Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ten tips for better LinkedIn profile headlines

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Please don't be the guy (or girl) with the generic auto "Title at Company Name" profile headline on LinkedIn. Even if you're not a marketer, but especially if you aren't currently employed, you need to use this valuable space to tell people exactly what it is that you do. It's not only important so that you show up in search results, but it will also make people click on your profile when there's a long list of people similar to you.

It only takes a minute, so please just go update it today and follow these ten tips:

  1. Establish yourself as an expert in something
  2. Explain why someone should connect with you
  3. Use stats & numbers if possible
  4. Utilize as many industry buzzwords as possible
  5. Start with a short question
  6. Use examples of proven results
  7. Differentiate yourself from everyone else in your function/industry
  8. Use V-bars (|) to separate sections
  9. If you're C-level say so
  10. If you're a jobseeker say so
Got any other tips? Or examples of some good headlines? Share them in the comments below:

Ryan's New Home with Ryan Homes: A Visual Timeline of the 200-Day New Build Process

Hi, my name is Ryan Pratt. I am multitasking millennial who typically blogs about digital marketing, social media, technology and movies. But I've been too busy over the past 6 months to do much writing. On top of getting married to the love of my life in May of 2014, we also officially started the new home building process with Ryan Homes on April 3rd (Day 1):

Since that day, I've come to realize that blogging about your new build process with Ryan Homes is "a thing that people do." There are actually a lot of great blogs out there:

Just Google "Ryan Homes blog" and you'll find a bunch more -- including at least one for every style of home in every state that they build.

Unfortunately, with so much "stuff" going on at once, I don't have time to create an entire blog dedicated to the process like the those mentioned above, but I did want to create at least one blog post that I'd update occasionally with new photos from our Venice style home. This is that post:

On April 8th, we picked out our carpet, tile, wood floors, countertops and cabinets (Day 6):

By June 28th, they broke ground and started digging our hole (Day 87):

On July 3rd they poured our basement (Day 92):

By August 2nd framing had begun in the basement (Day 122):

And then on August 9th it was starting to look like an actual house (Day 129):

A week later, on August 17th, it had a roof and windows (Day 137):

The garage floor was poured by August 24th the following week (Day 144):

By September 5th the plumber, HVAC, electrician and Guardian Home Technologies had finished their installations. We had our first official walkthrough and pre-drywall meeting inside the home later that week (Day 156):

The garage door and trim was installed and painted by September 10th (Day 161):

And they officially started hanging drywall on September 14th (Day 165):

They started on the external siding on September 19th (Day 170):

And by September 27th the drywall was painted and tile in the bathrooms and laundry room was installed (Day 178):

On October 1st they finished the stone exterior (Day 182):

And by October 4th they had started the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry (Day 185):

On October 6th the lights were installed (Day 187):


And on October 7th they laid the hardwood floors (Day 188):

On October 9th they laid the carpet (Day 190):

On October 16th the granite countertops and appliances were installed (Day 197):

We had our final walkthrough on October 17th (Day 198) and got our keys on October 20th (Day 201)!

Stay tuned for more exterior photos once the sod & landscaping are complete. 

If you've found other great blogs about Ryan Homes or just have a question or comment, please feel free to share below:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Top 10 movies of 2014 (so far)

Top 10 films of the year (so far)

Well Fall is officially here and the Summer blockbuster films have raked in millions at the box office. Now it's time for the Oscar-nomination hopefuls to hit theaters (i.e. Gone Girl, Fury, Interstellar, and Unbroken) followed by the Holiday blockbuster lineup (i.e. Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1, Big Hero 6, and Nightcrawler) but the first three quarters of the year didn't disappoint. And though the small-budget film market was lacking, the most-anticipated indie movie of the year -- actually the most anticipated indie movie of the last dozen years  -- did not disappoint.

The movies on this list are a mix of the best and my favorite films of the year. These are the top ten films from the first nine months of 2014:
  1. Lego Movie
  2. Boyhood
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Captain America: Winter Soldier
  6. 22 Jump Street
  7. Edge of Tomorrow
  8. Grand Budapest Hotel
  9. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  10. Bears
What haven't I seen that should be on the list? Is something on the list that shouldn't be? Leave your thoughts in the comments below:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Top 66 scariest movies ever

A "scary movie" is a film that gives you goosebumps. It not only has you sitting on the edge of your seat, but jumping out of it. A "scary movie" makes you spill your popcorn. It makes you scream.

