Entries Tagged 'Tech commentary' ↓

Trying out Storify – a collection of tweets

We all know how slack I am with my blog these days. No time, no inspiration 🙁 I found out how to use this site Storify lately through work, it allows you to create a ‘story’ from a collection of tweets, other posts, images etc so I’ve tried it out for the tweets I did while we were in London and Paris last month. If you follow me on Twitter or have seen my photos on Flickr none of this will be new to you, but at least it’s in one place as a stream with the Storify collections.

Caveat – Storify is a free social network, it’s a bit flaky so sometimes the story stream embedded into my blog will be broken … however, it’s either taking your chances with that or having nothing posted on my blog! You can also go directly to my Storify page.

I’ll post the London and Paris stories next.

New Flickr layout

Don’t be alarmed if you’re a regular visitor to my Flickr photostream – today Flickr updated their site to a more scrapbook style layout. It does look quite cool but I must say I was quite surprised by how many blue photos I have! I guess that’s what comes from living in California. I honestly thought my photostream would look more orange 🙂

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Twitter 201

Moving a little beyond the 101 getting-started-with-Twitter posts about what you might say or why you might want a Twitter account and the practicalities of using it, here are some 201-level Twitter tips I’ve learned along the way managing company and personal accounts.

  • If you manage more than one account, ALWAYS check you’re tweeting from the right account – I still do this after 3 years. Every tweet.
  • Damn-you-autocorrect can also play havoc with your tweets – read before you tweet! “Not sure who you ate – what’s your email address?” isn’t good when you mean “Don’t know who you are …”
  • Check your links!! Especially where you’re reusing a shortened link posted by someone else. The dropped http:// off the front of mycool.url doesn’t always translate well.
  • To give you that split second chance to have a doubt re 1, 2 or 3 above, check how your Twitter app publishes tweets – many of them have a feature to disable submit on click. Means you don’t accidentally hit the return key and prematurely tweet.
  • Learn where your mentions are people! (That’s when someone uses @yourtwittername in their tweet.) It’s especially important when the tweet starts with @yourtwittername because that’s basically a question or comment directed at you so a lot of times it should get a response, or at least be read. If someone doesn’t respond to me when I @mention them I often go look at their Twitter stream, and what do I see? A broadcast list, all tweets from them or RT’s, no responses to people. This is low engagement. Fine if that’s what you’re after but I do find it rather rude to leave @mentions with no response. And on that note – if you start at tweet with @theirtwittername – only people who follow you both them will see it. If you want everyone to see the tweet, start it with some other word, one that doesn’t being with @
  • RT (re-tweet) – think about how this works and how you want the tweet to appear in your stream. Sometimes if it’s important to be associated with the Twitter account that tweeted it, like you got mentioned by a big brand, don’t edit it or fiddle with it, just RT it so that THEIR logo ends up in your stream. Otherwise it’s your face, again.
  • Don’t plagiarize. I realize this isn’t a regulated medium but I recognize my tweets. Passing them off as yours with no reference might make you feel busy and important but it makes me feel used. We’re all trying to build our brand and being seen to follow or read or have an association with a brand might do you just as much good as seeming to have an original thought or comment about something yourself. It’s a doggy-dog retweeing world out there!
  • Be wary of scheduled and automated tweets and make sure you use this as it makes sense for your company. Scheduled tweets can backfire – even if they work, you don’t know what’s gone on in the night when your tweet goes out – if people are having issues with your app or some major news has broken, your ‘yippee vote for us we’re so cool’ tweet doesn’t look good. We’ve all read the stuff about being personal if you want to have a successful brand on social media, so be present to be personal. Clocky or some other timezone calculator is your friend – you can catch your followers in all timezones if you’re smart about it. If you auto-tweet something, perhaps blog posts or status updates, think about how the title or snippet that’s auto-tweeted stands alone. In the case of a blog, your post title in a stream doesn’t have the benefit of the full post or even first paragraph to further explain the title. To increase readership, re-tweeting and engagement, make the title interesting. Mystery and intrigue is good, but you have just a moment to get someone to click on a link so make that title count!
  • What is it with all the # tags? The idea of a hashtag is to build a stream or common topic that people might follow, saving them from following all the people that might be tweeting about the topic. Think of a hashtag as a keyword and build momentum and engagement for something by being consistent. If you’re at an event or conference definitely use the hashtag – again, don’t underestimate the power of your brand popping up in an event stream. #every #other #word in a #tweet isn’t really helpful and is actually #really #hard to #read #imsocoolimadeupaniftyhashtag.

What does your avatar say about you?

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but that’s pretty much what you have to do with a tiny 40-40 pixel graphic on Twitter when someone’s tweet pops into your stream. (Avatar = identity graphic.) Obviously you can attempt to see what makes the person tick by reading their stream but if you have a busy account and you’re in a situation where tweets in your stream need more than a passing read, they need a comment or help, it’s hard not make a first impression based on the avatar.

