Tag-Archive for » Jason O’Neill «

December 26th, 2010 | Author:

In the beginning (2005)

In 2005, quite by accident, a little creature was discovered by a nine-year-old boy named Jason O’Neill.  The small, round creature was colorful and very playful. It loved to sit on top of Jason’s pencil as he did his homework and wrap its black, fuzzy body around the pencil. Before long, Jason found more and more of these cute creatures in all different colors. He appropriately called them Pencil Bugs.

Over the next five years, Jason shared his Pencil Bugs with people all over the world. He found thousands and thousands of them. It seemed like there was an endless quantity. However, as time went on, Jason noticed their numbers started to decline and there were fewer and fewer Pencil Bugs.  No matter what he tried, Jason could not get them to reproduce like he used to. He worried that they might become extinct.

The numbers dwindled down to a few hundred. Jason tried everything he could do to keep them alive but it was no use. Little by little, it was clear. Pencil Bugs were in danger. In December 2010, Jason made one last attempt to preserve their species for the future. He put several dozen of them in protective captivity.

No one really knows what will become of the few remaining Pencil Bugs or if they will produce more in the future but Jason is happy that his cute, little creatures found their way into the hearts and homes of so many people around the world for as long as they did.

Signing books (2010)

Although the actual Pencil Bugs may not be in existence anymore, Jason continues to share his story with kids and adults alike through his book, interviews, speaking engagements, and charity work.

If you were one of the lucky ones to have owned a Pencil Bug, congratulations! If you really want to get some before they are completely extinct, place your adoption order now at www.pencilbugs.com.

November 20th, 2010 | Author:

On Friday, November 19, I had the privilege to giving a presentation at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. We arrived early since they wanted to give us a tour of their 62-acre campus. We took a golf cart around since it was so big!  We met many students and teachers and saw their diverse curriculum which included mechanics, silk-screening, technology, cooking school, art, among many other programs. There are some amazing art students there and we talked with a couple of them about possibly illustrating a picture book that I’ve written.

I have been taking ASL (American Sign Language) at my school for about two months now. My parents and I did have an interpreter in the beginning when we talked with the superintendent but during the campus tour, I acted as the interpreter for my family. Mom and Dad were surprised and very proud that I was able to communicate as well as I did with only two months of ASL.

In my opinion, ASL is probably the easiest language to learn since it is made up of a lot of common sense gestures. For example, the phrase “I will go and come back” or “I’ll be right back” is signed by simply pointing to your chest for “you” and pointing with both hands in the direction you are going, then pointing back with both hands. It makes sense. So even with limited ASL training, I was able to understand almost everything that was said.

I did make one crucial mistake at one point since I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have. One of their deaf teachers asked if I was deaf. I knew what he was saying since we had learned that early on in our class. For some reason I said “yes.” He did not know any different so he assumed I was deaf. Our tour guide had a surprised look on his face and laughed, realized my mistake so signed to the teacher, “No he is not deaf!”  That was a funny story that I can’t wait to share with my ASL class. 🙂

Before we knew it, it was time for me to speak at their assembly. It was so exciting! I stood in their gym in front about 180 high school students.  I had an interpreter sign as I gave my presentation. I wanted to show the kids that I knew some sign language so I did my introduction in ASL. They all cheered when I signed and seemed excited and happy that I was learning ASL.

Again, time flew by so fast and the day was over. The kids went home for their Thanksgiving break. The school services kids all over southern California so many of the kids are bussed as far north as Bakersfield and all the way down to Mexico.  I wished we had to leave but could have stayed longer.

I loved the opportunity speaking at their school! It was so much fun. I hope I can go back at some point. Maybe someday I will be their interpreter.

Update:

The video of my presentation is now on my YouTube channel.  Click here to watch it.

November 14th, 2010 | Author:

How many times have you left a voice mail, email, or even a text message and haven’t gotten any response or at least not soon enough? It shouldn’t matter if it’s a personal situation or a business one. Everyone deserves to be recognized.

It is especially important in business. A good business person is one that gives great customer service. Not only should your business offer a product or service with great quality but you should also know how to take care of your customers. When people order your product, get  it to them in a timely manner. If you say it will be shipped in 7-14 days, try to ship it out sooner. People will love your great customer service which gives you more business and happy customers. They say some of the best free advertising is word-out-mouth referrals but bad news can travel even faster. One unhappy customer can do a lot of damage.

Quick shipping times aren’t the only thing you should be on top of. When you receive an email, respond to it as soon as possible. My policy is to respond within 1-2 days and unless there is some major catastrophe and I can’t get to a computer, I have always stuck to that timeframe. People don’t want to wait forever for a response. This also applies to comments. If someone takes the time to write a nice comment, you should at least recognize them and send some type of response back, even if it’s just a simple thank you. If they have a question or issue but you don’t have an immediate answer, at least let them know you are looking into it and will get back to them as soon as possible. Then follow up and do what you say.

Remember to always treat people how you would want to be treated even if it is over the Internet. One of the most frequent comments I receive is how quickly I send out my products and people are even more surprised when I respond to their emails usually within the first day. That is a huge compliment and it also shows that they are a little surprised, probably because not every business has good customer service.

If your business is so big that you can’t do everything yourself, then make sure you hire someone just for customer service. Whatever it takes, that should be a high priority.

Golden Rule:
Good customer service=customers
Bad customer service=no customers=no business

You can read more common sense tips in my book, Bitten by the Business Bug: Common Sense Tips for Business and Life from a Teen Entrepreneur. Order your autographed copy directly from my website. Part of all proceeds go to support Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA.

