Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So We Teach the Kids to Cheat

First, I want to say thank you to anyone who voted for me to win the HP TouchSmart computer. In case you didn't see the comments attached to the prior post, the contest was deemed null and void and nobody won.

It was quite a messy thing, actually. The nature of the contest - the voting process - is designed to encourage viral marketing. Spread the word to help a friend out. Post everywhere you can think of in order to garner the most votes. The front runner when the contest was closed has a large fan base on YouTube as well as the backing of his gaming community. A few of us were working various Mom Blogging communities, Craigslist, various hobby forums and other networks. I even found out that my brother put in a plea to his business associates just so I would “owe him” if I happened to win. If you’re a sibling, you totally understand the notion of holding something over another siblings head.

Unfortunately, the problem with such voting programs is there isn't any real control over the actual votes. Hackers can do anything and blog widgets like these don’t exactly have Fort Knox security built in. So guess what happened... there was vote tampering. The guy who was in the lead had people openly bragging about having voted for him multiple times with one even offering to show others how easy it is. To make matters worse, it was discovered that someone (or multiple people) were running scripts to hike the votes. HighTechDad was able to easily locate and remove 2000 votes from the guy in the lead but he didn't run through it with a fine tooth comb. But before he even had a chance to do so, his site was hammered by an automated system that not only shut down his site but caused his service provider to suspend his account altogether. Basically, he declared the guy in front to be the winner and within minutes, the attack on his site halted. After reviewing additional information and the subsequent cease-fire once he announced the winner, he decided the contest was null and void. Although I would have preferred to win it, I'm glad that it ended the way it did rather than the front runner unduly being given the prize.

I hated that people were cheating, but what bothered me most is that it was being done by kids. When HighTechDad announced the winner (and the site attack stopped), it pretty much showed those kids that yes, cheaters could still win. Although the guy in the lead may or may not have been involved in the cheating didn't really matter. The fact that people... kids... cheated on his behalf just set a bad example. When he saw those kids bragging about it, he should have blasted them. Blocked them as friends. Publicly scolded them. Contacted their parents if he knew how. Taught them a lesson in values and ethics.

Although I would have preferred a charity receive this in lieu of nobody, I'm glad HighTechDad opted NOT to show kids that it's okay to cheat... or even to stand for someone cheating on your behalf. Regardless of whether you were aware of it or not.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Do you have a minute to spare?

Every once in a while, something comes along that has the potential to really make your day. Since I tend to spend a bit of time entering contests on various blogs, sometimes I win fun things like movie passes, gadgets or board games.

Well, tonight I found out that I'm a finalist to win a new HP TouchSmart computer from HighTechDad and HP. Just in time for Christmas, too. It's very exciting to be name one of 10 finalists. Yes, I have a 1 in 10 chance of winning. Sort of.

It's a popularity contest. The person with the most votes this Thursday at noon Pacific time will win. I hate popularity contests. But I feel like I have a great network of friends in the blogging community that can help me win. It only takes like a minute to click over and vote. There are no strings attached, you don't even have to leave your name. It's so easy that even a cave... (I hate those commercials but it just seems to fit here.)

So all that I'm asking is for you to Click here and vote. I'm #7 (SahmReviews)

...and hopefully, you'll spread the word to friends and have them vote too.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

If I had to do it all again...

I don't consider myself one to get writer's block but I do get overwhelmed and find that I just do not make time for writing. Today, however, I'm writing a letter to my younger self. Why? Well, I could say that it's because I'm inspired by the holidays... but that wouldn't be entirely honest. I'm actually entering a contest at Chocolate Covered Daydreams where someone will win a Wii Fit Plus. It's not a random drawing, but is being judged. Of course, I'm hoping that all the winner will be me but this contest had an unexpected outcome. Once I started composing the letter in my head, I realized it was pretty therapeutic. I went back and changed my letter entirely. With that, here's my letter to my younger self:

Dear teenage Nicole,

What would you think if I said that 25 years from now, you'll be married to a fantastic man, have two beautiful daughters, have seen some wonderful places and be retired? As you look around, that doesn't seem very realistic, does it? You feel unpopular, ugly and sad. But I'm here to tell you that it's all true. It will happen if you stay on the right path.

You're going through a rough time, I know. I remember. But seriously, it's really not as bad as it seems. The braces will come off and you'll shed the glasses for contacts. You'll do great in school, too. Believe it or not, you WILL eventually have a boyfriend. You'll smile with confidence and make people feel at ease around you.

But I'm not going to say everything is rosy. The hard truth is that you'll find more difficulties in the future, too. Depression, an eating disorder, financial strains, infertility and depression (again) to name a few. But you'll get through it and you'll come out stronger on the other side. Alongside your husband, you'll become financially savvy. Your children will make you feel old and young at the same time. You'll see some family members leave way before their time and others live to see great-grandchildren.

Just keep a few things in mind:
- You're not perfect. Nobody is.
- You won't have the perfect life. Nobody does.
- Realize there's a difference between being hard on yourself and beating yourself up.
- You're a good person, even when you are at your lowest.
- You'll have some friends who stand with you and help you... you'll have others who use you and abandon you.
- Experience will show you that life is not fair. Some people lie and cheat to get ahead while others work hard just to make ends meet. You will get passed over for job promotions but something better will come along if you maintain a positive attitude.

It all works out eventually.

When I started this letter, I had every intention of telling you YES, apply for West Point or Harvard like you (will) consider. But then I realized that the decisions you're about to make... that I DID make... got US to where we are now. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. The same way. With all the mistakes, hardships and all.

I'll close this letter by simply saying "Hang in there. Just keep your chin up and have hope because good things happen to good people."

A much older, much wiser and much more confident you.