excited to try a new line do all the cool things you could do on the ship. However my excitement was tempered knowing that some of the amenities on the ship were incremental (more on that later).

My family booked a 7 day Easter Caribbean cruise that left out of Miami, FL. Our cruise itinerary was as follows:

  • Saturday/Sunday/Monday – Sea Days
  • Tuesday – St. Maarten
  • Wednesday – St. Thomas
  • Thursday – Sea Day
  • Friday – Nassau, Bahamas
  • Saturday – Miami

The family arrived in Miami last Saturday and we spent the morning waiting our turn to board the Epic. One really cool thing I was able to do to pass the time was interact with a local Miami Twitter group that was touring the Epic that day. See some of the tweets below:


When boarding the Epic you walk straight into the casino area. I think they do this on purpose so that the “players” can get a lay of the land before gambling starts. Our girls were hungry so we took them up to the buffet on deck 15. The buffet was bigger than anything that I have seen on a cruise ship prior to this one. There were so many choices that my girls didn’t know what to pick. The buffet was a regular stop for the family during the 7 days. Each day the kitchen had a different entrees to go along with the regular buffet food like hamburger, hot dogs and pizza. A neat thing Norwegian does is to have different dishes from other countries on the buffet to help cater to that many nationalities on board the ship. After lunch we took the kids to the water slides where they played the rest of the afternoon and I indulged in some beverages. 🙂

Sunday and Monday were spent at sea as we traveled toward St. Maarten. Norwegian knows how to entertain you when you are not in a port of call. Both days were jammed full of events that you can do individually or with the family. One day we hit the rock and repelling walls, the next we are hitting the sports deck. One really cool thing we were able to do was be apart of the Nickelodeon Slime Time Game Show. The Slime Time Game show was held only once on this cruise and our family was one of two selected to play on stage in front of a full Epic theater. Needless to say our family won the game show but our prize was not money, a t-shirt or even a little plastic ship. No, we were slimed! Here are the pics to prove it.

Slime Time Live

Getting slimed!

Other entertainment on the ship included the Blue Man Group, Howl at the Moon, a Jazz Bar, the Legends Concert series and a host of other entertainment options.

The Blue Man Group was extremely entertaining. We sat in the second row and tried to get paint on us but the only thing we got was marshmallows thrown at us :). If you like impersonations then the Legends Concert series is the place for you. This cruise we say a Rod Stewart, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson impersonator. The Rod Stewart guy nailed it. Looked just like him. The events were all spaced out so that if you missed them one day you were able to see a show the next.

In a previous section I talked about the buffet that Epic puts on. The buffet is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Norwegian providing food for the ship. There are over 20 dining facilities on board. I did not go to all of them but the ones I did hit I will highlight below, I have also linked them to the Epic website so you can directly view the restaurants yourself:

  • Taste (Main dining area. Food was average)
  • Moderno$$ (Brazilian style restaurant. Make sure you are hunger because the food is awesome and there is plenty of it.)
  • O’Sheehan’s (Irish themed bar. Food was ok.)
  • The Manhattan Room (Menu is identical to Taste but there is music and dancing)
  • Wasabi (Sushi bar. Make sure you try the Godzilla roll!)
  • Spiegel Tent$$ (This is where you will dine while watching Cirque Dreams®)

$$ Indicated that this was an incremental charge roughly $20 per person

Ah yes, the incremental charge. Now I knew about this before hitting the Epic but let me say, I was not prepared for the “nickel and dime” treatment that I felt was way over-board (pardon the pun). Most of my post so far has been pretty positive regarding the Epic but this incremental charge business allows me to make a perfect segue into the not so great things about the Epic.

So while there is a ton of great stuff to do with the kids it’s a blessing since the cabins are like little prison cells. I had a family balcony cabin that “slept” 4 people. Once the bunk beds come down that’s it for walking out to the balcony or trying to open your closet to get close out. I felt as though I was shimming across a narrow ledge to get across to the other side.

Now let’s say you’ve had a hard  night of “partying” and you want to relax and watch TV in your cabin. Well you better hope you haven’t seen SpongeBob vs. The Big One or SpongeBob goes to Atlantis because you will see these episodes numerous times during your stay since they are on a loop. There are no free movie channels like there are on other cruise lines. Instead you have on-demand and yes there is an incremental charge for viewing a movie.

