How Social Networks Lowered My Inbox

The first thing I did when I got ‘the Internet’ was to claim my own little spot on this virtual world knowing I’d stick around for a while. And I have done so by reading the RFC for e-mail and talking to the ISP and figure out how to set up my first ever electronic mail account.

I’ve never really been able since to have a zero inbox, as they call it with GTD (get things done). But that’s ok. I have learned over the years to deal with e-mail. But with the introduction of newer technologies and web 2.0, social networks have been the reason why my current inbox is as good as empty.

My first mail account isn’t there anymore, I don’t even remember it anymore and have been using my own domain name (since 1998) and Google’s mail (gmail) service (since 2005).

Social networks such as Twitter, social blog sites such as VIRB, Blogger, and huge networks like Facebook. Oh, and not to forget instant message services like Skype, IRC, and what not… They have all contributed to my inbox basically being empty every day. If only it was possible to completely get rid of it, who knows, maybe in the next decade.

What I have learned is to not use pop3, to use encryption, to use imap, and to handle important mails and simply not reply to less significant mails.

imap and syncing allows me to have one account on various systems and devices, such as my iMac as well as my iPad. And that means if you get a new one you get a notification, and if you have replied or marked it as read, archived or flagged it for spam. It’s already ‘like that’ on all the devices. So no more management on that part.

This also means that you have to take security seriously. Set a strong password that is completely unique, and have a solid ‘recovery’ option for the account. As well as 2-step authentication.

Handling mails that are important should be marked important, possibly flagged to remind you they require a follow up. And organize them in labels or categories/groups. This allows you to quickly get an overview, the topic-, or person’s history. And it allows you to pick the important ones out with a glance and spend the time replying to them.

I tend to check out the iPad in the morning and recognize spam that didn’t get caught yet and flag it accordingly. And glance over less important mails so I know if I can reply or not. And then I just archive those. So they don’t even show in the inbox anymore. I leave the more important mails until I had my breakfast and am behind my workstation.

Insignificant emails that are confirmations, follow ups, etc. I never reply to them with ‘thank you for your e-mail, I got it!’, the other person can assume I received it. No need to waste each others time. Other mails such as community digest mails that I like to keep are filtered. They show up in the group or under a label, and marked read. The inbox is skipped. And once in a while I glance over them to see if I missed something important. If not, they’re all deleted.

Anyway! Social networking helped me to stay in touch with people almost ‘live’ and this means that I can simply talk to them on Skype directly, tweet them a question and get a response. Or reply on Facebook chat or a FB message. The long wait of ‘not so much live’ electronic mail has been taken out of the equation.

Social networks are great for a lot of things, and horrible for a lot of other things. But they’re a wonderful tool to stay in touch with people. Something I used to use e-mail for.

A prime example is that instead of sending an e-mail to a group of family members (not knowing who cares about my attempt to communicate with them), I might write a blog and tweet it out. Those who are interested in what I do get an update on their social network. And for those who don’t like to use a computer they won’t read my mail anyway and I can talk to them over the phone when they call.

I think that if you think it through a little about how you want to use e-mail and social networks, you can lower the amount of unread messages in your inbox, and actually still be more social – perhaps because of it.

ReTweeting

Retweeting 1, 2, 3 with Re-Tweetiquette

Retweets at Twitter are the modern town crier in the Twitterverse – the universe of Twitter. Retweets spread the news in the typical “hear ye, hear ye” town crier style. You receive a Twitter message and you simply pass it on to others.

And simple is the optimum word when we are referring to retweets! Retweets can be sent in 2 or 3 steps – even in 1 simple step! Yet for whatever reason, newbie Tweeples (people who Twitter) are not given much direction about “how to retweet!” Lucky for you – you’ve discovered Mr. Floris and the simple steps to the Re-twitterverse – universe of retwitter.

Retweeting 1, 2, 3

Retweeting In 3 Simple Steps

The Twitter web interface requires you to follow 3 steps to retweet that message. Trust me – the 3 simple steps are truly – simple! Standard retweets begin with RT – short for retweet. Almost everyone uses RT to send retweets.

