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DrawTop Origins And A Donation to Olin College!

Amazingly enough, there was a time prior to DrawTop’s existence. We’ve all grown so accustomed to our nifty laptop whiteboards that it’s hard to remember when those backs were bare and we were still doodling with sharpies. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that the idea for the DrawTop came to life. It all began in an ordinary product design classroom: “Real Products, Real Markets” at Olin College of Engineering. In this class, small groups of students have a mere four weeks to design, create a prototype, sell, and market a product. Well, after absentmindedly doodling on the back of her laptop, our very own Ryan Mitchell suggested that some type of adhesive whiteboard or whiteboard sticker would be a great product to design and develop for the class. And voila, DrawTop was born.

After graduating, Ryan decided to develop the product further and turn DrawTop into the successful business we have become. And as a Thank You for inspiring her creation, DrawTop is donating $250 to Olin College
to encourage other dreamers and doodlers to pursue their ideas too.

If you are interested in making a donation donation to Olin as well, you can do so here:

5 Tech Blogs You May Not Have Heard of But Should Follow

1. ars technica

This site is basically your guide to all things tech related. From gadgets to gaming, they’ve got a lot of great info to share including technologically political material. The coolest feature of the site, however, has to be their “Ask Ars” option. Got a tech question you want answered? Just submit it to "Ask Ars" and they'll answer it for you. Great, huh?

2. Silicon Valley Insider

This site looks a bit more at the market side of things than the other sites I listed, but with a unique focus on emerging High and Clean-Tech. One of the nice things about Silicon Valley Insider is the way they rate their articles. Depending on the intended target audience, each article is given a letter corresponding to a specific type of reader. Ex: E- every reader, B- business, T- tech. In a matter of seconds you’re given the ability to 1. Ascertain the nature of the article (if the title is ambiguous) and 2. Avoid (or prepare yourself for) copious amounts of potential technical jargon.

3. DigiTimes

If you’re looking for information on a global scale, here’s your site. DigiTimes essentially looks at electronics, semiconductor, and computer industries in Taiwan and China. If you are interested in a high degree of technicality and specificity, it’s worth your time.

4. 9to5mac

The name of the site basically says it all. You like Macs? We do, too. You want to know more, hear updates, etc.? Perfect! 9to5 has got your back.

5. Technology Review

Finally, we’ve got Technology Review. I saved this one for last because it is probably the most all-encompassing of the list. And hey, if you’re feeling adventurous you can read it in 6 other languages besides English. Fun, right?
Just in case that wasn’t incentive enough, it’s published by our lovely neighbors over at MIT which is just another reason to check it out!

P.S. If I'm missing any awesome sites you'd like to see added to the list, post a comment and I'll add it on! :)

5 Tools to Make Your Whiteboard Drawings Come to Life

So you’ve got a whiteboard, and you love to draw on it, but what about when you want to share that creativity with the world (or, you know, your friends)? Sure you can take a high resolution image of your whiteboard creation, but what should you do with that image? Here are a few tools to bring your whiteboard drawings to life.

1. Take advantage of the Interwebz!

I know I say this quite a bit, but the intricacies of social networking these days makes these social sites a prime piece of real estate you want in your arsenal. You can upload images to Slideshare if you are looking to penetrate a business market, Instagram if you’re dabbling in artsy, or simply use Tumblr and Twitter if you’re looking for broad, nonspecific, market penetration.

2. Make yourself some business cards!
There are a million sites out there where you can take your own photographs and have those images sized, cut and turned into your own unique business cards for a reasonable price. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been handed a plain white business card with a few lines of uniform text accompanied by a slightly larger company name centered at the top of the card. This for me is a missed opportunity. You have the chance to make an impression with your business cards and what's more fun than creating your own individualized, hand drawn cards?

P.S. You can apply the same logic to holiday cards, thank you notes, etc. Get personal!

3. Record a Video
So I’ve already mentioned that you can take a photograph of your wonderful whiteboard creations, but why not make a video too to share with interested viewers. Upload it YouTube or Vimeo and have people watch you in action!

