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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.

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!

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)

Feed Me, Seymour! February 20, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in rss, Social Aggregators, Social Media, social networks.
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Just about everyone knows about RSS and how to aggregate their feeds, so I won’t get into that here. I just wanted to share something that you might not realize that you could do with your Google Reader (if that is your RSS reader of choice, of choice). I will demonstrate how easy it is to share all of your own personal feeds from your blogs, twitter, utterz, Flickr, etc. As you know, Google Reader allows you to share anything you read by simply clicking Share at the bottom of the post you’re reading.
It will then appear in your Shared Items folder:

OK, that’s all basic stuff so far. Here’s where the fun stuff happens.

  • Click on the Feed Settings button
  • Select New Folder
  • Enter My Feeds

You will now have a new folder to store all of your own personal feeds. Now let’s start adding your feeds.

  • Click the Add Subscription button and start with your own blog(s) by entering their feeds (feedburner being the best, of course)
  • Add any of your micro-blogging feeds that you have, such as Twitter (www.twitter.com/YourName), Utterz (go to profile to copy the rss feed link), Tumblr (YourName.tumblr.com), Pownce (www.pownce.com/YourName), etc.
  • Add any other feeds you have from sites like 43things.com, Flickr, etc.

Here’s how My Feeds look (Only added some of my many feeds):

Combining your personal feeds with Google Reader’s powerful share option allows you to share your own content with others with the click of a mouse button. Sure, you can do something similar with any of the countless social networking aggregators as covered in Identity Crisis, but that solution requires others to stop what they are doing such as reading their feeds and go to your lifestream. The beauty of sharing your content (your voice) via Google Reader is that it keeps everything in one place, making the process of exchanging feeds extremely quick and easy for everyone involved.

For example, if others you know start using Google Reader’s Shared Items as suggested here, then you would see them listed like this under Friends’ Shared items:

The folder called Your Shared Items located above your friends’ shared items is more versatile and useful than most think. It doesn’t just share your own content but also any other content that you feel was worth sharing with the world. The shared item can be a post from another blog or something your friend posted on twitter or a photo they shared on Flickr, a video from Youtube, etc. etc. Think of Your Shared Items like a powerful social bookmarking service like Delicious except that it lives and breathes in your RSS reader!

Note: Please don’t confuse Google Reader’s Shared Items feature with Google’s Shared Stuff service which I will cover in a future post. They are similar sounding creatures but I will show you how different they really are. In the mean time, read your feeds and start sharing the love!

p.s. In case you were wondering, the title of this post and the image at the top is from “Little Shop of Horrors“.
If you are new to RSS and want an excellent video demo of what it is then check this out.