Not everyone knows, however, that you can send retweets by beginning with any word. “Reading” has been a popular option. Even LOL (laughing out loud) will suffice to resend that message.

So why do most people begin retweets with RT? Characters are like gold in the Twittersphere. “Reading” uses 7 – RT uses 2! Also, RT has become the “standard” and helps everyone recognize a retweet.

After RT in a retweet, you leave a space and follow with @sender.(A retweet begins as RT @sender.) You can manually write in “@sender” or just select “reply to” and “@sender” will magically appear in your message box. Then you simply allow a space and copy/paste the message that you want to send out into the Twitterverse.

If I receive this message:
mrfloris Retweeting 1, 2, 3 with Re-Tweetiquette – http://www.mrfloris.com
and who wouldn’t want to retweet that message!
I would retweet it as:
RT @mrfloris Retweeting 1, 2, 3, with Re-Tweetiquette – http://www.mrfloris.com

Retweeting in 2 Simple Steps

So retweeting with the Twitter web interface is as simple as 1, 2, 3! Yet with the help of amazing applications, it becomes even easier to retweet a message! Just 2 simple steps and no copy/paste hassle! Both Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop allow you to just hover over a profile picture and click the bottom left icon.

Retweeting In 1 Simple Step

If you think retweeting couldn’t get any easier, then you’ve overlooked retweeting in 1 solitary simple step! When you choose “retweet” in TwitterFox, it automatically copies and pastes the message into your status box – complete with RT. HootSuite is truly a “hoot” and for more than its one-click retweeting feature. With HootSuite, you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, multiple editors, and even pre-schedule tweets!

Ok, Retweets Are Easy But Why Would I Want To Retweet?

So you never dreamed then of being a modern day town crier – commanding attention wherever you hang your hat? Have you ever been inspired by words, ideas, or music that deserve to be released into the Twitterverse? If the answer is yes, then you need to retweet at Twitter!

Retweeting gives a new life to a message and runs with it. And retweets pick up admirers along the way. Retweeting connects you with people who share your tastes and interests. Quality retweets can also earn you some of that “town crier” respect. Expert status may be just a retweet away!

Ok, But What Messages Should I Retweet?

The wise Twitterer never retweets “low quality” messages! It goes without saying that you never pass on any obectionable messages. Report any questionable post but never retweet it!

Retweets of the highest quality add the most to the lives of Tweeples. Your retweets don’t always have to be serious in nature but they do have to nurture by nature! Don’t ignore humorous retweets! Everyone needs a good laugh now and then!

Timely topics always make good retweets. Retweets which offer “free” stuff might fly for awhile. But beware – if not legitimate, they will quickly fizzle out in the Twittersphere, Your credibility can be crushed with any questionable tweet!

So Is There Re-Tweetiquette?

Yes indeed! There is etiquette for tweets and retweets!

The 1, 2, 3 of Re-Tweetiquette

1. Keep Messages Intact

Modify a message – only if necessary – and only to add a positive touch to the message! A “great tip” remark might qualify as an acceptable add-on. My preference, however, would be to totally respect the copyright of the original poster down to the last letter. Never claim credit for another’s message! Never change links and redirect followers!

The potential exists that retweeting can be abused and used to spread malicious gossip.Tweeples have to be on their honor and not interfere with messages. Of course, the Twitterverse is a vast arena so retweet offences should be easily fished out of the stream.

Sometimes, however, retweets need a minor adjustment. When writing messages, it is recommended to write a few less characters than the maximum. Using less than 140 characters gives your message a better shot at becoming a retweet. Extra space is needed to include – RT @sender.

2. Keep Viruses Out and Watch The “Viral” Effect

Never rewteet a link without a quick browse around the locale. Even if you have complete trust in the sender, mistakes can happen in retweeting messages. An honest mix-up in an url can result in a huge embarrassment for everyone.

