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Reflections on this semester

This has been an interesting assignment to say the least. By using this blog as a central platform to launch messages, I’ve been able to figure out what tools work and what tools don’t.

I’m surprised to say that Storify is probably the most effective tool for reaching out to complete strangers. The ability to tag and notify people when you “quote” them in a story is pretty handy, and I noticed at least a few people enjoyed being a part of a story.

@MitchC182 didn't mind being quoted

@MitchC182 didn’t mind being quoted\

Twitter has been hit or miss for me personally. It seems like I would need to put A LOT more time into maintaining an active Twitter persona if I wanted to build an active follower base. As mentioned yesterday, the site has mostly become a platform to talk to my girlfriend. Less than professional? Maybe. Fun, social, and okay for the public to see? You betcha.

I can’t say I’m on my way to becoming a viral YouTube star. My video so far has about six views, at least a third of which are from checking on the video to make sure it embedded correctly. I feel more comfortable with going on video now than I did before, though I’m sure I could improve on, well, everything (from noisy neighbors and poor video centering to ad-libbing a voice over and doing everything in a single take).

Facebook has been moderately successful in self-promotion. My friend and family have taken note of what I post, but I’m pretty sure they’d do that anyways.

All in all, I don’t expect to go viral, or really even get that many readers. After getting half way through this assignment I came to the realization that there are tons of guys (and some girls I assume) who make a living doing this kind of thing. They have way better funding and much more time to produce content. That being said, I do like writing about what I love when I have time to do so.

Let’s see how summer looks. This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Here’s a quick video on cutting and lighting your first cigar. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth?

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Twitter: This week in cigars

What’s Twitter smoking this week? Glad you asked! Here’s a Storify article! Using the hashtag “#NowSmoking,” I was able to get a good idea of what people are sharing. It looks like Twitter microbloggers are using the site as a tool to show off, with Liga Privadas, Kristofs, and Ghurkas all making an appearance.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Where to smoke

So you picked out your first stick, but where are you going to smoke? You’ll want to ve somewhere you can sit and relax for a while. Here are a few ideas.

Home
Seems pretty obvious, I know. Smoking at home offers you more freedom than just about anywhere else. Unless you already live in a smoker-friendly abode, take it to the garage or outside. Unless your place has proper ventilation, you’re going to stink up the place for quite a while.

We can all wish, can’t we? (Photo via GardnerFoxRemodeling)

A cigar sized ashtrays would be handy, but for your first just about anything will do. Be mindful that even when you’re finished, a cigar nub can still start fires. Here’s lookin’ at you, drought.

B&M Shop or Lounge
This would probably be your best bet. Some cigar shops also serve as lounges. Depending on the shop/lounge, you may be required to pay a fee to use the lounge. If it’s something you’re willing to try, look into a one-day pass and take advantage of the regulars’ knowledge.

Nat Sherman’s Johnson lounge (via flawlessCrowns.com)

A Bar
I’m a tad hesitant to list this, and here’s why. Some bars have no cigar smoking rules, but still allow cigarettes. Even if you find a smoker friendly establishment, some people may get offended by the smell of a cigar. To avoid wasting a smoke, ask first.

Casa del Fuente’s bar and lounge (image via HauteLiving.com)

Coffe Shop
Like bars, this is going to be a hit or miss location. Ask your barista if you can light up outside before you start puffing. If you’re not alone, it might not hurt to ask people down wind, too.

Many Starbucks I’ve seen have outdoor seating complete with ashtrays (image via BrandAvenue.typepad.com)

The Great Outdoors
If you’re going outside for a while, say on a hunting trip, at a bonfire, at the beach, camping or fishing, grab a few of your second-string stogies! Smoking outside may not let you keep all of your tasty aromas close, but in my opinion it’s pretty freeing.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Background and Basics, How-To's

 

Tools of my trade

As far as cigar setups go, mine’s nowhere near as complex or high-dollar as it could be, but hey, I make do with my budget. Here’s a slideshow if what I’m sittin’ on so far.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
Image

What if… An App Idea

There are quite a few apps and websites already available for keeping tabs on your cigar collection, this I know. Most of these sites require you to go through a somewhat cumbersome selection process, in which you choose a brand, then type, then vitola/wrapper. It’s the year 2013. Shouldn’t there be a faster way to do this?

Concept

I’m sure at least a few readers here are familiar with Google Googles. No? Google Goggles is an app by Google for both Android and iOS. It allows you to take a photo of text, books, landmarks, business cards, and brands on objects, then identifies whatever you photographed. Think of it as a google search, but with the photo you just took instead of text. What’s this foreign brand of soda? Snap Oh, it’s Cascade from Australia. Thanks, Google Goggles!

