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Google Chrome Extension: ToDoist A Review

I’m always on the lookout for great Google Chrome web browser extensions and those that provide some additional functionality to make my life on the internet easier. I don’t have a magic way to find extensions other than using a search phrase like “Best Chrome Extensions,” and seeing what comes up.

During a recent search, I came up with ToDoist — which I’m convinced will make my life easier. I’ve only been experimenting with it, so I’ll give the highlights here of what I see so far with this to do list extension. To be sure, there are a bevy of list making extensions available, so don’t be afraid to search around to find the one that works best for what you want to accomplish.

Unlike most extensions I’ve used in the past, users of ToDoist first sign up for the service through their website. Once you complete that, then you install the extension, which will be added to your navigation bar with a check mark and “T” icon.

Once you sign up and get to the start screen, ToDoist provides you a great overview of the range of ways in which you can integrate the application into your existing online usage habits. Since I use an iGoogle dashboard, I appreciate you can incorporate your ongoing to do lists there, as well as the Netvibes dashboard. ToDoist is also available as an iphone and Android mobile application. There are keyboarding shortcuts and filtering options as well.

As a list making function, I appreciate the ability to first create projects and then assign tasks to the pertinent individual projects — which obviously makes ToDoist a bit more than a simple list making application — but rather a project management app.

Once you’ve created your project, and then assigned tasks to that project — this is were ToDoist gains some momentum in my book. What I really like is once you’ve set up your project, ToDoist has an “Add Link” function which allows users to easily bookmark pertinent web links. Additionally, you can assign that link as a task to a specific project. For me, this eliminates emailing links to myself with a reminder to return to them at a later time. However, if that’s something you would like to do — ToDoist gives you that option.

If you’re willing to upgrade to the preminum service, you can get access to reminders, notes and much more. I’m like many people in that I’ll make due with the free service. That’s not to say in the future, I won’t upgrade, but for the moment, I’m not sure what ToDoist has to offer is worth the cost of upgrading.

So, what do you think about ToDoist? Are you currently using it or another list making, project management application or add on with some good functionality? I invite you to share your thoughts on ToDoist or any other add on in the comments section below.

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in communication, Productivity

 

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It’s Google +1, Not the The Rapture!

So, for much of the week everyone in the wide world of technology has been completely losing their *ish about Google +1. Since June 28, 2011 — Mashable has published over 20 stories about Google +1. Here are a few headlines to prove it.

10 Top Google+ Users Weight In on The Web’s Newest Social Network

Zuckerberg on Google+: It’s a Validation of Facebook Vision

Google to Retire Private Google+ Profiles on July 31

For those that are not familiar Google +1 according to Google, it’s news feature or a social network as one headline would lead you to believe is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “your should check this out.” Further about Google +1 says the search giant it is a way to “help your friends, contacts, and others find the best stuff on the web.” (a video introduction of G+)

About the addition, everyone has had an opinion. It seems as though people are completely blown away by Google’s newest product. Don’t get me wrong, I love new Google products, I’m willing to try anything out once and see how it goes, but for goodness sake — G+ is not the rapture.

In fact, what I think is actually more interesting in the world of social media is the latest Facebook features including Skype‘s video chat integration and deeper integration of Facebook with Skype. Facebook also introduced group chat — on the fly and invite several people to a group chat, and supposedly a new design — which I have yet to see.

Now from my perspective, I see the deeper integration between Skype and Facebook to be a bit more important than Google+1. First G+ is closed to most of the world at this point. But that’s actually small potatoes compared to the bigger issue — Facebook’s introduction of more products that keep users on Facebook.

Among the number of ways in which Facebook facilitates communication — the fact that users can now video chat through the service tell me a few things. Facebook is getting closer to potentially developing their own web browser. This not withstanding the fact that FB has had success with integration into web browsers like RockMelt. I will not be surprised to see a Facebook web browser in the near future.

Interestingly, Mark Zuckerburg says about the new Google addition that it’s a validation of Facebook. Although not overt, I get the sense that Zuckerburg is gearing up for something even bigger than a social network — but rather a browser, or search engine or Noah’s ark

I am also more interested in the Facebook’s announcement because again, FB has found another way to keep users on their site over others. Inevitably, users will begin video chatting right away, and will likely believe that it’s the video feature of Facebook — and nor will they know or care that they are using the Skype service to do that.

