Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Three Reasons That Better Search Engine Results May Not Help Your Business

Posted by telecommatt on January 13, 2008

When I talk with people about the web, my audience is often the owner of a small business or a professional who is interested in using the web to market themselves. I’m often asked what they can do to make their website appear closer to the top in the search engine results. Hardly surprising– You’ve spent time and money on your site and you want people to be able to find it! My answer, however, tends to catch people off guard. Getting your website closer to the top of the page on Google may not be a sound investment for your business.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the internet is its increasingly global reach. Creating search results, from the perspective of a business owner, is somewhat like flying around the world and randomly dropping your business cards on unsuspecting victims. This forces one to consider how much your business depends on people showing up at your door. Will it help fill your Yoga class in New York if someone in Yorkshire finds it on Yahoo?

One other question to consider is one of opportunity cost. Whether you pay someone to manage your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy or choose to undertake things yourself, you will spend significant time or money doing so. The problem is that you are advertising to the whole internet. The whole wonderful, amazing, global internet. So, will that help you? Or could that investment of time or money be better spent on focused marketing closer to home?

The last question that I urge people to think about before deciding on an SEO strategy is what their strategy is for generating repeat business. Internet users are notoriously un-loyal customers. People search the net for the best bargains, as is evidenced by the success of low fair websites such as Travelocity. If your business generates a significant percentage of it’s income from repeat customers, such as a stylist might, the internet is a tough place to find customers.

I put these questions on the table to highlight how your internet marketing strategy is increasingly an integral part of your overall business strategy. The answer to the question of better search engine results comes down to the question of why you are on the internet in the first place. A website that sells widgets can probably quantify money spent on SEO strategy, whereas a nutritional counselor might be hard pressed to find a return on their investment.

Even if you run a service-oriented business, like a car wash, that relies entirely on people who walk through your door, I’m certainly not suggesting that you ignore your website. What I am suggesting is that you explore other strategies that can increase your internet presence. I’ll cover some of those alternatives in a further article, but for now, the challenge is to dig deeper into why you have a presence on the internet and what you want your website to accomplish for you.

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Posted in Blogging | 4 Comments »

A Sophisticated RSS-Enabled Listening Device

Posted by telecommatt on January 12, 2008

5 Starter Moves – Listening and Hearing Come Before Speaking : [chrisbrogan.com]

It’s a lot of pushing and shoving to show someone why they should use blogs

I feel like I’ve been talking an awful lot about Chris Brogan, but his social media blog is quickly becoming one of my most consistently read Google Reader feeds. I am totally inline with his suggestion that Google Reader is more than just a blog reader, that it’s in fact a sophisticated RSS-enabled listening device.

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Disqus Launches Open Public Beta

Posted by telecommatt on October 29, 2007

Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to spend some time speaking with Daniel Ha of Dispus . Disqus is an advanced blog commenting system, and Daniel was nice enough to give me a pre-launch tour. I’ve been biting my tongue, so to speak, because I was asked not to post anything before today’s launch of the public beta.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to demo it on this blog since the wordpress .com blogs choke on javascript , but I’ve pulled together a few screenshots and I’ll briefly talk about some of the major features.

Disqus1

This is the first page you see when you log in at Disqus .com. From here, you’ve got a number of options. You can join discussions (disqussions ?) that are already in progress. You can add your own blog to the discussion. You can create a forum. Or you can view and monitor comments you’ve made.

Disqus2

Creating a new forum is dead simple. Choose an interesting title. Your forum gets it’s own permanent subdomain at yourforum.disqus.com.

Disqus3

Disqus currently integrates with Blogger, WordPress (not WordPress.com), Typad , and MoveableType , and there is also a javascript snippet available for those not on one of the above platforms.

Disqus4

The look of your forum is completely customizable , so your forum can look exactly like your blog. The forum structure is also flexible, allowing you to add sub-topics and categories to your forum.

Disqus6

This is a shot of Disqus in action. There are a few things to point out here. First is anonymous posting. Anonymous posting is an option that is controlled by the forum owner. Also, the user can register without being distracted from their post. The menu below this allows you to navigate straight to the forum for this discussion. You can also sort comments. (As opposed to a traditional comment or discussion that you would view chronologically.) This is a really great touch because it allows you to keep on top of the parts of the discussion that are moving without wading through tons of dead end commentary. I should mention that what makes a comment “Hot” or “Best” is a user rating system. If you hover over a user, you are shown their current reputation. A user’s reputation carries across theDisqus network.

