Friday, May 31, 2013

How 2 Peas Changed the Pod & the Pod is Google Plus.

There is an old saying that no man is an island onto himself. Well then, what are 2 men? Are they islands onto themselves? I think that the answer is no, they are not. The two men in question are +Jesse Wojdylo & +Paul Stickland. These 2 chaps have never been shy in terms of venting their frustration about their most favorite social platform Google Plus. Why should they? Google actually answers them. Isn't that strange? Out of 500 million users (200 Million or so active users) these 2 people actually get responses from Google when they voice their concerns. How does that actually happen, and why does it happen? Let's discuss.

First and foremost both Jesse and Paul have been active on G+ from very close to the onset of the actual platform. We don't need to argue over who has been on longer, but they both were active in 2011 and that will suffice for now. They both have around 16K followers (Jesse was just admitted into the Emerald City, aka the SUL (suggested user list) so by the time this post publishes he might be up to 20K (edit 5/31, he is up passed 20K) and I will hopefully be able to publish this today b/c if I don't it might be 25K at the rate he's currently going.). With that large of a base, they tend to get heard by some relatively influential people both inside of and outside of Google itself.
Courtesy of Paul Stickland
Having screamed from the mountain tops my love for Google Plus for a little while now, this just reinforces my belief that we are on the cusp of something huge here. Where else can 2 singular people go, voice concerns about the social network that they are using, voice them on that very same network and actually GET A RESPONSE. No where. Imagine writing a tweet or a facebook post describing a problem and actually having twitter or facebook respond. A thought like this most likely has NEVER entered your mind. In fact the opposite holds so true that a thought like that seems irrelevant, so why even have it in the first place. It would just be upsetting. It's so much different on Google Plus though. I think I read somewhere that Google itself actually has 20K active G+ accounts from all their employees. Therefore it's not illogical to think that of those people, many are in circles w/you and me. Many watch what we watch on our streams and many are obviously active and there trying to help.

It's this notion of community that brings us all together here on Google Plus in the first place and the fact that Google's employees support us only reinforces the greatness that is Google Plus. Now both Paul and Jesse had different problems Wednesday 5/29.  They both connected w/each other through their own unique experiences Wednesday and were able to get some resolution to their problems. At 4:32 in the morning over here in the States (yesterday afternoon for Paul), he mentioned something to the extent that he was missing posts from people in his circles that he had set to more. Well setting a circle to "more" means every  post will be displayed by everyone in that circle. That was not happening.

Here are Pauls words: "OK, I have put all of you into one circle and unchecked 'Show posts in home stream' for all other circles. Google 'All' is totally different to my 'ALL'... So, in my new 'ALL', I scroll down to the first 'More' and I am already seeing yesterday lunchtime's posts and none of the posts that I know have been made by my top peeps..."

He certainly saw more posts but the posts he saw were from previous days and not matching up w/what should have been every post, from every person. He compared that circle to his others and found there was still a disparity between what was theoretically supposed to happen and display versus what was actually displayed. To the Google Phone Paul went and pinged +Natalie Villalobos. That ping was at 6:58am, by 11:11am she had responded that she was on the case and her team was aware. Granted a 'fix' to this problem can't just happen in an hour but where else can anyone get this type of service where you voice concerns in the early morning and by the late morning they are met with an answer? In terms of a social media platform, no where else, hands down. Here is the link to Paul's original post.

The second example also occurred Wednesday 5/29 at 3:31pm where Jesse posted this.
Google+, A 'Lil Help!

Is anyone else having issues with comments in the notification drop down box on desktop? I am not seeing an "expand comment" for those comments longer than a few lines. I have to go to the post to see them. Not easy!

Help! +Google+ Help 

So he pinged G+ Help right then at 3:31pm, but his problem, was also many other peoples problem which via G+ he immediately found to be the case. The comments weren't displaying the "read more" link and people (myself included) had to click on the view post just to see the comments. GASP! This went on for a little while longer and then at 4:44 this happened:

Andrea Zvinakis
Yesterday 4:44 PM
Hey +Jesse Wojdylo - this issue ('read more's not showing up in comments in the notifications panel) is a known regression for us that we've already fixed, so you should see the fix roll out shortly! Thanks for the report!

Problem Solved, less than 2 hours and it was right around this time where Paul who had also been a part of this thread  made a great suggestion.
Paul said: "Great news. It would be really helpful to have somewhere to go to  access status reports such as this"

So what have we seen thus far? 2 problems, both were addressed w/in 4 hours, 1 solved, the other being worked on, a new idea that could help create an even stronger Google Plus platform, 2 separate google employees engaging w/normal people (as normal as the 2 of them are), and actual service from the company steering the ship. I ask again, Where else can you find a platform like this? NO WHERE. 

I will leave you with this, Google Plus is a place that like-minded people can share information. The close knit circles that you travel in define your ability to make progress. Collect people like baseball cards and have bloated circles just for the numbers, you won't see much value. Circle real people that you connect and engage with and you will find real value is added not only to your stream but to your life and the lives of others. Both Jesse and Paul have been instrumental in my short lived time here on Google Plus but w/out them my experience would be far different and I certainly wouldn't be here now. Google Plus is what you make it and if you choose to make it a great place than that will be returned to you in spades. Be active, engage, comment, post, make friends, share and discuss. That's what makes Google Plus great, oh and they fix their problems in hours which kinda makes them the only kid on the block with the ball. If you want to play better get on board.

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Autoawesome Breakdown: How to Make Use of the New Autoawesome Motion Feature - May 2013

As of Wednesday 5/15 at Google's Annual I/O, they unleashed a barrage of updates. For a complete list of amazing updates check +Denis Labelle's post. In this post we will discuss a facet of a new feature on Google Plus, AutoAwesome 'motion'. There are some subsets (HDR/Panorama) of the autoawesome category but for now I am only going to focus on the motion portion of this feature.

