Tweet From Outlook With Twinbox

Yes, there are still some of us who love to use Outlook as their home base for all things digital. Calendars, tasks, contacts, mail and now even Tweets! If you find yourself far more comfortable with the Outlook interface but are interested in delving into the world of Twitter, check out Twinbox (link here) – a free application that allows you to Tweet from within Outlook.

The relatively small application file adds a few buttons to the Outlook bar that allow you to interact with the microblogging site. The app also supports multiple Twitter accounts. There are some simple preference selections to be made, including a clever option to use a keyboard shortcut to bring up a Tweet window. I also like that the service uses bit.ly for shortening links – my link shortener of choice.

Some of the benefits of Outlook are borne out with Twinbox as well – you can leverage Outlook’s foldering, filtering, archiving and search functions to keep track of and locate Tweets, which are now stored within Outlook. Incoming Tweets show in a very Outlook-like window as well, keeping the experience well within the bounds of familiarity. All the usual Twitter conventions, such as RTs, @ mentions, tags and DMs, are supported, and attaching pictures to Tweets is relatively easy – highlight an email that attaches and image or load one up from your computer’s hard drive.

And Twinbox has some great analytics features built right into it – you can easily view top Tweeters compared to total Tweets over a designated time frame.

While Twinbox does not give you all of the possible panoply of Tweeting options, it does a credible job of making Twitter manageable for the Outlook-obssessed set (which includes many professional and business-types). Not a bad way to get an introduction to realtime, social banter in a familiar environment.

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A Paper That Researches Itself? Oui!

Automate, automate, automate! Now you can even automate your research and writing process with a new web tool called OuiWrite. The brainchild of 25 year old Peyton Fouts, OuiWrite is featured on the free site OuiBox (link here) – which combines your e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts with OuiBox’s own own social network, news, calendar, photo, music, video and blogging applications. OuiWrite is one of those applications. The tool will automatically research your points as you write. Additionally, the tool will format your writing in MLA, APA or Chicago Style and create footnotes.

Guess what? Fouts is enough of a genius to create a version of OuiWrite specifically for legal research, leveraging both Westlaw and Lexis sources (link here). It is a paid version, but how much would you pay for a brief that writes itself?

I encourage you to hit the jump over to the site, watch the videos and take the free trial. It is a pretty cool set up.

It will be interesting to see if OuiBox and OuiWrite Legal gain any traction. Seems that deveoper and consumer interest is out there. Just need to build the “write” mousetrap.

The Facebook Times

Do you like news? Do you like Facebook? You can reduce the number of web stops you need make to satisfy these cravings with two great “news” applications within the Facebook ecosystem. Why within Facebook? Because you can be more efficient if you can glance at the news and the reactions of 400 million plus Facebook members without having to actually leave the Facebook site.

The two applications are highlighted in this blog post at MakeUseOf (link here). To summarize here, they include Facebook Headline News (link here) and the aptly named News On Facebook (link here)

Although Headline News is not strictly within Facebook (it is a standalone site), it collects all of the news released by major news outlets on Facebook. This allows you to keep your Facebook news reading segregated from your “news” feed.  The news is broken out into twenty or so categories. You can click on the news outlet to go to their Facebook page or click through to see the original article.

News on Facebook is the lighter option – a page which features the headlines from the major news outlets, curated by Facebook employees.

While there are certainly more intensive ways of consuming news online, you can’t beat the ease of one-stop shopping. Using these apps while you are already perusing Facebook will give you just enough information to delve deeper if you wish.

Happy reading!

More Social Curation with Storify

Here’s another one for you, sharing ilk with the likes of curated.by and Keepstream. It’s called Storify (link here) and it allows you to collect tweets and other media on a topic or “story” that you might want to publish out to your readers, followers or connections. Storify distinguishes itself by allowing you to collect source material from across the web (rather than just tweets or Facebook shares). You can search and add content from YouTube, Flickr, Google search results and more. Reorder elements and add text to provide context to the story. Once you have collected your information, you can create and share your story via your Storify URL or embed your “story” into your blog or website, and even send notifications to your original sources advising that you have clipped and re-published their content.

