Log My Life

Back in the early 1980s’ when I was a Fortran programmer, it’s a doctrine to document every programs with very detailed comments. Roll forward 15 years, then when I developed the very first homepage of my own in year 1995, I started to log down the changes of my own website and showed those in the front page, with an aim to inform my site visitors the details of the website changes. And gradually, the “logs” included not only website changes, but also news, jokes, events, photos, videos and opinions.

As you may all know, these change logs (Web Logs) later was named as Blog (coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word “weblog” into the phrase “we blog”) in year 1999.

And now I no longer develop programs (except some twists on scripts and PHP programs), but more and more, I am logging my life within the Internet … like a lifelogger but without those geeky devices.

Like it or not, every single day we are logging our lives with dozens of modern day Internet tools and social networks. I did a check lately and found that indeed I am sharing bits and pieces of my life one way or the other, every single day. And treating myself as a use case, here are the tools and services you can use to log your life if you want to, insanely …

  1. Start your usual day with the app Zite (or Flipboard) for iPad and start sharing your selected Internet, eCommerce, Media and Security news to Buffer (Buffer is a service to schedule your social sharings, highly recommended).
  2. For some more important news that shall not be “buffer-ed”, immediately share to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.
  3. Throughout the day, browse your Facebook wall and Twitter tweets (with TweetDeck) to see what news you can further share to your friends and followers.
  4. For each place you visit in the day, check-in to FourSquare and take a photo with an aim to share it later to social networks, with or without touch-ups by Instagram. If time permits, record this in the beautiful app Path. In case you will forget where you’ve been, say two years later, you can subscribe to Memolane service to remind you.
  5. Whenever you see some good photos (food, pet, fashion, scenery etc. etc.), “pin” it with Pinterest tool. And for good articles and slides, save it to Dropbox for future reference.
  6. What about books ? Read your ebooks with Kindle and whenever you encounter a good line, share it to Facebook and Twitter again. Of course, don’t forget to tell your Linkedin connections what book you’re reading with the Amazon module.
  7. Then for the slides created in public speeches or presentations, share those though Slideshare. In addition, publish your own “social newspaper” thru Glos.si. And if you want your friends to get a printed copy of your sharings in Facebook, publish it through Yearlyleaf.
  8. With all these social interactions, closely monitor your Klout score to see whether your shall share, tweet and “like” even more …
  9. And about your work, document your career history in Linkedin, VisualCV and Vizify.
  10. Last but not least, keep your views and master pieces in your blog like this tiny little one

So, are you ready to log your life ?

writing

Manage your social media sharing with Buffer

Same as many of you, everyday (especially in the morning) I read lots of Internet news, blog posts, and tweets. If I find any good ones, I like to share it with my friends in Facebook and Google Circle; my followers in Twitter; as well as my peers in Linkedin. With so many to share and so many different social media networks as the destinations, it is not easy to manage this task. For examples:

  1. I need to log-in to these websites one by one to post. Yes, there are some utilities to help out but none of those are really intuitive;
  2. If I post all the morning stuffs in one go, it not only annoys all my friends and followers; but all my posts also will disappear in my friends’ wall easily;
  3. Browser is no longer the primary way to read / share news, therefore there is a need to share also directly from apps like Flipboard and Zite;

Then I came across a very neat solution – the Buffer. Buffer let you first, with a centralized dashboard, create a queue for each of your social networks. And then you can create posts to put into those queues.

Then those posts in the queue will be posted orderly to the designated social network automatically according to a sending schedule. For example in the following screen you will find that I have created four sending times for my Linkedin network.

These two features alone, have solved the first two issues above. The next problem to solve is how to share your posts from other apps. Buffer created Chrome Extension, Safari Bookmarklet (for your iPad and iPhone) and even a special secret email address such that you can send your post to the queues via email.

Lastly, Buffer even includes an analytic screen to let you see how your posts perform – e.g. number of click-thru and retweets etc.

All in all, it is a very good tool to manage your sharings. If you are serious about social media sharing, I suggest you to give Buffer a try and it is the best solution for now.