Disqus7

This is Daniel’s user page. There a lot of things happening here. (Including one of the better profile pics I’ve seen!) This page shows how many people are following you and how many people you are following. You’ll see comments from friends in the Disqus network. This is basically micro-blogging type stuff, except it offers a lot more flexibility in how you interact than does, say, Twitter, in that you see everything that you or your friends post across anyDisqus forum from here.

Daniel also walked me through a few things of the back side of the forum. Comments can be easily removed, active users can be assigned as moderators, and spam is killed by a double pass through their own spam filtering software as well asAkismet .

Honestly, when I was first contacted about Disqus , I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t see a need. After having spent some time with their product, I have to say that I’m impressed. I like how micro-blogging is integrated especially. When I asked about the beta label, I was told that the only reason their calling it a beta is because they plan to just keep rolling out more features and making the product more robust. I’m sure that there’s a few features that Daniel pointed out that I didn’t go over here, so feel free leave any comments on my brand newDisqus forum.

Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Blogging | 6 Comments »

Download Squad Looks At Offline Blogging Apps

Posted by telecommatt on October 10, 2007

Head-to-head smackdown: Live Writer versus Ecto – Download Squad

There are two fantastic options for offline blogging (that is, managing a blog without using the web-based browser interface the blogging service provides).

This is a good article, but I’ve never really felt the need to manage my blogs offline. Have you? What are the advantages?

Posted in Blogging | Leave a Comment »

Matt’s Cuppa List of Essential Firefox Extensions

Posted by telecommatt on October 8, 2007

I’ve decided to compile a list of the Firefox browser extensions that I currently use. It’s not a list of the best or most promising or guaranteed-to-increase-your-productivity extensions, it’s just the ones that make my life easier at the moment.

Over the past few years, Firefox has become an indispensable application on any machine I spend a fair amount of time at. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer can’t match the flexibility and security and Opera’s web browser, which I believe is actually a better browser, doesn’t support browser extensions in the same way that Firefox does.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself needing the same Firefox browser extensions on three different machines. In the past, I’ve gotten around this by running PortableFirefox, a part of the equally-indispensable PortableApps.com Suite, from a USB drive. This time around I’m not allowed to connect my USB drive. So, since I have to take stock of my extensions anyway, it looked like a great time to post an article. And, since it was by reading articles like this one that I found  many of these extensions, it seemed like a good time to give back. Feel free to add comments or contact me.

Advanced Eyedropper, ColorPicker, Page Zoomer and other colorful goodies…

I use the eyedropper most. Great designing themes. I hate having a million little applications installed on my machine when I can get the same functionality from a Firefox extension.

** Add persistent highlights and sticky notes to anywhere on any webpage…

I do a lot with Diigo. I am four Diigo bookmarks short of 1000. I use Diigo to create short blog posts and to manage my Daily auto-posts. And it’s all done through this extension.

Shows
you a relevant Wikipedia article along with your search results.
Clicking links in the article will trigger new Google searches, making
it a very useful research tool…

I love this one! Search Wikipedia and Google at the same time. Do a Google search and on one side are your search results and on the other side is a Wikipedia article, if one’s available. If it can’t find a Wikipedia article for your search it comes up with some pretty strange stuff though.

Allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript. …

I only use this for a few sites. This is a massively useful and flexible tool though. Libraries upon libraries of scripts to use with it as well.

The
quickest and easiest way to get things done on the Web: Search,
References, Conversion, Translation , Shopping, Blogging, Tagging,
Email & more in a single click. Over 200 quick commands available.

I wasn’t originally going to put this one on the list. I use it for only a handful of the apparently 200 some commands.

Have
you ever wished you could add your two cents to a site—anywhere
you wanted—not just in the itty bitty blog area?
Have you ever wished you could email a web page with your comments
inside it?

This is a really great tool for commenting on long articles and blog posts. You comment inline so it’s always relevant. Any page you comment on has a permalink that you can post or email.

ScribeFire
(previously Performancing for Firefox) is a full-featured blog editor
that integrates with your browser and lets you easily post to your blog.

ScribeFire is like an app inside an app. I use this extension for nearly all of my blog posts. It opens at the bottom of your browser screen and support drag and drop from the browser window to the ScribeFire pane.

