Category Archives: 1 Minute Tips

The Best Way to Use Twitter

Update 9/27/11

Here it is in a nutshell. You don’t need to read the rest of this post: Don’t worry about getting followers. Just fill your inbound (who you follow) with cool people your interested in who, and this is key, whose information will somehow make your life better. Help you learn cool new stuff.  That’s how you get value. And the same would go for Google+.

date 6/23/11 –

Just saw this tweet from @steverubel (Good guy to follow) “How To Answer The Question “How Often Should I Tweet?”http://j.mp/kyTYGR ” – Thought it’d be a good and perhaps valuable read for this subject.

Update 2/06/11

If you’re a member of Twitter, then I’m sure you got this email recently from the Twitter team on how to get the best experience from Twitter. I’ve copied and pasted it hear and put my comments in parenthesis:

Happy New Year,

Our resolution is to help you get the most of out of Twitter this year. To start, we thought we’d send this note with four simple suggestions. Come on by our web site to try these out anytime! http://twitter.com

1) Follow your interests. We’ve found that the people who enjoy Twitter most tend to follow a variety of accounts: friends, family, people in their profession, local shops and events, and most importantly, people who share their passions.
(This hasn’t been easy in the past. For the first few years twitter was all “techies”, but now that it is becoming more mainstream, it’s becoming more possible.)

2) Get specific. Like sports? Follow your favorite leagues, teams, players, coaches, commentators, writers and fellow fans. Love food? Follow chefs, restaurants, critics, bloggers, specialty shops and respected foodies.
(Obviously, no-brainer. 🙂

3) Don’t panic. People turn to Twitter during emergencies. Snowstorms, power outages and fires are just a few emergencies where Twitter may be helpful. Search for #hashtags and follow local civic accounts to stay informed.

(This may be one of Twitter’s most understated assets. Search in general on Twitter is not that good. But when you are searching for something that is happening right now, it’s fantastic. For instance, my team was playing the other night. Their schedule said it was broadcast on “CSS” which is Comcast something. I don’t have Comcast. I have Dish, but I thought maybe somebody was “Ustreaming” or something. So I did a real time Twitter search (Search is the box at the very top center of the page). Couldn’t find anyone Ustreaming it, but what I did find was even better. Someone tweeted loud and clear, “Arkansas vs Georgia on @ESPN3 tonight” ESPN 3 is the online streaming arm of ESPN. )

4) Return to Twitter. There are about 200 million accounts on Twitter now – that means new interests, new voices, and new ideas every day. We offer services in seven languages, apps for most devices, and SMS worldwide.
(Wow, 200 million is a serious number. But I believe it. Every where I go, everything I hear, Twitter and Facebook are mentioned in the same breath, same tandem. So it makes sense that Twitter would start to be getting “Facebook Numbers” so to speak)

Thanks for being part of Twitter,

@Biz, @Ev, & @Jack
Co-founders, Twitter

Part I: What’s in it for You?

Firstly, I wish the follower counts weren’t listed on Twitter. It becomes an obsession, and it works against the first tenant of how Twitter is best used for the “average” user.

If you are an average human being, who isn’t interested in being “recognized” or being a digital “star” the best way to look at Twitter is simply what value you can attain from it. You shouldn’t care a hoot who or how many people follow you. You should only be concerned about following people who interest you, who can give you value for your life, entertain you, whatever turns you on. You’re first objective is that Twitter should be a pleasure, not a strain. You should look at it as a media source, the same way you look at which book or magazine to buy that will give you those same things.

  • So, firstly, you should find 150 or so great people to follow or whatever your “Dunbar” number is, and leave it at that. Don’t follow people just so they will follow you back or just because they are following you.
  • You would rather follow 1,000 of the most awesome people in the world and have 0 followers, than have 10,000 followers and be following 5,000 people who tweet things that aren’t adding value to your life.

That really could be the end of it for most of us. Think of Twitter like a book. If you’re reading an awesome book that enriches your life, do you care if that book “Like you back” so to speak, or “follows you back.” Heck no. Even if you were Ashton Kutchner or John Mayer, you would be better off with ZERO followers but following only people who were enriching your life. This really is the top priority of Twitter. What can I get out it that adds to my life. Not, oh, if I can only get Roger Ebert’s or Steve Martin’s attention!

Part II: Your Still Not Satisfied

OK, so you still want to be a “Digital Star” part of the “digerati.” If you do want to attract honest to goodness followers, and by that I mean folks who aren’t following you just so that you follow them back you need to

  • Create original content in a subject that you are passionate about, preferably in video format.

It’s easy to tweet interesting content that someone else created, say the New York Times, the Tech Blogs, etc. But everyone is doing that. It’s ok at times, and especially if its something you find truly interesting and that you have actually read yourself and thought about, but people are more interested in the source. They may follow you, but they are listening to and influenced by the source. Because the source is the guy who is passionate about his subject, he’s going to deliver the most interesting, not only content about it, but perspective and opinions about it.

So find your passion, no matter what it is, and create original content around it. It may not be tech or some of the other popular Twitter topics, but even if no one else on Earth was interested in what you were covering (and that’s highly unlikely) at least you’ll be living on the edge of excitement all the time.

