Six Reasons Why Everyone Should Have a Twitter Account

I’m going to keep this post plain short and simple. I am a daily Twitter user, though as you read in my post My Twitter Evolution, and Tips for Twitter Newbies it did take me some time to realize the true power and joy of Twitter. Even if you are not a daily or even weekly or monthly user yet, I think everyone will be at some point. Here is why I think you should get in now:

  1. Stake your claim on your preferred username now, even if you don’t currently believe that you will ever tweet. Chances are that if you email today, it is only a matter of time before you Twitter. And unlike with email addresses that have hundreds of domains available (@aol.com, @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, etc.), there is only one twitter.com. You don’t want to get stuck with “http://www.twitter.com/janedoe8763528953″ as your Twitter URL, do you?
  2. Keep up with evolving internet trends, especially if you have or will ever have young kids. My husband and I both vow to keep in touch with the online world, partly because we want to ensure our kids can use it safety and enjoyably under our (knowledgeable and aware) supervision.
  3. It is guaranteed that you will learn from and enjoy Twitter if you just use Twitter. Whether you are interested in celebrity gossip, web development, breaking news, the stock market, or your next door neighbor, there is something there for you.
  4. If you are afraid of the complexity of Twitter, rest assured: Twitter is not near as complicated as you may think. The language, technique, and etiquette is something to be learned, but it takes a matter of minutes to learn and could even be considered, dare I say, self-improvement. You can start by reading my post on how got started with Twitter and tips for newbies.
  5. If fear for your own safety or intelligence is your reason for not trying Twitter yet, rest assured: Twitter is not unsafe, and will not lower your IQ (contrary to many Twitter-bashing articles I’ve read lately). I personally can’t stand those who write about how social media is the cause of someone committing suicide or lowering IQ scores. That’s like saying that Marilyn Manson is responsible for the attacks at Columbine. Just because a person doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean they should badmouth it. Get over it, and give it a whirl! Don’t live your life in fear!
  6. Twitter isn’t just for internet or social networking addicts; it’s for people who like to learn from one another. One of the most enjoyable things I do on Twitter is read interesting news or enrichment articles posted by others. They may be from the local paper or from the blog of a person that lives in Timbuktu. Either way, I am learning something and on my terms. Not just what is spit out at us by standard print or televised media.

Comment time! What do you think? Should everyone have a Twitter account? Or will that ruin it for those of us that were here before Ashton and Oprah? What reason that everyone should have a Twitter account can you add?

Follow me @heatheracton78.

Facebook Mafia Wars – Do the Math!

Lol…have you tried doing the math to see how long it will take you at your going income to bank the $10 trillion needed for the Nest Egg achievement? I did!

I currently make about $100 million/hr. A nice income, right? Ok, so let’s see how long it will take me, at that rate, to make $10 trillion.

$10,000,000,000,000 / $100,000,000/hr = 100,000 hrs

100,000 hrs / 24 hrs/day = 4167 days = 11.4 years!!!!

I have to imagine that I’ll be sick of this game before 11.4 yrs passes, so obviously I need to “up” my hourly income…. How ’bout if I make $1 billion/hr? Then how long will it take me to bank $10 trillion?

$10,000,000,000,000 / $1,000,000,000/hr = 10,000 hrs

10,000 hrs / 24 hrs/day = 417 days = a bit over 1 yr….still…ugh…

Looks like I’m off to buy more property!

Are you planning to go for this achievement? How – the slow way, or are you making moves to make it happen quicker? Leave a comment and let us know!

Revised Mafia Wars Strategy Levels 100+ (energy >400)

Here’s a screenshot of my profile as I stand today:

mw-profile-032109

For the most part I followed the advice I gave in my original blog – I dumped most of my profile points into energy. When I first started playing, however, I didn’t follow this strategy because I didn’t know any better. This is why you’ll see I have a fairly well built-up attack, defense, and stamina.

MY REVISED STRATEGY since level 120-ish

The problem I’m running into now is that I have SO much energy that I am letting many points go to waste. For example, I’ll level up, use up all of my energy points, use an energy pack, but then part way through my energy pack I will level up again, having not even touched my stamina. Therefore, for now I have stopped putting all of my profile points into energy and have really started to build up, in this order:

1. defense

2. attack/stamina

3. health.

