The Sandbar on Instagram

Because we need yet another social media sharing site, right?

If you haven't heard of Instagram, it's a fun photo app for the iPhone that lets you take pictures, add cool filters and then share it on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. You can also follow other Instagram users, "like" their pictures and leave comments.

We set up an account a long time ago, when Instagram first arrived on the scene, but we haven't done much with it. Recently, we decided to check it out again and fell in love.

You might have noticed the pictures on our recent blog about the Tour of Lawrence street party, or the picture yesterday of the gifts we got from Katy. Those were all taken with Instagram, with funky filters applied. It makes our pictures look better.

We were also surprised that so many other Instagram users had started following us, despite the fact that we had posted no pictures in months. Thank you, friends! If you're on Instagram, find us- our username is thesandbar.

We promise to start using Instagram more often, and we promise to share some of the pictures with those of you who are iPhone-less.

More about Instagram here.

Sandbar Webcam: Back Online!

We're excited to announce that our beloved webcam is back online!

The webcam has been down for months. We had a minor incident in February— a few freaky phone calls— that led to the camera's disconnection. Then, once we hooked it back up about a month ago, it worked for a day and died.

Our webcam is old. We've had a webcam in the bar since the mid-90's when bartender and technology whiz Josh suggested it. (Here's an article from the LJWorld in 2002 that mentions our webcam.)

We purposely haven't upgraded our webcam in years. In fact, the current camera is probably only the second one we've ever had. The reason? We don't want advanced technology that makes it easy for people to clearly see who's in the bar. Our webcam is about checking out the atmosphere— not stalking people.

When the camera died last month, we thought we'd be forced to upgrade. Dave tried one last thing; he unplugged it from its usual perch and plugged it into a different source behind one of the TV's.

One night when I checked Twitter, I saw a tweet about the webcam asking why it was hidden behind a keg. I checked, and lo and behold! The webcam was working again!

Apparently the hub it was originally plugged into had died, not the camera.

The webcam is now back in its corner, with a great view out over the bar. It's still fuzzy, and it always will be, but it gives a good idea of how much activity is happening in the bar.

Check it out: http://www.thesandbar.com/webcam/

Small Businesses: Need Help with Social Media?

Today, a slight deviation from the normal posts about stupid things people do in the bar, downtown events and other random stories that may or may not directly relate to the Sandbar.

The nice people at Philsquare, a local web development company, asked me to help teach a class about social media. It's a basic class, geared to small businesses and organizations here in Lawrence who want to learn more about how social media can benefit them.

Social media is not a magic solution, and it takes work. But I absolutely believe that it can do good things for a business. I'm excited to share some of the things I've learned while building up the Sandbar's presence in various online networks, like Twitter, Facebook and this blog. And trust me, I've learned a lot!

I'm teaching the class with Bailey DeReus, communications director for Philsquare and avid social media user. Here's the class description:

Interested in learning to use various social media platforms? Do you want to understand why using Twitter and Facebook can be successful to engaging customers and increasing business? In this workshop you will learn what services and work for your business and the strategy to making them successful. We will also discuss how businesses using social media locally have an impact on local consumers.

We'd love to see you there! It's only $25 for two hours of information, with plenty of time for questions.

The class is on Wednesday, June 22, at 7 p.m. It will be held in the computer lab at Van Go. If you're interested, please go here to register online.

If you know of a business or organization who might be interested, please pass this on!

A Plea From a White Noise Patron

Last January, we stumbled across a pretty hilarious webpage dedicated to our little bar. We blogged about it here, and it opened up a dialog with the young creators of the website. They recently noticed the demise of our webcam (which we've had for many, many years now) and wrote to let us know of their disappointment.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this totally original letter on behalf of the good hosts over at the White Noise internet podcast (any resemblance to another email is purely coincidental). You may perhaps remember a post on the Sandbar blog from January 8th of this year detailing a rather curious cause of site traffic- specifically, this podcast that dedicated a segment of its show to your webcam and the mystical rites found therein.  Since that time, White Noise has continued to do its best to maintain its mainstays of being fiendishly unreliable in its scheduling and marginally less than unsuccessful in its attempts at humor.  However, on fleeting, rare moments, such as when the planets achieve syzygy or the Houston Astros make it to the fifth inning without completely blowing it, a new episode is released, and you can be sure that the Sandbar Update- now complete even with its own theme music! -is one of the dearest and most-anticipated segments.

Therefore, you may understand my dismay to find that your webcam is seemingly inoperable.  It is in that dismay that I send this message with these goals:  that I may inquire as to the circumstances that led to this misfortune, encourage the rehabilitation of the aforementioned equipment, and alert you to the appreciation that the hosts and I hold for everything you do.  Certainly, I hope that all is well and I shall continue to consider you and your establishment with great fondness, even in the absence of our magical digital portal.

With Whimsy Unwavering and Sniftitude in Spades,
Kyle Sullivan
White Noise Listener and the one who wrote this letter. Really.

We laughed. We recently hooked our webcam back up and it was functional for a brief time, and then it died. For good this time. So, while we definitely plan to replace it, we don't know when that will be. We'll be sure to let everyone know when you can tune in to our "magical digital portal" once again.

Our Magical Digital Portal

I have several different online notifications set up to send me an e-mail whenever there's a mention of the Sandbar online- Google alerts and SocialMention.com are two of my favorites. Often, the alerts I get have nothing to do with our Sandbar, but every once in awhile I get something good.

Recently, I hit the jackpot with one of the strangest and funniest Sandbar mentions ever.

It appears that some teenagers in Austin who are interested in various internet and computer activites stumbled upon our webcam. They were so fascinated with this "magical digital portal" into the strange world of Kansas that they dedicated an entire page on their website to us.

Here's what they had to say:

Once upon a time, three friends stumbled upon a magical digital portal into the unknown world of Kansas. Through this portal, the friends witnessed a strange religious ritual centering around an artifact of pure crystal and shaped like a soccer ball. Fascinated by these practices, the friends captured a link to this portal and began using it every week as a cheesy segment in their semi-comedic podcast. And now the link has been placed here for all to see. Gaze in upon the Sandbar and its bizzare events if you dare…But don't expect much, it's not really that interesting.

Obviously, the strange religious ritual they are witnessing is the hurricane show and dance, and the soccer ball-shaped crystal artifact is the white Christmas light hanging in the center of the bar.

I looked around their site for the podcast that supposedly features us as a cheesy segment- I could only find one link to a podcast (click here to listen to it), and it's really long. I haven't listened to all of it yet so I don't know if they actually talk about the Sandbar or not.

We're happy that we could humor some kids in Austin with the crazy things we do in Kansas. When you turn 21, take a road trip and visit us- we think you'll find our bar a lot of fun.

National Blog Posting Month

Or, for short, NaBloPoMo.

National Blog Posting Month takes place in November each year. It's supposed to encourage bloggers to post something new, every single day, for a month. You can find frequently asked questions about it here.

The last time I did this was in 2007, back in the earlier years of this blog. It was exhausting, especially since November has a pretty major holiday in it that hinders my ability to consistently post on here. But I completed it that year and promptly ignored all references to NaBloPoMo for the next two years.

But I'm doing it again this year, which means you get 30 straight days of Sandbar stories.

Some of my local(ish) partners in crime:

Hoping that if I publicly name them, it will shame them into staying committed, which in turn will help keep me on track.

Help me out! If there's something about the Sandbar you're dying to know, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer your question, or at the very least I'll make something up.