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Utterz 2.0 June 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Mobile, Online Services, Social Media, social networks.
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Utterz 2.0 is now LIVE! The biggest change is the user interface of the home page. It is much cleaner, less cluttered and easier to use! Check it out here:

 

New Profile URL

User profile pages are also vastly improved and easier to remember. The URL is no longer this long and hideously cryptic address! Instead, it’s as simple as Pai. http://www.utterz.com/Paisano

 

 

Mobile Utterz

Using utterz on your mobile device is even better than ever! Call: 1-712-432-6666 *record, listen AND reply.

Video, pics, text:
-public: go@utterz.com
Title your last utter:
title@utterz.com

Look at all the new options available from your cell phone’s keypad! http://www.utterz.com/u/cli_doc.php

Go to m.utterz.com from your handset to browse and reply to friends’ messages

Sending a message to go@utterz.com or private@utterz.com within 10 minutes of recording matches up your photo, video, or text with the recording.

 

New Personal Email Address

Members now get their own personal email address for easier direct communication.

For example, send a message to paisano@utterz.com and it will get routed to me instantly.

Also, taking a queue from Twitter, You can now send an utter to someone’s inbox by including ‘@username’ anywhere in the text of your message!

 

Finding Friends

Adding your friends from your address book or other services such as Twitter has also become much better! Just login to your service and Utterz will show you which friends already belong to Utterz. Just click follow and you will be linked to them on Utterz. http://www.utterz.com/u/find_friends/network-twitter

 

Come check it out!

 

 

Never Miss another Tweet June 13, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, twitter.
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One of the downsides of having a large group of friends on Twitter is the difficulty in following all of the tweets directed at you. In most cases, it’s impossible to catch all of the messages that normally would interest you.

Thus, most of us are relegated to using twitter search engines such as Summize or TweetScan. While both are fine services, they are manual processes that take time that we don’t normally have.

 

Enter TweetBeep which can send you email alerts whenever someone mentions you, your blog or any other keyword you want to track. For example, whenever someone mentions your name with or without the @ sign it will be captured and a email will be sent with all of the tweets every hour or once a day (your choice). If you want to be alerted for any mention of your websites or blogs then those alerts will take place instantly because the searches are performed live on twitter. The nice thing is that this works even when people use URL shortening services.

 

Final Thoughts

Search alert tools such as TweetBeep and SM2 (covered in “What About Me“) allow us to keep tabs on everything that’s important to us on the ever expanding information super-highway (Thank you Al Gore!). It’s like having our very own private investigators combing the web for us.

These time-savers are much appreciated as we become increasingly busy. Thanks to these types of services we never have to miss anything again.

Twhirl’s Firehose Filter June 11, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, twitter.
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firehose The new Twhirl update (0.8.2) has included a much needed new feature for everyone who has ever wanted to create groups for twitter. They now support Rooms on FriendFeed which means you can now filter your firehose of information to whatever you want according to the room you join or create.

For example, you can create a room for your favorite sports team and see only updates on that topic from the people who join that room. Likewise for any other topic such as Social Media, Stamp Collecting, or whatever the case may be. Here’s the room filter option on the bottom right of the FriendFeed client window (the pound sign #): I’ve created a room for Utterz which is selected in the following image.
rooms

The beauty is that you can quickly and easily jump from room to room without impacting your other Twhirl window which contains all of your twitter messages. Thus, the digital age’s equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time!

Yes, Twitter should’ve done this type of thing long ago, but that’s all right. Just be glad this is here now. We finally have a useful tool that will help us drink from that firehose without getting soaking wet!

You’ve Got Milk June 5, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, rss, Uncategorized.
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Thanks to an excellent Adobe Air application called Snackr, you can now view the posts on Utterz from your circle of friends on your desktop! The good news is that it works on Windows, the Mac and even Linux and best of all it’s FREE!

snackr

Here’s how easy it is to setup:

Go to Utterz and copy the URL to your circle of friends (sometimes referred to as your Herd). Tip: It will be in this format: http://www.utterz.com/~h-Paisano/v-circle/r-1/rss.php (replace Paisano with your Utterz name, of course).

