How To Stay Focused On Pinterest

How To Stay Focused On Pinterest

Here is a very simple method that I use to fill my Pinterest timeline with images and information that are relevant and inspirational to me.

When I use Pinterest for work and research I set a timer.  This is important to me because I am easily distracted and will spend hours down the Pinterest rabbit hole.  Once I am focused I follow this method: 

Search, Pin, Follow


How To Stay Focused On Pinterest, pinterest logo
  • Search for something relevant to your focus or task
  • Pin it on an appropriate board
  • Follow the board suggestion 


I find that I am spending less time unfollowing boards that are irrelevant to my interests. This method also ensures that my timeline is full of interesting content that I would possibly never find by following just my friends from Facebook and Twitter (as per the suggestions provided by Pinterest).

Let me know what your tips are for getting the best out of Pinterest.

[REVIEW] Lumsing Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank

Every day we rely on our mobile devices more and more.  Whilst we are out and about we are texting, calling, using social media and this sucks the life out of the battery. Recently I have been trying out the Lumsing (harmonica style) portable power bank and I have to say that I'm very impressed. 

Lumsing Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank

What is it?


The Lumsing Portable Power Bank is an external battery and/or recharger for your mobile devices. Using this power bank you can recharge your phone or your tablet whilst out and about (e.g. over-night camping, at a festival, on a day trip).

What do you get?


Included in the package is the Lumsing power bank, a USB cable, a carrying pouch and a user guide.  The power bank weighs 12.5 oz and easily fits into your pocket or bag for 'on the move' charging. 

How does it work?


The power bank can be charged up via your computer using the USB cable or a wall socket (worth noting that to be used with an Apple device, you will have to use your own original cable) and the amount of charge held inside the power bank is displayed by a row of four blue lights (demonstrated in the image to the right). 

The power bank includes two USB ports so that two devices can be charged at the same time. The Lumsing also incorporates an auto-shut-off which kicks in when your mobile device has been fully charged or is unplugged from the power bank which saves the charge inside the unit. I used the power bank to recharge my tablet and my video camera and home then I blasted it back up to full charge. I took it out with me during a day out last week to recharge my phone a couple of times and the unit itself doesn't actually need recharging at the moment.

Show me more!


Here is a short video I made showing you the size of the power bank and some of the features. 



Visit the Lumsing product page on Amazon for more details and pricing.

Cyber online security: the facts

online security, factsThe growth and development of the internet has changed the world of the individual and the global economy. The internet allows individuals to communicate ideas to others across the world and also encourages further freedom of speech. Cyberspace has also changed the way governments are communicating with the country along with how news is distributed.

It is thought that by 2016 a total of three billion individuals will be using the internet however; the worrying thing is that the internet was not built with security in mind.

Whilst the internet provides a wealth of opportunities, no one polices it or monitors it making it unrestrained and full of freedom. This lack of control and policing inevitably leads to a number of growing threats and vulnerability to cyber attacks. In 2011 the UK alone suffered 44 million cyber attacks and this makes online security more important than ever.

Online security for businesses

Online security is not only important for the individual sat at home, it is also vital to businesses around the UK in order for them to prosper economically. Whilst the number of business security breaches has slightly decreased in the past year, the cost of the breaches has risen.

In fact 10% of businesses were so badly damaged that they actually had to change the nature of their business.

Both large and small businesses alike are vulnerable to security breaches with almost three fifths of businesses expecting to see more security problems in the coming year. It is therefore important that you protect your business or home with online security measures. Don’t think it’s important?

Here are some facts for you:

  • 81% of large businesses have had a security breach.
  • 60% of small businesses have had a security breach.
  • 16 is the average amount of security breaches a large business had suffered in the last year.
  • £600,000 is the average cost a security breach costs a large organisation.
  • £65,000 is the average cost a security breach costs a small organisation.


Malicious software

Whilst both large and small companies alike fall victims to security breaches, there is an increase in the malicious software being the cause of such attacks. Malware attacks are aiming predominantly at larger organisations:
73% of businesses have suffered from malicious software in the past year; this is an increase from 59% in 2012. Worryingly a further 24% of large organisations had found that outsiders had successfully entered into their network in the last year.
A large number of organisations both large and small are prioritising security and this is reflected in the increase in budgets assigned to information security.


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

How Can You Grow Your YouTube Subscriber List Organically?

Here is my YouTube channel.  It houses a variety of vlog-style videos, family activities, a new venture called #vlogchallenge and a bit about my love for stationery.  I plugged into a free webinar recently which was based around growing your channel organically. There was nothing to lose really (apart from an hour of my time).
YouTube, subscribers, organic,

SPOILER ALERT:  Apparently, the answer is that 'collaborations' are the way to grow your channel. Jamie Oliver was used as an example of channel growth based on the premise that that he had a "show on a local channel in the UK" and then used his own money to move that over to a YouTube audience with the help of a production team. His collaborations had been with Kevin Bacon, Grover from Sesame Street and the cast from an American food network show. The spike in his subscribers (and view count) after these collaborations was considered to be a success.

