1. Be Better at…Friday.

    Because it’s Friday and I have the attention span of a gnat on Fridays…I have a few things I want to discuss that have been on my mind but perhaps don’t warrant a typical long-winded post where I write for way longer than people want to read. Here we go. 

    The Best Acorn Squash You’ll Ever Eat:

    A mini recipe for today…pretty low carb and the PERFECT winter dessert.

    Baked Acorn Squash:

    • 1 Acorn Squash
    • Granulated Splenda
    • Butter
    • Cinnamon
    Step 1: Cut (very little) off the tips of the squash off so when you slice it in half, it sits steadily in your pan. You are basically just giving it a flat surface. Don’t cut all the way through, you’ll want to keep your two little squash bowls intact.
    Step 2: Layer slices of butter, then a layer of Splenda, then a layer of cinnamon, and repeat until the squash bowl is almost full. 
    Step 3: Bake at 400 for 45-hour…you should be able to tell when it’s soft enough
    Step 4: Scrape the insides of each squash down into the buttery/sweet/spicy goodness and enjoy. 

    Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain Sucks:

    Mainly I have a bone to pick with L’Oreal for taking away Beyonce Red Infallible Lip Color…I went into the drugstore one day to get my Beyonce fix and it was just…GONE. Like…NOT EXISTING ANYMORE and was replaced by some orangey red that made me look like I just went cannibal on a bloody oompa loompa. It was not a good day and certainly a low point with me shrieking to the Rite Aid employee that “They can’t just take it away!” 

    I digress. 

    A few weeks later, after my meltdown…(let’s call it my Blue (Ivy) Period) I dragged my ass back to a different Rite Aid (because I think I am banned from the first one) and picked up a Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain in the color “Flame” to help fill my Beyonce void. I took it for a Friday night test run and at first it was AWESOME. Rich color, ridiculous staying power, and it was cheap as hell. Then…shit hit the fan. Suddenly, the next time I went to use my new magic wand, it was as dry as the Sahara and the tiny bit of color I got to my lips suddenly made my lips feel like they’d been in a Ronco Food Dehydrator for two weeks.

    BULLSHIT I tell you! To add insult to injury, the “balm” end of the stick just fell off the second I tried to apply it. It’s like an over-extended chapstick…we all know what will happen. This just proves…you can’t just replace BEYONCE. EVER. 

    If anyone has any lip stain faves in a bright red, let me know…I’m still on the hunt.

    iMessage is Confusing as Shit:

    I am convinced that no one knows what iMessage vs text messaging is unless you’ve looked it up (which I did and now I kinda get it after 2 hours of research). It is mondo-confusing and only works about 60% of the time and now I’ve just turned it off completely. Figure your freakin’ shit out APPLE. Fix those fracking maps and make iMessage less confusing..ok? Also, I love you pleasenevergoaway.

    Foam Rolling to Heaven and Back: 

    I have tight IT bands apparently. They are making my knee feel like my patella (knee cap) is going to pop off at any moment when going up and down stairs. I live in NYC, so this feeling happens about 645 times a day. I am trying a lot of different things including not running anymore and looking like a complete douche trying to give myself a good, hard, workout on the elliptical before I lift at the gym. 

    Side Note: You cannot use the arm things on the elliptical and look like a normal human being. Just don’t do it.

    Anywaysssss…Jon’s brother Dave who is now offisshhhh a Dr. said I need foam roll the living crap out of my IT bands (located on the side of my thighs) to get some relief.

    Does anyone else foam roll and have noticed these things?

    1. It hurts like someone steam rolling your leg.
    2. You always look like you are having weird gym sex.
    3. It makes any small bit of leg-meat fat look super gross because of all the squishing. 
    I don’t have any advice or anything about it…just general whining here.

    Alright, that’s enough blabbing. See you guys next week for more coherent posting.
    xo Chinae
     


  2. Be Better at…Business.

    Creating a functional team of workers is a complex web of personality clashes, professional experience, personal preferences, and technical skills that inevitably has to balance to produce a product or service that ACTUALLY makes sense for people outside the walls of said business. This is complicated. And rarely actually reaches equilibrium, but when it does…oh it’s a beautiful thing people. 

