Turn Your Home Into a Billboard

Times are tough and the economy stinks. We already know this. More people are having their homes foreclosed than ever before. The homeless rate is continuing to skyrocket. Jobs are being lost and homes are sitting empty because no one can afford to buy them – even at reduced auction prices after the bank has taken them away. Everywhere you turn online, you see stories just like these and desperate pleas for someone to step up and do something. One company is aiming to help homeowners in a very big way. But is the price a little too steep?

Mobile advertising network Adzookie wants to pay your mortgage AND give your home a facelift in the form of a brand spanking new paint job. The catch – and you knew there was going to be one – is that your abode will be turned into a giant billboard for the company.

The company is looking for people who own their homes – you cannot be a renter, for obvious reasons. They will paint the entire outside of the house not including the roof, windows or awnings. It only takes a couple of days for the entire paint process to be completed, so you won’t be dealing with contractors for weeks on end. The house has to stay painted as a billboard for a minimum of three months, but that can be extended for a year. If the homeowner decides to cancel after the three months (or if Adzookie decides to cancel) they will repaint your house back to its original colors.

Can you even begin to imagine what your neighbors would say if your house looked this way? I imagine neighborhood property values would plummet and an angry mob may beat on your door with lynching ropes in hand. Seriously, though, I shudder at the mere thought of someone doing this. Yes, I completely understand that it’s nearly impossible for so many out there to pay their mortgages while maintaining the balance with other obligations. This seems like an easy way out, but is selling out in this manner really worth it?

Apparently, more than a thousand homeowners feel it’s definitely worth it. That’s how many applications the company has already received. The sheer number of citizens who are hoping for a chance to turn their home into a spectacle overwhelmed Adzookie to the point they have had to push back the project starting date in order to weed through the hopefuls.

My question to all of you is this: Would you be willing to turn your home into a giant billboard in exchange for a few mortgage payments? Are you comfortable with having to hide from your neighbors for at least three months? More importantly, how far do you feel is “too far” in the advertising world? Am I completely crazy, or is this well beyond acceptable marketing practices?

Underemployed Developers to Receive Software and Tools

Project Phoenix understands that the economy isn’t doing so hot right now. They also understand that developers are an integral part of moving technology AND the economy into the future. Even though you may be underemployed – or even completely unemployed – right now, the folks at Project Phoenix wants to help. Over the next five months, 24 of you will be selected to receive a pretty sweet package of software and tools to help you in pursuing your development goals.

Each week, one eligible developer will be selected due to their non-profit proposals submitted. They’ll then receive a package of software, dev tools, training and books.

You are invited to propose a software project for a non-profit agency, school, or church. The idea is that we will provide a package of the latest software, tools, and training resources to help you improve your skills, get up to date with current technologies, gain practical experience, potentially earn a recommendation for your efforts, and in general, enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something useful for others. We are not giving out a ‘free lunch’, just supporting your efforts to personally gain from your own ‘sweat equity’. The award packages are provided with the support and generosity of the Microsoft MVP’s and vendors listed below.

The winners will receive:

  • Microsoft: Visual Studio Ultimate with MDSN subscription
  • Pluralsight: three (3) month Standard subscription to On-Demand!™ .NET Training Library
  • APress: three books(3) of the winner’s choice
  • O’Reilly Press: three (3) eBooks of the winner’s choice
  • ComponentOne: license for Studio Enterprise components and tools
  • Microsoft Learning: Vouchers for two (2) Free Certification Exams
  • Quest Software: license for Toad® for SQL Server

You can find full details on the contest page, which will outline criteria that must be met, as well as the types of projects available to work on.

Microsoft Helps GOP Reach Out to Americans

America deserves a Congress that respects the priorities of the people it serves. Sadly, they folks in Washington haven’t been listening to us all that much. America Speaking Out is your new opportunity to be heard. The hope is that this will bring about change in the way Congress works by having the citizens propose ideas for a new policy agenda. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican or have no party affiliation at all. This site was create in the hopes that it will foster better communication between the U.S. government and the people of our country.

The GOP teamed up with Microsoft to develop the site. It will allow people to log on anytime they choose. There, you’ll be able to talk, blog or tweet about the issues that matter most to you, and let the Republicans know what the biggest priorities should be. California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy gave CNN an exclusive sneak peek at the site. “This is a new townhall mechanism — never used before. To me it’s revolutionary, because it allows the individual to have greater control and say. For too long, people think nobody in Washington listens to them. This starts listening across the country and lets them provide the idea, but also debate the idea,” McCarthy said.

You can log on to the site and create a profile to participate, choosing any name you would like to use (it doesn’t have to be your real name). You will have to confirm your zip code and email address. There will also be filters in place to block out offensive language and hate speech. Beyond that, you can be as anonymous as you like while interacting with the service.

The site is organized by different subjects. If you choose to click on “Fiscal accountability,” you will see headings under there for several more branches, including “waste,” “tax reform,” “budget process,” and “long term debt.” Other broad topics found on America Speaking Out covers everything from national security to the prosperity of Americans.

Within each section, users can submit a policy proposal, respond to the ideas others have submitted or debate specific proposals. Next to each topic, users can click on a Facebook or Twitter icon to take the discussion with them to their favorite social network. Also next to every idea posted, users can vote and idea up or down, much like the “like” feature found on Facebook. Sort proposals to read through by how popular they are to find out what other Americans are passionate about.

While this website may not change the world, I do feel it is a giant step in the right direction. What are your thoughts? Will you participate in the discussions?

Do You Remember Your First Tweetup?

I not only remember my first Tweetup, I remember them all! Each one I attend or host gives me an opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, and make some all-important business contacts. There is always a lot of fun to be had, a lot of networking to do, and more laughter involved than should be allowed by law. However, some people are not as fortunate as I am.

Take my Community Manager Kat, for example. The poor woman has never attended a Tweetup before. Can you believe that? I decided that this simply wasn’t acceptable. She’ll be in Seattle for a week in February, to attend her second Microsoft MVP Summit. So, I decided to throw together a little Tweetup in her honor that Friday, February 19th! If you’re in the Seattle area, we’d love for you to join us.

Have you ever attended a Tweetup – or perhaps a Facemeet? What memories and connections do you still carry with you? What advice might you have for our Kat, as she embarks on her first-ever Twitter meetup? Let’s rally together as a community, and show her the time of her life.

Don’t forget to check in at our software center to see what new deals we have for you today on the hottest software and apps available.

The Go-To Guy

Even those of us who are power users or experts with technology need help sometimes. None of us can possibly know everything there is to know. Who do you go to when you get stuck and need an answer, or an extra set of eyes? Who can you call up to pick their brains, hopefully helping to solve your problem? I’m lucky to have a good network of friends that I know I can turn to, depending on what the problem is I’m facing. Being a Geek (and a guy!) – I admit I have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. I tend to research and fiddle, trying to fix whatever it is myself. But sometimes, you just have to wave that white flag and say “Help me!!”. So – who can you count on to give you those answers? Have you ever thanked them for taking the time out of their day to patiently help you? Make sure you do!

So much is going on around here right now. Gnomedex is only a week away, and the team is all very excited. We have an excellent lineup of presenters this year, many fun and exciting things going on in the hallways and in the evenings. I know we’re going to have a fabulous time – but not without a few more days of all of us running around like crazy. To all my volunteers and helpers… bless you, every one. No way would this ever be happening without you all!

Even amidst the hectic days right now, I still make time to check up on all of you. I love reading what you’re up to and what’s on your minds. I hope you make time in your day to do the same.