Roundup of Group Video Chatting Apps for ios | March 2017

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FaceTime is Apple's Video Chat App

Introduction

I want to have a group video chat and was looking into whether or not FaceTime supports that feature yet. It appears that FaceTime does not yet support group chats. This post is actually a series of 3 articles that I copied and am reprinting pretty much verbatim. Each one discusses a Group Video Chat App or Apps, that work on ios as well as what features the apps include, as of of March 2017.

For each article the title links to the main article itself and the author’s name appears right before the the first paragraph on the left.

8 Best Video Chat Apps

Jam Kotenko’s article for GottaBeMobile.com is really great. Had I found this first, I would have looked no further…but I found it last, which is why the other 2 are included. But the other 2 articles, discussing Fam and Houseparty are unique in some senses, so it’s nice to know about them too I think. But Kotenko’s article is the most comprehensive I’ve encounter in a very long time on the subject, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with my readers.

In addition to great writeups on each service, there are links to each platform’s version, as well as helpful videos about each one.

I’ve also included  reader’s comments at the bottom, because they add additional information that’s also helpful.

Gottabemobile.com
JAM KOTENKO
12/23/2016

Video chatting is an important part of Internet culture. It is a great way to connect with people who are important to us, no matter where they are in the world. Of course, having access to the best video chat apps is also crucial, and while there are many options out there, only a few are deemed well-designed and easy to use, with all the important features provided.

Here are a few video chat services for your consideration, most of which are available not only on both iOS and Android platforms, but on the desktop as well.

1. Skype (Free on Android, iOS, and Desktop)

Skype is the pioneer of video chat apps, and since its initial public beta version release back in 2003, it has steadily grown its number of registered users. The service is heavily ingrained into the online chatter’s psyche that the name has become a verb almost everyone recognizes – “I’ll Skype you!” means you’ll be seeing each other’s faces on your chosen device. If they’re not available, that’s OK – you can leave them a video message.

Skype has had the group video feature enabled for quite some time now, and allows you to converse via webcam with up to 25 people, making it a valuable tool for bridging distances between colleagues, friends, and loved ones.

2. Hangouts (Free on Android, iOS, and Desktop)

Hangouts is an instant messaging and video chat platform developed by Google – that fact alone should be enough to give you an idea of the many things you can do with the service. You can video chat for free – both via Wi-Fi and mobile networks – with up to ten contacts, all while being able to share your desktop screen, slap stickers onto faces, and share photos, among other things.

3. Facebook Messenger (Free on Android, iOS and Desktop)

Messenger is Facebook’s all-powerful chat client. While it’s got all the bells and whistles you’ll want in a text messaging app – including the ability to group text and use integrated services like Giphy and Uber within the app – its video call function is simple to use and reliable. The best thing about Messenger? Almost everybody is on Facebook and is therefore reachable via video call, as long as they have the app on their device or have the website open on their Web browser. (If you don’t want to deal with the information overload that usually comes with Facebook, you can contact your friends using Messenger’s dedicated website.)

Oh, and if that’s not good enough, Facebook recently updated Messenger so you can finally make group video calls, which was the only thing Skype and Hangouts had that kept Messenger from being the ultimate go-to video chat app.

4. ooVoo (Free on Android, iOS, and Desktop)

Just like the previous services, ooVoo lets you video chat for free, either one on one or with a group of up to 12 people at once. You can send text, GIFs, photos, and videos while an actual video call is in progress, allowing you to have a dynamic interaction with people you are talking to from anywhere in the world with a decent Internet or mobile network connection, whatever platform or device they are using the service on. Additionally, ooVoo lets you talk to your friends as your favorite avatar character – which you can try on and buy through the ooVoo Store – or wear a mask during a video call.

5. Tango (Free on Android and iOS)

Tango also lets you make video calls and leave video messages for free. You can also send animated stickers, add filters and masks. You can even play games with the person you are speaking to while you are in a call. While it doesn’t seem to be available on desktop, it’s very straightforward and simple to use.

6. Viber (Free on Android, iOS, and Desktop)

Viber is another straightforward video chat platform that you can use on almost any device, including your desktop. As long as the person you are talking to also has Viber installed, video calls are absolutely free. The interface is clean and user-friendly.

7. FaceTime (Pre-installed on iOS and MacOS)

If you are an Apple user, then your go-to service for video calling should be FaceTime, if only for the sole reason that it already comes pre-installed within your iOS device when you purchase it, so downloading isn’t necessary. (FaceTime isn’t readily available or might not appear on devices bought or used in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.) Some important things to note, though: 1. Only contacts who also have iOS devices will be the only ones you can video chat with, and 2. You can only video chat with one person at a time. Having said that, using FaceTime is pretty easy and convenient.

8. Camfrog (Free on Android, iOS, and Desktop)

Finally, to wrap up this list, we’ve got Camfrog, a service that not only lets you video chat privately with your friends and loved ones, but with anyone within the Camfrog community. You can join any of the thousands of chat rooms to connect with people worldwide via video, allowing you to make new friends online, just like in the mIRC days. Proceed with caution, though, because some rooms allow explicit content that’s NSFW.

7 RESPONSES

12/23/2016
Davin Peterson

FaceTime is not the best app because Apple doesn’t make it for Android or Windows. That is the problem with Apple software, they make it for platforms. That is not fair and they should since Google & Microsoft makes apps for Apple’s platform, so Apple should make apps for their platform as well.


12/25/2016
smule sing video

My opinion is : Messenger, ooVoo, Skype, Hangouts, Tango, Viber, Camfrog, Fring, FaceTime, WeChat


12/26/2016
Markoff

ever heard about a small unknown so called WhatsApp? it has video calls as well


01/31/2017
Ana

My opinion is :  WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts, FBK Messenger, ooVoo
Good luck


02/12/2017
Jaquline Sofia

You have shared very helpful and gorgeous apps. I always try to use the above app. But most of the times these apps are unable to make a video call in low quality network signal and 2G network.

There is no 3G network in my village, As a result, i can’t open the facebook messenger in my village.

So i installed the imo messenger. Now i can make a video call in 2G network also. I can connect to my town’s friends via imo.
By the way, thanks for share an informative article.


03/02/2017
Amber Fahad

Agree with you! Skype is my first choose for online free video calls. But I dislike the Facebook messenger video calls. Because it is very disgusting for poor video calling quality at low quality network signal. But I can make a high quality video call via skype within poor quality network also! But your information is very useful. So Thank You.


This Is the New ‘Group FaceTime’ App That Apple Didn’t Develop | Fortune.com

Why People Are Freaking Out About This New ‘Group FaceTime’ App

Fortune.com's Screenshot of the App

Fortune.com’s Screenshot of the App

[Fam App iPhone app for iMessage](https://appsto.re/us/bXQPgb.i?app=messages)

Fortune.com
Polina Marinova
Dec 19, 2016

You might have seen people excitedly tweeting in the last two weeks that “group FaceTime” is finally here. But make no mistake – it’s not tech giant Apple behind this new iMessage -based app. It’s three guys in Boston you’ve never heard of.