Go to http://snackr.net to download and install their cool RSS ticker. If you’ve never installed Adobe Air before (used by other services such as Twhirl, Snitter, AlertThingy and many others) then you will need to install it first. Go here to install Adobe Air.

Once Snackr is installed it will ask you what you want to do. Select the manually add feeds. Then click the plus sign on the bottom leftside of your screen and paste the URL of the RSS feed for your circle of friends on Utterz.

Within seconds all of your friends’ utterz including your own will begin scrolling across your screen and look like this:
snackr_ticker

Note: You can add all kinds of other RSS feeds to Snackr as well. This was just a way to show utterz members how to add their feed to their desktop.

Want a Personal MilkShake?

By the way, you can add your own Utterz RSS feed to services like GoogleReader and FriendFeed. Just add your own RSS feed from Utterz just as you would for any other RSS feed. (On FriendFeed click the add Blog feed option) Here’s the format:
http://www.utterz.com/~h-Paisano/list.php (again, replace my name with your Utterz user name). Bada Bing, Bada Boom! You’ve Got Milk!

What About Me? June 2, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Marketing, Search.
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3 comments

Techrigy’s SM2 is an excellent search tool that will scour the vast world wide web for any mention of your name or any of your websites or blogs. They offer a free account that allows you to search for up to five keywords or phrases and stores up to 1,000 search results which is excellent. The results are can even be sent to your email account on a daily basis if that’s what you want.
SM2 was designed for PR & marketing professionals but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use the tool for researching your own personal brand. The results will surprise you and teach you a few things too.
Final thoughts: There are a bunch of ways to manually search the web for your name and personal brand such as TweetScan for Twitter or google for your blog, but SM2 provides a powerful search mechanism along with impressive analysis tools including charting with comparisons, demographics, geo-location, sentiment and drill-down reports.

How to Add RSS feeds to your Outlook May 29, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Microsoft, rss.
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129 comments

How to Add RSS feeds to your Outlook

 

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a way for content publishers to make news, blogs, and other content available to subscribers. You can add your favorite RSS Feeds as subscriptions in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. There are a couple of ways to add an RSS Feed.

 

Adding a single feed at a time

Copy the feed URL that you want to add to Outlook

Go to the RSS folder in Outlook and Right-Click the root

The following menu will appear:

Select the Add a New RSS Feed (Third choice from the top)

Paste the RSS URL in the following box

Important Tip: Outlook seems to like XML RSS Feeds the best so whenever possible select that type of feed. It will look like this: original feed View Feed XML

If you don’t see that link, you can try adding ?format=xml to the end of their rss feed.

 

 

How to add a collection of RSS feeds

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 supports the .opml file format for exchanging a collection of RSS Feed configuration information between programs that can organize and display RSS Feeds. Such programs are known as RSS aggregators. Office Outlook 2007 includes the functionality of an RSS aggregator.

 

A collection of RSS Feeds is shared by exporting it to an XML file with the .opml file extension and sending the file to the other person. You can attach the .opml file in an e-mail message, copy the .opml file to a network shared folder that both people have access to, or copy the .opml file to removable media such as a disk, CD, or a memory device. The other person can then import the .opml file and choose which RSS Feeds to add to Outlook.

Exporting to an .opml file illustration

Callout 1 In Office Outlook 2007, a collection of RSS Feeds can be exported to a file with the .opml extenstion.
Callout 2 You can import a file with the .opml extension to Office Outlook 2007 or other RSS programs.

 

  1. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Select Import RSS Feeds from an OPML file.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Click Browse to specify where the file to be imported is located, and then click Open.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Select the Feed name check box for each subscription that you want to import.

     

    Tip Click Select All or Clear All to quickly select or clear all check boxes.

    Note You are importing only the subscription information, not the actual items from the subscription.

