May 28

French Corner Cafe in Encinitas Review

Having a Parisian French Cafe within walking distance of my house over in Encinitas is a wonderful treat and especially one that has the best crêpes that I have tasted out of all of the restaurants I have ever been to save one in Las Vegas.

You have many options for breakfast, lunch or just for sweet treats over at the French Corner which is located at 1200 N Coast Hwy 101 on the corner of Phoebe street, just North of Leucadia blvd and across the street from the Post Office and Seaweed and Gravel.

In the last two weeks I probably have been in and out about 6 times sampling various breakfast items with the Spinach and Arugula Quiche being a personal favorite as well as the L’Orange Crêpes, my wife even said the Vanilla Latte is the best she had and comparable to her favorite that she enjoyed while we were in Rome a few years back.

This little cafe has limited sitting space but it is quite charming and seating outdoors with your dog at your side while enjoying some breakfast is such a nice little treat on the weekend or weekdays.  They are open 6 days a week being closed on Monday.

As a bakery they have a fairly wide selection of pastries and treats but purchasing Baguettes whole requires you be one of the lucky first few to request one as they have a limited supply that they use for lunch sandwiches and only sell a few loaves per day due to them not being able to bake enough to meet all of the demand for them.  I had at least 2 other customers comment how lucky I was to get a baguette from them whole one day when I managed to scoop one up.

Back to the Crêpes what makes them so special is the batter, it is very fluffy and delicious and plain they are just the right combination of sweet and savory without the many varieties they come in.  For lunch sandwiches they use a delicious pesto sauce on most of the sandwiches and my wife just adored the Le Caprese one day which is simply tomato, mozzarella with that special sauce on a baguette.

The one thing I haven’t tried yet that I see ordered by so many is the breakfast sandwich, and every time I go I keep getting a Quiche or a Crêpe so the next time I will have to get the breakfast sandwich.  If you live in Encinitas or are in the area and in the mood for a lovely breakfast or lunch at a French cafe, then The French Corner is highly recommended.  I would think this delightful cafe is quite the temptation for all the people coming out of the Physical Culture 101 Gym across the street too.

You can visit their website for more information as well http://frenchcorner101.com/

 

French Corner

1200 N Coast Hwy 101

Tuesday-Sunday:7:30am – 3:30pm

Phone: 760-809-9120

Email: frenchcorner101@gmail.com

May 13

Why I Still Use Gleam for Giveaways and Patterns of Behavior

I still love the Gleam.io giveaway platform and generally the flexibility makes it work for all types of giveaway situations.  But giveaways in and of themselves and how successful they are can greatly depend on the product being given away honestly. Tablets for my site still have a pretty good ROI but in general numbers are lower than with Punchtab and others due to better spam filtering and sheer saturation of the giveaway market as every company. Generally still able to get a .10 CPF (cost per follower) or better for most brands, but more important than Twitter/FB fans is getting those emails to add to a newsletter/marketing mailing list, which is part of my entry options. So getting 1,000 emails that you can send emails to is more advantageous to most brands than 1,000 FB followers. The other thing is it establishes brand partnership, I sell 10-20 Dragon Touch Tablets on Amazon from Tablet Express per month now due to their consistent 2 tablet a month giveaways, it helps connect people with the brand, establish patterns, recognition. I have had great success with them, and Anker and some others, but less with Havit who makes keyboards, headsets and mice, yet their counterpart UtechSmart I sell more mice, keyboards, tablets. I find it hard to predict why a user would buy one mouse/keyboard over another when both brands are same class/price range, so I can’t ever predict sales only raise awareness with my channels.

Facebook is sucking big time on pages lately, with the average post only getting seen by 1% of followers, I am really jumping in YouTube exposure and other methods of exposure besides Facebook. Our YouTube for example gets more traffic than the blog site now directly and some videos are just growing constantly.

For example with over 700 videos, some may get hundreds, and others tens of thousands of views, for some reason 1 Tablet model stood out and excelled against all other tablet models and not sure why really.

