The Mid-2012 Apple Airport Express is Sweet

Just wanted to show some fanboy love here for my latest Apple device – the updated (mid-2012) Airport Express. After recently moving out to Las Vegas (more on that some other time) I picked up the fastest internet I could manage – Cox Communication’s PowerBoost 25+ Mbps. That’s about double what I was getting in Orange County through Time Warner, so I couldn’t wait to check it out.

Apple Airport Express Mid-2012 Refresh

Once the install was done, I hooked up the router (a 4+ year old D-Link) only to get about 4-6mbps. Nothing close to what I’m going to be paying for. The technician verified all the connections (and actually they were really cool about running a fresh line to the house) and when the laptop was run straight to the modem I was getting 30mpbs (sweet!). But the router was just too old.

So, hearing about the latest Apple release of the Airport Express, I was curious. Would it have enough “oomph” to handle the needs of a full household of internet marauders. We’re talking 4 people running streaming video, streaming gaming, multiple Dropboxes, site FTP’s, and online video management. Loads of power. I called my dad to get his thoughts on the Airport Express, and he also couldn’t see a reason not to give it a shot (instead of dropping another $80 (plus tax) on the Airport Express). Continue reading The Mid-2012 Apple Airport Express is Sweet

Google Should Make a CMS… Right Now.

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit over the last couple days, and I’ve come to this conclusion. Google should be making a Content Management System (CMS). Right now.

I’m not talking about their existing website product, Google Sites. That’s just a Google version of Geocities, with less dancing babies. No, what I’m talking about is a full-blown WordPress, Drupal, Joomla competitor. They have the capability to do it, and they DEFINITELY have the incentive.

“What was traditional site content of the past decade – essays, posts, pictures, etc. is now moving away from open.”

Look at the modern web through Google’s eyes. It’s fragmenting. What was traditional site content of the past decade – essays, posts, pictures, etc. is now moving away from open. Obviously Google’s biggest threat is Facebook – and now that they’re a public company, the shareholders are going to nudge the company to embrace more open competition to Google directly. Continue reading Google Should Make a CMS… Right Now.

Another New Toy… Tweet Pull Quote Plugin for WordPress

Jeff [@JeffTurner] asked me yesterday for a plugin, and I figured I might as well oblige. It seemed pretty straightforward, and let me keep my plugin-chops up to date. So, without further ado, I introduce: Tweet Pull Quote plugin. I’ll probably submit it to the repo in a little while, but for the time being, I’ll have it available for download on my site in the WordPress Sandbox.

“Jeff wanted the ability to create a pull-quote that included a Tweet button.”

The idea behind the plugin is simple. Jeff wanted the ability to create a pull-quote that included a Tweet button. Hence, the name Tweet Pull Quote. Apparently, I was feeling especially literal today so the name is sticking. To use it, just add the short-code “pq” to any piece of text: {pq}This is my quote here{/pq} (replace {} with []). Short and sweet.

“You can also choose to make it appear on the right side”

There are 3 settings: You can choose from small, medium, or large font for your pull quotes, and you can also choose to have a black bar separating the quote from your content if you’d like. There’s also a setting to save your Twitter screen name, so the tweets will include an @mention to you when people use it. You can also choose to make it appear on the right side by using “pq align=right” as the shortcode.

One notable feature – the pull quote is retained in the post body content. Some of the other quote plugins I found would remove the quoted text (as a callout) from the body. But to me, that’s not a good parallel to print, where the quote is something you’ll find in the text itself. So in this case, the text is retained, and the quote is moved to the top of the paragraph that the quote appears within. That way, you can quote anywhere in your content, and it should appear correctly.

So, there you have it! Tweet Pull Quote for WordPress. Have fun!

Download the plugin here: Dave’s WordPress Sandbox

Meet TwitShowdown

This post was generated by Dashter

Over the past few weeks, I’ve really been trying to pay attention to the pro’s and con’s of Twitter. Part of that’s due to the fact that I shut down my Facebook account, in an attempt to see what the non-Facebook Internet still felt like.

Kelly and I had an interesting back-and-forth based partly around the idea that we follow people at odd intervals. Sure, it’s easy to add the first 20-100 people you follow on Twitter because you know them in real life. But then you start following people you’ve never met. And even the people who we know (or know of) don’t always tweet how we expect them to.

So this idea started forming – the notion of giving a way to easily swoop in to your account for the express purpose of unfollowing people. It wasn’t a “Dashter” feature – this was a unique little activity that needed a unique place to go.