  7. Click Next.The .opml file is imported to Office Outlook 2007

 

How to export Your Google Reader RSS Collection as an OPML file

  • Click the Manage Subscriptions link and click the Import/Export option
  • Save the file to your local system
  • Now you can import your Google Reader feeds into Outlook (all of them or selected feeds)

What You See Is What You Get May 23, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Google.
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Google has finally added a much needed View Menu to Google docs. You can now view your documents with fixed width and margins much like desktop word processors! This is a step in the right direction for online web applications if they seriously want to challenge traditional desktop applications.

docsview

While this might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it really is more important that it appears. This gives Google docs a much improved look n’ feel that closely resembles Microsoft Word which means improved user acceptance. It will also attract more bloggers to use google docs for posting directly to their blogs. Here’s a screenshot of the publishing options:
pub_google_docs

Final Thoughts:
I applaud Google for adding this and other new features. I look forward to the battle between desktop apps and web apps!

Windows Live Writer April 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Microsoft, Uncategorized.
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Microsoft has actually released an excellent new application! Windows Live Writer is truly a powerful and useful tool for bloggers! It’s like Word for the Web 2.0!

I haven’t been this impressed from a Microsoft product in a very long time. Live Writer allows you to credit blog posts with amazing ease and spectacular results. It totally blows away another other blog editor that I’ve used before such as Google Docs, Zoho Writer, WordPress, Blogger, etc.

Any Blog, Anytime!
Live Writer has no problems working with just about any blog platform as well. I was able to open/edit and publish to Blogger and WordPress blogs without a hitch. What I liked best about the experience was its ability to open any existing blog post from any blog on the fly. You could then make any changes and re-publish it instantly. The results were almost always exactly what it looked like in Live Writer.

Insert This!
Inserting elements are also vastly improved on Live Writer. Simply click on the item you want to insert such as video, picture or link and Live Writer does all the dirty work for you. The options for manipulating the look and position of pictures is also very impressive.

Plug-in Mania!
One of the best features of Live Writer is the incredible amount of free add-on plug-ins!
Go to Live Writer Plug-ins and take a look at all of the things you can add to the experience! I instantly added a dozen must-have plug-ins! Plus, there are always new ones coming.

Here’s a visual rundown of the new Live Writer:

Preview before you post

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer view menu options

Know what your blog post will look like before you post it, including photos and other rich media. Writer detects your blog theme automatically, including fonts, and displays it while you compose and edit.

Works with your blog service

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer choose weblog options

Writer works with most major blog providers, including Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint, WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Moveable Type, Community Server, and many others. Get started with your blog in minutes, thanks to automatic blog configuration. Post to multiple blogs: themes are automatically detected for each.

Rich media made easy

Screen shot of Live Search Maps page

Turn your blog into a story with photos, videos, maps, tags and other rich media.  Writer publishes all of it automatically when post.  Quickly link to previous blog posts and other Web pages.

Powerful editing tools

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer spell check feature

Insert and edit tables directly in your entry. Inline spell checker helps you polish your text. Easy hyperlink support lets you link your blog to the online world. Use the HTML view to edit directly in HTML.

More rich content with easy plug-ins

Screen shot of Windows Live Gallery plug-ins

Use plug-ins from Windows Live Gallery to add more rich content to your blog like music feeds, emoticons and quotes of the day. Can’t find the plug-in you want? Make your own and upload it to Gallery for the whole world to share.

Final Thoughts

The only thing missing from the Live Writer experience is the ability to save drafts to online storage accounts such as Microsoft Workspace Office Live, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, or any others. I have no doubt that it will come someday, so we’ll just have to settle for saving drafts to the local drive until then.

Good Links

Download Live Writer here
Live Writer Blog offer useful information about Live Writer.
Windows Live Writer Group is a discussion forum for Live Writer users.

Here’s a good screencast on Live Writer:

Stop Flipping the Bird! April 24, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, News, Uncategorized.
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3 comments

twitter_logo

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of bashing Twitter every time they experience a problem with performance. I’m just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to bad-mouthing Twitter whenever they have a glitch. I vow right here and now to never complain about them again. Why the change of attitude all of sudden, especially after all the horrendous cache problems they’ve had recently?

