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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.

Utterz 2.0 June 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Mobile, Online Services, Social Media, social networks.
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1 comment so far

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!

 

 

Tweeties: Breakfast of Social Media Champions! April 8, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Social Media.
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1 comment so far

Chris Brogan’s secret is exposed! How does he churn out such quality stuff every day?
Well, he starts his morning with a big ole bowl of TWEETIES! The breakfast of social media champions!

Happy birthday to Chris Brogan!
Not only a great blogger, but a great guy and great friend.

Twitter Hashtags and Groups April 4, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Social Media, social networks.
Tags: , , ,
53 comments

As your list of friends grows on Twitter, the amount of messages that scroll across your screen increases exponentially. Pretty soon it becomes impossible to catch messages directed your way in real-time. Ultimately you have to resort to backtracking or using a search tool like TweetScan (R.I.P Terraminds!). Increasingly members of the Twitter community are demanding better ways to filter and group all of this information. One of the new solutions has been Twitter Hashtags and channels.


What are Hashtags?
Hashtags are a way to group twitter messages together according to subject matter, similar to the concept of Twitter groups or tagging. You follow @hashtags and then use the pound (#) symbol to tag the tweet, for example: #SXSW.

Here are the best blog posts about the history of twitter hashtags and channels:
Bublicious’ Tools for Monitoring Conversations in Twitter
FactoryJoe’s Groups for Twitter; or A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels
Factory Joe’s Making the most out of hashtags
Twitter Fan Wiki on Hashtags

Important Hashtag Links & Information

Hashtag CheatSheet

  • follow #tag: subscribe to all updates tagged with #tag
  • follow username#tag: subscribe to all updates tagged with #tag from a specific user
  • leave #tag: unsubscribe to a tag; you will still get updates with this tag from your friends
  • leave username#tag: unsubscribe to a specific from a specific user
  • remove #tag: completely remove all incoming posts tagged with #tag, even from your friends
  • #tag message: creates a status in the #tag channel
  • #tag !message: creates a status that is only visible to people subscribed to channel tag #tag

Twitter Tagging

I’ve always thought it would incredibly useful if we could tag our friends on twitter just as we tag blog posts or bookmarks so we could filter what we see at any given moment.

For example, I would tag some friends with Social Media, Utterz or Baseball. We could then filter all tweets according to these tags for any given moment.

It would also be useful if we could tag each of our tweets so that they could be indexed, searched and filtered just like our group tags. It would be invisible so it wouldn’t appear as ugly as Twitter hashtags with its # symbols spewed all over the place.

Twitter Groups

While hashtags and channels look and smell like twitter groups, they are not the same thing. They are like distant second cousins.

I still wish there was a way to create true groups for twitter that we can manage as well as public groups that we can join.

Obviously, it would be done thru the use of tagging.

In the mean time, here’s an early attempt at Groups for Twitter. I say close but no cigar at this point.

Excellent thread on twitter groups

TW_Groups Service

Follow @TW_Groups

Cool Twitter Search Engines

These excellent search engines for Twitter work very well with hashtags and channels in addition to basic searches.

www.tweetscan.com

http://twemes.com

Final Thoughts:

I believe there will many new ways to filter and search our Twitter stream of data. Some of these are already being accepted by twitter members. Look for group tagging to make its way down the pyke soon!

You 2.0 February 23, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Social Aggregators, Social Media, social networks, Web 2.0.
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1 comment so far

It can be overwhelming when you consider the magnitude of your digital life today. In the past, you just needed to know your name, social security number and perhaps some other basic information such as your phone numbers and home address. Today, thanks to the amazing Internet and all that it has to offer us, we have an ever-growing mountain of “stuff” to remember or manage.

How does one do this without going nuts or losing great big chunks of precious time? I will try to share some thoughts on how to make your digital life more managable and thus all the more enjoyable. Ultimately, it will mean more free time for your offline life. These articles will be part of my Quality vs Quantity series which will adhere to the “Less is More” school of thought. Think ZenHabits meets LifeHacker with a sprinkle of twitter fairy dust (No, nothing to do with Robert Scoble!)

Here’s my You 2.0 map from MindMesiter that will give you an overview of what I plan to cover. I will continually change and update this map as it is, just like us, a perpetual work in progress.

I’m continually learning and growing so look for this information to do likewise. The goal is to provide a detailed breakdown of each module on the map, eventually. Please feel free to contribute to the project by sending links and suggestions whenever you think you might have a better way to do thing. After all, this is called YOU 2.0.

The Road Map to your reinvented digital self: You 2.0

Identity Management: Identity Crisis covers ways to take control of your online profiles and personal brand. Using OpenID is the key to the fine art of Less is More.

