[Infographic] Bring Your Own Device To Work in 2014

At my place of work we are provided with many mobile devices to help us complete our job to the best of our ability - this includes laptops (with dongles for mobile internet access), smartphones and tablets for use in community settings.  We also have a secure remote access portal so that we can access our email from any of our hotdesks or even from home allowing us complete flexibility.  

Here's an infographic by the team at Egnyte which predicts that 2014 will be the year that more personal mobile devices will be used to connect to corporate networks to allow exactly what I'm already experiencing. 

Do you agree?  Would you use personal/portable devices to access work information?  




This is a featured post.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

404 pages: Can you fix what’s already broken?

If you arrive at a webpage which has a message starting ‘Error 404’, you might wonder what it means. Simply, it means that the webpage you have visited either has the incorrect URL address or that the content that was previously there has been removed for some reason. Either way, it can be a little disconcerting for some people.

Used to illustrate a broken page or part of a site, you might think that little can be done with a 404 page, but that’s not the case at all. In recent years, therehas been a growing trend for 404 pages being changed almost beyond recognition. They have been made to be more informative, act as extra ad space or for more leftfield purposes.

A splash of colour

Previously, 404 pages were thought of as being nothing more than a blindingly obvious message surrounded by white space. However, they can be made to be far more colourful and easy on the eye with the addition of memes, cartoons or even something like a modified message that’s either humorous or slightly apologetic in tone.

Strange though it might seem, 404 pages can also be used in the search for missing persons. With so much space to use, it kind of makes sense to use these pages for more charitable ends, especially if they’re viewed by thousands of people. If they’re used in the right way, then 404 pages can be fixed to become something far more substantial.

Here are some creative uses of the 404 page


Dawdle, Mario, 404 page,
Dawdle
Dawdle created this great Mario inspired 404 page. 
Their Princess is in another castle.

South Park, 404 page,
South Park Studios
South park Studios created this 404 page which displays the 
series’ usual humour and reflects the brand.

Cats Who Code, 404 page,
Catswhocode
Where would we be without the internet’s favourite animal? 
This simple 404 page is funny and cute.

Virgin Cruises, 404 page
Virgin Cruises
This animated 404 page from Virgin Cruises is simple and informative. 
It allows the user to find what they are looking for from right on the page.

Rarview, Chuck Norris, 404 page
Rarview
Apparently Chuck Norris is all you need on a 404 page



For more interesting 404 Pages please see a similar article on Typecast.
This is a featured post. For more details please view my disclosure policy.

Customise Your Website Images On Facebook

facebook images, tutorial, geekalicious, think geek

Up until quite recently, when you shared a link on Facebook it would have been accompanied by a thumbnail image.  In September, Facebook rolled out an update which presented a larger image dragged from the shared article which hopefully encouraged increased engagement and looked 'more beautiful' on mobile apps.  In this post Facebook give details about the optimum og:image size for your blog posts and articles.  Here is an example of such a post from the Typecast Facebook page:

example of a facebook post


But, hang on... what does "og:image" mean?  How do we know if our images are optimised to take advantage of this feature?  Why does the wrong image sometimes show up on the link when you share it?  


"og" is a command for "Open Graph" which is an official procedure that enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph (source: The Open Graph protocol).  Facebook uses this command in its development.  Using very basic metadata embedded into the <head> section of your website you can optimise the way in which your links and images are shared on Facebook.


If you have followed a previous Geekalicious tutorial which explained about meta tags then you will already have the following meta content embedded into the <head> area:
<meta content='VERY SHORT DESCRIPTION HERE' name='description'/>
<meta content='BLOG OR WEBSITE KEYWORDS HERE' name='keywords'/>

Firstly, remember to back up your blog!.
Next, open the HTML section of your blog and find the line that says </head>.  DIRECTLY ABOVE the </head> tag you need to add the information below:

<meta content='YOUR WEBSITE NAME' property='og:site_name'/>
<meta content='THE TITLE OF YOUR WEBSITE' property='og:title'/>
<meta content='A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR WEBSITE' property='og:description'/>
<meta content='YOUR URL' property='og:url'/>
<meta content='THE LINK TO A MAIN IMAGE' property='og:image'/>

SAVE your template and then test your website using the Facebook Debug tool.  If there are any changes to be made they will show up here.



