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How to make Outlook the Ultimate Social Media Tool July 3, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email, Microsoft, rss, Social Media, social networks.
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7 comments

Believe it or not, Microsoft can actually help you create the ultimate social media tool! If you use Microsoft Outlook 2007 as your email client then you have the basic foundation for creating a powerful social networking monster. Here’s how I use my most important communication tool on a daily basis.

Most organizations have Microsoft Windows networks with Exchange server which means most of corporate America is using Microsoft Outlook as their email client. At the heart of Outlook is the inbox, which is where you get all of your company related emails. It also manages everyone’s calendar and appoinments as well as tasks and notes. Not too shabby right out of the box.

However, with a few simple and free plugins and add-ons you can supercharge Outlook into an even more powerful web 2.0 communication tool with built-in social networking! Here are just some of the best services you can snap into Outlook.

Here’s view of my data center, Microsoft Outlook. Click image to enlarge.

Here’s a breakdown of each highlighted section of my Outlook:

1. Business Email: The inbox is grand central station for Outlook, the heart of your mailbox. All of my corporate emails go here.

2. Personal Email: Outlook allows you to add many other email accounts to your client so you can access your personal email accounts from services like Bellsouth, Earthlink and even web based services like GMail. Here’s an excellent tutorial on how to add gmail to outlook.

3. xobni: If you want extended information about the people that send you emails than checkout Xobni which has been covered on here before. Xobnix snaps inside Outlook and displays many new details about the senders and all of the emails that you’ve exchanged with them. They now connect directly to their LinkedIn account if they own one which opens a whole new world of possibilities.

4. OutTwit: If you want to use Twitter from inside Outlook then try this gem. OutTwit adds a tiny toolbar that lets you send new posts to twitter as well as read and reply. You can now use TinyURL and send direct messages to anyone. The beauty of it all is that it looks like your working but you’re actually goofing off with your twitter pals. You can have all new tweets appear in a folder called Tweets (if desired) just like email! It’s also firewall friendly. 🙂

5. Plaxo with Pulse: The address book is very important and Outlook does a great book with managing our contacts. Adding Plaxo with pulse and its excellent Outlook toolbar turns your Outlook into a dynamic social network. In essence, it’s like having FriendFeed in your email client. Also, Plaxo will sync all of your contacts online with your local address book. The most powerful feature is the way Plaxo can manage all of your contacts from many different email systems such as gmail, yahoo mail, and more.

6. RSS feeds: Outlook can become an excellent way to keep up with all of your RSS feeds! While I still love Google Reader, I find myself using Outlook’s excellent RSS reader more and more because I am always in my email. I get notified of new blog posts instantly as they appear in my Outlook just like new emails. I’m hoping they will add the sharing capabilities that other readers have but other than that, Outlook RSS reader is a great time saver! Here’s how to add RSS feeds to your Outlook.

7. TimeBridge: One of the best features of Outlook is the ability to check everyone’s calendar for meeting availability times. The problem with that excellent feature is that it only worked inside the firewall within an organization’s private network. Well, that is no longer the case thanks to services like TimeBridge which understands how valuable this feature is to everyone. It also snaps into Outlook and allows you to share your calendar and availability to people outside of your firewall and local network! This is a powerful way to schedule appointments that will save enormous amounts of time and frustration. Here’s an excellent DemoGirl screencast.

But wait there’s more!
These are just some of the many cool tools you can use with Outlook. I also use other things that work with Outlook that aren’t as visible as these other tools. Tools such as McAfee anti-virus and c2c’s ArchiveOne for archiving older emails with attachments while leaving the headers in my mailbox giving the appearance as if everything were still there (double-clicking the email retrieves it from an archive on another server, saving tons of mailbox space). So, there’s far more than meets the eye when it comes to Outlook

Final Thoughts

Outlook is like the Swiss Army Knife of communications. Sure, it’s a master when it comes to managing your emails, tasks, contacts and calendar appointments, but as you have seen it can do far more than you ever imagined. The possibilities are endless as increasing numbers of new services are developed to work with Microsoft Outlook. Choosing the right tools can help you turn Outlook into an even more powerful communication tool.

