Reading about how others get work done

One of my favorite blogs right now is a dead simple but brilliant site called The Setup. The premise of the site is simple – profile interesting, creative people and the tools they use to get their work done. The author offers one or two updates each week, all in a similar format, and each post covers the kinds of hardware and software that people use to complete their work, along with a closing question and answer about what would be the dream work setup for each person profiled.

If you like to get inside the minds and habits of creative people, I recommend checking it out.

Updates to the MacBook Air lineup and a tease of new Apple products

I will admit that I followed today’s announcements from Apple at the WorldWide Developer Conference in California more closely than normal, because I am considering upgrading my go-to computer equipment – which is currently an 11-inch MacBook Air from 2010. With my circa 2006 MacBook Pro disassembled and a decision on the line about whether it is worth repairing it and continuing to put important data on such an old machine, it may be time to upgrade.

What did I learn today? Here are my highlights of what Apple announced and what those announcements could mean for businesses:

  • Developers have now been paid more than $10 billion for the sale of their apps through the Apple App Store. What this means for businesses – if you are the creator of apps, the answer is obvious, but the message that this sends to app developers may be what matters most for businesses who use all of those apps. This means there is a financial motivation to continue innovating and creating new apps.
  • All new MacBook Air lineup – This is the news that most interests me. I will carefully consider whether a new lightweight machine with a battery that will last even longer would be a good thing for my work. The new machines offer new processors that are much more efficient in how they use battery power, boosting the claimed battery run time of the 11-inch MacBook Air from the current five hours to nine hours and the claimed battery run time of the 13-inch MacBook Air from seven hours to 12 hours.
  • New Airport base station – This is important because of the new high-speed variety of wi-fi that Apple has rolled into the new MacBook Air machines.
  • Mac Pro – This was announced, but it won’t actually be available until sometime in the fall of this year. If your business does a lot of video editing or processor-intensive work, the new Mac Pro could be something you will want to be aware of when more details become available later this year. The impact for business now is minimal, unless you decide to delay buying a new high-end desktop machine to see what the final product will look like later this year.
  • iOS 7 – Some of the changes in the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads could be helpful for businesses. Although most of the focus of the new iOS focus on simplification and visual changes, some of the key updated features that could help business are better multitasking and automatic updates of your apps. The system is not supposed to be released to anyone other than software developers until sometime this fall.

Here is what other folks are saying about some of the announcements:

TweetDeck to become even less useful on May 7

Twitter has been hard at work over the last few months making TweeDeck less and less useful, so it comes with little surprise this morning that I received a notice that the connection between TweetDeck and Facebook will be severed on May 7. This is not really bad news. There are other tools that offer combined views of Twitter and Facebook content, and TweetDeck is only a useful tool now if viewed through the Google Chrome browser these days anyway. But if you rely on TweetDeck to keep track of both services, it’s now time to consider the alternatives.

Communications related hashtags from Twitter for April 2, 2013

Every few days I see interesting content about communications and marketing pop up on Twitter that can easily be missed if you aren’t looking at the exact right time. So I am going to start posting the hashtags for these conversations, so you can get the best content even if you can’t watch it unveiled in real time.

If you don’t know how to use hashtags, it’s simple. Just log in to www.twitter.com and type the hashtag into the Search field. Or you can just click the URLs I post to go directly to the conversation.

Here is what I am seeing today:

- #infinitedialhttp://twitter.com/search?q=%23infinitedial - posts about how social media is positioned in relation to traditional media, especially the ongoing value of radio and listeners who consume radio broadcasts in their vehicles.

Want to learn? Read something interesting

It’s time that I share one of my favorite weekly blog reads – a compilation of links gathered and updated every week on The Pen Addict blog. Why? For one, because I have always liked and used fountain pens. I use them much less now that I do much of my note taking on my iPad, but I still like fountain pens, inks and high quality paper. Stationary geek – I am sure very few are surprised.

