Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Social Media - Think long term (5 in a series of 5)

In the previous post in the series I went over what to say, or possibly what not to say. Now that you've gotten started, many ask the question of how do I measure the results of my efforts in social media. The easy answer is it is much harder to measure it quantitatively than say the impact of a website (how many hits/unique visitors/length of stay on page/etc). You won't be able to measure impact immediately no matter what. It takes some time to build up that trust that is so necessary and to make all the connections that will make your social media foray a big hit.

So what can you do. There are metrics you can use. There are things like twitanalyzer, twitttergrader, twittercounter, mrtweet, and others that measure various different things on a twitter profile. A great tool I highly suggest using is Bitly is a URL shortener, but it is much, much more. If you register for an account at, all your shortened URLs can be tracked and you can see how many people clicked on them, when, and from where (approx). This is a great tool that can be integrated into other twitter tools to automatically shorten and track your URLs. A word of warning: even if you do this well, it will take time to build up the amount of click backs (clicks on your URLs) that you would like to see.

I have a list of sites and articles on social media metrics on my delicious account at: social media metrics.

Series of 5: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Social Media - What to say (4 in a series of 5)

To recap: in the first in this series we addressed how to listen. We then went on to talk about getting involved in the second part. In the third part I spoke about the need to give up control. These posts are meant to be read in sequence.

In the fourth part of the series I'll address what you say. It is fairly easy, no matter what platform you are using (twitter, facebook, myspace, ning, blog, etc) be completely honest.

The reason is that in the end the truth will out. If you have not been honest it will come back to haunt you. Remember that unlike the vegas axiom that "what happens in vegas stays in vegas" what happens in social media networks will haunt you forever. A twitter example may be appropriate here. You may spend a significant amount of time and energy building your brand on twitter and acquiring the right kind of followers. One wrong tweet may sully your reputation for quite a long time and lose many of those followers.

Also don't try to sell something to a new follower, get to know them first. You'll get a feel for who would be open to a link to your site and who won't. In the second part in this series I talked about giving more than you get. This means yes you can post a link to your blog or website, but make sure you share 3x more information that isn't about you.

For instance, deciding to set up an auto DM (direct message) for new followers with a plug for your product in it. This is a definite no-no. Although a DM is only seen by you and the person you sent it to, there is a very good chance that the receiver will unfollow you.

Series of 5: Parts 1, 2, 3, 5

Social Media - Giving up control (3 in a series of 5)

In the first of this series I described how to start your social media experience by learning how to listen. If you have read that post, you can catch it here. It is truly important to take that first step seriously.

The second blog post in the series spoke about getting involved. Again, this is a sequential "how-to" so it would be good to read that before this post.

In this post we will move on to the next step in your growth in the social media milieu, giving up control. Social media is all about conversation and community. The old school way of using PR to spread your message by telling people what you are about and presenting your brand must be modified to work in the social media world. If you want people to spread your message in the viral way it can be spread you need to trust them.

Once your message leaves your computer, you will no longer have control over it and if you attempt to control it, there is a good chance that you will counteract any chance you had of getting that message out to a wider audience.

So listen to what people are saying, write copy that is inspiring, truly engage others in your communications and let go.

Series of 5: Parts 1, 2, 4, 5

Retaggr all your social media sites in one place

Retaggr is a service that lets you put all (more than friendfeed offers) your social media sites or logins in one place and it creates an embedded card you can place on your blog (see the bottom of this page). The card is clickable and updates like the friendfeed embedded piece on the side of this blog.

First let's check out the site. does, of course, have a pay version. The pay version let's you do a lot more customizing. When you first go to the site you are greeted by this screen:

Once you create an account, the site walks you through set up. You can even start by importing all your friendfeed info. The edit profile page is your starting area. Fill in the information to start your profile:

The next tab is the profile photo tab. You can upload a profile photo or use your gravatar.

The tab after that is the heart of retaggr. Here you enter all your sites. They are listed in categories

or you can click on the link to list them alphabetically.