These are the 3 most successful videos related to a product on our YouTube Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwJ8dZaJQ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwNyIzCBQmw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdqh4qq0_eI

So what we do is try to do more than 1 video of a product if it’s value is over $100 to increase chance of videos being noticed (usually unboxing and a review) and then a blog post as well with both videos. I also leverage Gleam to add unique entry actions for users.

Such as adding a product in Amazon to wish list, promoting an advertisement message for product on social media (not just enter to giveaway message), viral share of course is the standard, but reaching into other methods too, like watching a video as entry method (usually keep video short, and award 3 entries per minute of video).

The bottom line is unless you already have a ginormous following and your existing following 1-5% added as followers to your brand or emails for them to market to is enough to provide ROI, you are going to have to get creative to make sure you both reward your fans with a giveaway but provide enough of an ROI to your partner brand so that they want to keep coming back to give you more stuff to giveaway.

In addition pay attention to your Impress/Actions to User ratio, too many entry options and you could inflate a giveaway with thousands of entries, but only have a few hundred unique users, it is far more important to get unique entrants than high numbers of actions, this may make brand a bit crazy, as they want to see big numbers, but it is important to educate brands that actions is not necessarily the value if you have many entries per entrant, it is unique entrants.  Gleam does let not display entries publicly in the widget, and you may want to take advantage of this if you want to hide and only keep that info with you and your brand partner.

There my advice in a nutshell!

May 06

Theater of War and Spreading Message of Community for PTSD Sufferers

So last night my wife had taken us to see the Theater of War: Soldiers and Citizens tour which was a 2 act reading from a Sophocles play about Ajax the great Greek warrior who under the stress of 9 years of war as well as being betrayed by his generals spiraled into PTSD like scenario and madness depicted as “Divine Curse”.

This company and production known as Theater of War is an entry way into helping raise awareness for veterans and families of veterans about various mental illness states that affect our troops who come home from combat zones as well as civilians affected by similar symptoms as well.

The acting was particularly dramatic and read with timing and effect, the part of Ajax was read by Brian F. O’Byrne and the parts of Tecmessa were read by Heather Goldenhersh in this particular presentation, the actors reading and portraying the characters in the play varies by city and performance.

What was interesting about this presentation and performance is they actually encouraged you to use a SmartPhone app along with the performance and gradually keep pressing an emotion meter (1 – 10) as you were watching the play to help provide feedback on which parts of the reading stirred up empathy and emotion in audience. At the end of the play they showed the results of the feedback from the audience creating a graph on which scenes and how people responded to various segments of the play and what garnered more emotional empathy and resonance in the audience.

They then went into bringing up panelists to talk and compare real life experience and the Sophocles play and how they saw their own lives mirror elements in the part of the story that was read.  It then opened up to audience interaction where questions were posted and students, teachers and veterans shared experiences and participated in building a connection and a bridge.  This was held at MiraCosta College in Oceanside and made for an unique and interesting experience.

My conclusion and synopsis which of course was the same prior to the play is that communities need to come together and be involved in helping everyone who is having mental health issues, these issues cannot be skirted under the rug and actions need to be accountable for those who cause mental trauma as well as physical trauma in others.  Families, friends of loved ones who are suffering from mental trauma need to turn to professional assistance where needed as those suffering may be deaf to those who are closest to them who have the best of intentions but not the professional and training to try and help someone recover from the damage and self inflicted isolation that can occur from such mental and emotional trauma.

This play was worth participating in and watching, and I encourage you to learn more about Theater of War

Check out Theater of War on Facebook

 

May 05

All Smaller Blogs Migrated to InMotion Hosting Now

Over the last month I have migrated all of my smaller blogs from Bluehost to InMotion hosting in an agreement with InMotion hosting to do a thorough and sustained review of the service.  Bluehost had been my hosting provider for well over 6+ years but the support situation had been getting lapse and some of the back and forth with basic domain and smtp issues had me frustrated, also Monitive and other sites were reporting downtime for several minutes every single day and CPU throttling was killing my sites from time to time even with caching and Incapsula cloud caching most of the resources.