"Scary movies" affect you even after you leave the theater.  It has you turning off the lights, running up the stairs, and leaping into your bed at night. It leaves you laying there, unable to sleep, trying everything to forget. A "scary movie" gives you nightmares.

But "Scary" isn't a genre. "Horror," "Suspense" and "Thriller" are. These sixty-six "scary movies" encompass all three of those genres -- and then some. These are the scariest movies of all time:

  1. The Exorcist
  2. Silence of the Lambs
  3. Paranormal Activity
  4. House of 1000 Corpses
  5. Friday the 13th (1980)
  6. The Shining
  7. The Ring
  8. Mothman Prophecies
  9. Saw
  10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  11. The Descent
  12. Scream
  13. The Conjuring
  14. The Hitcher
  15. Halloween (1978)
  16. Se7en
  17. 28 Days Later
  18. Jaws
  19. The Nightmare on Elm Street
  20. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  21. Final Destination
  22. Wes Craven's New Nightmare
  23. Sixth Sense
  24. The Others
  25. Oculus
  26. Friday the 13th: Part III
  27. Prisoners
  28. The Hills Have Eyes
  29. Strangers
  30. The Haunting
  31. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  32. Hostel
  33. The Grudge
  34. Jeepers Creepers
  35. The Crazies
  36. Blair Witch Project
  37. The Last House on the Left
  38. The Skeleton Key
  39. Disturbia
  40. VHS
  41. Audition
  42. Poltergeist
  43. Night of the Living Dead
  44. Blackout
  45. Mama
  46. The Orphanage
  47. The Cabin in the Woods
  48. Scream 2
  49. Rosemary's Baby
  50. What Lies Beaneath
  51. The Last Exorcism
  52. Halloween (2007)
  53. The Devil's Rejects
  54. Friday the 13th (2009)
  55. The Haunting of Molly Hartley
  56. Identity
  57. The Bay
  58. Pyscho
  59. World War Z
  60. Friday the 13th: Part II
  61. Audition
  62. Shutter Island
  63. The Omen
  64. The Purge
  65. Birds
  66. High Tension

Last updated: October 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ten keys to a perfect blog post

Blogging seems easy. Especially to those of us who do it often. Just write what's on your mind -- even if it's just stream of consciousness. You don't have to follow any AP or MLA Style Guidelines. There are no rules. No regulations. It's basically just a public diary of your opinions and expertise. But to a beginner, it can be an overwhelming challenge -- particularly when you're just getting started. There are so many things to consider: what do I write about; what should I title it; which blogging platform should I use; which image should I choose; etc. etc.

Then once you actually get started, how do you finally get people to read it? Outside of pricey and/or guerrilla marketing techniques, the easiest way to ensure the maximum number of eyeballs view your post is to write something worth reading. Now, not only does this mean that your public diary of opinions and expertise must be interesting and informative, but it also means you have to keep going. You have to keep writing and keep posting. And you have to do it consistently. You need a plan. You need a formula. And, fortunately, I've calculated it for you...