TinyUrl
brings the http://tinyurl.com functionality into your browser. It takes
a long URL as input, and gives you a short URL to use in it’s…

A must have to Twitter, Facebook, etc. It eats big ugly URLs and spits out little short ones. Right mouse click on an URL and it can copy it’s TinyUrl into your clipboard.
Post to Twitter from your address bar

Twitterbar has a neat feature where if you Twitterbar hit the icon on the right side of your address bar, it’ll post “Currently browsing <whatever site you’re browsing>.

Google Gears (BETA)

Google Gears is an open source browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline.

The reason I use this extension is so that I can view my Remember the Milk tasks offline.

Zoho Notebook plugin

Zoho Notebook

I’m just getting started with Zoho Notebook. I love the Zoho products, but there’s just so many of them that it’s hard to actually use all of them. Zoho Notebook is like the Adobe Photoshop of online note taking apps. It does pretty much everything, which means it can be almost overwhelming. This extension makes it easier to manage though.

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Posted in Blogging, Diigo, Firefox, Geekstuff | 2 Comments »

Matt’s Cuppa Soup Is On

Posted by telecommatt on October 1, 2007

Matt’s Cuppa Soup

I’m on Soup! Keep checking my Soup for new, um, ingredients? I like it because it’s not Facebook. See you at Matt’s Cuppa Soup.

 

Posted in Blogging | Leave a Comment »

Checking Out Soup Because It’s Not Facebook!

Posted by telecommatt on October 1, 2007

Demo Girl has a nice overview of tumblelog service, Soup. My first reaction was, “Yawn…another blogging platform.” However, after watching Molly’s screencast, Soup is starting to grow on me. Maybe I’m just getting tired of hearing about Facebook. Maybe this is the anti-Facebook! Either way, Molly does a great job, as usual, and I’m on my way to try out Soup.

Get tumblelogging with Soup

A tumblelog
is a type of blog that allows you to quickly add content, to your own
page, that you can share with friends and family.  This can be
brief text, video, images, and links.  You don’t need to
worry about creating a title for your posts or placing them into
categories.  Just add the link to whatever you want to share, and
you’re done.  Today I checked out Soup,
which gives you an extremely easy way to start your very own
tumblelog.  You don’t even need to sign up to get started,
although it did take me a while to figure out exactly how to
sign up.  You can customize the look of your Soup page, to some
degree, and even add feeds from other sites you belong to like Twitter
or Flickr.  Here’s my screencast tour of Soup:

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Google Shared Stuff = Instant Link Blog

Posted by telecommatt on September 21, 2007

Shared Stuff from telecommatt

The very first thing I read when I opened Google Reader this morning was this post by Demo Girl about Google’s new Shared Stuff feature. As you know, I’m all about link blogging, and Shared Stuff is all about instant link blog. I’m currently link blogging in two different places. I share RSS items of interest on another Google page. And web pages that are of interest I share on my Diigo home page.

That said, it will take a lot to make me change the way I’m doing things now, but I’m still going to give Shared Stuff a test ride. I’ll be sharing things I find throughout the next few days on my own Shared Stuff page. You can view my page here or subscribe via RSS here.

As always, Molly’s screencast does an excellent job of laying things out, so I encourage you to give it a watch. A few things I’ve noticed so far:

  • It’s slow. The Share button brings up a new window, which takes a few more seconds to load than I’d like. Not so good  if you want to tag and move on.
  • Too many new windows. The Share button opens a new window, and then if you want to preview your view your Shared page, that, too, opens in a new window. I’m using Firefox so I don’t have to deal with dozens of open windows.
  • Can’t change the page titles. There doesn’t seem to be a way to change the way Google displays the title of a Shared item. For example, Molly’s demo page shows up on my Shared Stuff as “Created by Camtasia Studio 4”. That’s not going to help me remember what I saved. I’d like to be able to change that to something more meaningful.
  • I’d like to see this combined with the Shared Items on my Google Reader. Seems a waste to have to maintain two Google pages, one for RSS items and one for web items. Not to mention, I’m going to have a terrible time remembering which Google page I used to share something if I’m trying to find it again.

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Posted in Blogging, Diigo, Google | 1 Comment »

Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup for 9-08-07

Posted by telecommatt on September 8, 2007

I’m somewhat behind in my reading my RSS feeds this week, so here’s a mashup of articles that caught my attention. Please contact me regarding anything you see that you would like me to go into more detail on.

