Archive for August, 2008

IZEAFest is Coming to Orlando in September

Got a blog? Want to know how to market it and maybe make some money off of it in the process? Then you’ll want to be a part of the upcoming IZEAFest in downtown Orlando.

What is IZEAFest, you say? Well, if you attended this spring’s BarCamp Orlando, you’re probably already familiar with local social media marketing firm IZEA, which sponsored an amazing after-event party.

Now they’re taking it a step further by bringing in a slew of influential bloggers and internet advertisers to Orlando for a three-day event designed to allow everyone from newbies to experts in the blogging world access to information and panels on such subjects as improving your content, growing traffic to your blog, and, of course, how to make it more profitable.

Among the panel guests will be such people as money-making gurus like John Chow and keynote speaker Jeremy Schoemaker, both of whom make five-figure incomes monthly off their blogs. Joining them will be other movers-and-shakers in the blogging world like Merlin Mann (another keynote speaker), Orlando Sentinel‘s Etan Horowitz and internet marketing consultant Tamar Weinberg, who writes for sites like Lifehacker and Mashable. Even Metblogs head honcho Sean Bonner will also be on hand as a panelist, if you’ve had any questions you wanted to ask him about this site.

The event starts on Thursday, September 11, with an evening social event, then gets down to business on Friday, September 12 and Saturday, September 13, with panels from 9am until 6pm each day.

Of course, it’s not an IZEA event without the closing party, which this year is a scavenger hunt that promises to be “messy” and fun. Um…messy?? Anyways, the hunt is timed and the winning team gets $500 in Home Depot cards. Even if you don’t participate, I’m sure the blackmail pictures will be worth attending this shindig. (Sean…pay no attention to that last sentence…)

Similar events like this are normally priced at several hundred dollars a ticket, but IZEA wants this to be accessible to everyone who has a blog, so they’re pricing their tickets at only $65. Seriously, as someone who attends quite a few blogger conferences, I can tell you that’s really a steal for the amount of information you’ll be able to take away from this event. Not to mention all the opportunities to network with the people attending.

All the details you could want to know about the event can be found at IZEAFest.com. Already know you want to go? Skip ahead to the ordering panel and get your tickets before it sells out.

And if you are going, I’ll see you there!

Tropical Storm Fay World Tour To Rock Central Florida Today

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or somewhere else without access to any television or radio media, I’m sure y’all know that tropical storm Fay is due to arrive in the Central Florida area today.

Even though so far it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as strong as any of the 2004 hurricanes, it is so far packing quite a punch as it hits land in southern Florida, with a tornado already touching down in West Palm Beach. So I thought I’d pop in with some quick tips and links to help everyone get through the worst of the storm.

Basic Storm Information:

  • The Orlando Sentinel maintains a hurricane survival guide on its website, including a list of items you should have on hand to ride out a severe storm, like Fay.
  • The website for WESH has several great links, from live tracking of the storm to being prepared for the storm.
  • If local media isn’t your thing, Mashable has a list of resources in their article “How to Chase Hurricane Fay Online.”
  • Make sure you have bottled water on hand -at least several gallons per person – in case of problems with the tap water
  • Also make sure you are stocked up on batteries for flashlights and other items like radios. Candles and matches couldn’t hurt either. It’s possible for power outages with a storm like this, so be prepared for that.
  • Fully charge any electronics like cellphones and laptop batteries, in case of said power outages
  • If you’re out and about today, fill up your gas tank and grab some cash out of an ATM. If there are any power outages, credit and debit cards may be useless.
  • If you live near any elderly or disabled neighbors, take a moment to check on them before and after the storms pass. It’s the right thing to do.

Closures and Cancellations:

  • Schools – for the most part, every school in Central Florida will be closed today and tomorrow. Check with yours to be sure before you send the young ones off.
  • Port Canaveral is closed to large ships, which means no cruise ships today or tomorrrow. If you were scheduled to take a cruise from here, check with the cruiseline before departing for the port.
  • Many airlines have canceled flights into and out of Central Florida airports, including OIA. Check with your airline if you have travel plans for today, or are expecting loved ones to fly in.
  • Kennedy Space Center is closed for today.
  • So far, Lynx bus service in Orlando is running, but their Access Lynx routes have been heavily scaled back. If you use the service, check with them for any schedule changes.
  • SeaWorld has canceled its evening program at Discovery Cove today, but otherwise reports both parks are staying open.
  • Walt Disney World reports they will open all four parks earlier today, at 8am, to allow park guests more time to enjoy them before the worst of the storm hits Central Florida.
  • Universal Orlando reports both parks will also be open
  • Tolls have been suspended for most roads in central and southern Florida for today. Check here for the complete list.
  • Promoters report tonight’s Stone Temple Pilots show at UCF has been canceled due to the storm. Tickets can be refunded at the point of purchase.

If you have any tips, closure news or links to share with the Metroblogging Orlando readers, please leave them in the comments. Otherwise, please stay safe and don’t go out in the storm if you don’t have to.

Central Florida Represented at Olympics

Beijing Olympics logoI am so excited that the Summer Olympics kick off today in Beijing! I almost never watch sports on TV, but come the Olympics, I am glued to the screen every chance I get.