I’m sure there’s more to say about Google+ but I’m not sure I understand why everyone is losing their shit about this introduction. What do you think is the bigger and more important story? The Facebook-Skype integration OR Google +1? Weigh in below and let me know what you think.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in communication, social media

 

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Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Perhaps these are conversations that are happening behind closed doors, so I’m hear to blow the lid off a few things. But first, let me set the scene for you.

At some random networking event, I run into someone really interested in talking about working together to build brand awareness using social and digital media. Awesome, just the conversations I love to have. We follow up our unplanned encounter with a scheduled meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I do my homework researching this person’s current social media, digital presence and website. Like a good consultant should!

What do I find during my routine pre-meeting preparation, but a complete shit show of a website. I mean, the thing hasn’t been updated for years, there nothing to indicate a company personality or link to their social media sites, and — as an added bonus — the logos from the website don’t even match those on current business cards.

So, we show up for a our coffee and social media conversation. When we get past the pleasantries, the conversation goes something like this —

Me: So, how do you feel about your website?

Them: Oh, I know it needs a little sprucing up, but I really want to talk about social media.

Me: Really? Hmm, did you have fantasies about driving traffic to your website from your social media channels?

Them: excitedly Yeah, that’s a real goal!

Me: quizzically Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Herein lies the problem. Everybody is very concerned about their social media presence — that’s actually a good thing — but, if your plan is to drive traffic to your website and it’s a complete mess, than you are not ready to dive into social media just yet.

Although I don’t actually do any behind the scenes website construction or programming, I’m glad to throw in my two cents when it comes to visual appeal, user interface, and general layout. Here are some of the biggest offenses that send me back to my Google search results. Admittedly, you may have others to add to the list, since this is not exhaustive I’m sure to leave a few out.

Too Much Text

Although it may be tempting to include everything and the kitchen sink, but remember, people’s attention spans are shorter than what they use to be. You know from your own experience, if you’re questioning whether the investment in time or energy seems to outweigh the payoff — then you’re already planning to move on.

If you have lots of text to include be sure to break up with other visual elements such as pictures and headings.

Scannable Pages

Pages with too much text don’t draw in readers because people can’t get an easy preview of what the page has to offer. Make pages scannable with headings, pictures, survey questions or other types of visual aids. You may get a reader on the fence, they check out the video, and decide reading is a good idea. That’s great because it increases the points of interaction and amount of time spent on the page.

Use of Page Real Estate

I might have a bias for a three column page, but I find websites are easier to navigate when there are multiple points of navigation easy to locate on the site. I’m also partial to navigation at the bottom of the page as well.

Sidebars are always a great place to include testimonials, upcoming speaking events, or other types of timely information. And make social media interaction easy with plugins and streams in columns too!

I’ve also heard the “Website Under Construction” signs are pretty useless, so maybe you want to get rid of that and not make the site live until it’s fully ready for traffic.

“About” Page Falsie

In case you’re unaware, the “About” page is typically one of the most visited on most sites. I appreciate an actual “About” page, which tells me something about the minds (read people) behind an organization. Not the “falsie” which attempts to present a “big” company using “we” and “us,” but personalization can be to your benefit. At least give your site visitors some insight on the leadership of your organization — no matter how big or small.

No Contact/Interaction Opportunities

If you would like to increase business opportunities with your website — please include a contact page with a contact form. I have been to many out-of-date websites which seem to be missing the all important opportunity for prospective clients to actually reach someone at your organization. There’s nothing wrong with making contact with you as simple as possible.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start your social media efforts or do you still have some work to do to get your website ready for the 21st century visitor?

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in business, communication

 

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Blogging: Jump In the Water’s Fine

When a new year begins, many people elect to set goals and resolutions to do a number of things like lose weight, get more organized, or get their finances in order.

As you can imagine, individuals that I regularly interact with have identified social media related resolutions. Some I’ve heard so far include:

 

  • To start a blog,
  • To create a Facebook business page, or
  • To complete my LinkedIn profile.

These are the goals I commonly hear from people. For those that have declared social media 2011 goals just do it! More specifically, if you’re goal is to start a blog, really Just Do It!

Unlike starting a Facebook business page or completing a LinkedIn profile — I think blogging is a little more intimidating. Yes there are lots of elements and platforms to consider — which can be overwhelming.

To help those that are apprehensive, but truly want to start a blog and feeling a little lost on where to go, in this piece I offer a brief review of some of the most popular blogging platforms out there. Please note, there are plenty more to consider, but the most popular are popular for a few of the reasons identified here.