Build up defense first because high defense points help repel attacks, or help you not die and lose 6 experience points each time you die. Probably not the biggest bang for your buck (you’re likiely not losing a TON to getting knocked off), but don’t you hate being in the middle of fighting only to get iced and have to wait to heal at the doctor? Ugh…

Attack/stamina, which to me go hand in hand, come next in priority. If you’re going to use stamina to fight, you want to be good at fighting so you need high attack points. Also, if you followed my original strategy your stamina is likely always max’d out because you just don’t have much of it. So, you need to get your max stamina higher to allow points to continue to build up here while you’re away/asleep. (My energy NEVER maxes out except when I level up.)

Lastly, put some points into health. I HATE waiting for that timer that says I can heal again after getting health<20 while fighting, don’t you? So build up your health just a bit to increase the amount of time between heals. You should care less about paying to heal, as again money is a-plenty in this game in the higher levels if you’ve played your cards right.

In an ideal scenario, you’ll obtain enough energy and effective stamina (by effective, I mean you’ve also built your attack enough to gain on average 2 experience points per stamina point) to constantly level yourself over and over, possibly without even using an energy pack. I’m not sure if this is possible or not, but it’s something to shoot for, right?

Good luck, mafiosos, and let me know how you fare out there on the streets.

Ciao.

My Twitter Evolution, and Tips for Twitter Newbies

I joined Twitter on November 13, 2008 because everyone else was joining Twitter and I am a follower (pun intended). I made three Twitter updates on that day, and signed in the next few days just to see what was going on. Nothing was going on, so I stopped signing on and became one of the people saying, “I tried Twitter, but I just don’t get why everyone loves it so much…” I figured it had to be a fad, and in a couple months no one would really be using it anymore.

But over the next couple of months, the opposite trend happened. I started reading more updates from my friends on Facebook that were “via Twitter.” Then I would see Twitter mentioned on E! Online and People; the celebs were using it! “OK,” I thought, “there must be more to this Twitter thing.”

So I signed in again on January 17, 2009 and went to see what my friend Farrah (@Farrah77) was up to. She is one of my friends that’s big into Twitter; she uses it daily and finds value and enjoyment in it. What did she Tweet? Who did she follow? Who followed her?

I was interested to see that we Tweeted similarly (I considered my Facebook status updates Tweets and didn’t know why I’d bother entering those in a different place than on the Facebook site itself.). The difference was that she was following a bunch of really interesting Twits! She subscribed to many different news reporters, sports news sites, and some people that were just like us. I picked a good two dozen of her followees to follow myself, and that is when I became a true Twit.

My two dozen followees has now jumped to over 200, and I have near as many followers myself. A celebrity, I am not, but I do feel like I’m now “getting” Twitter. I get Chicago news almost as it happens, I keep in touch with my favorite celebs (some even Tweet me personally!), I learn valuable tricks and tips in my area of interest (social media and web development), and most importantly I am in constant contact with some friends that I know outside of the Twitterverse.

So that you can immediately become a contributing member of the Twitter society, I’ve compiled a short list of tips to get you up and going quickly on Twitter once you join. Enjoy, and don’t forget to follow @HeatherActon78!

Twen Twips for Twitter Twirgins

1. Tweet! Tweet about your ma. Tweet about your dog. Tweet about something that’s in your head. Just tweet. Simple, right?

2. Find a bunch of people to follow. Start with Twitter’s built-in service to import any of your existing network (email) contacts that may have a Twitter account. If you’re the pioneer of your clique, check out Twitter’s suggested users and follow some or all of those. You can also take a look at who I follow and follow some yourself. And lastly, go to some of your followees’ followees and follow them too. Think about it for a sec, then get to it!

3. Now that you are following some Twits, you need to stay organized. How devastated would you be to discover you had missed one of your favorite twit’s tweets? So download Tweetdeck (or your Twitter client of choice – see this link for some other top suggestions).

4. Insert a profile picture. Is this you? Yeah, didn’t think so…

Default Twitter image
Default Twitter image

5. Fill out your profile information. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but put some thought into it and be yourself. Harder than it sounds, but it is worth doing. This is your first impression to other twits who come across your name, and could even win you a spot as a Twitter suggested user! Check out my profile for an example.