It was later explained that Jamie Oliver is quite well known (with successful restaurants and book deals) in the UK which is when myself and Kate (who was also listening in) started to think that the webinar was aimed at people who already had a lot of subscribers and they had successfully montized their videos on YouTube to the point where this was a main income stream. They were in a position where they were able to invest their time in actually go to see other people who had a lot of subscribers (we're talking in the high thousands here) to create their collaboration videos.

I mean, can you imagine this happening:
Hi Kev, What's in the shed? Oh hang on... is it Jamie Oliver? Haha, just kidding. Will you nip up to Blackburn and join me on #vlogchallenge this week?  You will? Cheers, buddy. No, sorry, I can't pay any expenses. What's that? Kevin? Kevin?  Where have you gone...
No, neither can I.

One of the questions I ask myself often is, "Why is YouTube so popular?" and I can break it into three themes: music, creativity and conversation.  And the third theme is the reason why vlogging (or talking direct to camera) is growing in popularity.

Vlogging is currently at the forefront of YouTube channel growth with many young vloggers taking over the platform with their bubbly, enthusiastic personalities. Some of these young people are now branching out into further media after being offered television presenting slots and radio shows; the focus being very much on the 11-16 and 16-24 year old age groups.  

Online relationships often mean that peer groups are now not necessarily formed at school or work. They are also very often not people who live in the same town as you. Those not earning a true income stream from YouTube monetization can not afford to take time away from their job or family to arrange collaborations.

So my new question is: How can start-up channels really grow their YouTube subscriber list organically?

Have you grown a YouTube channel from zero to hero? How long did it take? Do you have any hints or ideas? 
Do you want to pop over to Blackburn and collaborate?

The Great Klout Experiment (Updated)

originally on Typecast in November 2011

Once upone a time the big social media conversation was centered around Klout - which promotes itself as 'the standard for influence' across most social media platforms

In simple terms, Klout uses a number of (secret) metrics to measure how you use your social media accounts and connections, mixes all these up in their virtual cauldron and concocts a score for you to worry over. The score is ranked up to 100 and anyone with a score over 60 was considered a noteworthy influencer in any number of areas including Technology, Sports, Health, Music and Food.

Now it's worth noting that these results are somewhat screwed from the outset as there are some people more influential than others through circumstance when you consider some of the magic that Klout uses: followers, retweets, conversations...  So I may post an update about my new blog post, eight people will reply to that update, 43 will click through to read it and three will retweet it.  Justin Bieber, on the other hand, will post an update, 395 people will reply to him (in the hope of a personal message back) and 2438 will retweet it (to show that they are listening to what he says) and a couple of thousand of people will click on his link because they trust his endorsement.  He obviously has more 'Klout' than me because of his fame.  But it doesn't mean that his new update is any more/less important.

I love all social media platforms and feel as though I have a (omni-) presence on the main ones.  I was interested in the way in which Klout worked within the social media networks and connected ALL my accounts as instructed.

I was once riding high with a Klout score of 72 - a score that was considered lofty among my fellow networkers but it didn't bring me riches... just took me to the top of the BritMums score chart (you like how I took a screenshot of that?).  But then Klout changed their measuring stick and almost everyone's score plummeted overnight!

There was outcry!  How DARE a social media measuring organisation give with one hand and take with the other.  Were people really LESS influential than they were 24 hours earlier? Klout even held a 'twitter party' of sorts, inviting questions and explanations but the stream appeared to be just a long line of aggrieved account holders with lowered scores, the occasional update from the Klout twitter account and not a lot of explanation or even smoothing of ruffled feathers - just some very carefully worded tweets.  And you had to wonder if the conversation was being carried out on any other social media platform.  After all, how would it have been fair just to choose Twitter exclusively as a weapon of choice? Surely influence and information was required was across a number of social media networks?

But it appeared that the majority of bloggers (my main network and scale) had experienced the same drop (about 10 points) so we were all still as influential in comparison with each other.  However, over the next few days I saw my score dropping steadily yet my social media activity remained the same.  I still tweeted, updated Facebook, occasionally posted something to Google+ (example update : Help, what do I do here?), gave the occasional push to Linked In and I had lots of interaction on Blogger, natch!  What was I doing wrong?  I was interacting as Klout suggested.  I was connected to most social media platforms as Klout suggested.  I was promoting other Klout users as Klout suggested.

Oh, hang on a minute.  Influence.  That's what it's all about!  Let's have a quick look at all the 'connections':

  • Twitter - yes, I'm a big user.  My account is open and anyone can follow me.
  • Facebook - yes, I'm a big user.  My account is restricted and you can't see anything unless you're a friend so I had my blog 'page' as my connection.
  • Google + - no, I hardly use it I have grown to understand G+.  My account is open and I have "circle time" but it's hard to get other people to use the platform.
  • Linked In - no, I hardly use it.  My account is static, occasional 'links' added and updates to my status.
  • Foursquare - no, I hardly use it.  I have a love/hate relationship with Foursquare.
  • You Tube - yes, I'm a big user.  I vlog occasionally and I like to listen to music (and share it on Twitter/Facebook).
  • Instagram - no, I never use it Instagram was updated a couple of years ago and I've had an account for a while.  This isn't really a measure of influence but it is used in metrics on other charts (no link on Klout).
  • Tumblr - yes, I have a couple of accounts.  However, I'm not a regular user of my Tumblr account (no link on Klout).
  • Blogger - yes, I'm a big user.  I publish a blog post almost every day and comment on other Blogger blogs.
  • Wordpress  no, I never use it.  However, I do have an account on there and comment on other Wordpress blogs.
  • Last FM - no, I never use it.  I don't have a Last FM account (no link on Klout).
  • Flickr - no, I hardly use it.  I have a Flickr account but rarely upload images or comment on friend's uploads.