WordPress

So, in addition to being biased because my blog is hosted on WordPress, I am not alone in regarding the site as one of the best blogging platform out there. In “What’s the best blog platform,” by FastCompany.com, they too identify WordPress as the best blogging platform — and I have to agree with the reasons sited.

  • Ease of Setup: With the growing number of templates that feature 1,2, and 3 columns, diverse colors and more — it’s very likely that you will find a template that will fit the theme and personality of your blog and you. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to preview the blog prior to going live with a selected theme.
  • Ease of Use: FastCompany.com could not put it better — if you are familiar with Word, you’ve got 90% of the skills you need to use WordPress.
  • Wealth of Plugins: Since WordPress have been around for such a long time, just about any plugin and widget that you could imagine is already available for use.
  • Free: Another thing that’s great about WordPress is that it has a free hosting. If you want to purchase your domain name for additional branding purposes you can — and the cost is rather inexpensive.

An additional feature that I like about WordPress is the opportunity to have a team blog. More specifically, the administrator (or owner of the blog) can identity the level of access for other contributors from writer to administrator access.

Blogger

Another very popular blogging platform — and where I started my first blog — is Blogger. This platform is hosted by Google, so for those that like to stick with a name they know, Blogger might be a safe bet. For Bloggers By Bloggers identifies Blogger as one of the best platforms for the following reasons:

  • Templates: Like WordPress there are plenty of templates, colors, and fonts to choose from. To me selecting the templates and coming up with a combination of colors and fonts that work for the personality of your blog is part of the fun of having one!
  • Google Analytics: Although most blog platforms have an analytics feature so you can see how many visitors are coming to the site, from where and what they are visiting — the respect of Google Analytics cannot be denied. For some this is a big draw to Blogger.
  • AdSense: If you think you’re going to get rich on your blog — think again. But adding ads to your blog is a great way to get some additional exposure and Google’s Blogger makes it really easy to add advertisements through their AdSense option.

Tumblr/Posterous

For Bloggers By Bloggers identifies Tumblr and Posterous as the simplest blogging platforms out there. Whether you are getting started casually or professionally, either of these two platforms will have you up and running within minutes — which is an added bonus.

  • Email Posts: I have heard from more than one person that this is their favorite feature about both Tumblr and Posterous. This makes blogging easier for many and is an added bonus.
  • Sharing Options: From what I understand, the easy social sharing features are built into the blog and there’s nothing additional to do. If you are starting a blog for casual or professional use, I highly recommend including social sharing features. Let people easily be ambassadors of your awesome content!
  • Growing Community: Both Tumblr and Posterous are growing by leaps and bounds and there are lots of eager readers and writers interested in connecting with others using the platform. These are key features that can enhance the visibility of your blog. In other words, excellent reasons to get started blogging on either platform.

You know I think WordPress is the best blogging platform. When it comes to blogging it’s easy to procrastinate because there are a lot of factors to consider. My advice to you is Just Do It! Many things you will just learn by virtue of doing it. So, just jump in because the water’s fine.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in blog, communication, Networking, social media

 

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Google Xistence Offers to Live Your Life For You [PARODY]

From Mashable

It’s fake but funny: Google Xistence is a new type of social aggregator whose goal is to “live your life for you.” It does this through “randomly generated status updates, picture uploads and tweets,” so you can spend your real life doing more of exactly what you secretly want to do: playing World of Warcraft and Tower Defense. 

The prank site’s spoof YouTube() instructional video is below, letting you know that Xistence “even sends you weekly e-mails, so you know what happened in your real life, should anyone ask.” The tagline leaves us with, “Because life is too short for social interaction.” 

Google proper is apparently none too happy with the existence of Xistence, it seems — it has added it to the official list of phishing sites that browsers Firefox() and Chrome() poll before proceeding to render a web page. This results in a roadblock-type forgery message being displayed as shown in the screenshot below. 
 

The individual responsible for the Xistence parody, Australian web designer Philipp Drössler, says the site was “neither a scan nor a phishing attempt.” The box displayed on the site portending to solicit a Google(Google) username and password wasn’t an actual web form, meaning visitors could not have entered text there even if they had wanted to. Meanwhile, Google is tight-lipped on why the site ended up on the phishing list, with a spokesperson saying the company is unable to “comment on sites that are not affiliated with Google.” 

Watch the faux marketing material for Xistence below and let us know what you think. 

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in social media

 

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