silvery strands of thought

WordCamp Kansas City 2012 Review #wckc

I just got back from NerdCamp, er, WordCamp Kansas City, and it was a blast! My only complaint was the venue: last year we met on a college campus, so there were conference tables for easy note-taking, reliable wifi, and plenty of plug-ins for charging our devices. OfficePort KC is a cool venue in a cool part of town, but I still prefer the JCCC campus from last year for this sort of event.

With that said, I don’t have anything else negative to say, except that it’s always over too quickly! My sincere thanks and congratulations to the speakers and organizers for a successful, engaging, and productive WordCamp KC 2012!

Here’s a quick run-down of the sessions I attended. Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday: Crocheted Baby Afghans

Three crocheted baby afghans and one mug cozy: the work of several months and lots of love!

Clockwise from upper left: Will Mildren and his blue and yellow baby boy afghan, Little Miss Bailey’s afghan — a pink, ruffly afghan for a little girl with two older brothers–a mug cozy with crocheted button, and Little Miss Robertson’s afghan–a ruffle-edged afghan made to match custom curtains. Continue reading

She Only LOOKS Calm…

I don’t feel like blogging, but here’s a picture of Rowdy, our 14-month-old Vizsla! Continue reading

The 14-Day No Dr. Pepper Update: Day 4

Well, I decided on Monday to go cold-turkey on Dr. Pepper with a couple safe guards in place to make sure that I don’t slip up. If I make it 14 days with out any soda (diet is okay at this point), then I get to give $2 a day for a total of $28 to the Alzheimer’s Association and Pamela has bought in too at $0.50 a day. That will be $35 for a cause very near to my heart.

But if I take one teeny sip of Dr. Pepper, then my $2 a day goes to Westboro Baptist Church, cult that does more for the forces of darkness it purports to fight than it does the “god” they supposedly follow. Everything they do goes against everything I believe God truly is. Why in the would would I do anything that would support them.

So here is an account of what I’m sure will be the three hardest days of this 14 days. Continue reading

Willpower and The Biggest Hurdle: Dr. Pepper

It’s no secret that Dr. Pepper is one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to making healthy choices. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to quit it, but it’s so hard.

My current strategy is substitution. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, sparkling water in the evening, and lots of good old fashioned tap water all day. It works well, but it’s not fool-proof because I’m weak.

But I have a new strategy. Continue reading

Google+ Twitter Integration: How to Send Posts from Google+ to Twitter

This post is for Nathan. :)

Google+ Twitter Integration is something I have sought after for almost as long as I’ve been using Google+ (I’d even be happy with the reverse!), but I never found a method that worked. Until IFTTT. There is a Recipe (user-created triggers and actions), but it didn’t work. I was determined! So I Googled a bit and found exactly what I needed from Google+ user Henrik Ekenberg. I’m posting the Google+ Twitter integration process here so hopefully it is easier to find in the future. Continue reading

How to Get Started with Google+

Google+ is the latest entry to the social networking race. I’m going to stay out of the “Is it better than Facebook or Twitter or Orkut?” game and just stick to the basics: How does it work? What does that mean for you, the beginner who wants to check it out? How should you precede? Because you should tread carefully as you begin, like with any new website that puts You online, I’m going to give you some strategies for getting started efficiently.

How Does Google+ Work?

Google+ is an interesting mix of Facebook and Twitter. Like Twitter, there are no mutual follows required. You can add someone to a circle (more about that new bit of terminology in a little) and they will receive a notification, but they don’t have to add you back.

However, like Facebook, no one can see your posts unless you let them. You can either make your posts Public so anyone can see them, or they are only visible to people you have added to a circle.

So that’s it: add people you want to follow to your circles. When people follow you, add them to a circle or ignore the notification.

One final word about how Google+ works: each time you post, you can choose–among the other requisite options, like adding an image or location–in a couple clicks, which circles you want to share each status update with. It’s very easy.

How to Start with Google+

The circle is the main social unit in Google+. I started off haphazardly creating circles, but then it got too wild. I had to stop, re-think how I would be sharing, and change my circles around. So before you get dive into Google+, take a few minutes and list the groups of people you want to share  things with. Try to think generally at this point. Here’s what I did, for inspiration.

  • Following: these are people who post really interesting updates, famous people, influential people. I want to get their updates, but I probably won’t share a lot with them.
  • Family: I think this one is self-explanatory. I have all of my family in one circle right now, but as more of them join, I will consider splitting family into family groups.
  • Outer Circle: Everyone I follow that isn’t in the Following circle is either in this group or the Inner Circle group. This is for people I want to share things with, but not personal things. These are definitely people I know.
  • Inner Circle: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory too, but there are often posts that I want to share only with people I’m close to, so I have this circle.

I have several other circles, too, like for the Springfield Bloggers Association members and students, but to cut down on how many circles I need to select each time I post a status update, every one I add on Google+ goes into either my Following circle, my Outer Circle , or my Inner Circle. Putting your connections into too many circles quickly becomes overwhelming, trust me.

How does Instant Upload work, and why is it better?

For Android phones, Google+ makes it about as easy as it can be to share pictures. All of the other apps make you leave their app to select pictures. And if you want to upload pictures that you took on your phone when you’re on the computer, too bad, go find your phone. But Google+ will, if you allow it, upload pictures you take on your phone to your Google account so that you can upload pictures from anywhere.

Dead simple photo sharing. I love it.

What is a Hangout?

This is a really cool feature of Google+! A hangout is a voice and video chat with anyone on Google+, as many people as you want! I haven’t actually had a Hangout yet… anyone want to play around with Hangouts with me?

I think that’s enough to get you started. Go, explore Google+ and add me to one of your circles! If you have questions, post them in the comments and maybe you’ll inspire a future post!

2 Great Services for Monitoring Twitter Follows and Unfollows

If you’re a stats person* like me, you’ll love these tools, which help you find out who unfollowed you, who is or isn’t following you (more targeted), and track favorites.

Who.Unfollowed.Me

This is a free service with a $4.99 Pro version that tells you who you’re following that doesn’t follow you back, who is following you but you do not follow, and it let’s you follow/unfollow from within the service (Pro). After playing around with Who.Unfollowed.Me Lite, I was impressed enough to pay the 5 bucks to support the developer and get some extra features. You should try this service out if you suddenly suspect that someone you thought would follow you through thick and thin might have stopped following you. If you want to maintain a good following/follower ratio**, then you’ve gotta try this, and then you’ll probably want to spring for the Pro account.

DoesFollow

The only big difference between DoesFollow and Who.Unfollowed.Me is that DoesFollow will check if one specific person is following another specific person or not. You can use this to check if someone is following you without wading through their following list, or you can check to see if your niece is following Justin Bieber.

This site has a nice short cut. You can type doesfollow.com/user1/user2 into the navigation bar and load the result without loading the page first. You’ll want to make sure you fill in the blanks this way to see who is following who: “Does USER1 follow USER2?” I got the order wrong the first time I used it, but there is a “swap” option to see the reverse relationship with a single click.

What tools do you use to make the most of your Twitter? Share them in the comments.

Notes

* By “stats person,” I mean that I enjoy knowing things about stuff. I don’t know much about standard deviation or… or… well, “standard deviation” is the only Stats phrase I know, so I think that makes my point clear.
** Following lots of people without having many of them follow you back looks spammy, and it might also make Twitter think you’re gaming the system. As to the perfect ratio? You should have more followers than people you are following, ideally. Here are two good article on the Twitter Golden Ratio and a great, simple explanation of this concept.