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Web Expertise in 2010 is like an Inflatable Yard Decoration
Dec 31st, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

This is your future. An inflatable snow man in the cube next to you.

It’s actually part of an elaborate cube prank my coworkers pulled on me today.  I was greeted by an inflatable snowman in my cube, white sheets, blinking colorful lights, and a light up Santa on the wall.  Welcome back!

As 2009 comes to an official close, there is no going back, only forward.  I wrote a blog post on CaseyCheshire.com about how we need to remember our family and those not in social media.

Waterski the Web, a guide to the now web and staying ahead of the curve, also needs a 2010 article.  I’m not a big fan of predicting the oncoming year as it’s been done by just about everyone.  I’d like to make one quick point and then let you get the champagne ready for tonight:

In 2010, understanding of all things web will be a continuing journey not a destination.

It’s a Process not a Phd. And those with such degrees will relate to you the intense years of study/research as the process which matured their intellectual thinking.  Some even skip their conferring ceremony as they’re already continuing the process with their PostDoc.

Just over 10 years ago we were experts in 14.4 and 28.8 modems as we dialed into America Online.  Last night, I read a sidebar in a book on puppies published in 2001 about getting more information on their forum on AOL.  No web address listed, rather: search for “puppy forum” to find us.

How things have changed! America Online has been bought, sold, reinvented, and helped itself become obsolete for the future.

Inflatable Snow Man Tie-in

If you stopped learning and evolving in 1995, you’d be way behind today.  It’s just like turning off the air pump for the inflatable snow man.  As soon as it’s off, that snow man gets a little sloppy.  Before you know it, you’ve got a heap of nylon.

You’ve got to constantly feed your inflatable web brain.  Whether it’s because you are in the profession or just a citizen of the united states of .com, staying at the front of the power curve will be critical to your future and continued success.

Facebook Changes Again – Wants to Make Your Actions Public
Dec 14th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

In the old world on online social lifestyle, Facebook was for sharing photos with friends, how you really felt about “it all” and maybe just maybe playing Mafia Wars.  Then came along Twitter that said, “Hey I like to share!”  And share it did, all of your tweets with any and everyone out there.

The world was two separate activities, two large continents: private life and public life.

facebookfacesThis is what I would tell people when explaining the difference between the two.  “On Facebook,” I’d say, “the only people that can see your photos, rants, and profile were people you’ve explicitly given permission to.”  You had made them  your Friend, and that granted them privilege.

This was the way things were “back then.”  Privacy was king, and you didn’t want “crazy Internet stalkers” accessing your bikini photos- or your boss, or your mom (hi mom!).

Twitter was the public side of you, where you could share your expertise in hobbies, industry, and passions and at the same time, inform people that you just took your dog to the dog park.  I’ve often suggested that Twitter is best when its a mix of business & pleasure.

You see how they were two happy worlds?  Happy! Happy!

Then Facebook, large gigantic behemoth that it is, decided it wasn’t big enough or didn’t own enough of our online social lives, so they slowly started becoming more like Twitter.  A while back you may remember when Facebook’s interface changed drastically, and then they put more emphasis on your Status Feed.  This Twitter-like feed of you and your friend’s activities was only the beginning.

Today Facebook announced that it would begin pushing users to take their information public.

It was a friendly way of saying that every user will be asked to make their news feed(list of activities, Mafia/Farmville jobs, and anything else you shouldn’t be doing on Facebook) public.

facebook_tc50

Whammy!  But that’s only half the news.  The real definitive part is that:

New users will be public by default.

That means all new accounts- whether they understand this feature or not, will have a public news feed.

This is hugely different from Facebook’s previous role as privacy protector in the social space.  And you can see why its just another step of Twitter-like activity.  You can see Facebook saying “Why not us!?” when looking at how popular Twitter has become.  As soon as Twitter started cutting deals with Google Search and Microsoft Bing (search)- Facebook saw its chance to do both public and private.  Though this has me wondering if the private means anything to them anymore.

Announcement done- What’s it mean?  What’s next?

  1. One thing that this move signifies is that the web is increasingly changing at a faster rate.  Settling into cruise control just doesn’t cut it anymore.  As soon as you’re comfortable, things change again. (Rats!)
  2. The evolution is primarily a good thing.  Corporate survival and competition aside, the goal behind most of the changes on the web are a natural drive toward increased efficiency and effectiveness. Status quo may be comfortable, but we’ll continue to improve the way we communicate and socialize using the Internet.
  3. Privacy is no longer the focus.  Potentially due to more informed users online, privacy is still important but the spotlight is on public, searchable social communication.

