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Featured Gadgets Software

Evernote for your iPad

Okay Mac addicts, if you’re still debating the necessity of Apple’s new iPad, I know how you feel. Heart telling you “GO GET IT”, head asking “DO YOU REALLY NEED THIS?”

Well, playing for the heart team, Evernote, has given you just one more reason the iPad can be handy for just about everyone. Here is what the iPad and Evernote, together, can to do keep your life organized on the go…

Evernote for the iPad

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ArtWorks Featured

More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

 

twitterbirds More Twitter stuff for Mac TweetersA couple of days ago I was alerted to new Twitter client thing to help you with your twitterings  the big whoop about this is that it is exclusive for Mac users and designed to work like a normal Mac applications. While I still have a lot of affection for TweetDeck it does have some issues that I don’t like…mainly its’ resource vacuuming tendencies and unwillingness to let go of memory. The latest release addressed the memory issue and seemed to have improved its’ ability to play with other applications.

Anyway, this new Mac focused app is called Nambu and while it is in public beta ( which means it is still being tested) is promising. The primary thing I like is that it  lets me manage more than one Twitter account without logging in and out. So here is the skinny on it from my current use.

Multiple views

While Tweet Deck offers multiple column views using them has always semed clunky no the case with Nambu. A click of the Mac like interface button will change to another view.  The views are:

Combined view
This is basically a column showing your stream. You can use this to keep it open stuck in a corner of your screen and ready ffor you to check at a glance. This view shows you the feeds from all accounts you have and can be just a little distracting…

combine view More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Outline or sidebar view
This view looks alot like the finder view in that it shows two columns, the first of which is similar to your folder Finder folder structure which allows you to click on and open folders. The outline view lets you change between Mentions (@replies) private (DMs) sent tweets favs etc. Without opening up the shebang.

sidebar More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Multi-column view
Just as the name sugggests you can have as many columns open as you like and you can create your own by segmenting your followers into business, family and friends. This view takes up the most screen real estate. This view would not be good for a 13″ Macbook screen!!
full view More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Multiple twitter accounts

As I mentioned it lets you easily move between multiple twitter accounts. Since I manage another Twitterr account this feature is worth its weight in gold for me. ..no more logging in and out!!

accounts More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Multi service management

Currently you can manage your friend feed account and Ping.fm account along with identi.ca.. For artists having Ping.fm available within one twitterr client will save time by letting you set up and schedule tweets without going into your browser.
services More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Screen updates using Growl

If you use the FireFox facebook plug in you know how handy it is to have status updates appear on your screen without having to be in Facebook. Nambu offers a similar experience by showing follower updates in a corner of your screen…not sure I like this but it can be toggled on/off through the preferences panel.

Mac  OS X like interface

As I mentioned ealier the interface is very much like a normal Mac application and responds similarly to some of the Mac mouse commands at least I’m used to using.  A right mouse click over tweets will open a contextual menu that lets you select from a list of choices including follow/unfollow, retweet, reply, groups, favorites etc….very handy indeed.

The menu bar icons also reflect the Mac interface making it more intuitive for us die hard Mac users. Finally, the dock icon regularly keeps track of the number tweets in your stream.

fullcol More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Real-time updates

A feature that is lacking on many Twitter client apps is real time updates, most up date periodically resulting in a time lag. I have to say that while the real-time update is cool, the speed of updates and resultant shift in tweet positions are just a little trying on these old dyslexic eyes. On the up side, it does force me to keep moving thereby reducing the time spent twittering.

Photos

Another of the cool features Nambu has is the ability to pull photos from anywhere on your computer and not just Twitpic other web based apps. The time savings here is obvious since you don’t have to upload a photo to an online service.

Url shortening

One of the things I like about TweetDeck is the built in URL shortening just copy paste and click the “shorten” button and your have a shortened URL automatically added to your tweet. Nambu eliminated the extra paste step by inserting a link button which automatically shortens any URL in the tweet. Also very nice is the ability to see the base URL, just mouse over the clipped one and you’ll be shown a bubble (see below) that reveals all.

shorten url More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Comment threading

Nambu also offers a way to see the root URL when you mouse over a shortened URl and a tooltip bubble shows up listing the entire URL.This feature is really nice if you can’t remember who you replied to and what it was about, when that person replies back you can now know what the @#!! they are talking about!!

convo threads More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

What I miss that tweetdeck has is the ability to click on a user name and see their profile and listing of most recent tweets along with the option to follow/unfollow. Add this feature to Nambu and I’d use it everyday!! Likewise add multi account and service feature to Tweet Deck and I wouldn’t hesitate to jumpship.