So, as the penny dropped, I decided to conduct The Great Klout Experiment!
(yes, this is the point of this blog post)
(also, why am I bothered?)

I finally 'got' it.  Klout was measured on influence so I needed to connect only the social media channels I was influential on, didn't I?

I disconnected all my connections apart from the ones I knew I got the most response on.

  • Week 1:  I had only Blogger connected
  • Klout : I received K+  in X-Factor, Blogging and Television
  • Result : My score continued to drop but by a smaller margin

  • Week 2 :  I had Blogger and Twitter connected
  • Klout : I received K+ in X-Factor, Blogging and Parenting
  • Result : My score leveled out but still dropped slightly.  Hhhmmmm interesting...

  • Week 3 : I connected my personal Facebook profile along with Blogger and Twitter
  • Klout : I received K+ in Money, Facebook and X-Factor
  • Result : My score rose slightly... oohh
(note: K+ is an influential notification from another Klout user)



Then I experienced a massive increase in my Klout score but saw there had been an issue with data collection from Facebook.  This had now been fixed so scores were likely to increase.  Damn... foiled!  But still an increase - from Facebook use.  I possibly wouldn't have experienced that increase if I hadn't reconnected my Facebook account.


At the time of writing, I understand that G+ is the next Klout 'connection'.  Er, hang on!  Wasn't there already a connection to be made?  Apparently not!  Seemingly, "since users started connecting their Google+ too Klout in late September, we have been hard at work building a model for G+ influence."

Oh, well that's OK then... *eye roll*

So, in conclusion, I would like to surmise that the original Klout connections were, in fact, unnecessary and worthless.  I would also like to point out that this experiment is ongoing and there may be an updated post in the future.  I am not sure if this is a bloggers conversation, a social media conversation or just something that's not really important in the grand scheme of things.  But everything that you put online is going to be analysed and whilst you provide the information, you're never in charge of the way that information is analysed.  So it's all just crap, really, isn't it?

Update September 2014 - this article was republished.  Klout now has a Chrome extension for social sharing and highlights articles on their website that they consider to be influential. 

How To Create Your Three Second Intro for You Tube

How to create your three second intro for YouTube
This post comes courtesy of a hat-tip from +Kate Sutton. We are in the process of building our You Tube channels and increasing engagement and decided it was time to add the 3-second intro video to our vlogs.

It is worth spending a bit of time planning the intro video as it acts as part of your branding process and makes you look more professional. Imagine your favourite programme without the familiar opening credit sequence. Not really the same, is it?

Once created and put into action, the intro video will automatically play at the beginning of every video you upload which negates the need for title cards when editing. One less job to do - that works for me.  I created my 3-second intro in Windows Movie Maker and Kate created hers in iMovie.  You can see exactly what they look like below.


Three Easy Steps To Set Up Your Intro

  1. Upload your three-second video and make sure it is "unlisted"
  2. Navigate to your InVideo Programming Page (Dashboard > Channel Settings > Invideo Programming, select "Add a channel branding intro" and choose the intro video you want to use (only eligible videos will be shown for selection at this stage)
  3. Choose which video(s) you want the intro to appear on. This could be all of the existing videos and new uploads or from a specific date forward.  


That's it! The video intro will be automatically added to new videos when you upload them.  You can change the intro at any point by uploading a new clip and repeating the procedure. It is also worth noting that this feature cannot be used for ads nor should it be used for sponsorship or product placement.

How to create your three second intro for YouTubeLet me know if you try this out and leave a link to your 3-second intro in the comments.

You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here and Kate's here






Update: 24th July 2014

I have now purchased a 3-second intro and a 15-second outro using Fiverr gigs and I recommend these two sellers but have a look around the offers to see if there's something else you'd prefer.
Intro from PromotionVideos | Outro from Nigellus

Going viral: How a throwaway tweet got 100,000 views

After all my time on Twitter the nearest I have come to a viral tweet is a comment made during the Big Benefits Row televised debate.  It was retweeted 116 times and 82 people added it to their favourites list. So it was with sheer fascination that I watched a Eurovision tweet created by my friend Bob trundle its way around the intewebs.  Here's Bob's take on his viral experience.

¨¨°º©©º°¨¨ 


The grand final of Eurovision 2014 had it all, from busty Polish milkmaids to bearded 'ladies', along with its fair share of nonsensical lyrics.