One complaint that I don’t have with the cabin is the bathroom. I didn’t find it as off-putting as some people has suggested. They are a little unconventional but all in all I thought they were just fine. The room staff made sure that we had extra towels for just in case moments.

The kind of service we had from the cabin staff was fantastic but that can’t be said for the service the rest of the wait staff had during the cruise. I have two for instances…..

The first is our first night at the Taste Restaurant. We went there with some friend and we were a party of 12. We had 7 kids and 5 adults. The waitress came over and greeted us and took our drink orders. Then she turned around and went to a beverage station area just a few feet away from us where she stated to another waiter. “Great, I got the kids table tonight”. With that we should have know what to expect because the service the rest of the night was horrible. We tried to make sure our table was not the “kids table” but no matter what we did she was not going to give us great service as we have come to expect it on other cruise lines. On two occasions we even got an eye roll for asking for more chocolate milk.

From there the tone was set for rotten service (minus the cabin staff) the entire trip. The best for instance came just before the Legends Concert. I asked a waiter to stop by and he said, “Hurry up, I don’t have time for this”. Basically he was miffed that I was asking for a soda and not an alcoholic beverage for my kid. Some :15 minutes later he returned with the Pepsi in hand. If there is one thing that a cruise crew can do to ruin a trip then poor service has to be #1.

Even though there were some negative experiences on the Epic the family as a whole had a good time. Just being able to spend time with my wife and two daughters was more than enough to make up for the poor service and “nickel and dime” amenities.

Overall, the ship was a little disappointing. The service really put a damper on the ships experience. I was expecting something grand but instead was left feeling uninspired by the ship. Don’t get me wrong the ship was nice but I was expecting more.

Next up for the family will either be the Royal Caribbean Oasis or Disney Dream. But that is a year away.

Happy cruising….

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The McRib!

Mmmmm McRib


Every so often I allow myself the indulgence of eating the McRib from McDonalds.

I’ve been eating McRibs since I was a kid. I always look forward to when they come back on the menu.

McDonalds does a great job in marketing the McRib. They take a niche product and reintroduce it every so often to create new news advertising for the brand. This creates incremental sales for the chain during key periods of time. This also sets customers into a frenzy for the McRib. People write songs and post blogs like this all the time talking about the McRib.

When I see the commercial on TV telling me that the McRib is back I make it my personal goal to have one before it leaves again. Sure, I have no idea what kind meat is in the McRib. And yes, I know there is 10,000 calories in each one. Given all that nothing can compare to the saucy goodness of BBQ smothered pressed meat.

Until next time McRib. I say next time since it will take me at least a year to recover from the one I just ate.

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Social Media Case Study for QdobaNC

Yes, I am back! It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a blog post. Yes I have been busy but I also have been a little lazy. 🙂

So what have I been up too? We’ll I have a new client and they have let me and my agency start to handle their social media outreach. I even get to play director and videographer, more on that later.

The client is Qdoba of the North Carolinas. They have a modest number of restaurants in Charlotte, Raleigh and Triad . Qdoba of NC or QdobaNC wanted to establish social media channels to engage with their existing customers. We have started Facebook pages for all three NC cities so that we can talk directly to that customer base. Along with the Facebook pages we have a central Twitter feed called @QdobaNC. This feed is geared to engage all the Qdoba fans in the North Carolina area. Along the way we have found a number of Qdoba Brand Evangelists. Click on the hyperlink to see one said fan.

One of the things I am really excited about is the QdobaNC YouTube Channel. This is the first time I have shot video content for a clients channel. QdobaNC has a weekly Tailgating Tips episode that talks about well….tailgating. So far we have 4 shows up on the YouTube Channel with more slated through the tailgating season. The Tailgating shows have talked about how to grill and marinate chicken to how to make pico de gallo.

In upcoming episodes we will be taking the QdobaNC Tailgating Tips show on the road. One destination is Raleigh where we will have a fan co-host an episode with us. Speaking of co-hosts we had a fan send us her own tailgating tips and we have asked her to help co-host an episode as well.

