Can Facebook Be Everything to Everyone?

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Posted on 10th May 2012 by Nouveau Geek in Geeky Pursuits |Social Media

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Facebook is trying to be everything to everyone–from connecting with friends, to gaming, to career networking (Facebook’s Branchout), to photos (recent acquisition of Instagram) and music, Groups for Schools, and most recently, File Sharing for Groups. It doesn’t matter how many features Facebook tries to cobble together: they can’t be everything to everyone. What’s next, business productivity tools? If they are indeed trying to be everything to everyone, business productivity tools seem like the next logical step for Facebook, now that they’ve rolled out every possible way to capture our attention from an entertainment perspective. Then they’ll have every eyeball in  America 24/7.

But it doesn’t work that way. I work for a company where all employees work remotely. We suffer from “productivity tool schizophrenia:” we rely on HipChat for internal day-to-day communication; Skype and Webex for client and business partner calls; Google Chat integrated with SnapEngage for customer support, which then forwards tickets to Zendesk; Go2Webinar for webinars and demos; Google Hangouts for team meetings that require screenshares; HootSuite, Seesmic (mobile) and Ubersocial (mobile) for social media; Google Docs for document creation, sharing and collaboration; Amazon AWS for file storage; MailChimp for campaigns; Jira for ticketing; and the list goes on. Either we’re not very efficient, or each of these tools fulfills a very specific need that one single tool cannot ever provide. I believe it’s the latter. There’s no way Facebook can touch this.

Same goes for my personal needs for multiple tools for finding and sharing music, storing and sharing images, communicating and socializing. As an example, I will pay for multiple music services because they don’t cost very much, and each one has features unique to them. Pandora One costs me $3 a month and plays a random stream of music so I don’t have to mess with creating playlists. Great for hassle-free background music during the workweek. On weekends, I like Spotify, when I have time to search for music and curate playlists to my liking. I think that as ubiquitous as Facebook is (or tries to be) there are too many really good cheap or free choices out there to stick with just one thing.  And, maybe ubiquity is not Facebook’s intent, after all. They seem to have the resources, so they can cover all bases whether or not people use all of their tools and features.

Do you think it’s possible to have a single tool or social network that can fulfill everyone’s needs? Is Facebook striving to be everything to everyone (and will they succeed?)

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Why I’m Boycotting Skype

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Posted on 26th August 2011 by Nouveau Geek in Geeky Pursuits

Anyone notice with the most recent Skype update for Windows that all “callto” phone numbers across the web and in your email are linked directly to Skype? Even when I went to the “Call Phone” feature from within Gmail, every number in my history was linked to Skype. Not only did they do that without asking me, they also installed a Chrome extension without my permission. [update: after another Skype update, the Chrome extension was reinstalled and wouldn't uninstall through the extension's own uninstall utility. I had to go into Tools > Extensions to remove it.] I use Skype on a daily basis (free account only) for meetings and phone calls with my team and with clients. Everyone I work with is on Skype. But for personal use I prefer to use Google to make web calls and for chat. If I could influence widespread user adoption of Google tools for business, I’d be perfectly happy. But Skype, DON’T mess with my personal space without asking. [Update: after this most recent Skype update, and how upset I got when I couldn't uninstall the Chrome extension at first, I am now boycotting Skype. Call me on my phone or let's use Google.]

You can disable Skype as “callto” links by going into Options > Advanced Settings and uncheck the “Use Skype to call callto: links on the web” option.

 

You can also uninstall the Chrome extension by clicking on the Skype icon in your Chrome toolbar, where you can click to uninstall the extension. [Update: This doesn't work. It keeps asking you to close all open Chrome windows. All my Chrome windows were closed, so it wouldn't let me proceed with the uninstall. So I went to Tools > Extensions and removed it from there.]

Twenty-something Fave Android Apps

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Posted on 25th May 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Geeky Pursuits |Social Media

Below documents my Twitter posts of my twenty-something fave Android apps, (in reverse order of original posting) with just enough of a description to help you decide if it’s an app you’re interested in or not.

Android apps that are necessary evils: facebook. Anyone know of anything better?

Other fave android apps: twidroid, google (maps, goggles, talk, voice, mail, calendar), gallery, market.

Fave android app 20: Swype! Great text recognition, takes some getting used to and I don’t use it enough. Do the tutorial.

Fave android app 19: spare parts. Check on battery status and app usage

Fave android app 18: skype mobile. Only available on verizon.

Fave android app 17: skyfire browser. Can’t decide if I like this or the default browser. All I want is full flash support.

Fave android app 16: Seesmic for twitter. Multiple account support is great. And @loic LeMeur seems super cool.

Android app 15: SCVNGR. Still testing this one out. Yet another location-based social network with promise.