Giuseppe Stuto, 27, Frank Iudiciani, 23, and Kevin Flynn, 32, are the three co-founders behind the hot new live group video chat app, Fam. Launched on Dec. 5, it has already been downloaded more than 1 million times and has received hundreds of thousands social media mentions, Stuto says. As of today, Fam is featured in the No. 2 spot under “Top Free Apps” in Apple’s iMessage App Store. (For an explainer on the iMessage App Store, read this.)

Fam – Group video chatting for iMessage

Fam is a big deal because users don’t have to venture outside of iMessage, Apple’s instant messaging service. Unlike competitors such as video group chat app Houseparty, Fam lives in iMessage the way your GIF or Bitmoji keyboards do. Once you download it once through the new iMessage App Store, you can start video chats with up to nine people at a time in your existing iMessage conversations without opening a separate application. Because it runs through iMessage, it can only be used in conversations with other iPhone or iPad owners.

All of this started in September when Apple opened iMessage to developers as a platform to create apps that could include stickers, text, video and audio. At the time, Stuto and his team were working on Smack Live, a group video platform where teens would broadcast their conversations publicly with other users also using the app. The three co-founders wanted to find a way to give users a more private experience exclusively for their family and friends.

“We were trying to think of solutions to build a home for these people who wanted to use it as a private group FaceTime feature,” Stuto says.

Within two days, they had a working version of the Fam app. And within four days, they submitted the first Fam iteration to the iMessage App Store. “Fam was literally a weekend project,” Stuto says.

Fam iMessage Video Chat App
That weekend project has taken a life of its own and exploded in popularity, particularly with 13 to 22-year-olds. Though Stuto would not disclose the average time users spend interacting with the app, he said it was “millions of minutes” of video streams per day.

Smack Inc, the two-year old company behind Fam, had raised about $2.1 million in venture capital for its previous group chat apps Smack Live and SmackHigh. But since the launch of Fam, the founders had to raise an emergency interim round of financing to keep the new app afloat. “We literally wouldn’t have been able to afford our server costs for next month,” Stuto says.

Flybridge Capital, Boston Seed Capital, and Wayne Chang, who led Smack’s seed round, have re-committed in the interim round. Stuto says he’s speaking with more investors about a Series A round, which will likely close in 2017.

There are a few more kinks the company has to iron out. Right now, there are numerous steps a user has to go through to download the Fam app. (Here’s a preview: open iMessage, click the dark gray App Store icon, click the 4 dots on the bottom left, scroll left or right to find the Fam app, once you see the “create group video” button, click that button. Got it?) Still, the app has gotten more than a million downloads in spite of this.

Two, it doesn’t run on background meaning that if you want to open another app, like Facebook or Snapchat, the Fam video chat will terminate.

The Fam team is already working on solutions. The company will soon release a standalone iOS app that will take care of both issues outlined above. The iOS app would come bundled with the iMessage app, automatically installing it in the user’s iMessage. It will also allow Fam to run on background.

The biggest question mark is what’s next for the 14-day-old app. Will Apple build its own group video chat tool and eliminate the need for a product like Fam? Right now, the likely answer is no.

If Fam is successful, it gives Apple the ability to tout the innovation coming out of its new iMessage App Store. It also doesn’t hurt that millions of people are spending more and more time in iMessage.

Apple is opening up to a whole new wave of innovators and product builders,” Stuto says. “We’re fortunate enough to be here at the early wave, and I think Apple sees that.”


Meerkat Lives On As Live Group Video Chat App Houseparty

Houseparty

Houseparty

Fortune.com
Leena Rao
Sep 28, 2016

After pivoting from livestreaming video to a group video chat, Life on Air, the developer behind Meerkat, is finally ready to talk about a new app and lessons learned.

Meerket, the company’s original live streaming app, went viral just before the South by Southwest festival in 2015. With help from the huge interest in the app, it collected $14 million in venture capital from a number of VCs and Hollywood insiders.

  Houseparty - Group Video Chat AppBut the success, as with many Silicon Valley startups, was fleeting. Even though at one point Meerkat had accumulated millions of users, the app faced a tough challenge in competing in mobile livestreaming against Twitter’s rival offering, Periscope, and Facebook’s competitor, Facebook Live. While Meerkat is still in the Apple App Store, the startup behind the app has changed course and is working on something new..

That new venture is called is Houseparty, and CEO and co-founder Ben Rubin best describes it as an informal way to have group video chats on phones. After use of the livestreaming app started slowing last summer, Rubin, his COO Sima Sistani, and the team decided that the startup should focus on something new. “Retention wasn’t good, people were not coming back,” explained Rubin. “Live video is great as a feature on top of an existing social network, not as its own medium.”

Rubin and his team still wanted to focus on live mobile video, but in a more private, yet social experience. “We didn’t want to be a theatre, we wanted to be a house party,” said Rubin. By the end of February, the company had created and quietly debuted their new vision, Houseparty, in the Apple App Store. It’s also available at the Google Play store too .

In simple terms, the iOS app is a way to chat with friends and family using video. After downloading the app, users can invite contacts to become friends within Houseparty. Whenever the app is opened, friends get push notifications about it and can start to video chat. The amount of push notifications could be intrusive, but users can also turn them off. Users can add other friends to a maximum of eight people in one chat. Users can also make chats, or “rooms” private, and they can switch from room to room.

If a someone who is not a friend joins a video chat such as a friend of a friend, users get a notification that a stranger is entering the room in case they want to end the chat.

Between February and May, the app started taking off, Sistani and Rubin explained. This was partly because the startup was marketing the service at colleges and high schools in the South and Midwest. Word spread, and the app quickly gained hundreds of thousands of users, according to Rubin. At one point, it rose to number two in the Apple app store rankings for top apps.

But over the summer, Houseparty’s traffic dropped off. That’s mainly because the app had not been built to handle the load of hundreds of thousands of simultaneous video chats. So the team had to rebuild the app, and re-launched it in the app store a month ago. Now Houseparty has hit one million users (but declined to say whether these are monthly or daily users), and is growing steadily, says Rubin. Signups have quadrupled in some of markets in the past month. Sistani says that the app’s userbase skews to the under 25 crowd, with many of the users at universities and high schools.

And like Meerkat, Houseparty doesn’t yet make any revenue, and Rubin and his team have not yet thought about how to make money. The company has not yet decided whether to shut down Meerkat’s app.

As for competition, there’s no shortage of group, mobile video chat apps, including Microsoft’s Skype, and Google Hangouts. Facebook has group calling in its popular chat app Messenger and it’s likely only a matter of time before the social network adds video capabilities. There’s also Tango and Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

But Rubin claims that these apps are formal in nature, meaning you have to plan Google Hangout by sending a link around to friends. There’s not a social component to these apps, he adds. The comparison he makes is that Picasa and Flickr were great ways to share photos with people before Instagram, but when Instagram launched it added a new social element to how people viewed each others photos. “We want to do that with group video,” he said.

Even though the company has a renewed direction, there are still struggles, or “growing pains,” as reported by tech news site Recode this week. After Life On Air hired a new head of engineering from Twitter, the startup decided to restructure its engineering team, downsizing its team in Tel Aviv, Israel, and centralizing engineering staff in San Francisco. The company still has a video engineering staff in Tel Aviv, but the bulk of its 16 employees are now based in the Bay Area. Rubin adds that the company is hiring more engineers.