As usual, I was watching with subtitles on, as this gives you the English translation of songs sung in their native language - such as Italy's entry, La Mia Citta ('My City'), sung by Emma Marrone. It wasn't a totally awful song, but it was Italy's worst ever, scoring just 33 points and ranking 21st overall.

But for me, the most interesting thing about Emma's performance was the 94,000 (and climbing) Twitter views it got me.

I Love Tweeting Inattentively


First and foremost, I love to tweet anything I find even mildly amusing. Life can be pretty dull sometimes, and you never know what might brighten up someone's day. I'm a writer, so I have a lot of writers as followers, and that also means anything to do with words makes good Twitter fodder for me. So when Emma randomly sang the line 'I love parking inattentively', it was worthy of a quick (and blurry) photo of my TV, tweeted with the not-too-imaginative caption 'BEST LYRIC OF THE NIGHT'.


Over two days (and nearly 100,000 views) later, my tweet is still being retweeted and favorited by people I've never heard of and, apart from the occasional '22 people favorited your tweet' notification, never will.

At the last count, my tweet had been seen over 94,000 times, more than 3,000 people had clicked on the link to the picture (the rest must have just seen it as an image preview within their Twitter timeline), almost 2,000 retweeted it, and almost 1,000 favorited it.

Where Did It All Go Right?


Big events like Eurovision, major award ceremonies, sporting events and so on are prime candidates for going viral - and when there's an obvious hashtag to use like #Eurovision, your chances of being seen are even greater.

In my case, I also mentioned @YPLAC in my tweet, a popular website dedicated to recording examples of people parking like a cu... erm, people 'parking inattentively'. Was it my language-obsessed followers, the @YPLAC crowd or the #Eurovision hashtag that triggered my best-ever tally of retweets?

The answer is, it was undoubtedly a combination of everything - a tweet with several specific areas of appeal can ultimately be more than just the sum of its partial audiences.

Words of Warning


Surprisingly, I didn't get any backlash from this tweet, although a few people made borderline racist comments about Italian people's ability to park attentively under any circumstances. In hindsight, a better, less blurry picture might have done even better, but I'm not really dwelling on that either, it's just nice to have my timeline back under control instead of it being a blur of retweets.

Spare a thought for @merseyboyred, whose tweet comparing the Austrian entry to the guy from the Snickers advert did about ten times as well as mine, but who had email notifications switched on for each of those 20,000 retweets. If you're gonna go viral, or even try to, you might want to switch off notifications first!



And finally, do I wish I'd watermarked my image with my Twitter handle? No, not really. This isn't my first picture to go viral - the Mirror are still using my image of Countdown's 'ITCHYSEMI' moment and just vaguely attributing it to 'Buzzfeed/Twitter'. (See that pattern of lines on the top half of the clock? That's because it's a photograph of my TV, rather than a screen grab, and it's how I know for certain that I took that photo.)

But I don't really own Eurovision or Countdown, and they could easily have got a screen grab of their own from elsewhere - I didn't create the content, not really.

Compare this with content I genuinely made myself - such as my MasterCard #PricelessSurprises Venn diagram, which the Guardian used with full attribution - and I think there's a big difference. You just can't be precious about happy-snapped things off the telly; once you send it off into Twitterland, it's out of your hands. 

Besides, with 20,000 email notifications coming your way, you might be glad for the two or three that don't give you credit.



Bob Bardsley |  Phronesis Freelance
All images reproduced with kind permission

The Best Way To Socialise Whilst Trawling The Web

The internet can be a vast and daunting experience for those of you who traverse across its many sites and web pages alone, so it might be wise to make some friends along the way. How, how can I do that without coming across with many of the same mannerisms of a stalker, I hear you ask? Well the answer is simple; play some games, have some fun and stay away from the business sections.

First though, you must make sure you are comfortable with what you are doing. There is no point in trying to make new friends in a fight to the death on one of the many role-playing games out there, so it may be best to take baby steps and try some more familiar games like bingo first. Today’s technology allows fully functioning chat rooms so you can speak to players in your game room and most people will often have the same agenda as you do; to play a few, casual games whilst engaging in some light-hearted conversation.

Chat rooms are particularly popular on online bingo websites such as Winner Bingo, 888 and Wink where the social aspect is almost just as important as the gameplay. Plus, if you are a lucky bingo winner, then you can share your good fortune with other players and help to spur them on. You’d be surprised at the amount of camaraderie found in the chat rooms – you’ll find that other players are genuinely happy if someone gets a win.

Alternatively, you may find yourself a tad too competitive for online gaming and opt for other web pages, such as lifestyle, health or other sites. These pages will often have comment sections and forums, in which you can strike up a topic and attain answers from all areas of the world, as they look to join in the debate. You might ask a simple question such as ‘What is the best recipe for a cake?’ and be returned more than enough solutions, leaving you with quite a dilemma when choosing which recipe to actually follow!

A positive of the forum chats, is that they are monitored constantly and any comments that are negative or unwanted are simply removed, so you can feel free to say what you are thinking without being mocked, ridiculed or subdued. The resultant friendly atmosphere makes for the perfect place to meet new people and converse, whilst saving you the effort of searching for hours on end through ‘hashtags’ on social media to find people you have things in common with. You ask the questions, they give you the answers, it’s really that simple. Or, you could be the one answering the questions, to which you might find more joy, either way, forums are a sure-fire way to stoke the conversational flames.