    The beauty of business is that it’s run by people.

    This is also why it can get ugly…FAST. No matter how hard of a worker Susan is, if Keith just sits at his desk and picks his nose…the team cannot function. No matter how good Brian’s ideas are, if Lisa never gives him a dose of reality, nothing will ever get done…because EVERYTHING will be a good idea and the team is then knee-deep in too much good work that will all get done in a half-assed manner.

    By no means do I think I have it all figured out, but to my knowledge, you’ve gotta comprise a team (or have multiple sides to your personality), to create that well-oiled machine. 

    The 5 Essential Personalities In Creating Workplace Harmony:

    -The Dreamer: This is your coworker that wants to bottle rainbows, decides that you should do a website redesign in a week’s timeline, thinks that NOTHING is impossible. They seem to be living in an alternate universe where money, time, and workload doesn’t exist. To the Do’ers and Realists, this person will inevitably annoy the living shits outta you…but we need them. We need them to create a huge cloud of far-reaching ideas to distill down into a few good, palatable, smart projects to spring off of. Their function is to ignite creativity and you should love them for that.

    -The Realist: The Realist could also be called: The FunKiller, The Bubble Popper, and El Negativo…and yes, I am this person at my office (sometimes…most of the time). There must be a team member that brings The Dreamers back to earth and takes a creative far-fetched idea, and injects a dose of reality and fact into the process. As much as he/she can come off as a Debbie Downer, they will be the ones to dissect when a project or idea is actually worthwhile, and when they back something, you’ll have their full support and hard work. Also, they prevent superfluous shit from being added to the workload…so thank them when you actually get to leave early on those Summer Fridays and you are drinking margs in your bikini by 3:30PM in your rooftop baby pool.

    -The Do’er: The workhorse of the team…their life might be consumed with checking things off the list and getting things done, while they don’t provide much of a strong opinion either way in the decision making process. They just want to grind, and God bless them for that. Just a tip, make sure to validate that their hard work is noticed or they’ll start to get a little grumpy. 

    -The Advocate: Sometimes the advocate can be the peace maker, sometimes they battle on behalf of the client or customer. The main function that makes them awesome is that they are able to look at things from all sides and views. They can take a step back and analyze what’s best from the client view, from the company view, the position of the team, from a financial standpoint, and aren’t afraid to ask the motivation behind the decision-making process. The Advocate is generally someone that has long-term vision and understands the communication between creator and user. Listen to them to get out of your own head for a sec, and see the bird’s eye view of what you are trying to accomplish.

    -The Techie: Probably the most simple, but most important person to have on your team, The Techie actually puts in place how something is able to happen. I don’t just mean your technical designer or IT guy…I mean, they see the plan in its full scope, and will be focused on the HOW rather than the “what” or “why” that the rest of the team might be concentrating on. No matter how good of an idea you have, or how hard you work, you will need this person to actually figure out the landscape and plan of executing vision. 

    The point is…value the people you work with (or the different sides of your thinking if you are self-employed)…and know that each part is needed and is equally important to have as part of the process. It functions like the body, if one thing is missing, you might not be moving, thinking, hearing, or making things well.

    Sorry this was so serious. I’ll go back to blogging about vodka, and FUPAS tomorrow.

    Chinae

    p.s. It is winter again, and I am furious. That is all.

     


  3. Be Better at…Technology. (Guest Post by Brad Siefert)

    EDITOR’S NOTE: I have no f*cking clue about technology. I just learned what an external hard drive was like…15 minutes ago and I described it as a “cute, little black box with a tail”. So… I am leaving this SUPER tech-related post to my dear friend Brad. He’s knowledgeable about all things computer and there has been more than one occasion that I’ve called Brad frantically because the spinning rainbow wheel of death won’t leave my screen. ANYWAY…here’s his 2012 techie guest post! Show him some love y’all. 