Update &correction  from Nambu

Shortly after this post I received a comment from Nambu pointing out that indeed one could access a user profile and after playing with it discovered another way to quickly get the info. First to get it quickly just mouse over the profile photo and a text bubble pops up to summarize the user’s profile (see below).

profile More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

If you want more info just click on the photo and the following dialog box opens so you can snoop around more.

mrtweet More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

Need I mention the value of as representative of the software caring enough to correct me!! That in itself speaks volumes.

Remember:

Since this application is in Beta use it at your own risk, and expect bugs, & crashes. Nambu is making regular improvements that promise to morph into a great Twitter client.

 More Twitter stuff for Mac Tweeters

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ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

 

mm logo w sign Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

Back in the PI (pre-internet) era if you wanted to learn how your market thought, how they made their buying decisions and what they bought you really had little in the way of accurate research tools to draw on. You could set up a focus group and have folks tell you what you wanted to hear, you could crunch numbers based on sales of different things you sold, you could guess. There were also the usual mathematical formulas that could tell you the probability that someone would by one thing over another thing of yours. And then again you could guess or not and just decide you’ll convince your market they need your stuff.

Enter CIE 2.0

Now that we are in the CIE 2.0 (Common Internet Era 2.0) we can pretty much eliminate  guess work because now we have the tools to seed our questions to our very own peeps and sit back and listen to what they have to tell us. We can basically ask our peeps what they want and listen to their answers all the time fine tuning our stuff so that it really, really gives our peeps what they want and of course in turn gives us money to continue to give them more and improved stuff.

While the fine art of listening has always been a much coveted skill by sales folks most of the time that fine art ended at the sale. All those clues about what we wanted well… never made it to those cigar smokin’ honchos in the upper levels of the corporate high rise, the current state of our auto industry is a good example.

Now though, we have tools that not only allow us to listen to our peeps but also are contributing to a greater decentralizing force in the biz world. So those biznesses that don’t listen and don’ t decentralize by listening to their buyers will soon be going bye-bye and I doubt you want to be one of those.

Now that we are in the CIE 2.0 we as solo-business folks have the tools to engage with our peeps at much more intimate level .

But, but, but…..

So does this mean that artists must surrender to the whims and taste of the lowest common denominator? Are you thinking I don’t need some stinkin buyer to tell me how to make my art!! Well…not really! You can still make your own art stuff, that reflects your inner vision and  now you have to guess a little less and in cases a lot less and that my friend will help you really focus on what works so you can sell a lot of what works so that that special creation you’ve been working on can wait for it’s perfect buyer.

And no I’m not talking about producing 50 bazillion trinkets of the same thing with minor changes just to sell one cool thing. I’m talking about making and selling lots of different things that still fit your vision, still reflect who you are and what you have to say because you have taken the time to listen to what your folks are telling you. They aren’t dictating your creativity they’re just saying “I love your stuff, but what you have shown me won’t work where I need it”  and they may go on to say ” if you had more of this or more of that, or this in more colors etc. I would be more than willing to fill that empty purple wall with your stuff”

You could learn all this stuff by just setting up a few listening posts to hear conversations about the kind of stuff you do. Here are a few ways to do it:

Social Mention

This site is kind of a searchable aggregation of feeds floating around the inter-tubes. Enter a search term like “tin glazed pottery” and you can find out the who, where and what that was spoken in blogs, microblogs,social bookmarks, comments,video and audio.

Google alerts

This free  service by google allows you to set up custom search terms so that anytime google runs across one of those terms you get an e-mail alerting you. So if you wanted know how frequently folks mentioned your particular style of metal sculpture all you have to do is enter the terms related to it and sit back and wait. This is really a good thing to find out who talks about you and where your name shows up.