This is a featured article. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

Children And Their Internet Use (survey)

I am hoping to pull together a presentation about the way in which children (under the age of 16) use the internet and how much their parents know about it.  The presentation will mainly be centred around teenagers and the freedom (or not) that they have with their internet access both at home and on their mobile phones.  

I would be extremely grateful if you could fill in the survey below (or access it here) to help with my research. Please share it among your social networks too because if more people fill it in, the better the information gleaned. The survey should take about five minutes to complete.

If you would like a copy of the findings send direct to you please ensure you share your email address where prompted. The results will be published here on Geekalicious via SlideShare in the very near future.

Thank you.


How to embrace technology to help creative collaborations

transmagic translation software
Image Credit : Transmagic
Creative industries have always relied on collaboration. Well before the introduction of computers, groups of designers would have gathered together around physical drawing boards to make comments on one another's work. Computers have only made this collaborative process easier.

From graphics in marketing to the design stage in an engineer's work space, technology has become a priceless tool not only for the design, but also for this collaborative element. Here, we take a closer look at how designers can go about embracing technology to help with their creative collaborations.

Using translation software


Each designer will often use different platforms throughout different stages of a single project. Throughout the process, as each design gets filtered through a variety of different pieces of software, as well as through different designers' computers, it's important that you spare some thought for compatibility.

Using Transmagic translation software is one way to ensure that the work you do can be viewed and altered by everyone you send it to. This is the best way to reduce the likelihood of running into trouble in the event that you and your colleagues are shifting between CAD systems.

Take advantage of your network


If you're sharing an office space with your collaborative partners, there's plenty of opportunity to take advantage of your network to help with your work. This could involve sending your work to their printers, remotely controlling their computers for a period of time or even making use of a shared monitor somewhere in the office.

For remote collaborations, it's possible to use the cloud as your own network. This will make it easy for you and your partners to keep up to date with the work that one another are doing – no matter where you are.

Holding regular video conferences


Collaborative projects always work better when everyone involved is able to communicate clearly and regularly. Of course, this is simple enough if you're working with your team in one office but it can be more challenging for those working remotely.

For those projects where you're not sat around a desk, video conferences can be a good idea. Not only will this allow you to feel closer to the people you're working with, but it will give you an opportunity to use visual aids to help express opinions on various design ideas. Where possible, sharing your screen can also be of some help

This is a featured post. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

Google Plus Is Not An Ex-Parrot


Over the past few days I have been tagged in many online conversations with the main question being, "Is Google Plus finished then?"  

Points to note are that none of these conversations happened on Google+ itself, all of the conversations were between bloggers who maybe haven't got to grips with the G+ way of life and most of the participants of these conversations were already wondering if they were about to suffer from social media fatigue.


It's simple.  Google Plus is going nowhere.  The rumours stem from a TechCrunch article - Google+ Is Walking Dead - which is an piece musing about the future of G+ now that the main developer is leaving the fold. I believe it was written purposefully to murky the waters (and has generated many spin-off articles) but you can read it and make up your own mind.

Here are my views. Forced integration of all Google products was maybe a misguided idea because it alienates people who choose not to use all of Google's online facilties. Users want choice. Give them that choice and more often than not they will choose the one you want them to anyway.  Some of the issue surrounds the fact that Google encourages people to use their own (real) name which isn't ideal if users want to use a nickname or blog anonymously (for example). Therefore bloggers installing the G+ commenting system are possibly losing some of their reader interaction.

But moving back to the main event.  Google+ has been in development for a long time.  Remember Google Buzz, Google Talk, Google Wave and iGoogle? Shades of all of these previous projects (and more) can be seen in Google Plus and maybe it was a case of 'suck it and see' to find out what did and didn't work. I agree that doing this in the public arena was a gamble but with an online product you need unbiased testers and you need to hear truthfully what the feedback is. Then you need to adapt and move forward. One thing that Google is good at is innovation.

The main developer of G+ - and all of Google's main players - agree that this system is now fully developed, is working effectively and doesn't need any further adjustment other than minor technical tweaks.  Therefore it makes sense for people to move on and development teams to be moved to other departments to use their expertise elsewhere within the organisation, or even further afield.  As I said earlier this week, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it - take note, Facebook."

You may think that hardly anyone is using the G+ platform; that it is the greatest social media platform that no-one has heard of; that only bloggers and digital publishers are using it.  Maybe they are the best people to use it? After all, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) was built in to the platform to ensure that quality content was incorporated into the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) alongside author accreditation.  And 300 million active users [source] can't be wrong can they? 

It is the same with any social media platform - it will have it's lovers and it's haters. If you don't like it, don't use it. I have Facebook friends who have never set fingertip on Twitter. There are those who don't own an Instagram account or won't spend hours getting lost on Pinterest.