Here are the ten keys to the perfect blog post that will ensure your blog posts get read, get shared, and then get read again:
  1. Platform: Each blogging platform has its pros and cons. Tumblr is good for shorter blogs, especially those that are mostly images or animated GIFs. WordPress is good if you're trying to build more than just a blog, and want an entire website. Same goes for the blogs integrated into website building tools like Weebly or Wix. But if you're trying to drive the maximum amount of traffic to your website, then Google's Blogger (or Blogspot) is your best choice. Though they don't admit it, Google's organic search results most definitely favor their own blogging platform over its competitors when all other SEO factors are similar. 
  2. Title: Blog titles can be as tough company names, but the secret is to choose a name that tells its readers what to expect from your content. Blog post titles are even trickier. Though you definitely need to choose a title that gives the reader an idea of what to expect in the post, it's also important to make it mysterious enough that they don't get all the information they need in the title alone. Have you ever read a headline on Twitter or in the news that told you everything you needed to know (i.e. "Lebron James agrees to new deal to return to Cleveland Cavaliers" or "Star Wars Episode VII sets new box office record with $500 billion weekend")? It's a great summary, but the reader doesn't even need to leave their Twitter or Facebook feed to visit your blog. Instead, use questions (i.e. "How many records will Star Wars Ep. 7 break?") or at least less descriptive titles (i.e. "Lebron James decides to leave Miami"). And the easiest trick is to just create a list or countdown. Humans appear to be hardwired to tune into lists, according to
  3. Image: Every blog post should include an image. It's not only important to break up the page visually, but also for social media and RSS feeds. Almost every social media platform and RSS reader today includes images, and most of them automatically pull images from your post. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words -- and sometimes, an image is even worth a thousand retweets
  4. Length: The ideal length a blog post is a highly-debated topic. And though there is no limit (i.e. the 140-character limit on Twitter) there is a general consensus that shorter is better. Human attention spans are getting shorter every year, so in order to not overwhelm the reader, keep their attention, and ensure they get to the end where your call-to-action should exist -- keep it to 2,000 words or less. Then be consistent. If you post 500 words once per month on average -- continue to post 500 words once per month. Write. Rinse. Repeat.
  5. Call-to-Action (CTA): Every blog post needs a call-to-action. Even if you're just writing a personal blog with no advertisements and nothing to sell, each and every blog post should end with a conclusive CTA where you ask the reader to do something, whether it be to leave comments or share it on social media. It's the easiest way to increase engagement with your readers.
  6. Social Media Share Buttons: If you want your blog post to be read by people outside of your inner circle of friends and family, you need it to go viral. Not necessarily viral like "Charlie Bit Me" or the "Social Media Explained Donut Edition" -- but at least viral beyond your own personal network. In order for it to go viral, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts to all their favorite social networks. While most platforms include built-in social share widgets today, you can always utilize embeddable HTML modules like ShareThis
  7. Section Headers: Because of the diminishing human attention span, you need to make your blog posts as skimmable as humanly possible. Utilize headers, chapters, section titles, and/or bold statements -- literally, make the most important statements bold -- to highlight the key points of your blog post. This is another reason why top 10 lists work so well. People don't have time to read every word, and if it at first glance they can't find something interesting or if they feel overwhelmed by the length of your post -- they'll bounce immediately.
  8. Tags / Keywords: In today's always-connected and intertwined world wide web of keywords, it is imperative that you utilize tags and keywords to link your blog post to other similar blog posts (both that you wrote and those that exist outside of your own blog). It's also why you should always "tag hash" -- and even consider utilizing hashtags in your blog post titles so that every time your post is shared on Twitter or Facebook it's automatically connected to the every other blog post with that hashtag. 
  9. Links: SEO is key to driving traffic to any website, webpage or blog post on the internet. And two major ways to improve SEO today are by utilizing both inbound and outbound links wherever possible. With blog posts, it's key to not only link to other related articles and blogs, but to also utilize reciprocal links to connect readers to other blog posts you have written, i.e. Top 10 SEO tips for 1st page Google search results.  
  10. RSS: Lastly, and probably rightly so, are RSS feeds and "Subscribe" buttons. You need to give your readers a way to subscribe to your blog and get notified when new posts are written. But with the inevitable death of RSS feeds, the most future-forward plan to allow people to subscribe to your blog is by adding Twitter "Follow" buttons, Google+ "Circle Me" buttons, and Facebook "Like" buttons to your blog.
Did you find this blog post about blog posts helpful or interesting? Then follow me on Twitter, circle me on Google+, and like me on Facebook

My 8 favorite features in iOS 8

iOS 8 for iPhone & iPad

Well I've had iOS 8 BETA installed for almost two weeks now, and though it is still a bit buggy and lacking some of the new integrations that will make this next software update really exciting once it's released to the general public this Fall (i.e. Health, Homekit, Family Sharing, iCould Drive, etc.), there are still some pretty cool new features you can take advantage of right now if you have a $99/year Apple iOS Dev Center account.

There is a laundry list of significant upgrades you can read about on, but these are my top 8 favorite new features in iOS 8:

  1. Group Messaging Details: My absolute favorite feature in iOS 8 is the beefed up group message "Details" tab in the top right of every iMessage, which includes: naming your conversations; reviewing all of the photos/videos inline; sharing your location with everyone in the group; and the all-new"Do Not Disturb" and "Leave Conversation" features.
  2. Battery Usage: Extend the life of each iPhone and iPad charge by seeing which apps are the biggest drain on your battery under your General Settings menu.
  3. Voice iMessages: When you can't look at your phone (i.e. while driving), Siri can't translate your mumbling voice to text, or you just want a faster way to respond to someone it's now easier than ever to quickly record your voice and send it as an audio file via iMessage with a single click-and-swipe.
  4. Photography: The Camera and Photos apps have some great new features as well, including: smart composition tools, smart adjustments, new filters, camera timer, separate exposure & focus selections when taking photos, and time-lapse videos.
  5. Hands-Free Siri: Get Siri's attention without pressing the "Home" button by simply saying "Hey Siri" when your iPhone is docked at home or charging in the car.
  6. Swipe Notifications: The notifications system in iOS 7 was a drastic improvement over iOS 6 but nowhere near perfect. With iOS 8 Apple has made a few more tweaks that really improve notifications, including a single Notification Center and inline swipe-to-respond and swipe-to-dismiss controls.
  7. Keyboards: The keyboard in iOS 8 now not only allows third-party developers to create completely new keyboards (i.e. Swype) to be used as default, universal keyboards -- but the all-new QuickType feature is a surprisingly smart new tool that predicts the next word you are going to type and gives you three options to choose from at the top of every iOS 8 keyboard.
  8. Weather: Apple has finally ditched Yahoo! as the default data provider in it's integrated Weather app and added more details thanks to its new partnership with The Weather Channel.
Have you installed iOS 8 yet? What's your favorite feature? Or what you looking forward to most? Leave your thoughts in the comments below:

Top 100 favorite TV shows of all-time

Ryan Pratt's Top 100 Favorite TV Series Ever

Well, I finally did it. After list after list of top movies, I finally completed my much-requested and highly-debated list of top TV shows. And although I was a national movie critic in a prior life, I do not consider myself a professional TV snob by any means, so I'll spare you my list of "Top 100 Best TV Series Ever" and jump right into favorites. But keep in mind, I'm a millennial, so don't expect too many Dick Van Dyke or Lucille Ball appearances in this list. These are shows from the 80s through the 2010s. Some were binged on Netflix and Hulu, while others were from the pre-DVR-sit-on-the-couch-at-8pm-era. It's a list full of groundbreaking dramas that shocked, hilarious sitcoms that had me ROTLF, guilty-pleasures like reality MTV, and the cartoons I grew up on. It not only includes shows I watched from season premier to season finale, and episodes I've seen a dozen times, but also a show that got cancelled after just 22 episodes.

These are my top 100 favorite TV shows of all-time:
  1. Lost
  2. Seinfeld
  3. House
  4. How I Met Your Mother
  5. Family Guy
  6. Home Improvement 
  7. Walking Dead
  8. Friends
  9. Survivor
  10. Game of Thrones
  11. Mad Men
  12. Grey's Anatomy 
  13. Friday Night Lights
  14. Breaking Bad
  15. Saved by the Bell
  16. The OC
  17. Homeland
  18. Entourage
  19. Fresh Prince of Bel-air
  20. Big Brother
  21. South Park
  22. Fringe
  23. Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  24. Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
  25. Dragon Ball Z
  26. Law & Order: SVU
  27. The West Wing
  28. Late Night with Conan O'Brien
  29. Rob & Big
  30. King of Queens 
  31. Around the Horn
  32. Deadwood 
  33. Family Feud
  34. The Unit
  35. Jackass
  36. The Bachelor 
  37. The Challenge
  38. TRL
  39. Everybody Loves Raymond
  40. The Following
  41. Shark Tank
  42. Talespin 
  43. SportsCenter
  44. NCIS
  45. Planet Earth
  46. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  47. X-Files 
  48. Ghost Adventures
  49. Two and a Half Men
  50. Bones
  51. Newsroom
  52. Full House
  53. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
  54. The Office
  55. Scandal
  56. The Price is Right
  57. Double Dare
  58. Gossip Girl
  59. Jeopardy
  60. Are You Afraid of the Dark
  61. True Detective
  62. Big Bang Theory
  63. Vampire Diaries
  64. True Blood
  65. Man vs Food
  66. House Hunters
  67. 24
  68. American Horror Story
  69. Step-by-Step
  70. So You Think You Can Dance
  71. Wipeout
  72. Heroes
  73. X-Men
  74. American Dad
  75. Boy Meets World
  76. Spartacus
  77. That 70's Show
  78. Family Matters
  79. The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
  80. Power Rangers
  81. Live! with Regis & Kelly
  82. Laguna Beach
  83. Fear Factor
  84. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  85. Wheel of Fortune
  86. Animaniacs
  87. The Cosby Show
  88. Baywatch
  89. 30 Rock
  90. Nip/Tuck
  91. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  92. Batman: The Animated Series
  93. Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown
  94. Seaquest DSV
  95. Looney Tunes
  96. PTI
  97. Revenge
  98. King of the Nerds
  99. Gargoyles
  100. Inside the Actor's Studio
What did I miss? Add your suggestions and knee-jerk reactions in the comments below:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Columbus Zoo Bucket List

Originally posted August 28, 2012. Updated May 23, 2014.