I owe it all to something I read today on one of my favorite blogs, TechCrunch. It was a surprisingly offensive post called “Amateur Hour Over at Twitter?” composed even more shockingly by none other than Michael Arrington, Mr. Techcrunch himself! In the post, Arrington utterly nukes Blaine Cook, who recently parted ways with Twitter after being one of its chief architects since its inception. blainecook I am convinced that there’s some major subtext behind this story between Arrington and the subject of his public flogging of Blaine Cook, . What else would explain the level of scrutiny that Mr. Cook endured in such a public manner? How could anyone place so much of the blame for Twitter’s woes solely upon one person’s shoulders? Was Blaine responsible for some of the problems that Twitter endured (as well as all of us)? Sure, that’s a given, but to label the work that he and his team accomplished as “amateurish” is just plain inexcusable.

The Rumpelstiltskin Effect

After doing some more research into this I came across more starling information that changed my own opinion and view of Twitter and any other web service for that matter. Apparently, one of the most successful communications successes of our time (twitter) accomplished their massive popularity with a staggering engineering staff of three (3) people, including the “incompetent” Blaine Cook. Not too shabby for rank amateurs, huh?

Look, as a member of I.T. and over a decade of experience with networking infrastructures, I will admit having a slight bias towards under-manned tech staffs. I know what it’s like to deal with the “spin gold from straw” expectations like these guys have done for the past few years. That is why it’s so disappointing to see anyone get disrespected for a job that really should’ve been praised instead. To learn more about the complexity of the Twitter infrastructure and the tremendous challenges they have dealt with, simply checkout Blaine’s presentation: Big Bird (Scaling Twitter). Most of us won’t fully understand the magnitude of their challenges but I think this presentation will give at least a glimpse at some of the reasons Twitter has experienced the problems they’ve had. As a matter of fact, I’ve come away from all of this in amazement that we haven’t had far more serious problems than we’ve all had!

I spoke to a couple of friends who are rock star Ruby on Rails developers who’ve seen Blaine’s presentation and who use Twitter on a regular basis. Our conversation was incredibly enlightening and revealing. The following image is a basic diagram of a simple Ruby on Rails web application, which is what Twitter was built upon. rails2Just imagine a diagram for today’s Twitter. It would dwarf this design because they encompass countless databases and web servers that span the globe with no end in site. The more of us that sign-up and add others to our network, the larger the Twitter databases and network grows. Obviously, this also means the greater the possibility of performance problems and downtime. I’m not making excuses, just telling it like it is, folks. It’s all part of growing pains.

Final Thoughts

While writing this I just read a news flash on Techcruch about Twitter’s VP of Engineering and Operations Lee Mighdoll leaving after only three months. No one seems to know what’s going on at Twitter these days. Obviously, there is something major taking place at the corporate level. Rumors are running wild about Twitter scrambling for funding and potential sale of the service, but it’s all speculation. The lack of a visible business plan and revenue generation stream only adds more fuel to the fire of these rumors. All I know is that we shouldn’t be so quick to throw anyone under the bus without first learning more about the facts. I know I’ve been bad about that in the past and I will not repeat those mistakes ever again with Twitter. These nameless, faceless services have living breathing human beings who take pride in their work and careers. Also, there’s always more to the story than meets the eye.

St. Louis Blogger’s Guild April 18, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs.
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St. Louis now has a blogger’s guild! What a great idea! I think this will start a new trend all across the country with chapters in every state, culminating in a universal centralized Blogger’s Guild and union. Will it have health benefits and 2 weeks of vacation? Ok, that might be premature but the idea is still fantastic and long in coming!

Even if you’re not in the St. Louis area, go to the St. Louis Blogger’s Guild and show them some support and encouragement. I think it’s a cool thing they’ve started that can become important to us all someday soon.