But Rubin and his team have resilience, if all their pivots are any indication. Meerkat was actually born from another pivot. Prior to Meerkat, Rubin and the same team had spent years of working on other unsuccessful livestreaming apps, formerly known as AIR and Yevvo. The company had just recently shifted focus to Meerkat when it caught on—albeit temporarily— in 2015.

Perhaps the fourth time is a charm for Rubin and his team. He remains optimistic despite Meerkat’s past struggles. “If we are a little but lucky and a little bit smart, maybe we will have a big impact this time,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is waste investors money and die slowly.”

My Comments

Fam

You can add up to 16 people to a group chat. I added an App Store link and screenshot of the Fam app to the 2nd article. Reading through user reviews they are generally positive. It seems the developer is updating the app regularly and there are some fun additions to the ground chat feature like games. The biggest problems seem to be glitches which cause the app to crash and battery drain.

Houseparty

I added LINKS to the Houseparty app for ios and Google Play in the article above. As well as a screenshot of the ios app. The developers seem to be actively updating the app a lot, and paying lot of attention to what features users want. There are some cool fun features that are hard to explain but you can watch YouTube videos to get a better sense of them. The one big negative I read consistently about the app, which appears not t have been fixes as of March 20, 2017, is that the app drains iPhone batteries a lot. Other than that it appears to be a really fun app with a great dev team behind it.


Comments

I really love getting feedback from my readers! 

Therefore I try to make it as easy as possible for readers by not requiring you to add your email address, unlike most comment sections you’ll encounter on blogs. I’ve gone a step further though because you don’t even need to include your real name. You do need a name of some kind…but that can be whatever you want it to be.

I’ve done it this way because it’s your actual feedback that’s really important to me. I’m not really interested in collecting readers’ email addresses which is usually done for the purpose of creating a subscription mailing list.

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Sharing a Great Post on Kid’s Smartwatches!

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Smartwatches are not just for adults any more. But why should you consider buying your child a smartwatch? Well, today’s little ones are growing up surrounded by computers, tablets, Youtube… Technology has always been a part of their every-day life – quite different from just 10 or 20 years ago. Some parents want to encourage their child to…

via The best smartwatches for kids — Health & Fitness Gadgets & Wearables

MY NOTES: LEARNING TO USE LUMAFUSION VIDEO EDITOR APP FOR IPAD | HTML NOTES TOO

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Why I’m Publishing My Notes About Learning LumaFusion

I recently purchased LumaFusion Video Editing app for ios because I’m continually frustrated with iMovie. It seems to me based on the tutorials I’ve found that this editor is really new…so there isn’t a lot of material for learning yet. 

I began searching for an iMovie alternative about a week ago after spending several days editing a complex video with a lot of clips, voice overs and photos interspersed on iMovie for ios. I was just about ready to publish it when I added an small audio clip that caused all of my audio clips to move around…drastically changing positions. I messed around for a few more hours trying to get them back to their former positions…but ultimately gave up in fultility. 

This wasn’t the first time me I encountered an extremely time consuming malfunction with the ios version of iMovie. The last time it happened I was unable to publish a very long, time-consuming project…I never could publish or save that finished project in any way…it was stuck in the app forever. 


Two weeks after my most recent experience I finally got the motivation to attack fixing it again. Eight hours later I was finally able to publish it. 

The next day I began searching for a new editing app and after a lot of reading arrived at the decision to go with LumaFusion. Even though it was one of the most expensive apps I’d ever purchased to date $20. (Ironoically I’m considering purchasing another even more expensive app, Ulysses, which is a writing and markup program for writers…it’s $25.)

The next day I imported some clips into LumaFusion and realized I had absolutely no clue how to use it. I figured it would be easy to figure out…but it’s a powerfull app. It’s got so many features packed into it that it’s going to be a learning curve. The only problem with that is I’m not finding a lot of tutorial literature. There are some videos, which are great, but I need written material too. Which is why I’m accumulating everything I find here to have it all at my finger tips when I need it.

But then I started thinking that if I needed this information, other people probably do too. The fact that someone liked my accidentally published notes which were pretty bad within five minutes of publishing was a clue. So here’s the deal. I’ve decided to republish my notes, with the strict understanding that these are notes…not a polished, completed post.Which is why I’m not putting sharing links for social networks and other things I’d normally add to a finished post. There may be typos too, or sections that get messed up because I’m also practicing some HTML coding too. 

Keeping those caveats in mind…welcome to my notes on learning LumaFusion.

My Notes on Starting Out Learning to Use the LumaFusion ios App

Video Links

LumaFusion – Introductory VideoQuickStart Guide 5:04

The same Guide as above but on YouTube

18 minute Complete Tutorial YouTube

A Short Overview of Some Features Especially About Importing from Cameras

Part 1 of How to Make a Family History Video

Part 2 of How to Make a Family History Video

A Vlogger’s Video Review:  Pro Editing on the iPad? An Awesome NEW App! 

Other Links

I read in a forum that there was a PDF Guide floating around for an earlier app called Pinnacle Studio. I searched high and low but couldn’t find it. Then I accidently found it the next day. I downloaded the PDF and began reading it…it’s great. But when I decided to add,the link to it here, I couldn’t find it again. I searched for a few hours…again…was ready to upload my copy even though that would probably be breaking some publishing copyright laws…and then accidently found it again! Yay! 

Why did I bother writing all that? Because I really think that the LumaFusion developer should make this available to users. Or, if they feel it’s too out of date, then they should update it and make it available.

PDF Guide to Using Pinnacle Studio (the precursor to LumaFusion)

LumaFusion – Pro video editing & effects ios app by Luma Touch LLC

What makes LumaFusion different?

URLS

This video by Mobile Filmakers is one of the best I found showing the whole editing process. One thing Imwas searching for was if you could close the app without saving a project to your camera roll, like you can in iMovie. It doesn’t seem like that’s possilve…but I could be wrong. At around the 17:00 min mark he discusses the different options for saving projects.

Things I Need to Figure Out 

Which frame rate and aspect ratio is best for YouTube?  Defaults are 30 & 16:9

Aspect Ratios in Published Literature

Pinnacle Studio provided a fixed 16:9 project format. LumaFusion lets you change the aspect ratio of a project at any time, and fits your media to the new aspect. You can select 16:9 (landscape), 9:16 (portrait), 1:1, 4:3, 1.66:1, 17:9, 2.2:1, 2.39:1, 2.59:1 (so LumaFusion could be used to cut a film).

Notes

The first time you use LumaFusion you should set your defaults if you want them to generally be the same most of the time. Tap in the top right picture area and look for a default icon at far right or left bottom section of that screen.





      UI Layouts
      LumaFusion lets you select different layouts for the UI to best suit your needs or for a particular workflow or focus.

      Project and Media Organization

      LumaFusion provides a wide range of tools to organize your projects and media. The project manager shows filmstrips of each project so you can quickly see the contents of a project, and lets you scrub through the project by running your finger over the filmstrip. You can color-tag and add notes to projects for easier organization, and you can search and sort projects in many different ways.

