Tweet smart!

Sure, it’s easy to use Twitter. You just sign up, put in a few details about yourself, and away you go. But if you want to be a — dare I say it — “power-tweeter,” there are a few basic tricks and tools that can really help your tweets take flight. Pun intended.

Behold the Power of URL Shorteners

Bit.ly, or tinyurl, or is.gd, or whatever your URL shortener of choice may be can go a long way towards helping you squash your thoughts into 140 tiny characters. They’re also a lot shorter to type, which can help your non smartphone-enabled Twitter followers out if they can’t click on links. Not only that, but some of the more advanced ones (like bit.ly, my personal favorite) can track the number of times people have clicked on your links, so you can tell if that video you found of the hamster playing piano is really popular or not.

Say It Now, Send It Later

HootSuite (and similar services) help you tackle that familiar problem: sending messages out regularly, but not all at once. Raise your hand if you have a day job that prohibits you from sending tweets all day long (note: I can’t actually see you, but I’m willing to bet the majority of people reading this blog fall in this category). Enter HootSuite. Not only does it let you manage and tweet on multiple accounts at the same time (great for managing a business with a social media presence), but it lets you schedule tweets ahead of time. This simple feature can be incredibly powerful, as in just a few hours you can queue up a whole week’s worth of content.

MFLOW, Twitter meets iTunes?

Ok, this is pretty cool. Do I add it to my Social Bookmark folder or my Music and Media Folder? Why is technology so complicated?

Anyway 5 Million tracks organized by an unlimited number of users. Too bad you can’t purchase tracks in US Dollars but hey, you can’t have everything.

MFLOW, by its own description, is “Twitter meets iTunes,” in that it allows users to both share and buy music. In essence, it’s a music discovery service/social network.

via Share, Buy & Discover New Music With HTML5-Based App.

WikiLeaks not just about spilling government secrets: Why computer security matters

Fingerprint Over the last year we have heard a lot about WikiLeaks and the secret government information they have been publishing for the entire world to see. Governments around the world are scrambling to find out how they are getting this information. One would think this would be a wakeup call to not just governments, but to businesses of all types everywhere.

In the coming year, I believe we will see many high profile companies and industries have their dirty laundry aired by WikiLeaks, the first of which appears to be Bank of America. Even before the information has been released, Bank of America is already sending out their damage control teams trying to determine how WikiLeakes got a hold of the documents.

So how do you prevent your company from being splashed across WikiLeaks? It all comes down to security, training and trust. The electronic security of the information; physical security of the hardware used to store, transport and view the information; and the training and trust of the employees with access to the information. A failure in any one of these areas can mean big trouble for you and your company.

As a technology speaker for The Ohio Society of CPAs I have the opportunity to talk with CPAs and accounting professionals working in all the different areas the accounting profession. The common theme when I talk about security to this group is, “I don’t understand it”, “It costs too much,” or “I don’t need it.”

Whether you realize it or not information security has become a part of our daily lives. Everybody has access to some sort of information whether it’s personal or business related. Whatever the case, it needs to be kept secure. Security by obscurity is no longer an answer as technology continues to make everything more transparent.

Here is another way to look at it: If you were working with a company that had information stolen, leaked, etc., and when asked why they didn’t have security in place or why what was in place didn’t work, and they answered with the above statements – would you still continue to do business with them?

Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Google Docs and this rivals Windows “My Documents” experience. The gap between desktop and cloud closes a little more every day.

Google Docs code includes references to some upcoming features that could make the service better suited for storing media content. There are many references to a preview pane that will allow you to view more information about your files and even check the content without actually opening the files.

via Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections.

Greed, speed, and need: 3 types of social media postings

speedSocial media users have content expectations! I know it’s difficult to understand a user’s expectation of ROI for spending 5 seconds reading your 140-character tweet. So as you’re diligently working on your social media strategies take some time and actually think about your content.

I’m a techie, and by nature communications isn’t my forte. But I would propose there are three types of social media posts that fill some very specific human emotional needs.

Greed – I rail against using social media for direct marketing but I’m also a cheapskate. When Chipotle offered free burritos via Twitter I was hooked into being a follower. My greed motivates me to follow my favorite companies and they reward me from time to time with great deals or discounts. Trust me; if I wasn’t getting something I’d kick them out of my circle of friends in a hurry.

Speed – Inquiring minds need to know, and now they want to know instantly. I simply just don’t have time to seek out information, but I have a personal need to feel that I’m in the know. I’ve become competitive in information collection, and I use my social network as my competitive advantage.

