Tag Archives: social media

The Unplanned Hiatus

beach-394503_1280For those that follow me here and on the various social media platforms I use I’m sure you’ve noticed the drastic drop-off of interaction and posting – it was unplanned.

I’ve often said that this is my personal blog and while I don’t typically share much about the family directly I decided to break that rule (ok, it’s more of a guideline) and break my silence with a peek inside that world.

Some weeks back, shortly after my the post about picking up a Chromebook, my family’s world was tipped upside down and shaken (definitely not stirred) with the news that my wife of nearly 22 years had breast cancer. There’s the initial shock that overcomes you when news like this is delivered, followed by the “why me?” question. My wife took the news pretty hard and as you can probably guess I went into support mode.

I not only shifted my thought process to cover what she needed but I needed to take on all the roles she filled with my three teenage kids and continue to fill the requirements of my day job. It’s been and continues to be a struggle to keep all of that in balance but it is getting easier (at least until school gets out!)

She’s been through the needed surgery and we received a bit of good news there as the cancer was contained and we got to it early enough that she’s dodging the radiation and chemotherapy bullets (at least for now). We are still dealing with the emotional issues of not only the cancer but also the initial surgery and the work we are now doing with the plastic surgeon.

All I can say about my wife is that she has a heart of gold and the inner strength that many of us would die to have. She calls me her rock but I have to admit that seeing her handle this with the grace and sense of humor she has shown is inspiring – so we’ll both take something away from this experience that will make us better individually, as a couple, and I believe as a family.

So what does this all mean for my blogs and social media? Just that while there’s been a hiatus and a general lack of focus on them, they aren’t going anywhere. In fact the time off has also given me a chance to think about what I’m doing here and elsewhere.

So going forward the focal point of everything I do online is right here, at this blog. It’s one of the things that I’ve found in dealing with everything going with my wife and the family, it’s better to have focus than be scattershot. This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning my social media presence, it just means that rather than spending my time trying to build an audience everywhere else I’m going to focus that time here.

Everything I share here will be pushed out through my various social media accounts and I will respond to questions, comments and general pings that come in through those avenues but I’m not going to spend time actively seeking followers out there.

There’s also going to be a shift around here too. During my hiatus I came across a blog post, Stop Listening to Blogging Advice and Do This Instead, and as so often in life you hear a piece of advice over and over and until you’re ready to hear it, it just doesn’t sink in.

For some reason this time it did.

I’ve spent a great deal of time reading about blogging, blog design, developing a following, how to promote things on social media, the list goes on and on but there was something missing from all of that . . .

I wasn’t actually blogging.

So I’m going to try really hard going forward to stop trying to find the “magic bullet” that will take this blog to the level I would like and just write. As I said above, this is a personal blog so the topics will likely cross many things as I have many interests and let’s face it, if you want read about one particular topic I’m sure there’s a place you can read about it. I will also be honest, over time a focus may develop for the blog and the topics may dwindle, but that will be because that’s where this journey has taken me, not something I arbitrarily decided and forced myself to write about.

You’ll also start to see some changes to the design and advertising as I figure out what I want and not necessarily what the “experts” are saying we should do. I do understand that on some level I need to be concerned about my personal brand but should be about who I am and what I feel I can give back to the community as a whole, not some pigeon hole I’ve picked for myself.

I’m also going to be looking at the organization of things, so don’t be surprised if things get placed in new categories or if categories and tags vanish or new ones get added.

Finally, I’ve decided that I’m going to post when I want and when I have something I want to share. So many of the “experts” out there have an answer for when you should post along with how often and quite frankly I’m not totally sold on that line of thought. Yes, I may start to favor a particular day or time frame but that will just because I’ve found a natural rhythm and not because I’m conforming to some formula.

They say that when your family is hit by cancer it is a life changing event and I can definitely agree with that statement. My offline world has already started showing those changes, not just in the way that my wife and I are dealing with it but also in the ways that everyone is interacting and working to beat it. My online world has benefited as it’s finally caused me to really give it some thought as to what I should be doing and get off my backside and start actually doing something instead of just reading about it.

I appreciate all of you that are reading the blog and are following me on the various social media platforms, it is because of you that I do this. I could write a daily journal on my home machine if I just wanted to write, but I feel it’s important to give back and I honestly enjoy the conversations.