6. Get a background for your Twitter profile. You can go with one of Twitter’s provided choices, or just Google “free Twitter backgrounds” for a plethora of sites with premade Twitter backgrounds or interfaces that help you create your own. Like your profile information, this just makes you more interesting to potential followers. And in a myspace kind of way, makes Twitter feel a bit more like home to you =)

7. Learn the Twitter language. You’re seeing lots of “@” and “#” and “RT.” What does it all mean? I have actually found Twitter Support to be very helpful for the basics.

8. Now that you know the language, what is the appropriate way to use it? Would hate to offend the ever-growing Twitterverse, right? So brush up on Twitter etiquette. I found this article to be hilarious, and it does bring up some good tips to not get yourself fired for tweeting the wrong thing =)

9. Find some other cool apps made for Twitter. Twitter has open API, which means that developers can make endless applications using Twitter data. Here are some of my favs:

www.twitual.com helps you find out who you follow that doesn’t follow you back, who follows you that you don’t follow back, and, well, you get the idea.

www.tweetstats.com shows you your Twitter statistics in graphical form – tweets/day, distribution of what days and what time of day you tweet, etc.

www.twittergrader.com tells you the power of your Twitter profile, and also can help you find twits in your area or Twitter elite!

And if you like to collect apps, this article suggests 99 of the coolest Twitter tools and apps ever!

10. Now this is about 30 tips for the price of one (I only said “Twen Twips,” right?). Share your tweets in places other than Twitter, and publicize your profile. Install a Twitter app for your mobile phone. Make sure there’s a link to your Twitter profile on your Facebook page. Install a Twitter app for Facebook. Put a widget on your blog that shows your tweets (take a look at my blog for an example). The possibilities are endless.

Alright – there you go! Now enjoy! And let me know if you have any additions to this list, or other helpful suggestions.

Tweet ya later!

=)

3 Super-Simple Super-Tasty Recipes

In the past few weeks I’ve tried a few new (to me) recipes that I have REALLY enjoyed and I wanted to share them / record them. Don’t get too excited – these are all super-simple, but super-tasty!

Cranberry Crumble Salad (thanks to Jenna Goeb for bringing this the other night!)

- 2 bags of your favorite salad greens mixture

- 1 bag Craisins or other sweetened dried cranberries

- 1 bag Crumbles cheese, or subsitute small container Gorgonzola or Feta crumbles

- 1 small (1/2 lb?) container plum tomatoes

- Poppyseed dressing, to taste (I prefer Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing)

- Your favorite croutons, to taste

* Mix together the bagged lettuce, craisins, crumbled cheese, and plum tomatoes. Move your portion to separate plate, and add dressing and croutons to taste. YUMMY!!!

Grande Jake’s Guacamole

- 4 medium ripe avocadoes

- 1/2 medium sweet onion

- 1 medium tomato

- salt

- pepper

* Rinse, peel, and seed avocadoes. Mash with fork, leaving some chunks. Dice 1/2 onion and all of tomato and mix into avocado mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. NOM NOM!!!

McCormick’s Chili

This recipe is straight off the back of the McCormick’s Chili Seasoning Mix. I’ve tried several chili recipes, most of which required 30 minutes of prep and an hour of simmering. This chili beat all of those, and took a total of 30 minutes start to serve. I like to make this with corn bread muffins.

- McCormick’s Chili Seasoning packet

- 1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken

- 1 can black or pinto beans

- 2 small cans tomato sauce

* Brown ground meat and drain fat. Add seasoning packet, beans (NOT drained), and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Mmmm….

Facebook Mafia Wars – How to Level Quick & Impress Your Friends

This post was originally from February 2009, before many of the new features like job mastery, achievements, Cuba, and Russia. Therefore you may find details on some of these items missing or that things work completely different in places. I am no longer updating this blog, but much of the info still holds true (keep putting all of your profile points into energy!!!). Thanks for understanding and good luck on the streets!!!

I’m currently a level 92 335 (as of 6/25/09) Fearless in Facebook Mafia Wars. I remember starting out and scouring the internet for some good hints (not cheats), and being extremely disappointed at the lack of good help out there. Most of the articles focused on cheats (if you’re going to cheat, why bother playing???) or were written by a level 20-something. I found a couple of good tidbits, which I have applied, but find it my responsibility to fill a gap that’s out there. So here are some tips and advice on leveling quickly in Facebook Mafia Wars.