Google+ as the communication platform

First of all, a disclaimer, I am not a big fan of Google … even though I am / was an user of their Gmail, Search Engine, AdSense, Google+, Maps, Earth, Picasa, Wave, Buzz, Lively, Analytics, Webmasters, Docs, Apps etc. etc. I am just a big fan of innovative products, and Google is one (a big one though) of many companies that developed many innovative solutions. For example, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and even Microsoft, just to name a few.

The recent launch of Google+ from Google however make me think twice about what I can do with it. Is it a “social network” to post my opinions, share my photos, chat with friends ? Or is it a copycat of Facebook or Twitter ? Or is it a whole new Internet communication platform ?

It’s too early to answer these questions of course, but just from the way it “Share what’s new” to the way to show the various “Streams” I think it is a new communication platform. Let’s have a look:

One Google+ user, Mike Elgan, posted the following the other day:

Instead of saying, “I’m going to write a blog post now,” or “I’m going to send an e-mail” or “I think I’ll tweet something” you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.

  • If you address it to “Public” it’s a blog post.
  • If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.
  • If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.
  • If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I can further add / fine-tune the followings:

  • If you address it to your “Company” Circle it’s a company newsletter.
  • If you address it to “Public” and limited it to 140 characters, then it’s a tweet.
  • If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s like a Facebook status update.

Other than sending, the different ways you show the “streams” also means different approaches of modern days’ communication. For example,

  • show the streams from “Friends” circle is like the wall posts in your Facebook, and
  • show the streams from “Following” circle is like viewing an expanded version of all the tweets from Twitter.

And of course, I can do Hangout to have video chats with many friends at the same time, and I can have group messaging with Huddle with mobile apps. Lastly, with the Chrome browser extensions (e.g. G+ Count in Title, G+me and Start G+), the features of Google+ is keep expanding, fine-tuning and advancing.

Let me know how you use your Google+, and here is my Google+ account.

Comparison of iPad news reading apps

I wrote about how to make the news comes to you, so the natural next step is find a good tool to read / consume the news. While iPhone is my everyday mobile device, but to read news, iPad is really better. So I installed 4 iPad apps – Flipboard, Zite, MobileRSS and Twitter to find my ideal tool to read news; and here is the comparison – how I read an HBR news with the four applications.

Note that it is not an “evaluation report” as I believe each of us have different evaluation criteria and therefore this post will focus how I read the same news with different programs. Lastly, iPad is still not a good tool to read books, Kindle is much better, but it is another story.

Flipboard

Rated the best iPad application in 2010 and I think most of iPad users have this installed. To connect to the news, just select one of the predefined news sources or you can connect the apps to your Twitter account. Following is the screen shot of the news The Only Thing that Really Matters from HBR.

As you can see the apps strip off all the ads, headers and other elements but only show you the news . Of course you can see the original news if you “click” the source link but in essence, the presentation is pretty plain …

Zite

This apps’ tagline is “Personalized Magazine” and indeed you can feed in many news sources to it and also connect your Twitter feeds to it. One thing different from Flipboard is it does not support your Facebook friends’ feeds (yet). Following is the same news from HBR. As you can see the presentation format is pretty good. You can also “inform” the tool that you like this type of news or the source of the news (i.e. HBR in that case), then the program is smart enought to feed more news similar to that (in that case, business news) or from the same source.

MobileRSS

If your news sources are mainly website RSS but not Twitter and Facebook, then MobileRSS is also a good choice. One thing I don’t like much is the all black default color scheme (you can change it to other themes) and you will see some sponsor ads. See below …

Twitter

The last news apps is in fact the Twitter for iPad, and obviously the main news sources are your followers. Since many websites provide both RSS and Tweets, you therefore can use this to view many news. Unlike the above tools, however, it renders the HBR news like what a browser will do … in other words, you will also see the banner ads in the page; and you need to scroll more to see the whole news article.