Social Networking for Email May 4, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email, Social Aggregators, social networks, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

There are new social networks for just about everything so it makes perfect sense that there will be a great deal of focus now on our inboxes. Yes, expect tremendous changes to come with the way we use email. Whether it’s webmail on the big players (yahoo, gmail, hotmail) or even on your desktop client like Outlook, email will never be the same again.

Here are several new innovative email services that will give you a glimpse of the future of the inbox. Remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Expect an avalanche of email tools and services to roll down the social networking mountain very soon.

xobni_logo

Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) actually works inside your Microsoft Outlook email client. It improves searching for emails, attachments and contacts. It also reveals a great deal of information about the people you correspond with via email. One of the best features is the way it creates threaded conversations from your email exchanges.

Even the head-honcho Bill Gates himself seems impressed with Xobni.

Seeing is believing so checkout this video demo.

xoopit does things a little differently. It works with your GMail account (other platforms coming down the road) and lets you easily view all the photos, videos, and files buried in your e-mail as attachments and sent to you as links from across the Web.
xoopit_gmail_overview_lg

zenbe_logo

Zenbe takes yet another approach to managing email. It doesn’t plug into your existing webmail account or desktop email client but offers to host your email and an entirely different tabbed interface.

tripitlogo Tripit is an excellent example of new service that integrates extremely well with your email account. In this case, they are a service for travelers who direct all emails related to their trip to their tripit account which organizes all of the tedious details from those emails and presents the data in a more user-friendly manner. Look for all new services to understand the value of using email accounts of their members instead of trying to re-invent the wheel or adding yet another messaging system to manage.

fuser_logo

Fuser is an email account aggregator that manages all of your different types of email accounts in one place. Add your gmail, yahoo, hotmail and pop accounts along with the messages you receive from social networks like MySpace and facebook. It also supports Twitter and includes a full client which means you can even send tweets from within Fuser.
For more details about Fuser, they were covered in Inbox 2.0 in an earlier post.

Final Thoughts
Everyone has an email account so it’s a great idea to try to offer services that work with existing accounts. Whether it’s a plug-in, add-on, or just a connection to your email system, services would be wise to offer ways to work with your existing email account. Eventually, we will be able to do everything from within our inbox.

GreenMail January 13, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email.
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EarthClassMail
was NOT invented by Al Gore but I bet he might love using this service! In a nutshell, Earth Class Mail is a service that will scan every piece of mail you receive and sends the image to your email account to review. If you know it’s junkmail then you tell them to shred and recycle it. If it appears to be something you might need to read, then they will scan the contents and email the PDF files. All you have to do is have all mail sent to their facilities and you control everything via your inbox.
How green do you want to be? Talk about a new level of tree-hugging. I have to admit that I chuckled when I first heard about this but the idea is slowing becoming less funny and more interesting.
Checkout this news spot on the service
Here is the CEO on CNBC discussing the service.

Inbox 2.0 December 16, 2007

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email.
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5 comments

Most of us have multpile email accounts, which means multiple logins IDs and passwords and website addresses or email clients. Add to the mix all of the internal messages we receive such as on FaceBook and MySpace, which includes wallposts, comments and bulletins and we’ve got a virtual tidal wave of messages coming at us continuously. It is the digital age’s version of a juggling act. There is no way possible to check each and every email and social network account for all messages and respond in a timely manner.

Fuser is trying to be the answer to this problem of message mania. Fuser will allow you to check multiple email accounts at the same time as well as all of the different types of messages that are sent from MySpace and FaceBook! Here is a list of everything it supports at this time. Note: It not only supports webmail accounts and social networks, but also your personal email accounts from your ISP and your work email such as from Microsoft Exchange.

How will this one universal email look? Here is my fuser account as an example:



Believe it or not, it isn’t as slow or confusing as you think it would be. Sure, it is a herculean task to tackle, but it appears to work well. Reading and replying is similar to other webmail systems so there’s no learning curve there. It actually does a better job handling all of the social networking messages and bullitens than those sites do themselves because you can treat those messages like regular email.

Final Thoughts: Fuser is unique and does a good job handling multiple accounts. I only used three webmail accounts and two social networking accounts for this test. I wonder how it would do if I added ALL of my email accounts. It has to bog down at some point, but for the average user I think it can do the trick. I think it will only get better with time too. Fuser can become a tool in our fight to control the avalanche of messages that come our way every day without an end in sight.