November 07th, 2010 | Author:

One of the best tips for business or life in general is that when you make a commitment, you keep it. If you don’t keep your commitments, it’s the quickest way to have people not trust or believe you.

My parents have had this saying for as long as I can remember. “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” If you say you will do something, then do it. If you think you won’t be able to do what you say, then you better not make the commitment in the first place.

Sometimes no matter how hard we try or even if our intentions were right, things can still happen where we can’t keep our commitments. If something unexpected happens, the best way to deal with the situation is to communicate right away. Never let the other person wonder what happened to you because chances are, especially if they don’t know you prior to that, they could think of you as a flake.

Stick to your commitments. People will know they can count on you. There’s no secret to this. It’s just common sense.

October 31st, 2010 | Author:

If you like editing songs or sounds, try this free program called Audacity. I originally found this program when looking for a way to “chipmunk” a song. (To make it sound like the Alvin and the Chipmunks.) I also found it very useful for bleeping out bad words in a song. After I bleeped out the bad words from a rap song and then just for fun, chipmunked it, Mom said that sounded much improved. She could actually tolerate it – well, at least for maybe a minute.

Here is the link to download it completely for free. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Now that you have the program, follow these simple instructions to “chipmunk” and bleep words out. Obviously, the program also does a lot of other special effects so have fun and experiment.

Open the Audacity program.

Click File>Open to insert your song.

For “Chipmunking”: (Very easy)

  1. Click Effect>Change Pitch>Drag bottom scroll bar until the Percentage Change box says about 50. Press OK.
  2. Now the song should be in a high, squeaky voice (aka Chipmunks). You can play around with the percentages.

For bleeping out bad words: (This is a little more involved.)

  1. You’ll need to zoom in so you it’s more detailed. Click View>Zoom In repeatedly until you see the time bar go in .5 increments. You can also use the Zoom tool instead which looks like a magnifying glass with a + sign.
  2. Play the song until you hear where the bad words are. Make note of the exact tick mark on the time bar.
  3. Stop the song using the square stop button. Not the pause button! The vertical bar will not show at the stopped point.
  4. Highlight the portion of the song that has the word in it. To do this, click the “Selection Tool” which looks like a text cursor I. It is located at the top to the right of the Pause, Play, Stop, Etc.
  5. Once you click on the selection tool button, click your mouse in the song bar at the point where the word is. Try not to cut out the other words.
  6. Drag your mouse to the right slightly which will make a dark grey bar. You can check the clip you selected by hitting the play button. It will then just play that selected portion. If you need to adjust to shorten or lengthen the clip, put your mouse in the grey area at either the left or right edge. A pointer finger will appear. Then just drag to lengthen or shorten the grey area.
  7. FOR THE REST OF THE STEPS, MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CLICK IN THE GREY AREA WITH THE SELECTION TOOL . Otherwise, you will have to repeat some steps, undo, or restart.
  8. Once you highlight the part you want to bleep out, select Effect>Change Tempo> Drag the bar until the Percent Change box is between 110-120.
  9. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened.)
  10. Select >Effect>Change Speed> Drag the bar to about 120-130
  11. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened again.)
  12. Select the “Envelope Tool” which is located directly to the right of the “Selection Tool”.  This changes the volume of the selected parts. The section should still be highlighted.
  13. Click the top blue bar above the lighter soundwave section right before your selected clip and drag all the way to the top.
  14. Before you do Step #15, if the selected clip is too narrow to see, zoom in so it’s about a half-inch wide. This will make it easier to work with.
  15. Put your envelope tool cursor in the middle of the dark grey selected clip area right below the blue bar and click. The top blue bar should be lowered as a result. If the lighter soundwave area goes up, you’ve done it wrong so click Edit>Undo.
  16. Click after the dark grey selected clip area on the top blue bar and drag all the way to the top again. The line should make a V shape.
  17. In the top blue line, drag the lower part of the V all the way to the center of the sound wave until a double blue line appears in the middle.
  18. Notice how the blue double bar space is wider than the dark grey area time bar above. These need to match up. Put your mouse over the right or left white dot in the top blue bar and drag it to match the dark grey area/box in the time bar. Do the same for the other side. You are kind of eyeballing it to match. Be careful not to drag your mouse downward. If you do, you’ll have to move the blue bar back up to the top.
  19. Congratulations you have successfully bleeped out a bad word.
  20. To test how it sounds, press the purple skip-to-start button. |<<
  21. Press Play. If you hear that the bleeped word is not completely gone or you need to make revisions, it’s easier just to start over than to try and modify your settings from here.
  22. Now that you’ve got the hang of this, repeat Steps #2-19 for each word you want to bleep out.
  23. Don’t close the program until you save the project for future editing. Note: This will only save it as a .aup file.
  24. To save the edited song as an mp3, follow the next steps.

To export as an mp3:

  1. To save the music as an mp3 you have to export it from Audacity. To do this, you must download an encoder to save as an mp3 at http://lame.buanzo.com.ar/
  2. Follow the instructions when you are there! It is not a separate program but it is needed to run a function on Audacity.
  3. Once you have downloaded the encoder,  follow these instructions for export.
  4. Click File>Export
  5. The rest is self explanatory.

Troubleshooting:

If the Effects or any other options are grayed out or are not working remember to always STOP the song not pause it. To change anything it has to be done while it is stopped.

Of course, if you want to spend your money on a more involved program, go for it. But I like finding free programs and Audacity is good for the average person who just wants to play around with songs for fun.