Hints and Tips


  • This method will override the use of any images when sharing on Facebook which may not be so good for blogs with continuous updates - this may only work as a temporary fix.  However, using this metadata will be great for websites who want to feature a company logo and company information.
  • In the metadata code the title of your website should be no more than 90 characters in length.
  • In the metadata code the description of your website should be about 300 characters in length.
  • In the metadata code the URL should be the main URL of your website or blog.
  • The og:image should be a minimum of 200x200px.  This will be the over-ride image that is used if the image on the article or blog post isn't the optimum size (1200x630px with the absolute minimum being 600x315px).
  • Use PicMonkey to resize any of your images.  Use Photobucket to host your images.
  • Check your meta content is active by using the Facebook Debug tool.



Hat Tip to @Sara_Saza for a link to CypressNorth which helped me to get my head around all this and to @LittleRascalRev for linking me up to the Facebook Debug tool to test everything.

Male v Female: Battle of the sexes online

social media icons
We all use social media in different ways. It might be for getting in touch with friends, talking to relatives from far-off lands or simply letting the wider world know what our thoughts are on certain topics. The advent of social media has helped to transform the way in which we communicate, but do men and women differ in their use of such sites?

A survey by Ladbrokes Bingo showed how men and women use social media, and there were a few glaring differences in terms of site choice, what they used it for and how it affects them in day-to-day life. The most eye-popping statistic to come from the survey results was that men were four times more likely than women to stalk someone online, usually via social media channels.

The look of love?

Regarding the issue of online stalking, men are more likely to stalk a love interest. As for women, it seems that they’re far more likely to stalk either a love rival or, more disturbingly, a partner’s ex-lover.  Fortunately, that’s not all the net is used for these days. Social media is exceedingly popular among both genders, but each gender has their favourites.

Women are most likely to use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. By contrast, guys tend to choose LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. The female choices are seen as more creative and geared towards artistic types, while the male social media channels of choice seem to be more straightforward and business-like, especially LinkedIn which is meant to help boost employment prospects.

Forgetting their netiquette?

As well as stalking, there are numerous other traps which people can fall into while online. Illegal downloading is one, but it seems that women in particular tend to turn it down – 80% said in the survey that they had never downloaded any files without prior permission. The percentage isn’t quite as high for men, but they are more likely to affect their career through use of social media.

When it comes to something less punitive but still rude, using your smartphone or tablet while watching TV can be a bit wasteful and ignorant, can’t it? Many use a second device to communicate while the telly’s on, but half of women do this. Perhaps this shows that the net could be partly responsible for a lack of communication between couples and families, but we don’t know for sure.

This is a featured post.  For more details please view my disclosure policy.

How To Create Great Search Engine Optimisation

SEO
Leading on from my post about creating effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) following Google algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, and the completely new search algorithm that is Hummingbird) here are some hints, tips and reminders for all bloggers.


Use Google Ad Words as your planner.  Find out what people are actually searching for to land on blogs and websites that share a theme with yours.  Use the Keyword Planner (embedded under Tools and Analysis) to find lists of phrases (long tail SEO) to target your content.  If any of the long tail SEO search terms already appear on your blog then revisit that content and update it if you can.

Meta description information is now more important that meta keywords (which can now be seen as keyword stuffing).  The 'meta description' (also known as 'search description') is the snippet of text that appears alongside a Google search result and is the teaser to the article or website.  The guidelines for optimum display in search results are 70 characters for the title of your post (and this needs to include a keyword) and 156 characters for the description (this doesn't need to include a keyword).

Use your permalink to include a keyword and your post title to expand slightly on your content theme (remember the 70 character rule above).  This encourages the use of the basic SEO tools available on most blogging platforms so don't forget to fill them in.

Google algorithms use a programme called Fetch to read content to ensure that it reads well and is displayed as coded.  On-page header tags should be in numerical order - <h1> will always be your title (or your website/blog name), subsequent sub-headers use header tags in decreasing numerical order as they descend in importance on the page.  In the same way, using bold and italics to highlight important sections or phrases will also increase readability.  It is worth noting that Fetch also picks up on grammar and spelling.

Create great content and write posts that people want to comment on and then share.  Remember to make it easy for your readers to share and comment too.  View your blog using different browsers and on various gadgets (desktop computer, laptop, tablet) to ensure the layout works well and/or is mobile optimised. Ensure that your comments section doesn't require readers to sign up or sign in (and turn off Captcha).  Have your share buttons in a prominent place.

Remember to optimise your images.  Rename your image before uploading and make the name appropriate to the article.  Once uploaded put alt tags and title tags in place.  An alt tag gives the image an alternative description and a title tag can be used to explain image or captions with a 'tooltip' box that pops up when a mouse moves over a link.  Good use of alt and title tags will enhance the browsing experience of visitors with disabilities, increase the page's keyword density score and provide valuable information to your visitors.