Fave android app 14: pandora/slacker. Both freeze up on me all the time. Why? But I still can’t live without ‘em & Mark Farina radio

Fave android app 13: Palmary weather. Loads fast, cool UI, current, 48hr & 15 day forecast, live radar. Love this one.

Fave android app 12: NewsRob rss reader. Syncs with google reader feeds. Best alternative to Viigo (ex BB owners will know what I mean)

Fave android app 11: Knocking live video streaming.

Fave android app 10: Mabilo ringtones. Sanford & Son ring tone & Jetsons doorbell notification? Yes.

Fave android app 9: Indeed.com job search. Set your search terms & find cool jobs. Email interesting ones to yourself and your friends

Fave android app 8: Gesture Search. Search your phone by finger painting. Remember when kermit used to draw letters on Sesame Street?

[see Kermit draw the Letter M]

Fave android app 7: Foursquare…but I gotta get back in the game. Haven’t played for a while.

Fave android app 6: Fandango to see what’s playing at the Showplace Icon, what’s opening this weekend, & buy tix

Fave android app 5: Evernote

Fave android app 4: CardioTrainer intergrates w google maps, save workouts, track calories burned, distance & speed, & cute british accent

Fave android app 3: Astrid for tasks. Assign dates times and alarms, syncs w google cal and adds to calendar, also syncs w remember the milk

Fave android app 2: Aldiko ebook reader until the Kindle app is released

Fave android app 1: Advanced Task Killer Free. Kill apps you never realized were running, save your battery.

Chili for the Weary

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Posted on 26th April 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Internet Marketing

Dear Blog:

I’m back and promise I won’t neglect you for such a long stretch. Work has been keeping me extra busy, plus we moved to a great new place. This past weekend I climbed and descended so many flights of stairs carrying large pieces of furniture and boxes that by the end of the day I wanted some comfort food; specifically, chili. A few simple ingredients and 25 minutes resulted in some delicious chili, so I thought I’d share.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8b/Kidney_beans.jpg/75px-Kidney_beans.jpg

1 large onion, chopped
1 lb grass fed ground beef
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin seed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon corn flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion until tender. Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Stir in the chili powder and cumin seed until fully blended into the beef. Season with salt and pepper. Add can of chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. Sprinkle in the corn flour. Stir until blended, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and stir in until melted. Serve in bowls and top with a pinch of cheddar cheese. Serve with your favorite corn bread (jalapeno cheddar cornbread from Whole Foods!)

Cool Stuff I Figured Out Using Google: Set Up Google Analytics for your Intranet

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Posted on 26th February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Geeky Pursuits

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Here’s another case of “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner.” In January we launched our newly redesigned intranet site for our department, the web strategy team. We have a content management system with strict intranet standards as defined by the intranet standards group. Since we’re the web team, we felt we needed a custom look and feel, so we decided to be mavericks, broke out of the intranet standards mold, and designed a custom web site for our team. We had a fully-defined mission for our intranet site, and wanted to know if all of our efforts promoting it was worthwhile. We hit a brick wall when it came to asking the intranet administrators for site tracking. So I let it sit for a while on the backburner. Finally, I made my move.

I set up an analytics account first and added the tracking code to one of the pages. I gave it a day before I logged in to see if it worked. That’s because our intranet has one publishing cycle a day. When I logged in the next day, I didn’t see any activity, and assumed it was because it took some time to see results. Or…maybe analytics just doesn’t work on intranets. So I asked Google.

From within the Analytics site, I clicked on Help in the top right corner and searched for the term Intranet. The first result was an article titled “How do I run Google Analytics on my intranet?” The article said:

In order for Google Analytics to populate reports for your intranet usage, your corporate network needs to reach the ga.js JavaScript at http://www.google-analytics.com/ga.js, http://www.google-analytics.com/__utm.gif, https://ssl.google-analytics.com/ga.js, https://ssl.google-analytics.com/__utm.gif.

If you can reach the above URL using your network’s internet connection, you have satisfied the first requirement. Additionally, your intranet must be accessed using a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) such as http://intranet.example.com. The ga.js JavaScript will not work if your intranet is accessed using a non-FQDN (such as http://intranet).

I passed both requirements, so I checked the stats again. In Google Analytics, it shows results for the last month through the day before the current day by default. But you can see results for the current day by clicking on the calendar and selecting today’s date. And there I saw that we had a few site visits to our home page, the only page I added the tracking code to. So, I added the tracking code to the remaining pages, and now we have our site tracking.

Searched for: intranet (in Google Analytics Help)

Viewed: How do I view Google Analytics on my intranet?

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You’re Coming, Write?

