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Groups 2.0 June 17, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Google, Web 2.0, Yahoo.
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Grouply strives to become the Friendfeed of online groups by aggregating all of the different groups you belong to on sites such Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. The concept is excellent because it saves a great deal of time and effort by allowing you to keep up with all of your messages and groups from a single centralized place. See image below.

 

 

The Grouply Smart Digesttm delivers a daily personalized email summarizing new messages across all your groups. It highlights messages of interest and intelligently summarizes message conversations

Centralized Group Calendar

One of the best features is the way Grouply manages all of the different calendars and appointments that you have spread out across your different groups and services.

Global Search

Grouply provides fast, easy-to-use search of messages across all your groups. Quickly refine your results by group, message type, tags (topics), and rating. And you can save your search to create your own custom lists and trigger alerts. You can quickly search, browse, and bookmark messages across all your groups.

 

Final Thoughts

In our ever-increasing volume of data in the information age, an aggregator for groups is an excellent tool to have available to us. Hopefully Grouply will provide support for other group services out there and perhaps for message forums as well.

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!

iRevolution: Breaking the chains from Apple and AT&T June 10, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Apple, Gadgets, Mobile, Uncategorized.
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3 comments

attapple

While everyone is excited about the new 3G iphone (as I am), I feel compelled to complain about the exclusive distribution deal that Apple and AT&T have in place for this beautiful little gadget! I don’t like exclusive deals like this and hope that more of us complain about it so that it doesn’t become a common business practice.

Choice

This is the United States of America and we believe in our freedom of choice! In this day and age I find it appalling that we are forced to purchase a mobile device from one specific carrier! How did this happen? There’s no way that we should stand for this.
We should be allowed to use whatever carrier we want to use: T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, whatever! Shame on Apple and AT&T for this blatant money grub maneuver. Our best interests were not considered one iota! They only thing they focused on was the bottom line which was profit and revenue.

The iRevolution Has Begun!

What can we do about this? Well, a revolution has begun already. People are going with other phones such as the Blackberry. Others are waiting for the GPhone from Google slated for release this fall. Another thing that many frustrated consumers are doing is unlocking the iPhone so that they can use the carrier of their choice! Yes, it’s totally legal, easy to do and get this, it’s free!

Unleashing the Beast
http://www.ziphone.org is the best place to start. It’s been around a long time and has been very successful even for the most novice of users. They’re already working on the 3G version so that will be available very soon. Once you do this, then you will be able to use the carrier that YOU, not Apple or AT&T wants you to use! What a concept, huh?

So Easy Even a Caveman can do it!

Final Thoughts

Look, I like Apple and AT&T and can’t wait to get my hands on the 3G iPhone someday. I just don’t like what they’ve done here with their exclusive deal that has totally taken away our freedom of choice. If they want to establish a system with different levels of preferred vendors as Microsoft and others have done, then fine. Apple could’ve made AT&T their premiere or preferred vendor of the iPhone with greater quantities and preferred product shipment and support, but they should not have closed the door on all of the other carriers!

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 clean your dirty windows June 1, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Freeware, Microsoft, Uncategorized.
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Ever notice how much faster Microsoft Windows seems to run when it’s fresh new computer or a reinstalled system?

There are many reasons why performance degrades over time, such as defragmentation of the hard drive and a bloated registry but we will focus on a lessor known reason for sluggish windows and how to fix it.

 

First, let’s explain what the windows operating system is before we reveal what slows it down so much. Windows is not a single program or application but a complex system of processes that run together in a massive symphony of bits and bytes. Want to take a quick peak at this matrix of mahem and mischef? Press your Ctrl-Alt-Del keys and select your task manager, then select processes. You will see dozens of processes going on, even if you have no applications open. This is what keeps windows running.

 

The Dirt on Dirt
As you know, windows lives on memory so the more RAM it has the better it performs. Thus, the more programs/applications that you run at any given time, the less memory the operating system will have available for all of those necessary processes and threads it needs to run. So, the goal is naturally to only keep those things open that you need, but most of the time that doesn’t seem to make a difference. Why is that? Well, even though you “think” nothing’s running, the chances are high that there are several memory hogging programs running in the background.

