// Internet Duct Tape

When is it time to get a new iPod?

Posted in Asides, Contests, Music, MP3s and Internet Radio by engtech on September 28, 2007

Death Clocks use statistical information to let you know when you are going to die based on your habits (with smoking and obesity being the worst factors). The iPod Death Clock (via) is an interesting little web app that figures out how much longer your iPod has to live based on the serial number (how old it is) and how you use it (while running, on the bus). Needless to say my 3rd generation iPod is getting on in years.

I happened upon a blog called Contester the other day that tracks Internet freebies being given away by other bloggers. Blog contests are a great grassroots way to advertise your blog (if you aren’t too spammy about it — some of them are). They’re usually worth entering because you have a 1:20 to 1:50 to 1:200 chance in winning depending on how popular the blog running it is. A few people are giving away iPods, and hope I win one as my iPod is on it’s last legs.

One of the downsides to owning an iPod is the iTunes music store. The music has DRM copying protection measures that are a huge pain in the ass. Enter the new Amazon MP3 store that sells music for cheaper than iTunes without any copying protection — you’re free to do whatever you want with the music you own. Luckily there are also quite few blogs giving away Amazon gift certificates or straight up PayPal.


Becoming a Better Blogger

There’s also a couple of sites offering books for bloggers that I want to read.

There’s also a contests for professional logo design

It’s crazy how this idea of promoting your blog via holding a contest has taken off like hot cakes. It makes me a little sad though that it seems like some people are losing their focus and writing/participating in contests all the time instead of writing blog posts that share information, help people, or at the very least entertain.


And on a slightly different note, someone is finally doing one of these contests for a real cause instead of personal gain:

Ultra-runner Tim Borland is running 63 marathons in 63 days in order to raise funds and awareness for the A-T Children’s Project in their quest for a cure or life-improving therapies for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). A-T is a rare, neurodegenerative disease that affects children, giving them the combined symptoms of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and cancer. Children with A-T — born seemingly healthy — are usually dependent upon wheelchairs by the age of 10 and often do not survive their teens.

To run with Tim, join a tailgate party, or make a donation, please visit the A-T CureTour website. There, you can also view the daily video blog produced by filmmakers who are making an independent documentary on the A-T CureTour and enter a contest to Win a Nintendo Wii.

Hard not to participate for something like that.

Only Two Days Left to Win Graphic Design Services for Your Blog

Posted in Asides, Contests, Group Writing Projects, Technology by engtech on September 24, 2007

In 3 Surefire Ways to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoestring I recommended running a blog contest as a great way to create buzz, build links, and get the attention of potential new readers. It sounds like David Airey Graphic Design was listening because he is running what has to be the biggest blog giveaway contest I’ve ever seen (click to see rules). The prize pool is large enough that I thought it was a Problogger contest at first glance.

Running through the contest sponsors is a good list of blogs I already subscribe to: David himself, DoshDosh, I Love Typography, ProBlogger, Daily Blog Tips, InstigatorBlog, Business Blogwire, Andy Beard Niche Marketing, Make It Great! and Lorelle on WordPress (where I am sometimes a guest blogger).

This is a great idea and I’m very impressed with how he has managed to rally a community around him to provide prizes. If you run a blog yourself then you should enter the contest in the next two days.

You could be a winner. I got my new logo from a contest on Daily Blog Tips.

And we have a winner…

Posted in Contests, Technology, Tshirts by engtech on June 26, 2007

Never has there been a truer mantra than “those who can’t, teach.” I might write posts about using online calendar applications, but I think by now we’ve all realized I don’t use them. That’s why I’ll do things like schedule a contest to end the day before leaving on vacation… knowing fully well that I won’t get around to judging it until a month later.

The Winners

The Entrants

  1. What is your secret indulgent movie” by sulz (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  2. Remaking Back to the Future” by Collin (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  3. Favorite Movies” by Jan (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  4. TShirt Slogans That Could Get You Kicked Out of School” by Gary Rodgers (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  5. My Favorite Tshirt Slogans” by Gary Rodgers (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  6. What Hollywood Has Taught Me” by Gary Rodgers (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  7. 5 Most Memorable Movie Adaptations” by loricat (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  8. 5 Favorite Movie Soundtracks” by azahar (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  9. 5 Favorite Movie Musicals” by azahar (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  10. 15 of the Funnies Money Tshirt Pics” by ispf (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  11. Tips to Winning Tshirts” by valkrieangel (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  12. 5 Truly Absurd Movies” by loricat (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  13. Movies Teaching Management Lessons” by Ketan (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  14. Triumph of Imperfection Making Tshirts for Kids” by Juggling Frogs (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  15. Books To Movies Do they make sense” by ish (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  16. My Favorite Movie Quotes” by Collecting Tokens (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  17. 7 Musical Movies not necessarily musicals” by Collecting Tokens (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  18. Nerdy Shirts Should Be Covert” by Cory OBrien (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  19. 10 Great Movies with Kick Ass Women Who Didn’t Necessarily Kick Anyone’s Ass” by Collecting Tokens (Save this post at del.icio.us)

