I mentioned in my last post that I would be doing a project to help make the long distance gap on the holiday much less. So here are some stocking stuffers from the BenSpark.com tree that will help you.
- A Free Blog
- Photo Sharing Account
- Qik Account
- Cell phone that can run Qik
- Ustream.tv Account
- Twitter Account
- Eye-Fi Card
A Dedicated Blog: Step one in creating a virtual Christmas (this can also be used to celebrate other holidays) is to create a new blog. I decided to use Blogger because it is wicked easy to set up and it is free. Since this isn’t something I’m going to blog on all the time and it is really just for my in-laws to view I don’t need to think SEO, design and so many other things. This is not a long term commitment.
Dress it Up: I did want to make the blog look nice so I grabbed a quick theme from DeluxeTemplates. You certainly don’t have to do this but it is easy enough to do so why not take one quick step to pretty up the place.
Video: I’m not going to be tied to the computer all Christmas day so instead to set up so many things behind the scenes. That way when Christmas Day comes I don’t have to do anything except turn things on. On the new blog I added a gadget to the blog that has the code for my Live Ustream channel. That way when I am live on Ustream the blog will be showing me live. So, when I am not live visitors can look at previous shows. The same can be done with Qik. I set up both of these because on Christmas Day I will be in a wireless network and on the Day after Christmas when we go to visit my wife’s extended family I will only have the cell phone to use. By adding both channels I don’t have to direct my in-laws to multiple places they can go to one place to see everything that is going on.
Photos: I’ll be taking photos during the day and rather than be stuck uploading the images to the blog or to Flickr or anywhere else I can take the photos and have them wirelessly post by using an Eye-Fi card. I can change the settings so that the photos automatically upload with a specific tag on them. The reason I want to do this and why I chose Flickr is that I can create a badge based upon that specific tag. I created a vertical badge that shows the 5 most recent images and added that to the sidebar. This way when I take photos with my camera using an eye-fi card all images automatically have the correct tag and they will show up in the sidebar.
Twitter: You could set up a special Twitter account to quickly text little things that your kids say and capture those truly silly and endearing moments. In blogger you can pull in as many RSS feeds as you would like and thus you can pull in that Twitter feed into the sidebar of that new blog.
Mobile Blog Posts: With blogger you can send blog posts via SMS, MMS or e-mail to your blog. You just have to set that up ahead of time. Just click on Settings / Email & Mobile, there you can make those settings. If you want to post up something quick that your child said then send an SMS message. Post a quick image with title using your cell phone then use MMS. If you want to have more options send the post to your Email Posting Address for blogger. I suggest that when you are setting up this sort of blog you involve the rest of the family to help. So, both my wife and I will set up our phones to be mobile blogging units for the Christmas Holiday. If you’d like to see how things go for us please visit http://holidaybenspark.blogspot.com/.