There are more than you can imagine. And if the site you want is not there, which happened to me with a forum site, there is another place to enter that. Remember, you can import your friendfeed sites first then add more.

On the next tab you can add those profiles that weren't listed in the previous tab. Note that retaggr will even check out the site for you and try to capture an icon.

In the Blog tab you can add any blogs you have by entering the blog name, blog URL and Feed URL (this automatically puts a subscribe button next to the blog listing).

You can then add more widgets, professional information, and any affiliations.

When you are done, you can preview the retaggr card

And the retaggr profile page

Wakoopa the social software site

I recently started using another aspect of social media, a social software site called wakoopa. As with so many of the other social media sites I use, I was introduced to this by my son @chronotope on twitter. This site analyzes and tracks the software you are using on the computer you run it on. It tracks both the active application and the background applications. Not only can you review the applications you use, but you can also see other reviews and find other software. One of the options lets you set the site to alert you of software updates.

When you log in and start tracking your profile will look something like this. The top half shows your favorite applications and what you say about each one (you can mark anything as a favorite app), below that are the top ten pieces of software, according to your usage, divided into categories of the past week, past month, and newly used apps. Next to that is some basic info about your software usage and your level of usage according to how much you contribute, how many different apps you use, reviews you write, screenshots and icons you upload, etc.

The next part of the screen shows a usage history graph and some recently used apps (note that most stats are 1-2 days old). You will also see a message section, which can be used to communicate with people you have friended, and some of the point awards you have received to change your level. Below the Awards section is a section showing the most recent reviews you have submitted.

You can see what new software is being used and what people think about it. When you check out a piece of software on wakoopa, it lists other software that does the same thing. this can be real handy if you know a piece of commercial software but want a similar free version. Or if you are having trouble with a certain piece of software another app may do the same thing without giving you problems.

Other users reviews can be quite instructive and helpful in finding the appropriate app to use in any circumstance.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Using an aggregator in twitter

I'm not a fan of bots on twitter. As a matter of fact I generally try to stay away from them. It can be rather annoying to get 20 tweets from some bot that takes up your stream so you can't see anything else that's going on. That said there are things that I do like about bots. For instance I follow @alfie6 an artificial Intelligence Agent. It constantly crawls the web looking for bioscience related news, which are published on Life Sciences Blogs. Since I work in bioscience this information is relevant to me and it is not like following @snakelicious which may send 10 tweets at a time.

I thought about the work account I manage. If I set up some basic filters it would make that so much easier. I started out by setting up a aggregator of RSS feeds with filters using Yahoo! pipes.

After clicking save, to save your pipe, a new button appears at the top of the screen

When you click "Run pipe" the results are shown and next to those results are a couple of choices.

If you click "Get as RSS" it generates an RSS feed page for the search.

Copy the URL for this page. Next I went to feedburner pasted the URL in there and followed the prompts. I copied the URL of the feed from feedburner and then created an account on I went to twitterfeed and created a new feed there. If you follow the steps it is fairly easy.

On the first page you have to allow access to your twitter account. Next give the Feed a name and paste the URL from either feedburner (better) or directly from yahoo pipes' get as RSS page. Click "Test RSS feed" to make sure it works. Next click "Advanced Settings":

Here you set the frequency and how many updates at a time, what is included in the post, shortening URL info (if you have a account put the info in here - see below), sorting, if you want to put something before or after a post (like a hastag), and finally if you want to use keyword filtering.

The final screen, when you are done, should look something like this:

As I mentioned, if you open a account you can integrate the shortened URLS into your feed and track them. Otherwise you can still track them but you can't easily see all the shortened URL's in one place.

Twitterfeed feeds your twitter account tweets that you captured with the pipe and then filtered. So all the information I want to capture about cancer from my work site and the NCI site, I feed to my work twitter account. I do this a little bit with my personal account, but not nearly as much. I let twitterfeed tweet things that I would normally tweet anyway.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Screenr, a free screen capture video service

I previously blogged about screen capture software for training. The blog was about a piece of software I hadn't fully tested yet called Jing. Jing is nice, but it's biggest drawback, in my opinion, is that the free version only saves in swf format.