Check the behaviour on your site.  Be meticulous with regards to comments and delete anything that you suspect to be spam.  Also check your site speed and loading times and use the five-second rule (i.e. your page shouldn't take longer than five seconds to present itself on screen in full).  Google has been using page load speed as part of its optimisation since 2010.  
  • moz.com is an on-page grader and whilst this is a paid service you can utilise your one-month free trail effectively to gain insider knowledge (don't forget to cancel your subscription).
  • opensiteexplorer.org allows you to compare your website/blog's performance alongside up to five others.
  • Google Analytics now has additional sections including the Acquisition > Channels to see where visitors are coming from and Acquisition > Landing Pages to see where they are landing.
  • GTMetrix.com analyses your website performance.
  • Brokenlinkcheck.com checks for broken or dead links

Use Google Webmaster Tools.  Register your website with and without the 'www' at the beginning of the URL. Choose which one you would like as the more important version and action a 301 redirect through Webmaster Tools to prevent any registering of duplicate content. Submit a site map, 'ping' your content regularly to prove ownership and double check for unnatural backlinks.  Also if you receive a message from Webmaster Tools, act on the recommendations immediately.  

Google Plus is proving to be very important in Google search results.  If you have a personal profile or a page ensure that you have uploaded a head-and-shoulders picture and that your website is linked to your profile/page.  In return, ensure that your website/blog includes a "rel=author" or "rel=publisher" link back to your Google Plus account.  You can find out how to claim Google Authorship here.


As I said in my Search Engine Optimisation post, SEO isn't difficult but it's about doing it right and Google hasn't changed much over the years (on the surface) however the updates have ensured that they can find out who isn't conforming to their guidelines much easier.  Have a look at this presentation from Happy Dog Web Productions which takes you through the "Google Zoo" in easy-to-understand snippets of information.





Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation, Google Hummingbird
The most recent updates to the way in which Google gathers and presents its search results have meant that 'white hat SEO' wins the day and that 'black hat SEO' users will be penalised. I recently attended some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) training at work and the recommendations show that going back to basics is the order of the day.

The big message was quality over quantity.  You must be creating original content and you must create that content for the reader, not the search engine.  If you are writing with SEO in mind, there has to be a purpose for the content.  Also, related content should be kept to one page and even updated regularly.  'Long Tail SEO' should be a major consideration (people search for phrases or answers rather than keywords and voice search is becoming increasing popular too),  Examples of posts that work for long tail SEO are articles that answer questions or 'How To...' posts.

If you use Google Analytics to monitor your website activity then you may have noticed that keyword "(not provided)" has accumulated a higher percentage of your search results.  Originally, someone searching had to be logged into their Google account in order to produce keyword data.  The results were not provided in full if the user requested retained their privacy.  Now, keyword "(not provided)" has been extended to all searches which have taken place on a secure internet connection (i.e. a web address that starts with https://), if the the search takes place whilst the user is logged into their Google account (Google Plus, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Analytics) or if the user has just signed out of a Google account as the pages are still considered 'secure'.  The final instance is if the user has opted to use a secure search for their own reasons.

Optimising your blog or website for search engines isn't difficult but it has to be done right.  Google hasn't changed much over the past few years however the updates to their algorithms over the past three years means that they have got better and finding out who is not conforming to their guidelines.

Top quality content is needed whether you run a website or a blog.  Google would rather you push out a quality update once a week or once a month rather than seven pieces of content that have no relevance to your website or that are considered to be space fillers.  Updating existing content to reflect new information is also looked upon favourably.

Google is looking for content that creates interaction; you need to get people talking about your content first and foremost.  Content that generates natural sharing, likes, mentions around the internet and comments are positive ways in which to move your article or update further up the search engine results. 

Now have a read of some hints and tips regarding Search Engine Optimisation that will work really well on blogs

Further reading regarding Penguin 2.1, Hummingbird and Panda can be found on the Google Webmaster blog, SearchEngineLand and the moz.com blog.


What was the last question you asked Google?

ask google, bart simpson,
Do you ever ask a question in the Google Search box?

I do all the time.  Here are a selection of my recent questions:

  • Why won't Picasa import my pictures?  Apparently I had to select the 'small pictures' option in the View menu.
  • How do I add my blog to Bloglovin'?  You add the URL into the search box and Bloglovin' find the RSS feed.  Cool, huh?
  • How do I change the bitrate in Audacity?  This was for editing purposes for my radio show.  They've moved the Options button to the Export menu.
  • How can I train my dog properly?  This led me to a fantastic guy on YouTube whose methods really work (but our dog is still a lunatic!).
  • When did Friday Twiz start? I needed to know for bragging rights but TwBirthday gave me the answer.
  • What is EVOO?  I kept seeing this when looking for pasta sauce recipe advice.  I should have guessed that it's Extra Virgin Olive Oil, shouldn't I?
  • How do I turn one page to 'landscape' in a Word document?  A brain fart moment but it's all about knowing where the additional menus are.