4. Try some stop motion!
To piggyback slightly off of number 3, you can string your photographs together, and create a stop motion video. In particular, think about sprucing up your resume. I can tell you right now that every resume I have seen over the last few years has been more or less the same. Occasionally I have seen people get creative with their layout, but even then it’s still the same single sided, manila colored page outlining, in carefully chosen language, a list of skills that individual may or may not actually possess. If your line of profession, or desired profession for that matter, is open to a certain degree of creativity in this respect, think about creating a stop motion, whiteboard drawn resume. It is definitely a time investment, but it’s a surefire way to make an impression.

5. DeviantART

The DeviantART community is huge, and what better way to get your whiteboard drawings out there! The Deviant community supports all different types of art from poetry, to sketching, to photographs and much more. If you’re handy with your expo markers, look no further for a place to share your creativity! If someone likes what they see, they have the option of buying your work or even commissioning you for something specific.

Now, if you don't have a whiteboard yet, we can help you out with that one, too!

Boston For Valentine's Day: What to Do

First of all, I encourage all of you to use these next two days to their full advantage. Until the end of the day on Feb. 14th, you’ll still be able to use the code VDAY2012 to get 14 percent off your entire DrawTop order. Pretty great, huh? It’s ok if you already have a DrawTop, you can tell your friends or coworkers about the coupon code and make everyone happy.

2. Art is romantic, right?

The Museum of Fine Arts recently invited guests to partake in a nude scavenger hunt. Don’t worry, the guests themselves weren’t nude, but rather they were given clues directing them to various nude sculptures, paintings, etc. within the museum. Sounds kind of fun, yes? Unfortunately, they won’t be conducting these scavenger hunts on Valentine’s Day itself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own fun scavenger-type game to help guide you through the museum (or, any other museum for that matter). If nudity doesn’t fuel your artistic fire, think about another artistic element you might enjoy and walk (don’t run) around the museum looking for examples of that particular style. And hey, if you do like the nude idea, I give you permission to browse the museum for the best nude artwork you can find!

3. Take a Dinner Cruise
I know it is February and it’s always colder on the water, but forget about the wind-chill and get yourself some dinner on a boat! It’ll be nice to get some fresh air while testing out those sea legs of yours.

There are a ton of different companies hosting Valentine’s dinner cruises (for example The Spirit of Boston and Mass Bay Lines to name a few in Rowes Wharf) but their menus and entertainment will vary. After clicking on a few different sites, I’m sure you’ll know which cruise is right for you and be out on the water in no time.

4. Dining in the dark
Ever eaten blindfolded before? Well, now is your chance! The Hampshire House in Beacon Hill is taking the dining experience to a new level: one completely reliant on taste, touch, and smell. Personally, I think it sounds fascinating, but potentially messy as well. If you are a picky eater, however, this may not be the best thing for you. Instead of looking at a menu and ordering your food after pondering the options for a bit, you’ll have to guess what you are eating at the Hampshire House. Individuals with allergies beware!

So, all in all, have an awesome Valentine’s Day. Hallmark holiday or not, it’s still an excuse to get out on a Tuesday night with either a romantic interest or a bunch of friends and do something out of the ordinary.

Marketing *Yourself* With DrawTop

So, there’s something we never told you about DrawTops… They are kind of awesome for marketing yourself. And now, since Valentine’s Day is approaching, we’re going to share our secrets with you.

“How do you market yourself with DrawTop” you ask?

First, you must leave your home and hunker down in a place of your choosing. Where do you like to hang out? Coffee shops? Pubs? Bowling alleys? All of the options to the left are great choices, and of course if you prefer to bring your computer elsewhere, that option is encouraged as well.

Once you are settled in (preferably seated in a well-lit, strategically scouted location) get out your laptop and markers and begin! Advertise your Ok Cupid handle, your website, online persona, etc. Also, think about creating your own ‘How About We’ date proposal. Depending on your location, your date could be as simple as “How about you and your cup of coffee chat with me at my table?” or could be as daring as “How about we take a spontaneous trip to the Bahamas?” Though I do admire the creativity of the website itself, your DrawTop might just hook you a winner in real time at one of your favorite places!

Now, by “marketing yourself” I’m not only referring to catching yourself a fine companion. As an artist, it’s important to put yourself out there for people to see your work. You can use your DrawTop to create a masterpiece as well as display your website for interested buyers to find more of your work! And make sure your resume is linked on your website, because once someone writes down your URL and looks you up, you might land yourself a new job!