Need – Belonging to something and having relationships with others are the reasons it’s called social. This was the primary benefit of social media and sadly it’s the one that is least often addressed now that social has become mainstream. Unlike greed and speed, it’s nearly impossible to over saturate the need to be connected to others.

Now think about your social strategy. Is it comprised of simply pushing links out to your friends and followers? Are your messages balanced, and do you have solutions in place to actually respond to real needs? Is your content balanced in a way that you are addressing the types of messages you need for long term success?

OTHER QUICK TIPS:

  1. Have a profile image that is easy to pick out of the stream
  2. Keep messages up-to-date so you don’t appear stagnant
  3. Space messages into appropriate times, don’t fill up an entire stream

As always I welcome comments. Feel free to agree, disagree, or simply add your own tips about social media.

The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android

Editor’s note: This post is in response to The Android that’s crushing your iPhone.

I sit comfortably reading my iPad educating myself about the newest Android-based slate devices, then it happens: I hear geek laughter from the corner. I see you with your taped glasses, pocket protector and mathematics degree. “Ahh, another Apple fanboy who needs educated on the real definition of technology,” you think to yourself. Most likely not, so keep it to yourself.

Will Android capture a majority percentage of the mobile market? Yes, most likely it will. Will it crush iOS? Most definitely not. Just as Ford, Honda, and Mercedes all coexist in the automotive market, several players do and will continue to coexist within the mobile market.

  1. It’s all about the people, coder. Customers buy devices. Some customers may be programmers, but the majority are not. Average consumers simply don’t care about the programming platform. They just want to have a great user experience. Apple makes application consumption and usage dead simple. Since the media feed Apple and, in turn, application sales, unless the media turn on Apple, iOS will still be a great platform for anyone who wants to make real money in mobile applications.It’s simply supply and demand: Coders like to eat, Apple gives them a great solution to sell products, and so coders won’t dismiss iOS.
  2. Peer Review doesn’t mean censorship. Several people have debated Apple’s philosophy regarding application review. I have to be honest: I can argue either side. The argument doesn’t seem to affect the customers, though, so, again, as long as money is to be had, programmers will seek to capture it. Granted, I jailbreak my iOS devices. It’s not that I have a need for additional applications, I simply like being a rebel. I will tell you that I’m far more comfortable giving my teen an iPhone than a Droid, so something positive can be said for Apple blocking out the porn applications.
  3. When you’re the best, you don’t need to imitate. Yes, Android runs on multiple devices, and no, that’s not a crushing blow to Apple. Windows CE as well as the new Windows 7 Phone both have the ability to move from device to device, but it hasn’t helped Microsoft crush anybody. In fact, it’s created more problems than done them any good. Apple controls the user experience on both sides of the equation, building the best overall experience for the customer. Having more hardware, more choices, and more training leads to an inconsistent customer experience. If iOS devices aren’t the best in customer experience, then why does everyone seek to recreate them?
  4. Come on, Google? Google is an advertising company with a great search engine and some killer apps, but they aren’t and don’t want to be a platform provider. Apple has an interest in maintaining and growing its platform because it sells hardware and applications, not ads.How many times has Google rolled out “the next killer app” only to be stomped into the mud and simply run away leaving users in a pinch? If you think the strength of cloud-based productivity tools is the winning combination, think again. The Microsoft Kin was a cloud device, and “poof.” we see where that landed. If Google isn’t collecting data about your spending habits, they’ll drop the OS like a hot potato. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s simply the business model they choose to maintain.
  5. It’s the 21st century. We carry more information in our pockets every day than we used to create in a lifetime. It doesn’t want to be free, in fact, we spend a considerable amount of time and money trying to protect it. This is a simple argument to win. (Linux on the desktop, anyone?) If something as great as Linux hasn’t benefited from an open community then it’s not going to happen for Android.Focus on customer goals: Saving time, increasing productivity, staying connected, and short-term entertainment. Mobile isn’t technology-driven, it’s experience driven, and that’s where Apple wins hands-down.

Android and iOS are simply different answers to the same problem. What we haven’t addressed is the fact several other players are also playing in the same space. With the introduction of tablets into the mobile space, customer’s needs will increase and the solutions will grow even more complex. Unfortunately for programmers, no single solution will win and so the market will remain fragmented for years to come. The only thing getting crushed this year is Jacob’s ego.

Just a side note: Many of the Android tablets being reviewed at CES look exceptional. I’m actually looking forward to the advances this competition will bring.