While troubleshooting a search problem on Seesmic Desktop, I stumbled upon a website called Imagine my surprise at finding a web service that lets you record video/audio of your desktop for training purposes. Not only is it free, it publishes the video for you in mp4 and iphone formats. There is an option to automatically tweet new vids, when you link your twitter account to You can also upload your videos to your youtube account or download the mp4s.

Screenr also has the URL for your video on their server and the embed code. I easily created the movie below and just copied the embed code to display it here (I did have to change the size settings in order for it to fit properly). (note that it even includes the tweet describing the video)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Social Media - Getting involved (2 in series of 5)

In an earlier post, I suggested that the first and most important rule of Social media was to Listen. But it does not become Social until you interact. So the second rule of Social media is to interact with those you have been listening to and learning from. Or simply, engage.

This is not as easy as it may sound. But it is extremely important to remember that all social media is about building communities. Remember that your audience is interested in being involved in the conversation. If you shut them out by expounding too much and you may no longer have an audience.

During the listening portion of your indoctrination into social media you learned how people interact. One of the most quoted axioms is the rule of three or for every one tweet or blog about your interests there should be 3 more tweets/blogs/posts about what most interests your intended audience. In other words, give a lot more than you get.

Social Media is about conversations and building relationships. It takes effort. Don’t just talk about yourself. Ask questions, engage people and link, Most of all be inspiring.

Series of 5: Parts 1, 3, 4, 5

Friday, August 7, 2009

Portable applications

For quite some time now I've been using applications that run off my USB stick. It is almost essential in my line of work since I often come to a computer on which I have to run various scans or recover files and I want to do this with minimal intrusion. If I install something on a computer I'm trying to recover files from there is a good chance I'll end up writing over part of the file.

So I've culled a number of applications that all run on my USB flashdrive. All are free, there are more than a few you can purchase a "pro" version of, but most of these offer little extra functionality for the normal user.

I started off doing this as a project for my wife, but it took on a life of it's own. I currently have a bootable USB flashdrive (to linux, get it here) and almost 8gb worth of software. I wrote a basic windows help file with one of the portable apps and it is hosted here as well as residing on my USB flashdrive as portable apps.chm. I use the Pstart Launcher to organize and launch all the apps on my flash (check out the help file for pics).

Recently, a tweep on twitter asked what apps I had and I emailed him a basic list. This is some of it:

* rootkit detectors/scanners:
* f-secure blacklight (
* Pavark
* Sophos anti rootkit (req verification)

* cleaners
o ccleaner
o rogue remover
o easy cleaner
o pc decrapifyer

* file/disk recovery
o cd recovery
o data recovery
o datarecovery
o diskdigger
o encopy4
o file recovery
o NTFSundelete
o Pandora Recovery
o PartitionRecovery
o Recuva (probably the best and easiest)
o Restoration
o Undelete
o undelete_plus

* password viewers
o IE password viewer
o Keyfinder
o LSASecretsView
o Password Assistant
o Wireless KeyView

* Password Manager
o KeePass Portable

* Encrypting/decrypting
o Drag'n'Crypt Ultra
o FreeOTFE
o LockNote
o PicoCrypt
o TrueCrypt

* backup
o windriversbackup

* Copiers
o unstoppable copier
o ycopy

* disk size tools
o WinDirStat Portable (BEST)
o Disktective
o drive cleanup wizard
o i.disk

* duplicate file finders
o Easy Duplicate

* file archivers
o IZarc (copy folder after install to USB)
o 7zip
o appCompactor
o pea zip
o universal extractor
o UPX Packer
o UPX Shell

* File managers
o Free Commander (best)
o Alt Commander
o ExplorerXP Portable
o Q-Dir
o Xenon

* File Renamers
o Ant renamer
o bulk renamer
o Rename Master

* Synchers
o Allway sync N Go (pay)
o freefilesync
o ozsync
o Toucan
o Syncback (free version)

