What Do You Use Your Smartphone For?

Ever wonder what other people use their smartphones for? I know what I use mine for – quite a bit of email, a bit less texting and talking, a TON of picture/video taking, and a sizable amount of browsing and news consumption. Oh, and a little social media thrown in. Interestingly enough, the number one use for smartphones isn’t very smart at all – you can pretty much text on ANY phone, smart or dumb. Still, this infographic by Tatango is an interesting look at how people prefer to employ their brainy little devices:


Search Docs On Your Thumb Drive? Yes You Can!

Convenience comes at a price – those ubiquitous little thumb drives are mighty handy for toting documents around, but just try to figure out where your desired document is once you fill up the sucker. Windows search and Spotlight won’t allow you to figure it out – the contents aren’t indexed yet.

If you are on a Windows machine, you are in luck. With a portable utility called Dropout, you can install its .exe on the root or home folder on the USB drive and, voila!, you will get a searchable index of the drive. Once installed, it will keep indexing and updating any new content. Even cooler – it offers FULL TEXT SEARCHING! Woot.

I sometimes wonder what I would do without Amit over at Digital Inspiration Blog. More useful content per square inch than a complete Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of a pin.

Share The Love, And Your Google+ Circles

The toddler social network Google+ based its marketing on the fact that you could control what you post to whom and keep private what you want private. Facebook recognized that value of Google’s model and has completely revamped its own sharing structure to meet the apparent demand. Now Google+ has retreated somewhat from the privacy premise with the ability to share your circles with others.

Don’t get me wrong – I actually think this is a brilliant move, one that would not work for the likes of Facebook even with its newly revamped sharing. Google+ has embraced its following functionality and, like Twitter lists, has offered users a way to share content by sharing the best content sharers and curators with others. You do all the hard work and your followers reap the benefits, as do members of your recommended circle who presumably will be rewarded with more followers. Overall, the Google+ experience is enhanced for both followers and followees.

My sense of it is that people will most likely share lists based on topics, such as Tech gurus, Photographers and Artists, Musicians, Lawyers, etc. I can’t imagine sharing family and personal circles, so I think the tech press cautioning against sharing circles and privacy implications is off the mark. Nonetheless, it makes some sense to use some sense when you do share.

All in all, though, as I mentioned above, I find this sharing feature fantastic – now I can find the best unknown follows by checking out the shared lists of some of my most respected and well-known follows. Thanks, Google+.


Meet The New Delicious

Sneaking in between big announcements from Facebook, Amazon and Apple, the all new Delicious has launched and is looking very visual and social. Fans of the site have been struggling over the better part of the past year as Yahoo shuttered operations at the seminal social bookmarking site and then sold it off to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. For months now, devotees have wondered what Hurley and Chen would do with the site, shuddering a bit at the new terms of service. But now Delicious is finally back and, I daresay it, still fresh, interesting and effective.

Delicious was a pioneer of the Web 2.0 movement – creating an application that allowed you to log in and save key web content from any browser, peruse the favorite items of other members on the site and connect over web content. Delicious retains its social sharing DNA, but changes the “network” and “fans” to “followers” and adds a new feature, Stacks, that looks a lot like a playlist of your favorite content. In other words, Stacks allows you to curate related web content and share that curation on the site – much like Scoop.It and Pinterest. Also new: multi word tags and media previews. And, according to Hurley and Chen, they have a lot more features waiting in the wings to add value to the Delicious  experience.

The good news is that saving content via the familiar checkered bookmarklet in the browser will remain intact. The better news is that all your hard, curation work is going to get a whole lot shinier. Check out an example of a “stack” of links about Texas wildfires:

Also, check out the interview with Hurley and Chen over at AllThingsD – I wish them – and Delicious – all the best.

Google + + +

Big day in Google Land. And for me personally. That is because I am a huge fan of the fledgling social network, Google +. Granted, I have had a few complaints but what else can you expect a few from the three month old, closed beta service.

Today, however, a few of those complaints, including my biggest complaint, have been squarely addressed. First – the floodgates are open and anyone can sign up to Google + – it is now officially public beta. All my family and friends and colleagues can jump in and check it out. I hope they do – the more the merrier and the better the experience for everyone.

Another cool new add – Google Hangouts are going mobile! You will be able to “hangout” on your Android mobile phone running 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher. This is just great – I tend to be near my phone far more than I am near my computer so the odds are definitely better that I would use hangouts on the phone rather than the laptop. Some users are getting the ability to use Hangouts as public broadcasts. Share screens, use a sketchpad to doodle with participants, collaborate on or present a Google Doc, and join or create Named Hangouts. Just click on the “Try Hangouts with Extras” button in the Hangouts room. This certainly adds massive functionality to an already curiously cool service – the document sharing and collaboration feature alone could prompt me to get over my Hangout performance anxiety.

But the biggest news by far is that Google+ is now SEARCHABLE! I can’t really believe that it has taken the search giant this long to make its service searchable. But, that is all in the past. There is a search box at the top of the screen and when you type in a term, you can find people or topics that match the term. The results will come from everything that you can see, and can be filtered by “everything”, “people”, “Google + posts” and “Sparks.” Now I can find that post I saw last week on the newest Samsung Android handset. If only Google would collect all our +1’s on posts in + and maybe store them in a tab, then the service will REALLY get useful.

Regardless of my dwindling list of wants, these changes are quite exciting and, with the very recent release of Google + API’s, new goodies should be pouring down any minute now. If you haven’t checked out Google +, you might want to – there is a lot to love over there, with more to love every day. Check out the official post over at the Google Blog for more details.

Drag Text, Create Note

This is so flipping clever, I had to make my own post about it! Evan Kline at 40Tech gives a little efficiency tip for Mac OSX users that I was completely unaware of. If you want to create a quick, simple note about something, simply select / highlight the text you want and then drag it onto your desktop! The text is transformed into a text note, which you can then refer back to as needed. It works from any app. Great for quick, simple information transfer – like an address from an email or a sentence from a web page. Nice one, Evan!

Deep Web People Search With Pipl

Confounded in your efforts to locate the unlocatable? Google not working for you? Perhaps you need to dig a little bit deeper. Pipl is a deep web search service that focuses on finding individuals. Google searches web pages and Pipl searches the “deep” or “invisible” web – that part of the Web that is hidden for the most part from standard browsers. Stuff like documents in on-line databases. There is as much as 500 times as much information lurking in the deep web than floating on the surface. When it comes to people, the best information is generally found in such “unsearchable” documents and not on web pages. Using advanced language analysis and algorithms, Pipl can extract facts, contact details and other information from profiles, directories, scientific publications, court records and other sources.

The search box asks for the person’s full name, email, username or phone number. The information retrieved is not private – it is public information that is simply hard to get to due to its particular web form. If you are concerned about your own information, you can request to have your Pipl Profile removed from their site by clicking here. While their automatic removal is disabled, you will be given the email to manually request removal.

Of course I searched myself. And I found a staggering amount of information. Not that is not entirely surprising given the amount of time I spend on the web and the number of profiles I have filled out. That said, Pipl managed to tie a lot of disparate information about me into one page at their site. Needless to say, Pipl is pretty powerful.

If you want to stalk search for that missing someone, give Pipl a try. You never know what you might find.

Combine Web Reading & Email And Get CC:To Me

Some people like their readers. Some people prefer their inboxes. I use my inbox as a sort of “to do” list, by keeping messages that require action in the active inbox, moving those that I have completed to a certain file within the inbox and organizing the rest according to type.

If you are the type of person who relies on their inbox and prefers email subscriptions to blogs to RSS, then CC:To Me might be for you. This bookmarklet will allow you to catch any web page you are browsing and send it to your email. You can send a note containing text and images or the entire article. You get a reader friendly version of your selection in your inbox, where you can read, sort, file, and resend at your leisure. And the sent post includes the original URL, so you can go back and get more.

Do you use labels or filters? I do – I can’t live without them. With some tweaking of those filters or labels, you can use CC:To Me to turn your inbox into a reference library – add dedicated topic “hashtags” to your CC:To Me posts and your filters will do the rest. You can even have CC:To Me and your filters auto-send on certain notes to a different email address. You can add more emails to your CC:To Me account and then have options within the bookmarklet as to where to send. This works beautifully for me, as I have dedicated email accounts for my blogs, personal and business – I can forward mobile app articles to my MobileAppOfTheDay email, personal articles to my personal email and business articles to my business email.No need to log in and navigate a separate site to get your goods – most people are in and out of their email all the time and your saves will be waiting for you, right there in your inbox (or filters / labels).

That is a lot for nothing! And it appears CC:To Me will be developing pro accounts with more features. Such as sending items to different email users (great for enterprise) or to other services, like DropBox. All in all, the free version seems very solid and perfectly capable of helping you sort, save and share via your inbox.

All You Need To Know About Facebook Subscriptions

The new feature is also going to come with a personalized Suggested Subscription list – a personalized recommendation to help people find interesting non-friends to receive public updates from. Think friend suggestions based on who users have mutual friends with – these will be suggestions for subscriptions based on connections and demographics. There are lots of new bits and pieces of subscription information being published now on the site, no doubt in an effort to increase user engagement with the feature and promote viral adoption. You also will see who has subscribed to who when you visit a person’s profile.


Facebook has been a busy bee lately, trying to drag its social network into the modern age with tailored sharing and connecting, much along the lines of the coolest Google + features. I have no problem with that – competition being a good thing and imitation being the highest form of flattery and whatnot. Rather than go through an exhaustive analysis of all of the new features, I thought I would highlight one particular feature that rolled out yesterday that I think could seriously change the entire dynamic of Facebook.

Up until now, there has been this guarded approach to connecting that requires both a friend request and an acceptance in order to open the door to all the valuable content shared on FB. If you are a content junkie, like myself, it is pretty easy to amass a fairly large number of “friends” on the service. But are they all really “friends?” What if you simply want to follow a person, a la Twitter, and see their public information without all the commitment that a formal friend engagement entails?

Facebook Subscriptions will allow just that – the ability to follow another FB user without becoming “friends” and without requiring a mutual relationship – a one-way follow model reminiscent of Twitter. When you subscribe to someone on FB, you will see only their public posts. Tailoring posts has become much easier now that Facebook allows you to set privacy with each individual post via a drop down button in the status box. When you subscribe, you will see the subscription’s public posts and when people subscribe to you, they will see yours.

When you opt into the Subscribe feature (nice FB – thanks for not turning it on by default), people will see a Subscribe button on each person’s profile or on each post in the News Feed. They can click on your Profile  to follow your public posts without first getting your approval. You can set whether or not subscribers can comment on your public posts. Subscribers can specify exactly what kind of content they want to see from you – all updates, most updates or important updates only, photos and vids, status, games, life events, etc.

This feature will definitely appeal to people with broad appeal – those who may have hit the 5,000 friend limit and have had to turn to Pages to manage masses of fans. It might also appeal to the little guy too – you get the option to share with a broader audience and, given FB’s numbers lead when it comes to social network population, this is not a bad thing for on-line publishers and content creators. Will it replace Pages entirely? No – because Pages still offers some features (analytics, multiple admins), that Profiles do not. But, if a person or brand would like to simplify their FB experience into a single presence, the new Subscription feature and the ability to merge Pages with Profiles will allow a more personal and efficient approach. Check out the comparison chart between Pages and Subscriptions below:

Subscriptions are not just for new connections – it also will appeal to anyone who wants to tailor the content they receive from their existing friends, either from their profile or on each post in the News Feed. Use the Subscribe button to limit / define exactly what and how much you want to see. If you subscribe to others, you will see a new Subscriptions entry in the left menu on your profile, from which you can adjust settings.

Behind the scenes, Facebook has implemented some nice touches via their powerful algorithms to tailor content on your News Feed and your notifications. With all the new ways to receive and consume, it is nice to hear that there is some filtering and control available to adjust the settings, so to speak, with decent tweaking on by default. You should be aware that there is no requirement that you enable a Subscription button on your Profile – if you choose not to, your FB experience will not change in any way. But if you do, then you open the door to more engagement with privacy options intact. And there is no doubt in my mind that, while FB has borrowed heavily from the Twitter model, the new features vastly improves on it – offering fine tunnig of content-in and content-out if a far more meaningful way.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with FB’s bold move here. I had always pegged them as to proud to change that friending model that has defined the service from its start – a service built on “belonging to a club” so to speak. Now everyone can join the club. But you just don’t have to listen to everything each other has to say.

Need To Translate? Use Google Docs

Google Translate is pretty cool, but it works on web pages, not PDFs. What if you uncover a priceless PDF in, say, German, and you don’t sprechen sie Deutsch? Use Google Docs, of course. Lifehacker has this great tip – save and upload the foreign doc into Google Docs, click on Tools and then Translate and you will get a copy of the doc in your language of choice. It works with HTML, ODT, RTF, and DOC files. And, as Lifehacker reminds, you can always convert document formats within Google Docs – simply load the doc, open the File/Save menu, then Click Save As and choose RTF, PDF, HTML Word, or Open Office. Simple and effective. And, of course, Free. Doesn’t get any better.