Use the coupon code VDAY2012 to get a 14% discount on your complete DrawTop order. Happy Valentine's Day, from the DrawTop team!

Sales Got Your Tongue? Tips To Maintain Profitability After The Holiday Rush

For a great deal of businesses, small or large, the early winter months are crucial. Given the plethora of gift/celebration-oriented holidays observed between November and January, there is, undoubtedly, a great potential for profit. After all, we are consumers, born and bred. And for many centuries to come, we will likely maintain our consumer-centric ways, emptying our pockets to shower our loved ones with humorous and heartfelt gifts.

However after the New Year comes and goes, and the gift giving ceases a bit, it’s normal to see a serious decrease in sales. This can be pretty rough, especially for a startup or small business so here are a few ways to help increase sales after the major holidays subside:

1. Now, I mentioned that period of time around December typically marks the heart of gift giving in this country, but if you’ve ever been to a grocery or convenient store in the United States (at any point in the year) I’m sure you have noticed that there is always another holiday right around the corner. After Christmas and Chanukah there’s New Year’s, then Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day after that. The list goes on until we are back at the beginning again. For consumers, this continual cycle can be a bit draining, but from a sales perspective, these built in holidays can be a great way to engage your audience.

Consider holding a fun holiday event and inviting your customers/clients to stop by for a few appetizers or a drink. Get creative. Promote a new product, hold a brief seminar, meet and greet, have fun! This is a great opportunity to get a touch more personal with those whom you conduct business while building rapport, as well.

2. Who is your target audience?

Use this down-time productively. Think about your ideal target audience and whether or not you are already reaching that specific group. If you are, that’s great! But there may, however, still be other demographics you hadn’t previously considered approaching.

Take some time to think about new ways of reaching your current audience, as well as brainstorm ideas for reaching that alternate audience you may have previously overlooked.

3. A/B Testing

If you discover that you aren’t completely satisfied with your overall reach (in regard to your target audience), this is a great time to do some A/B testing. Whether you are making changes to your website, contemplating a rebranding strategy, etc., A/B testing can be a great way to monitor audience reception for those changes. Remember, even something as simple as changing the color of the buttons on your website homepage can impact sales; this type of comparative strategy will help you figure out the best option for you and your company.

Now get out there are show us what you’ve got; but, don’t forget to say hello to the DrawTop shop on your way out!

Whiteboard History: It's More Interesting Than You Thought

Seeing as it is January 2012, I think it is safe to assume that we have all used a whiteboard at some point in our lives. But, have you ever thought about the history of that so frequently used whiteboard in your classroom or cubicle? Neither had I, but it’s actually pretty interesting. So sit down and relax while I tell you the story (a DrawTop adaptation) of the wonderful whiteboard.

There once was a man named Heit, Martin Heit: a photographer and war veteran. While in the dark room one night, working with his negatives, he discovered that a marker pen could be used on the glossy surface of his film to jot down notes. Not only could he write on his negatives, but those notes could be easily erased with simply a damp cloth or tissue.

“What a remarkable concept!” he thought. “THIS is the counterpart the wall-mounted telephone has been looking for all these years!”

Enamored with his discovery, Heit began creation of a prototype in the late 1950s: the first whiteboard. When suddenly, disaster struck! It was the night before his big reveal, when a blazing fire ravaged his showcase leaving his prototype utterly destroyed. Perplexity ensued.

In a moment of clarity, Martin made the difficult decision to sell his idea to Dri-Mark. By the mid 1960’s his former product hit the market, making its way into classrooms everywhere. Whiteboards were in and blackboards out. After undergoing a series of material changes and alterations, the porcelain-steel magnetic dry erase boards triumphed and have, today, become the standard.

Now, I understand that it is rare to see a wall-mounted telephone these days, but the next time you pick up that Expo marker and draw a silly picture on your coworker’s cubicle whiteboard, remember Heit. Without Heit there may never have been a DrawTop and for that we are grateful. So to thank Heit, we suggest order lots of DrawTops and giving them to your friends and family. :)

Doodle Alternatives: 6 Awesome Games to Play on Your White Board.

I think we can agree that the invention of the whiteboard was an all-around great idea. They are multi-functional and generally useful, if I do say so. They are great in a work environment and perfect for jotting down a weekly schedule, but they are also much more fun to use than the traditional pen and paper… especially when it comes to playing some good ol’ fashioned partner games during your down time. Here are a few great games that are perfect to play on a whiteboard.

