Tag Archives: How-to

Summary: Control your information sources

This week I wrote a few posts on how to manage and share your favorite news sources with friends.  Here are quick links to the entire series:

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Computer Joey: Social Reading (ver 2.0)

Earlier in the week, I told you how to have a much better social reading experience for you and your friends. While researching that article, I came across some next level techniques for more advanced users.

In this article, I will teach you how to use Tumblr to share information across all of your social media accounts. I will also discuss how to use your own custom URL shorten-er with all of these services.

A few things you need to do before we start:

  • You need to read the first article because I am piggy-backing off of stuff I already documented.
  • Get a Tumblr account/blog.
  • Optional: Get a bitly account.
  • Optional: Get a twitterfeed account.

1. Add Tumblr to your share options in Google Reader:

The first article in the series covers how to set up RSS feeds in Google Reader, and the second will tell you what to click on to add various services like Twitter and Facebook. One of the other options is Tumblr. Instead of choosing Facebook or Twitter, pick Tumblr in the options (like the picture above).

Tumblr is more robust than Twitter but still designed to make simple and short posts. It is a great services that allows customization. Here is a quick tutorial on setting up an account:

As mentioned in the earlier post, at the bottom of each article in Google Reader, there will be a share button. When you click on it, the social media options you selected will appear:

When you click on Tumblr, this screen will appear:

You can mess around with more formatting or adding extra information, or you can just click on create post. The screen will wait a few seconds and then close itself.

2. Connecting to your social media accounts:

There are two ways to do this, one simple and one more complicated (but with more metrics).

Simple Method:

If you don’t have a custom URL shorten-er and you don’t care about how many clicks and shares you are getting, you can connect your Tumblr account with Facebook and Twitter:

a. Sign into your tumblr account and go to your news feed blog. Click on “Blog Settings” on the right:

b. Then scroll down to the Facebook and Twitter sections. Click on the check-boxes and then click on the buttons to link your social media accounts and follow the screen instructions:

Your posts to Tumblr (which are fed via your RSS Reader) will now post to social media accounts.

The Complicated Method:

When you create a Tumblr blog, there is a link somewhere on the page for a RSS Feed:

The RSS feed is usually your tumblr blog url with “/rss” at the end.
Example: “http://example.tumblr.com/rss”

a. Once you have your RSS feed url, go to twitterfeed and create a new feed (top right corner). Put your RSS feed in the box:

b. If you want to track your traffic or add your own custom url shorten-er, click on advanced settings in step one:

A few notes on this step:

c. Click “Continue to Step 2”

d. On this screen you can link your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to Twitterfeed. As soon as you post something to Tumblr, it will automatically post that link to your social media sites. When you are done authenticating the services you want to use, click “all done”


I know that was a long post, but once you get this set up, it is really easy to share information with your friends. The added benefits are that they don’t have to share any information about themselves to read your articles, you can see if your posts are actually being read, and you have a repository of all of your shared posts moving forward.

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Computer Joey: Social Reading Done Right

Have you noticed your friends posting news articles on Facebook recently? Have you clicked on said news article and found yourself suddenly asked to give an application access to your personal information? And have you noticed that when you do click yes, every time you read an article about Snookie’s new underwear choices it is plastered all over your facebook wall?

If you haven’t experienced this (or don’t use facebook), good for you. If you are a facebook or social media user and have been trapped in this invasion of privacy, I have a cool alternative. It takes a few steps to set up, but once you do, I honestly think it is WAY better and more functional.

A little background: Personally, I read a ton of news articles in a given week and I like to share the best with friends and followers. I don’t flood my feeds, but there may be three or four items in a given day that I think are worthy of attention. I don’t engage my friends via facebook’s social reader, instead I use a few tools that all talk to each other. Here is how to do it.

1. Gather your news via Google Reader:

I have detailed instructions on how to set up Google Reader, so read that first (and get a gmail account if you don’t have one).

You can populate your RSS Reader with just about any popular new source (including this blog). These are the articles you will share with your audience.

2. Connect Google Reader with Twitter:

a. In Google Reader, look at the upper right corner, you will see a gear icon. Click on the icon and a “Reader Settings” option will be available:

b. At the top of the next screen, there is a tab “Send To”, click on it to select different social media accounts:

c. At this point, you have a few options. If you use both Twitter and Facebook, click on just the twitter check-box. If you only use Facebook, click on that check-box and hit the return to reader link at the top.