* Graphics

o viewers
+ artsee
+ cornice portable
+ fsviewer (FastStone makes excellent apps)
+ MaxView
+ SlowView
+ XnView

o Editors
+ Gimp
+ Blender
+ Photofiltre
+ photoscape
+ artweaver

o Screen Capture
+ aviscreen (capture movies of desktop activity - no sound)
+ FastStone Capture
+ HandySnap (excellent)
+ Hover Snap (use this when handysnap doesn't work)
+ lightscreen portable

o other
+ FastStone Photo Resizer
+ fotosketcher
+ fastimageresizer
+ imagicon
+ pngoptimizer
+ redeye

* multimedia

o video players
+ VLC media player
+ smplayer
+ mplayer portable

o audio players
+ 1by1
+ coolplayer
+ evil Player
+ foobar2000

o editors
+ audacity
+ wavosaur
+ virtualdub

o cd burners
+ burnCDCC
+ cdrtools
+ DeepBurner (very good)
+ imgburn
+ infrarecorder

o cd rippers
+ bonkenc
+ DeepRipper (very good)

o Other
+ DVD Shrink
+ AVI Repair Utility
+ XMedia Converter (convert anything)

* system

o info
+ currProcess
+ deviceinfo
+ ProcessExplorer (*****)
+ Process Monitor (*****)
+ SysSpec
+ System Explorer (does everything!)
+ System information viewer
+ winaudit

o startup
+ autoruns (not as good as SE above, but GOOD)
+ aspy32

o Antivirus/antispyware
+ clamwin portable
+ Multi Virus Cleaner (MVC)
+ Spybot search and destroy 1.6.x
+ Stinger AV

o defrag
+ jkdefrag
+ defraggler
+ fragutil
+ hdiskdefrag
+ powerdefragmenter
+ win contig
+ win merge portable

o registry
+ regassassin
+ registry cleaner
+ registry scanner
+ regshot
+ sysinterals registry monitor
+ xpredit

That is less than half the stuff I have on my stick. I also keep a ton of installable apps to clean computers. Things like startup mechanic and system mechanic and a couple of uninstaller apps.

Almost everything can be found on either or otherwise just google it.

What is social media

I've though a lot about this particular question because I get asked it a lot, so mcu so that I started coming up with a stock answer. I decided the easiest way to explain social media was to say that it was any interaction over the internet between more than 2 people at a time. Like I said it's a stock answer and not anywhere near correct.

When I was trying to convince my Temple an work to get more involved in social media for their own good, I came up with different definitions.

For my synagogue I suggested that social media was first and foremost about creating community. The Social part of social media is what makes it important and useful. Part of any religious organization is about creating and fostering community. If there is a tool to help that goal along, we should use it. So far we haven't adopted anything beyond linkedin and facebook, but we're getting there.

At work I stressed that social media is a way of communicating interactively with the most important people to us, our donors. The money angle did get a reaction adn although I've gotten only permission for establishing a couple of accounts, including a test twitter account, I have high hopes.

Social Media is all of these things at the same time. It allows us to connect to others, to establish and develop community and to express ourselves. All of this involves very little cost, just the time put in.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

High School reunion

A post about a reunion on twitter got me thinking about a reunion I recently went to ...

Not long ago a couple of us who attended an alternative high school called School Within A School (SWAS) in Mamaroneck, NY, got together for a mini reunion. It was at best odd.

I think reunions in general are odd, but this was a program that was odd to begin with. You could opt into it with your parents permission. It was completely ungraded and the standards were fairly high. Yet there were never more than 120 people in the program from a student population of over 2000. That said, back to the reunion.

We got together in loft of a friend of one of the participants in NYC. There were maybe 30-40 people all together representing various different years of the program. One teacher came, and it was nice seeing him again. Many of the people in the group were still flower children (SWAS tended to attract that type). I felt old, I won't be going back (they already have organized another get together).

Twitter is down and I am far from home

So Twitter is totally down, not even a fail whale. I thought of posting a #twitter #fail tweet on twitter, but the website is completely down. I can't access though an API call either. I was in the middle of replying to a DM and a personal tweet when this happened.

