Friday, May 18, 2012

Computer Joey: Social Reading (ver 2.0)



Earlier in the week, I told you how to have a much better social reading experience for you and your friends. While researching that article, I came across some next level techniques for more advanced users.

In this article, I will teach you how to use Tumblr to share information across all of your social media accounts. I will also discuss how to use your own custom URL shorten-er with all of these services.

A few things you need to do before we start:
  • You need to read the first article because I am piggy-backing off of stuff I already documented.
  • Get a Tumblr account/blog.
  • Optional: Get a bitly account.
  • Optional: Get a twitterfeed account.

1. Add Tumblr to your share options in Google Reader:



The first article in the series covers how to set up RSS feeds in Google Reader, and the second will tell you what to click on to add various services like Twitter and Facebook. One of the other options is Tumblr. Instead of choosing Facebook or Twitter, pick Tumblr in the options (like the picture above).

Tumblr is more robust than Twitter but still designed to make simple and short posts. It is a great services that allows customization. Here is a quick tutorial on setting up an account:



As mentioned in the earlier post, at the bottom of each article in Google Reader, there will be a share button. When you click on it, the social media options you selected will appear:


When you click on Tumblr, this screen will appear:


You can mess around with more formatting or adding extra information, or you can just click on create post. The screen will wait a few seconds and then close itself.

2. Connecting to your social media accounts:

There are two ways to do this, one simple and one more complicated (but with more metrics).

Simple Method:

If you don't have a custom URL shorten-er and you don't care about how many clicks and shares you are getting, you can connect your Tumblr account with Facebook and Twitter:

a. Sign into your tumblr account and go to your news feed blog. Click on "Blog Settings" on the right:


b. Then scroll down to the Facebook and Twitter sections. Click on the check-boxes and then click on the buttons to link your social media accounts and follow the screen instructions:


Your posts to Tumblr (which are fed via your RSS Reader) will now post to social media accounts.

The Complicated Method:

When you create a Tumblr blog, there is a link somewhere on the page for a RSS Feed:


The RSS feed is usually your tumblr blog url with "/rss" at the end.
Example: "http://example.tumblr.com/rss"

a. Once you have your RSS feed url, go to twitterfeed and create a new feed (top right corner). Put your RSS feed in the box:


b. If you want to track your traffic or add your own custom url shorten-er, click on advanced settings in step one:


A few notes on this step:

c. Click "Continue to Step 2"

d. On this screen you can link your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to Twitterfeed. As soon as you post something to Tumblr, it will automatically post that link to your social media sites. When you are done authenticating the services you want to use, click "all done"


Conclusion:

I know that was a long post, but once you get this set up, it is really easy to share information with your friends. The added benefits are that they don't have to share any information about themselves to read your articles, you can see if your posts are actually being read, and you have a repository of all of your shared posts moving forward.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Computer Joey: Social Reading Done Right



Have you noticed your friends posting news articles on Facebook recently? Have you clicked on said news article and found yourself suddenly asked to give an application access to your personal information? And have you noticed that when you do click yes, every time you read an article about Snookie's new underwear choices it is plastered all over your facebook wall?

If you haven't experienced this (or don't use facebook), good for you. If you are a facebook or social media user and have been trapped in this invasion of privacy, I have a cool alternative. It takes a few steps to set up, but once you do, I honestly think it is WAY better and more functional.

A little background: Personally, I read a ton of news articles in a given week and I like to share the best with friends and followers. I don't flood my feeds, but there may be three or four items in a given day that I think are worthy of attention. I don't engage my friends via facebook's social reader, instead I use a few tools that all talk to each other. Here is how to do it.

1. Gather your news via Google Reader:

I have detailed instructions on how to set up Google Reader, so read that first (and get a gmail account if you don't have one).

You can populate your RSS Reader with just about any popular new source (including this blog). These are the articles you will share with your audience.

2. Connect Google Reader with Twitter:

a. In Google Reader, look at the upper right corner, you will see a gear icon. Click on the icon and a "Reader Settings" option will be available:


b. At the top of the next screen, there is a tab "Send To", click on it to select different social media accounts:


c. At this point, you have a few options. If you use both Twitter and Facebook, click on just the twitter check-box. If you only use Facebook, click on that check-box and hit the return to reader link at the top.