 

The Windows Detectives
The task manager is pathetic when it comes to revealing the whole truth about what’s really going on inside windows behind the scenes. That’s why you will need a few free tools from Microsoft that are incredibly useful when it comes to spying on your system. Best of all, they are all free, small and easy to use!

 

The first one to get is called AutoRuns , which is the best utility there is when it comes to showing you everything that runs automatically when you start your windows (hence the name). One of the best features is the ability to hide all Microsoft processes that need to run for windows which lets you focus on all of the non-windows processes and programs that runs.

You can then disable or delete them for startup, thus freeing up a great deal of memory which will in turn make windows run much better. Download it here.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what a process or thread really is or what owns it.

No need to take dangerous wild guesses thanks to the following two tools.

 

Process explorer exposes everything you’ll ever need to know about any process that is running in windows. It will reveal which program owns the process and its path and location.

Download it here.

 

Process Monitor is like the task manager on steroids and more! It’s an advanced windows monitoring system that displays real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity.

Download it here.

 

Final Curtain Call

Obviously, this is merely one simple method for cleaning your windows. There are many other things you can do to improve your performance but cleaning up your startup procedure is an excellent start.

 

 

 

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

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

Magic Kingdom of Marketing and Technology May 19, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Business, Marketing, Uncategorized.
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After a week of incredible fun in Disney World, I’ve come away from the experience filled Wishes01600with wonderful memories of precious moments with my family. I’m also filled with awe with Disney’s amazing skills in marketing and use of technology. No one takes more advantage of these tools more than they do when it comes to benefiting their business.
Sure, they are the ultimate merchants of fun, but they fully understand the importance of using everything possible when it comes to satisfying their customers (family members). Here are just some of the brilliant things that I noticed during my week there:

FastPass
The biggest complaint about the Disney experience or any large park adventure is always about the long lines and waiting. Disney implements a fantastic technology called the FastPass which vastly reduces the amount of time you have to wait in line to go on a ride or see a show! Slide your ticket into a machine and out pops a new FastPass ticket with the time that you need to return to casually waltz into the ride/show of choice.

Brilliant Layouts, Maps & Guide Books
Disney does a great job with the layout of their parks and provides plenty of guide books and maps everywhere you go. The brilliant layout continues within each park as well. Take the Magic Kingdom for example. At the center of it all is Cinderella’s Castle which acts as the hub in the wheel. Each part of the park is divided into different themes which makes the experience much easier to manage and enjoy.

Excellent Revenue Generating Design
Another genius layout design that generates tremendous revenue is the way that most rides and shows exit into a gift store! They provide a pleasurable experience and get their customers all lathered up and lead them into the lion’s den full of merchandise related to the experience they just enjoyed! Do you hear the cash registers? Brilliance!

Illusions of Convenience
Many of the things that Disney provides customers appear to be merely convenience features but actually serve dual purposes such as yet another revenue generating enhancement tool. For example, being able to send anything you purchase at a gift ship automatically back to your hotel room not only allows you to enjoy your time in the park more because you don’t have to carry those packages around all day (convenience) but it also keeps customers in the park and gives the illusion that they haven’t purchased anything and thus encourages them to make more purchases and so on. Again, brilliance!
Also, customers who can afford to stay at the more expensive hotels close to Disney don’t even need to drive to the parks! They can just jump on the monorail or even a boat and slide right in, take their rides and make their purchases all day long.

Collecting on Collectibles
Everyone knows how masterful Disney has been when it comes to generating a frenzy for collecting their classic movies by stealing a page from the DeBeers family and how they’ve dominated the diamond industry by managing the laws of Supply and Demand. Well, Disney has tapped into another goldmine: Pin Collecting! Yes, it appears to be a very inexpensive and fun little hobby at first glance, but it can quickly become a huge investment. There’s even an official website for Disney Pin Collecting.

Summation
Please don’t mistake any of this as negative. I fully enjoyed my experience at Disney and cannot wait to go back! I’m just impressed with the way they do things over there. They are a well-oiled machine of entertainment and capitalism. All businesses should study Disney and emulate their efforts. Please your customers and they will gladly spend their money with smiles on their faces. I know I sure did!