Lose the Losers is right! Continue reading Meet TwitShowdown

The WP Feedback Dilemma

So I was thinking a bit about what keeps us all from posting more frequently on WordPress. Though obviously there are numerous reasons, a couple of basic ideas came to mind…

You know… This is one of the most compelling reasons I started working on Dashter, and it gets forgotten (or more correctly; overlooked) by me so frequently. The bridge between blogging and modern social media seems more related to the time to get a response + engagement than about anything different in messaging. On Twitter, you post a tweet, and either something happens or it doesn’t. In 5 minutes, you’re over it. Essentially the same is true on Facebook… Your “friends” will like or comment on the things that they like or find comment-worthy. The other stuff will just drift in to the abstract. On a blog post – well, for most of us – we click the “Publish” button and then go in to some sort of odd purgatory. We’re banished to the realm of marketing and self promotion. We’re wondering which keyword phrases Google will pick up in 5 months. We’re stuck.

This tweet caught my eye just because it both proved my point; and also happened to be titled something I reasonably agree with. In this case, the author is apparently either (a) planting the seeds for his audience or (b) just wanted to share that he wrote a post. Both are legitimate uses for Twitter. Again, publishing on WordPress is a strange double-edged sword. You’re creating WAY more content, you’re likely articulating a vision or an idea, and you’re able to add rich media elements to amplify your point. But, unlike social channels (which typically don’t let you choose layout & style, don’t let you cross-pollinate media types, and generally have some sort of limitation (either strict or etiquette-driven)), blogging doesn’t provide that fast-feedback mechanism. Creating after-publishing immediate gratification + immediate feedback is kinda a big deal. But it’s so frequently overlooked as a subject of concern in the WP development field.

The Life of Publishing Posts

And then once it’s published; time to wait for it to get read! The waiting never ends.

Ahh, the famous “I’ve forced myself to be compliant with myself” problem. Featured images are a double-edged sword in WordPress. The better WP themes should provide clean support with or without, so you can just get through the writing process.

Thanks for Reading!

Let me know what you think – is WordPress post publishing too arduous?

Social Scheduling

Social Tools Should Be Useful

Name any social or online content platform, and you’ll likely hear a great debate raging about scheduling. The problem with the always-on 24/7 digital lifestyle is that all too often, you end up with tools that aren’t focused on delivering results… They’re just delivering special effects.

This is a great point – social scheduling is helpful under certain circumstances, but in general you will want to also maintain an active and robust dialogue online. It’s one of the reasons we designed Dashter with the Auto-Post hold feature. Certain automatically-generated tweets can now be postponed until after you’ve posted a “human” message on Twitter. That prevents the automated part of Dashter from overwhelming your human followers.

Jeff, You’re Wrong… But for the Right Reasons

So I just finished reading Jeff Turner’s (@Respres) post on his site: Kenya Exposed More Than Just My Emotions and I felt compelled to deliver a response. Jeff has that effect on his audience – part of what makes him worth following and paying attention to. But I’m a snarky sonofabitch who can’t help but speak up.

The gist of his post was this:

It’s been a week since I’ve updated my public Twitter or Facebook stream. I don’t think anyone has noticed. It’s noisy in both places, lots of people are vying for attention. And I have no desire to broadcast this post on either one of them. I’ve unchecked the “Publish to Twitter” box on this post. I realize that will mean fewer people will ever know this post is here. I don’t care.

And that’s fine. But you’re wrong. For the right reasons, to be sure, but you’ve fallen for a fallacy that I can’t help but call out. Correlation is not causality. People (well, at least myself) noticed your absence, but also respected the fact that you were on a legitimate adventure. That’s worth experiencing in its entirety because it’s not something you get to experience every day.

But imagining that the world is better because you’re NOT adding to the collective conversation is… well, it’s false logic. You’re blaming the network for the noise, but then not adding signal to the stream. That’s backwards. You choosing to disable the “Publish to Twitter” button means that the quality of dialogue is diminished; not improved. [And besides, that one checkbox took me hours to figure out how to build – have some appreciation! Hehehe…]

I’m rambling, so let me get back to the point. The simple fact of the matter is that we’re all participating in a connected environment that has never been imagined. We’re still building it – and there’s a lot of junk to sift through. There’s lots of noise. Our attention spans are pulled in a thousand directions at once. Focus & presence is at a premium. But the reality is that once you have that attention – the attention of an audience – it’s your responsibility to raise the level of discourse to new heights. Abandoning your audience doesn’t provide value for anyone – you or them.