So humour me.  What was the last question you asked Google and did you find the answer you needed?


#PrestonGeekUp - Taking Responsibilty For Your Online Behaviour

Geekalicious Recommends
I have been hankering after a local geek meet for ages and have thought, on more than one occasion, that it would be a good idea to arrange something, but I just haven't had the time or  the contacts.  Preston Geek Up has to be the best kept secret in the world of Social Media.  The first I heard about it was after seeing a retweet from Liz (@Tech_Geek_Girl) so I immediately requested more information.



I spoke to organiser Jim (@JimBurns83), offered to speak and agreed a theme of Taking Responsibility For Your Online Behaviour.  Below are my longhand notes.  Please feel free to download them to use as reference, taking note of the Creative Commons licence attributed to it.

Preston Geek Up is a great idea and I'm definitely going back for more!.  If you were there, don't forget to stay in touch!


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Creative Commons License

In this instance, Taking Responsibility For Your Online Behaviour by Nickie O'Hara
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

How can we apply the success of Facebook to our blogs?

Facebook is one of the most popular concepts of the digital world.  It concentrates on connections and interactions and has developed into a platform on which to share stories and information.  In many ways, that is the same as blogging.  Here are four ways in which we can use Facebook's success and apply it to our own blog to help us stand out in the crowd. 


The Colour Scheme

Facebook uses a theme of blue in just a couple of shades to highlight the toolbar, links and conversations.  In an interview Mark Zuckerberg once said that it was because blue was considered to be a rich colour but the truth is that Zuckerberg is colour-blind and blue is the colour most easily seen by him.  

The success of the website proves that you do not need a rainbow of colour and a busy background to maintain a successful site.  It it good practice to remember that what you find appealing on a blog is not necessarily what the reader finds appealing (it is also worth considering your page layout too).  Also, all formatting and design is stripped when the blog is read in a RSS Reader (e.g. Blog Lovin or Feedly) or has minimal design when sent out by email.

Photographs

Facebook is full of photographs; it's a way that the users share their news with family, relive nights out with friends and celebrate important events in their lives.  People change their profile photo and cover image to reflect their current mood and place in life.

Take this over to the blog by using images to reflect what is going on in your post, to help enhance the content and to increase engagement.  Make the images as enjoyable as the content using your own images where possible.  You can find free images from appropriate resources (i.e. Stock.xchng, Google Advanced Image search, Flickr advanced search for images that are Creative Commons licenced) and you should always credit the source.  

The Number Of Users

Facebook has an enormous monthly audience (1.15 billion monthly active users) and daily active users have been led to believe that they cannot even think of their lives without it.

Generally bloggers will not have to consider that level of traffic but if you create unique and engaging content, your audience will recognise your blog as the place to visit for that subject matter (advice, humour, discussion, etc), have it bookmarked and will actively watch out for updates.

Landing Page 

On Facebook you have the option to select a username for your personal profile or your page (check the settings options).  The three founders of Facebook have very simple web addresses.  Just type "http://www.facebook.com/4" into your web browser and you will be taken to Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page.  Typing /5 after the main URL will take you to Chris Hughes's page and /6 takes you to Dustin Moskovitz's page.

Having a custom domain makes your blog address easier to remember and gives an air of professionalism and it can also help with search engine optimisation (SEO).  You can also direct more than one custom domain to the same URL.  


Let me know if you have any comparisons to add.


How To Get The Best Out Of Google Plus

I am really enjoying building my Google Plus audience and a new platform means new connections and new ways of interacting.

Recently, +Marie Mosley of Code It Pretty approached me and asked me to write a guest post for her mini-series about Why Bloggers Love Google Plus.


  • Part one is from +Elaina Newton who writes the foodie blog The Rising Spoon.  She tells us how to keep it real on G+ by using visual media, realising that you don't have a character limit and by taking advantage of the community spirit.
  • Part two is by yours truly.  I talk about taking time to explore the platform, growing an audience organically and I share five top tips to get started.
  • Part three is by +Marie Mosley herself.  She writes a love letter to Google Plus and reminds me where I first discovered her amazing blog and tutorials (via +Lisa Ding's Blogger Hangouts!).

What is great about this three-part mini-series is the fact that completely by coincidence we have all touched on similar features of Google Plus - mainly the growing communities and the fact that we were all early adopters yet still expanding our networks slowly and effectively.  If you're just starting out with Google Plus, these three posts are going to be a great source of reference and information.