Note that there are MANY different ways to play this game. I prefer to play to level quickly and consistently, therefore this is what this guide focuses on.

Disclaimer: This guide is written by an engineer. Proceed with alert mind.

Beginning the game

When I started this game, I had no idea what I was getting into. Or what an addiction Mafia Wars would become. You’re first given the choice of a name and character type. Don’t worry too much about your name. You could choose one to intimidate, or pick “Don something” like most others. Don’t bother trying to get “Godfather” – it’s taken. And if you do happen to choose wrong, you have the opportunity to change it later using reward points (visit the Godfather). For character type, the right one to set yourself up to level quickly is “Maniac.” Maniacs have energy that regenerates quicker, vs. Mogul which regenerates money quicker, and Fearless which regenerates health quicker. With the key to leveling quickly (and with less time/effort expense) being energy to do jobs, Maniac becomes the clear winner.

You are given some reward (Godfather) points starting out. Don’t spend these right away. As tempting as it is to spend them, get a good nest egg and reward yourself later. To level the quickest, only spend Godfather points each time you reach 10, and use them on an energy refill (after you are at zero energy and won’t waste the refill points, of course).

Building the base of your empire

Income. In the beginning your biggest concern should be making cash to build your empire. Start by doing some jobs.  At first concentrate on jobs that earn you money so that you can save up to buy some property. You’ll get some experience and will climb a few levels also, but the key here is to build a strong base so that you can level quickly and efficiently later on. Also do some robbing (in the “Fight” tab). But if you are not winning money from them do not continue to rob them. You’ll likely find this to be more effective than doing jobs (only at first) in making some quick dough. Once your nest egg is built, however, there will be no need to rob anyone as your hourly income from property that you will purchase will be more than sufficient to keep you going.

Properties. Once you buy a property (1 or 10) the cost of the next one(s) goes up. So to take advantage of the low cost of initial properties, only buy in quantities of 10. Be patient and save up; it will be worth the time. The only exception is Mafia Mike’s, which you can only buy in quantity of one since your ability to purchase it is dependent on Mafia size. Buy Mafia Mike’s as soon as you have 1)enough money to buy 10 abandoned lots and a Mafia Mike’s and 2)enough mafia to be eligible to buy them.

To get into the real nitty-gritty of buying properties, concentrate on saving up first for properties that give the shortest return on investment (ROI). To figure this out, add the cost of 10 lots required for your property to the cost of 10 properties and divide this total by the income this property will provide (don’t forget to multiply income by 10, as you will buy 10 of the property). The number you get is the number of hours it will take you to make back the total amount of money you invested in the lots & properties. You want this number to be as low as possible. I actually put together an Excel spreadsheet to prioritize which properties I needed to buy in which order, and I updated it each time property costs went up. I suggest you do the same. It’ll give you a moving queue of what to buy when you have the money to do so. (Note: Once I owned about 20 of everything, I found that the ROI was so long that I didn’t even want to bother. As long as you are making in the $15-20 million/hr. range, you are likely good to cover any ongoing upkeep charges you will ever have.) Update 5/16/09: Given the “Achievements” feature added earlier this month, you may want to continue buying property until you are in the $100 million + range. $20 million/hr will be sufficient to do whatever you want to do in this game (outfit your mafia, etc.), but it will take you FOREVER to hit the “bank $1 trillion and $10 trillion” achievements. See my other post Facebook Mafia Wars – Do the Math! for more on those achievements.

Mafia. Starting out, DO NOT build a big mafia. To be effective in fighting you must be able to outfit all of your mafia with the best in weapon, protection, and vehicle. If your mafia is too big at first you will not be able to afford the inventory or upkeep associated with keeping them all outfitted. Instead, get yourself 6 mafia family quickly (for a total family of 7), as you can make them your top mafia and, if they put you in their top mafia then they can then supply you with energy packs (energy boosts they can send you every 24 hrs so that you can do more jobs). Your top mafia should be people who play often, and ideally that put you in their top mafia. And remember to buy all of the Mafia Mike’s properties that you can given your family size of 7. WARNING – be careful about buying your mafia family of 7 all of the biggest and best weapons, protection, and vehicles right away, as you may run yourself into debt. Note carefully the upkeep ($/hr) associated with each inventory purchase you make, and make sure you have plenty to cover that cost and still make a decent hourly income.