I guess I am truly a twitter addict if I feel so lost without it. I better follow @twitteraddicts (I don't think that is a real user, but I can't check right now because twitter is still down).

Code snippets for bloggers

I've been playing around with blogger and trying various different things on this blog. I've added a couple of widgets and pasted some javascript in to see what happens. While looking around, and of course listening to twitter, I came upon a mention of tweetmeme and there a mention of inserting the tweetmeme button onto your blog.

I was of course interested to see if I could do it on blogger. After a little hunting around I found a blog that explains how to do this among other things. The blog is here. The page with the blogger info is here, and the specific post with the tweetmeme info in it is here.

That is how I added the tweet/retweet button on the bottom of each post. Now if I can only get it to be at the top of the post ...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another computer fixed, but interesting problem

Part of my job includes keeping all the computer equipment up and running here at the Cancer Center. This sometimes extends to our members. If they don't have someone else to help them out, I will troubleshoot their computer problems. This happened yesterday.

One of our researcher/clinicians called me about his computer (a PC). It was slow, very slow and the CD and DVD drive had stopped working. Since he was only 1 floor above me I went up to see what the problem was.

It was fairly easy to optimize windows for him, which took care of the speed issue. The more serious issue concerning the drives was the next step. After I had turned off the computer and disconnected everything I opened it up to find the power cables had been pulled out of both the CD and DVD drives! What was even more interesting than the power being pulled was the fact that one would have to reach behind the IDE cables in order to get to these plugs. It would have been very difficult to do, unless they had never been connected ...

He had to go to a meeting so I didn't get a chance to ask him when the last time he used the drives was, but I will eventually.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Seesmic Desktop, an excellent multi-account twitter app

I've used a number of different applications to manage my twitter streams. I started out using Tweetdeck, but at the time it couldn't accommodate multiple accounts. It also had some other issues, which I know annoyed me at the time but seem inconsequential now. I tried a few different twitter clients including the web application of peoplebrowser. This had a lot of potential and I went on to try the air application of peoplebrowser.

For one reason or another I kept going back to Tweetdeck. Then one day I discovered Seesmic Desktop, another air application. At first I didn't like Seesmic because it lacked a bunch of things I liked about Tweetdeck. As I used Seesmic more and more I liked it more.

1. The user lists are great. Put users into a list to track them in a separate stream.
2. The searches are saved and you can have them appear in your home stream or not.
3. Multiple accounts are easy to manipulate and use with Seesmic (I currently am managing 3 twitter accounts and a facebook acct from the client)
4. Your streams get color coded so you can easily see what messages are replies, DMs, or messages posted by you.
5. You can set the application to notify you with a sound when a reply comes in (you can notify with sounds for other posts but then my computer would be beeping of the hook!)
6. Seesmic now has integrated account information. This way you can enter the pertinent information into your setting and anytime you shorten a link it automatically sends it to your bitly account. This type of integration is true for 5 other services as well.
7. The new Beta also has autocomplete of user names - an excellent addition.

On the down side I really, really miss 4 things about tweetdeck.
1. I really liked being able to tell which tweets I had read and which I hadn't. This is not available in Seesmic unless you empty each stream once the tweets are read (you can't mark them as read) (this is available in the new version of Seesmic web)
2. The ability to click on a twitpic link and have it show up in a popup window was really nice. Seesmic opens a browser window. (inline viewing of pics and movies available in seesmic web app)
3. The way you could click on a person to get their profile was implemented better in Tweetdeck.
4. The way in which you create groups and add members to groups is nicely done in Seesmic, but the checklist method implemented in Tweetdeck is better.

If Seesmic implements the ability to check and work with following/followers lists, then I would never have to use the twitter website again.

Screen capture for training videos

Last night I was speaking with my son (@chronotope on twitter) over the phone. Which, now that I think about it, is a rare occurrence in and of itself. And the topic of screen capture software came up. Actually my wife brought it up suggesting aviscreen to my son which captures what you're doing on the computer screen, but doesn't capture audio.