The Bonus Round

These weren’t included in the contest because they were never submitted, but I still think they’re pretty nifty.

  1. A Geek’s Complete Lack of Style” by Webomatica (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  2. My Ten Favorite Star Wars Moments” by Webomatica (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  3. Movie Sequels I’d Really Like to See” by Webomatica (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  4. Comic Book Movies Without the Superheroes” by Webomatica (Save this post at del.icio.us)

Win Cash Prizes for your CSS Design for Sandbox

Posted in Contests, CSS and Web Design, Technology, WordPress, WordPress.com Tips by engtech on June 20, 2007

Web pages (ie: what you are looking at right now) are composed of many things. If you think of web pages as a house, HTML is the foundation and structure while CSS is the aluminum siding, brickwork and paint. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. A passing knowledge of both of them is essential if you want to run your own website.

HTML Example

CSS Example

The whole idea behind HTML and CSS is that you use HTML to format your web page (or blog post) with things like headers, bold, lists and tables. Then you use CSS to style those elements so that they look the way you want them to. The whole idea behind it all is that you can build the structure with HTML once, and then change the look of it whenever you want to using CSS.

WordPress, Sandbox and CSS

If you want to change the way your WordPress blog looks there are two ways to do it. The first way is to change your theme. This changes the underlying HTML formating structure. The second way is to leave the theme alone and change your CSS. If you are running a blog hosted on WordPress.com, then the only way to customize your theme is to buy the CSS editing upgrade, choose a base theme, and then use CSS to redesign it. The preferred WordPress theme for CSS designing is Sandbox because it gives you so many things to play with.

Internet Duct Tape is hosted on WordPress.com using the Sandbox theme and a custom CSS design by yours truly. If I can find the time, I will be participating in the contest.

Win Prizes for Your Sandbox Theme

The creator of Sandbox is running a theme design competition with monetary prizes. The pot is getting pretty big right now, and the top six designs can win between $50 to $750 US. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at designing CSS before, this is the perfect time to give it a shot.

Scott has put together sample blog content for designing CSS for Sandbox and he also has a template file with all of the Sandbox CSS selectors.

Free Sandbox Designs

There are several free Sandbox designs available:

People Are Talking About It

More coverage about the competition can be found at

weblogs tools collection: “I thought it was a good time for a new theme competition—or rather a “designs” competition. It has been around two years since the last successful WordPress theme competition (participants of the competitions in 2006 will roll their eyes and would include me).”

wank: “I’m hoping this’ll be as successful as last year’s Style Contest, and that Automattic will be as generous with their support as Six Apart were with theirs. (Matt has already thrown in $500 prize money, which is a good start, but a little linkage wouldn’t hurt.) “

Adam: “Scott’s organizing a wordpress design competition, purely in CSS. which means it’s open to:
* wordpress.com users
* anyone who can use CSS, since PHP and javascript won’t be judged”

Small Potato: “Conveniently for Scott’s Sandbox theme and WordPress.com’s Custom CSS Upgrade service, WordPress.com users will not be left out of the competition because Sandbox will be added to WordPress.com’s collection of themes. By the way, you can enter as many designs as you want. Surely, that’s not because this competition wants to promote Sandbox even more, but because entering multiple designs will give you a better chance at winning.” (read the comments)

Binary Moon: “And what do you have to do for the money? All that’s required is for you to design a skin for the sandbox theme. You don’t need to do any php or html, it’s entirely css and image based.”

There’s more good discussion in a WordPress.com Support Forum thread

Friday Fun: Catptions of my LOL Cat

Posted in Contests, Technology, We Welcome Our Feline Overlord by engtech on May 18, 2007

captioning cats - lolcats
(xkcd)

A big thank you to everyone who participated in catptioning the photos of my cat. Free t-shirts from Dirty Microbe will go to BouncyCat and Bagel of Everything (check your email). Here are all of the finalists in no particular order. There were around 250-300 entries! Thanks be to the judges for helping with the judging.