Summary

All four tools are great for their own purposes, however, none of them are perfect to my purpose yet. If I have to choose, I think I will use Zite more …

Make the news comes to you

Working in a media company has one obvious advantage – we can get information and news first hand from around the world easily. For example, we could watch our own TV channels live and followed every bit of news of the Japan earthquake three months ago or the Osama Bin Laden raid last month. However, if you’re not working in a media company, how can you get the latest news around the world in a timely fashion?

You probably don’t want to check all the newspaper, TV and radio channels, or even mobile apps when you want to know the latest news. I reckon there is one better way … in the world of social networks. That is, make the news comes to you.

Yes, don’t check the latest news by yourself, but let the news comes to you thru the social networks. To do that, you need to however go through some steps – pick your friends carefully, follow the right tweeters, select your favorite newsfeeds, and install the right mobile applications.

Pick your friends carefully

You all know your friends can post their status and sharings in your Facebook wall. So you have a choice, your wall with lots of “I am eating …”, “I am partying with …”, “I am flying to …” etc. etc. or your wall with good, timely and insightful news. Here is how to build your wall with all quality news:

  1. Go to “Accounts” in the upper right corner, select “Edit friends” in the pull down list.
  2. Click the “Create a List” on top, enter a name of the list such as “News”.
  3. Then, the most important part – select friends that shares quality news and insightful status, then click “Create List”.
  4. Lastly, go back to your Facebook homepage, click the “Most Recent” on top, and select the list “News”. Voila, you have all the quality news from your friends, in your very own wall.

Follow the right tweeters

Of course not all your Facebook friends are industry experts or journalists in areas you like to go in detail. Another way to get the latest news is to follow the right tweeters. Join the twitter.com, and follow some good tweeters. Or check out any good blogs, then follow the bloggers (you will probably find the “Follow me” button in their blogs). There are hundreds of blogs in the Internet about how to find the good tweeters, so I will not repeat here. However, don’t forget to “Unfollow” some of the tweeters if they are not tweeting the news you want, or just spammers.

Select your favorite newsfeeds

One more new sources are reputable websites – news sites, technology sites etc. etc. Just visit those sites, find the RSS feed button and subscribe to the feeds. You can find many newsreader software in the market to manage those feeds, but to me, my favorite is the Google Reader.

Lastly, install the best mobile applications for news

With the tablets like iPad, it is really a good way to “consume” news. There are a few good apps for iPad to let you read the news your way, check out the comparison of Zite, Flipboard, MobileRSS and Twitter iPad version.

What to share and what your friends all care about ?

WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Plurk, Foursquare, Gowalla … there are so many “networking” sites in Internet that you can access everyday from your laptop, cafe PCs and your mobile devices. Many times I ask myself why I want to share with my friends or a total stranger of what I am thinking, where I am and how to resolve some tricky problems.

I think the answer is simple, because many of us want to be a part of larger group, a good cause, or simply of something you care.

Not a frequent blogger, twitter myself but every time I want to post something on these social networks, I can’t help but to ask myself what the purpose of that blog post, tweet, news, or location is ? The information may be about Kindle, iPhone, photography, Information technology, web usability, food but the bottom line is – will my “friends” or “followers” benefit from it ? If not, then why post ?

Couple of days ago when I was reading the book Delivering Happiness : A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, a picture popped up in my mind.

That was, all these “information” I wanted to post in these networks actually intersect with each others and each of the intersections may serve a different group of my audiences. Then I drew the following picture / graph … about how I want to serve you, as my friend; with my expertise, news, views and where-abouts.

Getting freebies with Twitter

You probably know with good use of Twitter, you can fix your hotel reservation issue and even get a free dessert / appetizer. What about getting some freebies by just tweeting? You can certainly do that by:

  1. Writing a tweet about how good a company is;
  2. Writing one to complaint a company instead;
  3. Telling the world that you’re fixing a software problem, specify the company’s name in your tweet;
  4. Letting people know that you’re evaluating a website’s products / services, don’t forget the company’s name.

You know what, the companies mention in your tweets will not send you free stuff, but their competitors will as they are constantly monitoring any tweets about their rivals. For example, two hours after I tweeted about evaluating an image website …

Free credits