NOTE: If you are using only facebook, you are pretty much done. If you want to make automatic posts to both twitter and facebook, keep reading.

d. In your reader, you will now see a “Send To” option at the bottom of each post:

NOTE: I added both Facebook and Twitter, but if you want to use both, you only need twitter here.

e. If you click on the twitter button, a twitter box will open with your post:

You need to do one more thing to make this all work…

3. Connect your Twitter account with your Facebook Account:

a. Go to this link to sync your two accounts: https://apps.facebook.com/twitter/
b. Click on the button that takes you to your account settings.
c. At the bottom of your twitter settings, there is a button that allows you to connect the two services. Push the button and follow the on-screen prompts:

You should be all set! Now you can share posts that you read (without any requests for information via RSS). I know there is a little bit of work up front, but once you get all of this set up, it is a much better way to read, save, and share news that is important to you.

UPDATE: During the writing of this post, I may have come up with a next level method that can allow for metrics and some other custom tweaks. Check back for that post.

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GooglePlus Review

( #GooglePlus, #SocialMedia )

Image Credit: Paul Vedar

Last night the good people over at Lifehacker offered invites to the new Google+ service. I jumped at the chance to get one because I have been looking at a way to do multiple people video chats for months. Skype offers it for a few bucks a month, which I was considering, but I don’t like that I have to install software to video chat when Google does it in the browser.

Google calls the feature “hangouts” and even in beta, it works pretty damn well. Actually checkout the Lifehacker crew’s video:

Google seems to have built this service around security and privacy. This sounds like an odd thing for Google, but it comes from the public scorn they got from rolling out Buzz (which automatically shared private info like email addresses) and also as a response to Facebook. Even though Facebook has privacy features, I feel that they always trying to get you to share more public data (and their updates always change settings to make that happen). In order to compete, Google is focusing security groups (called Circles) so you can share certain things with certain people much easier.

I am sure Big G isn’t completely saintly in this service, but since they have the Government breathing down their necks and face fierce competition with Facebook, I think the Google+ service is as legit as it can be. Since I am a google guy to start, I am hoping the service takes off because it will be much easier for me to manage my social circle with the plus service than with Facebook since I already have a hands off attitude towards it.

I was going to offer invites to readers, but it looks like Google shut down invitations already. But drop me a note, and if they turn it back on, I will try to get you in.

UPDATE: A blogger buddy (and current Keypulp founder) Joss Ross already found a security issue. Even if you choose a select group to see your post, someone could share it with everyone. Google has a fix, there is a drop down in the right corner that disables sharing. I think it should be defaulted that way, but for now, be aware and don’t share!

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Computer Joey: Easy Video Conferencing

( #Skype, #GoogleTalk )

I have been meaning to do a post about video conferencing for the last 2 months but school and work have gotten in the way. With the news about Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 billion, people are talking about the service and video conferencing in general, so I thought it would be a good time to do a tutorial.

I tried Skype a few years ago and didn’t like it. I was not into the software and I always had problems with the video; but I will accept that things have probably changed a great deal over the last three years (and I suspect Microsoft will add many new features including Xbox functionality). Video conferencing never held much appeal to me until recently: I have a few friends who don’t live close and we video conference a few times a month (or we will let the cameras run while we are watching the same movies so we can see each others reactions).

Since I don’t use Skype, the service I have been using is Google Talk. Besides a small plugin, you don’t have to install any software and works on almost any computer. Additionally, if you have a gmail account, there is no need for additional logins. While this is a really simple set up, I will still walk you through it.

Before we get started, you obviously need a gmail account, if you don’t have one, go sign up and come back.

1. In order to video conference, you need a camera. Most laptops have built in cameras, but if you don’t have one, logitech seems to be the go-to brand for all things web-conferencing. I am currently using the C510, but the C310 is a little cheaper and will work well.

2. Once your camera is sorted out, you need to download the Google Talk Video Chat Plug-In. Click on the “Install Video Chat Plugin” button. Follow the directions based on your operating system (should only take a minute).

3. Once the plugin is loaded, go to gmail and log in. On the left side of the screen you will see the chat section. If you don’t have friends in your chat list, you can invite them by putting in their gmail address (in the text box shown below). If you do have friends in the chat list, look for a video camera icon next to their name – that means they have a computer that can video conference.

4. Click on the person’s name and a new window will pop up (usually in the bottom right corner of gmail). If the person is available for video chat, a button with a video camera will appear in the upper left corner, click on it.

5. You can now video chat:

Skype’s purchase is going to bring attention and improvements to all of the services—this is good news to consumers. I hope this tutorial was helpful and you find excellent ways to video conference. Try to stay off of Chat Roulette!

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