Category Archives: Featured

Why Net Neutrality Matters

TechDirt has a good example that should show you what is at stake with net neutrality rules.

For about $12, Sprint will soon let subscribers buy a wireless plan that only connects to Facebook.

For that same price, they could choose instead to connect only with Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest—or for $10 more, enjoy unlimited use of all four. Another $5 gets them unlimited streaming of a music app of their choice.

Think about how this plays out. If you run a website, in order for mobile users to actually be able to reach your site, you’re going to have to negotiate with the mobile carriers to get your site carried so that users can access it. It’s no longer enough to spend money on hosting and building a site, now you have to also pay the carriers. So long to independent voices on the web.

If this type of scenario sounds familiar, it’s basically what we see with cable tv now. All those conflicts that saw you lose a network for a few days or weeks here and there? Now imagine going through these negotiations for every single website? Yeah, no one wants that, except the ISPs who aren’t happy charging you for internet access, they also want to charge the internet for access to you, one website at a time.

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Trying Out LinkedIn Publishing

You know me, I can’t resist trying out new tools. So, naturally, when I got the invite to start publishing on LinkedIn, you know I had to try it. My curiosity about LinkedIn’s new tool got the better of me!

Anyway, I wrote up a piece about career advice I read a long, long time ago, called the Appreciation File. I’d appreciate it if you went and checked it out, and shared it with your own LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook followers as well! (See what I did there?)

Thanks!

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Next Stop Oregon!

oregonAs if to prove that old axiom about mice and men, roughly 3 years after moving to South Carolina because we wanted to be in the South, we now find ourselves on the verge of moving about as far away from the South as we can without leaving the country.

Yes, my wife has accepted a job at the Oregon State Alumni Association. You can read more about her thoughts over on her own blog, I won’t try and speak for her.

What I do want to say about it is two fold. First and foremost, a bit of career advice. When you build good relationships with your co-workers, or other contacts, opportunities tend to find you. In this case, her former boss in Ohio wound up out in Oregon and approached her about applying for this job. When you combine that with my own experience of being recruited to my last two jobs by people I had met at conferences, the importance of relationships cannot be overstated. Continue reading

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Update Your iPod iPad and iPhone

For those of you who don’t pay attention to the tech blogs over the weekend, or ever, and use one of these Apple products, go check for a software update today. That’s right, today, as soon as possible. Or at least before you go connecting to public wifi or anything like that, ok?

Make sure you’ve got the latest iOS version..

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If you want the details on is latest security flaw, you can get it here.

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The Truth and The Internet Aren’t the Same

Remember that State Farm commercial with the lady who “read it on the internet, so it must be true”? The reason that line resonated with so many people is because of the ridiculousness of it. We all know that anyone can start up a website, and write anything they want, without bothering to fact check it. But, we’ve always sort of assumed that news sources didn’t do that. That if we saw a story reported enough times, and in an article on a reputable site, that it must be true.

Maybe not.

Several recent stories rocketing around the web, picking up millions of views, turned out to be fake or embellished: a Twitter tale of a Thanksgiving feud on a plane, later described by the writer as a short story; a child’s letter to Santa that detailed an Amazon.com link in crayon, but was actually written by a grown-up comedian in 2011; and an essay on poverty that prompted $60,000 in donations until it was revealed by its author to be impressionistic rather than strictly factual.

Some of these stories even went further than the internet, they were reported on television and in newspaper articles as well. They were passed around thousands of times and seen by millions of people, yet once they were discovered to be untrue, how many people actually saw that fact? I’d put my guess at maybe 10% of the people who saw the original story, and feel like I’m being generous. Retractions aren’t nearly as viral as a good snarky story about airline travel. Of course, these examples are relatively harmless (unless you’re one of the people donating money, of course). What about the bigger untruths that are out there? What about all the bad information we get from online sources about school shootings, or completely made up statistics designed to get “viral” attention because they seem to “prove” what some of us want to believe already. How many of us actually check the sources of those stats before posting them to Facebook in order to win an argument?

The thing is, we’d all be better off looking with some skepticism at any, and every, story that is getting passed around. It’s all too easy for us to look at a story that doesn’t agree with our world view and say “well, it was on the internet so it’s probably not true”, but how often to you look with the same critical eye towards stories you agree with? Let’s face it, we live in an age where even 60 Minutes is getting things all wrong in the interest of drawing eyeballs. If we can’t trust 60 Minutes to be right, why are we trusting relatives and old High School buddies to be our news gatherers?

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One Reason I Love the Internet

Cross posted from my Child Abuse Survivor blog, with the following further thought. This is also a good example of why which social network you choose to use, matters. If I had decided that I didn’t like the way Facebook worked, and decided I was going to delete my ccount and move to Google Plus, or only using Twitter, I would have missed this. It’s not about the tools, it’s about the people you want to connect to. Go where they are.