      In the library, LumaFusion gives you tools to organize and manage your media. You can name, color-tag and add notes to any clip (we’ll add searching and sorting options in a future update). We also provide a display of metadata and information about every clip in the source viewer/trimmer.

      On the timeline, LumaFusion lets you rename clips, add notes, and color-tag, making it easy to manage work or highlight important clips in the timeline.

      What doesn’t LumaFusion do?

      There are a few features that are in Pinnacle Studio that aren’t in the first release of LumaFusion, but all of these are coming in updates in the near future. These include Voiceover, Dual-view precision trimmer, archive and restore of projects with media included, audio-only export, and AudioShare/AudioCopy support.



      I believe that Pinnacle Studio was the precursor to LumaFusion. This is a press release for Pinnacle Studio success in the App Store November 2014


      Videomaker awards Pinnacle Studio as Best Mobile App for 2014

      by cdemiris | Nov 26, 2014 | Press Releases |

      Pinnacle Studio was named as the Best Mobile App for 2014 in Videomaker’s Best Products of the Year – 2014 list in the January 2015 issue of Videomaker.

      According to the review, “Pinnacle Studio for iPad is a well-equipped editing app for video editors on the go.” Videomaker highlighted Pinnacle Studio’s great content and unparalleled connectivity with the Cloud Connection Pack.



      Notes about html things…

                                          …for copying purposes
      All the videos are appearing as embedded in the blockquote section, which tells me that the URLS pasted into the visual editor causes them to embed…wierd!  Versus adding links to text, also in the Visual editor…which just just displays as a hotlink.

      The links I applied to text just appear to be hotlinks.



      Comments

      Please leave me any comments here…especially if you have instructional material I can add…written form seems to be the hardest to find. Thanks!

      PokemonGo Valentines Day Event

      Pink Abstract Art
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      Niantics Announced Details of the New Valentine’s Day Bonuses on Wednesday

      Pink Pokémon for Valentines Day

      The Valentines Day event began yesterday as well…

      Details of Valentines Day Event

      Niantics Valentines day announcement

      Who:  Which Players & Pokémon does this impact the most

      • Pink Pokémon…you’ll find more pink Pokémon in the wild during the event
      • All Pokémon will earn double candy during the event for any candy earning activity…including capturing, transferring, hatching and walking with your buddy.
      • More of the new baby Pink Pokémon including Cleffa, Igglybuff and Smoochum will be hatched from eggs.
      • All players can take advantage of the increased rewards, but those new to the game will probably receive the most benefits since capture rates will be greater and none of the pink Pokémon are all that rare for those players at advanced levels.

      What:  What are the Main Benefits of the Valentines Day Event to Players

      • Earning double candy
      • Finding more pink Pokémon and hatching more pink babies
      • Capturing more wild Pokémon via extended duration of Lure Modules (6 hours instead of 1/2 hour)

      When:  How long does the event last?

      • It began yesterday Wednesday Feb. 8th at 11:00am PST
      • It ends at 1100am PST on Wednesday, February 15th

      Why:   What are the main objectives for the event?

      • Reward regular game players
      • Lure inconsistent players back into action
      • Make it easier to complete Pokedex’es for Pink Pokémon

      Strategy Ideas During the Valentine’s Day Event

      I’ve may have talked about Pidgey spamming as a strategy in the past, but I’m certain I’ve never really talked about how best to take advantage of that during holiday events. Pidgey spamming is simply transferring large numbers of ‘spamish’ Pokémon back for candy. Most people have built up a huge backlog of Pidgey’s Rattata’s and Spearow’s during the normal course of game play. Saving these transfers for Holiday events like this one can really pay off in candy!  Weedle’s and Caterpie’s can also be considered for this strategy.

      In addition, there are a few other good strategies that people can use to assure they gain as many benefits as is humanly possible during any given holiday event.

      The two main areas where you’ll incur the most positive benefits from these strategies include increasing your overall trainer level and increasing your arsenal of combat ready Pokémon.

      So building up your candy reserves vie transfers, especially for hard to find Pokémon, is a must during the event. If you set a Lucky Egg in motion, and then layer up things like lures and incense…you’ll also catch a ton of great Pokémon, and many more rares than normal…which can lead to your evolving the best of those mons too…ultimately enabling you to level up really quickly. The screenshot below shows one suggested strategy by Rankedboost.com. More can be found at their website or via Google.

      Extras:

      Here’s a link to Niantics Valentines Day update on their blog

      Did you know that Jigglypuff sings an entrancing song known to put people to sleep? You can watch a video of this on YouTube or download an mp3 of Jigglypuff’s song at mediafire.com.

      Comments

      Please leave me any comments below.

      Flu or Food Poisoning…Trying to Answer That Question isn’t Easy

      Colored balls
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      What is the Norovirus?

      Prologue

      It turns out I had the Norovirus. I’d never heard of it before! It also turns out that the Norovirus is the main cause of most illnesses with severe gastrointestinal symptoms…who knew? The Center for Diseases and Control has a great video explaining what the Norovirus is. Norovirus is also called ‘the Winter Vomitting Bug.’ I’d never heard that expression either. You can learn more about why it’s called that at the WebMD’s website.



      Guess What I’m Doing Right Now?

      Introduction

      It began as many illnesses do with me wondering if I was coming down with something. But my time spent wondering as I lie in bed during the early morning hours didn’t last long…10 minutes later I had my answer…at least to that first question.

      More questions immediately followed. I’ve only had a few instances in my life where I was overtaken by a ‘bug’ so virulent that it was unclear to me if it was food poisoning or the flu…today was one of those days. If I’m wasn’t spending time worshipping the porcelain god…I was either sleeping or trying to figure out if I was contagious. Which of course is always the main reason for determining whether or not one has food poisoning or the stomach flu.

      My assumption was this: if I had food poisoning I wasn’t contagious…if it was the flu however, I was.

      It Turns Out the Answer to that Question Wasn’t A Simple One

      Initially I was encouraged to find a website that clearly stated known symptoms of each. I thought that all I had to do was compare symptoms, side-by-side, and then rule out the least likely candidate. I was so convinced I was onto something that I even made the chart below which would better allow me to make that comparison (because the article listed their symptoms in different orders, making a side-by-side comparison difficult.)

      My biggest problem using this approach was that there’s a huge amount of overlap in symptoms. My other big problem was that the time of onset for me had been around 12 hours (I thought.) Neither column really supported that answer.

      You see, 12 hours prior to my awakening and feeling like I might die, we had enjoyed a nice dinner at a popular local restaurant. The restaurant, which I’m on the fence about naming, is one that we’d never been able to procure a reservation at before. Our food was excellent! The only red flag was that the restaurant appeared to me to be rather lax regarding matters of hygiene. The reason I say this was because I was surprised when the waitress tossed our silverware right onto the table…which is a big ‘no no’ in the restaurant world.