Even though Google appear to have the digital user market by the short and curlies you don't have to use their products. Use a different browser instead of Chrome. Open a different search engine instead of using Google search. Steer clear of their maps and alter your images in something other than Picasa.  It's not the law to use Google, however you have to agree that the time and money they have invested into providing free products to use has to be applauded. 

Google Plus is an intuitive platform and it's one that I've loved learning about. When I post updates on G+ I don't get anywhere near the interaction I do on Twitter or Facebook but the content I read is much more varied and often a lot more (technically) intelligent  than I normally access which encourages me to investigate, research and learn. There are also people that I have had the opportunity to interact with that I would never have encountered on other social media platforms.  

As some further reading, you may find this article about Larry Page interesting. It tells the story of Google from beginning until now.  Definitely not the end.



Related Geekalicious Posts:


When tech dreams become reality...

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

Ever looked at a new piece of technology and thought that it wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction film? Actually, as it turns out, that's where it may have come from...

As the speed of development in science and technology grows ever faster, the latest gadgets are becoming more accessible than ever. Once the preserve of the young and rich, more and more people are able to play a part in this technological revolution – including the elderly.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been a sizeable increase in the number of people age over 65 who are using a computer on a daily basis. The benefits of technology for this demographic are clear; it’s much easier to stay in touch with friends and family (leading to reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation) and access services which may be of benefit – McCarthy & Stone homes for sale which are advertised online are a prime example.

Just as the technology of the present inspires older generations, so films of the past are inspiring exciting new technologies. Films and technology have long been linked. The science fiction area of the 1950s and 1960s added fuel to the fire of the space race and now technology that was once the stuff of dreams is entering the realm of reality.

Taking inspiration from TechRadar’s 10 amazing bits of future movie tech that already exist – here is a snapshot of what happens when tech dreams become reality.

Yesterday’s dreams are tomorrow’s gadgets

It’s funny to think that the tablet computer first made an appearance in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey - just one example of how the dreams of yesterday are the gadgets of tomorrow. In fact, many of our favourite tech goodies were actually the work of fiction before some intelligent soul saw fit to make all our dreams come true.

Everything is super

Incredibly, the US army is even attempting to develop an exoskeleton suit not dissimilar to the one worn by Iron Man. With superheroes a popular topic in both written media and film, it’s clear that future technological developments will put a clear focus on all things ‘super’.This suit isn’t the only item from films to be attempted in reality either. The hand from the Terminator movies, for example, could mark a huge step forward for prosthetic limbs as experts look at ways to bring this element of fiction to life.

Unparalleled freedom

Even the sci-fi staple of a futuristic driverless car may not be that far from making its debut on real- life roads. Google has already having tested a prototype of this technology on the streets of San Francisco, while Ford are developing a car that takes control of the steering if you’re about to crash.We might not quite be whizzing around on hoverboards or travelling through time, but technology that awes us in the cinema is slowly beginning to infiltrate the real world and prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anything really is possible when you put your mind to it.


Recommended YouTube Channel - Family Gamer TV


Here on Geekalicious I am going to run an occasional feature recommending YouTube channels. This first feature is a video-game channel with a difference. You can find the team on their Family Gamer TV YouTube channel or as catch Andy as @GeekDadGamer on Twitter. 



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My name is Andy Robertson and I run a YouTube video-game channel with a difference. It’s aimed at parents as well as children. We cover video-games using real families to get an honest opinion of what works (and what doesn’t) for different age groups.

Recently I realised that there wasn’t an easy way to stay up to date with the latest video-game news for parents so we started a weekly news show just for mums and dads. The latest episode is available here:



We are also working on bringing updates on the new Skylanders Trap Team (YouTube link) and the new Disney Infinity (YouTube link) games. If you have people in your family who play video-games, or play games yourself, and want a ready made community of other families to swap notes with why not check us out. We’d certainly look forward to hearing what games have worked for you.

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If you fancy having your YouTube channel featured here please get in touch.

Getting Started On Google Plus (Part 4)

Getting Started On Google Plus - A Geekalicious series
This is the final part in my four-part series, Getting Started With Google Plus.  This four-part series is designed to help you learn to love Google Plus and enjoy your time on the platform.

We have already covered setting up your profile (Part One), sharing content with relevant circles (Part Two) and using images and text formatting to help your updates stand out (Part Three) so we will move on to some final tips, tricks and recommendations. 

Part 4. Tips and Tricks


Notifications

Google Plus circle notifications
Now you are sharing great content with images and formatted text, have people in circles and are a member of a couple of communities you may have noticed that you are receiving lots and lots of notifications that are driving you mad or are pinging through to your email or phone. Within each circle and community you can control the amount of notifications you receive by adjusting the settings for each one individually.  Whilst viewing the timeline of each circle you can toggle the 'bell' on and off for notifications pushed to your email/phone and you can decide how many times you would like to see updates from that circle in your main timeline by hitting the cog and and personalising the selection shown.  The same adjustments can be made from the main page of a community.

Communities

Google Plus community threads
Please remember that when you first view a community you are looking at the main timeline of that community, i.e. everything that has been shared by the members. Take a look to the main information box to the left of the community and see if the owner has started any "threads" (discussion topics).  Conversation and/or links may be more relevant in these areas.  