Note: These games will require at least one friend.

This one is my personal favorite. Essentially, all you need to do is draw out a grid of dots. The grid can be as large or as small as you want it. Alternating turns, each player draws a line segment between any two adjacent dots they choose (the line must be either horizontal or vertical; no diagonal lines). The goal is to draw the line segment that will complete a square and to then claim the square as your own. Ultimately, the individual with the most squares at the end of the game wins. It’s not exactly a brain buster, but it is definitely fun.

A classic. Simply pick a word or phrase and draw out a series of underscores to represent the letters in that word or phrase. It is then up to the other player to guess letters and fill in the blanks. For every wrong letter guessed, however, one body part is drawn on the stick figure man. To win the game, the word must be guessed before the stick figure’s body is complete. It’s quick and easy to draw and even easier to erase. Now you won’t have to use your entire note pad!

How can you go wrong with a game about X’s and O’s? Also, Tic-tac-toe only requires a grid of 9 boxes. It’s perfect for even the smallest of whiteboards. (A smart top, perhaps?)

Whenever I play Sudoku, I end up making small number ticks all over the paper. This makes it impossible for me to play with a pen. The number tics then become so abundant that there is then barely any room for the final number once I’ve figured it out. Playing on a whiteboard eliminates this problem entirely. Though, you may need to have a friend draw out the board for you to make sure it will still be a challenge.

This one is tricky. There are a lot of pieces involved in chess, so it would be quite drawing intensive. If your surface is large enough, however, the added artistic element could make the game that much more appealing.

This game again requires a grid, 4x4. Each square needs to have a game piece in the center (feel free to draw out any shapes/designs you please). On each turn, a player can remove up to 4 game pieces in a given row or column. The goal? To make your opponent remove the last game piece. This is one of the best games for a white board. You can get creative and elaborate with your game pieces, it’s an incredibly quick game, and involves just enough strategy to keep you intrigued over and over again.

21 Suggestions for Success

It’s the New Year. And with that, January 1st typically marks a day of happiness, sappiness, and a lot of promise making. But before you get to making all those promises of gym memberships and cigarette quitting, excuse my corniness and take a quick look at H. Jackson Brown, Jr.'s suggestions for success! Who wouldn't want to be more successful, right?

21 Suggestions for Success:

1 Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
2 Work at something you enjoy and that's worth your time and talent.
3 Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
4 Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
5 Be forgiving of yourself and others.
6 Be generous.
7 Have a grateful heart.
8 Persistence, persistence, persistence.
9 Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
10 Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
11 Commit yourself to constant improvement.
12 Commit yourself to quality.
13 Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
14 Be loyal.
15 Be honest.
16 Be a self-starter.
17 Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong.
18 Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
19 Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
20 Take good care of those you love.
21 Don't do anything that wouldn't make your Mom proud.

Happy New Year, everyone! We hope it's your most successful yet!

How to Combat The Post-Holiday Blues

First of all, it’s Christmas and Chanukkah today. So, happy holidays and enjoy the day! Unfortunately, soon the holidays will be over and mass sadness may ensue. No more yummy treats (unless you know how to cook, which I surely do not), no more presents (until your birthday, probably), and then, of course, you have to go back to work. But have no fear! Here are a few tips to put the pep back in your step even if the post-holiday blues set in.

1. Start knitting next year’s holidays sweaters
How could you possibly be upset about the holidays coming to an end when you’re stitching reindeer and snowmen on your clothing?

2. Have people over for Boxing Day
Maybe you’ll even be able to take off work for this holiday like they do in England!

3. Plan a Twelfth Night party
This is an attempt to prolong the holiday season a touch longer and despite my lack of knowledge about this particular holiday, it sounds like a great opportunity to invite some friends over for a small celebration and a few libations.

4. Create your own January Hallmark holiday.
Make cards; have people over; start new traditions. The possibilities are endless!

5. Get rid of the tree!
I know it’s hard, but you can’t hold on to that Christmas tree forever. Swap it out for some flowers or a new plant to tend to. It’ll make the transition easier and you won’t have to keep picking up all those pesky pine needles.

7. And if worse comes to worst…. Get a puppy! They’re always instant smile evokers! Well, unless you are allergic. In that case consider a fish?