While it is possible to duplicate this kind of effort manually in your own blog, Storify’s drag and drop interface makes it beyond simple to create media-rich versions of events. Stories with Storify are interactive, and  readers can re-Tweet or reply to the people quoted in stories. You get curator-attribution in RTs.

I can see lots of uses for this. In the professional context, you could collect all of the content surrounding a presentation or conference and republish it following the event for posterity’s sake. Or, start a discussion on Twitter and collect all the replies. Check out this clever “Storify” created by @tcarmody about lobbying for Twitter follows.

By the way, Storify is an actual verb – it means to form or tell stories. So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for an invite and get your Storify (noun) on!

Social Search, Please, With Everything On It

Keywords aren’t enough anymore: searching across interests and social circles is becoming the rage as we move from Web 2.0 into whatever the next version will be called. As the tracks of likes, shares, recommendations and social connections begin criss-crossing and overlapping, smart algorithms can begin to paint a more accurate picture of what we might really be interested in. Gravee (link here) offers a package deal on search, piled high with bookmarking, personalized recommendations, and social components. First and foremost, it is a metasearch engine, that pulls results from the top engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing (did I just say Bing twice?).  However, if you actually complete a social profile on the site, state your likes and interests, and use the site’s bookmarking, tagging and voting features, your search results start to get even more interesting. You can import existing bookmarks from Google, Delicious and Stumbleupon, as well as links from your Facebook account. These past impressions (and new impressions you make via the Gravee bookmarklet) will modify how certain results will rank in your search efforts.

Social is achieved by filling out a profile on Gravee, as well as by linking your other social profiles from Facebook, MySpace, Hi5 or bebo. You can friend or fan other Gravee members, and like or dislike their bookmarks or add them to your own. Each activity you engage in through Gravee affects your search results. So, in essence, the more frequently and broadly you use Gravee’s features, the better your search results should be. Gravee will also pull information from people with similar interests to yours, making this social search mechanism even more global.

By the way, it’s pronounced “gravy” and comes with a definition: variant(s0: gravy (a): something additional or unexpected that is pleasing or valuable.

Burning To Get A Tablet?

Shiny new and tempting MacBook Air aside, 2010 has been the year of the tablet and 2011 promises more of the same. If you are tempted to procure or intent upon procuring one yourself, you are no longer limited to the iPad. There are several competitors out or imminently arriving. And there are definitely differences across the spectrum. Which tablet is the one that will do it for you? I myself am pretty smitten by the iPad. But Crunchgear has published an infographic on some of the other most likely candidates that might help you decide:

No Doubt: It's On-Line for Small Biz

Less than a year ago, I presented to a group of lawyers at the Boston Bar Association about the nuts and bolts of Social Media and why it makes good sense to get in on it. Part of my presentation was addressed to potential objections that might be raised by attorneys when considering whether to spend any of their most precious asset – time – engaged in networking online. One of those ostensibly reasonable objections was “gee, only the big guys, like Coca Cola, Disney and Best Buy, are hanging out online. My small business clients are still perusing traditional media outlets for their own promotion, information retrieval and vendor vetting efforts.”

Well, if American Express is to be believed, the facts behind this objection are rapidly shifting and making the objection most hollow: American Express Open reports in the Business Wire that results from its semi annual small business survey show that small business use of social media has increased four-fold in the last year. The release does not solely address social media use by small business – the survey generally examined how small business owners are viewing the economy and whether they are poised to take advantage of potential growth opportunities in teh coming year. With respect to social media, the survey results show that:

Business owners are also increasingly tapping into social media to reach customers and prospects. Four-in-ten now indicate they use at least one social media platform; Facebook is by far the most popular platform, with 27% of relevant businesses on board. By comparison, only one-in-ten business owners a year ago were using online social networking to market their businesses.