    2012 is upon us and the new year is the best time to resolve to get all of the technology around you in order. Technology surrounds our lives and we continue to interact with it more and more so there’s no better time to get better at it. I should back up quickly and tell you a bit about myself…I am a self professing Apple and computer nerd. The most important people in my life pretty much go: Jesus Christ, Steve Jobs, and everyone else—this makes me the person who often gets the 1am text or phone call that a hard drive has crashed, a phone isn’t syncing or just that their computer is running sluggishly. The things below are a good start to making sure this year your software, phone, email, Macs or PCs, GPS, etc. work great all year long.


    1. Run Your Updates

    I cannot tell you how many times I have taken a look at someone’s Mac or PC that isn’t running quite right and noticed they have tons of Software Updates that are waiting to be installed. Whether it’s a Mac or PC, those updates can be very important security patches, bug fixes, and even new features. If things are sluggish when you surf the internet, you might double check if you have the latest version of your browser. Google Chrome updates automatically, but browsers like Safari and Firefox have recently pushed updates—and if you are still using Internet Explorer, I don’t know what to tell you. #itstimetoupgrade Don’t forget about your GPSs, phone updates, and other non-Apple or non-Windows apps that need to be updated frequently like Skype, Adobe apps like Photoshop or Illustrator, and even Microsoft Office.

    On a Mac just look for “Software Update” and on a PC you’re looking for “Windows Update”. Turning on Automatic downloading for updates is usually a good idea if you think you’ll forget to update.

    (Note: Brad slated a photo of something computer related, but I couldn’t resist a Juvenile “Back That Thang Up” reference. Apologies Brad.)

    2. Backup Everything

    Please, please please, please, PLEASE! let this be the year you start backing up if you already don’t. That hard drive sitting inside of your computer that was made in some random factory somewhere is NOT going to work forever. Just realize: IT COULD FAIL TOMORROW. Or today. You never know. One time I had an external hard drive fail on me and then my computer’s hard drive fail on me, in the time span of 48 hours. No warning, just out of the blue, boom, I have no data. Now, I am a backup ninja. I have so many backups it would be hard to lose something—and don’t just think you have to guard against a failing hard drive. Having your computer stolen or a fire can be so much more devastating. Data storage is at the cheapest rates they have EVER been at…EVER. There is no reason that you shouldn’t back up your data. Your computer is going to fail at some point, just make sure you’ve got everything somewhere safe.

    Mac users can use tools like Time Machine (update this daily!) or Carbon Copy Cloner, and PC users have: Also, cloud storage paces like Dropbox, Box, Carbonite or Mozy have great solutions for keeping you backed up via the Cloud.

    http://mozy.com/

    https://www.dropbox.com/

    http://www.carbonite.com/en/

    (Again, something technology related got replaced by a boy band. Eeesh, sorry again Brad)
    3. Sync Everything

    I saw a stat a few month back stating that somewhere around 50% of people who come into the Apple Store with a problem on their iPhone have never backed their phone up. Once your’e at the store with an issue, you’re going to run the risk of losing music, pictures, contacts, text messages, etc, simply because you haven’t synced in sometime. Plugin your phone, make sure the software is updated for all of your apps, and the operating system, and keep it plugged in until everything is completely synced.

    4. Embrace the Cloud

    Whether it’s iCloud, Evernote, Dropbox, or the new Windows Live services Microsoft keeps rolling out—the Cloud is here to stay. The Cloud is basically a big hard drive in the sky that’s your’s whenever you’re connected to the internet. If you’ve got thousands of little notes, journals, grocery lists, etc sitting in your Documents folder, consider moving things over to Evernote so you’ll always have the most current copy whether it’s on your phone, computer or on the web. There are lots of ways that apps on the phone, computer, and web apps are coming together and now is the best time to embrace that fact. Do you need to have 82gb of music in your iTunes or do you think you might be okay using Spotify? If you’re looking for new apps, check out if that app syncs their content to the cloud so that you’ll never need to think about if or if it’s not backed up.