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Posted on 25th February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Recipes

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Come one, come all! Children of all ages are encouraged to attend Green City Market and Slow Food Chicago’s “Kids Write to Eat” event this Saturday, February 27. It’s an opportunity for America’s youth to participate in a letter-writing to Congress, speaking out about their wishes for the Child Nutrition Act and its governance of U.S. school lunch programs. The campaign takes places from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. upstairs in the North Gallery, to right of the Slow Food Chicago table. Be sure to stop by and have your voices heard.

Are you coming? Visit Slow Food Chicago’s Facebook Fan page for more info about this event and RSVP!

Follow the link below for specific guidelines from the Slow Food USA Time for Lunch Campaign about how people of all ages and backgrounds can let their voices be heard regarding healthy eating options in schools.

http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch/get_involved/

Stage your own letter-writing campaign and be a champion for change!

For additional information or questions, please contact info@slowfoodchicago.org.

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Cool Stuff I Figured Out Using Google: HTML Gmail Signatures

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Posted on 24th February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Geeky Pursuits

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Image representing WiseStamp as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase
Gmail isn’t just web-based mail. It’s a fully-loaded app with filters, labels, POP and IMAP support, and more. You can manage all of your email addresses in one Gmail account and attach labels to them so you know what account your mail is coming from. Whenever you send an email, you can choose from a drop-down list which email address you want to use. For example, you may have a personal Gmail account and a branded business account like someone@nouveaugeek.com, and switch them out depending on the nature of the email. Depending on the email you’re sending from, you may also want a customized signature that’s different for each. Gmail has the ability to add a signature, (go to Settings –> General) but it doesn’t support HTML. So if you want to include a logo or some custom layout with colors and such, Gmail won’t support that. So I asked Google.

I came across a review of WiseStamp on Mashable.com. Wisestamp is a Firefox extension, also available for Chrome, the Flock browser, and Thunderbird (Mozilla email app.) You can use the rich text editor for composing your email signature, or you can tab to HTML mode where you can tweak what you created in the rich text editor, or create your HTML from scratch. I chose to create mine from scratch. You can change font styles and colors, as well as add and resize images. It also has a social component where you can add links to your social network profiles, and it will append the respective icon to the bottom of your signature. (Icons for Foursquare and Buzz are yet to be added. WiseStamp, get on it!) You can also pull in items from an RSS feed right into your signature, making it a great way to promote your latest blog post, Flickr photos, status updates, random quote, or pretty much anything you can stick into an RSS file.

The WiseStamp site provides a lot of example signatures that you can copy and paste and edit to your liking. And for those of you not as Google-centric as I am, it can also be used in Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL Mail.

Here’s what my signature looks like:

Pia Simeoni
(312) 555-1212

http://www.NouveauGeek.com

Find me LinkedinFacebookGoogleTwitter

Anyone else out there find a HTML signature tool you like? Share it!

Searched for: html signature gmail
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Cool Stuff I Figured Out Using Google: Publish to your Blog with Google Docs

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Posted on 21st February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Geeky Pursuits

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Whenever I think about some kind of business productivity tool I need, such as a free mind-mapping tool, the first thing that comes to my mind is Google. Of course I use Google to search for this information, but because I use Google Docs, Calendar, Voice, Reader, Maps, and so on, I look to Google first to see if they have developed a tool that would meet my need, or if it’s in the works. No luck with regard to mind-mapping. What about blogging then? I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner, but I wanted to know if Google Docs could integrate with my self-hosted WordPress blog. Well, of course it does. If you want to post a Google Doc to your blog, just go to the Share menu on the right side of the page, and Publish as web page… and then you’ll get a window that will allow you to either publish or post to blog. You’ll have to enter your blog settings and then test. Once you have everything set up correctly, publishing to your blog is as easy as clicking the “Post to Blog” button. Visit your blog, and there’s your post! Pretty easy and straightforward. However…

The only issue I have with using Google Docs as my publishing tool is that it doesn’t publish the title of the post, even if I format the title as <h1> (which I’ve read works for some blogs.) So, it assigns a number rather than a hyphenated version of the post’s title. Then I have to log in to WordPress and add the title.

Anyone out there able to figure out how to get Google Docs to include the document title when posting, or is it not supported for a self-hosted blog using WordPress 2.9.1?

Searched for: google docs wordpress

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In Retrospect: My Top Ten Apps for the Blackberry Storm

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Posted on 20th February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Geeky Pursuits

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My fiancé has finally announced that our Droids are in. He’ll be picking them up when he visits one of his Verizon store locations on Tuesday. I’ve had such a close relationship with my Blackberry Storm 9530 for the last year and a half. Pink silicone cover. Folded business card under the battery cover to keep the touch screen from sticking. Fully tweaked with apps to keep it running smoothly and to keep me occupied on my 3 hour (total) commute to and from work. 8GB micro SD for music and photos. I’ve subjected it to so much behavior mod, it does exactly what I want it to do. We are close, my Storm and me.