I also wanted to try out InMotion Hosting SSD Drive standard with each hosting plan, running the services off an SSD drive gave you some good caching options when using Disk Based caching and could improve performance.  Just switching hosting providers with identical plugins and everything else

With InMotion Hosting you get your AMP screen before your Cpanel as kind of your consolidated access screen, it is easy to navigate and works well.

The DNS Zone Editor works fast and well, and I was able to put my sites back into Incapsula shortly after the migration by leveraging the DNS Zone Editor and configuring each site per the instructions on Incapsula.

Now all plans come with unlimited bandwidth and disk space which is a good feature, I have worked with clients with Disk Space and Bandwidth limitation plans before.  The main difference between the plans is the number of Databases and websites you can have on a single account.  I have the PRO plan even though I am under the 6 domains on a single account with the Power plan, I tend to experiment and build up new sites all the time and at one point I had 9 WordPress blogs, but currently am down to 5 plus a few sandbox sites only used for test purposes.

You also get unlimited parked domains and subdomains with the Pro plan, but the 6 parked and 25 subdomains you get with the Launch plan is no slouch either.  You also get SSH for full access not just FTP as well for those who need that level of access.

The part of InMotion Hosting that impressed me the most in the first 30 days was if you are transferring from another hosting provider, they will move your site for you at no cost for a single site.  To test out how thorough they are, I will be 100% honest, I had EVERY single one of my sites moved 1 request at a time and 1 site at a time with this request process.

WPCypher.com, WandererThoughts.com, TheChefsCookbook.com and JustinGermino.com was the last one to be migrated, and InMotion Hosting Support migrated all of the sites without issue including giving you the final instructions to update the DNS settings for your former host or the service that you purchased the DNS names from.

In one case they made a minor mistake and blew away one of my sites while migrating the other one, but they backup their work and had it restored in less than 2 hours.  It was this time saving piece that was of great benefit and will be most advantageous to the casual blogger who wouldn’t know how to migrate their Theme, Plugins, Uploads and Database from their old hosting to their new hosting provider.

So far 1 month in the sites have nearly a full second better pageload performance times than on the old host, and I am still letting them soak on the new hosting.  I have had no outages other than the minor outage when 1 site was taken offline for a short time during the migration and I am pretty happy with the service so far.

Note, most hosting providers you have to pay for a full year up front or more, they don’t do monthly billing anymore.  With InMotion Hosting the Launch and Power plans must be prepaid at least 1 year ahead of time, but their Pro plan is still a monthly plan if you want to pay month by month.  It is however a lot cheaper to pre-pay a full year or 2 years than to buy a single month at a time.

They also offer VPS hosting and Dedicated Hosting if you need it, though I haven’t tested those services yet.  So you can join me and give InMotion Hosting a try if your existing hosting plan is coming up, or you don’t have a site yet.  You can also have them move your site for you, so you don’t have to do any of the work and have your site up and running on InMotion Hosting in no time.

 

Apr 22

Son Excited for Coding Class and Learning Scratch

My son in 6th grade joined and after school coding program and after his first hour of his class he came home and was so excited to show me how he built routines for sprites including edge detection, changing “costumes” which is a fancy way of just switching sprites between actions.  The scratch which he said was similar to BlueJ from what he told me is object oriented programming where you drag and drop routines which are blocks of code behind the scenes.

I myself have only really done shell scripting and some crude Java programming in the past where each line was written by scratch, so I am not really versed in the drag and drop of today’s programming methods but it is something I want to try and find time for in the future.  The Scratch program seems very intuitive and easy to learn and was developed by MIT and is worth checking out, they have tutorials, vids and some projects to start from.

You can check out more about Scratch here: https://scratch.mit.edu/

Meanwhile, I like that my son is encouraged and excited about playing around with Scratch and hope to see him blossom into a full app/game programmer over the next few years which is his goal.  He is going to be twelve this year and he wants to be a full fledged game programmer by the time he is 15 which I think is a doable goal if he works hard at it.

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