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There’s Always Something To Do On A Friday Night

It was one of those weeks. You know, a week where the phone wouldn’t stop ringing, your least favorite customer came in three times, and your boss just wouldn’t quit breathing down your neck. But at least it’s over; you finally made it to Friday. 


You’re supposed to go out on the town and blow off some steam with your buddies, but you get a text from Dave and find out your plans fell through. It’s already 8:00 PM. You begin staring blankly at your Facebook hoping for something to happen. 

Well, as usual, nothing happens except for a few pointless status updates and profile picture changes. 10:00 PM rolls around. You turn off the TV and decide to go to sleep, thinking about how you wasted another Friday night. 

Listen, I have good news. This never has to be you again. There are plenty of online avenues to help you make your night a memorable one — you just have to take the time to look.

First, try Yelp and see what’s in your area, especially if you already have some ideas as to what you’re looking for. You can search by area code and filter through various categories, such as: food, coffee, dinner, spa, night life etc. You can even filter through businesses and events that are accessible by metro, or within walking distance from your apartment. Best of all, each listing contains a 5-point rating system from real-life visitors so you can make sure you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

Eventful has one of the most comprehensive selections to fulfill your local entertainment appetite — find out what’s happening in your area with ease. They list everything from movies, concerts, and sports to family fun and nightlife. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can even demand an event to come directly to your city.

If you’re looking for a good deal, be sure to check Groupon on the reg. Every day there are new “group coupons” available for the best stuff to do, see and eat. Grab some of your friends, save money and share great experiences. It’s like the Costco of event planning.

Another site, Goby, operates like a search engine focused on giving you fun things to do with your free time. Simply fill in what you’d like to do, where’d you’d like to do it, and when. You’re a few clicks away from creating this weekend’s adventure.

A similar website, A Day’s Outing, offers their services with a simple tagline: “get out and go.” Find fairs, events for family and children, parks, gardens, theatre, museums, antiques, farms and more. A Day’s Outing will help find events near you, whether you’re starting from home or on the road.

And with the addition of Zaarly, your options are pretty much unlimited. Pretend you wanted to go to a concert, basketball game, or movie but the tickets were completely sold out. No need to worry anymore. Post on Zaarly: “I’m willing to pay (X) amount of money for tickets to (Y)”. You  choose your price and people near you make it happen.

You never have to waste another Friday night again.


Social Networking Brings Us Together

According to the Facebook statistic page, there are currently more than 500 million active Facebook users. Simply by posting a picture and writing a bio, people create their viral “self,” and interact with “friends” behind a computerized screen through the tips of our fingers. They relay messages through comments, status updates, and chat box messages, totaling over 700 billion minutes per month.

Some argue that’s a lot of time spent without actual human contact, maybe too much time. They worry these actions could lead to a generation of isolation, where individuals who no longer value face-to-face communication; where individuals are no longer “connected” to each other.

I, however, beg to differ.

Although we may be interacting increasingly on an online platform, that doesn’t have to mean we are headed towards isolation. It goes without saying that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger, give people the opportunity to instantly communicate with loved ones, and keep in touch with the high school buddies they thought they’d never see again. But it goes further than that.

As a generation, we now have the ability to instantly communicate with someone on the other side of the world. If time travel is the quickest way from point A to point B, then social networking users may be bending time and space without even knowing it. Add in Google Translate, and this opens up an endless amount of possibilities in terms of learning about other cultures and expanding our self-consciousness. Breaking down language barriers is unarguably a step towards global connectedness.

Social networking sites also give us the ability to let family members and loved ones know we are “OK” in the case of an emergency, especially if unreliable phone lines and methods of transportation aren’t accessible. In fact, in the case of the most recent Japan Tsunami, social networking is reported to have saved many lives.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the Fukushima power plant left thousands of people dead and many more missing. The disaster demolished buildings and rail lines, left telephone networks congested, and caused electrical black outs, cutting off communication between those who needed it the most.

However, by utilizing web-based sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Mixi, people all around the world were able to get instant updates on the statuses of friends and family, as well as donate to those in need. Those involved in relief efforts even took to Twitter and posted information about emergency phone lines for non-Japanese speakers to tsunami alerts, altered train schedules and lists of shelters for those left homeless.

As technology advances, we will continue to realize the Internet’s potential as a way to connect humans and put power back in their hands.