*   *   *

The apparent exponential growth in the use of social media by business owners is rooted in the need to drive demand. When asked about the primary benefit of using social media for their businesses, nearly four-in-ten entrepreneurs (39%) said it increases the exposure of their business.

Social media is a lower cost marketing channel through which business owners can talk directly to consumers, who say they’re more than willing to listen when it comes to special promotions and deals. In fact, consumers said they were most interested in hearing about small business loyalty programs (59%), followed by free trials (49%), rewards or incentive programs (44%) and invitations to new product launches or special shopping days (39%).

“For business owners, social media ultimately should be a two way street. It’s about business owners connecting with customers and customers connecting with businesses,” Sobbott added. “More than 10% of consumers we surveyed reported posting a review of a small business through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and of these posts, two-thirds say the reviews have been positive.”

Now, it probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if small business owners understand the value of and are implementing social media programs in crazy growth numbers, small business owners also might recognize the value of turning to online resources for finding and connecting with their own vendors and service providers.

Will you, the lawyer or business professional, already be there to welcome such connection possibilities with open arms? Or are you waiting until you represent a one in ten business that hasn’t yet filled out your social media profile?

The Good, The Bad & The Truncated

Now HERE is a novel concept in information consumption: applying liposuction to your news feeds. Thanks to Techcrunch, I became acquainted this morning with TLDR.it – a web app that shrinks long form news articles and RSS feeds into shorter versions containing only the salient(?) points. You can choose whether your abstract is short, medium, or long, but certainly the return will not be as long as the original article.

The app was built in 48 hours, a testament to the developer Jeremy McAnaly’s need for speed. Indeed, the app bills itself as “a.d.d. approved news reading.”

You can either enter the feed or the URL in search-styled boxes, or you use their bookmarklet to summarize any page you happen to linger on. Then you get a synopsis of the feed or URL, with options to see the short, medium or long versions, as well as the original source in full.

I couldn’t resist – I had to run Advocate’s Studio through Willie Wonka’s Mike TeeVee treatment and see what came out. The TLDR.it algorithm picked up on my second post about getting Studio content  at various web locales. (maybe it thought my top article was already the picture of brevity). If you read the content post, you will see that it was eight or so fairly meaty paragraphs. This is what tldr.it returned:

Visiting the page is cool because I have fitted out the blog with some extra material in the widgets and blog bar – you can get my Mobile App of the Day reviews in the sidebar along with my shares on Lazyfeed and Friendfeed and links to some of my other web profiles via my Retaggr card – I tend to spread my sharing out over many services, so that no one particular place has everything.

The long version contains approximately double the wordage as the short version, picking up pretty much where the short version left off. While this information is contained somewhere in the middle of the post, I cannot really say how the algorithm arrived at the “conclusion” that  this was the “meat”  of the post. Thus, I cannot really say that tldr.it returns the most salient points of the article.

Nonetheless, much like Cliff Notes, some information is better than no information, if for no other reason than giving you the appearance of having actually read the full work. I guess, with TLDR.it, you have to take the good with the bad.

Sound & Vision On Your iPad

I have been fascinated with the Smartpens from LiveScribe for some time now, but haven’t been able to justify the price tag for the level of use I anticipate. Now there is a way to gain that sort of functionality with your iPad so, for me, it may be time to revisit the merging of voice and printed notes.

If you are not familiar with the Smartpen’s function, it allows you to record a lecture or speech and take notes on special paper at the same time. After, you can access the audio portion of the lecture by tapping on a corresponding section of the page. Soundnote for iPad functionally does the same thing. Simply fire up the app, engage the audio and start taking notes in the document editor. The app tracks what you type and draw. During playback, tap a word and and SoundNote will jump right to the proper time in the audio.

You can use Soundnote to make sketches that are fully editable. Drag it around on the page. Redo a line or trash the whole image.  If you need to access another document or app, SoundNote will pause the recording. All you need to do is tap record again when you return. You can share text, drawings and audio by email and transfer them to your Mac or PC. Audio notes are recorded in standard M4A format and one hour of high quality audio is only 25MB. You can even upload the text as PDF and audio to Dropbox.

Not that I am suggesting attorneys (or law students) might be guilty of this, but Soundnote will protect you even if you happen to fall asleep during that conference presentation or lecture – if you tap on the last text you wrote before nodding off, Soundnote will keep playing the audio it recorded while you were snoozing.

All this for $4.99, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of a Smartpen.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Getting Good Tech News Where You Like To Hang Out

I am happy to see that there has been lots of interest in my posts here lately in the Studio. Warms my heart to know that people are reading and [hopefully] enjoying tech tips I find during my archeological digs in the dusty corners of the Internet. I thought it might be useful to highlight the many ways you can find / read / share the material I post here. So many, in fact, that you can customize your Studio experience to your preferred hang outs.

The first choice, of course, is to simply visit my blog page on a daily basis. While I don’t usually post on the weekends (there have been some exceptions), most weekdays you can find something new here. Visiting the page is cool, because I have fitted out the blog with some extra material in the widgets and blog bar – you can get my Mobile App Of The Day reviews in the sidebar, as well as shares on Lazyfeed and Friendfeed and links to some of my other web profiles via my Retaggr card – I tend to spread my sharing out over many services, so that no one particular place has everything.

But, understandably, not everyone wants to have to manually visit a blog page every time they want to get the news. So, another option is, of course, to subscribe to Advocate’s Studio’s RSS feed and dump it into your feed reader of choice. I use several myself, including Google Reader, Feedly, Flud and Pulse for iPad, River of News, Reeder, etc. Some people like to get their feeds in the iGoogle home page. Usually, from within your reader app, you can star, share and comment, so it is a decent place to drop your tech news if you want to keep it all in one place.

Some people eschew old school RSS readers for the real-time fun of Twitter. All of Advocate’s Studio’s blog posts are published twice a day in my Twitter profile, which oddly enough is called @advocatesstudio. This is definitely a good place to get my tech news, as I feed this blog, Mobile App Of The Day and all of my Google Reader shares into this stream. Sometimes I throw some fun stuff in there, like pictures and thin attempts at humor. If you message me or @reply, I always respond, unless you are a stalker or a spammer (yes, Virginia, there are stalkers and spammers on the ‘nets).

If you like to hang out on Facebook (and who doesn’t?), there are a few different ways to consume my content. If you are interested in the biz and only the biz, I recommend that you “like” my business page AdvantageAdvocates. Here I send my blog posts, my mobile app reviews and Google Reader shares (the stuff I love but just don’t have time to write about) and there is a ton of great information in that feed, if I do say so myself. I would love to get more dialog going on there, so if you like to chat, please consider “liking” the page and comment away!

If you don’t want to “like” but you would prefer only to read my blog posts in Facebook’s news stream, you can always subscribe to Advocate’s Studio via the Networked Blogs application in Facebook. You can see the subscriptions in my sidebar here – click on the link to follow the blog and it will take you to the application, where you can subscribe and even rate the blog. Or you can simply click this link to get to my Networked Blogs profile on Facebook and see both Advocate’s Studio and my art blog Star Toe Studio, as well as some of the blogs that I follow.

Finally, you can always send a friend request to my Facebook personal profile here.

If you would rather hang with a smaller crew, you can always subscribe to my feed on Friendfeed. This has long been a favorite place for me. It also represents the widest mix of shares, as most of my social feeds feed into it and I post a lot of non-biz related stuff there.

If you want something completely different, I am trying out some new sharing locations, where I am not automatically feeding in the blog content, but working harder to collect and share unique stuff. One of those locations is Amplify and you can access that profile by clicking here.

One of the great strengths of the Web is the ability to choose your method of media consumption. There are nearly unlimited options for getting the same content precisely where you want to see it. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, your reader app or some other locale, consider subscribing, liking, “friending”, following or otherwise staying in touch by whatever means suits you best. And definitely say hello!