You can find me on Google Plus as +Nickie O'Hara or on my +Geekalicious page.


What is 'PR'?

geekalicious guest post logo
Today I bring you a guest post from Amanda Jackson of Tigerfish PR.  I met her a few weeks ago when I was co-presenting at Preston FM with Will Buckley.  She shared her 'hourglass' analogy whilst explaining about Public Relations (PR) and I was fascinated.  I asked Amanda to share her analogy on Geekalicious and here it is.  If you have any questions for Amanda please post them in the comments section and I'll direct her over here to respond to them.

¨¨°º©©º°¨¨


There are two questions I get asked frequently. How on earth do you find time for social media? And 'what IS public relations exactly?'

And usually answer to both of them is helped by... my hourglass. Yes, strange as it sounds, I use my beautiful half-hour device - it looks like an oversized egg timer. Let me tell you about it.

I acquired it a few years ago, in a bid to explain PR. There are many definitions of PR. It is  often thought of as press relations, but more accurately it is public relations. But what on earth does that mean?

Image Credit:
Rachel Caitlin, Flickr
Well, imagine my hourglass. The top part of it  is what is happening in your own business. All the business wins and challenges. The people coming and going, the funny incidents, the exhibitions you're going to. The 91 year old you might employ, the apprentices you've taken on. The new machinery you've bought, the services you've improved. You know, the 'stuff' that makes up our business world.

The bottom part, is what is happening in your customers' world. Pretty much the same - the challenges and successes. The new people, products and services.

So the middle bit? The neck of the hourglass?? Well, that is where PR fits in. That is the way that you and your customers communicate. That sand flowing though? That's the PR, the public relations. It's small bits of information, delivered slowly, consistently. They might be emails, stuff customers read in the press (via press releases), it might be a newsletter, it might be an exhibition, hey, it might be a conversation. But it's communication.

And the best thing about an hour glass, is that it is two-way. Turn it over. The information flows from customer to you. Who wouldn't want that?

Which leads me onto the social media. Because social media, whether it is Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. are all ways that you can communicate with your customers and potential customers. They are all that 'sand' flowing both ways, between you and your customer. But oh boy, can it eat time.

Which is where my timer comes in again. Mine is a half hour timer. I have it permanently on my desk. So I allow myself half hour 'chunks' of time for social media. I can see when the time's gone. There's no "forgetting" what time I started. I wouldn't be without it.

Finally, I confess, that half hour timer is also perfect for making me focus and crack on with tasks I sometimes put off. Like, er...doing 'PR for me' for example, because I'm like that  classic cobblers' child i.e. barefoot.

So for me, a half-hourglass forms part of the answer to many questions. But in in my experience, never the one which starts -'how long does it take to make a 30 minute Jamie Oliver meal?'


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Amanda Jackson is founder of Tigerfish PR, a PR agency which specialises in logistics and manufacturing sectors.  Her firm offers down-to-earth communications strategy, PR campaigns and social media training for companies that make stuff or move stuff. 

How To Create Great Images For Pinterest

Pinterest is all about images.  If a picture catches the eye then the user is more likely to click through to read the article and repin.  If you are looking to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website having fantastic images is an important inclusion in your blog post.  

This tutorial shows you how to overlay text onto an image intended to draw people to your blog post. 

I switch between PicMonkey and Picasa (desktop version) to create my Pinterest images.  They use very similar methods to overlay text onto an image.  Here I am using PicMonkey to demonstrate.  Both editing programmes are free (although PicMonkey does have a paid upgrade available)



Image


picmonkey main screen

  • Pick an image that relates to the theme of the post.
  • Upload your image to PicMonkey using the prompt on the main screen


Text


picmonkey editing suite

  • Overlay your text onto the image and ensure the text is prominent and readable
  • Save the image to your computer (it will save as a new image instead of replacing the original)


Use


how to make balloon flowers image
Example using the method
in this post
  • Insert into your blog post in the upper third.
  • Ensure you have a Pinterest-friendly blog if you want your images to be pinned
  • This image style is great for tutorial and recipe posts


If you do not want your images to be shared on Pinterest please have a look at my "Block Pinterest" tutorial 







Are you aware of your digital footprint?

digital footprint
Paris Brown is was the UK's first youth police and crime commissioner.  She is 17 years old and already has a number of social media accounts.  Since her new role was made public, the British media have made it their mission to delve around in her very short online history and dissect anything they can find.  They printed tweets dating back three years which made her appear racist, homophobic and supportive of the drug culture.  
source:  BBC News
updated source:  BBC News

As Ms Brown so rightly says, with hindsight, teenagers have been brought up with digital media all around them and it is second nature to share instant snippets of their lives with their immediate peer network.  It's difficult to remember that almost all online activity is cached (saved) and can be found with very little difficulty.  Another very good point to recognise is that Ms Brown has done something that not many politicians or celebrities can do; she has stood in front of the British media and answered to her previous actions.