Picture This

As mentioned in Part Three, Google+ thrives on images and their incorporation with Picasa means that some editing tools are available in Google+ and you can share to G+ direct from the desktop version of Picasa editing suite. Photo and Video options are available in your G+ settings and you are provided with 15GB of free storage. 

It is worth noting that if you blog on Blogger, images uploaded to your blog are automatically included in a G+ album and this count towards your free photo storage space. You can share your albums or individual images to your G+ stream and you can also use pictures from your G+ albums to help enhance your udpates - this includes any auto-awesome pictures that you may have created as these are stored in your Google Albums too.

Spending a little extra time creating 'call to action' type images is worth thinking about. You can easily overlay text on an photgraph to create a really striking lead image using Picasa or non-Google (free) photo editing websites such as PicMonkey or Photobucket.

.Gif images (moving pictures) work brilliantly on Google+ and generate a fun, eye-catching addition to your update. I'd be wary of using them consistently because they can become a little annoying.  A great place to find .gif images is by filtering the Google Image search down from the Image tab with Search Tools > Type > Animated.  Right click on the image and save it to your computer then upload as normal.  Please ensure you check usage rights before using any image you find and always credit the source.  You can also create your own .gif images by using this nifty little (free) online tool

Finally, for images, Auto Backup is worth exploring if you take lots of pictures on your phone. You can automatically back up all your mobile pictures as you take them by using a setting built into the G+ mobile app on your smart phone.  You receive unlimited free storage at the standard size of picture (2048px) - more information here.

Apps

There are a few apps that I use to help me out with my Google Plus experience.  
  • Friends+Me is a social sharing tool which allows you to share public posts from Google+ to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.  There are many source and destination settings and this app uses hashtags to control these settings.
  • Bit.ly is my weapon of choice when it comes to shortening links because you can edit the short link name and follow the life of the link with embedded statistics.
  • +1 Chrome Extension can be used to recommend and share articles directly from the webpage. This will display a 'rich snippet' social share on Google+
  • Buffer is another social sharing and scheduling tool and you can push articles to a Google+ page (not a profile sadly) either by setting up your own personal schedule or by sharing immediately.
  • Circle Count is an metric that measures a person's influence on G+. By counting the number of circles you are in and including the +1's, comments and shares the higher the influence is expected to be.  It's worth noting that currently you can only circle 5000 people but you can be in many more circles.
(Note: both Buffer, Circle Count and Bit.ly also have Chrome Extensions available)

Do's And Don't's

DO check your updates for good grammar and spelling.  People will be reluctant to recommend or share updates that don't read well unless the content is absolutely awesome.
DON'T share the same link across all social media networks and expect it to ripple on its own. You need to engage with your connections as yourself on each social media platform. Time management is key here and updates should be tailored to the platform too.
DO use the search bar at the top of your Google+ timeline to find content, people, places, photographs and more.

Links and Additional Reading

It is important to have a great Google+ profile photo (head and shoulders is recommended) and cover image. Find out the optimum size and measurements for Google+ profiles and how they convert to the mobile/app version (written by Andew Macarthy of +500 Social Media Marketing Tips). 

If you are still stuck for inspiration or new people to circle then take a look at the Explore section of Google Plus - it is also called "What's Hot" in your G+ menu.

You can read a full article about the anatomy of the perfect G+ post (written by +Dustin W. Stout).

If you own a website or a blog then you should connect your content with your Google Plus profile.  You can find out how to claim your Google Authorship here.

Google is now promoting a 'one account for all' meaning that you only need one log-in name and password to access all Google's products.  Find out how Google integration helps with your Google authority, especially when using YouTube.

This series in full

Part 4 - Tips And Tricks



Getting Started On Google Plus (Part 3)

Getting Started On Google Plus - A Geekalicious series
Thanks for returning for part three of my Getting Started With Google Plus series.  This four part series is designed to help you learn to love Google Plus and enjoy your time on the platform. 

We have already covered setting up your profile (part one) and starting to share content with relevant circles (part two) so we can now move on to improving the look of your G+ content which will increase engagement and interaction even more.


Part 3. The Bigger Picture


Formatting Your Updates

Online engagement is enhanced by images so with a fast paced social media platform it is important to create updates that stand out in the crowd.  Google Plus is very intuitive and it is worth taking a couple of extra minutes to structure your update so that it is shown off at its best. You can use bold, italics and strikethrough in your updates as follows (you can use any combination of this formatting to create really great, eye-catching updates):
  • Adding an asterisk ( * ) at the beginning and end of a section of text will create bold text
  • Adding an underscore ( _ ) at the beginning and end of a section of text will create italic text
  • Adding a dash ( - ) at the beginning and end of a section of text will create a strikethrough effect

Images

Google Plus is a great place for images.  It is really worth using the Google Plus photo tour to understand what is available for your images. This includes introducing auto-backup (saving photos as you take them on your phone), auto-enhance (showing your image at its best) and auto-awesome (stitching continuous images together to create a mini-movie or panoramic view).  As these images are created and saved within your Google account you can use them all within your Google Plus updates.