Nobody wants to see their credibility ruined by a bad link! On the other hand, valuable retweets create a memorable impression on Twitter. Their effect spins out of control in a viral fashion.

“Viral marketing” is the current buzz word in entrepreneurial circles. Retweets are a “free” form of viral advertising. Blog posts, online stores, your Mom’s recipes – anything can turn “viral” on Twitter.

3. Keep The Spirt Alive

Twitter was built on a hope for community. In the midst of our busy lives, it was meant to fill a niche – cater to our desire to connect but do so in 140 characters. As Twitter expands in leaps and bounds, retweets help fuel the passion and recharge the community.

And Re-Tweetiquette helps build on that sense of community! Tweeples respond favorably to those who retweet their messages. Nobody should retweet just out of obligation. Quality should be the determining factor when sending retweets.

A sense of awareness, however, adds to the Twitter community. A touch of sensitivity and a friendly attitude just might “up” the quality of retweets for all Tweeples. And yes, even polite gestures are noticed in retweets!

A study noticed that posters react favorably to “please retweet” messages. Please Retweet Me thrives on that theory of niceness. This gracious tool fills out your tweet and adds “pleaseRT.me” at the end. Tweeples might be even more appreciative if you write your own polite tweets.

Maybe Tweeples can even go beyond pleasantries with retweets. Worthwhile causes always benefit from a few supportive retweets. It’s easy to retweet messages on Twitter! You know the basics of Re-Tweetiquette! So what message will you retweet today?

By Mary Teresa Fowler, on behalf of Floris for mrfloris.com

TV Recommendations April ’09

The last week I have been talking to a few friends on Skype, IRC, MSN and Twitter about watching television shows, and I was kind of surprised that people who love to watch TV are sometimes missing the greatest shows.

Yes, of course it is quite possible my taste in TV is just not matching theirs or I just watch too many TV series. But still, so .. here is my recommendation to my readers for the month April 2009; please, if you can, give the following shows a try if you like drama with good arcs, characters, plots, and unique enough approach to keep things interesting:

Rescue Me
rescue me

Breaking Bad
breaking bad

And to ensure you will be surprised by the show, please start with season 01, episode 01; and please accept my apology for not giving any information about these shows at all .. Just, give them a try. Who knows, maybe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Impressed with WordPress 2.7

For an open source project the WP 2.7 release is significant enough. The dashboard (backend) looks pretty damn nifty and I just hope 3.0 will introduce an equally pretty frontend. I would NOT mind using that as my default theme! Continue reading Impressed with WordPress 2.7

Improving Gmail Security

In a few of my other blog posts I have already used the example of Gmail and https to improve security. But I feel with the recent improvements Google introduced that it is time to emphasize security and email again.

Continue reading Improving Gmail Security

Using Moodblast

[Update in 2016] It’s been years, and I no longer use or recommend this tool. I thought the blog post was fun enough to keep around though. Maybe consider something like Hootsuite now?

Over the last year or so I have been signing up on one social network after the other, from MySpace (ugh!) to Facebook (woot), from Twitter to Jaiku, from using Adium-X to iChat, etc.

I run them in the background, on the second monitor, or in a different space and had to spend a minute going through all the damn sites to update the status if I just wanted to let my friends and followers know that I am doing this, or just did that, or am having lunch or that I am on my way – whatever.

Now with Moodblast it’s a matter of a few seconds. So .. use this program if you do what I do!

Here’s a video showing it off. As you can see I have multiple programs open, multiple browsers or tabs in a browser. And it just gets frustrating to go through, not to mention that it clutters the screen. I’ve heard about Moodblast and tested it out: And loved it.

I can now have Adium or Skype open (if I know I am going to chat with someone) and no need for anything else. I don’t even use either of them a lot (meaning: not running them 24/7) because I like IRC as IM more. Anyway ..

Now I just have a single program (via an icon in the menubar) that I can click on, enter the msg and press enter, and be done with it.

Such an awesome tool.

[update] Video removed.