Entirely too many pictures of my cat, after the break.

 

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Contest: LOL My Cat and Win a T-Shirt

Posted in Contests, Technology, We Welcome Our Feline Overlord by engtech on May 03, 2007

lolcat blogIt’s time for some Friday Fun. I’m going to steal one of the contest prizes from my latest group writing project and put it towards a very good cause… I’m giving away a Dirty Microbe t-shirt to whomever can create the funniest LOLcat image macro of my cat.

UPDATE: The prizes have been given out.

LOLcats are the image macros that are featured on I Can Has Cheezburger? and have created such further spoofs as LOLgeeks and LOLtrek. On April 1st I wrote a “how to LOL cat” guide. You might be interested in this how to speak kitteh guide as well.

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Group Writing Project #3 — Theme = T-shirts or Movies (Win Free t-shirts contest for bloggers)

Posted in Contests, Movies, Technology, Tshirts by engtech on April 05, 2007

blog hand gang sign

Group writing projects are a way to connect with other bloggers and increase your readership. Every two months I run an on-going group writing project where bloggers can write around a similar theme. I offer prizes and freebies as incentives for participating (past prizes include Amazon gift certificates, free web hosting, and WordPress.com upgrade credits).

Last December I reached the homepage of Digg.com twice with posts about movies for geeks and t-shirts for geeks. I want to see what you have to say about similar themes. Write a post loosely themed around t-shirts *or* movies to participate in this project (click for some ideas).

On June 20th, 2007 I’ll be picking three (3) of the participants at pseudo-random to win prizes.

  1. First prize will be two (2) t-shirts of their choice from dirtymicrobe.com ($30 value)
  2. Second prize will be one (1) t-shirts of their choice from dirtymicrobe.com ($15 value)
  • And of course, one lucky wordpress.com blogger will win $15 worth of upgrade credits.

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5 Things Draws to an End

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on April 03, 2007

The Five Things contest/meme has drawn to an end. The winner of the Amazon gift certificate is Azahar and the 15 WordPress.com upgrade credits goes to TheShortFatKid. The next contest/group writing project will be announced in the next two days. In 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be listing my favorites from this round.

Here are all the entries. If you have a del.icio.us account you can bookmark the entries you like best to it. The entries with the most saves will be collected together as the reader favorites.

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5 Times 40 Things

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on March 29, 2007

You Could Win a $20 Amazon Certificate or $15 WP Upgrade Credits

blog hand gang sign “Five Things” is almost over. There are three more days to enter/contribute (rules here).

As a bonus the first ten people on who comment on this post saying “I want free hosting” will get a WordPress hosted accounts from wordly.org. It’s a new paid WordPress hosting service with 2 gigabytes storage, 6 gigabytes monthly traffic, and a free .org or .com domain (is that a free domain name? or something like engtech.wordly.org? I’m not sure)

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My favorite entries from Contest #1

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on March 14, 2007

blog hand gang signLast month I held my first contest / group writing project. It was limited to wordpress.com hosted bloggers and 23 people participated. These are my favorite posts of the bunch. It being my first contest, the topics were on the schizophrenic side without a common thread: why do you blog, what do you like/hate about Valentine’s Day or review something tech. That’s my fault, not theirs.

I’m running a second contest / group writing project where you could win an Amazon gift certificate or WordPress.com upgrade credits.

These are my seven favorites from the contest entries. Listed in order of submission, with a preview snippet.

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Group Writing Project #1 Complete and the winner is…

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on February 16, 2007

The first group writing project has come to a close and the winner is MyLifeWithIT (as chosen randomly by random.org)

But do not fret, because group writing project #2 (“5 Things”) is already underway. One lucky participant will get a $20 Amazon gift certificate and another will get $15 in WordPress.com upgrade credits (2nd prize is only open to wordpress.com bloggers). The first entry is Cory with “5 Reasons You Should Read //engtech“.

Flattery will get you everywhere.

But without further ado, here are all 23 entries! Some of them are quite good, you should check them out. I’ll be posting my favorites out of the bunch next week in a month. Sorry.

UPDATE: You can let me know what your favorites are by saving the posts to your del.icio.us account.