Contact Management: How do you manage your ever growing list of contacts? Identity Crisis also covered this ground with Plaxo and its powerful contact management and sync features.

Favorites: I Got Your Favorites Right Here covers the best social bookmarking sites around today.

Instant Messaging: Meebo: IM Legend covers the ways Meebo can reduce the headaches of multiple messenger accounts with a single login.

Email Management: Inbox 2.0 covered the future of email aggregation by spotlighting fuser.com and its ability to consolidate numerous email accounts and social networking messages into one one.

RSS: Feed Me, Seymour revealed a unique way to make Google Reader grab all of your own personal RSS feeds and share them.

News: Is it better to Digg your news or Mixx it up? This will examine the future of news delivery.

Blogs: Finding ways to improve managing your blog(s).

Websites: Streamlining your website. Registering your Personal Brand with a domain name.

MicroBlogs: What are the differences between all of the micro-blogging services? Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Tumblr, Utterz, etc.

Social Networks: Social Networking Aggregation is the key to controlling this runaway train of digital information. Identity Crisis covers Plaxo with Pulse and some other aggregators.

Music: Virtual DJ shows the best ways to stream your music library and access it from anywhere in the world.

Photos: Is Flickr still king or can PhotoBucket or some other challenger dethrone them?

Videos: YouTV examines some of the best ways to manage your video collection and broadcast it from one place.

LifeCasting: What’s the right tool for you? Seesmic, Utterz, Ustream, Qik?

Phone: The future of the phone is extremely exciting as I will look at services like GrandCentral, YouMail, Pinger, Jott and more.

Message Forums: Forums + Web 2.0 = Tangler covers the new age message forum. It isn’t your father’s message board anymore.

Summation: The Quality vs Quantity (less is more) Series will strive share the best aggregation tools and services available today in an effort to make your online life more managable and thus more enjoyable.

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You 2.0 map

I.T. Happens! (No. 1) February 20, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips, IT Happens, Social Media.
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If Real Life were like Twitter

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.

The Lost Art of Conversation February 7, 2008

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

conversation
lost art

Everyone that knows me knows how much I love social media and social networking. I am a big fan of web 2.0 and do not fear any bubble bursting any time soon. However, something happened to me today on my drive home from work that forced me to rethink some thing when it comes to our modern methods of communication. It dawned on me that despite all of the numerous tools of conversations we have available today, we’ve somehow lost the fine art of conversation.

Sure, we can send short 140-character messages via twitter or long rambling diatribes via email, but nothing beats talking to someone one on one in person or even on the telephone. Yes, some will argue that we can conduct more responsive interactive conversation within a live chat room platform, where the exchanges can indeed mimic a real world conversation, but once again it is a pale substitute for the real deal. Despite all smileys and emoticon etiquette, something ALWAYS gets lost in translation when it’s just text, my friends.

All right, some will say that the newer forms of communication have improved upon the flaws of the web 1.0 methods of communication. The static forms of the message boards and forums have been usurped by newer mutations of web conversations. For example, the audio and video micro-blogging platforms such as Utterz and Seesmic have indeed introduced more “human” elements to the delicate art of discussions. While it is a step in the right direction by putting a face and voice into the mix, once again I must contend that nothing will ever replace the powerful simplicity of talking to another person.

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During my commute home from work I received a surprise phone call from an online friend of mine, none other than
Chris Brogan. While we’ve communicated countless times via direct messages and replies on Twitter, exchanged numerous emails and audio/video posts on Utterz and heck even within the comments sections of each other’s blogs, this was truly the first time that we actually had a real honest to goodness old fashioned conversation. There were no @ signs or tinyurl links to be had, just a nice, long talk between friends about numerous topics. It was such a simple and enjoyable way of communicating that I believe I’ve taken it for granted thanks to my deep submersion into the social media ocean.

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I know as a fact that I am not the only one who’s all wet when it comes to this matter. There’s a constant stream of new swimmers who dive headfirst into the social networking pool. While it’s a good thing that so many more people are accepting these tools and technology, we all must be careful not to lose sight of what’s most important. We must do our best to make more personal interactions with the people in our lives, whether it’s on the phone or in person.

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One of the best new trends in the social networking/media world are all of the meetups and tweetups going on in so many cities across the country. Virtual friends are taking their conversation offline and meeting their friends in person at local establishments. I think that is a fantastic step in the right direction. If you can’t make one of these meetings any time soon, then just pick up the phone and give your new friend a call. Who knows, you might actually help bring back the lost art of conversation.