Update: Facebook allows you to pass on changing your privacy settings once, but the next time you log in you’re forced to make decisions.

Facebook is so massive and widely used that not much will overthrow them.  Charging $$ for the use of the service and future innovation are the only two that come to mind.  With the popularity of their advertising program, Facebook becomes like Google in a sense that it doesn’t need to charge users.  Future innovation is anyones game, though it appears Facebook is doing it’s best to stay in front.

#WatchOut!- A Twitter Virus Warning
Dec 1st, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

“Hello my name is Casey Cheshire and I avoided a Twitter Virus”

As soon as there are innovations in the world, there’s usually a flock of folks looking to exploit any weaknesses that may be present.  Twitter is no exception, as I learned recently.

It all began when I received a DM (Direct Message) from someone I was following.  You see Twitter was smart and only allows people who are both Following each other to exchange DMs.  This makes sense.  You can follow Bill Gates and @ Reply him but not send him a email-like message.  The difficulty with this is that a lot of people (myself included) tend to follow those who are following me.  It’s like shaking hands.  Is this a strict rule?  Of course not.

So here I was, minding my own business on Twitter when…

Ding!

I received this Direct Mesage:

twirus

Looks unassuming and like a link to what you might think would be a photo of you on the internet.  Makes you start thinking: “Oh jeez, what kind of photo have my friends posted?”

Notice the link is to “dwarfurl.com” and it looks like one of the many URL Shortening sites (that turn a long link into a short manageable one).  Low and behold it is just that!  It’s where it takes you to that you should watch out for it, and the reason they used an url shortener in this case is not to shorten but to hide!

The short link takes you to: http://twitter.expressplacement.com/ (don’t go there)

And this is what you see:

twitter-login-homepage

It looks *just* like the sign in page at the real Twitter.com but it’s not.  They want you to be fooled and so they include the Copyright notice, all of the standard links and graphics.  It only looks like the sign in page but it’s really ExpressPlacement.com (evil twitter destroying empire?)

The unsuspecting person would see this and think that perhaps they were logged out of Twitter (if they were using Twitter on the web already).

If you log in (and give Express Placement) your information- guess what it does?  It sends out the same Direct Message to everyone that YOU follow/follow-you.  This is just like your basic computer virus, except that it exists solely on the Twitter interface.

Update: Kudos to the team at FireFox (the browser I use) and a few savvy folks who reported this page.  If you click the link now you’ll see this:

web-forgery-twirus

It’s a middle step to warn anyone accessing that address that the website you’re about to view has been reported to be a website that pretends to be something it’s not.  Awesome!  This should prevent most folks from using this link now.  Keep in mind it took a few days for this to go up, and when I first clicked it I went to the actual page.

Knowing how to spot forgery sites, on and off Twitter, will save you and your friends a lot of trouble!

If you know anyone that is new to Twitter or has sent you a DM like the one above, send them a link to this article.  If we’re all informed, these annoying scams will be powerless.  Know, recognized, and avoid the Twirus when you see it!

5 Ways To Get An Invite For Google Wave
Nov 30th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

A few weeks ago everyone wanted an invitation to Google Wave. A few days ago Google gave it’s current wave users multiple invites to give away.

Soon after, Twitter was flooded with people giving away invitations.

googlewavelogo

I’ve RT’d several tweets from people who have extra invitations and I have a few left too!

Here’s the latest tips on 5 ways to get an invitation for Google Wave faster than signing up and waiting for Google to give you one:

  • Post a comment on this post asking for one. (If I still have invites left, I’ll send you one!)
  • Once I’m out of invites, Follow Me on Twitter.  If I see that anyone else is announcing extra invites I’ll RT the message.  If you’re following me (@CaseyChesh), you’ll know about it first!
  • Go to Twitter.com, log in (you have Twitter right?), and search for “#wave”. You can also try searching for “Wave invite” together.  You’ll get a bunch of tweets from people who have extra invites and are giving them away.
  • Attend a Google Developer conference or meetup, often attendees will receive Wave invites. (How else could you develop a gadget for it if you don’t have Wave?)
  • All else fails, go to wave.google.com and enter your email address.  Google will send you a Wave invite at some point.

If you’d like more information. I’ve posted a great overview of Google Wave.

Technorati: Center of the Blog Universe
Nov 25th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

Once you realize the extent of Google Reader’s ability to consume more Blog and Feed Content than ever before, the next question is…

Where do I find the best blogs to follow?