I try really hard not to and for the most part do a good job of remaining neutral, but it has got me thinking about how people choose to display themselves in tiny form – with a tiny image and a tiny sentence of 140 characters. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and have come across my fair share of avatars, and not just in passing, where I actually have to converse with the tweeter. Sometimes your impression of their avatar turns out to be exactly right, other times not.

Here are my tiny identities – personal & work:

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What does your avatar say about you? Is your avatar

  • your happy smiling best this-is-the-real-me family snap
  • a professional agency shot with lighting and smooth skin
  • a drunken cuddle-buddy photo
  • a porn star boobie or other body shot
  • something from your corporate photo session
  • a serious face
  • a really angry finger-pointing or know-it-all self portrait
  • someone else’s face
  • pics of your kids or pets or a cat pic downloaded from the internet
  • a company logo
  • an arty something or other – what kids think electricity looks like or a heart beat or something
  • a landmark or national monument or tree or flower or fruit (ha! I’m in this group)
  • the faceless Twitter egg
  • a cartoon or mask
  • some other inanimate object – a car, a plane, a rocket … in fact what could we read into that choice?

There’s definitely no right or wrong, I just think it’s interesting. I have to say it is harder tweeting in response to someone with an angry face vs someone with a smiling face!

Montage maker

Found this cool site/tool on an ex-colleagues blog – Montage Maker – go there and type in a topic, orange, coffee, seaside … and it scours the internet for images that match the description. Obviously I typed in orange. Result is cool!

Orange montage

Birthday blog

Today it’s 7 years since I started blogging – with all the technical fads and things like Twitter taking the world by storm – it’s nice to think I’m still going. I’m up to 1700 posts now and over the last year my new, fairly busy Reviews category (mostly about coffee and cafes) has been added.

Might have to have a shuffle around for the upcoming year – moving to San Francisco at the end of this month for a reasonably permanent amount of time means that I won’t be categorising activities there as ‘Travels’ any more!

Webstock 2011

Attended Webstock again this year with a group from work (Xero was the main sponsor which was awesome!) – even though some of the talks last year were a bit blue sky for me, I was glad to attend again this year even though I was left feeling rather shattered after 2 days in a darkened hall with 800 other people just listening and taking stuff in – rather different from the day-to-day hum drum.

As a sponsor we got to host a couple of the speakers for a chat and lunch in our office and The Mister got to meet one of his internet heroes Steve Souders from Google.

Craig meets Steve Souders

He took Steve to Nikau for lunch an he was super-impressed by the kedgeree – and really touched that after I heard this, I got him one of the Nikau tea towels with the kedgeree recipe on it – he said it was the best souvenir he’d ever received! (Meanwhile I’m kidding around saying if we ever visit California he can cook it for us … I really had no idea who this guy was nor his internet infamy, so to me he was just a lovely guy who liked Nikau as I pushed in front of the line of people waiting for their 5 minutes of fame with him! I went to his Webstock presentation, didn’t understand a word of it (way too geeky) but felt I should support him as my new friend, told him as much afterward and he roared with laughter!)

Again with the random notes I took, sometimes something the presenter said, sometimes a thought that popped into my head while they were speaking – read no further if conference notes aren’t your thing, I just wanted to write them down somewhere. I did feel a bit like I did last year where I didn’t ‘get’ it – I didn’t emerge having identified a particular theme or trend as others did, I wasn’t wowed by any new inventions, I thought after hearing a couple of things that I might change my ways but doubt that will happen – this all sounds like I was disappointed but I wasn’t! Well, perhaps disappointed in myself for not getting more out of it seeing as everyone else was raving that they did (or perhaps it’s like The English Patient that everyone crooned about, yet I felt like the only person in the world who didn’t enjoy it).

Continue reading →

Another orange iPhone

Someone at work sent me this picture and link to get one this morning.

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I don’t have the version of the iPhone that this is for … enough to tempt me? Not yet, they’re too heavy and slippery and don’t do any whizbangery that I’d make use of in my own narrow band of self-taught iPhone activity! And still my purchase decisions are less influenced by being a cool kid than they are about orange so if the orange doesn’t do it, it’s going to be a while!

Battles with big companies

So the drama of switching from Paradise to TelstraClear has been somewhat shifted to Genesis Energy, although entirely at the hand of TelstraClear.

Because TelstraClear stuffed up the lifetime redirect for my Paradise email to my Clear mail box a power bill from Genesis Energy did indeed bounce back to Genesis. Being true to my word, I got back on Twitter and expressed my displeasure at this, directed at TelstraClear. They were most apologetic and made up for me being out of pocket by sending me some vouchers to put towards my TelstraClear bill – nice of them, but I have yet to figure out how to see and pay my Clear email bill because every time I ask them to send me the forms to pay by credit card, they send me direct debit forms …

However, I digress. Back to paying my Genesis bill – also want to pay this with new credit card to get airpoints so was pleased to see how easy it was to find and submit a credit card payment off their site. But. Amount X is due if the bill is paid by 11 August and Amount Y is due if paid after. Clearly I have to pay Amount Y with it being the 14th, in fact the site has big flashing “OVERDUE. PLEASE PAY IMMEDIATELY” all over it. So, click the ‘Pay Now’ button and I’m only offered the choice of paying Amount X. What? I want to pay the full amount and they won’t let me? I paid the smaller Amount X, thinking it would leave the difference on my bill so I could just use ‘Pay Now’ again to pay off the bill. No. ‘Pay Now’ button has gone. I’m dubious that this amount is going to stay on our account as an overdue amount and will not be included in what’s on offer via the ‘Pay Now’ button next month, so I’ve had to pay the little extra bit via online banking.