First, let's discuss a little about what I know and what I don't regarding the motion aspect of autoawesome. This will give you a clear view of what's to come and how I have arrived at the following conclusions:

What I know:
Autoawesome motion works on the following frames with:

  • The same background: a static background that doesn't move (or moves ever so slightly)
  • A closely shot background shifting by small amounts (up/down, left/right) wherein keeping the bulk    of the frame static and consistent.
  • A constant similar shape remains the same yet gets smaller (or perhaps larger) as the frames zoom in/out 

What I don't know:

  • The maximum amount of frames an autoawesome image can be
  • Why certain frame sequences create motion images vs. panoramas
  • Why some (mostly manual upload) images can sometimes take countless hours (in some cases up to 36 hours) to compile, where as the instant uploads can be stitched together in seconds be comparison

Now that we have a basis for this post I can explain why I might be a good candidate to write it. I'm a guy who has loved taking pictures his whole life, time lapse and Panorama shots have always been some of my favorites, except I have done them the old fashion way. I take a zillion shots and then manual parse them together. I literally have several shots hanging in my house taken in Jackson Hole in 1994 that I took w/a point and shoot camera. I developed the film, cut the pictures, taped them together, framed them and hung them up on my walls.

What makes this whole thing much easier now is this feature they call autoawesome. In addition to that I have just discovered that the piece of technology (My Samsung Galaxy S3) I've been using as a smartphone has the ability to drop some seriously quality shots on people. This smartphone helps deliver more portability and convenience to photography b/c that can literally be your only piece of equipment, if you so choose.  If you do so choose, please make sure to turn on the "auto back-up" (aka instant upload) under your settings on your phone, so that as you take each shot, it automatically uploads your shots into your photos on G+, and don't worry they aren't auto-shared. It's a great way to shoot a bunch of different things and see what works. More info found here.

So, I thought it might be of some use to those looking to get a better handle on autoawesome if I wrote a little something on how this supposedly happens. Let me start with a disclaimer, I am merely a guy trying to make this work but before we proceed, let's define what an autoawesome "Motion" image is (as per google here) "If you've taken a series of photos in succession (at least 5), Auto Awesome will stitch these photos together into a repeating short animation." Ok, sounds easy enough. Let's get started.

So, I have 135 autoawesome images, that means that I have at least 675 images to make those 135 motion pictures. Another item to note is that it's a minimum of 5 images needed to stitch an autoawesome image together, that means I have MORE than 675 images b/c I have many w/more than 5 frames per image. Great, I have pictures. Yay for me, but that's not where I am going. I am setting the stage here people, describing what I know, and that, which I do not. Moving right along...Saturday 5/25 I took my son downtown and shot 417 pictures. Sounds like a ton doesn't it? He sure thought it was a TON and wasn't happy that I was not paying 100% attention to him but that's life in the big city. Be that as it may, of those images 400+ images, not 1 turned into a panoramic, and only a handful turned into motion shots (some taken this weekend didn't get autoawesome'd till 36 hours later). Again, this is not an exact science, it's a process in refinement.

Now onto the actual ways of getting an autoawesome image. First, frame setup. This is very important when trying to capture motion in your image. For anyone who doesn't normally take pictures, the concept of a grid in the viewfinder might sound new. Hang on, are there still viewfinders? On some of the Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras there are but let's replace viewfinder w/screen. Pretend your screen is a tic tac toe board.

Using this method it's best to keep all background images w/in this grid the same. If you see a tree in the top right block of the grid, keep it there for every one of the shots you expect to make this image. Minimal variation is suggested in between shots and a tripod would best ensure optimal results. However, back when I took slide film shots carrying a tripod wasn't fun and that was to shoot film. Not shooting film and most people being averse to lugging around all kinds of photo gear, people will mostly shoot w/their phones or small digital cameras. In this case, there should be an option to turn the grid on. If you need digital reminders of what appears where, in each frame as you shoot, you should turn on this feature. So step 1 is to turn auto back-up on via your phone's G+ app settings. Step 2 is to acquire the background however you see fit but make sure it's consistent throughout the series.

Ok, now we have the images uploading to your Google Drive (G+ we'll say) and the background is set. Well what do we want to capture in the foreground? We'll call that step 3. So set up the composition of the frame, which means determine your subject matter and frame it out by looking at the screen of your device. For this example we can use something basic where not much moves besides the a couple things slightly in the shot. We can use this shot of a willow tree blowing in the wind, behind a small pond which is also moving due to wind, clouds moving and lastly there is a highway behind it, so there are moving cars. The majority of the frame is static and remains still but it's only the branches on the tree are moving, the shimmering on the surface of the pond, the clouds moving and the cars driving on the road. Notice how all those things have verbs in front of them, moving branches, shimmering pond, moving clouds and driving cars. Take any of those out and it's just a picture of a willow tree and a couple cars in the background. I took 6 shots and this is the result. Again, it could have just been 1 thing moving but this one is slightly more dynamic and has several things moving.

So above are the 6 frames I used to get the autoawesome image below. You can see there is barely any difference in the frames. If bigger pictures were displayed you would see the different trucks in the background but might not notice much else. Yet the image below seems like there is just enough going on to not be too busy. I think that this is the name of the game here folks. Capture scenes that aren't over filled w/motion but are highlighted by motion that was never before able to be captured. It's not only about the motion, it's about the lack of motion as well. You need both stillness and motion to get the full autoawesome effect. That's the gist of it, but let's take another couple examples b/c I have seen quite a few different kinds of images posted and they all are different.

Quick Summary of Steps:
1) Turn on Auto-Backup (instant upload)
2) Frame the image and keep it consistent throughout the 5+ shots
3) Shoot at least 5 shots that will be auto-uploaded right to G+
4) Sit back, relax and wait for the magic to happen. (not so hard right?)