I hope that you’ll continue to follow along and let me know your thoughts on what you like and what you’d like to see more of – be sure to share those in the comments below (don’t worry, I won’t bite).

Ok Google, you win!

Google Magnifying GlassAfter months of working on options to pull myself away from my reliance of Google products I’ve thrown in the towel – my apologies to all those out there who were hoping I’d reach escape velocity.

Folks that have wandered around the site know that I’ve always been big on Google products and the fact that I couldn’t just drop them all and walk away shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but there are a few things I’ve observed.

  1. The world loves Chrome. There are some other great browsers out there (firefox comes to mind) but, they don’t really seem to get the love when it comes to add-ins. Yes, I have a few that are specific to Google services but there are others that I can’t seem to find an equivalent for, and since I don’t want to give my the functionality – Chrome it is.
  2. Gmail just rocks. I realize that might not sound professional but it’s the best way to describe it. I rarely have an issue accessing it and the spam filtering is fantastic – hard to give those up. I’m also on an apps domain which I share with others so I can just summarily take it down without impact them so that’s also a blocker for me as well. (By the way, the new inbox app for Android is pretty solid as well.)
  3. Google Voice. I’ve been using a number through their system since before it was their system (anyone remember GrandCentral?) and while it hasn’t gotten as much love as it could have over the years the voicemail system works well for what I need it to do.
  4. Mobile. Other than Apple there aren’t a lot of choices beyond Android and while I carry an iPhone for work (and everyone else but me at home does as well) I didn’t want one for my personal phone. I opted for the 2nd generation Moto X and, to be honest, have been very happy with it to date.

I could go one by I really don’t want this to turn into a Google fanboy post (it might already be there anyway).

Am I all in with Google? No, there are a few areas where the giant G taken over.

  1. Notetaking. As I mentioned previously I’ve moved to OneNote for my notetaking setup. These are the notes that I want to have for the long haul such as projects I’m working on.
  2. Social media. Yes, I’m still on Google+ and post things there from time to time and belong to a number of communities but my focus of late has been twitter and I’ve recently setup a facebook page for those that would like to use that platform to follow me (please be sure to like it as I’m just getting it rolling).
  3. Photos. While there is plenty of love for pictures inside of Google, I’m setup with flickr and don’t see that changing. It does make it easier to share over with family who primarily use facebook.

Does this mean that I’m going to look to the mighty G for a solution to everything and stop exploring other avenues? Absolutely not, if I’ve learned one thing on this journey is that there are never enough solutions to a problem and rarely are they all from the same source.

So the question has to be asked, are you all in with Google? Avoid them likely the plague? Or are you somewhere in the middle? Please share in the comments below.

 

It’s Okay to Leave

One of the great things about Google+ is the ability to join various communities and share with others that are of a similar mindset. Of course, over time, your interests change and you may want to prune your list of communities so that it only includes those you are interested in.

So how do you leave a community?

1. From your computer click on the Home button in the upper left hand corner of your browser and select Communities.

pick-community
2. Select the community you wish to leave.

3. Click on the gear icon and select ‘Leave community’

leave-community
4. Confirm you want to leave the community. Remember you’re only leaving the community the posts you’ve made in the system will still be visible – unless you delete them yourself

leave-community-confirm

Now it is possible to leave a community from a mobile device but I’ve found it’s just much easier and quicker to handle it from the computer.

How often do you prune your communities list?

Project Reboot – September Check-in

It’s been about 6 weeks since I started Project Reboot and I thought I would check in and let folks know how things are going.

Task Management

I’m still rocking the Evernote solution I decided on. I’m still not using it as consistently as I would like but I do find it easier to use it than some of the other solutions I’ve used in the past. I did sign up for another solution a couple of weeks back to check it out but caught myself before going to far down that rabbit hole. It’s the common problem of “productivity porn” and I’m still working on not falling into that trap.

Social Media

So far I’ve managed to keep this from ruling my life, I’m still trying to iron out all the wrinkles though. I’m not living in it like I use to and I’m not constantly trying to keep up with it either. I spend very little time with Google+, facebook is limited to just family and friends (and then only once, maybe twice a day max). LinkedIn and Twitter are seeing more emphasis but between the two I’m only dropping about an hour or so.