Boy oh boy I am getting SO frustrated with all this. TelstraClear has been pretty good, the guys manning the Twitter account very patient with me but generally the websites for these big companies SUCK. The Genesis FAQ page is erroring today, the TelstraClear site for adding alisases to my email address keeps looping back to an ‘Account Summary’ page … The other day I gave up on the TelstraClear website and phoned their 0800 number to find out about paying by credit card. The automated voice system said “I can understand most of your commands. Tell me what you want from the following options. You can interrupt me any time.” One of the options offered was ‘Your account’, so I said ‘My account’ (thinking she was addressing me) but she ignored me, so I tried ‘Your account’ … that didn’t work either. So I hung up on her and tried again. This time interrupting – not sure how many times I shouted ‘My account’ before the voice switched to an ad that said you could now pay by credit card by selecting Customer Zone on the website, so I hung up again! GRRRR!

No more Paradise for me

No I’m not talking about my life on an island sipping cocktails while enjoying a view of the endless blue ocean lapping at white sands bordered by palm trees, I’m talking about Paradise dot net dot NZ.

Received a call out of the blue this morning asking what my decision was in light of Paradise being ‘retired’ by TelstraClear … hmmm … I was supposed to be making a decision? Seems I’d missed an email about it … ironic really. Anyway, the offer was on the table to switch to Clear (well, back to Clear in my case) and keep my existing Paradise email address, well, for an additional $2.99 per month. So I organised all that over the phone then they guy told me I had one day to forward all the email I wanted to keep to my new Clear address because once the redirect was in place for Paradise, mail would go straight to Clear and I wouldn’t have access to my old Paradise mailbox. So I spent ages doing that. And it all worked fine.

So no more Paradise webmail for me:

208 - 27 July 2010

I know a few people at work who use it so I asked them if they were going through the same thing. Seems they weren’t and were rather alarmed that they hadn’t been told that their Paradise email address, that they’d also had for 10 years, was going to disappear. We began to worry it was a scam. So being a good Internet citizen I phoned Paradise to see if it was a scam … overlooking the fact that it’s TelstraClear who answers Paradise’s phone now, I spoke to someone who assured me that it wasn’t a scam and that the person who’d phoned me that morning was indeed a real person, and employee of TelstraClear who worked in the Auckland sales team.

So I’d been tweeting about all this as the day went along, wondering online why none of my colleagues were going through the same thing and wailing about someone else already having orangegirl@clear.net.nz as their address. Then what do you know but TelstraClear tweeted me back! We swapped a few tweets then email addresses and I got the full low-down on why it was me and no-one else who was loosing their address. Seems customers of 10+ years who were paying by credit card and didn’t use cable had some whole lower level of security that meant through lack of address, drivers licence and secret question information collected at the time of becoming a Paradise customer all those years ago meant they were getting rid of all these accounts. Seemed plausible. And I was pleased to get the personal help and to be able to put the minds of my colleagues at rest.

For everyone out there who emails me at my Paradise email address, this doesn’t change, I can give you a new Clear address if you like, but my Paradise email is going straight into my Clear inbox for the duration of my time with Clear.

Update several days later:

So, am going through all stages of loss here. First the denial/disbelief that Paradise was going, then the sadness associated with no longer logging in (although I was glad to see the back of the ugly web site used for reading my mail) and now I’m firmly in the anger stage. Someone emailed me at my Paradise address and it turns out the redirect is not working, it bounced. I have all our electronic bills going to that address and let me tell you if Genesis cut off our power through non-payment, TelstraClear will be covering all costs associated with that! And I received a ‘Welcome to TelstraClear’ pack in the mail asking for my bank account details for the monthly payment – what? I want to pay by credit card – I have a shiny new card that gets me air points so I want to pay by credit card like I have done for the last 10 years!! Although given that credit card paying customers seem to be those who lost their Paradise accounts it seems that they perhaps don’t take credit cards for payment any more, perhaps it’s too much trouble to chase around updating card expiry dates, although it never was a problem before.

So I’ve emailed the person who ‘convinced’ me to swap to Clear to tell them of my annoyance, and I returned to Twitter, although now I’ve conversed with a real person at the end of that Twitter account I feel kind of bad that the person and the company are one in the same and that they’ll think I’m mad with them. Although it happens to me all the time with the Xero account and no-one holds back their displeasure even if they do know who ‘OG’ is receiving the tweets at the other end.

Of course, it’s the weekend, and no-one is responding. Sigh.