Tweetbeep.com

Works a lot like Google Alert but is set up for twitter, and just as simple to set up as Google alerts.

Search.twitter

This tool really lets you hone in on your market by giving the ability to set up very specific search terms and  include geographic details as well. So if our metal lady wants to know who is talking about plasma cutting, 3/4″ steel and using rivets to join pieces in east timbuktu she can enter those terms with the location and receive e-mails every time someone from east Timbuktu mentions her process.

Backtype.com

This service drills down to a whole new level..blog comments. After seting up your profile you can see who is talking about you in comments on other blogs and what they are saying. Pretty cool….!

Boardtracker.com

This little ditty opens a whole new search avenue that of on-line discussion boards. Enter your search terms like before and click “search” besides searching forum threads you can also search tags…pretty cool in a geeky sort of way.

So there ya have it.

Remember…..

these are tools for intel gathering and they aren’t by any means secret sauces. They will give some indication as to whether that quad sided, riveted and welded two tone oxidized thing-a-ma-bob will have a snow balls chance in hell of selling…and that’s good because you can then not waste your precious gift on something that won’t get a chance to live in someone else’s house.

Instead you can figure out if a triple sided unoxidized thing might be in demand. Maybe someone, somewhere has talked about always wanting one of those things and suddenly more and more peeps are wondering if somebody has ever made one. You may find out that in East Timbuktu folks are rumbling about a lack of that thing you want to make so now you can make it and head off to East Timbuktu to market it or if E.Timbuktu has an art fair you can set about getting in and then using your conversation channels start to buzz-up the fact that you and only you will be bringing that much coveted and very valuable thing-ama-jig.

 Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

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Parallel Desktops

TweetDeck vs Nambu vs Tweetie

I’ve become quite attached to Twitter lately, as several of my blog posts will attest. I use it for a wide range of things; a source of news (technical and non-technical), to chat with friends and share things I find of interest, to ask and answer questions on Macs, Ruby on Rails, etc. and finally to banter about my favorite sports teams (Redskins and Caps, thank you very much).

Given this wide range of uses I tend to be accessing my Twitter feeds throughout the day and the web interface simply doesn’t handle things the way I need it to. As a result I use a custom client to access Twitter. A custom client presents Tweets in their own interface, accessing the data through the Twitter API. You drop in your Twitter username and password and the custom client takes over from there, presenting you with a view of your Tweets and the ability to create them as well.

Over the last few months I’ve tried a number of different Twitter clients for my Mac. First it was TweetDeck, an Adobe Air based client that does a great job of breaking Tweets up into separate and configurable panels. Next I tried Nambu, a native Mac OS X application that showed some real promise. Nambu leveraged many of the same UI elements that TweetDeck did, but it was packaged into a much more Mac style application. Finally Tweetie was released for Mac recently. A popular iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie has a graceful interface that puts a different look and feel on Twitter than TweetDeck and Nambu do. Each of these applications has strengths and weaknesses, which I will try to identify below.

TweetDeck

Strengths: Multiple panels that can be customized and filtered. Ability to create a search panel that persists between sessions. Can auto-complete user names when composing Tweets and addressing to people. Group support. Can also update FaceBook status.

Weaknesses: Uses a lot of memory. User Interface looks odd next to other Mac applications. Can leak memory (though that is reportedly fixed). Font size cannot be set and panels cannot be resized; you only have two sizes for panels. Only supports a single Twitter account.

Summary: TweetDeck is great for people that follow a large number of folks and want to break up their Tweets into custom groups. If you can get over the fact that TweetDeck does not look like a native OS X application it’s a nice Twitter client and is used by an extremely large number of people. It includes lots of little niceties to make creating, replying and ReTweeting posts very simple.

I like that I can click on a person in a list and quickly see their profile and that each Tweet contains virtually all of the information available. Want to know what a Tweet is in reply to? Click the “…in reply to…” text on a Tweet and it loads up the original Tweet in your web browser.

The reason I started looking around at other clients after I had been using TweetDeck for so long was the fact that I wanted something that actually looked like a Mac application. That and the memory leaks in TweetDeck meant you couldn’t leave it running for days at a time without it continually chewing into your memory pool. Even with these issues it is a very capable Twitter client.