Whether you're making your first trip to the world's #1 zoo, or a season pass member like me, here are twenty-six things you must see on your next visit:
  1. Heart of Africa: The newest attraction at the Columbus Zoo opens today and promises to be a major draw for years to come. The Heart of Africa offers visitors a unique look at 165 exotic animals that include lions, wildebeests and gazelles as well as hands-on features like camel rides and a giraffe-feeding tree-house station.
  2. Polar Bears: Located in the back of the North America Region. Watch the polar bears dive for fish and play with floating water toys from above or below water via the underwater viewing area located under their icy pool.
  3. Gibbons Monkeys: Located in the Australia Region. These monkeys have a huge outdoor exhibit with an island tree-house surrounded by a river. If you're lucky you'll even get to hear the gibbons "song".
  4. Western Lowland Gorilla: Located in the African Forest Region. The gorillas can be seen in their expansive outdoor exhibit during good weather, generally late spring through fall. The outdoor area features multiple levels in a round structure featuring ropes, earthen mounds and other fixtures on which to climb, swing, and rest. Indoors, the gorillas have access to a 360 degree exhibit which "encloses" the visitors in the inside! Large artificial trees and climbing structures offer many horizontal and vertical challenges for the gorillas.
  5. Baby Bonobos Monkey: Located in the African Forest Region. The bonobos are always extremely active, swinging and playing in their jungle-gym-like habitat. They even know how to turn on the water spicket and get a drink by themselves! And if you're lucky you'll get to the relationship between a mother and its baby.
  6. Stingray Bay: Located in between the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay. This new "petting zoo" is a real treat for children. And even pretty cool for adults. Stand around the huge pool and touch the stingrays as they pass by.
  7. Polar Grille. Located in the back of the North America Region near the polar bear habitat. This is hands down the best "shack" for food in the zoo. Try the chili cheese fries, amazing!
  8. "Hank" the Elephant: Located in the Pachyderm building near the Asia Quest Region. This exhibit provides one of the largest indoor spaces for elephants and rhinos at any zoo. The size and configuration of the outdoor yards makes it possible for elephants to spend the night outdoors. And if you get a chance to see "Hank" (the biggest of the elephants) play in the pool of water out back you're in for a real treat!
  9. Humboldt Penguins: Located in the Shores Region, the naturalistic Humboldt penguin exhibit allows guests to see the penguins swimming underwater in their semi-circular 9,000-gallon pool or burrowing holes for nesting in the artificial rock.
  10. West Indian Manatees: Located in the Shores Region, in the Manatee Coast building. Manatee Coast is an immersion exhibit modeled after the 10,000 Islands region of Florida. Visitors walk down the pathway, along the acrylic tank which holds 190,000 gallons of water. From the side, visitors can observe the manatees swimming.
  11. Australian Boat Ride: Located in the Voyage to Australia and the Islands. Take a "boat" ride on a lazy river that runs around the Gibbons monkey island and throughout Australia. It's the best way to see the monkeys and some of the other Australian exhibits. 
  12. Tiger Cubs: Currently located near the entrance. The adults are located in the Asia Quest Region. The tiger's exhibit features a large pool with a heated and air conditioned area adjacent. This makes a comfortable place for the tigers to spend some time and also be close for visitors to see. They also have a large heated/air conditioned cave which is a favorite hang out spot! The covered viewing area offers information about tiger populations in the wild, both past and present. A conservation coin wall is nearby and rewards donors with special tiger sounds when they contribute. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this coin drop go to support conservation of animals in mainland Asia. But the cubs are the real attraction right now.
  13. Brown/Grizzly Bears: Located in the forest section of the Zoo's North America Region, each animal has its own exhibit space with natural surroundings composed of rocks, logs to climb in and over and pools for the bears.
  14. Red Kangaroos: Located in the Voyage to Australia and the Islands Region, Australia side. The red kangaroos can be found spring through fall in a walk through yard. Visitors must stay on the path but kangaroos can hop anywhere they please!
  15. Bald Eagles: Located in the North America Region. This region depicts North American habitats of grasslands, forests and prairies. The bald eagle exhibit is found between the forest and wetland sections and has a large aviary with tree limbs placed strategically to assist the rehabilitated eagles in climbing to the upper levels of the space.
  16. Giant Fruit Bats: Located inside the Asia Quest Region. These giant bats hang upside down from the caging above most of the day. I can only imagine what this cage is like at night. Either way, you won't believe the size of these creepy creatures. 
  17. Carousel: Located just beyond the Shores Region. This old-fashioned carousel will cost you a little extra money to ride but its well worth it for the pictures you'll get of your kids.
  18. Frozen Bananas: Also located in the back of the North America Region near the Polar Grille. This is hands down the best dessert/snack the zoo offers and incredibly perfect for a long hot summer day at the zoo.
  19. Train Ride: Located in the middle of the North America Region. Pay a few extra dollars to take your kids on the train tour around "North America" and see some things you can't see on foot!
  20. Bonnethead Shark: Located in the Shores Region, in Discovery Reef. Discovery Reef is a 110,000 gallon salt water tank depicting a coral atoll. 1,200 pieces of man-made coral and special wave-producing equipment combine for a beautiful and always captivating experience.
  21. Pose with Statues: There are a handful of animal statues located around the zoo (polar bears, shark, elephant, and more) that are a perfect place for a family photo or new profile pic.
  22. Yell in the Tunnel: Located in between the front half and back half of the zoo. This tunnel under the highway echoes loudly making it nearly impossible to not yell a quick yodel-ay-eee-oooo!
  23. Leopard: Located in the African Forest Region. The African Forest Region immerses guests in the culture and environment of an African rainforest. Field journal entries from wildlife researchers also guide you along the journey. The leopards enjoy an outdoor exhibit with a large fallen tree, their favorite spot to stretch out and sleep! When you visit our leopards, see if you can spot the artificial duiker in the tree. This is an example of how leopards protect their food from other predators. 
  24. Burmese Python: Located in the Shores Region, in the Reptile Building, one of the oldest buildings at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This building was opened in 1968 and renovated to be more interactive in 1998. Home of the Reptile Keeper Lab where you can learn about reptiles in an up-close encounter. Check for scheduled times on the zoo map when you arrive.
  25. Wildlights aka Zoo Lights: If it wasn't for most of the animals being inside for the winter, this would be in the top 10 for sure. Staring in mid-November the entire zoo is decorated for the holidays. Don't miss one of the most amazing Christmas light exhibits you'll ever see!
  26. Zoombezi Bay: And 6 months later make sure you check out the new waterpark!