    https://www.icloud.com/

    http://www.spotify.com/

    http://www.evernote.com/


     5. Inbox Zero

    If you’re one of those people who have 674 unread emails in your Gmail (or God forbid Hotmail), it’s time to fix that immediately. Select all of them and archive them, then start from zero. If there is anything in there that you really need, it will be there for you, it’s not gone, just archived. Also, take this as a time to unsubscribe from all the email lists that you shouldn’t be signed up for. Lastly, don’t use your email inbox as a todo list, download a legit task manager app and put it to good use. (Doing this alone just might save you an ulcer in 2012)

     http://inboxzero.com/

    http://www.davidco.com/


     6. Know about SOPA/Protect IP

    If you use the internet, you need to know how the government is trying to legislate it. Our government is looking into passing legislation that would dramatically change the outlook of how the internet is used and give Hollywood and the Record Industry the ability to sue websites they don’t like. The bill is going to be debated heavily in the first quarter of 2012, and you still have time to tell your congressperson how you feel about the bill. There are resources below to better inform you about what changes they are trying to make.

    http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/

    http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/22/2648219/stop-online-piracy-act-sopa-what-is-it
     


  4. Be a Better…Blogger.

    This is a hard post to write, because basically…I’m talking about blogging better…on my own blog. Balls. In this crazy, weird, sometimes downright ass-backwards world of online writing, it’s hard to stay relevant, interesting, and keep people reading (without completely hating your guts). 

    I can’t say that I’ve got it figured out, because I certainly have my days of shitastic blog entries, lazy writing, and boring content, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 6 months of blogging consistently, and I thought I’d share. 

    5 Tips for Being a Better Blogger:

    -At the End of the Day, Write for Yourself. I’ve had at least 4-5 blogs in my years on the interwebs…and all of them (minus this one), I’ve quit writing after a couple months. Before starting Be Better, I decided that all the content on this thing was going to be mine, and all mine. No matter what. You can write for an audience but that shouldn’t dictate your style, wording, content, or frequency. 

    -Be Consistant. People get bored. The internet is a place where things move quickly…news and content has an expiration date of like 32 seconds unless you are Rebecca Black…in that case, it’ll last way too long. So post with frequency. I try to post almost everyday…I found this especially important in the beginnings of blogging. 

    -Find Your Thing and HAVE AN OPINION. A point of view is the most important thing in the blogosphere, I’ve learned. You can have the sexiest-looking blog template, impeccable writing style, and no misspelled words and your blog can still be the most boring corner of the internet. Make people laugh, make people cry, make people get angry. Whatever. Just make them feel SOMETHING. If they just wanted news, they would look at the NY Times. Or Fox News (for some of you). Write about things you actually have an opinion on, and think others would too.  Also, find a style that suits you. Self-deprecating, moderately informational, and rambling is mine…I’d say write the way you talk and people will at least know that this is being written by a human. 

    -Don’t Replicate. If all you do is reblog, repost, and quote content…why would anyone want to read your blog? Don’t just curate information…create it. 

    -Stop Thinking About Followers. You know why anon sites always have the best content, comments, and usually draw the most people? Because people aren’t worried about their social identity. They can be most creative, and funny when they think no one’s watching or will find out who they are. So STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR F*CKING ANALYTICS, FOLLOWERS, and FANS. Who really cares? When analysis starts dictating what you are doing, you’ll soon lose your creativity, and blogging luster!

    I’d love to add more to this…and know how I can be a better blogger. If you have anything to share, you can email me at bebetterblogger@gmail.com or leave me a comment.

    Xo Chinae

     


  5. Be Better…at the Internet.

    Online Music Roundup:

    Most days I feel like my head is going to explode when it comes to music. Overwhelmed is an understatement and something that should be fun as shit has become a nightmare. I want to listen to new music, I don’t want to spend a million bajillion dollars on an album that I’ll end up hating, and I am lazy about hunting for music. Also, I’m the asshole who wants that shizz to sync right up to my best friend, iPhone without me having to digitally Macguyver my way into a rainy day playlist. 

    BUT as of this morning, I think I got myself sorted here people. For the rest of you, who feel a little overwhelmed by the world of iPanodifty…I’ve made a handy dandy guide to the best ways to get your music fix. 