      It turns out that there’s a good reason why restaurants use table linens. A reason that goes beyond that of providing atmosphere. That reason is hygiene or sanitation. The best way to prevent patrons from acquiring the germs of past table guests or even food served previously on those tables, is by providing fresh table linens or placemats…or at a minimum by placing silverware unto a fresh napkin. Because I was shocked to learn that restaurant tabletops are second only to menus in the number of germs they harbor. That alarming fact along with several other surprising ones are revealed in this 2014 Huffington Post article. But the statistic that surprised me the most was the finding that 60% of food preparation workers report for work when they are sick! The importance of that finding can’t be overstated for reasons better explained below.

      Surprise #1:  I learned that there is no such thing as the Stomach Flu!  It’s a Myth! 

      The reason that the Stomach Flu doesn’t really exist is entirely because of semantics. The word ‘Flu’ is really short for influenza. But the only kind of influenza that exists which impacts people is respiratory influenza. There is no such thing as a stomach influenza with the symptoms that we normally attribute to it. When I made this realization I remembered an old adage I used to use to identify a cold from respiratory flu. The way you can tell them apart is the presence of a fever. If fever is present, it’s influenza…if not, it’s a cold.

      Now that we understand that there is no such thing as the stomach flu we need to figure out what there really is. What takes the place of what we’ve called Stomach Flu for so many years?

      What we’ve come to think of as the Stomach Flu is really a group of similar conditions which fall under a category that the CDC refers to as infections of the digestive system. The CDC has identified 31 known pathogens from food borne sources that comprise this category.

      Surprise #2:  Of the viruses, only the common cold is reported more often than a norovirus infection—also referred to as viral gastroenteritis.

      The CDC'S video on Norovirus

      The most frequently occurring pathogen is the Norovirus. In fact, Norovirus is so prevalent that…

      The first article I read about Norovirus said that it was this virus which most people erroneously referred to as the stomach flu. Because Norovirus is a virus, that led my conclusion that my symptoms fall under the category of illness…as opposed to Food Poisoning. The reason? After all my research I’m pretty certain that Norovirus was what I have, but further reading only caused me to become more confused!

      Factors Leading to Even More Confusion

      Although Norovirus is the most prevalent of those 31 foodborne pathogens…it isn’t alone in the symptoms it exhibits. In all, those 31 pathogens fall into 3 main categories:  bacteria, parasites and viruses. Below is the CDC’s Chart  (called Table 2 in their report) giving more information for all 31 pathogens (here’s a link to the CDC’s chart since my repeated efforts to splice together a readable copy haven’t been successful!) 

      CDC's Table 2

      I intended to more closely examine the symptoms of each…but I never even made it that far. Because as I examined the above chart I noticed that it includes things like Salmonella and E. coli…which fall under the broad category of parasites. It was really at this point that I began getting completely confused!  I’ve always believed that Salmonella and E. coli were specific types of food poisoning.

      But if food poisoning is a separate malady from viral gastroenteritis (formerly known as the Stomach Flu) why do known food poisoning pathogens appear on this list at all?

      It was this Medical News Today article in which I first learned about the Norovirus. In talking about viral gastroenteritis the article states that:

      • Most cases of gastroenteritis are caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites
      • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are typical symptoms of gastroenteritis
      • Gastroenteritis is usually self-limiting, and tests are not usually necessary for a diagnosis
      • The most serious complication of food poisoning and gastroenteritis is dehydration, especially for vulnerable people such as the very young and very old

      It’s beginning to sound to me like barring a stool sample test, there is no good way to differentiate between food poisoning and a virus based illness. Yet, contagiousness is still the most worrisome factor for me!

      This same article also states that:

      The viruses that are most commonly implicated in gastroenteritis are:

      • Rotavirus – more common in children and the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children
      • Norovirus – more common in adults

      The bacteria that are most commonly implicated in gastroenteritis are:

      • Salmonella
      • Campylobacter
      • Shigella
      • Escherichia coli (especially serotype O157:H7)
      • Clostridium difficile

      After a lot more reading I finally began to realize that my main premise…that Food Poisoning isn’t contagious was actually completely wrong!

      What Factors Really Determine Whether or Not Food Poisoning or Gastroenteritis is Contagious

      Contagiousness it appears, is determined purely by the pathogen type. Viral pathogens lead to contagious illnesses. Bacterial pathogens do not. So if you refer back to the CDC’s large table 2 (shown and linked to) above…those pathogens in the top category are bacterial…therefore they won’t lead to contagious illnesses.  Those in the 2nd main category, parasites, also will lead to noncontagious illnesses. It’s only the 3rd category…the viral pathogens, which will lead to contagious illnesses. The main pathogen here is of course the Norovirus…which is what, after all my reading I concluded was responsible for my symptoms.

      A Little More About the Norovirus

      In addition to that large study the CDC conducted in 2011, they also publish a lot of great information for the general public. This link is to their main website for the general public describing what the Norovirus is and what you need to know about it. There’s also a helpful video explaining the Norovirus. A few important things everyone should know about the Norovirus include:

      Humans are the only host of norovirus, and norovirus has several mechanisms that allow it to spread quickly and easily. 

      Norovirus was originally called: Norwalk-like virus or simply NLV

      The first NLV outbreak occurred in 1968 among school children in Norwalk, Ohio. The prototype strain responsible for that 1968 outbreak was identified four years later, in 1972. It was the first virus identified that specifically caused gastroenteritis in humans. Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., a pioneering virologist at the National Institutes of Health was the man who discovered the norovirus and he led a decades-long effort that resulted in the first licensed rotavirus vaccine. People infected with the Norovirus are contagious from the moment that they begin feeling ill until roughly 3 days after their symptoms have subsided. It takes minuscule amounts of the virus…less than 100 particles, to make you sick. Cruise ships and restaurants are two of the most common places to be infected with the virus. The virus can survive some disinfectants, making it hard to kill and can also remain infectious on some hard surfaces like countertops or restaurant tabletops for weeks. Last, the Norovirus is the leading cause of food poisoning!

      Norovirus is Food Poisoning…here are a few good reasons to avoid it!

      It might not be obvious if you’ve managed to read this far that Norovirus is indeed Food Poisoning!  It wasn’t all that clear to me either…which is exactly the reason that I’m writing this post! But there’s more to the story. I for one want to know how long I can expect to be sick and more importantly how long I have to keep disinfecting everything I touch so my husband doesn’t get this too.

      In a nutshell Norovirus usually lasts 2-3 days…which makes sense because I’m almost at the end of day 3 and although I’ve been feeling better I still haven’t been able to eat anything. Tonight I ate some toast (that my husband made for me so I wouldn’t germ up the kitchen) which after 15 minutes of discomfort seems to have agreed with me…yay!  That alone should go a long way towards making me better…at least with the dizziness right?

      I’ve read on multiple sites that I’ll continue to be contagious for 3 days after I’m feeling better…which means since it’s Tuesday night now I should be noncontagious by Friday night…geez!  That alone is a really good reason to not want food poisoning!  One blogger who writes for the New York Times wrote a compelling post about the contagious aspects of the virus too…probably when she was too sick to do anything else either!