Nambu

Strengths: Native Mac application. Has three different view styles including the panel view that TweetDeck uses. Auto-complete for user names when writing a Tweet. Remembers any panel or search you create so that it can be called up later. Ability to create groups of users. Multiple account support.

Weaknesses: In beta and it shows; memory is burned up quickly and Nambu requires restarts fairly often (daily). The pop-up menus within a Tweet and user profiles can take a very long time to display. Not all of the details on a Tweet (like what it is in reply to) are available.

Summary: I like that Nambu gives me so many viewing options, allowing me to tailor it to meet my needs—and screen real estate demands—very well. The fact that I can control (to a degree) the size of the font means I can squish a lot more Tweets into a single page with Nambu than I can with TweetDeck. It also does something that TweetDeck does not do right now: update the Dock Bar image with the number of unread Tweets.

It’s pretty clear that Nambu will strive to be a one-stop social networking application. Though it is disabled in the current beta there are placeholders for FriendFeed, Identi.ca and Ping.fm. If your goal is to keep everything on the social side in one place then Nambu may have an answer for that in the long run.

Nambu is still a relatively young application and it shows in performance and stability. Once Nambu matures a bit, the memory leaks are fixed and the menu performance improves it will be a strong contender to virtually any of the tasks people use TweetDeck for now.

Tweetie

Strengths: Native Mac application. Extremely stable and quick, very resource efficient. User interface is very powerful, especially for navigating across “conversations”. Keyboard friendly for nearly all navigation and input. Tear off search windows provide great flexibility. Multiple account support.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t provide user name auto-complete. No support for Groups. Keyboard navigation within Direct Messages is quirky.

Summary: Tweetie for Mac is a completely different take on dealing with Twitter than either TweetDeck or Nambu. The level of polish and finish on Tweetie is immediately apparent and the smooth UI transitions and keyboard shortcuts make it easy to become comfortable quickly.

The inability to place people you follow into a group so that you can more quickly pick out their Tweets is a shortcoming, as is the fact that searches are not saved across sessions. The keyboard shortcuts simply stop working when you are in the Direct Message area and have replied to a message.

By far the most powerful part of Tweetie is the ability to navigate your way through conversations. If you see someone you follow respond to a person that you don’t follow you can quickly jump to that string of Tweets. It makes reading Twitter feeds much more conversation friendly. Not only can you jump in but Tweetie maintains the context you are coming from so you can navigate your way back out to where you started.

Which one is best for you?
From a functionality standpoint TweetDeck and Nambu are on pretty equal footing. If you follow a large number of people that generate a lot of Tweets, you will appreciate the ability to break your key followers up into groups that you can monitor more easily. I’ve had people follow me on Twitter that have thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—of people THEY follow. Clearly no one can even use a Twitter timeline that contains that much traffic so that grouping and filtering feature both TweetDeck and Nambu have would be critical.

I’m hoping that once Nambu comes out of beta it’s performance will pick up and the memory leaks will be eliminated. Until then TweetDeck is a lot more stable, though if you have multiple Twitter accounts Nambu is the better option.

If you don’t follow a huge number of people and can get by without the group functionality then Tweetie is an outstanding Twitter client. The user interface is simply fantastic, looking and feeling like a native Mac application. It is currently available for $14.95 through May 4 ($19.95 after that). I am personally using Tweetie now; the other features have made me forget about the lack of groups and I don’t really follow that many people.

The competition for Twitter clients is great for all of us. As the software developers keep innovating we will continue to get some really interesting options when it comes to working with Twitter. Keep in mind that this review of these applications was based on the state of them on April 27, 2009. Both TweetDeck and Nambu are listed as being in Beta. Updates can come quickly.

I’ve done some previous blog posts on both TweetDeck and Nambu that have more detailed information. If you want to learn more about Tweetie I highly recommend that you watch Don McAllister’s excellent video tutorial on it.

Got a Twitter client you really like? Drop a note about it in the comments and share what you like and don’t like about it.