NOTE: If you are using only facebook, you are pretty much done. If you want to make automatic posts to both twitter and facebook, keep reading.

d. In your reader, you will now see a "Send To" option at the bottom of each post:


NOTE: I added both Facebook and Twitter, but if you want to use both, you only need twitter here.

e. If you click on the twitter button, a twitter box will open with your post:


You need to do one more thing to make this all work...

3. Connect your Twitter account with your Facebook Account:

a. Go to this link to sync your two accounts: https://apps.facebook.com/twitter/
b. Click on the button that takes you to your account settings.
c. At the bottom of your twitter settings, there is a button that allows you to connect the two services. Push the button and follow the on-screen prompts:


You should be all set! Now you can share posts that you read (without any requests for information via RSS). I know there is a little bit of work up front, but once you get all of this set up, it is a much better way to read, save, and share news that is important to you.

UPDATE: During the writing of this post, I may have come up with a next level method that can allow for metrics and some other custom tweaks. Check back for that post.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Center City Sips is back

Center City Sips starts again on June 6th, but prices will be up slightly: $5 cocktails, $4 glasses of wine and $3 beers.

Why did I post this? I wanted to test out a new URL shorter, and I figured sharing some information is better than just a simple test :-)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Preview of Things to Come?

( #bender, #babylombardi )



DME: Sunday with Peroni

( @DrinkingMadeEasy, #peroni )



I did a quick write up for Drinking Made Easy about my current beer of choice - Peroni. The article is today's "Daily Drink" feature, so go check it out:

DME: Sunday with Peroni

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Book Review: Tough Sh!t by Kevin Smith

( #kevinsmith, #toughsh*t )



After reading several fictional books in a row, I needed a break from fantasy. Naturally, I picked up “Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good” by Kevin Smith. For those people who are unfamiliar with Mr. Smith’s work, he is the writer and director of several beloved/hated movies about the slacker generation. Most recently, Smith has been leveraging social media to build his audience and brand after retiring from directing.

I don’t want to get into a debate on Kevin Smith’s abilities as a director or writer, you either like him or you don’t. I am not a total fan-boy for the guy’s work, but I like what he does more times than I don’t. Smith starts the book with childhood stories about his dad and their mutual love for George Carlin. Smith uses Carlin as a touchpoint in the book several times: first as a fan, then getting to know him as a director and a person - it reminds the readers that Smith is still a person and not a “celebrity”.

Kevin progresses quickly through the “Clerks” subject because if you know Kevin Smith, you probably know the story about that movie already. He uses Clerks to launch into the “failure of Mallrats”. “Mallrats” was Smith’s second movie, it was a big budget (for him) film that did not do well. Mallrats opens the book up to the most interesting subject he covers - the cost of movies.

Smith does simple breakdowns of how getting a movie made for “x” dollars is just the start of the debt once you get into post-production and marketing fees. A movie that costs $4 million to make, will end up costing $20 million by the time the audience gets to see it. This is pretty much the major subject of “Tough Sh!t”.

Smith does not want to navigate the politics of making $20 Million movies. Since that is the cost of getting a modest movie out to the audience, he stopped making movies. The issues and examples that he brings up are excellent, but I do have an issue with his logic...

The last couple chapters covers his recent podcasting and public speaking endeavors. From the information that Smith is presenting, he is doing well for himself performing live podcasts at college campuses and his own theater in California. Smith’s crew of misfits also produce and contribute content to their “Smodcasts”, so it definitely does not come across as a half-assed operation.

Since these guys have such a DIY attitude, I can’t understand why Smith would not attempt to make more films and distribute via his website similar to what Joss Whedon did with “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog”. Just as podcasting and internet are disrupting the music and radio companies, guys like Smith should be at the ground floor of the internet video revolution. I would like to see what the guy does with a direct video distribution channel.

Kevin Smith’s “Tough Sh!t” is an interesting book about how movies were made and foreshadows what avenues creative-types will have as outlets for their work. Smith’s trademark potty humor is omnipresent in the book (there are several graphic references about his wife and their sex life). I have to be honest, even though you KNOW it is going to be in the book, I just felt like it was tossed in because that is what the audience expects (meh - no harm, no foul). Overall, if you like Kevin Smith or are interested in the slow death of character-driven movies, read this book. If you are a fan of Bruce Willis, you might want to avoid it.