You have the opportunity to educate us. You have the opportunity to share your journey, to share what it meant to you, and to share what you want us to take away from it. You have the opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges and obstacles that exist for the girls that you’ve made part of your life – and to empower us to support them and the millions like them. You have the opportunity to tell a story that compels positive action. Or, you can choose not to. Those are your choices.

You’re part-owner in a piece of social media software designed to create better conversations – to build better dialogue. It shouldn’t come at the cost of looking people face-to-face and discussing what matters. It should compliment it. It should improve upon it. It should broaden our horizons and raise our perspectives. This software isn’t perfect yet; but that perfection is worth striving for. It’s why I keep chipping away at the boulder. If your trip has inspired ways of improving how we pay attention to each other – let’s build it.

There are all kinds of communities. Should we spend more time in the physical ones and perhaps better focus (and reduce) our attention while in the virtual ones? Absolutely. And, should you have paid attention to Head Mutha while she was talking with you? Damn straight.

Welcome back.

Why Schedule Tweets?

Over the last couple weeks I’ve had the chance to have several good conversations about social scheduling. One of the areas of discussion (specifically related to Dashter) is – why schedule tweets?

It’s a good question – and requires having a little familiarity with Twitter, but here’s my short answers…

Etiquette: When someone logs on to Twitter, they’re going to see a stream of the latest tweets in their “home” display. This is true for most clients like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck as well. Generally, there’s an implicit assumption that when you log in you’ll see a stream of the latest tweets from around your social circle. But, if someone you’re following logs in and posts all their tweets all at once, that tweet stream fills up with just them. It’s not particularly courteous.

You’re Missing the Spread: One of the best advantages to spreading your tweets out throughout the day is that you can cover the whole audience. Remember – 7am on the East Coast is 4am on the West Coast – and that’s just in the US. If you’re trying to reach / appeal to a global audience, the clock never stops – and twitter adoption continues to rise globally. Remember, Twitter is attempting to position itself as the “universal” social network thanks to the low adoption threshold (140 text characters can be managed by just about any cell phone on the planet) – so global audience & reach is essential. Assume that your audience logs in to Twitter once or twice per day and scans 20-30 tweets, and that’s it. Wouldn’t you like to increase the odds that they’ll see your tweet?

Tweets Don’t Last Very Long: There’s a couple schools of thought in terms of “how long” a tweet lasts on the network. That’s because of the signal vs. noise challenge. In general, I’ve heard that Tweets have a “lifespan” of anywhere from 5-15 minutes; all the way up to 2 hours. After that, it really has run its course. By and large, people don’t interact with Tweets older than a few minutes.

Maintain Multiple Conversations: If you get involved in a couple simultaneous conversations on Twitter, suddenly you will be posting multiple replies over a span of a very short period of time. By scheduling tweets, you can spread out the likelihood of holding one conversation at a time – allowing you to carry on better one-on-one conversations than if you have to have many at the same time.

The Signal vs Noise Challenge: There is a lot of noise on Twitter. Even the best selected group of people to follow will result in a wealth of conversations and “starters” that really don’t matter to you. The same will be true of the people who follow you… Some people will be deeply engaged, but generally few will be interested in your individual messages. That’s the advantage of the short lifespan of a Tweet. But how do you overcome the noise? By seeding your tweets throughout the day via scheduling, you’ll have more chances to have your message reach its audience and provide true signal than if you posted all your messages simultaneously.

Heavy Active User Paradox: It would make sense that your messages will be more effective if the people you engage with, follow, and follow-back were all heavy active users on Twitter. They’d be ready to spread your message, right? But the paradox is that active users on Twitter tend to interact and engage with heavily active users on Twitter. So the signal processing gets overrun again…

Here’s what I mean: If you are followed by someone who follows 10 people (and each person posts 1 message per day) you have a 1/10 (10%) chance of being “read.”

But if the person who follows you follows 100 people, and each person posts 10 times per day, any single message now has a “read” chance of 1/(100*10): 0.1%.

That’s the challenge with Twitter – as people find more interesting people to follow they end up hitting a wall of signal. So how do you improve the likelihood that your message will at a minimum get viewed (and hopefully RT’d, quoted, replied-to, or curated)? You schedule your tweets to spread them across the potential audience-online timeframe.

Remember – if someone logs in to Twitter and browses through their last few messages, they’re only 1-click away from your profile to view all your latest tweets, so your tweets should always be interesting and a reflection of you. You want your messages to be quality and consequential, but you ultimately want them to be read and ideally engaged with. By using scheduling, you can reach a broader audience, have better engagement with the people who follow you, and improve your objective outcomes on Twitter.

Showing off Curation

This post was generated by Dashter

There’s a contest!

Here’s another curated thing! 🙂