Let's discuss some random autoawesome images that have been magically stitched together by Google. Rhyme nor reason applies here so again, I will provide examples and discuss how they were shot.
Here are another two examples of the same background yet slightly different foreground images. I shot 75 pictures here in hopes of having a 75 frame autoawesome image count from 1- 50 and go from A - Z. I held the camera steady, put the post-its on a wall and shot the images. First is S-Z and 1-9. The second is 10 - 49. The easy thing to notice is that 1 has single character in the shots and the other has double characters in the shots. Well, that leaves a little to be desired as an explanation. Why didn't A-R show up and what happened to #50? Things again, I don't know, all I can do is show examples, practice, refine and speculate. Here they are:

Here are two other examples that I shot and thought would have been stitched as a panoramic shot. They did not, they autoawesome'd themselves into these types of motion pictures. My hypothesis as to WHY they would have been stitched like this is b/c the frames are actually TOO close together, therefore google thinks that it should be motion and not a long panorama shot. Shooting panoramas in the past, I would shoot a frame, turn, reframe the next portion of the image overlapping the frames only slightly so that there was enough of an overlay to parse the images together without a seam and shoot. Leaving myself w/3-4 frames that connect and create one long master image. Well below is what happened. Not panorama, motion Go Figure.

Here is yet another example by +Demian Farnworth where he captures a trailer park from a certain vantage point. First things first, this image didn't compile right away, it took numerous hours, so many that I assumed it wouldn't compile b/c each frame is too different. That being said, I believe that if you have a constant, Like Desmond does Faraday, as this image does the 2X2 window, than you should be able to capture an image like this. Notice the window is the center focal point of every frame (or at least it appears in every frame, maybe just getting larger each time) & after compilation, it produced this image. So the theme here is to have something that remains constant and either walk towards, or away from it while snapping a frame every few feet or so. The compiler is a computer, so something must remain constant so that it knows it's the same object in a different and separate image. Again, speculation, and I ask (& if you have any thoughts or an answer please share), what else could it be?

That seems to sum up most of the kinds of autoawesome images that there are. I know there might be more but we have covered a static, non moving background, a left/right up/down motion of snapped shots that move across a landscape/cityscape and a constant in the image as the photographer moves. Now I have an image where the foreground is clear and the background moves, see below. I know there has to be something that I am missing but I feel like this really covers most of the bases.

I have a few more parting words here that are on my mind about the potential for autoawesome to shake things up a bit. Similar to Vine w/out sound, these images can evoke a real emotional response from people. Knowing that emotion drives decision making behavior whether in business or personal. There might be ways to use this tool to create new means of content distribution perhaps advertising or some other application in business. To that point, I saw an image that was supposedly 50 frames long. The longest I have so far is 40 (it's the 10 - 49 above). Whatever the case may be, 12 frames per second gives the appearance of motion, so 50 frames is just over 4 seconds of motion picture. 22 more and you have the 6 second clip that vine touts, w/out the sound. That's just a little thing to think about. We can discuss further in the comments but this feature certainly has opened some new doors to things we haven't thought previously possible.

We have seen some examples of autoawesome at work, now it's your turn to start making some autoawesome images. If there are any questions that you might have, please feel free to comment below or  message me directly. If you are interested in autoawesome I would suggest joining the autoawesome community on G+ found here: autoawesome community. I have a ton more images to share and would love to see what you guys come up w/via this new autoawesome feature. So as we part ways today I wish you all the best of luck on your upcoming autoawesome endevours and happy snapping!

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small Business Aerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Friday, May 24, 2013

Inconel, Waspaloy, Hastelloy Oh My. What Makes High Temp Nickel Based Alloys Expensive & Why? May 2013

Let's start off by saying that the following types of High Temperature Nickel Based Alloys are all very pricey: Nickel 200, Inconel, Monel Hastelloy & Waspaloy. Now within those grades are subsets, for instance, contained in the Inconel Family are the following grades: Inconel 600, Inconel 625, Inconel 718, Inconel 800H/HT and Inconel 825. Monel has a couple of different grades, Monel 400, Monel R405 and Monel K500. Lastly in Hastelloy, there are Hastelloy C-276, Hastelloy X and Hastelloy C22. Ok, so that's that.

Now that we have dispensed w/the un-pleasantries we can discuss why all of these types of materials are expensive. First and foremost are their elemental compositions. All of these alloys contain Nickel which is very expensive when compared to the base price of other elements in the steel's composition. Standard grades of 300 series stainless steel might contain 8% - 14% Nickel. Standard High Temp Nickel Alloys contain anywhere from 40% - 75% and up...that is anywhere from 4X to 8x as much as typical 300 series stainless steel. We all know that nickel is an expensive material, but how much does the amount in a given steel impact the total overall cost?

Well the answer to that is relative, but as I discussed in an earlier blog post, nickel pricing is up to 66% of the total cost of stainless steel. Now, that is just for stainless which we know the 300 series contains 8% - 14% Nickel on average. Imagine the grades that contain 40%, all the way to 80% or even Nickel 200 which is almost pure Nickel at 99%. Obviously the more nickel content in a given alloy the more impact on price it will have. We can say for comparison sake that 316 round bar costs $3.00 per pound and contains 12% nickel.
Well, Inconel 625 round bar contains at least 72% Nickel. That's 6 times the amount and therefore it costs at least 6X as much, maybe more depending on other attributes but this is a fitting example as to the reason why there is such a large disparity between standard stainless steel cost and the cost of some of these nickel based alloys. In fact, Inconel 625 round bar DOES cost at least 6X more and that's buying mill quantities, forget a bar here or a couple bars there. The cost would trend upwards from there, again, based on quantity purchased, transportation, source of material...etc.