However, does this now open the door for all prospective employees to request access to our social media accounts during the interview process?  After all, we are very used to seeing disclaimers such as, "These are my own views and not those of [insert well known organisation]" on many a Twitter bio.

I am constantly engaged in conversations where parents are attempting to protect their children's digital footprint by giving them nicknames online (especially in the Parent Blogger community), hiding their faces in images uploaded to social media accounts or even reserving their Facebook account names and/or domain names for future use.  As a parent of older children (now teenagers and young adults) I feel that this is taking away some of their digital responsibility and the excitement of creating their first online account but as a parent, I understand the need to educate my child about 'netiquette'.  But are we teaching them correctly?

Each social media platform has its own merits and uses yet prolific online users tend to connect with as many as they can in an attempt to achieve a maximum audience.  At the other end of the scale, you will find slightly less techy people sticking to Facebook as they were early adopters and it is an easily accessible platform for users of all ages and ability (plus there are games).  However, I feel that we should use each platform differently and you don't need to use all of them all of the time.

Facebook:  Great for family and friends.  Befriend people you actually know and get into the habit of checking your privacy settings.  Use the platform to keep in touch on a 'real life' basis.  

Twitter:  Real time updates from real time people.  Twitter reminds me of the Ferris Bueller quote: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.  Apply this to Twitter (time spent, amount of people you follow, the type of people you follow) and you can't go far wrong.

Google Plus:  It's a geek zone.  It's going to take time for your Average Joe to migrate over to a new platform.  However, if you understand that whatever Google create now is going to be incorporated into its own search engine then you can use that power for your own gain.  

Every social media platform is going to be embedded with money-making schemes and spammers.  The algorithms built into each platform allow you to be targeted according to your usage.  Each platform will capture your information and usage statistics and use it to enhance your time spent on there.  This forms part of your digital footprint.  

Facebook has introduced Edge Rank, targeted advertising and now payment for messaging strangers.  Twitter has promoted tweets - clearly marked and sometimes locked into the top of an app.  Google tends to embed their campaigns into their search results and (by choice) on-page advertising using Google Ads but with a little forethought and planning we can control the settings on our accounts, flip everything on its head and enjoy the social media platforms in the way they were intended.  

Online life is an important part of now and of the future  however, as long as we are aware of what we are sharing (both with our audience and with the platform owners) then we remain in control of our digital footprint.  And this is what we need to teach new users from the outset.


Geekalicious Recommends... March 2013


Welcome to "Geekalicious Recommends..." for March 2013. Here are my favourite geek and tech based posts that I have read this month.  As we have a long weekend here in the UK to celebrate Easter I have included a few more links than normal 

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Twitter


Twitter celebrated its 7th Birthday this month.  This Telegraph article was written in 2011 but the numbers are still pretty amazing.  Knowing how much Twitter has grown in such a short space of time, watching Tweet Ping has been pretty mesmerising.  See tweets from all over the world displayed in realtime on a map with Europe out-tweeting the rest of the world (I'm not even going to try and guess how many of those are mine...)

Here is a very to-the-point (and close to the bone) blog post from by @sharonGOONer detailing some Twitter rules and how to use Twitter.  Maybe she should team up with Anton Gartner who is ready to give up Twitter after posting 10,000 tweets and only managing to accumulate 15 followers?
*cough*TheOnion*cough*

On the All Twitter blog, they've been talking about the 25 terrible things you should never include in your Twitter bio.  It's genius!  I'm hoping that I've made none of those mistakes in my own Twitter bio but I'm a bit afraid to update or change it because I think I surpassed myself with this one.

Did you see the #DancePonyDance campaign run by Three?  This Second Sync article explains exactly how they got their viral campaign so right using hashtags, promoted tweets and embedded videos.



Google Plus


This post from Confluent Forms is from last August but still very relevant.  It talks about how Google is integrating its products with search engine results but it also champions Blogger as a blogging platform (hooray!)

I was bowled over by a G+ update from +Jens Graikowski who has come up with such a simple, yet effective idea for managing the content that he shares on Google Plus.
And, as you can see, I've also been using the Blogger/G+ integration tool to mention people you're connected with on Google Plus. 