So, I am actually preparing myself for this big change, making sure Google Reader is set up with all of my feeds currently on Viigo, and researching comparable apps and cool accessories.

I’m not sure the Storm is for everyone. Mine was strictly for personal use. But as a tribute to my Storm, here is my list of top apps that made my experience with the Storm a great one over the last year and a half. I’m sure these apps are available for most current Blackberry models.

Third Party Apps

Opera Mini. Much faster than the Blackberry browser, and renders pages to fit within the screen in either portrait or landscape mode. Visit the address m.opera.com, using your phone’s default Web browser. To download Opera Mini 5 beta, visit the address m.opera.com/next.

Viigo. Viigo boasts an intuitive, mobile-friendly interface, that delivers a wide range of customizable content and services from some of the world’s leading content providers and publishers. It has news, weather, real-time sports scores, stocks and finance, audio and podcasts, entertainment, social networking, shopping and blogs in one simple, downloadable application.

Pandora or Slacker. Both are great for streaming music with similar features.

Socialscope Lite. In private beta, and took me a while to get, but supports multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook, Foursquare and flickr. Functionality is limited for Facebook and Foursquare. It’s not yet available for Android devices, so I’m going to miss it but looking forward to trying out Seesmic‘s apps for social media.

PdaNet. One of the few apps I actually paid for, PdaNet allowed me to tether my Blackberry to my laptop via USB and use it as a modem. This was especially useful on my train rides when I had to get some work done. The connection would interrupt every time a call or message came through, but it was quick and easy to reconnect and well worth the money. And yeah, it’s available for many phone types, including Android.

MeterBerry. Another app I actually paid for. Just a couple bucks. Before upgrading to Blackberry OS5, the Storm would freeze on a regular basis, and you’d have to remove the battery and restart, which took literally close to 5 minutes. Then I learned that if you clear the event log about once a week, it wouldn’t freeze as often. To do that, you would have to hit Menu –> Show Keyboard and type “/”/” and follow the prompts to clear the event log. After that, you do a hard reset by taking out your battery. Then I stumbled upon MeterBerry, which does the work for you. You can set it to clear your event log and do a hard reset at the time you specify every day. I set mine to 4am so it’s ready to go for the day by the time I wake up. It also monitors your battery and memory, and you can set alerts if you go below certain performance thresholds. This turned my Storm into a new phone, and it rarely froze after I started using it. Then I upgraded to OS5, which improved the performance even more.

Google. I have Google Maps, Google Mobile App, Google Sync, and Google Voice installed. They are all great tools, but I can’t wait to use them on the Droid.

Ubertwitter. This was my Twitter tool of choice before I started using SocialScope.

Facebook for Blackberry. A must-have if you’re on Facebook.

I’ve used other apps, but these are the ones I use on a daily basis. I can listen to Pandora, while reading the news on Viigo, while posting interesting articles to Twitter, while browsing the web, while sending and receiving emails and texts. I know I’ll be happy with my Droid, but I will always think highly of the Blackberry, and in particular the Storm.

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And now, for my next number…

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Posted on 19th February 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Recipes

This is blog post number three in my 28 Day Blogging Challenge. Yesterday I was at a loss for what to write, which resulted in my speed skating metaphor. This morning I woke up with several ideas, and I’m now tracking them all in an Evernote notebook called “blog ideas.”

One of my ideas has to do with food, and that’s good for this blog, because it fits in with my original focus (technology, food, and wine.) My 9-year-old daughter received the young reader’s version of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma as a gift. The regular version is on my “to-read” list, and there are so many before it in the queue. But I sometimes read with my daughter before bedtime, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to finally get into the meat of the book while introducing my daughter to the concept of “real food.” And it won’t disrupt the order in my “to-read” list.

So, for the rest of this 28 day stretch, I’m going to read a little bit of Omnivore’s Dilemma with my daughter each night before bedtime and document her reactions to what’s presented in the book as they pan out throughout the day. Will she start to shun fast food? Will she try the vegetables? The idea of real food is not new to her; we’ve been trying to introduce her to healthier choices, guiding her away from Lunchables, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. We once attempted to make “Homemade Big Macs,” and although they were full of calories, they were made with grass-fed beef and as many natural products as we could find without spending $20 per burger. She loved them. We feel that doing things like this will teach her that she CAN like the taste of food that is made at home, and that real food tastes good, too.

I mentioned earlier that I woke up with several other ideas…and I’ll save those for after my 28 Day Challenge. But another idea that came to me this afternoon is documenting “stuff I figured out today using Google.” I may not do this every day, but since I figured out some cool stuff today using Google, I’m going to write about it later.

Hope you all have a Happy Friday.