Another reason why these high temperature nickel based alloys are so expensive is based on their lack of availability, or supply. Not everyone carries them due to their inherently high cost and that means less overall availability which translates to a higher price. Now, the reason they are referred to as High Temp Alloys is because they have properties that allow them to withstand some exceptionally high temperatures in their given applications. Again, in order to withstand an application that maintains an average temperature of 2000 degrees, it requires the metal to be finished/treated a certain way. All that additional processing before the material even hits the shelf costs the mill (manufacturer) money to do, which again, more production costs equal more cost to the distributor thus more cost to the end user. These alloys are expensive, but they all have their very specific uses which we will be discussing in the upcoming posts. Hopefully this has shed a little light on the overall cost structure of these high temp nickel alloys and was a beneficial read.

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small Business Aerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Monday, May 20, 2013

How Much Social is TOO Much Social? Is TOO Much Social actually Making us LESS Social?

Funny thing about advancements in technology, they make things easier, faster, more efficient and ever more connected. Over the past couple years we have really seen our ability to connect w/one another via technology and social media come together, especially w/the advent of Google Plus. 10 years ago we couldn't have dreamed of hangouts streaming "live". They would be way too choppy. The conversation wouldn't have a natural look and sound to it, based on limited bandwidth between those involved, and especially those looking to watch it later. "Here's the link to my hour long chat." Just download that 50GB file real quick and let me know what you think (10 years later when the file is done downloading to your desktop).

It's great that we are all finding new ways to connect. If you have read any of my previous posts, you will know I am a full believer in how amazing these technologies are and their overall positive impact on myself and society. However, there is a flip side to that coin, a darker side that we might not want to talk about all the time. Does all this social media (and technology) actually make us less social or dare I say anti-social? Who is the judge of what is social vs. not social? Just b/c you sit in your office or house and do a hangout w/10 people across the globe and stay inside away from live interaction does that make you less social than say, going to the park and talking w/other people in person or going to a meal and conversing with real people? I know that the value added by speaking with all different types of people never before possible seems quite amazing and very worth while regardless of whether they are in front of you via camera or in front of you in real life.
So let's explore this a little more...

What does being anti-social even mean? In the dictionary it is defined as:
  1. Contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices.
  2. Not sociable; not wanting the company of others.
There are  few interesting points of contention here. Let's take the first part of #1. Contrary to the laws and customs of society. Well first off, these new means of connecting w/others is so infantile that we have yet to create customs or societal norms based on anything like this b/c it's only been possible for a couple years. What if a societal norm became for all families to do their communications through hangouts and thus create more face time as the children got older and allowed for a better means of inter-family communication? What if we started teaching sick children through hangouts while they were absent from school so they wouldn't have to catch up when they felt better and returned to school? What if a business who could never afford the ability to travel did all their meetings via HOA? To me these could allot for a more fluid and social atmosphere, not less.

However, again, that is the tech lover in me. The opposite can be argued as well. Kids need to go to school  so they can learn to socialize with other children. I think that children need to be around other children, learn how to carry themselves, learn how to act in public and learn how to be a person who functions as a valuable member of society. Does that mean they have to do all their learning at school? I don't necessarily think so. I also don't think teaching children by themselves for 18 years would have the same effect as if they were taught in smaller classes w/other children, to promote working together, collaborative learning as well as learning about other children and not just being taught information.

If we are scoring social vs. anti-social I would call it a tie(if scoring off of point #1). Society will adjust and who knows, it might add more value to now, mix in this different type of socializing. The type that adds value by interacting with people that could have not been possible before the advent of G+ and HOA connectivity. However, it's a tie b/c you have to interact with others face to face, no man is an island onto himself, isn't that the saying?  You must engage with real live people no matter what, that is necessary in order to call ourselves a society of people, not a society of individuals.

Let's move on to the 2nd point in the definition of being anti-social: Not sociable, not wanting the company of others. This doesn't seem to apply to many people on social media per se...but I think the literal definition could be that it's not sociable "in person" thus refrains from social interaction. I am pretty sure when the dictionary was written, HOA or Hangouts weren't defined...Leading us to the point of how social are we really? Does the ability to do an HOA w/great minds, making new social connections far out weigh that of a chance encounter while getting very well might. I don't think that I would recommend holing up in your house, living exclusively through Peapod and only socializing strictly through HOAs. You might gain some pretty super smarts but then again you might melt if you actually walked outside. Again, we wouldn't be a society if we didn't all go out and physically interact with each other.

I think that all of our social habits are still being shaped. Like clay we are molding ourselves into who we feel we are as social creatures, and all humans are inherently social, on some level. I think that all these technological advances certainly can make people less outwardly social (Like when we sit at a table while eating at a restaurant and play with our smartphones. That's certainly not more social, it's less and I am indeed sometimes guilty of this myself). Do we need to re-define what social is and what anti-social is??? I think we might...what do you guys think??? If you are social, talk to me, I would love to hear your thoughts about the impact tech is having on our daily lives...Is it good, is it bad? Do we need it or do we just want it really bad? I think it's too early to tell...What do you guys think?

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Help! I'm Married but I'm in Love with Someone Else, Google Plus - May 2013

Let me start off by saying that I love my wife dearly and my two little boys. They are my world, wtihout them I have no reason to do what I do...and what do I do??? Well that's another story. Right now, I am blogging. The reason I blog is partly b/c I am falling in love again. With who you ask? Well, with Google Plus of course.

Over the past few weeks I have fully immersed myself into this amazingly great place that people call Google Plus. Ok, it's 2 years old, and I am late to the party, but here people don't care what time you arrive, they just want you to bring something unique to the party. Here everyone says "hi" to each other, and there aren't any circles of popularity. Ok, fine, there are plenty of circles, but just b/c you're in a ton, doesn't mean you take the "I'm too cool for school" approach like big wigs on other social platforms. Here it's based on the merit and value you add that gets you places. You don't even need to go places to get there, that's what's amazing about G+, you're already there, and you know where there is? It's right here. Make sense??? Good. You can just sit in your office or house, click the start Hangout button and BAM, there you are, conversing live via video chat w/other real people. Not some avatar that has 100,000 followers and says they guarantee to followback. Follow back??...How about a real conversation, good luck.