And one of the points of Twitter is that you would rather have 1,000 followers who are truly interested in your tweets than 10,000 who are only following you so that you follow them back. That is akin to having a conversation with someone who is only there so that you’ll listen to them.

What are your thoughts about the best way to use Twitter? Love to hear your insights.

One Easy Way to Stimulate Your Creativity

So, I was listening to the podcast “TWiT” yesterday, as I have been doing pretty much every Sunday for the past several years. Then I happened to listen to the Podcast that comes right after it called “East Meets West” with Tom Merritt and Roger Chang which I usually don’t listen to, but did because because Leo was going to stay on for it. Anyway, in one short snippet they talked about how they always think of their best ideas in the shower. Well it turns out that it’s more than just a coincidence. What’s happening is that blood vessels are stimulated by the warmth. They expand and your brain becomes oxygenated.

  • So if you want to stimulate your creativity or need to come up with a good idea, take a hot shower.

If you want to boost this effect, take a hot tub or whirlpool bath, especially after a work out.

It reminded me of my own experiences with this. I have a whirlpool bath. I was in the habit, several years ago, of getting in it everyday. I was going through a period of writing songs and poems. I noticed great lines seemed to just come to me when I was in the whirlpool. I got to where I’d put a notebook on the vanity. It was quite exhilarating. I was in and out of that hot tub ten or fifteen times during a bath. That was the only problem. I couldn’t enjoy my bath! But if you need to come up with some ideas, or have a specific project in front of you, this is a great technique. Take advantage of it.

Here’s a snippet from the podcast, where Leo, Tom Merritt, and talk about this phenomenom.

Hot Shower Stimulates Creativity by spickeringlr

What are your thoughts about this? Do you have any other suggestions for stimulating creativity?

Garageband Tip: Work Behind the Beat

So I’ve been in the Mac World for over a year now, but I’ve just now entered the Garageband World or recording and the whole idea of recording on a computer. I know what you’re saying, “Welcome to the ’90s!” I know. I know, but you see as much as I’m interested in technology, I also have this reverse energy working. I call them “mental blocks.” In the early ’90s I got a 4 track cassette recorder. I think it was $500. Couldn’t make it work. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t.  Then I bought some multi track software from the local music store. Looked fancy. Only $50. Couldn’t make it work either. I just couldn’t get decent sound into the damn thing. I don’t know what it was. A PC, the drivers, the technology? I don’t know. Just a lot of buzzing.

Finally in 2001 I got a stand alone “DAW” one of those little BOSS BR things, and FINALLY, something I could simply plug in and play, and though its woefully small GUI (I wouldn’t even call it a GUI) would make the normal musician drive to the local bridge and jump off, I could actually record multi track sound that sounded clear, and a drum machine to boot! I was hooked. My creativity jumped. Then in 2005 I bumped up to the BR-1600, spending $1200 and thought I was in heaven. Even better Pre Amps, better sound, and the ability to program real arrangements, bass lines and customized drumming. I thought I had my studio. So I’ve been working with it ever since, thinking I had it all. All I needed at least.

Finally though, especially with this gorgeous 20″ iMac screen, I just couldn’t live with the little 1×5″ GUI. I never wanted to do editing because it was just too painful. So I was stressed with every take because I felt I had to get it perfect. I did, because I wasn’t willing to cut and paste or even punch in and out very often. Pain moves folks to action.

So finally I entered the Garageband world a few weeks ago, cutting my first song on it, “The Darkest Hour Comes,” just recently. Loooooove it. The colors, seeing all the tracks. The loops. Dragging and dropping edits allows one so much freedom, that one can relax and get into the groove.

So, since I don’t have an interface yet, I’m recording guitars and vocals into the BR and importing the .WAV files into Garageband. (Of course that little pain will have me down to the Guitar Center getting a Presonus Firebox very soon!)

But in the meantime I’m working on a new tune. Now with the freedom of Garageband (And computer based recording in general) I discovered I can just record away over and over again, not worrying about mistakes, because I know that I can cut and paste the best parts on the desktop and arrange the song with relative ease.

So finally here comes my tip. I’ve been working on the guitar track today, cutting and pasting away, and I’ve noticed one thing: Even though I’m working with a click track, you’re almost never exactly on the beat, especially at that crucial juncture of the first beat. You’re either a millisecond ahead or behind it. That’s one of the things that makes it sound natural. But if you cut and paste a section that comes in ahead of the beat you’re going to cut out an important part and also hear a little clip. If you cut and paste those sections a little behind the beat, then everything sounds seamless.

When you’re recording, you can’t consciously decide to be in front or behind the beat, but knowing that you have the freedom to make mistakes does allow you to relax and get into the groove. So if you just keep the tape rolling and make multiple passes (I recorded 6 minutes of passes for a 4 minute song last night) you’re going to have enough material where you have as many backbeats as frontbeats, so you’ll be good.