This is especially the case with the new buyer and seller market-oriented website Zaarly. With Zaarly, users are able to find what they want in their area, say their price, and get it. There’s no waiting in line and no managers trying to sell you what you don’t need. Users utilize a Twilio powered  phone number to connect instantly, get what they ask for, and get on with their day. It’s that easy.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, agrees. We are connected:

“While there are so many technologies at this time that isolate us from our fellow beings, social networking tools have shown their ability once again to unify us as human beings, and to bring out what is most altruistic and empathetic in our natures.”


HOW TO: Put time back on your calendar using technology

Managing work, school, family demands and trying to squeeze in a social life can be difficult these days. Savvy users of mobile technology are discovering that properly integrating certain mobile apps into your life can save valuable time in your busy day.

If you’ve ever uploaded a photo to Instagr.am or checked Twitter while standing in line for coffee, you understand the freedom and time-saving value provided by 21st century mobile technology.

And even though you can’t put 25 hours in a day, there are more ways than ever to maximize each of those 24 hours.

Manage your calendar and t0-do list

Services like MobileMe enable you to access and manage your email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files all online. You can add an event to your the calendar on your phone and automatically sync to the calendar on your laptop and desktop via the cloud.

Several different to-do list and reminder apps, such as the Evernote app, let you do everything from recording voice notes to jotting down those brilliant ideas in the middle of the night to taking pictures of whiteboards in your office that you need to refer to later.

And if you need to share files between home and office, the Air Sharing app enables you to make your phone a thumb drive. You can view slideshows, documents and PDFs and more.

Build relationships

Several hot new group chat apps such as Beluga enables you to keep in touch with groups of friends or family all at once. Group messaging apps make it simple to communicate with the people you want to communicate with. You can quickly create and reorganize social circles, on the go, according to the situation. And that communication is as private as you want it to be.

Travel with ease

The Kayak app can help you locate the best deals on hotels, air fare, car rentals — and even help you save money by enabling you to look up baggage fees.

TripIt trip planner keeps all of your travel plans in one spot, so you can quickly retrieve confirmation numbers, addresses and itineraries from your phone.

Further your education 

Remember the days of Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen going door-to-door trying to sell you dozens of volumes of books? Well now all of those books can fit in your pocket.

You can find a plethora of education apps ranging from first grade math to graduate level physics. A new app called Voxy lets you incorporate learning a new language into the flow of your life.

And if you’re in school, or your son on daughter is, the MyHomework app will ensure that you always remember the due dates for papers and homework assignments.

Shop til you drop

You can use apps like RedLaser to do comparison shopping and find the best price. The Amazon app provides one-click ordering and allows you to make quick purchases on Amazon’s site. Target offers an app that allows you to scan the stores weekly ad instantly, see clearance items and buy products without even getting in your car. Yowza shows you coupons from stores near you using GPS, and there’s no need for clipping — the barcode appears on your phone screen. And you can pay for everything electronically using PayPal.

Manage daily activities 

There’s an app to manage every part of your day — from alarm clock apps to help you wake up in the morning to relaxation apps to help you fall asleep at night.

You can keep track of your password, bank account numbers and other important information using 1Password. Manage your finances with iXpenseIt, a smart and handy tool to log, track and manage your daily expenses and budget.

Prepare a meal using Woman’s Day Cooking Assistanta personal cooking assistant that includes meal ideas, cooking tools, and more to make cooking easier. Or don’t feel like cooking? Urbanspoon can find a restaurants in your area, complete with reviews. And after dinner you can use the QuickTip Tip Calculator to determine the appropriate tip you should give based on the amount of the bill. And even locate the gas stations with the cheapest fuel prices using the Fuel Finder app.

If you constantly find yourself sitting inside your house on a Saturday afternoon, use the free Geodelic app to search for shops, attractions and restaurants in your area. The app also senses what your interests are and will suggest places to visit in your town. And you can find your way around using Google Maps.

For a busy person, Zaarly is the perfect app. Even if you can’t afford hiring a full-time assistant, Zaarly can help you check some mundane tasks off your to-do list. Whether you’re looking for help personally (buying weekly groceries) or professionally (market research, data entry), Zaarly can connect you with people to provide the work you need, when you need it, at the price you’re willing to pay.

Now, if only there was an app to help you download all these apps…


Zaarly can Change the World by Unlocking Trapped Value

A very Zen pile of rocks with Zaarly balanced on top.

I was part of the Zaarly team at Startup Weekend and although my contribution was minor, I’m proud to have been part of the visioning process for this revolutionary product.

So it came as a shock when one of my friends left this rant on my Facebook page recently, in response to a link I had posted for the new Zaarly website:

Whatever happened to you meditating in a cave for 40 days, Prabhu?

Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong impression, but this seems like capitalism and consumerism fused together and gone horribly wrong, appealing to lazy, fat Americans with too much money to fulfill their emptiest desires and whims whilst chanting the mantra “everyone has their price” ….???

Will it be launching in 3rd world countries and will it accommodate requests like “I’d like a clean water supply for my village, is anyone prepared to do it for under $10?”

To provide some context, I used to teach yoga full time and this was a former yoga student who made the comment on Facebook. I did indeed do a 100-day meditation retreat in a cave – although it’s not nearly as hard-core as it sounds. A Kitchen, bathroom and shower were a short walk away.

This rant caught me off guard, but I understood where she was coming from. I had been watching the media coverage of Zaarly with some dismay. There was too much talk about using Zaarly to have someone bring you beer or score an epic night on the town – or hangover supplies the morning after.

Don’t get me wrong – those are valid use cases. But that’s not what excited me about Zaarly when a group of strangers were brainstorming at the Coloft late on a Friday night this past February.

We all experienced a collective epiphany that night – a massive “Aha!” moment when the realization of how revolutionary this idea could be dawned on us.

It’s not easy to put these things into words, but the train of thought went something like this.

Someone pointed out that “it’s all about the offer – that’s what’s unique here, that’s what we need to focus on.” …

As that started to sink in, we talked about how we could put the power back into the hands of the buyer …

And then we realized how this could unlock so much trapped value… potential benefit that is just sitting there, waiting for a catalyst to activate it.

“Opportunity is all around you!” we exclaimed! Sounds like some mumbo jumbo from The Secret – but think about it for a moment.

People may have a skill or resource that others need without even knowing it.

Or perhaps they know it, but don’t have an easy way to connect with the people who need it.

I have so many friends who are self-employed. They offer quite a range of products and services – pet sitting, haircuts, hand-made greeting cards, and children’s yoga to name a few.

One of the biggest challenges they face is finding and connecting with people who want what they offer.

It makes me smile when I think that someday soon, my friend Stacy could respond to a Zaarly offer like “I’d pay $75 for someone to come to my house and give me a haircut within the next hour.” Or Mara could respond to a request for a truly unique, custom wedding invitation. Or Kelly could teach a playful spin on yoga in response to an offer like “I’d pay $100 for a fun idea for my 5-year old’s birthday party this weekend.”

According to my mentors at the 10K SB program, Los Angeles has more small businesses than any other U.S. city. My husband and I own one of those businesses – we make mobile apps with maps. Our crappy little services business is on track to grow 70% this year.

Managing this growth is a challenge – just take a look at our website, it’s terrible. We’re like the cobbler with bad shoes. Sure, we could redesign it ourselves…. if only we had the time. We know some great designers – they’re booked. We’d love to connect with someone new. Zaarly is perfect for this.

In fact, as we grow our business, we need to expand our network of people who can provide a variety of services – everything from running errands to graphic design. I’m hoping that Zaarly is going to introduce us to many new collaborators and we can all grow together.

But the most exciting aspect of this idea of unlocking trapped value are the things I can’t even imagine – the creative ways that industrious people will use Zaarly as a platform to launch an entirely new kind of business.

As Sean Tierney said recently, “Entire businesses that were heretofore not feasible will be enabled by the existence of this tool.” Sean has put this into words far better than I ever could; so rather than try, I’ll recommend that you read his post.

This idea of unlocking value is just one of the things that interests me about Zaarly. I haven’t even talked about putting the power into the hands of buyers – another idea I touched on at the beginning. Perhaps I’ll write something about that later, if the Zaarly folks let me get up on my soapbox again.

To wrap up this rather long-winded blog post, I’d like to circle back to the beginning – my friend’s Facebook rant.

I’m going out on a limb and this may sound ridiculous… but here it goes.

Even if I were still sitting in retreat, I could use Zaarly to request food deliveries. People who meditate still need to eat. Instead hoping (praying?) a sangha member will offer to make a food run when I need it, someone from town could do it. It helps me maintain my silence and seclusion – the food can just show up in a box in the kitchen with my name on it. My helper will earn some money, accumulate merit, and may even become curious about meditation. Win win!

And who’s to say that Zaarly can’t become a powerful platform for activism and philanthropy. The way I see it, wherever you have people who value something and people who can provide it, Zaarly can bring them together and be the catalyst.


How New Moms Use Technology

Being a new mom can be scary. Having a baby in 2011 is totally different than it was in 1976. Should you create a Twitter handle for your unborn child? How many Facebook ‘likes’ will your new baby pics get? Is there an app to help you keep all of your immunization schedules and physician appointments organized? Should you create an online scrapbook? Can you use Google calendars to schedule baby play dates? Will Barbie dolls be replaced by holograms?