Profile points. Profile points are the points you get when you level up or master jobs. I would suggest dumping all of these into energy at first and ongoing. Here’s why:

  • Profile points put into energy come directly back to you in experience points, in anywhere from a 1:1 to 2:1 ratio (experience per energy expenditure), depending on the job.
  • Profile points put into stamina come back to you in an average of about 2:1 (experience per stamina expenditure), which is better than what you get for energy expenditure, but it costs TWO profile points to raise stamina by 1 (so the experience to profile ratio is only 1:1 ongoing if you put points towards stamina, vs. a continued 1:1 to 2:1 ongoing if you put points towards experience). In addition, to win fights you’ll need to throw profile points not just into stamina, but also into attack and defense. (Confusing, I know, but continue to reason this out and it’ll make sense.)
  • So to continue to get the most experience out of each profile point, concentrate on using them to do more jobs (energy) vs. becoming better at fighting (stamina, attack, and defense).
  • Don’t bother to ever put profile points into health. Health only prolongs how long you can fight without visiting the doctor, but ongoing you’ll be making so much money that you’ll be able to afford the doctor as much as you’d like without issue.

Daily gameplay strategy. Don’t ever let energy and/or stamina max out (ideally). If you do this you are never letting a point go to waste. But realistically you won’t be able to do this perfectly. So, each time you check into Mafia Wars, make sure you spend every energy and stamina point you have. The only exception is for energy. If you know that you’ll be able to check in again before your energy maxes out, and that if by saving points you’ll be able to do a better job (more experience for the energy point) or a job you still need to master, then by all means save some energy points. (My energy is now above 800, and never maxes out overnight, so I can usually even save a few at the end of the night to do better jobs in the morning.)

An advanced strategy for when you are close to leveling up is to use up most, but not all of your energy, saving enough to do a job you need to master (or just another good experience:energy job). Then, inch your way up to the next level by robbing, but stop when you are within 6 experience points of leveling up. Lastly, use up the last bit of energy you have to jump to the next level, and you will already have a jump on gathering points for your next level.

Energy pack usage. When you use an energy pack, it refills all of your energy PLUS another 25%. Therefore, to get the most out of every energy pack and never let an energy pack go to waste, only use energy packs when you are at Energy=zero, and ideally right after you level up and use up your energy that was refilled from the level-up. The only time I don’t wait to level up before using an energy pack is when I know that I can use up the entire energy pack without leveling up in the middle of that energy (and let energy points go to waste).

The hitlist. I’ve seen many folks claim that the hitlist can bring in some quick dough, but I never had any luck with it. You only need to be the last shot that brings one of these big guys down to pull in the bounty cash, but usually when there’s one on the list worth going after (say over $100,000 or so) you are one of many trying to bring him down and the odds aren’t with you. But, if you do decide to give it a go, my advice is to set a lower limit on the bounty dollar amount and only go after the ones where you can make that much or more, and only start attacking them after they’ve been on the list for at least a little bit (so that others have a chance to beat them down a bit – remember, you just need to deliver the last hit that brings them down in order to collect the bounty cash).

Now you’re rolling…

Once you get to the point in the game where you are making $15-20 million/hr you can really start leveling up in the game quickly.

How often to play. From what I’ve seen, you’re doing well if you can level up twice in one day (assuming you have not mastered all NY jobs and are not getting the 2 energy pts per regen period – once you get those you should be able to level up at least 3x per day and sometimes 4x). I typically need to check into the game just once/day and receive 1 energy pack/day to make this happen. I follow the strategies outlined above in “Daily gameplay strategy and “Energy pack usage” in my daily play.