To date the QdobaNC YouTube Channel continues to grow at a moderate pace. One thing that we have seen is that QdobaNC is starting to get referrals off of YouTube searches. With YouTube being the second most used search engine the QdobaNC Channel should see more growth over the next several months.

Modest QdobaNC YouTube Stats

QdobaNC has great content coming this fall. From more Tailgating Tips episodes to Twitter parties (Qweetups). I will keep this blog updated with new Q news as I get it.


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Beware, Mad Scientist At Work

Hard at work!

Hard at work!

I have been busy in my laboratory the past couple of months working on a social media experiment that is  getting ready to launch (with help from my colleagues).  I can’t divulge to much of the experiment.

The one thing I can say is that it will use a ton of social media applications. I will be using the normal cast of characters in the  experiment. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and WordPress will all be used in unison. The purpose of the experiment is to see if all these social media applications working together can truely benefit a brand. Oh, dear…I may have said to much.

Sorry, I can’t let you know exactly what I am doing. I will however give updates on how things are proceeding from time to time. At the end of the experiment I will let you all in on the secret.

My main question in all of this is….. Will this experiment work or will I have created a monster?

Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from Franke...
Image via Wikipedi

Only time will tell….

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PSA – Public Social(media) Alert!

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I read an article on Yahoo (see below) this morning warning about viruses and worms invading social media sites. While this is probably old news the frequency of these types of problems is rising. For new social media users this could be very problematic since some won’t be able to tell what is and what is not a legit social media outlet.

Just be careful out on the social media highway. It is a fun place to interact with all kinds of people. However, there are others out there that look to prey on users that are niave.

Yahoo Article:

As Facebook works to make itself more relevant and timely for its growing member base with a profile page makeover, attackers seem to be working overtime to steal the identities of the friends, fans and brands that connect though the social-networking site.

Indeed, Facebook has seen five different security threats in the past week. According to Trend Micro, four new hoax applications are attempting to trick members into divulging their usernames and passwords. And a new variant of the Koobface worm is running wild on the site, installing malware on the computers of victims who click on a link to a fake YouTube video.

The Koobface worm is dangerous. It can be dropped by other malware and downloaded unknowingly by a user when visiting malicious Web sites, Trend Micro reports. When attackers execute the malware, it searches for cookies created by online social networks. The latest variant is targeting Facebook, but earlier variants have also plagued MySpace.

Koobface’s Wicked Agenda

Once Koobface finds the social-networking cookies, it makes a DNS query to check IP addresses that correspond to remote domains. Trend Micro explains that those servers can send and receive information about the affected machine. Once connected, the malicious user can remotely perform commands on the victim’s machine.

“Once cookies related to the monitored social-networking Web sites are located, it connects to these Web sites using the user log-in session stored in the cookies. It then navigates through pages to search for the user’s friends. If a friend has been located, it sends an HTTP POST request to the server,” Trend Micro reports.

Ultimately, the worm’s agenda is to transform the victim’s computer into a zombie and form botnets for malicious purposes. Koobface attempts to do this by composing a message and sending it to the user’s friends. The message contains a link to a Web site where a copy of the worm can be downloaded by unsuspecting friends. And the cycle repeats itself.

An Attractive Face(book)

Malware authors are investing more energy in Facebook and other social-networking sites because that effort pays off, according to Michael Argast, a security analyst at Sophos. Facebook alone has more than 175 million users, which makes it an attractive target.

“Many computer users have been conditioned not to open an attachment from an e-mail or click a link found within, but won’t think twice about checking out a hot new video linked to by a trusted friend on Facebook,” Argast said.

Argast called the Koobface worm a mix of something old and something new. The new is using social networks as a method to spread malware. The old is using fake codec Trojans linked to a saucy video to induce the user to install the malware.

Argast said people can protect themselves by running up-to-date antivirus software, restricting which Facebook applications they install, thinking twice before clicking on links from friends and never, never installing a codec from some random Web site in the hopes of catching some celebrity in a compromised situation.

“I would expect to see more attacks on Facebook,” Argast said. “As long as this is a successful propagation method, the bad guys will double down and invest more. They are entirely motivated by financial gain. If it pays, they’ll continue to romp in your social playgrounds.”

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