Whether it's business, science, poetry, linguistics, technology, food, aerospace, children's all there and it's all available right at your fingertips. No more disparate apps to click on this to get to that. It's all centrally located right on G+. What can I say, it's a great place to be and I have only been active for about 2-3 months. 

What makes G+ so great is other people feel the same sense of social responsibility that you feel. They all had to start somewhere, they all realize that it takes time, quality interactions and just a good sense of social etiquette to make progress. Whatever your goals are, you can find people who are on the same page right there on G+. Possibly even literally on the same jokes translate well on blogs? I hope so...or else this party just got really awkward. 

+Bruce Marko told me that Hemingway said to write the truth, write the truest sentence you know, that really is all you need to do. This quote epitomizes the true idea of Google Plus. It is saying that in order to succeed you just need to be you and represent truth. I have been tentative when it has came to writing in the past b/c I have always considered myself a "talker" and not a writer. However, after this past weekend, I feel like Neo tapping into the Matrix. (Thank you +J.C. Kendall for that one). I am in tune with the raw energy that is making me feel more complete. The connections being forged on G+ is breathing new life into me and allowing me to press into uncharted territory. Here's a little more about why everyone should abandon ship (or at least prepare to disembark) on other networks in favor of Google Plus w/another little serendipitous interaction.

Last week I circled a woman named +Diana Studer, I can't honestly say why, but I did. (I am very glad I found you Diana) Diana and I had chatted earlier that day, she from Cape Town, me from Chicago. I mean how cool is that in itself?  She mentioned my name in a conversation occurring, and when I got there it was almost as if I was ravenously waiting to jump in on what surely looked like a tasty little nugget of conversation. Being that I have 2 very young kids and it was Friday night, I had fatherly responsibility to attend to and being relatively impatient, I wanted to hit this conversation and drop my 2 cents in the comment piggy bank.

+David Amerland started a thread where +Marisa Goudy had made an offbeat comment (yes, back to the comment heard round the (G+) world) and for me it was off to the races. I got to interact w/all kinds of people, most of whom were not in my circles so it was a pleasure adding more quality to my stream. We had cameos from some pretty big firepower and spoke about all kinds of amazing things. It was like Haight & Ashbury in the 60's, things were happening man...(Here is the thread) The point is, that I met some amazing people and I am forever changed. 

One person was +Paul Stickland. It wasn't until Sunday night that I posted a picture taken w/my GS3 that this small world circled back onto itself. Keep in mind, I am a photographer, but have never considered using my phone to shoot photographs. I will say the GS3 is a beast at taking stills and I was impressed enough to post a shot or two, and diverging here for a second, someone from the mobile photography community +Robinson Olivar, Jr told me it was decent and I should look into their community. How on earth are there THOUSANDS of people that shoot amazing pictures w/their smart phones...I don't I do now, and I'm back on the photography train. Just like that, my passion is reignited so thank you Robinson for bringing me back into the loving arms of photography.

Back to Paul, Paul was a part of the master the thread above and we crossed a path or two. That was the first and up till then, only time we interacted. However, Sunday I posted that pic, and he gave it a +1 and commented. He showed me a picture he took which was awesome and again let the engaging begin. Back and forth, back and forth. 8:45 pm for me 1:45am for him. Never would have known we weren't talking to each other in person. After all is said and done, I find out Paul was married and broadcast his wedding on G+, found his photographer on G+ ( +Lord Parker) and has been active for 2 years. He's a strong Gplusser. He also writes children's books. That's appropriate b/c I have 2 of those small people. 
Long story short (or is it actually a long story long?) I told my wife about this the next morning and she looks at some of Paul's illustrations of dinosaurs and says "Hang on a second". She then comes back w/one of Paul's books. I couldn't believe it. This was too much but all too real. I had randomly found an author of a book in my house from a guy who I met 2 days ago (who lives 4000 miles away). It was inspiring to say the least. This is the power of Google Plus people, are you ready for it? 

That is why I love Google Plus. Where else could I connect w/an author who has sold millions of books or speak to a man who has been in 6 countries in 10 weeks or a guy who lives in FL that I would have never ever met but now feel a unique bond has been forged. Only on Google Plus folks. That's why I'm in love...I find it hard to think that such passion is evoked from other social just doesn't happen. If it does happen, I would love to hear about it in the comments. I would love to know if you love Google Plus and why...what are your thoughts about this burgeoning new platform? Only time will tell us the results in the battle over people's social media time but Google is now running in the race and it will be hard to pass them up. 

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why is Stainless Steel Stainless and What Makes Stainless Steel Stainless???

There are many things in life that I wonder about. Being in the steel industry and selling stainless steel I have at one point in my life asked myself, why do they call it stainless steel? What makes it stainless? It doesn't take much to find out but here is a very brief synopsis of what makes stainless steel stainless so that you can check one more thing off the list in your quest for knowledge.

Harry Brearley Picture from BSSA full article linked below

Stainless Steel might or might not have been invented by a man named Harry Brearley in 1912. Steel has been around for hundreds of years but it hasn't always been stainless. Only after the exact combination of elements had been achieved did we start calling a certain type of steel "stainless". His magic potion contained the keys to what is now called "stainless steel". That being said, the true inventor of stainless is still an ambiguous cloud at best. However, this isn't a discussion on WHO invented stainless but what stainless is and how it's actually stainless. Here is a great article posted by British Stainless Steel Association in regards to the history of stainless as a whole, see here.

So what is in this magic potion that makes a steel not stain or rust? As most of us know if you leave regular steel or metal out in the elements it will rust, oxidize, or stain. Why does stainless not stain? When Harry Brearley Brearley created a steel with 12.8% chromium and 0.24% carbon, that was believed to be the first ever stainless steel. Chromium is the element in stainless that improves the corrosion resistance by forming a chromium oxide film on the steel. This very thin layer, is what allows the steel to be impermeable to rust or staining and when placed under the right conditions, it can also be self-repairing to a certain extent.