      Perhaps a few more questions will be answered by this table created by Canada’s version of the FDA:

      Details about Norovirus

      Norovirus Diagnosis

      Now that I’ve successfully diagnosed my illness as Norovirus the only thing left for me to do is to reexamine how I might have contracted it and hopefully determine once and for all how contagious I might be.

      Investigating the Circumstances Leading to My Food Poisoning

      As previously mentioned, the restaurant we dined at doesn’t use table coverings of any kind.  Placemats I now know are intended primarily to protect patrons from foodborn pathogens. While this isn’t entirely unheard of given the new ‘farm to table‘ trend, there is one practice that can go a long way towards mitigating a lot of problems. Wait staff can be instructed to place patrons silverware onto something else. Think of that ‘something’ as a protective barrier between the utensils which come in contact with you and the seemingly hazardous tabletop environment! Something like a napkin or bread and butter plate.

      Another practice which would help a lot is to use a bleach based compound when cleaning table surfaces in preparation for their next customers. Since the Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants, adding bleach to the mix ensures that it’s germs are addressed. Although I suspect that the odor that bleach dispels might not be all that conducive to a fine dining atmosphere…which leads me to suggest to the restaurant in question this idea. That they use a multi-pronged approach. First provide a second napkin solely for the purpose of laying silverware upon, and second consider using placements.

      Granted placemats don’t emanate that farm table vibe but there’s a fine line between maintaining a unique atmosphere for your customers and harming them!

      To help you with that endeavor I was able to find some cute paper placemats which might work.

      Paper placemats to protect patrons from norovirus

      The placemats above are from a website called Hester and Cook. Each set is really a tablet of tear-off placemats that run from $.66 to $1 each.

      Etsy has a lot of great options. One is a shop called Harper and Diasy that will custom make placemats from kraft paper like those below. Most are $36 for 50.

      Paper placemats from Etsy

      But was the lack of a protective table covering the only factor that led to my becoming profoundly ill?

      I suppose it’s possible given my new realization that tabletop surfaces are 2nd only to menus in terms of the high number of germs they harbor. That possibility is even more likely since many of the ingredients of this restaurant’s most popular dishes are known sources of foodborn pathogens. Ingredients like duck liver, wild mushrooms, soft cheeses, lettuce, oysters and even butter immediately come to mind!

      One likely scenario would be that a duck liver dish (for example) was served earlier in the evening or even in the days preceding our visit, and some remnants of it remained on the tabletop surface, which, while not visible to the human eye, contained enough germs (remember only 100 particles is necessary) to infect, my silverware.

      Yet, for some inexplicable reason I feel that there’s more to this story. So let’s examine in detail what we each ordered:

      In an unusual turn of events Bill and I each ordered the exact same dishes. We both ordered 2 starters (because we were attending a play at the Rep…The Foreigner…afterwards and didn’t want to be late.) For those of you who’ve never heard of this great comedy written by Milwaukee’s own Larry Shue, it’s one of my all time favorites! This was to be our third time experiencing what’s come to be known as one of the 2 greatest plays ever written by Shue…the other The Nerd is also a fabulous comedy!

      The starters we ordered were:

      1. Grilled Herb Flat Bread, Burrata, Cranberry Agrodolce, Lettuce, Smoked Almond
      2. Pumpkin Soup, Oyster Mushroom, Creme Fraiche, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Chive

      Many of the ingredients in both dishes could have been culprits! In addition, we also shared a bread basket and a dinner salad… the salad included these ingredients…Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper

      Bill had a beer: New Glarus Moon Man, Pale Ale, New Glarus WI

      I had a glass of wine: Pinot Noir, Bishops Peak 2014, San Luis Obispo Country, California

      Since we ordered the exact same dishes it’s hard to imagine that one of those would have been responsible for my condition. But after I became very ill I discovered that Bill had never touched the salad that we’d intended upon sharing! So the salad is where I’ll focus my examination.

      Here again are the salad’s ingredients:

      Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper

      The mixed greens appear to be a likely culprit. I learned that lettuce is a common carrier of food pathogens. The only way to insure that lettuce doesn’t transmit infectious germs is by proper washing. This requires only water, but washing each lettuce leaf is important. Lettuce greens can become contaminated with E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Surprisingly even a Staph infection may be present if the greens are prepared by someone who’s sick (remember earlier when I discovered that 60% of food workers still go to work even if they’re sick!) Staph infection can also be transmitted by someone preparing food with an open wound on their hands or even if they have a nose or eye infection.

      Here’s helpful 3 minute video created by the FDA which shows you everything you need to know about the safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables…and even what not to buy!

      At this point I’m really quite exhausted thinking about all the possibilities…and I’m kind of amazed that I’ve managed to dodge such harrowing consequences for so long…because we like to eat out a lot!

      The fact that I’m still feeling the effects of whatever infected me 2 1/2 days later points even more adamantly to Norovirus. I’ve eaten nothing for 21/2 days, have no energy and get dizzy every time I stand up (although I’m clearheaded enough to realize this may be in large part because I’ve eaten nothing in days!) The dizziness could be due to dehydration but my husband made sure I didn’t become dehydrated by getting me Pedialyte.

      Right now I really think this thing just needs to run its course. But I really hope that the next time I’m at a restaurant if I happen to clean off my hands using antibacterial wipes after handling the menu, or if I wipe off the salt and pepper shakers or some other frequently handled utensil that others don’t judge me too harshly. Because I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone else and if something as simple as using those would prevent how I’m feeling right now…well…would you really chose to judge me?

      But was the lack of a protective table covering the only factor that led to my becoming profoundly ill? I suppose that it's possible given my new realization that tabletop surfaces are 2nd only to menus in terms of the high number of germs they harbor. That possibility is even more likely since many of the ingredients of their popular dishes are known sources of foodborn pathogens. Ingredients like duck liver, wild mushrooms, soft cheeses, lettuce, oysters and even butter immediately come to mind! One likely scenario would be that a duck liver dish (for example) was served earlier in the evening or even in the days preceeding our visit, and some remnants of it remained on the tabletop surface, which, while not visible to the human eye, contained enough germs (remember only 100 particles is necessary) to infect my silverware. Yet, for some inexplicable reason I feel that there's more to this story. So let's examine in detail what we each ordered: In an unusual turn of events Bill and I each ordered the exact same dishes. We both ordered 2 starters (because we were attending a play at the Rep The Foriegner afterwards and didn't want to be late.) For those of you who've never heard of this great comedy written by Milwaukee's own Larry Shue, it's one of my all time favorites! This was to be our third time experiencing what's come to be known as one of the 2 greatest plays ever written by Shue...the other The Nerd is also a fabulous comedy! The starters we ordered were: 1. Grilled Herb Flat Bread, Burrata, Cranberry Agrodolce, Lettuce, Smoked Almond 2. Pumpkin Soup, Oyster Mushroom, Creme Fraiche, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Chive Many of the ingredients in both dishes could have been culprits! In addition, we also shared a bread basket and a dinner salad... the salad included these ingredients...Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper Bill had a beer: New Glarus Moon Man, Pale Ale, New Glarus WI I had a glass of wine: Pinot Noir, Bishops Peak 2014, San Luis Obispo Country, California Since we ordered the exact same dishes it's hard to imagine that one of those would have been responsible for my condition. But after I became very ill I discovered that Bill had never touched the salad that we'd intended upon sharing! So the salad is where I'll focus my examination. Here again are the salad's ingredients: Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper The mixed greens appear to be a likely culprit. I learned that lettuce is a common carrier of food pathogens. The only way to insure that lettuce doesn't transmit infectious germs is by proper washing. This requires only water, but washing each lettuce leaf is important. Lettuce greens can become contaminated with E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Surprisingly even a Staph infection may be present if the greens are prepared by someone who's sick (remember earlier when I discovered that 60% of food workers still go to work even if they're sick!) Staph infection can also be transmitted by someone preparing food with an open wound on their hands or even if they have a nose or eye infection. Here's helpful 3 minute video created by the FDA which shows you everything you need to know about the safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables...and even what not to buy! https://youtu.be/WbhudxB3W-M At this point I'm really quite exhausted thinking about all the possibilities...and I'm kind of amazed that I've managed to dodge such harrowing consequences for so long...because we lie to eat out a lot! The fact that I'm still feeling the effects of whatever infected me 2 1/2 days later points even more adamantly to Norovirus. I've eaten nothing for 21/2 days, have no energy and get dizzy every time I stand up (although I'm clear headed enough to realize this may be in large part because I've eaten nothing in days!) The dizzyness could be due to dehydration but my husband made sure I didn't become dehydrated by getting me Pedialyte. Right now I really think this thing just needs to run its course. But I really hope that the next time I'm at a restaurant if I happen to clean off my hands using antibacterial wipes after handling the menu, or if I wipe off the salt and pepper shakers or some other frequently handled utensil that others don't judge me too harshly. Because I wouldn't wish this upon anyone else and if something as simple as using