Crazymenu – Group ordering made simple

from Demo Girl by demogirlCrazymenu
is aimed at office workers and people trying to coordinate meals with
their friends. It’s also another great place to find reviews and
menus for restaurants in your area.

DOJ: No legislation for Network Neutrality

Filed under: , ,

Along
with the Web 2.0 movement came a huge push for Network Neutrality, a
cause whose proponents demand that all access to the Internet occur as
equally as possible. In other words, AT&T can’t charge Google more
to transfer a byte of data because Google has figured out a way to make
more money off of AT&T’s bandwidth than AT&T themselves can do.

Intype

An
intuitive code editor for Windows with lightning fast response. It’s
extensible and customizable, thanks in part to its support for
scripting and native plug-ins. It makes development in any programming
or scripting language quick and easy.

Sleep: How and Why to Power Nap

Few skills are as useful for a Friday afternoon as the rewarding power
nap. The Ririan Project introduces 10 benefits to power napping and
details four styles of power nap: nano nap (10 to 20 seconds), micro
nap (two to five minutes), mini nap (five to 20 minutes), lazy man’s
nap (50 to 90 minutes) and the traditional power nap (exactly 20
minutes).

DIY: Create a Minimalist Laptop Case

diy_laptop.jpg

Using just cardboard and duct tape, you can create a laptop case that
serves as good protection against scuffs and scratches. The end result
is a laptop case that is practical, stylish, and won’t break your
budget. It might not be as soft or as cuddly as the previously covered DIY T-shirt laptop case,
but it certainly gets the job done, and you have a little more
flexibility with design (choosing the color tape, or even adding
decorative stickers) with this one.

How to Make a Minimalistic (and Cheap) Laptop Case [Instructables]

Why Is The Justice Department Commenting On Net Neutrality?

There’s been a fair amount of chatter over the Justice Department’s decision to comment to the FCC about network neutrality,
but there’s been almost no discussion as to why the Justice Department
should be involved at all. It’s true that the DOJ covers anti-trust
issues, but this isn’t about a merger or the potential to create a
monopoly.

10 Micro-Blogging Tools Compared


Micro-blogging is a term described by Wikipedia
as “a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates
(usually less than 200 characters) and publish them, either to be
viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the
user”. Several startups have witnessed phenomenal growth with
micro-blogging services, most notably Twitter. In addition, numerous social networks – including Facebook and Bebo
– have integrated similar status update services. The space is hot and
it’s still heating up. So let’s take a look at 10 of the key players.

Google GrandCentral Review

UPDATE: 
I just realized that I have some invites for people to get into the
beta for this, if you’re interested leave a comment or email me.

Do you think that in five years you will still have a home number, a
work number, a cell number, and multiple email addresses?  I
don’t, I haven’t for a while.  I’m a pretty firm
believer that in a couple of years we’ll only have one ID which
will work converge all incoming and outgoing communications
channels.  I think that eventually it’ll take the form of a
URI (e.g. jasonkolb@atmy.name),
but for now I’m pretty pleased to have narrowed down all my phone
numbers to one number.  As of yesterday, I only have one phone
number, at least until I get to use my URI.  I have seen the
future of personal communication, and Google GrandCentral is on the right track.

MattsCuppa Note: I have been using GrandCentral for business since it it first entered the market as a beta. I’m continually surprised by people “discovering” it’s usefulness. I’m certain that GC’s purchase by Google has put it in the spotlight in a bigger way than GC could have done by themselves, but GC is not a new product, and the concept harkens back to the days of telecommunications deregulation and universal number portability, if not earlier.

5000+ Resources to Do Just About Anything Online

    5000.PNG

Since May 2007, we’ve been bringing you resources and tools to
be more productive on the web. Due to popular demand, we’ve
brought all these lists together into one gigantic meta-list: 5000+
Resources to Do Just About Anything Online.

LiveStation: Microsoft’s Joost Rival Debuts at IBC

LiveStation,
the service that lets you watch broadcast television online using
Silverlight, is being debuted in Europe at IBC. Read our initial post here.
You’ll remember that with LiveStation, you’ll get access
to an array of live radio and television channels to your computer.
This is, of course, different than video on-demand services like rival Joost,
which operate by enabling you to select which videos you’d like
to watch, and when. The service uses a peer-to-peer network for
scalability purposes. Built by Skinkers, LiveStation’s parent
company is a Microsoft participated company, and its P2P distribution
technology comes directly from Microsoft.