  1. Why I Blog” by Ilya Lichtenstein (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  2. Why I Loathe and Bemoan Valentine’s Day” by ahouseholdkate (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  3. Why I Started This Blog” by sulz (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  4. Lost in Translation” by mhmazidi (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  5. A Good Reason to Blog” by Nita (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  6. My Deal with Valentine’s Day” by Robert (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  7. Why I Started This Blog” by vernonia (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  8. Why I Started This Blog” by Kristin (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  9. Why I Started My Blog” by jordsta (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  10. Why The Blog” by monomaniac (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  11. Why Blog” by Venture Skills Team (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  12. 5 Reasons Why I Blog” by raincoaster (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  13. Why I’m Not a Huge Fan of Valentine’s Day” by Agent KGB (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  14. Why I Started Adorablay’s Animals” by adorablay (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  15. 5 Reasons Why I Blog” by qphayes (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  16. Why I Started This Blog” by Rexted (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  17. Why Does This Blog Even Exist” by Internet Monkey (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  18. But //engtech Told Me To” by Jason (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  19. Getting Over VD” by alejna (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  20. Why I Love/Hate Valentine’s Day” by Twinky Thots (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  21. Is See It Everywhere” by My Life with IT (Save this post at del.icio.us)
  22. Why I Blog” by Stupid Tom (Save this post at del.icio.us)

Win an Amazon Gift Certificate or WP Upgrade Credits – Group Writing Project and Contest #2: Five Things

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on February 15, 2007

You Could Win a $20 Amazon Certificate or $15 WP Upgrade Credits

blog hand gang signIt’s time for my second monthly group writing project / contest. This time it will be a list of “Five Things” about whatever subject matter of your choice.

Some examples would be:

  • Five Things I Hate About My Boyfriend Because He Spent More Time Blogging About Valentine’s Day Than He Did *ON* Valentine’s Day
  • Five Reasons Why I Won’t Let My Friends Take Shirtless Pictures of Me and Then Post It On Their Blog
  • Five Things I Love About MyCatBlogLog
  • Five Reasons Why I Read //engtech
  • Five Things I Can Do With My Tongue That Are Kind of Strange
  • Five Reasons Why Blogging is Better Than Sex (With Me)
  • … but write about whatever you want to! Just have 5 of them.

On March 31st, 2007 I’ll be picking one of the participants at random to win a prize. This first will be an Amazon gift certificate for $20 (open to any blogger) and the second will be $15 of WordPress.com upgrade credits (open to WP.com bloggers only).

You can subscribe to contest announcements here, or you could just subscribe to my blog using RSS. You can check out the digest to get an idea of what my blog is like.

Contests Contest announcements and results – 3 posts a month.
//engtech My blog – 20-30 posts a month. Subscribe to feed
Digest Summary of my blog – 1-2 posts a month. Subscribe to Digest

How to Participate

  1. Have a blog.
  2. Write a blog post about “Five Things”
    • It has to be a NEW post published after February 13th, 2007.
  3. Link to this post and mention this contest.
  4. You can enter once per blog post.
    • So you can enter multiple times with different lists of Five Things.
  5. Post a comment on this post with a link to your contest entry.
    • I will be monitoring trackbacks, but posting a comment is the best way to ensure I don’t miss it.
  6. Contest deadline is 12:01 AM EST on March 31st, 2007.

Picking a Winner

  • Winners will be selected at random amongst all the entries.
    • Random selection is more impartial (and easier) than trying to judge the “best post”.
  • I will be linking to all of the contest entries.
  • I will be highlighting my favorite contest entries.
  • Halfway through the contest I will be posting the “list so far

Looking for Sponsors

Selling a product? Want to offer some swag as prizes? You can find my email address on my About Me page.

Blatant Self Promotion

Here are some of my favorite posts about blogging:

WordPress.com Group Writing Project Deadline

Posted in Asides, Contests, Technology by engtech on February 13, 2007

This is a reminder that my group blogging project / contest deadline is on February 15th. One of the participants will win 15 wordpress.com upgrade credits (enough for a custom domain name or for CSS theme customization).

More information and instructions are here.

Thank you to the people who have participated so far: neomeme, ahouseholdkate, sulz, mhmazidi, nita, lifeofrobert, vernonia, kristin, jordsta, monomaniac, djjoja, jayesh, ventureskills, raincoaster, agentkhb, adorablay, qphayes

Why Do You Blog?