There you have it. The answer is Chromium. Chromium is the element when mixed w/other elements in the proper amounts to form the thin layer that protects the steel from rusting, staining or corroding. Hope that helps you in your pursuit of knowledge. 

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Quality Will Always Prevail

Over the past 18 months Google has released a couple black and white animals back into the wild in the form of algorithm updates. Their names are Panda and Penguin. Suffice it to say that these beasts are capable of destroying webpage rankings and penalizing pages based on their inferior quality or unethical SEO (search engine optimization) practices. Being that Google is in control of around 65% - 70% of the total search volume on the web, it's best to adhere to what they are saying. They will never divulge their algorithm but rest assured, it all goes back to quality, quality and more quality. This same concept permeates business itself on many levels.
Google panda and penguin updates
Image courtesy of

Businesses looking to get ahead by cutting corners, shaving off quality to save money, using short cuts to get ahead, are in the same boat as those being penalized by these recent updates. For instance, it's fair to say that people who bought back links were less interested in quality, they wanted searchers to find their site through the easiest  and quickest way possible. They would spend (less overall) time buying links, to get out of doing the hard work of creating them through real relationships and good content. This is the same thing as trying to save money by buying the cheapest option available and "hoping" it won't catch up with you. Well as Google has proven (like Karma) it always catches up with you. So why buy cheap? Why not just buy quality first, and not have any other problems?

Well that's a good question. Another one is what if a customer doesn't have the budget to afford quality? Depending on their application, and necessary end result, the failure to purchase quality material could end in much worse results than spending the little extra money to A) get a better quality product and B) more importantly, set up a strong, long lasting relationship w/a solid (quality minded) supplier who will always supply that necessary quality product in a timely fashion. Here's a great example that typifies a buyers behavior that is only interested in saving money: Buyer gets pricing on a products from 3 separate sources, the buyer buys from the cheapest source based only on price. Regardless of previous supplier performance, the buyer has an application that needs this material to enter a production line setting where timing of material delivery is critical. Material arrives late b/c the quality of the suppliers word doesn't equate to material delivered on time, it's late. The production line goes down, all employees on the line are sent home for the day, now costing you your entire production staffs salary for the down time, an extra $1000, $5000, or $10000. In addition, there is the lost revenue from the product not able to be sold and the material has still yet to arrive. In a situation like this, doesn't it seem like the people responsible for making buying decisions should err on the side of caution, spend a little bit more money to obtain the quality they need to get the job done right?

Seems logical, but not everyone always looks at the big picture, employees and bosses included. Today everyone is so hyper-focused on right now, they don't know if they will even have a job tomorrow, so what does it matter to them if they don't get quality, as long as they do whatever little is necessary to get their job handled as quickly as possible so they can leave when the clock strikes 5pm. This quality lacking attitude that Google penalized should be penalized in every other market, unfortunately for commerce there is no regulating "private" body that is capable of exacting such precise reform. Imagine a world where in order to participate in business you HAD to produce quality. Talk about literally making America a better place.

What could possibly be wrong w/quality? Fine, it costs too much. Well we all know the saying. You pay for what you get. Buy cheap or take short cuts and expect there to be problems w/the material, eventually. It might not happen on the first purchase or the tenth but it will happen. Here's another example, we all buy clothes from different department stores or retailers. I am sure most of us have heard of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. Well, they don't have 3 brands for no reason, Old Navy is based on the lowest price, Gap is second, followed by their top tier Banana Republic. Buy something at old Navy and it will last 1 season, maybe 2. Gap is better for sure, the clothing might last for 3 - 4 seasons but Banana carries the torch here. Their clothing, obviously the most expensive, lasts the longest. I still own a pair of cords that have to be over 10 years old and you know what, they fit great and have lasted forever. I am not saying everyone should look to buy 1 pair of pants every decade...that's just plain silly. What I am saying is that opposed to buying a pair of pants every year for $40 and getting 2 years out of them b/c they are of less quality, why not buy a pair for $70 and have them last for 5 - 6 years. Your 3 pairs at $40 costs almost 2x as much as if quality had been purchased in the first place. So the cost savings incurred is mis-guided only by the lack of the buyers foresight.

This is the flawed thinking of buying on price, or trying to take short cuts. If you are in business to make money it's not recommended to buy cheap. It will only make the pain that much worse when it doesn't work out and you have to make another purchase to compensate for the poor quality of the previous purchase. We should all take a page from Google here regarding quality. Produce it, sell it, market it, be quality, embrace quality, if you do this, business is sure to follow. There are reasons why there are different stores for different people and not everyone CAN buy the best all the time but if your goal is to create a sound business it is advised to create one through a quality offering of products and services, not a short cut to make money quick. America is a great place where if you work hard you have the opportunity to succeed and move up the ladder, but the opposite holds true as well. What do you prefer? How do you run your business? Do you find justification for less quality? Let us know below and please comment.

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small Business Aerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web More on the author on Google+

Monday, May 13, 2013

How Google Plus Will Start Disrupting Business - May 2013

Usually disruptive technologies take time before they dismantle the current way things happen. Look at the life of how music has been stored and distributed for one very obvious example of disruption. From Records, Tapes & CDs to MP3s, iPods and now an almost instantaneous ability to stream whatever music you would like whenever you would like to hear it to any connected device. It's the connectivity and technology that have enabled a person to type in a song through whatever music app they have and call it on demand. Such amazing technologies have changed the way music is consumed and entire new industries have been born. I believe the same thing is happening in business and has been brewing for a while. 