Light a Candle for me

Last Thursday my grandmother passed away. She had been ill, and was 93 years old so it wasn’t a shock, but it was still a sad occasion, obviously. I was teaching an online course for a client on the West Coast so while I found out during an afternoon break, I wasn’t really done working until close to 8PM my time. So it was a bit later when I got time to return phone messages, after which I turned to Facebook as a way to let some of my friends know what was going on.

When I got there that night, something interesting was in the process of happening. I took a look at the Facebook profiles of a couple of my cousins, and realized that we were all doing the same thing. We spent much of the night looking at Facebook, sharing stories and photos with each other. Even though we are spread all over the place, the technology of Facebook allowed some of us to connect right in that moment and mourn our grandmother, instead of having to wait for all of us to travel to the funeral.

As it turns out, it was also the day that Nelson Mandela passed away, which made it even more interesting. Not only were my cousins, aunts, uncles and I sharing thoughts about my grandmother that night, but much of the rest of the world was also sharing thoughts and stories about Mandela on Facebook and Twitter. I got a really good glimpse at the ability of the internet to connect us during a world event, and to connect a small group over their own event, at the same time.

It was a vivid reminder of why I started a website in the first place and why I still see online social networking as such a powerful force for good in our lives. Sure, it has the potential to be a dangerous place too. Just like any relationship, we have to be careful who we connect with. But it also provides us with a chance to connect with people who share our interests regardless of geography. Whereas in the past when there had been a death in my family, I would find out about it and then spend the evening apart from my family, and only really get to share those stories and memories if I could happen to travel for the funeral, this time all of us could jump on Facebook in different states and across time zones, and connect.

Think about that for a minute. Thanks to the internet, we’ve eliminated the obstacles of distance and finding a mutual time to talk, or the time it would take for mail to get delivered, when it comes to staying in touch. We’ve even eliminated the obstacles of not having someone to share ideas and thoughts with. You’d be hard pressed to find a subject that someone isn’t blogging about, or doesn’t come up on Twitter. When a world event like the passing of Nelson Mandela occurs, we turn to Twitter to see what other people are saying about it, or get more information. When it’s something closer to home, we turn to the same place, where we can communicate with the group all at once.

I’m very glad that Facebook helped me stay in contact with my family at a crucial time, and I’m very glad that being part of the online world has helped me stay in touch with far-flung friends and family. I’m just as glad that being part of this online world has brought people into my life who I wouldn’t have met anywhere else. Both of those things have made all the spam, technical issues, and trolls worth it.

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The Struggle For Brevity

This recent NPR story on the brevity of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln’s 272 Words, a Model of Brevity for Modern Times got me thinking a bit about training. I’ve often compared training to public speaking and the importance of having those skills, and this is definitely one of those skills.

As Pascal said well back in the 17th century ,” I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

It was true of letters then, it was true of speeches given in the 19th century and it is still very much true of public speaking now. It takes a lot of hard work to say something in fewer words. That’s why the truly best public speakers don’t go over their time. They know how much time they have, and they make sure what they have to say can fit into that time, and if it can’t, they keep working at it until it can. They break everything down to the core message and choose their words carefully to make sure they convey that message without wasting the time of the listener.

It’s not easy, but it can make the difference between an ok presentation, and a memorable one. The same is true of training. A class that takes all day to get around to teaching you what you need to know, is not as good as a class that can get straight to the point and focus in on exactly what you need to know to leave the class ready to dig in using the new tool you are learning about. Granted, training classes can be great and also take multiple days. Sometimes there really is that much to learn. But, even in those classes, it’s important to keep them moving, to break each subject area down to the core and identify exactly what needs to be said here, versus what is superfluous verbiage. I feel like the best trainers can say more, in much less time. Some times, all that extra time is there so we can talk, and keep talking, to make sure we talk about everything, not because you need to know everything, but because we don’t really know what is important, or were too lazy to stop and think about what really needs to be said.

So, the next time you’re sitting in training and the class seems to be dragging on forever, remember Pascal’s words. It’s possible that the training is taking longer because no one took the time to make it shorter.

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Recover Deleted Items Using OWA

Filing this under “you never stop learning new things”.

Thanks to a post on one of the ILTA eGroups, I discovered a neat little trick that lets you use Outlook Web Access to recover deleted items that were “hard deleted” directly from the inbox and thus are not available using the normal Outlook Recover Deleted Items feature.

You can find the details on it from Petri, which much more information on recovering deleted items in general, but suffice it to say, if you delete something directly from the inbox, navigate your way to this OWA page:

https://server_name/exchange/user_name/inbox/?cmd=showdeleted

I tested it out by hard deleting a few items today, and sure enough, I logged into OWA and saw them on that page, with the option to recover them. Nice!

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