Visit DavidAlison.com

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Parallel Desktops

OpenDNS, a great free way to speed up the interwebs

Last night I was doing some research and went to pull up the Ruby On Rails site. Unfortunately when I did I could not connect. My DNS server wasn’t resolving it properly. Assuming it was Verizon’s problem I embarked on a long and ultimately fruitless attempt to find out why rubyonrails.org was not resolving. While doing this I tweeted about it and suddenly got responses from people explaining that there were some problems with that domain name. It wasn’t the Verizon DNS server after all.

So Twitter helped me out, but that wasn’t the end of the assistance. Chad Hohner (@hohner) told me about using OpenDNS, something that will help improve network performance (at least as it relates to name resolution). I figured it was worth a try and changed the DNS on my Mac Pro to using OpenDNS’s servers. The performance improvement for me was dramatic, so much so that I changed back to the Verizon servers, flushed my DNS cache and started testing different sites. I then switched back to OpenDNS, flushed my DNS cache again and timed page loads.

The difference was stunning. On some sites I saw little or no improvement, especially on the very popular sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. It was when I started visiting lessor sites that I saw a performance improvement of up to 28%. This was a dramatic improvement, takes seconds to do and costs nothing.

Do it now, watch the difference
You can try it out quite easily on a Mac right now; nothing to sign up for, just update your DNS settings to use OpenDNS’s servers. Fire up System Preferences / Network and select your primary ethernet device.


Click on Advanced, then add these two servers into the DNS section:

208.67.222.222
208.67.220.220

Once they are added in, close it out and open a terminal prompt and flush your DNS cache. I believe System Preferences does this automatically but just to be sure you can enter this in a terminal prompt:

dscacheutil -flushcache

At that point you are using the OpenDNS servers. If the performance looks good then you can also set up your router to hand out those DNS settings to all of your machines. OpenDNS has pretty detailed instructions for how to handle it. I did that to my Verizon router and now all of the machines in the house are operating much more quickly.

OpenDNS Services
There’s more to OpenDNS than just offering a free DNS service. They also offer content filtering and parental controls, which will allow you to set high level filters on the types of sites that your machines can access as well as specific categories that will limit access.

This is handled by signing up for an account (again, free) and optionally installing a small menu bar application that will maintain your IP address with OpenDNS. I installed this little notifier in a couple of minutes on my primary Mac Pro since it’s always connected to this network.

Is it really free?
I was curious about how OpenDNS was able to provide these services for free and did a little research. It turns out that they make their revenue on ads that are displayed if you enter a domain name that is incorrect. If you never fat-finger a domain name then you’ll likely never see the ads, but enough people do that it generates the revenue needed to power this service.

There are two things I really got out of this little experience:

1) OpenDNS is very cool and I highly recommend that you try it out

2) Twitter continues to provide a really valuable resource for getting information quickly and easily. Thanks again Chad!

Got a tip for speeding up your network connection? Please drop a note in the comments! And as always, you can follow me on Twitter.

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Parallel Desktops

Baby Shaking Apps and Other Challenges for Apple’s App Store


My wife and I were going through our morning routine, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper when suddenly she said “I can’t believe Apple!”. We share many core beliefs—especially on politics—so I usually give her a nod, offer a “Yup” and continue reading my section.

Me: “What about Apple?”

Wife: “They have a shaking baby iPhone application!!! This is outrageous!”

Me: “Honey, Apple didn’t make that application.”

Wife: “Well they had it in the App Store. That’s just stupid.”

I completely understand that Apple is generating some significant revenue from their App Store sales and that it has become a major part of their strategy moving forward. The problem as I see it is that Apple is putting itself in a very precarious position. Instead of just worrying about whether or not the application will break an iPhone, chew up resources, etc. Apple now has to worry about the content.

The problem as I see it is two-fold: Apple is now associated with the content of applications that run on an iPhone. The second is that Apple is setting a precedent that will carry forward as small devices like the iPhone get more powerful and start to merge with traditional desktops and laptops.

Being Associated with Content
Since Apple is essentially taking responsibility for the content on the iPhone they are putting themselves in a no-win situation. Clearly a shaking baby application is egregious to virtually anyone, but what about other topics. The US alone is a highly polarized place with issues like gay marriage, torture, bail-outs, taxes, etc. provoking strong arguments. Throw in the fact that Apple is a global company and now you have to police these issues in every country you want to sell into.