Over the last weekend I was lucky enough to be involved in a discussion that +David Amerland started. FOUND HEREIt made a quick turn before it took off regarding how the environment of Google Plus is similar to College (thank you +Marisa Goudy  for the comment heard round the world) wherein people want to learn, share, collaborate and create new knowledge. For many of us Google Plus is still a new social media platform and for many others it's still yet undiscovered. One inherent flaw in this, is the rate of adoption. By people & businesses thinking that this is just another social network and maybe choosing to utilize their preferred networks they are missing out on a revolution. Google Plus is not just another social network, it's a place that can create synergies, enable better communication, allow for collective knowledge sharing and ultimately refine business practices.

Taken from

What's So Great About Google Anyway?

What Google has done here is quite astonishing. They have taken their suite of products, amassed them into a compilation of functions and given us Google+. There are still some refinements which will make this an even greater tool. These updates are rolling out quite frequently, like their plan to create one master communication tool. Talk/Hangouts/Chat will be consolidated into one master communications tool "Babel" is rumored to be it's name and from within this chat tool people can instant message, use video chat and create hangouts where multiple people can join the conversation through their web cams. No more knocking on doors to sell your wares. No more unnecessary sales trips where customers who don't want to be sold are shown power points that don't want to be seen and dismiss 100 sales people daily. There is an attitude on Google Plus where helping to move conversation along in a positive fashion is encouraged regardless of the amount of followers you have or the degrees you hold. People honestly want to help one another. Here, "you get what you give" plays a big part of your overall experience.  

Customer Service in Real Time

Imagine a customer has an issue, they see you are signed in to your G+ account and ping you.Well you both have web cams so now you can speak in real time. No more body language is missed by a voice only telephone call, this is the real deal. Both parties sitting in their independent offices communicating face to face via a Hangout (video chat). Never before in history has the technology enabled such instantaneous and real communication. Yes, streaming video and video phones have been around for 20-25 years or so but have never been able to be used so reliably due to the lack of available bandwidth. That's all changed and Google is making it easier for all of us to interact in real time. The issue that the customer has, can now be discussed via a live video chat and they can even share their screen w/you so that you can see what they see and walk them through the problem they are having right on their own computer. 

If they have any type of files that need sharing, such as a word document, spreadsheet or database they can be uploaded into Google Docs & Drive, shared and examined and through collaboration right there, and problems can be solved. The great thing about Google Plus is, that through this medium, the social element is added. All business is social, so this makes sense on a very intuitive level. Customers respond best to real people when real emotional connections have been made. The more they interact with the real you the better connection you have. There are so many ways to engage but once a customer meets you through a hangout, they will most likely feel much more confident about the relationship as a whole. Knowing now, the person in real life, not just over the phone. Another very positive feature behind the scenes here is that anything done through Google Plus in terms of posting or sharing is all indexed by none other than Google. No other social network, independent CRM software or Apps can tout that claim with as much direct added value as Google. The inherent value in search is that any time a customer needs information 65% - 70% of the time, they go to Google. If your business is active on G+ you will start to see your posts showing up in search and what happens when you show up in search? People find you! If people find you, you have the chance to gain more business...See where I am going here???

Google Plus Goes The Distance

There is an amazing culture developing over in Google Plus, people want to share, they want to teach, they want to collaborate, they want to learn, they want to be happy. People are emotional beings and they connect with others based on commonalities. Imagine if businesses could do the same thing? Business has always been a closed door type of thing. Secrets must be protected for the risk of someone finding out what is done, copying, taking market share and pushing others out. This way is antiquated. What Google is doing here is forcing people to be open, and share. 

As Eric Schmidt says "The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance." 

Sharing is enabling intelligence to grow and discussion is cementing that new found knowledge. Learning is now happening at an exponential rate but why can't these amazing things be the same for businesses as they are for individuals? Well, I say, they can be. It's just going to take time for the rest of the world to catch on and understand that by integrating business processes and communication through G+ there is a whole realm of advantages that are known and many more than are unknown. How do you feel Google Plus will disrupt business? Do you think it's here to stay or just another social network? Please comment below as I would love to discuss.  

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Social Media in 2013 (thus far): What I've learned, Who I've met and the impact it's had on Michlin Metals

Thus far I am confident in saying that 2013 has been the most trans-formative year for me in regards to social media yet. Computers are nothing new to me, I was born in late 1980 and had my first PC at age 4 -5 (This stunning Tandy 1000).

From there I never skipped much time from upgrade to upgrade and advanced right alongside with technology. I had a cell phone in '94 and my first digital camera in '98. So I have always loved and embraced  the newest (and most fun) technology. Then along came social media in the early 2000s. I was just leaving college and entering the real world. At that point, being in its infancy, social media had yet to take on the dominant and main stream role that it plays across the board today.

Having an affinity for all things tech and being an overall social guy myself, I got on Facebook and like most other people in the real world, I wasn't seeing a ton of inherent value for business though. So when twitter came around I slept on it for a while. I still technically don't have a personal twitter account but I'm covered through my Michlin account b/c I tweet mainly about what's important to me and how that impacts business today. Around 3 years ago, I switched jobs and came over to Michlin Metals. I redesigned the website and got connected with all the social media platforms so I could put those cool buttons on my page, you know, that way people know I'm social right? (as if that's all it took) I'd broadcast a single post daily through Facebook to Twitter & LinkedIn and thought that was being social (I didn't even shorten the links). Boy was I mistaken.

So along comes February 2013, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend (they have a dog, it's serious) come and visit. She's an IP & Patent attorney and he is a co-founder of a venture capital outfit both in San Francisco. After spending the weekend at my house and talking w/them I knew I had to change how I played the game. If these 2 incredibly smart people can be so heavily involved in technology and make lives from this, I had to alter my thinking and begin applying myself differently.

That's when I started learning what social media really is and how it can impact the bottom line in business today. Granted there is a ton of hype surrounding return on investment (ROI) in social media today and that's understandable. Here we all are, in the middle of the day reading a blog post (I hope) and it's probably completely acceptable. Just a few years ago, I know my boss would have been angry if he saw me "messing around" on the internet, AGAIN. Those thoughts still exist but are becoming less prevalent as the true impact of social makes itself known in business.