So I thought it’d be interesting to see if there were any athletes from Orlando and Central Florida participating, and would you believe we have nine people representing us this year?

Here’s a quick run-down of the Central Florida Olympians:

  • Jenny Barringer – Track & Field: 3,000m Steeplechase.
    Barringer, who went to Oviedo High School, looks strong to medal, having set a new U.S. record in the event just three weeks ago.
  • Damu Cherry – Track & Field: 100m Hurdles.
    Cherry was born in Tampa and currently lives in Ocoee.
  • Phil Dalahusser – Beach Volleyball.
    This UCF graduate and his teammate Todd Rogers are the defending FIVB World Champions going into the Olympics, so they look very strong to medal.
  • Dwight Howard – Men’s Basketball.
    Howard is the center of the Orlando Magic when not a part of the Olympic’s Team USA basketball team, which has an excellent chance to medal.
  • Hunter Kemper – Triathlon.
    Born in Longwood, FL, this will be Kemper’s third Olympics. He placed ninth at the 2004 Olympics, and stands a good chance to medal this time.
  • Ryan Lochte – Swimming: 200m Backstroke, 200m and 400m Individual Medley, 4x200m Free Relay.
    Though teammate Michael Phelps gets more media attention, Central Florida’s Lochte still has an excellent chance to medal again in one of his four competitions. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Lochte won the gold medal in the 800m freestyle relay and won the silver in the 200 individual medley (Phelps took gold).
  • DeLisha Milton-Jones – Women’s Basketball.
    Milton-Jones attended the University of Florida in Gainesville before becoming a member of the LA Sparks. She was also a member of the Gold-medal winning US Olympic team in 2000.
  • David Oliver – Track & Field: 110m Hurdles.
    This Orlando resident goes into the Olympics as the 2008 US Indoor champ.
  • Nancy Rios – Sailing: Board (aka windsurfing).
    Cocoa Beach resident Rios came in first at the U.S. Olympic trials and looks strong to medal.

NBC-affiliate WESH has a team, headed by reporter Aixa Diaz, reporting live from Beijing, and you can catch the station’s complete local coverage online.

The Olympics will kick off with the opening ceremonies live on NBC tonight at 7:30pm, and our local athletes will be among the Team USA contingent walking into the stadium. If you miss it then, the network will be re-airing the ceremonies a few hours later at 2:30am tomorrow morning.

Anybody else going to be watching the Olympics? Got any fave sports or athletes you’ll be looking for?

Could Brett Favre Be Coming to Central Florida?

Brett Favre Sports Illustrated coverAs a former-Wisconsin resident, I think it’s safe to say former Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre has amassed quite a legendary career in football over his sixteen years with the team. And I can’t even begin to tell you the number of grown men I saw cry when several months ago, Favre announced he was finally retiring from the sport.

Only, it seems as though that idea was short-lived. Five months into said retirement, Favre asked to be reinstated and I guess expected to reclaim his QB throne with the Pack. But it seems they no longer are interested in his “yes I am/no I’m not” constant retirement talk, even going so far as to offer the 38-year-old QB $20 million to stay retired and work with the team in a marketing capacity.

Ouch!

So according to a story all over today’s news, it seems Favre has reached a “stalemate” with Green Bay and is looking for another team, with Tampa Bay’s Buccaneers suddenly in place as one of the front runners.

The Bucs, currently training out at Disney’s Wide World of Sports here in Orlando, have said they would entertain the idea of having Favre onboard, despite already having five QB’s on the roster already, but have otherwise remained silent on this new development.

I’ll admit to not being a diehard follower of Tampa, but I have to wonder if this would be a boost to the team or just a waste of a salary. And at this point, does anyone even care if he returns to the field?

Any football fans care to comment on whether you feel having Favre don a Bucs jersey would be a good thing? Should he have stayed in retirement? Or are you just tired of hearing about the whole thing?

Disney and Universal Raise Ticket Prices Again

Yes, you read that heading correctly. Even in the midst of record high gas prices and nickle-and-dime tactics from airlines, two of the three major Orlando theme parks have decided this is a good time to raise prices on their admission tickets.

Walt Disney World was the first, raising its one-day, one-park pass price on Sunday to $75 (plus tax). Now word comes that Universal will also be raising their basic ticket to $75, starting today.

Now you can say that the $4 or so increase is minor, but for most people working minimum-wage type jobs, they now have to work 10-12 hours to afford to spend one day at the park.

To be fair, Florida residents can still save a bit by purchasing annual passes or special ticket combos, like WDW’s Play 3 or Play 4 day passes or Universal’s 1-day/2-park combo tickets. But one has to wonder if it’s a good idea to raise ticket prices when millions of families in the U.S. are already having their paycheck’s stretched thin with basics like housing costs, rising food bills and gas prices that are keeping many closer to home on their vacations.

At any rate, SeaWorld so far appears to be the lone hold-out, keeping prices at $69.95 for a single day ticket, with a $10 online discount for advance purchase. They also allow Florida residents to turn that ticket into a fun card good for admission through the end of the year for free.

How about it? How do you readers cope with the ticket prices of the area theme parks? Do you rely on friends to let you in? Do you have annual passes? Or do you just not bother going anymore? Let us know in comments.

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