    Spotify

    Pros: Spotify is by far my favorite of the bunch here. A music lover’s dream, Spotify offers a huge selection of music, that you can drag and drop right into fully customizable playlists. It’s free (to a point) and getting an invite is pretty easy. (If you need one, email me at bebetterblogger@gmail.com) Another sick feature of Spotify, and what sets it apart is the share feature. Basically you can make online “mixtapes” (playlists) and send them to other Spotify users for no cost. Feel free to share on FB, Twitter, or in the blogosphere with ease. Spotify offers free service, but it’s limited, so do yourself a favor and pay the 9.99 a month…think of it as Netflix for music. I promise, you won’t be disappointed and you can cancel anytime. The cherry on top is the offline mode feature. Basically (if you are a premium user), Spotify can become your iTunes, and you can even listen to your playlists when you aren’t getting cell reception…i.e. riding the subway just got WAY better. 

    Cons: The free version is limiting, unless you only listen to music at your desk and comes with some jarringly irritating ads. You also aren’t going to be able to listen for an unlimited amount of hours…so if I were you, I’d buck up and pay the 9.99 a month. Another limit of the free service, no offline listening, but you can still sync your playlists to the VERY easy to use mobile app. 

    You should use Spotify if you… are a music lover, are insatiable when it comes to new music, want to listen to full albums, and know what you want to listen to. It’s not great if you want to be fed playlists, or want to have music suggested to you OR if you are wanting to “own” your music, a la, iTunes.

    Pandora:

    Pros: Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your brain and let the computer think FOR you. Pandora’s been around for a while and most of you probably have already used it, and probably still continue to. Pandora makes music simple and pretty much effortless and if you aren’t into seeking out new music, and you want new music to find you, it’s perfect. Pandora also has a mobile app that works pretty seamlessly, just like their site. It’s also nice to have Pandora open in your web client rather than having to download an application on your computer.

    Cons: My main complaint about Pandora, is that if you are a picky music listener, like I tend to be, the Pandora algorithym can be VERY off…here’s how most of my Pandora experiences go:

    ::Enters Fleet Foxes into Pandora::

    (loading…loading…loading)

    1st song: “Oh perfect…Helplesness Blues…I love this song”

    2nd song: “Umm…Coldplay’s Fix You….I guess this song is ok”

    3rd song: “Higher by Creed!!!! WTF (commence furious hitting of the “skip song” button until no more free skips are allowed and headache ensues)

    ::Close Pandora tab::

    The point is, if you want to control what you are listening to, it’s not great. Also, I wonder how deep their library is because I ALWAYS end up listening to some god-forsaken Kings of Leon song for way too many times per session.

    You should use Pandora if you…don’t want to control your playlists, don’t want to search out new music, and if you are ok with ads. Theme stations tend to also be great on Pandora, hello Summer of the 90’s station.

    Grooveshark

    Pros: Free, make your own playlists, and easy to use. Pretty much the older, less agile Spotify that lacks some good features.

    Cons: No sharing playlists, and not as intuitive and robust. 

    You should use Grooveshark if you…somehow didn’t get a Spotify invite yet.

    Turntable.fm

    Pros: If you want chatroulette, IM chat, unlimited music, and a way to kill lots of time at the office, Turntable.fm is for you. The great thing about Turntable.fm is that you can share and create a musical environment with your friends, and sometimes strangers (if you want). I love that you can comment and chat about song choices, give people DJ points for a great song played, and also, give yourself a break from g-chat for a couple hours. They have a pretty deep selection of music and the chat works seamlessly within this web-based music client. Also, who doesn’t love their little avatars? ADORBZ.

    Cons: Not a music listening service for those who want to stand back and just put their music in the background. Also, choose your friends and DJ’s wisely…as it can go awry REAL quick. You are pretty much one bad song choice away from ruining your work vibe. 

    You should use Turntable.fm if you…want to waste copious amounts of time during the work day. And you want an interactive listening experience. 

    Cheers to navigating the information super highway musically together,

    Chinae