      Further Reading

      When the ‘5-Second Rule’ Works

      Link to the FDA’s Foodborne Illness Causing Organisms in the United States:  What You Need to Know

      Medical News Today’s 5 Home Remedies

      Below is another good Foodborn Pathogen Chart…this one was created by the FDA:

      FDA's Foodborn pathogen Chart

      Comments

      New York Times Documentaries

      Standard

      The New York Times is More Than Just A Newspaper

      Last night I ran across a news article about Melania Trump. It was in The NY Times and talked about how she’s speaking out on behalf of her husband to say that the women who’ve claimed that Trump has made advances towards them or groped them are lying. That’s not the man she knows and she doesn’t believe those claims. She said he was the victim of a broad conspiracy. I could only wonder how dense she must be or how desperate Trump must be feeling to resort to using such a pathetic tactic. Within that article was a link to the Access Hollywood video that started the fervor. I’d not seen it before so I watched both that and the rather lame apology video Trump made a few days later to the American public.

      As sad as the state of our country’s politics are, they pale in comparison to events occurring in other areas of the world. Places like Swat, a beautiful village in Pakistan which the Taliban have invaded and taken over. Their members continue to reek havoc with the lives of residents living in this beautiful and quaint part of Pakistan. I watched a moving 1/2 hour documentary entitled Class Dismissed:  Malala’s Story about a young Pakistanian girl who desperately wants to return to school and her father who runs a local school. The father daughter team are almost single-handedly fighting a courageous fight against the Taliban to allow females to receive education.

      Malala herself is desperate to continue with her education, recently changing her long term career goals from physician to politician. It’s a huge shift, but she recognizes that she can have a more beneficial impact in the later profession by aiding her country in joining the 20th century.


      Another very brief video recounted the return of 21 young Nigerian girls to their families. They’d been  kidnapped by Boko Haram and the Swiss government was instrumental in gaining their release. But an estimated 255 girls are still being held and are hoped to be released soon.

      The NY Time’s Videos Include Many Short Video Clips as Well as a Lot of Longer Documentaries Too

      The documentaries I watched were amazing!  Each story is beautifully produced, insightful and eye opening in some sense. They provides much needed windows into the lives beyond our borders which oftentimes depict struggles much more trying than those of our own current political crisis. Above is a link to the longer documentaries. These vary in length a lot and are they are always preceded by the same increasingly annoying (due to the repetitious nature) AT&T commercial. I only figured out after about the 6th video that you can actually tap to skip the repetitious ad after a predetermined amount of time!

      The videos themselves often offer truly fascinating glimpses into lives far beyond our borders and show some of the struggles faced by average people just like you and me.  It’s well worth your time to take a look at some of these if you have a few minutes to spare.

      Not All the Documentaries Take Place on Foreign Soil

      Below: Kim Souzzis’s Reddit Campaign to raise funds for her own brain’s cryopreservation


      One documentary I really loved viewing tonight and which moved me beyond belief was the story of Kim Suozzis. She was a young college student who in 2012 discovered that she had a rare form of brain cancer. Her unique story began during her last year of college. Because she was studying to become a scientist in neurolinguistics and psychology, after she received her diagnosis, she engaged in a compelling journey to look for less obvious solutions which would help her in coming to terms with her undeniable future.

      With the end of her life rapidly approaching, she discovered cryogenics. Her creative solution employed a spectacularly successful Reddit campaign in which she raised a large portion of the money she needed to preserve her brain cryogenically. This story follows the last 6 months of her life. We watch her peaceful death with her boyfriend at her side as well as the post death process of her brain’s cryopreservation. The process was lovingly overseen by her incredibly supportive boyfriend, who never ventured far from her side throughout her short, dramatic ordeal.

      Since cryogenics was a topic my family had also recently engaged in lengthly discussions about, watching this young woman’s bravery and seeing how the process unfolded was simultaneously  fascinating and heart breaking.

      Without doubt I’m sure there are other equally ‘edutaining’ examples of video collections produced by likeminded news sources. As I encounter those I’ll try to remember to add links to them here. Prior to my stumbling upon this New York Times collection I was oblivious to the existence of this content rich genre. My serendipitous enlightenment perfectly captures the essence of why I began my vsatrends website.

      Comments

      Doors Open Milwaukee | 2016 Highlights & Overview 

      Sunny weather & a panorama of Milwaukee
      Standard

      September 17-18 Marks Milwaukee, WI’s 6th Annual Doors Open Event

      Part I In a Series of 3 Posts About Doors Open & Open House

      Another beautiful Milwaukee rooftop!

      Milwaukee’s Annual Doors Open is One Unique & Distinguishing Event That Sets Our City Apart from All Others

      So, What Exactly is Doors Open?

      Doors Open is a city-wide event that’s held in just a few select cities in our United States as of 2016. It’s a celebration of sorts…celebrating our city’s architecture and art, but also our history and heritage, as well as all the things in our built environment that we’ve come either to take for granted or ignore…ignore, because we can’t easily find out anything more.

      Built environment is a sort of trendy term we use because we can…after all, there are relatively few cities in the entire United States that have been able to pull off hosting a Doors Open event annually (there are only 7 cities as of 2016.) There are however, many more globally.  Canada is the one country that has added more new cities to the Doors Open ranks than any other.  In fact, there are more Doors Open events in Canada than there are in the rest of the world’s countries combined!   Even Detroit, is literally a couple of minute’s drive away from Canada has yet to garner the resources to pull this off…although maybe they haven’t tried that hard because Windsor, which right across the border does hold their own Doors Open festival every year.