Now try to apply a rule set that works for the people sitting in the Apple App Store review area. Every single app needs to be approved and the rate will only increase. Mistakes like the Shaking Baby app will happen again and again.

Apple has crafted this brilliant company image, spending billions of dollars on stores, training, application standards, etc. and now a minor mistake by the guy or gal down in the App Store review area makes headlines everywhere and it’s directly associated with Apple, not the author of the application.

The Orwellian Future
This is today’s problem. What about tomorrow’s? Portable devices are becoming more and more powerful. It won’t be long before we’ll see the technologies start to merge and iPhones will be just as powerful as a laptop or netbook class machine. As this merge happens how will Apple distinguish between applications that are specific to the iPhone and those that run on a more traditional machine?

Can you imagine a day when Apple has to authorize any software that is installed on your Apple device, including what today is your Mac? Technology advances mean these products will converge in the near future and Apple will need to live with the standards (and revenue streams) they have come to depend on.

How can Apple solve this problem?
There are numerous solutions to this issue, all with strengths and weaknesses. Apple could stop worrying about application content entirely and focus on highly objective measures like memory usage, stability, etc. They could have a class of applications that have been rated for content and others that have not. They could even license out the deployment of iPhone applications to other companies, allowing those companies to be responsible for the content.

Rest assured though, this is going to become a bigger problem down the road. Can you imagine if the developers of a web browser were responsible for the web pages that were viewed through them? This is effectively the role that Apple has staked out for itself.

What do you think? Is this really a problem that Apple needs to figure out?

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Parallel Desktops

Nambu makes Twitter feel natural for Mac users

For a while now I’ve been using TweetDeck to access my Twitter account. While I love many of the features that TweetDeck has made popular I always struggle with the UI. Though it’s quite usable the fact that it’s built on top of Adobe Air means it doesn’t look quite right on my Mac’s OS X desktop.

I’ve tried a number of different Twitter clients for Mac but none worked quite as well as TweetDeck did for me. Then along came Nambu, which is still in beta. Nambu looks and feels like a normal OS X application. The design is similar to TweetDeck in some respects but has some key enhancements that make it much more powerful.

Multiple Twitter Accounts
I have two Twitter accounts that I use: dalison and sharedstatus. The former is my personal account where I ramble on about my blog, Macs, sports and things I find amusing on the Interwebs. The latter is an account for my main product and I use it to announce features and generally cover business related topics. Fortunately Nambu supports multiple Twitter accounts and allows me to keep on top of my feeds for both quite easily in a single interface.

Multiple Views
Nambu has three basic views: Combined, Sidebar and Multi Column. The Combined view is a complete feed from all of the people you follow in every account you have added to Nambu. I don’t use it because the noise factor is quite high. The Sidebar view is a little more functional and for people that are screen real estate constrained (working from a 13″ MacBook for example) may be a good solution.

For those that are lucky enough to have lots of screen available the Multi Column view is the place to be. For the same reason I like TweetDeck, the Multi Column view allows you to set up multiple panes to watch key feeds, including search results on a specific topic.


Another advantage of the Multi Column view is the ability to create groups of people you are currently following. If you tend to follow a lot of people but want to create a view that includes only selected people so they don’t get lost in the noise then you can create a group and display a panel with their feeds.

Unread Markers
While TweetDeck can handle unread markers it doesn’t update the Dock icon, something that a native Mac application like Nambu can and does. There is even the option of limiting the unread counts to all of your views (which can be quite high) or to just messages that are sent to you directly.

Support for more than just Twitter
As of right now Nambu supports Twitter, FriendFeed, Identi.ca and Ping.fm. Much like Adium supports multiple chat services (AIM, Google Chat, etc.), Nambu is a striving to be a collection point for social media services. I personally don’t use the other services so I have no idea if they are well serviced in Nambu.

Beta Software – Bugs On Deck
While I’ve generally found Nambu to be stable it is beta software and as a result has some bugs. Updates are coming out quite frequently and many people are reporting that the most recent update (1.1.8) is crashing quite frequently, though I’ve been running it most of the morning and it has not crashed on me. If you decide to try out Nambu you should also follow Nambucom on Twitter; they are providing pretty regular updates and that seems to be the best vehicle for getting questions answered.