Defending yourself. Even if you are not one to instigate fights or rob anyone in Mafia Wars, you will be attacked and robbed. But, there are many ways to defend yourself without putting profile points into defense. Here are some of those ways:

  • Always make sure your entire family is outfitted with the best weapon, protection, and vehicle. This will ensure you the best chance of winning a fight once someone picks it. The game will automatically choose from your inventory the best items first and will pick one weapon, protective item, and vehicle for each member to use in a fight. Don’t worry about selling items that aren’t good enough unless the clutter really gets to you or the upkeep charges are too steep. Note that many of the special items offered on the “Home” page are much better than the items in the “Inventory” page. Buy these when you can (when you have enough mafia), as they are a great deal, but don’t build your mafia family just to buy them.
  • Build a big mafia, if you can afford to outfit them all. Most players going out to pick fights or rob others are going to pick on the little guys. Big mafias are intimidating; if you have a big mafia, chances are you’ll get picked on less.
  • Don’t put people on the hitlist or sucker punch them just because they attacked you, robbed you, snuffed you, or put you on the hitlist. Be the bigger person. Everyone needs to attack or rob others to make the most of their stamina points, so let them rob or attack you and be done. You’ve likely robbed or attacked them before anyways. Better yet, send them a friend request and add them to your mafia =)

Property upkeep. I’m not a big fan of this feature added February 2009, but just don’t forget to keep dumping money into your property so that they continue to generate the income that you need. You can even choose to “protect” your property by dumping a little extra into them. (It’s ok though, I needed something to spend my $10 billion + on…)

Mastering jobs. I do like this new feature added February 2009. It adds another way to get profile points (to dump into energy) and adds some variety to the jobs you do (I had only been doing the Hitman job “Exterminate a Rival Family” because it had an awesome payout of 70 experience for just 40 energy.) I’m only assuming that mastering these jobs and thus getting more experience points helps level quicker in the long run, but unbelievably enough I haven’t done the math.

The big finish

Well mafiosos, I hope this helped you out. If you have anything to add or debunk, feel free to add comments below. I will continue to update this post as I learn more or debunk myself. See you on the streets.

Ciao.

=)

A weblog by me, for me

My new tagline for this blog says a lot. My purpose in starting this blog is not (please do not take offense) to entertain or satisfy you, the reader. It is solely for me. And hopefully you can at least make it through my accounts without falling asleep.

First, it’s for me to document the moments in my life. My moments with Mike, my kids , and my family and friends are very precious to me, and I don’t want to lose what can’t fit in my memory. My kids are only this young once, and I already am feeling bad that I’ve forgotten when certain firsts happened with Joshua. I have a second chance with Addy, and Joshua is only two, so now’s as good a time as any to do what I should have done from the start. (Thank goodness I have MANY videos and pictures of Joshua from birth ’til now, so I may not have lost as much as I think. But now I can capture how these moments make me feel.)

Next, it’s for me to become a better writer, or maybe just to become more confident in my own writing skills. I’m good with the mechanical stuff; it’s the meat that I need to work on. This, by the way, is a FAR second from the first reason.

Third, and lastly for now, I need a place to document thoughts and ideas on a new career direction. Mike and I have long aspired to start a business on our own, and given my long-lived interest in the web and social networking and now the time to do some serious research and learning on those subjects, I feel like I finally may be onto something for us. Only time will tell. I’ve been known to dabble in many things. Hopefully this one will stick and give us the (career) life that we dream of.

Thanks for understanding. And please make no mistake – I am very open to hearing and excited to hear your thoughts, comments, and advice.

=)

Can a microblogger macroblog?

I’m on the social media train, and it’s moving fast. I started with a MySpace, then moved onto Facebook, and have since exploded into Twitter, digg, last.fm, yelp, youtube, and others. (And cancelled my MySpace, mostly due to its constant technical difficulties.) It’s a great ride. I consider myself more connected with family and friends, and more in touch with news and current events. Not to mention it feels great to be 30 and still keeping up to speed with the latest in internet “fads.”

So I’ve been soaking it in, and doling it out in little doses – microblogs on Twitter and Facebook. Microblogs are the “What are you doing?” status updates on the sites. It’s easy to take two seconds out of your day just a few times a day and tell connections what you are doing, or post an interesting link. But, can I commit to macroblogging – telling the world not only what I am doing, but how I feel about what I’m doing, why I’m doing what I’m doing, and more? I’ve never considered myself a good writer, and always read my words back to myself and think them incredibly dull, but who am I to hold myself back, or keep myself from you?

And with that begins my blogging hobby…career…obsession…timewaster…

=)