Read what others have to say at: http://www.quora.com/Why-does-the-world-tolerate-the-proprietary-approach-of-iPhone


The Android that’s crushing your iPhone

Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Chris Jenkins’ response to this post, in which he defends his iPhone: The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android.

I see you there. You, clutching your lovely iPhone, your eyebrows raising incredulously above the edge of your shiny iPad. “Great, another zealotus tech nerd trying to rain on my iParade,” you’re thinking. Maybe. But maybe not.

Yeah, I work in IT. I have a geeky title (Business Analyst). I have a geeky degree (mathematics), I do geeky things (analytics, data mining, programming, business intelligence), and I even like geeky media (Star Trek, Firefly). And I’m partly biased, in that I use the geeky mobile operating system, Android. But I’m also partly unbiased, because I’m a die hard Mac guy, too (I’ve used them for the past eighteen years). So, I’d like to think I have a little latitude to tell you, disbelieving “i”Fan, that the green robot is here and he’s ready to take iOS’ name. Here’s why:

  1. It’s all about the coders, baby. As sweaty Steve Ballmer will never let us forget, it’s all about the developers (Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!). Android applications are basically written in Java, a programming language used widely by everyone from hobbyists to multinational corporations. iOS applications are written in Objective-C, a language used widely by Apple. It’s not that it’s a bad language, but a lot more people already know Java than Objective-C. The barrier to entry is just that much lower.
  2. The iron curtain. Publishing in the iPhone/iPad store is like publishing in a fascist dictatorship. You submit your work to a hidden cabal, which examines your work and compares it to a semi-secret blacklist of banned things. If you’re lucky, after a while, the censors will deem your work acceptable — unless they later decide it’s verboten after all.In contrast, publishing in the Android Market is like publishing in the free world. You submit your work, and a short while later it’s available for everyone. End of story.
  3. Here, there, everywhere. There are dozens of phones and tablets that run Android, but just one that runs iOS. It’s a lot easier to get someone to buy any of the various Android-powered devices, from the company and with the features and design of his or her choosing, than it is to get someone to buy the one particular device offered by one particular company that runs iOS.
  4. Come on, it’s from Google. I love Apple. They produce great hardware, and they’ve made some great software. But I really love Google. And one of the things I love about Google is their ecosystem of interlinked cloud products. My contacts are stored in Google Contacts, and my mail in Gmail. I use Google Talk to chat online, Google Voice to make calls and store voicemails, Google Maps to find my way around, and Google Reader to read my RSS feeds. Oh, and let’s not forget a little thing called Google Search (you might have heard of it).All this stuff? It’s instantly available anywhere I can get an Internet connection, and I can get into it using any device of my choosing. Apple just doesn’t have the Internet presence to compete with this range of powerful, intertwined products.
  5. Its the 60s again. At the end of the day, information wants to be free. Android is open source and is based largely on free components (Linux, Java, etc.). Furthermore, it has a strong supporting community. Blogs and forums full of dedicated Android developers abound, discussing the minute details of how to get the most out of the system and lending a hand to newcomers wanting to join the fray themselves. The whole platform encourages experimentation, free expression, innovation, and cooperation.

Apple’s iOS is the polar opposite of Google’s Android in many ways. While its community of developers is doubtless as friendly and open, iOS itself is closed, so only Apple can develop it. iOS is based on some free components, but also a lot of proprietary ones. It’s a tightly controlled system. The benefit of this closed environment, I will admit, is a more cohesive and “pretty” experience — Android apps have an unfortunate reputation for not being as “shiny” (i.e., refined) as their iOS counterparts. But, this tight control just does not create as free or inviting an environment. By not letting people involve themselves in the system as deeply as they want, Apple inherently shuts people out and innovation down.

And that’s just it: An open, enticing platform is going to win in the long run. While both Android and iOS have the technology, Android has the people and the excitement. No amount of “pretty” is going to win over “fun” and “open.” That walled garden may be carefully pruned and cleaned, but who wants to get stuck behind a pretty wall? I’ll take my chances walking free in the public park.

40+ Things You Need to Watch in 2011

An interesting mash-up of tech to watch over the next year. I’ll admit that some of these are new to me but still old favorites Foursquare, FlipBoard, and jQuery Mobile are all on the list. So far my favorite find of the new year Quora also made the list.

A list of over 40 websites, apps, companies, gadgets and technologies that the editors of Mashable think that you should keep an eye on over the coming year. None of them let you zoom through the air over traffic, but they’re definitely all worth a look.

via 40+ Things You Need to Watch in 2011.

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