There are a number of existing Mac specific Twitter clients available right now with more coming along all the time. This space is going to get highly competitive for a while which is outstanding for Mac users. If you have a Mac specific client for Twitter that you really like please drop a note in the comments and share.

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ArtWorks

Happy Birthday Twitter!!

 

twitter bday Happy Birthday Twitter!!

The Twitter blue print

The original blueprint

D twitter Ohhhh my lile brdie who’d a thunk it? I mean really…when U were born U wer so small & look at U now

Dtwitter ‘member how everybody just said Soooo? But U hung in there, U knew my litle 1

Dtwitter when U turned 1 peeps thought U were so cute and a few found their inner tweets

Dtwitter U jumped out of that nest and started really tweeting for all U were worth & U started being heard

Dtwitter now everybody is busy tweeting away U brought us together in a whole new way!

pixy Happy Birthday Twitter!!

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ArtWorks

Artist Alert: watch this now!

 If you have doubts about all this tech stuff and why you need it to succeed from here on out watch this video! Then tell me what you think…is it all hooey do artists really need to do this? Obviously, I think so and I think the sooner the better! Our replacements are in school now or close to getting out how god of an example are you being? Are you leading the way for their future also by showing them how they can integrate art with technology with community building?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY&feature=player_embedded

pixy Artist Alert: watch this now!

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Parallel Desktops

Need to shorten URLs? Give Bit.ly a try

I always ignored URL shortening services in the past; what was the point? My e-mail systems always seemed to handle URLs automatically, forums that I frequented usually shortened the URLs for me and more often than not if I needed a URL in a blog post I created a hyperlink. It wasn’t until I started using Twitter quite a bit that I started to appreciate a really small URL. When you have 140 characters to express your thoughts and you are as verbose as I am, every single character counts.

Not long ago I noticed a buddy using Bit.ly to shorten his URLs. Up until then I always thought of TinyURL.com but 5 fewer characters in the domain name alone is substantial so I thought I’d give it a try. I give it my long URL, it gives me back a short URL and then I send that out to people. End of story, right?

Well, not quite. Bit.ly does two things that have made it a top service for me, one that I use frequently and recommend to friends. The first is that they provide a small JavaScript link that can be added to your browser’s toolbar. If you are parked on a page you would like to share with others just click on the toolbar button and a dynamic page will load over your existing page, giving you the shortened URL.


The reason I really like Bit.ly though is that it has dynamically updated click-through stats. Since I have no control over traffic I link up through Twitter and other services I can see how many people have clicked on a link I have provided. I can also see which conversations have referenced it, something that’s handy if you want to see how people are forwarding around something.

If you happen to hit a URL that has already been “bit.ly’d” then you’ll see the click through stats on it as well. Needless to say services like Bit.ly are taking URL shortening to a completely different level.

Got a URL shortening service you really like? Drop a note in the comments and share! And if you’re not already doing it feel free to follow me on Twitter through DAlison.

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ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: building your on-line list

 

paper typing torn 400x171 Marketing Monday: building your on line list

Last week we talked about why your list was one of the absolute most important parts of your  business and that you had to approach the problem using both off-line and online tactics. This week we are gong to focus on on-line techniques and how to combine the two into a system.

Call to action

The key to having a successful on line list is getting people to sign up and in order for that to happen they have to first get to your blog. Driving people to your blog is one of the objectives of the off-line efforts discussed last Monday so I won’t go into those details today. Assuming you have attracted people to your blog why would they want to sign up to be on your list? Generally people sign up for some basic reasons:

  • They were reluctant off-line until they saw more social proof
  • They see a value in signing up

Those reluctant to give their e-mail address inspite of your wonderful nature most likely wanted to check you out more by visiting your blog…they were looking for what we call Social Proof. They want to see if you are who you say you are and probably want to see if you do more than talk about what you had for lunch on your blog and likewise for twitter and Facebook. The degree to which you have been regularly posting on your blog, sharing with your readers your process, your work and your failures the higher your credibility will be and the more likely they will want to be part of your artistic life.