One answer to this question is Technorati.com.

technorati

Technorati tracks and links to the top blogs out the in the  Blogosphere.  It’s an awesome way to find unique content written by thousands of bloggers.  Additionally they have editors who write articles related to the world of blogging and share their big picture view of it all.

Think of it as one big gigantic research tool.

If you click on one of the main headings, Business, you’ll get the Business Channel and they have several popular articles.  What I find even more helpful is the listings of “Top Business blogs.”  In addition to top blogs, they also have top movers.  Movers are important as they signify a drastic change in popularity that can often signal a trend or important new topic.

But don’t stick to something as high level as “business.”  There is a Blog Directory as well as Top 100 listings for every topic imaginable!  This is where you can start following quite a lot of blogs in a short period of time.  When in doubt, add the blogs that catch your eye to your Google Reader.  You can always fine tune and cull (haha) your subscriptions later.

Technorati also assigns “authority” to blogs that it tracks. This number is a measure of that site’s standing and influence in the blogosphere.  Based on linking behavior (who links to it) and other “associated data” that all gets calculated together spitting out a number between 0 and 1000.

Cool Side Note: In order for me to have this blog included in the Technorati listing, the following code needed to be placed on a blog post: E4MZU2GDFVBX and 9Z6Z9J9UQUVS What this does is verify that the person who registered it on Technorati is really the writter.  Once I’ve covered all of the basics of Waterskiing the Web, the articles will begin to touch on writing your own blog as it’s an important part of the web.

Hit Technorati like a firestorm and increase the amount of blogs that you subscribe too!

Using Twitter Hashtags Like a Hero
Nov 23rd, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

There are many features available when using Twitter.

From the retweet to Lists, they are fun and provide additional levels of functionality.  The more of them  you use regularly, the more powerful Twitter will be for you.

The Hashtag (#) is one of these features and lately you’ve been seeing it more often than not.

The Hashtag is similar to a subject line in an email, or keyword tags in a blog post.  The words you “tag” are the very essence of your tweet.

To understand this crazy symbol’s involvement in Twitter, you must first be aware of Twitter Search.

It Starts with Twitter Search

On the web interface there is a search box on the right column.  You can search for anything you’d like, and if it’s beentwitter-search-box mentioned in any tweet recently, it will be shown to you in the search results.  Nothing special has to be done to your own tweets, they are publicly search-able by default.  Cool huh?

But wait! Your results won’t always be what you expect them to be.

If you typed in “wave” into the search box looking for information about Google Wave- and I just did. These are some of the results:

Jakafe @St_agustaf Yo… Wave yo hands in da air like you just don’t care… Hooo.. Heeeyy.. Hooo…

zckenny just requested my Google Wave Invite! Get yours at http://www.google.com-wave.info#googlewave #googlewaveinvite

strellson 說 大家晚安 (wave) (sleeping) http://plurk.com/p/2pjspa

And the list goes on with several more pages.

There were successful results about Google Wave, but they were mixed in with other uses of the word “wave.”  Could you have used the search phrase “Google Wave”? Yes! Of course, and we’ll get to the difference between using/not using a hash later on.

Try that same search with the search phrase #wave and you get a much cleaner result- most if not all are related to Google Wave.  Why is this?  One important thing to remember is that:

The # is not automatic, it’s another person’s implicit identification of the subject of their Tweet.

This implicit, going out-of-their-way notation of the core of their tweet makes the hashtag a very good way of finding other people’s tweets related to a subject.  Compare the two:

I got my Google Wave invite today!

I got my Google Wave invite today! #wave #GoogleWave

This example is a little simple, but the idea is the same.  Hashtags are deliberate. The Tweeter (person who Tweets) is actively thinking about other people who might be searching for the same topic.

The next level…

Okay so we take it to the next level now.  Why waste all that valuable space? Perhaps you need it for your really cool quote?  You can use the hashtag inside your actual message.  Here’s our previous example kicked up a notch:

I got my #GoogleWave invite today! SWEET!

That is a finely tuned tweet right there.  Gets the message across and tags it for others.

Tweets: 140 Characters is Too Short to Not Have Fun

You can also have fun with your hashtag usage!  And even use it to get a second point across.  Here are some actual tweets found by searching #fail.

pingu_98 left power supply for my laptop at work. #fail.

And here’s a great one! (Link goes to image shown below.)

debcha Propped-door #fail: http://yfrog.com/37p44j

mit-fail

So Debcha’s tweet talks about MIT wanting to conserve energy- even use TWO signs, all while propping open the door.  Notice how the use of #fail worked perfectly for a search.  Just typing in “fail” would have resulted in tweets simply containing the word.

