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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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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 Media’s Trojan Horse for the E… June 27, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Enterprise, social networks.
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Don’t look now but social media and social networking tools have begun its assault on the enterprise! They have successfully penetrated company firewalls and have started to infiltrate corporate email systems without anyone noticing yet!

How have they accomplished this impressive task despite all of the security measures that anti-social media administrators have set in place? Well, very simply and quietly via plug-ins such as the clever Outlook email service called XOBNI which has been covered on here previously.

The latest version of Xobni (inbox spelled backwards by the way) includes a hook into LinkedIn which means whenever you are viewing an email in Outlook you can now see their LinkedIn profile and information! This includes their photo, title, current emplorer details and much more! It might not look or sound like a big deal but trust me, this is a game-changer folks!

This is a major breakthrough for the future of the enterprise and incorporating the best of social media into the workplace. It is the shot heard round the world wide web. Ok, maybe it’s more of a small ripple in the ocean which ultimately becomes a tidal wave down the stream!

The concept of sneaking social media into the enterprise has been covered on here before but that process was far more obvious than this new stealth method. Talk about sneaky! Xobni has established a blueprint for all other web 2.0 services that want to go to work with corporate America and world wide for that matter. They just need to figure out how to present their service in a similar subtle and useful manner. Sometimes a whisper is far more powerful than a shout.

For the record, Xobni isn’t the first service to attempt this invasion of the enterprise, but they have come up with the best and most useful service. Some others have managed to scale the walls of IT defense.  Here are a couple that come to mind that I used a great deal:

Breaking & Entering Innovators

Plaxo was actually the first service that I can recall that plugged into your Outlook client and connected you to your online account and all your contacts and friends. When they added their Pulse technology you then had your entire social network in your Outlook toolbar! Think FriendFeed for your email client. Here’s the Outlook plugin for Plaxo.

Outwit was another Outlook plugin that allowed you to read and post Twitter messages. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles of other Twitter clients such as Thwirl but it was and still is a very clever way to sneak in a web service that blended well with your existing business communication tool, in this case your email client.

Utterz 2.0 June 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Mobile, Online Services, Social Media, social networks.
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:

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!



Social Networking for Email May 4, 2008

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

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 (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.


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 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.

Social Network for Feelings? April 10, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, social networks.
Tags: ,

At first, many of you will think Moonri.se is a silly and useless idea. Who would want a service that is basically a twitter for emotions and feelings? Can’t we just post how we feel already on Twitter, our blogs and other mediums? Sure, we can and we do, but Moonrise does it in a more powerful and compelling way. Most of all, it’s fun too.

There’ve been a couple of services that provided the ability to share your current emotional status, but none of them provided nearly as many different ways to convey your feelings as Moonrise does. It allows you to include other elements to reflect your current mood such as photographs, videos and even your favorite quote. This last option isn’t a surprise when you consider that the founder and architect behind this service is Amit Kothari, who also founded QuotationsBook, which is a social network for quotations and covered in “Quotations 2.0“.

Feelings 2.0

The most exciting part of all this is that there will be an API available soon to moonrise which means it will become a conduit for other apps and services to share feelings. They are also “developing a feature that lets you bookmark or post feelings about a URL via a small button you can put anywhere. This will be more meaningful than digg, and also a different way to bookmark links”.


Final Thoughts and feelings

I will admit that I’m a sucker for this kind of thing because I’ve always been a touchy-feely kinda guy. I believe words and emotions are powerful things. Why not use everything technology has to offer to share how we are feeling? Why not use photo’s, videos and quotes to reflect our emotions? Here’s some more information from Moonrise about why it’s a good thing to share our feelings. http://moonri.se/site/about.



Twitter Hashtags and Groups April 4, 2008

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

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.



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!

Now That’s Social Networking March 12, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips, social networks.
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What strange coincidence that the two largest social networks, FaceBook and MySpace, both make the news this week.
First, FaceBook CEO Zuckerberg’s interview disaster with journalist Sarah Lacy then the MySpace callgirl who had a hand (pardon the pun) in bringing down the New York governor Spitzer who resigned today. It inspired this comic and the start of a new series called “Anti-Social Behavior”


You 2.0 February 23, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Social Aggregators, Social Media, social networks, Web 2.0.
Tags: , , , , ,
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.

You 2.0 map

Create Your Own LinkedIN Network for the Enterprise February 21, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Enterprise, Networks, Semantic Web, social networks.
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LinkedIN is a fantastic networking service for business contacts, but wouldn’t it be even more useful if you could build your own version of this service within your own enterprise? Obviously, you would start with the relationships internally among all employees and then have links to their external contacts outside your firewall to other companies, social networks and other email systems. Everything would evolve from within your internal Outlook or other corporate email system and ultimately extend to external email systems such as Yahoo, Gmail and more.

Well, you can do this and start for free thanks to Visible Path which has launched an innovative new service that does exactly this. Seeing is believing and a picture is indeed worth a thousand words so checkout their 2 minute screencast. I think you will be impressed as I was with what they do. I truly believe that they are onto something big here which will all be part of the future of the Internet and the Semantic web. Another positive move is Visiable Path’s decision to embrace OpenSocial standards which is a great sign for its future on the web as well as on the Enterprise.

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.