40+ Ways To Access Your Computer Remotely

    remoteaccess.PNG

There are lots of reasons why you’d want to access your PC remotely, and luckily there are also plenty of ways to do so. Crossloop is one of the simplest (it’s also free), but for those willing to venture further, you’ve got lots of options.
Excuse us while we get technical for a second. This list is divided
into four main sections: VNC (Virtual Network Computing), NX, remote
desktop and cross-protocol. If those terms mean nothing to you, you
might want to skip to the “other” section for the most
straightforward applications. That said, let’s begin. (more…)

NoteSake Supports All Languages & Exports to Word

notesake-l.png

NoteSake, the note-taking and organization tool, has added two new features to improve its service.
Language support has been added, so now NoteSake supports Russian,
Spanish, Latin and more, letting you take notes in any language you
need to. You can also export your notes to PDF and Microsoft Word,
making your notes easier to integrate into your existing desktop
applications and use them for various purposes, like the creation of a
power point slide, or for writing a paper.

EchoSign provides paperless paper trail

To get a signature recorded via fax, recipients must use the service’s cover sheet. (image edited for clarity).

The Office 2.0 conference
was set up almost entirely without paper (except for some checks that
paid for sponsorships). Even the contracts necessary to set up the show
were signed electronically, using EchoSign. There are other companies that provide services to create legally binding signatures, such as DocuSign (review), but EchoSign has simplicity going for it.

True Green Confessions shares your planet-wasting ways

Ever fling fast-food wrappers from the window of your speeding Prius? True Green Confessions invites you to tell the tale. Unlike so many other green social networking websites
that encourage you to practice bicycling, recycling and other
planet-friendly habits, here you can share the shame of not doing
enough or not caring enough about your fat carbon footprint.

Me.dium’s online concert will rock you

Me.dium RockMe. concert(Credit: Me.dium)

RockMe. has got to the be the only five-day music festival where you won’t pay for tickets. It is social-networking site Me.dium’s
attempt to rock your world, and the only thing you need to get in is
your browser. (Of course, you still have to bring your own drinks.)

RockMe., which runs from September 18 through September 22, 2007,
will feature bands, music video competitions, and the world’s safest
mosh pit–it’s virtual. More important to Me.dium, the RockMe. festival
will provide plenty of opportunities for band members and music lovers
to swap fond memories of choice lyrics and drum solos using Me.dium’s
service.

Office 2.0: Ismael’s secrets…and a live videocast

Ismael Ghalimi, the organizer of the Office 2.0 conference (more)
is serious about living the Web 2.0 dream: Aside from a browser, he has
no applications installed on his laptop, except for iWork, which he
says he uses to remind himself what old-style software is like. (Even I
use traditional software for writing and e-mail.)

Check out Ismael’s notes on Office 2.0 services that work. And this comprehensive database of Office 2.0 applications that he’s put together. Useful tips.
But what if there’s no available Internet connection for Ismael
when he wants to work? “I just take a break. Which can be a good thing.”

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Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Blogging, eHub, Environment, LinkRoundup, Music, Productivity, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Jott Links Lets You Blog and Tweet From Your Phone

Posted by telecommatt on September 4, 2007

Here I am at 9:30pm, with a website to put up and two articles to write, and I’m playing with these new features from Jott.com. I’m pretty impressed though. For those that haven’t used it, Jott lets you call in and leave short messages for yourself or others on your contact list. Those messages are transcribed as text and kept in mp3 format. All your messages are stored on the Jott servers, but also emailed to you in both text and speech. I’ve been using it for awhile now, but not heavily.

With their new Jott Links feature, you can post a message to a blog, like I just did, or some other service like Twitter. Below is my text Jott. You can tell it’s not 100% accurate, but if you talk like up on stage instead of in your living room, it does a pretty good job.

So right now I got about a dozen other things that I should be doing right now but instead I’m testing out this new feature by Jott called Jott links and so far it’s pretty sweet. I can post short thought to my blog just by talking about them, so check it out Jott.com and I think this is actually gonna end up in my blog. If everything works right and all out. Cheers.

Click here to listen

Powered by Jott.com – Try it at 1 (866) JOTT123 – Jott.com

Posted in Blogging, Twitter, web-based services | Leave a Comment »