But there are other reasons I like the weekly compilations like this post from last week. As I browse through the links, I am often exposed to the work and creative habits of other interesting people.

An example from last week’s compilation – a profile of software developer and author Mike Fogus and how he works, with details about everything from his computer setup to the way he takes and accesses notes.

The Internet and blogs in particular make it easy to keep learning, and a great way to find intriguing new ideas is to get a look inside how other people work. At least that works for me. Reading about smart people, just like working with smart people, is one of the best ways to keep a fresh perspective and to keep learning.

Are your social media accounts safe?

How safe are the passwords for your social media accounts? This question was on many minds late last Friday when Twitter announced that it detected an attack on its tool and that up to 250,000 accounts could be compromised. I received an email notice from Twitter while I was out on a run, and as soon as I came home I logged in to Twitter through the website – not trusting to click on a link in an unexpected email for fear that it could be a phishing attack. Sure enough, my account was one of the lucky few, so I created a new password and moved on with life.

This seems like a minor inconvenience, a tiny blip in another week of communicating through online tools. And for me, it was a minor blip, because I was prepared.

What do you need to do to be prepared?

  • Use unique passwords for each of your important social media accounts – if you use the same password for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other accounts, when your password may be compromised on one tool, it is compromised on all tools.
  • Use strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed by anyone trying to access your account – strong passwords are usually eight or more characters long and they use a combination of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols.
  • Regularly change your passwords – it is a good practice to change your password every few months to make it even less likely that someone could crack the password and get access to your accounts.
  • Limit the number of outside tools that have access to your social media accounts
  • – you can limit your exposure and the chance that someone can get access to your password by limiting the number and types of add-on tools that you connect to your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Make it a regular practice to do a periodic review of the third-party tools connected to your accounts to ensure that you are only allowing key tools to maintain access to your login and password.

In the case of last week’s issue with Twitter, it isn’t clear if the reason those 250,000 accounts were compromised was due to poor passwords. Since one of my accounts was on the list, I would like to think that wasn’t the case.

Are your social media accounts and their passwords safe? If you rely on social media tools to tell your stories, this is a critical question. It’s up to you to ensure that the answer is yes.

Don’t look now, but Google+ is gaining on you

A new report on social media participation in December 2012 carries some interesting and a little surprising news – from the numbers, it looks like Google+ was used more than Twitter and more than YouTube. Here’s the report: http://globalwebindex.net/thinking/social-platforms-gwi-8-update-decline-of-local-social-media-platforms/

Time should bear out whether this is an anomaly or a new reality. Very interesting…

Of course, Facebook remains well in front in the chase for people’s social media time.

After a switch to Flickr, bigger photos and fewer filters

Like many other people, I made a switch a few weeks ago to begin using Flickr to share my photos, after using Instagram for most of 2012. Whether this is a good of bad choice for you and your business or brand is a matter of personal preference and whether you believe that you can reach the audience you need to connect with using either service. Both services make it easy to share photos to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, but in my experience it seems that there is still a larger community on Instagram than on Flickr at this point.

To be clear, I haven’t decided whether I will completely delete my Instagram account, but even after they attempted to clarify their new Terms of Service, this still feels like a good opportunity to re-examine which community I want to participate in during 2013.

I have noticed a few key changes in the way I use Flickr versus how I used Instagram. Because of the interface and focus of Instagram, like many other users, I tended to use filters to alter my images more on Instagram than I do when using Flickr. Flickr does offer easy-to-use filters and editing features, but I find that when I am working with a well-composed, full-frame photo rather than an artificially square photo, I tend to let the image speak for itself, without filters.

My evaluation a few weeks after making this switch is simply that Flickr feels more polished and professional than Instagram. My use may vary over time, though.

You can see my Flickr feed for how this evolves.

Have you made the switch from using Instagram to another photo sharing tool? Does it even make sense for your business or brand to do so?