While credibility is the core reason people might want to join your community there are other reasons as well all linked to their perceived value of joining. For most, value will be based on mutual values, the “scent” I talked about awhile back. Your “scent” is strongest when you know your own value, that thing in you that attracts like minds.

You may also decide to provide other things of more concrete value like a newsletter, show “events”, special pre-show sales etc. If you decide to do any of these remember it is you and your value that is the foundation so make sure whatever you offer reinforces you and your message stay true to yourself because those who respond to your true self will be your strongest supporters. Here is an example of an artist using a coupon to entice her buyers to sign-up.

solsisters studio 400x356 Marketing Monday: building your on line list

The most important “take away” here is this…You must Ask them to sign up by having a call to action as part of your on-line system. when you ask you do three things:

  • You let them know you value them
  • You let them know that you are confident they will find value in being connected to you
  • You give them a choice to say “yes” or “no” by doing so you honor them and their ability to choose leaving the door open for future connections.

Now for the how

If you have subscribed to this or any other  blog’s newsletter you are receiving it by way of an Autoresponder operated and hosted by an online business who’s sole purpose is to automate e-mail communications. There are many choices out there depending on what you want to get done, many give you a chance to try before you buy, but if you have no experience with this sort of thing it will be difficult to know what you really need…believe me I know. So here are some of the things I discovered in the process:

  • Ability to send out both html and rich text e-mails Handling html e-mail can be tricky and some e-mail programs don’t play well with html, so having a text version that can be automatically loaded in place of html insures your message got through.
  • Ability to segment the list This is very important if you are trying to collect information for more than one purpose. For example art fair artists would benefit from a service that permits development of separate lists based on venues, doing so lets you focus on venue specific information and personalizes your communications.
  • Flexibility and ease of opt-in process In my testing I stumbled a lot and in the process discovered that I needed to have different forms for different situations. Consequently I was able to develop forms that collected the info I wanted and be able to sort that list for specifics like newsletter only, or whether the subscriber was an artist. Doing so made it easier for me to send the right relevant information to the right people. I also was able to design different ways to present the sign in forms to readers for example at the bottom of every post on my blog or on the side bar or many other variations.
  • Analysis and testing One of the most important parts of being successful is collecting and analyzing intelligence (ya I used to be a spook) or the data your forms collect. Knowing where the best place to put your opt-in form is important because it will effect your sign-up volume. There have been lots of eye tracking studies that show where people look on a web page, knowing that information will help you get more sign-ups. A service that allows you to test options whether it be placement, wording or extent of info requested, will also help you focus on what really works. This is called A/B testing where options are developed and randomly shown to readers, and stats on the results are recorded.
  • Opens and clicks Other important analytical tools would be the ability to collect click information on links you may have in newsletters or broadcast e-mails, the information can tell if people are actually clicking on the links. Obviously it would be good to be able to know if your e-mails are being opened and the percentage of the total that are being opened, if you are not getting any opens you will need to find out why.
  • Ability to easily import off line information Since you will be collecting information off-line also it is be very important to make sure your service can not only import that information but also make it easy on you.

Choices choices

As I said earlier there are many services that provide all or combinations of the key options above, knowing what you want to do with your list plays an important part in choosing the right service for you. I will review some of these services in later posts so that you will be able to make an informed choice.

Integrating all of this

Another strong determinant of success is the ability to see trends in behavior and responding accordingly. One of the best ways to do this is to link the information collected above to products purchased. So for example Betty bought one of your pieces , by linking that purchase to her name you can keep track of what she purchases and offer similar items ( like Amazon does). You will also be able to send her a thank you and other follow-ups because you know what she purchased. Having a data base that allows you to keep track of customer preferences and buying habits can support your connection with each customer.  Further more linking customers, venues and inventory can go a long way towards focusing your inventory and production efforts (remember the 80/20 rule).

 Marketing Monday: building your on line list

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ArtWorks

Twitter and the Daily Show

Jon Stewart and Sam Bee talk about Twitter, twitterers,twits,tweets and those who use them.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Twitter Frenzy
comedycentral.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Economic Crisis Political Humor
 Twitter and the Daily Show

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