I am currently trialing the Friends+Me cross-posting social media update facility.  I actually like it very much and will be expanding on it more soon here on Geekalicious.  It has helped with interaction on my three main social media platforms (I don't use LinkedIn) and increased the time I'm spending on Google Plus but I am still testing some of the settings to find out what works best for me and my followers.  I truly don't want to spam and/or update with unnecessary content.


All The Rest


I had been receiving an increasing number of 'complaints' that my Disqus commenting system wasn't available on mobile devices.  I got in contact with Disqus and they informed me that they have now updated their system to include commenting on tablets and phones.  You can find out how to implement that by following these instructions but you also need to switch off comments on Blogger.  You can do that by following these instructions 
As an aside, the @DisqusHelp team on Twitter are fabulous.  Give them a shout if you have any Disqus queries.

One of my favourite geek blogs - Social Media Examiner - highlighted some findings from the Technorati Digital Influence report and, surprisingly, blogs outrank social networks for consumer influence.  Now, a lot of this is down to clever Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but also the fact that many brands will send out samples to influential bloggers to reivew.  All the more reason for bloggers to retain integrity by posting truthful reviews rather than just positive ones.

This leads nicely into the post from the Cybher team which examines the ripple effect from the Interflora search downgrade (for more about Interflora see this post on the +Geekalicious page).  Cybher have gone into great details about the need for nofollow links when paid and the legalities of declaration.  If you conduct reviews and/or take sponsored content on your blog, it's important to keep up to date with the need for transparency.
(By the way, did you know that if you have a free Wordpress blog - wordpress.com - you cannot take on any form of paid or recompensed activity on your blog?  Read more about that here)

And, to finish, if you are a fellow blogger, I'm sure you will find yourself nodding through the whole of this comic from The Oatmeal.  It has also made me consider the value of comments on blogs in general.  I occasionally think about turning them off and inviting continued interaction over on Twitter/Facebook/G+ but I do enjoy the on-site feedback and conversation.  




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I hope you have enjoyed these recommendations.  If you find or write an article that you would like me to include in the next round-up please drop me an email and I'll give it a read through.  I am always happy to recommend great blogs and enjoy finding new blogs to read.



Subscribe To Geekalicious

subscribeI am trialing a new way to deliver updates to you from the Geekalicious blog.

The imminent loss of Google Reader has made me a little bit jittery with regards to Feedburner (also owned and powered by Google) so I am going to use Mail Chimp for daily updates with effect from today.

Please sign up for Geekalicious updates using this link or the 'Subscribe' form in the sidebar on the main blog.  You will not be spammed and you will only receive one email when I update the blog.  

I'd also love to hear your feedback and your recommendations for subscriber lists.  


If you follow my personal blog, Typecast, you can get regular email updates using this link.

Geekalicious Recommends... February 2013


Welcome to "Geekalicious Recommends..." for February 2013.
Here are my favourite geek and tech based posts that I have read this month.  'Visual' seems to be a recurring theme.

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Let's start this month with a bit of a funny.  One of the High Tea Cast crew pointed me in the direction of the Tumblr account called POHTPOF: Pictures Of Hipsters Taking Pictures Of Food.  I hold my hands up here - guilty as charged, m'lud.  I even Instagrammed my Costa coffee yesterday because no-one has ever seen a picture of heart-shaped sprinkles before have they...? But it brings it home when you see how daft other people look when photographing food and drink, doesn't it?

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Google Plus Helper have written a great post which shows you how to share links effectively on Google Plus.  Using the tools provided on the platform ensures the link you are sharing is displayed effectively and (most importantly) is crawled by Google for use in their search results.  It also shares tips on the best way to share using the +1 button displayed on blogs and websites

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The next link was highlighted by Melinda Fargo.  Initially, I wasn't too sure if this Google Glass article was a spoof or not but it seems plausible.  It reviews a mobile device, developed by Google, that brings technology closer to your senses.  In a week where I blogged about going "Off The Grid" it is very ironic that I've also been looking at this concept.  I am planted firmly in the centre of the two worlds believing that we should find a happy medium in our digital world.  Online life is very much a part of who I am and how I communicate and could never completely remove gadgets from my life but having technology so readily available next to my temple is maybe a step too far, even for me?

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This week saw the Oscars award ceremony.  The pre-show red carpet programme has evolved into a product placement opportunity starting with the question "Who are you wearing?" but, more noticeably unrelated statements such as, "You could take a great picture of that with your [insert well known camera phone make and model here]. The way in which we watch television now, especially live events, has evolved with many people using their social media platforms to share their opinion.  Social Media Today have documented the Oscars trends on the three main social media platforms in infographic format with some interesting statistics included.