Using Formatting And Images In Your Updates

The anatomy of a G+ post is something that is much discussed but it is without doubt that Google love original content and there is so much more room to "talk" than on Twitter (for example).  If sharing a link then it is expected that you introduce the link (a title - maybe bold that text), write a summary explaining the reason for sharing the link (I have even reproduced an opening paragraph or important part of the article), link to the article itself, use hashtags to really specify the theme of the update and include an image.

G+ automatically links any URLs that you include in an update and creates a 'rich snippet'.  This is where the title of the article is hyperlinked and a small image included.  To create an even more striking update you can remove this rich snippet and include a larger image:

Formatting your updates in Google Plus
Please click on the image to enlarge it
  1. remove the auto-link
  2. choose an image from your Google photo albums or your computer
  3. auto-enhance the image

Using this technique has its pros and cons.  Rich snippet links links are given a 'follow' attribution which helps with search engine optimisation (SEO). Any additional links within a G+ update are given a 'nofollow' attribution.  This was introduced to prevent people from filling G+ updates with links just to gain PageRank or SEO juice. However, it is noted that updates with a large image are much more likely to invite real interaction.  These can include +1's, conversation and social sharing which all count towards the SEO and SERPs (search engine results page) for the original article.  Here are examples of both techniques from my own Google Plus profile.





So now it is time for you to go and try out these different engagement techniques and see which ones work best for you. Tag me in one of your updates - I'm +Nickie O'Hara - and let me have a look at what you're sharing.  Please come back tomorrow for the final section of this series which will provide some more tips and tricks, more circle recommendations and some apps that can be used to save even more time.

Please also read: 

Part 1 - Sharpening Your Settings And Preparing Your Profile 
Part 2 - Getting Social Without Getting Sucked In 
Part 4 - Tips And Tricks


Getting Started On Google Plus (Part 2)

Getting Started On Google Plus - A Geekalicious series
Welcome back to my Getting Started On Google Plus mini-series. This four-part series is designed to help you learn to love Google Plus and enjoy your time on the platform.

The reason Google Plus feels daunting to some people is because it's all so new and empty and quiet.  That blank canvas is the perfect place to start to create a timeline that is full of two-way interesting and engaging content. If you have completed part 1 then you will now have adjusted your settings and prepared your profile so it all looks awesome and you are ready to start meeting and greeting.


Part 2. Getting Social Without Getting Sucked In


Public versus Circles

Now that you have some people in circles then you can start sharing content with them.  It is important not to make people feel as though you are forcing them to read your updates but to tailor those updates towards the people you think may be interested in them.  As mentioned in Part One of this mini-series there are a number of ways in which you can make your update visible by using the "Public", specific circles or private messaging options.


I will stress that you use the "Also send email to x circles" option sporadically and only to people who you really need a response from (i.e. a small specific circle of users).  Having many emails ping to your inbox during the day can feel over-enthusiastic and may lead to you being blocked.

To check what the people in your circles have been saying on G+ you can view each circle as an individual stream by clicking on the circle name at the top of your G+ timeline.  This means that you can allocate time to specific actions on G+ if your social media time is limited.  

Profile versus Page

There is a clear definition between personal profiles and brand page identities.  You will communicate and interact on a profile using your own name (or the name you registered with).  On a page you can choose any name or trade name to coincide with the reason for your page.  Your G+ page is completely separate from your G+ profile and you can access many of the Google facilities separately (YouTube for example) using both identities.

Only you (as an individual) can manage your personal profile however you can have up to 50 'managers' of a brand page and you can switch between 50 pages from one Google account.  You can read more about this here. To create a G+ page you initially need a G+ profile but the connection between the two is not public.

Many bloggers like to have a separate page for their blogging interaction so that they can be 'themselves' on their personal profile. There is no hard and fast rule for having the separation but it is a bonus for people who prefer to blog anonymously or under a pseudonym.  To make G+ work for you you have to be prepared to invest time into either or both to make them interesting and interactive. 

Hashtags

Adding relevant hashtags to your posts will help with searches and similar posts will be grouped together. Three hashtags per interaction are recommended and there is an option in the settings for hashtags to be taken from the keywords in your update but I suggest adding your own. All hashtags are converted into clickable links and when you 'explore' a hashtag you will find related suggestions at the top of the page. Click on a G+ hashtag and see what happens.  A really good one to try first is #Caturday (cat-related posts on a Saturday).

You don't need to add hashtags to continuing conversations - just to the initial update.

Communities

Communities are a fabulous place to use as a base for a specific topic.  You can connect with people all around the world, create discussions, post photographs and arrange video Hangouts.  Communities can be both pubic and private and anyone can create one.  It is the responsibility of the Community owner to control the privacy settings.  Community owners and members can invite people to join and you can share  Find communities that you can be an integral part of rather than just leaving links to your blog or business.

Here are two communities that I am a member of.  Join them to get a feel for how communities work in totally different ways.




Go and share some relevant content with your circles (from your profile or your page) and join a couple of communities.  If you have any questions please ask me on Google Plus - I'm +Nickie O'Hara - or leave a comment below this post.

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