Okay maybe the Barbie hologram is a stretch for now, but technology has dramatically changed the way parents raise their children. Take new mom Marcie Inzer for example. Marcie blogs everyday. “It’s a great way to connect with others and hear what other moms are going through,” Inzer said.

Whether you’re taking six weeks off work, or staying home full time with your child, the Internet provides a whole new outlet for connecting with other moms. So you don’t have to feel like you’re on an island. They may not make an instruction manual for kids. But with blogs and forums online, you can post a question, connect with moms near you having similar issues and find immediate answers to your questions.

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Scrap the scrap book  

Remember growing up when your parents had to take photos to get developed, and then put each picture in the pages of a scrapbook. Four years later the scrapbook would get lost, then you could never find the pic you wanted. If only there was a Google search bar for real life. Now with blogs and social media sites, you can keep your entire scrapbook online electronically. Easy, fast, and searchable. Keep pics and milestones organized and quickly share everything with friends and family with a few mouse clicks.

“My blog is the closest thing my baby will have to a traditional baby book,” new mom Marcie said. “I hope that my daughter will be able to go through the blog when she’s older and read about how much we love her and the fun things we do together.”

Amazing. Kids that grew up in the 70s and 80s don’t have that luxury. My baby book is lost in the abyss of my parents attic somewhere. And my siblings and I rely on our aging grandparents for stories about our childhood. Marcie’s daughter won’t have that problem. Everything will be online.

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Save time and stay connected  

Having a new baby can monopolize your schedule. You won’t be sleeping a solid eight hours for the next several years. Scheduling happy hours with your girlfriends takes a lot more planning. Shopping trips at the mall are probably few and far between. But technology in 2011 makes all of that easier.

“I use the Internet for basic email, Facebook, online shopping, couponing, and finding fun activities to do in the area,” Marcie said.

New moms like Marcie use email and Facebook to stay connected to friends and family, even when getting out of the house can be hard sometimes. And she stays away from frumpy mom jeans by keeping up with the latest fashions online.

Just about every second of your day as a new mom will be accounted for. Technology can help you stay organized and make the most of your time. Manage your calendar online with Google calendars, so your husband and other family members can quickly check reminders from anywhere.

Groupon can help you quickly find the best deals in your area. RSS feeds and Twitter can aggregate your custom news feeds so you quickly and easily see what’s most important and relevant to you. High speed Internet has enabled services like Hulu and streaming Netflix to provide you with in-demandTV shows and movies on your schedule. And electronic to-do lists have enabled people to manage their lives online.

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There’s an app for that 

Smart phones have empowered new moms to manage their lives on the go. Apps like Remember the Milk can keep your grocery lists prioritized and make shopping simpler. Instagram enables quick and easy photo sharing. Foursquare can help you keep up on your friends location and see all the fun they’re having without you. As your child grows up, game apps like Angry Birds can keep them occupied and sitting still long enough for a haircut. Dragon dictation app will let you translate spoken word to text, in case your hands are full but you want to make a note.

New app Zaarly can help you with a wide range of parenting needs. Zaarly enables you to outsource the actives you don’t want to do, or need help doing.

New to the area and looking for a sitter you can trust? Zaarly it. You would pay top dollar for a reliable sitter so you and your husband can have one night to yourselves without worrying. Want to find a gently used stroller rather than buying a new one? Zaarly it. A set of parents in your neighborhood with teenage kids would be happy to sell you their good-as-new stroller at a price much lower than what you’d pay at Toys R Us.

Too tired to clean your house? Zaarly it. Trying to find the impossible-to-get hot new toy this Christmas season? Zaarly it. Zaarly is the crutch your mom wishes she had when you were growing up.

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Plan for the future

Being a mom in 2011 is exciting. Technological advances are providing new outlets to stay connected, save money, improve efficiency and be a better overall parent.

You can manage your child’s finances, enroll them in actives and programs to future their education, and stay in touch with them as they grow up and leave the house. And who knows, you might even help yourself in the process.

“Blogging just started out for me as an outlet or hobby because I enjoy creative writing, but recently I was hired by a local business that focuses on baby/mom products to blog for them as well. I am so excited to contribute to my family income by using technology and doing what I enjoy!” Marcie said.

Marcie used technology to improve her parenting skills, and turned the blog into a professional opportunity that she can do from home with her baby. Technologic.