After becoming completely ingratiated in twitter (Let's say, post the catalytic tech weekend early Feb) I've taken Michlin's twitter follower base from 309 to now almost 1300. Not a bad 3 months, but this isn't a brag session, it's (leading to) a discussion about the amazing real connections I have made in the last 3 months and the impact that's had on Michlin Metals. So, after getting twitter tightened up, I kept getting this nagging feeling that a door was open and there was a draft coming in. I could either close the door completely (like most people and not let any new technology in) or I could open it up and embrace yet another social media platform.

Well, we all know what happened next. I decided to open the door and let Google Plus into my life and I haven't been the same since. The following is a list and a synopsis of some of the people who have touched my life thus far on my short lived Google Plus journey. Also, what keep in mind the journey IS the destination.

Google Plus, like most new technologies is highly intimidating to most normal people. However, there is always a distinct group of early adopters that join in and make it so that the second responders (people like me) can take advantage of a still wide open platform before the rest of the bell curve adopts and it goes fully mainstream. Some of those people that have impacted me have been the following: (in no particular order but a little order based on relevance and when I stumbled upon them)

Now anyone familiar to Google Plus will probably know all of these people and anyone not familiar, if I were you, I would circle them now (but not right this second, finish reading...comment, then circle them)

First, a young man (I'm 32, is that condescending?) named +Jesse Wojdylo. This guy is a genius, first and foremost, and I feel he has given me a great gift. Enlightenment. I joined his weekly Twitter chat (#GooglePlusChat Tuesdays 1pm CST) and started to meet a couple other great people. After I chatted for a few weeks I began to feel more at home and less tentative. It was my first real twitter chat experience where not only did I participate, but I did it in a matter which reflected myself...(this gets to the heart of social, being yourself, engaging and connecting on a personal level) That has since opened the door for further communications.

Last week Jesse and I did a hangout and spoke for about an hour. It was a great hour for me. I learned that I can connect with people through real life experiences that relate to business. It doesn't just have to be dry, mundane, boring metal stuff that no one cares about. I can make it HUMAN, people connect with all things human b/c we are emotional beings and make decisions (sometimes) based on emotions. He in essence fixed my flawed thinking about how connections are made on the web...I thought I could only get link backs from my customers or suppliers (neither of which have worked out yet). If I write to connect with people, as opposed to just broadcasting about "industry info" then people will respond as such. Blogging is about connecting with likeminded people whether in or out of your industry. They are people first, then business people. So thank you Jesse for continuing to show me the light. I truly am grateful for finding you and look forward to hanging out again soon.

+martin shervington is up next on the docket. Talk about genius. This guy has enabled the world to share in his Google plus awesomeness! He has created a full library of Google Plus resources. From Posts and Communities to Hangouts and Circle Management, Martin has taken what can only be described as a mountain of information and sliced it up into little easy to consume bite size portions. Here is a link to his site, take the time to familiarize yourself w/Martin, it will pay off in spades. Martin was kind enough to invite me to my first HOA as a participant, which has dramatically increased my thirst for more HOAs. I am excited to start making Videos for Michlin and thanks to Martin that is just a little easier.

Next is +Mark Traphagen. Is there another word I can use for Genius? How's Exceedingly Gifted? This man has been instrumental in getting me (along w/countless other thousands of people) up to speed with Google Plus and Authorship. It is both good and bad that there aren't a ton of metals people on G+. Good b/c Michlin is staking its claim, bad b/c there isn't much in the form of engagement from industry peers. However, I look at another good thing that far outweighs the lack of industry people on G+, and that's having my Authorship set up. Thanks to Mark, I am now (most likely) THE ONLY person who has this set up in my industry. Weird since metal sales probably surpasses a Trillion dollars annually...but you know what? I'll take it!!!! Early Adopter status for me in the Steel Industry! So, if you ever need Monel 400 Round Bar, you should see my face (only) pop up on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Thanks again Mark for blazing the path towards Google Plus greatness and allowing others to easily follow suit.

Another along the list of great minds on G+ is +Mike Allton. Mike was kind enough to take some time out of his day and talk me through some website conversion issues Michlin is currently facing. Mike has been working with Small Businesses for years, he was a great fit to assist Michlin in learning how to practice better engagement via social media. Mike is a contributor to The Social Media Hat, an internet marketing and consulting company based in Saint Louis. Mike is a whiz when it comes to Drupal and was very helpful in answering a bunch of questions we had regarding website migration. I look forward to working directly with Mike in the near future.

Another G+ Influencer is +Ronnie Bincer. If you need ANYTHING Video, YouTube, either of those + SEO, this is the man. I was lucky enough to catch a couple HOAs before I participated in one, that featured Ronnie. He has been involved with YouTube for years and I am not kidding when I say he knows (almost) everything there is to know. He is a great resource for everything necessary to create, optimize & distribute quality video content. Check him out at

Google Plus is great but the problem is, there are TOO many great minds...I could keep writing all day but it's time to wrap this up. The bottom line is you get what you give. Though consistent engagement Michlin (and myself) have now created viable relationships with these great people. I am asked often if my time spent is worth the money it costs to keep me employed, this reaches back to the ROI on social media. My answer is that you don't plant seeds and expect to eat fresh vegetables the next day. It takes consistent care, the right conditions, constant monitoring and a ton of time but the end result is that you have a garden filled w/amazing fresh food that if done properly could feed you for a long while. It will not happen overnight, but if you work at it and build these relationships one at a time the odds are in your favor that business will come your way, you just have work long enough to capture it. If you made it this far, please, comment below. It would mean a ton and I hope you enjoyed reading this.

Michlin Metals is a Woman Owned Small BusinessAerospace Metal and Stainless Steel Distributor. Follow Michlin on Twitter @MichlinMetalsFacebookLinkedIn, Google+ or on the Web at More on the author on Google+