Then, when you’re editing look for those sections that have a backbeat to cut and paste with. It’ll make your life a lot easier. And a lot more fun. And when you record enough passes, every once in a while you’ll even be right on the beat.  Those moments are rare (unless your a good musician) but they feel like Luke finally getting those laser torpedos into that right whole of the Death Star.

The “Death Star” of your anti creative complex explodes and you up your anti to a new level. Oh, shit. I feel Pro-Tools and Logic on the horizon coming forward.

Comments, Questions, or Suggestions? Love to hear your thoughts.

Brighten Your iPhone’s Screen

adjustiphonebrightness-main_Full

On your iPhone main page click Settings>Brightness and then slide the button all the way to the right. You can also turn off “Auto Brightness” when you lay down to surf or read, to stop it from doing that annoying dimming when you’re trying to see things clearly.

O.K., before you say I am insulting your intelligence, let me explain. For one, I’ve had an iPhone for a few months and I didn’t know how to do this, and I generally think of myself as half techno-geeky. I’ve also been a computer enthusiast for years and that didn’t stop me from letting a hard drive crash a few years ago with no back up, loosing a lot of valuable stuff. I call these “blind spots” in one’s psychology. So maybe its just me, or maybe some of you out there have them too. I don’t know. We write in order to learn and to remind ourselves and to improve.

Also, I blog about what interests me at the moment. A couple nights ago, I fell asleep at around 6pm and woke up at 9. I looked over at the digital clock to see what time it was, and it wasn’t on. Didn’t take me long to figure out that the electricity was off in the whole house. First reaction? Did I forget to pay the bill? No, I knew I had.  But anyway it was pitch black. I had no way to see. Except for my iPhone.

Then I thought about the Flashlight App I had gotten and dismissed as being stupid and somewhat of a scam. But anyway I turned it on. OK, at least I could tip toe around. Around enough to look out the window and see that the whole neighborhood was pitch black too. Whoo, rubbing the sweat off, relieved it wasn’t just me, and that I had somehow forgot the bill. Anyway, it occurred to me, “Can I brighten this thing?” So that brought me Settings and Brightness, and Wahlaa! a flashlight that wasn’t so bad after all. And another benefit of it is that it keeps the screen on, from going into sleep mode so that you don’t constantly have to worry about swiping the unlock button.

I walked outside, saw a few people wondering the same thing and then a couple of Entergy trucks heading down the main thourough fare.

The electricity was out for a good three hours. So I came back in sat down in a comfortable chair (that I could find now!) and surfed the web on my iPhone. You know before I almost never surfed the web on the iPhone. Felt the screen was too small, but in this situation I didn’t. And now I am more comfortable and almost enjoy surfing with it, even now that the lights are back on.

Funny how an electrical outage can ironically turn a few psychological lights on.

P.S. See even here CNET calls the Flashlight App “Absurd” and I would have heartily agreed, until that night I needed it. One doesn’t always have a flashlight or candle (that’s lit) by one’s bed, but one always has one’s phone. For this particular occasion the $.99 was worth it.

Security: How Not to Get Hacked on Public Networks

https

When you are accessing a public network of any kind, most commonly the Wi-Fi networks of public areas such as airports and cafes, your browser’s connection to any site can easily be intercepted and your credentials compromised. The most vulnerable area is checking your web email or social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. Most of these sites are indeed secure and encrypted once you are logged in, but the log in page itself, the place where you enter your sensitive information, usually is not. That means you are a sitting target.

Fortunately there is a way to encrypt and secure your connection to all of your favorite sites before you log in. That way is “HTTPS.” Simply put when you visit one of these sites type in “https://” before the domain name instead of the usual “http://.” This will force your browser to engage in a secure, encrypted connection to the site before you enter in your credentials.

I’ve notice that my online bank has this type of connection by default, so I assume most financial institutions will too. But make sure yours has that little “s” there in the URL before proceeding.

Gmail also has the option of permanently using a secure connection under Settings>General>Browser Connection. You may not always want to have this setting on in Gmail for instance when you are in a private secure network, like at home, because you lose some features, but definitely make sure its on before you go out into the wild. Or instead of clicking that setting on and off, you can just type in HTTPS://mail.google.com and your browser will automatically force a secure connection before you enter your password. Paypal is another example of a site that should have https as its default browser connection upon login, but does not. It is secure once your inside but not on the log in page. Make sure you HTTPS it if you are in public.

Now you are free to take advantage of all those free wifi hot spots out there, feel secure and sleep well at night. Hope this helps

Comments? Love to hear your take or any other valuable information that you can provide.

credit: Steve Gibson of "Security Now" 
a production in conjunction with the TWIT Network, a podcast definitely
worth subscribing and listening to regularly.
Subscribe to it HERE on Itunes.

Related:

An Easy Step to Increase Your Blog’s Authenticity

Don’t you like information that’s simple, effective and that you can put to use right away? I thought so. Me too.

Here’s one: Put your contact information clearly on the front page of your blog.

Notice how Guy Kawasaki notes that most bloggers don’t! I said, “What?” And then I realized, although I have a “Contact” page, mine wasn’t either. But now it is.

Listen to Louis Gray talk about here in this video. It’s about a minute in.