The possibilities are endless!

Events!

For me, the most fun use of the hashtag in tweeting is at large scale events and conferences.  If the Event Managementconference or Corporate Sponsor of the even is up on the their social media, they’ll tell you what hashtag to use while you’re there.

For example, I recently attended a B2B conference and the host, SilverPop let the attendees know prior to and during the even that the hashtag to use when tweeting about the conference was: #b2buniversity

On my Twitter iPhone app Echofon, there is a place to search and I typed in #b2buniversity on my way to the event.  The fun starts here as you’ll see lots of other people tweeting about making their way TO the event:

On my way to #b2buniversity! Looking forward to it!

And when at the event, people will often tweet key points and metrics:

@KeynoteSpeaker : 28% of all elephants are color-blind #b2buniversity

So for someone not at the event, all you have to do is set your Twitter Search to the hashtag and you can follow along with updates and often pictures of the event!

#Hashtag

The Online World, Twitter, and the way we tweet/search is constantly evolving.  Understanding and using hashtags will help keep you at the forefront of the #knowledgecurve.  So get out there and use those #hastags like a #hero!

Xobni – Freakin Cool Outlook Email Add-on
Nov 18th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

“Bew eht iks retaw,” my friends.

That’s a Viking greeting of solidarity, often spoken at a Feast of the Moon, which was always held during a Blue Moon, which is the second full moon of the month.  It’s also “Waterski the Web” backwards.

It’s a crazy way to start a post, but it’s fitting as our topic is Xobni (zob-nee), which is Inbox backwards.

Xobni was first introduced to me by my contact at Fetchback.  What I thought was a word of mouth email turns out to be a cleverly designed invitation system designed by Xobni to help spread the word about the Outlook add-on.  Either way I’m grateful!

xobni-logo-2

It’s a cool idea to flip the name backwards- makes it sound alien and futuristic.  It’s also really hard to spell once you know it’s “inbox.”  You have to put real thought into it! (wah wah complain complain)

Okay so just what does xobni do?

Xobni is an Outlook plugin that helps you search and organize your inbox. It makes a lot of sense when you see it in action, and there are a lot of issues it helps resolve.  Practical solutions are something I never get tired of using!

Have you ever:

  • Searched for an attachment from someone?  Even with their own folder, someone who sends you a lot of mail will have accumulated lots of fodder in that folder.
  • Exchanged several emails with someone on two different topics and had to dig through the history to find what you’re looking for?
  • Wondered if the person you were emailing was a human being? Or maybe forgot they were?

These are a few of the issues that Xobni takes care of.  They isolate all of the attachments from a person as soon as you click on one of their emails, identify multiple email conversation strings and organize it in the sidebar for you, and finally display a photo, visible phone number, and links to popular social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter).

xobni-screen

2 million Xombies and Counting!

There are also Premium features (a load of bells and wistles) that you can upgrade into, but the bulk of the fun and power comes for free.

Additionally, there’s an awesome video from founder Adam Smith.  He talks about the lengthy, life encompassing development of Xobni as an Internet Start-up.

Spelling with an ‘x’ but sounds like a ‘z’

I had heard complaints from the founders of Justin.Tv (literally http://www.Justin.Tv) about their regret for picking the .tv extension and that they wish they had the .com.  I wondered if xobni might have the same issue.  On a hunch I went to zobni.com and guess what?  It redirects to xobni. Clever and smart!  That way if people only hear of the add-on from friends, their misspelling won’t spell their doom.

Enough said. If you are using Outlook for email, go get xobni and try it out.  Let me know how it works for you by leaving a comment on this article.

Xobni is an Outlook plugin that helps you search and organize your inbox.
DropBox: New Anywhere Data Storage Eliminates Emailing Yourself
Nov 17th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

It’s a relatively old problem:

Getting files from one of your computers to another.

Photos and MP3s at your home computer, your frequent flier documents on your work computer, and who knows what else is on your iPhone (I won’t ask.).  From emailing yourself to USB Keys shaped like dolphins, floppy disks to Jazz Disks (ha!), the options are endless, and usually a pain in the butt!

I found this cool service called DropBox that will allow you to share files with yourself. Simple as that.

dropboxlogo

You can also set up permissions so that special people can have specific access.  Say allowing your Aunt Petunia to see your vacation photos, or your boss, Bill Gates, to see your latest work files.

dropbox-overlay-icons

Best of all, you can have 2GB of storage for free.  That’s the price tag that influenced me to sign up.  I’m testing it out to see what sort of uses I can find for it.  I might not have any immediate needs, but the idea of having it available is comforting and will certainly pay off the next time I want to transfer information from one computer to the next.