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This next infographic is from Visually and attempts to plot all the Vaguely Rude Place Names In The World.  It is totally interactive but I'm sure they've missed a few out... 
(edit: January 2015 - original source

Vaguely Rude Place Names Of The World



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Finally, I spotted this image scroll past on Twitter.  It appears to have been first tweeted by @utterben but has been retweeted and claimed so many times that I am unsure of its actual origin.  But whoever created it is spot on!

daily mail outrage

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I hope you have enjoyed these recommendations.  If you find or write an article that you would like me to include in the next round-up please drop me an email and I'll give it a read through.  I am always happy to recommend great blogs and enjoy finding new blogs to read.


Off The Grid

social media,
Back in June of 2012, Phil Szomszor of The Red Rocket went "cold twerky" for a week.  As I gasped with horror at the mere thought of living for a few days without Twitter, Phil explained that he wasn't completely disappearing from social media, but he was going to invest that time into building his Google Plus presence.  Albeit slightly dated now (yes, even after only eight months) you can read the results of his experiment here.

I would describe myself as a social media juggler, as mentioned in Phil's post; I manage the three main platforms (Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook) very well and my preference swings from one to the other depending on my mood.  So when I heard Joanne Mallon was throwing down a 'no tech' gauntlet I decided to sit on the sidelines and watch (oxymoron intended).  Here is Joanne's account of the day:


geekalicious, guest post, Three years ago most of us didn't have smartphones – now they’re as precious as members of the family, and we keep them safe like prized jewels. 
After my daughter challenged me to a day without technology, my response was to clutch my iPhone to my bosom and hiss You will prize this from my cold dead hands.  But then I thought about it, and the fact that children are often criticised for spending too much time in front of a screen when really it’s we adults who can’t face time unplugged.
So I did it, a day without technology. And when I was writing about my day on my blog (as one must) I asked if any other bloggers wanted to try it too. And that’s where it really started to get interesting because for every one person who was prepared to spend a day off grid, there were several more who said they couldn't even live tech free for an hour. And to my mind, they’re the ones who need to try it the most 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a technology fan. I’m part of the generation who has benefited from technological advances in so many areas of life. And it's all so easy now - these days you don’t have to know how stuff works to be able to make it work for you. Thanks to technology I can work very flexibly from home around my family. I can take great pics and share them with far-flung relatives. I can make great friends whom I've never actually met. So yes, tech is good. But not so good that we can’t benefit from stepping back from it occasionally. 
For me, the down side of tech toys is that they enable you to be physically present but mentally somewhere else. So you can be in the room with your children or spouse but your attention is anywhere but with them. That’s what technology can take away – the ability to be fully present in the moment and not composing a tweet about that moment in your head. Life is not just one big Instagram opportunity.

Another blogger who took up Joanne's challenge for the day was Lynn Schreiber.  Almost as much of a Twitter addict as me, I was interested to hear how Lynn would cope without her beloved i-Products and you can read about her day without technology here.  But what is most interesting is the continuation of 'low-tech' that she has implemented since the experiment.  Here's what Lynn has to say:


geekalicious, guest post,
When Joanne asked me to go offline for a day my initial response was 'OMG woman, are you out of your mind?' but after some consideration, I decided to try it out.  I wasn't sure that I could do it, so deliberately ran down my iPhone battery so that I wasn't tempted to cheat.
I blogged the day after the experiment about how it felt and now, a couple of weeks further down the line I can report on the long term changes I have put into place. 
Before my day without tech, I would sit until midnight on the computer, then take my iPhone or iPad to bed and sometimes faff around on the internet for another hour or so.  Now I generally go to bed earlier and often put the gadgets aside to read a book (although I often do that on my Kindle so not quite tech-free).  If I do continue to surf, I tend to log out much earlier than previously. 
I have cut down on my forum posting and general browsing and am working hard on various projects, some ofwhich should actually enable me to make money.  I would say that I am using the computer slightly less and I am using it for more 'worthy' activities rather than watching cat videos and arguing with strangers. 
My Twitter addiction won't be that easy to kick though, so don't ask that of me again.  The hardest part of the day was not being able to tell everyone how well I was doing on my Day Without Tech.

Even though it is only three years since the first iPad was introduced, I have been using forums and taking part in online activity for the best part of thirteen years now.  Digital engagement has become a huge part of my life and is very much a way of life in some respects.  I appreciate that we need to step away from the screen occasionally and stop living our lives through phone cameras, reporting back every single moment of our lives, but would removing it completely and going 'off grid' be productive?

Could you go without technology for any length of time? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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