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on January 26, 2007

My first attempt at running a contest is coming along nicely with 9 submissions so far. One of the topics I asked people to write about is “why did you start your blog?” As fate would have it, I ran across another blogging contest that asks bloggers to fill out a 10 minute survey at whydoyoublog.com for a chance to win a prize. It’s run by Darren Barefoot and it is on the up-and-up. He’s the same guy who did the humorous “Get a First Life” Second Life send up that was making the rounds this week.

The Prizes

  • One randomly-selected person who completes the survey will win an iPod Shuffle.
  • Another randomly-selected survey completer will win two Lonely Planet books–Micronations and Experimental Travel
  • I obviously want to promote the survey, so I’m also giving away one CAN $50 Amazon or iTunes gift certificate to a randomly-selected person who blogs about it. Just link to http://www.whydoyoublog.com and you’re qualified to win.

Win WordPress.com Credits — //engtech Contest #1

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on January 18, 2007

You Could Win 15 WordPress.com Credits

So I decided to start doing monthly contests. For this first contest I’ll be limiting it to wordpress.com bloggers and the prize will be credits that can upgrade wordpress.com blogs. If I get a good turn out then I might try other prizes like gift certificates to Amazon, Threadless and Xbox Live, etc (and obviously I would open up the contest to all bloggers then).

On February 17th, 2007 I’ll be picking one of the participants at random to win a $15 credit at WordPress.com. You can use credits to buy things like a custom domain name, CSS upgrade (so you can customize your blog appearance like I’ve done), or you can use it towards additional space upgrades, or unlimited private users.

You can subscribe to contest announcements here, or you could just subscribe to my blog using RSS. You can check out the digest to get an idea of what my blog is like.

Contests Contest announcements and results – 3 posts a month.
//engtech My blog – 20-30 posts a month. Subscribe to feed
Digest Summary of my blog – 1-2 posts a month. Subscribe to Digest

How to Participate

  1. Write a 200 words (or longer) post about one of these four topics:
    1. “Why I started this blog” OR
    2. “The best job I’ve ever had” OR
    3. “Why I love (or hate) Valentine’s Day” OR
    4. “Something about tech (blogging, gadgets, software, programming, working in high tech, etc)”
      • 200 words is less than half the size of this post, around three paragraphs.
      • It has to be a NEW post published after January 16th, 2007.
  2. Link to this post and mention this contest.
  3. Have a wordpress.com blog.
    • The only reason it is limited to wordpress.com bloggers is because the prize isn’t much use to anyone else.
  4. You can enter once per blog that is hosted on wordpress.com.
  5. Post a comment on this post with a link to your contest entry.
    • I will be monitoring trackbacks, but posting a comment is the best way to ensure I don’t miss it.
  6. Contest deadline is 12:01 AM EST on February 15th, 2007.

Picking a Winner

  • A winner will be selected at random amongst all the entries.
    • Random selection is more impartial (and easier) than trying to judge the “best post”.
  • I will be linking to all of the contest entries.
  • I will be highlighting my favorite contest entries.

Looking for Sponsors

If you have a couple of extra credits kicking around (any amount), you can sponsor the next contest by gifting them to “engtech” and mentioning in the message that you would like to sponsor the next contest. Your blog will be mentioned in all future WordPress.com Credit Contests.

Even if you aren’t participating in the contest yourself, I appreciate anyone who promotes this contest (and will be thanking them in a separate blog post at the end of the contest).

Blatant Self Promotion

Did you think I wasn’t going to also mention that I have a collection of tips, tricks and utilities for WordPress.com bloggers? :)

Get a Free iPod for gaming del.icio.us (link bribery)

Posted in Contests, Links, Technology by engtech on November 02, 2006

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this, but someone else is giving away free iPods to get links. When the Italian dude did it earlier, he only got 20 links — which isn’t very hard to get. The guys at mostlysavingmoney.com are doing a much better job. The contest ends on November 22nd, 2006 and they are giving away 3 iPods.
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Reminder: Last few hours for Cambrian House “Guess the Weight of a Goat” contest for Xbox 360

Posted in Contests, Technology by engtech on August 01, 2006

Today is the last day to submit your entry for Cambrian House’s “wisdom of crowds” goat weighing contest for a free Xbox 360.

Finally, owning a tremendously overweight cat pays off.

I’m still waiting for the “wisdom of goats” contest where we guess the weight of Cambrian House for some woody plants.

>> Cambrian House – Weigh Our Goat

>> Google Video – Weigh Our Goat

Update: The goat weighed 38.5 lbs.

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