They also have an iPhone app.  Will it really be all that necessary to have my work files accessible on my iPhone? Probably not.  Though I’m sure many superstars out there might find a time they need too.  Either way, it’s an excellent touch- and fills out the service, making it *everywhere*.

As our computing power grows, we’ll continue to see virtual storage grow.  I wonder if they’ll ever have computers with *no* storage capabilities beyond operating systems and applications?  If you really think about it, the gaming console Xbox and the online community Xbox Live is essentially along the same lines.  Sounds like a new topic brewing!  Until next time, keep water skiing!

Mint.com – Give it ALL of the logins to your Bank Accounts?
Nov 16th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

Give Mint.com all of the logins and passwords to your bank accounts across the Internet.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

mintlogo

Maybe not as crazy as you think. Mint.com says:

Over 1 million people already use our online money management and budgeting software today, and we’re adding over 3,000 users every day. Mint.com is tracking $175 billion in transactions, $47 billion in assets and has identified more than $300 million in potential savings for its users.

But seriously?  If someone else jumped off a bridge- would you too?  Are over a million people jumping?  The answer is no.  Let me give you the low down on Mint’s security.

Security

There are 3 BIG Reasons why Mint checks out on the security front:

  1. You’re Anonymous. “Mint works for you without requiring any personally identifiable information from you.mintsecurity Your Mint account is anonymous; set up requires only an email, password and zip code. Mint doesn’t know your name, address, social security number, account numbers, or PINs.”
  2. Bank Level Security. “Mint uses the same levels of physical and encryption security that banks do to protect the data we do store. Our practices are monitored and verified by TRUSTe, VeriSign and Hackersafe, and supported by RSA Security.”
  3. Money Can’t Move. “Mint is a “read-only” service. You can organize and analyze your finances, but you can’t move funds between — or out of — your accounts using Mint. And neither can anyone else.”

All of the security listed above and a healthy sense of curiosity led me to become one of the “over 1 million people.”

Here are the strengths and main reasons I use it:

  • FREE. Yeah, it’s free.mint-demo-preview
  • BIG PICTURE. It gives an excellent all encompassing look at your entire financial situation from credit cards to bank loans, savings and investments.
  • NEWLYWEDS. Joining accounts with someone?  It usually takes a little bit of a transition period to get all of the incomes, bills paid, and budgeting done with one account.  Mint allows you to see where everything is, and what’s being used so you can transition strategically.
  • BUDGETING. One strong feature of Mint is it’s budgeting capability.  Based on your past expenses, it can automatically generate your monthly budget.  You can then go in and adjust spend levels to where you’d like them.  It keeps track of your progress, and warns you if you are encroaching on going over budget. It learns too! If you pay $1,208 a month in rent by check, you can tell Mint to automatically label any check for that amount as Rent and it will assign it into the proper places for budgeting!
Google Wave: Real Time Communication and Collaboration
Nov 12th, 2009 by Casey Cheshire

googlewavelogo

Tonight, while watching Charlie run around the dog park, another owner (dog dada) mentioned Google Wave.  I shared his enthusiasm and we both expressed our interest in receiving an invitation to it!

An invitation? That’s because Google Wave is not released yetIt’s still in “Preview” mode.

This makes it great fodder for blogging- mystery, suspense, intrigue, drama, and technology!  But don’t let your guard down:

Google Wave is as much a new tool as it is a new way of thinking about old problems.

Do I have your attention now?  Good!  Confused? Even better!  You won’t be by the time you’re through reading this article.

Let me start by answering the #1 question (Sourced: Google):

What is a wave?

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together googlewavescreenshotwith richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

To sum up an extremely flexible and versatile concept into a few words is somewhat of a challenge.  I’m sure Google spent hours agonizing over their current tag line:

Real Time Communication and Collaboration.

It’s important to keep in mind it’s a platform more than a single program.  What this means to you is that while the immediate uses of Wave are similiar to a combination of email and instant messaging, the long term implications are still widely undeveloped.  The platform has been created to be very open and flexible, so that programmers (they like to be called developers these days) can build all sorts of integrated programs (called Robots and Gadgets) into Wave.

Right now it’s a dynamic way to communicate and share.  It’s real time and has quite a few features (such as voting) that remind me of current collaboration tools like Confluence.

There are two videos I like that discuss Wave further:

This is a topic that we’ll be \/\/atching closely to see what it evolves into!

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