Click here to download a map of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

And if I missed any of your favorites, feel free to add them in the comments below:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ten ideas for a destination wedding in Aruba

Our #prattwedding in Aruba is almost here! After a 22-month engagement we can't believe how quickly it came! It's seems like it was just yesterday Ally came home to Ryan and this

Now with only 11 days until the ceremony and 6 days until many of us arrive on the island, we finally have all of our plans finalized and we're truly ready to leave. There was a lot of preperation and planning -- though admittedly easier than a local wedding -- but it's definitely necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page before they leave the country.

Besides the obvious things -- like flights, accommodations, luggage, and passports -- here are ten things we sent to all of our guests as reminders 1 week prior to our destination wedding on the beaches of Aruba:
  1. Great overview article worth taking 5-mins to read: Aruba Travel Guide
  2. iOS and Android app to download to text for free while traveling abroad: WhatsApp Messenger
  3. A hashtag to use when we you or your guests tweet or post pictures on FacebookInstagramTwitterVine, etc: i.e. #prattwedding
  4. Tentative agenda of ideas of fun things to do for the week in Aruba i.e.: Agenda
  5. Contact list of people coming to Aruba and where they're staying on the island and sitting at the reception.
  6. Google Map of hotels, beach houses, etc. i.e.: Map of the Pratt Wedding in Aruba
  7. Printable map of island and attractions: I Heart Aruba Map
  8. Address and times of ceremony & reception: i.e. 5:45pm on Vela Beach at Aruba Marriott & Stellaris Casino @ L.G. Smith Blvd 101, Aruba
  9. Address of the Bride & Groom: i.e. @ L.G. Smith Blvd 470, Aruba
  10. Info about the rehearsal dinner or scheduled parties and excursions: i.e. Jolly Pirates Sunset Cruise 
If you're planning a destination wedding in Aruba and have any questions, don't hesitate to ask them in the comments below:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ cover photo sizes

You may have noticed my new cover photo (see above).