RSS

In my last update I mentioned that I was going to tackle my RSS backlog and look at my options for keeping up with it. The first thing I did was look at my feeds and realized that there were a number of them that were either not updating any longer or I wasn’t reading so I decided to drop those. Then I looked at the remaining volume and found I had a couple that were being updated so often everything else was getting lost in the mix. I nixed those as well as I found I was reading only a few articles out of the whole feed – I can go to those websites for that (they are topic specific or series).

The final decision I made was on the reader. After giving it some thought I decided to roll my own with Tiny Tiny RSS. Does it have all the features of Feedly or the now defunct Google Reader? No. Does it give me what I need without the fear of being shut down or the need to pay to use it? Yes. Okay, there is a mobile app that costs $2 but at least it’s not a monthly subscription.

Email

Along with the need to bring my RSS under control I started work on email. I know I’m not as bad as some but I’m averaging about 1200 inbound emails a month to my main account so it needed attention. The first thing I did was switch the bulk of the mailing lists I’m on over to digest mode – instant reduction. I’ve also been going through and unsubscribing to those that I no longer read or no longer want.

One of the changes I’m working on is to move to other forms of communication where I can. Obviously phone calls work along with text messages and I’m using both where I can – going to try and push more folks to using those along with messengers and direct messages through Google or Twitter (check out this post recommended by Greg in my last post).

My Office

I’m not talking about my work office or the office I have as Secretary for the Masonic Lodge I belong to, I’m talking about my home office. The best way to describe it – controlled chaos. Most of the time I have to move something to get to something else or have to go digging for hours to find it. So, while I was on vacation the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending a few minutes here and there to try and eliminate some of the chaos. I know there are those that would say I’m doing it wrong, that I should block a few days, empty the office and then ‘rebuild it.’ Wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to actually enjoy my vacation and, to be honest, emptying my office wasn’t going to work as you need somewhere to put it all. So I’ve been scanning (storage in Evernote), shredding (that whole security/privacy thing), tossing out (yeah!) and rewiring (zip ties anyone?) – it’s a work in progress but as least now I have a bit more open desk space and don’t trip over something every time I get up.

Things are far from complete, some of the things I still need to iron out:

  • My social media policy
  • A clean up and refresh of the blogs I work on
  • Tools – make some decisions and get rid of the rest

I also need to finalize what constitutes the completion of this project (and put a date on it) as if there’s no criteria for completion it’s really a process not a project.

Project Reboot – Two week update and RSS feeds

Newspaper_Feed_add_256x256So two weeks ago I officially kicked off my Project Reboot, a project where I’m looking at the various aspects of my life both on and off line. I know it’s only been a couple of weeks but I thought I quick update would be a good idea.

Task Management – This was my first area of focus and I decided to make the switch and use Evernote for all of my task and project tracking. So far the results have been mixed. To be honest it’s still a bit early to tell as it’s a new setup for me and any new system will take time to iron itself out.

Social Media – A little over a week ago I tackled this part of my life and I think the results have been pretty good so far. As I suspected I ended up doing very little with facebook and LinkedIn as I paid a bit more attention to what I was doing on those two networks.

For Google+ I ended up uncircling about half of those that were in my list. The result was interesting, the number of folks that had be circled really didn’t change, in fact it’s gone up a couple of ticks since then. The posts that I’m looking at seem to be a bit more in line with what I would like to read and there seems to be a bit more interaction now.

Twitter was by far my worst network and while it goes against what many ‘social experts’ would tell you to do I nuked my entire list. That’s right I unfollowed everyone. For the most part it happened very quietly, I had a couple of responses and after pointing back to my blog post things continued on as normal. I’ve have about 20% of those following me leave but again I’m seeing a bit more interaction now and my twitter feed is definitely easier to review.

I will say this about twitter – use lists. While I may have unfollowed a lot of folks I have many of them on a list and check out what’s being posted frequently and I’m slowly starting to follow some of them.

This week’s challenge is RSS (really simple syndication). I don’t follow a lot of feeds but I’m looking at almost 1600 unread items – seems a bit out of control. I have been using feedly but as I’m going to be evaluating things a bit I’m going to test out The Old Reader and see how it goes.

Is there an RSS reader that you prefer?