      We visited a lot of rooftops in 2013

      How Canada happened to become the one and only country hosting more DO events than the rest of the world combined is anyone’s guess.  I suspect it had something to do with the fact that Toronto hosted the first Canadian event ever…in fact the first North American event too, way back in the year 2000!   Toronto did this in part because Ontario, which is the province that Toronto belongs to, was influenced in a big way by London’s earlier success in hosting a very similar kind of program…called Open House.

      Actually, London’s event was really called Open London.  Open London and Open House were both born from the inspiration of Victoria Thorton, an aficionado of architecture living in London. It was this 1st event that was instrumental in spreading excitement and enthusiasm around the world for an innovative concept which closed the gap between ‘common man’s’ understanding of the mysterious world of architecture.

      Doors Open Milwaukee Logo  OK…So Milwaukee’s Special…But What Exactly Is Doors Open Milwaukee…aka DOMKE?

      In a nutshell…Milwaukee’s Doors Open Event provides unique opportunities for people to visit buildings that are never usually open to the public. And it’s free!  It’s one of the most fascinating, city-wide celebrations I’ve ever encountered. Well, me and 25,000 other people that is.  For 2 days over a weekend in September each year, roughly 160 unique buildings, business’s and governmental departments open their doors to welcome anyone who’s interested in seeing how they operate and what their space looks like.  Some of the sites tend to change each year, but some overlap multiple years, which is OK, because 2 days just isn’t long enough to visit 165 sites. In fact, you should spend a little time beforehand perusing your options so that you can make a beeline for those which appear to be most interesting to you each year. In addition to the link above, here’s another one which is a PDF of all Milwaukee’s sites this year.

      Sunny weather & a panorama of Milwaukee

      A Little History About Doors Open

      There are only 9 American cities that consistently host this type of event annually, however that list of cities is continuing to grow despite the monumental effort required to make it happen. You’re probably thinking “wait a minute…you said only 7 cities just a few paragraphs up!” And you’d be right…I did. But that’s because there’s another, very similar event called Open House which also is represented in the U.S. The 2 cities which hold Open House events are New York and Chicago.  And they’re events are even larger than Milwaukees!  But part of that larger size is explained by the fact that Open House events also include private homes, whereas Doors Open events do not. Incidentally, you might be interested to know that both Chicago and New York’s events will be help on the same weekend this year…October 15-16th.

      It wasn’t until 2011 that Milwaukee, WI came on board with what perhaps has grown into one of the most successful venues for ‘Doors Open’ in the United States. Milwaukee’s idea was originally spark plugged by a retired public librarian, George Wagner after he visited similar events in Toronto and Denver. That first event was widely successful and included 100 buildings. You can read a great indepth article about the inaugural 2011 event from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal’s archives. In 2016 that number has risen to 165 and over 25,000 people (this was last years attendance record) are expected to attend.

      The tour we had about how the city’s drawbridges work was
      probably one of my favorite experiences.

      image

      Details On This Year’s Event in Milwaukee

      This year Doors Open Milwaukee 2016 will be opening their doors to 165 local businesses and buildings. Some of the side events Milwaukee hosts include Doors Open Story Slam a food and entertainment extravaganza with locale story telling and food trucks, Murals in Clark Square which focuses on one unusual neighborhood with a lot of unique locale artisans’ public art on display and Open Archives, a program that allows visitors to examine documents, photographs, rare books and art work in the archive libraries of 7 large public museums.

      Advice for Families & Kids      Journal Sentinel's Sept 9th Mews Article 'Doors Open Milwaukee Offers Rare Views of the City'

      My kid’s are all grown so I’m relying on other people’s advice here.  Historical Milwaukee has a program just for kids they call Family Passport.  You can download the passport here and kid’s goal is to see as many sites on it as possible. There’s actually another passport they call the Water Passport, it’s a special guide to all of the water focused sites. In 2015 metroparent Milwaukee wrote a family and kid’s guide to DOMKE too.  More recently the Journal Sentinel wrote a news article on September 9th about sites where you can great rare views of the city featuring a beautiful rooftop pool. What kid doesn’t love a rooftop pool?  My last suggestion is to more seriously consider the free tour bus mentioned before, because at their blog they have some great information about where your kids can catch Pokemon during the event.  It sounds like they may be tailoring the route to maximize catching wild Pokemon too!

      My husband took this cool reflection shot in 2014

      Tips & Tricks

      First off it’s good to map out where you want to go and get a brief notion of where and when each site you’re interested in is open.  Most sites are open for the full duration of the events but a select few aren’t.  They may only be open one of the days, or for shorter hours on both days…its up to the site’s owner.  But it’s best to check these details early in the process.  For example, there’s one site my husband and I are really interested in seeing this year called Above View. We understand that they make and will demonstrate aspects of their production process for their exquisite collection of artisan quality ornamental plaster ceiling tiles. That’s a mouthful but we’re super excited to see this place because unique ceilings have always been a ‘thing’ for us!  By visiting Above View’s Building Page at DO Milwaukee we found out a lot more about them…when we should go (Saturday) and what to expect (no photography.)

      You’ll want to check out parking information here. So, really, do this OK?  Because it turns out that Brigg’s & Al’s Run will be going on too…and you’ll want to know which streets are closed off for that.  You might even want to consider using Milwaukee Food & City Tours Hop On & Hop Off Sightseeing Bus. This bus is also free and operates both days beginning at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00…no tickets are needed.  But you might not have run across it at the main event sight.  That’s because information is found for this under the ‘Tours‘ submenu.  There’s a lot more information on Milwaukee’s DOMKE site than there appears to be…so if this is your first time going…its a good idea to peruse the site for a little while.

      You can get a lot of this same information and bring it with you in digital form (for possible offline viewing) from their PDF brochure and Guide.  The guide is 31 pages long so it’s a great resource!  There was also a free pullout section in last Sunday’s Milwauke Journal Sentinel newspaper.  You can also visit Historic Milwaukee’s Facebook page for really up-to-date news and some cool extras…like a special SnapChat filter!  When I just did that now to grab this link I found that I’d just missed my chance to pickup 2 tickets to a paid tour by a local celebrity…that special tour has been sold out for months but apparently someone had to cancel!  Oh,  I think I forgot to mention that there are also some additional events hosted by Historic Milwaukee that aren’t necessarily free…but that may be free to their members or to volunteers, or are just simply too priceless to be completely free.

      Extras

      If you’d like to learn more about these 2 worldwide programs you can do so using this link to Part II of this series.  If you’d just like more resource information or links you can find those at Part III here.  If you like to see some pretty awful videos that I made the first year I attended Doors Open Milwaukee…here are 2 of them…but they really are terrible so I wouldn’t bother!

      My Video About Ring the Bell at the Top of City Hall in Milwaukee 

      My Video About Pevnick Design’s Graphical Waterfalls at Doors Open Milwaukee 2013

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      Ring the Bell Tour at City Hall 2013

      Above:  Doors Open 2013 Milwaukee City Hall’s Bell Ringing Tour

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