Well Twitter just announced its new profile page redesign, including a new "Cover Photo" feature that's their attempt to catch up with what their two main competitors -- Facebook and Google+ -- have already done.

Originally posted on September 18, 2012. Updated on April 25, 2014: Twitter redesigned their profiles again with new, larger cover photo images = 1,500 pixels by 500 pixels.

It's a way for people to express themselves beyond their profile picture and bio. But its also one of my favorite new universal features amongst social networks. Why? Because it allows users to upload a profile picture of just their face (which, by definition, is what a profile picture should be) and now use the cover photo for pictures of their dog, baby, significant other, favorite athlete, actor, team, etc.

But unfortunately, it's not that simple. While most profile pictures today are a standard square:
  • Facebook: 128px by 128px
  • Twitter: 400px by 400px
  • Google+: 252px by 252px
...each of these social networks have different size constraints for their cover photos:
  • Facebook: 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall (or 3404px by 1260px)
  • Twitter: 1,500 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall (or 3756px by 1878px)
  • Google+: 480 pixels wide by 270 pixels tall (or 3840px by 2160px)
So please, change your profile picture to an image of yourself, by yourself, and then take advantage of this new social network feature. But if you want to create a cover photo that meets each site's recommendations, you'll have to have 3 different images or at least 3 different crops of your image for each.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An image is worth 1000 retweets

An image is worth a thousand retweets.

The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" was long attributed to Confucius as a Chinese proverb, but the expression was actually first used in a 1911 newspaper article discussing journalism and publicity.

The exact phrase first appears in an 1918 newspaper advertisement for the San Antonio Light which says:

One of the Nation's Greatest Editors Says:
One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The San Antonio Light's Pictorial Magazine of the War
Exemplifies the truth of the above statement—judging from the warm
reception it has received at the hands of the Sunday Light readers

Today, the phrase is a full blown cliche, forbad by journalists and newspapers around the world. But with the popularity of social media and its ever-growing reach, the context of the phrase now takes new meaning.

Today, with the constant stream of posts, blogs, and tweets, it can be difficult to differentiate and emerge from the masses. But one simple way to draw the eye to your posts, and to your account, is with images.

If the objective of every social media account is to gain followers, and the intention of every post is to promote engagement, then the best (and easiest) way to attain your goals is by adding a photo, picture, or image to everything you do. But don't just add a profile picture and cover photo (which you should definitely be doing), you should also add an image to every tweet, every blog post, and every Facebook update. You'll see your likes, favorites and retweets increase almost immediately. And before you know it, every image will be worth a thousand retweets. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Top 10 movies of 2013

Top 10 movies of 2013

Every other month in 2013, I found myself walking out of a movie theater saying, "best film of the year... hands down!" First it was Warm Bodies in February. Then Before Midnight in May. Then Pacific Rim in July and Prisoners in September. Then it was Gravity and Captain Philips in October. And finally, Wolf of Wall Street in December.

It was a record-breaking year at the box office, but also a fantastic year of award-worthy filmmaking (two scales that rarely correlate). There were brilliant screenplays, moving stories, and outstanding individual performances. In my opinion, Tom Hanks deserves an Oscar just for the final ten minutes of Captain Phillips and the rest of the major acting awards should go to the cast of American Hustle.

But there's more to a "best picture" list than a handful of Oscar-worthy performances, and now that I've had some time to reflect, I think I've finally finalized my lists. Here are my...

... top 10 best films of 2013:
  1. Gravity
  2. Captain Phillips
  3. Wolf of Wall Street
  4. Pacific Rim
  5. Lone Survivor
  6. Blackfish
  7. American Hustle
  8. Her
  9. Frozen
  10. Chasing Ice
...and top 10 favorite movies of 2013:
  1. Pacific Rim
  2. Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Lone Survivor
  4. Blackfish
  5. Prisoners
  6. Gravity
  7. This is the End
  8. Man of Steel
  9. Warm Bodies
  10. Croods
Disagree? I'm sure you do. Let me have it in the comments: