Sunday, February 19, 2012

Social Media, A Work in Progress

Social media.  I am starting to learn, if only a little bit, how to use social media, thanks to Chris Pirillo and his band of Gnomies at  I joined the Gnomies about three weeks ago, and I have picked up a couple of tips which I am actually using in my blogging, postings, and re-tweets.  It is both something and amazing to see these tips actual work.  How about that.  They know what they are talking about.

There is more to blogging than actually writing the blog.  Before I added ads to my blog (so far I have made nothing by having ads on my blog), I would send out emails to my friends and relatives with a link to my latest posting of my blog.  We are not talking about a lot of friends and relatives, but still, I was not getting a lot of reads of the postings.  I did not start blogging to get rich or famous.  I started it as a way to express my thoughts and feelings.  If anyone read it, great.  If not, that was okay, too.  However after a while, I began to think it would be nice if more people read my stuff.  That is just human nature.

Since I now have ads on my blogs (I actually have two blogs, one for Geeks and one for non-Geeks), I can't send out links to my blogs via email since that is self-servicing (because of the ads), and the blog postings may be unwanted, like spam.  I send out links to my postings via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.   If a person wants to read my blog, that person just has to click on the link.  Otherwise, the link can be ignored.  I would send out the links after hitting the publish button, and again wait for the "pageviews" to climb in number.  Guess what, the number of pageviews was about the same.

Then I noticed on Twitter that I would see tweets from Chris Pirillo about a blog posting or a Lockergnome article more than once in a day and on different days.  Then I saw a Lockergnome article that talked about posting more than once on Facebook, maybe once every other day, and maybe on certain times of the day.  When you think about it, with all the postings that are on social media, it is very easy to miss postings from people even if you are looking for them.  Therefore it makes sense to post your links more than once.  You don't want to do it too often however.  The research in the Lockergnome article indicates the more postings you send out, the fewer likes, and the fewer pageviews, you get.  As a result of my posting my links more than once, my pageviews are up.  Granted, the number of pageviews are also going up because I have a larger audience now, the Gnomies.  However yesterday, I sent out the link to a posting that was a week old.  Not only did I get a bigger spike in my pageviews, but one person left a comment on that posting.  I sent her a comment back, and that provided me with an opportunity to engage with that person, something any writer enjoys doing.  Can't beat that.

Another tip I have received from Chris Pirillo is to add a comment to the posting when you send it out.  It is like a tease to a newscast.  I have started to do that not only when I send out the links to my postings, but also when I send out a link to an article I have just read and liked.  I am starting to see that people are more inclined to read and comment about an article if you give them another reason for them to read the article than just the title of the article itself.  If they do comment on the article, I will comment back if appropriate.  It is another chance to engage with someone.

As you can see, this old dog can learn new tricks.  I am learning a lot from the Gnomies, and I am looking forward to learning more.  I am even starting in a small way to offer my own opinion to the group.  Even Chris Pirillo knows who I am (I am the person who is always asking for help).  It is great fun to learn, to teach my GED students, and to write.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Simple Fix for a Slow PC

A couple of weeks ago I joined a business and tech group called Gnomies.  This group is led by Chris Pirillo, a well-known tech and entrepreneurial expert.  If you want to know more about Gnomies, go to

This blog posting is not about Gnomies per se.  This posting is about a tip that I heard from a couple of the Gnomies a few days ago, a tip that I have used before but had forgotten about.

In the process of joining Gnomies, I have been adding some software to my laptop to enable me to converse live with the Gnomies and see the Gnomies and be seen.  As a result, some shortcuts have been added to my desktop.  I already had quite a few shortcuts on my desktop, so my desktop was becoming cluttered.  I heard these two Gnomies say that they don't have any shortcuts on their desktops, that it is just as easy to hit the start button on the bottom left of their screens and access the programs from there.  That also reminded me that having a cluttered desktop can slow your system down since Windows checks the shortcuts on a frequent basis.  I have noticed my system has been slowing down, especially lately with the additional shortcuts.  Last night I decided to do something about that.  I deleted all the shortcuts from my desktop, and now I see a noticeable difference in the response of my system.  It is taking less time to start my laptop, and my system seems to be quicker in loading and running programs.  I am glad the Gnomies had reminded me of this tip.

Deleting shortcuts will not solve every speed problem on a PC, but it certainly is an easy fix to try.  It is another reason I am glad I joined Gnomies.  This organization is dedicated to helping the members, helping each other in both tech and non-tech ways.  Even Chris Pirillo, the lead Gnomie, has found time to help me on more than one occasion.  This posting is an small attempt to return the favor and try to be on the giving end instead of the receiving end of help by Gnomies.  After all, I am one, and I am happy to be one.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is Vista Really That Bad?

I have been using the Windows Vista operating system for sometime, and I have not found it to be a bad system.  I have never had the dreaded "blue screen of death", which indicates that there is a very serious problem with your PC.  I do not seem to be having any other serious problems with Vista.  Maybe I am just use to them, and thus they, if any, don't bother me.  I have wanted to install Windows 7 onto my laptop because I have heard that it is an excellent operating system, but other priorities have prevented from me doing so.

Vista made a bad start when it first came out.  There were problems installing it.  There were problems running it.  There were a lack of compatible drivers for the PCs to interface with other equipment, like printers.  Thus it has a bad reputation.   I did not get my current laptop until about a year later or so later after Vista came out.  By then most of these problems had been resolved.  Thus I have not seen or endured through any of Vista's initial problems.  There is nothing wrong with Vista now that makes me want to upgrade to Windows 7.  It would be nice to have the enhancements of Windows 7, but Vista is running fine on my PC now.

Given that my experience with Vista is not unique, it goes to show you how important first impressions are.  Vista did not have a good first impression, and it is still paying for that.  Windows 7 made a good first impression (Microsoft certainly learned its lesson), and it has a good reputation.  I have been told that I should always make a good first impression.  I guess that adage applies to operating systems as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blocking Ads on Web Sites

For a long time I have been using Firefox as my default web browser, and I have been very happy with it.  One of the reasons I was happy with it was I was using an extension which blocks ads on the web sites that I visited.  I find ads to be annoying, and they can clutter a web page.  I almost never read an ad, so I was happy being able to block them.

A few weeks ago, I switched to Google Chrome as my default we browser.  I find Google Chrome to be a noticeably faster web browser than Firefox.   I was happy with it, but I was not completely happy because I could not find a way to block the ads I was now seeing on the web pages.  Then on January 3, I read an article by Craighton Miller on concerning Google Chrome extensions (click here if you would like to read the article).  I proceeded to figure how to get to the extensions on Google Chrome (it just takes two clicks of the mouse), and then I saw saw what I was looking for, an extension called AdBlock, which unsurprisingly blocks ads on web pages.  Ah, the holy grail!  Now I see no ads, no clutter, just the stuff I want to see.

But wait!  At the end of Craighton Miller's article on extensions, there is a paragraph on why one should not use an ad blocker.  Ads on web sites are sources of revenue for the people who produce the web sites.  Thus if you are using an ad blocker, you in effect are stealing from these people.  You are not getting that money, but the producers of the web site are not getting the money either.  That money helps to defray the cost of producing that web site.  I felt a little guilty after reading that paragraph, but not guilty enough.  I went ahead and installed AdBlock.

A day or two later on one of the The Lockergnome Daily Report (TLDR) videos, Chris Pirillo said that if you are using an ad blocker on the lockergnome web sites, you are not really a supporter of the lockergnome community.  Guilt, and more guilt.  Well, I wondered if there was a way to customize AdBlock so that I would not be blocking ads on the lockergnome sites.  Yes indeed, there is a way to not block ads on a particular site. So I am now not blocking ads on lockergnome web sites, but my guilt has not gone completely away.

What about the producers of other web sites?  Are I not keeping them from potential revenue (they only get the revenue if I click on an ad on their web site)?  Maybe I should not be using AdBlock at all.  Now this instant, I have just uninstalled AdBlock.  I am no longer blocking ads on any web site that I visit.  My guilt is gone.  I will see more stuff on the web pages, but I will learn to deal with it.  Perhaps I might see something that I might benefit from in an ad.  Maybe this change will actually be a win-win situation for both the web site producers and myself.  Certainly nothing wrong with that.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What If Certain Events Had Not Occurred?

Time travel has often been used in novels, TV shows, and movies, especially of the science fiction variety.  Even if you are not a science fiction fan, I am sure you have wondered what it would be like to travel back in time to witness historical events.  Maybe you have wanted to go back in time to do something differently, whether that is for someone else's benefit or for your own benefit.  I know I have.  When I was at Washington and Lee University my freshman year, I had the choice of going to second visits of two fraternities.  One fraternity had a studious reputation while the other had more of a party atmosphere.  I chose to go to the second fraternity's party, in part because they paid a lot of attention to me at their first visit, and I ended up not being asked to join that fraternity.  There certainly was no guarantee that I would have been asked to join the first fraternity if I had chosen to go to their second visit, but I have a feeling my life would have been different if I had gone to their party.  I ended up not joining a fraternity at W & L, and I transferred to the University of Florida after my sophomore year.  I am not saying my life would have been better or worse if I had joined a fraternity and stayed at W & L.  I think my life would have been different.  It is not often that you can look back on your life and see crossroads where your life could have been different if you had made a different decision.  I think that fraternity visit decision was such a crossroad for me.

Well, what made you think about this, you may ask me. A few days ago I read an article on called 11/22/63: The Stephen King Novel for Science Fiction Fans.  The article is by Robert Glen Fogarty, and you can read the article by clicking here.  In case you do not know, 11/22/63 is the day when President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX.  In the book 11/22/63 (this is not a horror story),  someone goes back in time to prevent the assassination.  The rest of the book concerns the change in the timeline that results from President Kennedy not being killed then.  I have just started reading this book on my Nook, so I don't know what changes to history Stephen King has written in this book.  I know I have often thought about how things would have been different.  I certainly do not think President Kennedy would have sent troops to Vietnam if he had lived.  Who knows what else may have been different.  It is all speculation anyway.  We will never know one way or another.  I have just finished reading another book called Jack Kennedy:  Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews, so President Kennedy has been on my mind of late.

I believe Kennedy's assassination was a crossroad for our country.  I think possibly our country would be different today if this event had not happened.  Similar to my own crossroad, I am not saying things would be better if he had lived.  Things might be worse.  Again, we will never know one way or another.  However, that does not mean we can't think about such possibilities.  It is fun to do so.  Perhaps though we should not think about such things too much.  We can't change the past no matter how much we may want to.  We can change our future by learning from the past.  That would worth spending our time on.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Combining Blogs?

On December 29, 2010, I wrote my first posting on a blog.  I guess that means I just passed my first anniversary as a blogger.  There was no notice of that milestone in Time magazine.  How could they have missed that?  If you want to read that posting and the other postings I have made, click here.

But wait!  You don't see any of my recent postings on that blog?  What happened?  This past summer I bought a T-Mobile smartphone.  The saleslady said I needed to setup a Google account since I was buying an Android smartphone.  In all of the excitement of buying this new phone, I forgot that I had already had a Google account, blugatr.  I wish I had remembered that name since I like the blugatr name better than the name bradto36, the Google account name this blog is under.  What I would like to do combine the blog under the blugatr Google account with the bradto36 account.  In case you don't know, a Google account contains an email account, Google+ account, blogs, Google docs account, and a YouTube account as well as other types of accounts.

Everyone now has my email address under the bradto36 name.  My main email address was an AOL email address, so I do not want to go through the same process of changing my email address from the AOL one to the bradto36 one to change the bradto36 email address to the blugatr email address even though I like the blugatr address better.  Thus my question is can I combine the two blogs?  Can I move my blugatr blog postings with any of their comments to the bradto36 blog postings?  Both blogs are blogspot blogs, which are hosted by Google.  I would appreciate any help you can give me.  Much thanks!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Backing Up Your Data in the Cloud

All of us know how important it is to backup the data that is on your computer.  I found that the hard way myself when a hard drive in one of my laptops crashed a few years ago.  I didn't have any personal data on that laptop, so it could have been a worse disaster.  Now I backup up the data on my laptop onto an external hard drive which is attached to my laptop.  However, that does not mean you are fully protected when you backup your data onto an external drive..  What if you lose your external hard drive?What if it is stolen?  What if your external hard drive fills up to capacity (buy a bigger hard drive)?  What if there is a fire or something that destroys your house along with your laptop and any external hard drives?

I was reminded of these concerns when I read an article about backing up your data, the article being called "How (and Why) to Backup Your Data" by Eddie Ringle (click here to read the article).  These days there is an alternate way to backing up your data.  You can backup your data to the "cloud".  The cloud really is referring to servers located who knows where, certainly not in your house, but servers that your data is stored on.  Several companies offer storing your data in their version of the cloud, three companies being Amazon, Google, and Apple.  For a few weeks now I have been storing my music in the cloud via Google Music.  Now I can access my music from my mobile phone wherever I go, and I don't have to worry about running out of storage space for my music on my phone. My music is in the cloud.

Google's version of the cloud is called Google Docs.  One part of that is called Google Cloud Connect.  With this, you can store all your Microsoft Office documents, those being Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the like, in Google Docs.  This takes a little time to do as I am storing them by syncing them one document at a time (I don't know if there is a faster way to do this).  For those documents that are now in the cloud, it takes a little longer to access them and a little longer to save them.  Perhaps if I had a faster WiFi connection, I would have faster access to my data in the cloud.  So far this cloud service is free.  The only real concern I see about storing data in the cloud is the case either my internet connection goes down or the cloud goes down.  I have not had such a problem in the short time I have had any of my data in the cloud, but there is a chance of such a problem occurring.  If companies that offer cloud services cannot provide reliable access to the data in the cloud,  storing data in the cloud will not be a good alternative for backing up your data.

Addendum - After I wrote this posting, I signed up to backup all my documents, pictures, financial data, and the like to Apple's iDrive.  It took over two days to upload my data to the iDrive, but the reason for that is largely due to my slower router (the slower g router versus the faster n router) and my DSL internet connection.  I have taken a big step to protect my data.  I hope the cloud does not let me down.