Now imagine if you could do the same thing for cigars. Hmm. What’s this brand/vitola/wrapper? Imagine the possibilities. Just got a new shipment in? Made a haul to your local shop? Snap, Snap Snap and your inventory’s updated. When did I get that Opus X in? How long have I been aging that Padron?  How many Olivas do I have left? All of these could be answered from your smartphone

Features

This may be a little lofty, but some features I’d like to have in an app like this would be…

  • Photo recognition of bands, length/ring gauge, and wrapper shade
  • Database capabilities with multiple database options (humidors, wishlist, etc.)
  • Exporting options including .xls, .css, .txt, .pdf, and .jpg extensions for easy sharing
  • Social media integration
  • User-to-user communication for trades, showing off, etc.
  • Premium version for retailers to display real-time inventory as well as manage stock

Developmental Difficulties

An app like this would be hard to pull off. At this point in time I’m not 100% sure how open Google is with the Goggles app, so Google integration may not be a possibility. As far as band recognition goes, a huge back-end database of bands/labels would be a necessity. Estimating length and ring gauge with an image would present accuracy issues, some of which could be remedied by placing a dollar bill or some other standard-length object beside the cigar. Due to lighting and camera setting inconsistencies, determining the wrapper type (light/claro to dark/oscuro) would be a nightmare.
Storing the information wouldn’t be nearly as identifying the cigars; same goes for sharing/exporting the information. A separate app would be required for retailers who would be looking for an inventory management system. The large-scale inventory management system may required another source of data entry (QR codes or bar codes, for example).

Possible UI (User Interface) 

App Home Screen

App Home Screen

Photo Screen Mock-Up

Photo Screen Mock-Up

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Personal

 

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Finding Your First Cigar

Today we’re going to find your first cigar. If you already know of a tobacco shop, ask your tobacconist for some beginners’ options. If you’re like me and didn’t have a lot of help getting started, read on!

Think Small
You’ll want to pick up a smaller vitola (cigar size) for your first few smoke sessions. You may be thinking “why wouldn’t I want the big one and get more tobacco for my money?”

The answer isn’t to complex. First of all, if you’re new to smoking, you may smoke yourself sick on a Churchill or Presidente or any other two-hour-plus smoke. It’s a lot of nicotine and a lot of time. Second, smaller vitolas are usually less expensive than larger ones. If you’re just figuring out if you like cigars, you may not want to drop $12-18 and only smoke a quarter of what you buy. Third, narrower vitolas are more flavorful than thicker vitolas of the same line. This is due to a larger wrapper to filler ratio. Trust me. Last but not least, a smaller smoke is a shorter smoke, meaning you can give it the attention it deserves.

Look for something 5 and a half inches or less long and smaller than 55 in ring gauge. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch, so a 32 ring gauge would be half an inch in diameter. Cigars are usually measured in inches x ring gauge. For example, 4 1/2 x 48 would be 4 and a half inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter.

Look for a robusto, corona, or any like size. Individual cigar brands will vary the exact size of a vitola, but the size names should give you a good idea of what you’d enjoy. The chart below from StogiesOnTheRocks.com is a great resource.

Stogies on the Rocks infographic

A fantastic infographic from Stogies on the Rocks illustrating cigar sizes and shapes

Hecho a Mano
Get something hand-made. You don’t need to drop a paycheck on your first smoke, but realize that most of the time you get what you pay for.

On the links page you should be able to find a few lists of first-time cigars, many of which fall into the sub-$6 category.

Float Like a Feather
Pick something that’s designated as “light” or “light-medium” in strength. For reference, strength is the amount of nicotine a cigar can kick out, and body refers to how much smoke or body a cigar produce. Body isn’t directly related to flavor. I’ve had some very flavorful but mild smokes, and I’ve also had some dull full bodied cigars.

Stay Traditional
If you can resist temptation, stick to non-infused cigars as you build your palette. Some example brands to avoid (for now) include ACID, Java, Isla del Sol and Tabak Especial by Drew Estate, CAO Flavors, and anything else that seems like an altered tobacco. Infused cigars have their place, but I find the muddle my palate.

The Takeaway
*Ask a tobacconist or a shop regular for a beginner’s recommendation, or check the lists of beginner’s smokes on the Links page.
*Get something smaller, around a Corona size.
*Try to get something smaller than 5.5×55.
*Buy something hand made.
*Look for a lighter-strength cigar.
*Avoid infused or flavored cigars for now.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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