My son, Aram, currently does all sorts of things in the Information Technology/ Social Media/ Convergent Media worlds. He listened for a bit and then asked why I wasn't using Jing. So I downloaded it and installed it on my laptop. Nice piece of software, although many things are only available in the pro version.

I started testing it out at work. I made a couple of training videos (how to enter an event on our in house calendar, how to enter data into a database I designed, etc). I'm planning on doing a Seesmic desktop video, maybe I'll try it later today.

Anyway the application turns out to be a pretty nice one, despite the fact you can only save in swf format in the free version, and 70% of the stuff doesn't work unless you upgrade to the pro version.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Social Media and Cancer Centers - a presentation

Sometime ago I started researching how to best get my work, Albert Einstein Cancer Center, to embrace Social Media. Unfortunately, I have only been slightly successful.

I started out by doing some research. I initially found a great deal of resources about social media and Non-profits. I approached some of the people, mostly through email and twitter, and asked if I could use some of their material. They were very helpful. Some people even gave me their phone numbers and we spoke for some time.

In the end I created a powerpoint presentation that I thought would appeal to several key points my employers would be interested in.

I first explained that although many key donors were online and indeed preferred to give online, our particular center was unable to take direct donations online. The next slides describes how many NCI designated Cancer Centers can take contributions directly online.

The second section of slides tries to explain what Social Media is with a slide that gives analagous media. This segues into a section on why we should care. The Why Should We Care section is all about statistics and donors.

The next section describes Social Media again using the CommonCraft video, Social Media in Plain English, some freely accessible icons and then gives some more statistics.

This is followed by a section about the "Wired Wealthy" a study done by Convio of wealthy donors online.

There is then a section showing non-profits and cancer centers on various social media platforms. Then there is a set of slides presenting various social media success stories and why they worked. This is followed by the 5 rules of social media, then a section on the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report.

There is a section on the 10 things to do before setting up Social Media. This is followed by a section on Metrics and ROI.

I don't use all the slides in the presentation when I do it, but it's good to have them available.

The presentation (minus any copyrighted information) is on here.

The Palm TX and PDAs

The palm I currently use (I've been using one for too many years to count) is the Palm TX. It is a nice machine that has everything, and I mean everything I need on it. The application I have found most useful is no longer being sold and can't be found anywhere, this is commonly known as abandonware. The app name is TecSync, an application for people who need to keep track of a lot of computers - which describes a good portion of my job.

A ways back I was on one of the Palm forums ( and realized that I was answering a lot of questions about the same or similar things, so I created a set of webpages that lisited all the applications on my palm with links to most of them and explanations. I collected helpful links from other members of the forum (you'll see there screen names listed in the thanks section) and put those in a helpful links section.

All in all the whole endeavor was enlightening and I now have a resource I point to quite often.

Check out the page either by clicking on the title of this article or by going to this page.

First, do no harm

I’ve worked in Healthcare for over 16 years, so it seems appropriate to link what is considered one of the fundamental principles of emergency medical care to social media.

We have all heard (at least a thousand times) that the first rule of social media is to listen. Listen, so that once you leap into the fray you will have a better feeling for what is going on, for the netiquette, so you “do no harm”.

About 20-25 years ago (yes I’m that old), I was a member of a local chapter of a trainers association. During one of the meetings there was a seminar on listening. The presenter detailed what he called the H.E.A.R. method of listening. It is very applicable to all social media and it goes as follows:

1. Hear

a. Listen to the person who is speaking.

b. Listen carefully

2. Empathize

a. Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes.

b. Keep in mind the saying, “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes”

3. Analyze

a. Think about what the speaker has said.

b. Take into account “where they’re coming from”

c. Determine what the speaker’s goals might be and any underlying meanings, if applicable

4. Respond

a. Reply to the speaker taking everything you synthesized so far into account.

b. Make sure your response is Constructive, Meaningful, and Thought out

Series of 5: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5