Tag Archives: avatar

How to Add Address Book Contact Pictures

I seem to know a billion people. Not really, but with over 2,000 contacts in my address book (which undergoes regular pruning)… it might as well be a billion.

Since I’m visual in nature – preferring to wait for the movie over reading the book, unless that book has lots and lots of colorful pictures in it – I also appreciate having avatars / photos for every contact that pores into my inbox and sits inside my address book to boot.

This shouldn’t be a problem, right? Yeah, well – in a perfect universe, we’d all be able to poop chocolate. And, I suppose, in many ways, it’s easier to poop chocolate than it is to get your address book in order in any environment that extends past one piece of software.

Chris Conveys an Emotion
This is how I feel.

Here’s my scene, if you can dig it: I use a managed Exchange 2007 server to host my contacts, but I’m also a Mac user who has come to discover that every single PIM that Microsoft has produced for OS X is absolute poop. This includes the sluggish Outlook for Mac, which I wouldn’t recommend to anybody. Not that I ever loved Entourage (absolutely NOBODY did).

So, I use Mail.app, Address Book, and iCal – and was quite happy when Exchange was finally supported on the Mac desktop. Kinda. It doesn’t really work all as well as Apple would lead you to believe. I don’t want to manage two [same] contact lists on one computer, so the only way to effectively sync the Address Book to Exchange without duplicating local contacts is by using a hack known as Plaxo. I call it a hack because they’ve not done much with fixing outstanding bugs in, say, since the last time I took a chocolate poop.

So, I have Plaxo syncing the Mac data (Calendar, Contacts) to the cloud, and I have a VM of Windows 7 running Outlook 2010 on another Mac do pull data from Plaxo into it. Yes, as much as it pains me to admit: Plaxo (Comcast) has been the best glue I can find.

And let me just say that the MobileMe contact sync has been an absolute nightmare to deal with. I couldn’t figure out how some of my contact fields were disappearing. I was ready to blame Exchange or Plaxo but, as it turns out, MobileMe eats contact fields for breakfast. Only after I turned off this sync point did things get better.

But, back to the contact picture / avatar dilemma. Neither Outlook nor the Mac Address Book are very intelligent. They’re downright stupid, actually – and I’ve had to rely on several pieces to put together a complete picture. So to speak.

Many people in my address book are also on Facebook, so this utility will automatically sync their birthdays and profile imagery. If you’re thinking that the Facebook iPhone app has a contact sync, you’re right – and I’ll come back to that in a bit.

I’d hope to see the following features in AddressBookSync at some point: the inclusion of other possible vCard metadata, the ability to add Facebook friends who aren’t already in your contact list, the auto-categorization of Facebook Friends Groups into local Groups, etc.

Apparently, there are tons of people in my address book who aren’t on Facebook (or, at least, I can’t or don’t want to connect with them in any social network). They remained avatarless for a few moments, until I got the bright idea of searching for a Gravatar conduit.

Everybody. Needs. To. Set. Up. A. Gravatar. Right. Now. You essentially associate all of your email addresses with an image which is used by a growing number of services (like LockerGnome.net for the moment). It’s a globally-accessable avatar.

Indeed, I discovered something called Picture Finder. While it’s extremely powerful, insofar as its ability to display a person’s Gravatar, Wavatar, QR Code, etc. – it’s also not great for managing contact lists over 99 people. Still, it was better than nothing – and I was able to generate some fun little avatars for people who didn’t have any photo currently associated with themselves in my address book.

I’d hope to see the following features in Picture Finder at some point: the ability to auto-populate contacts without gravatars with a gravatar type of your choosing en masse, and… yeah, that’s about it.

You see, despite its functionality, I gave up after manually processing ~100 contacts. I needed to find a better way to cull gravatars for people who have registered them. AppleScript to the rescue! The aptly-titled Gravatar to Address Book Pictures worked wonders… until it got to a point when it crashed. I have no idea why it crashed – do I look like a developer to you?

For on-demand Gravatar pulls from within the address book, by the way, the Address Book “Gravatar bundle” is also available for download.

I still have too many people in my address book that are iconless – and that’s (really) driving me bonkers. If I was an AppleScript wizard, I could likely fix the problem in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

Are you ready for the insult? Plaxo somehow eats the images before it syncs to Outlook / Exchange! So, all of my hard work on the desktop is pointless when it comes to viewing the same contacts on my iPhone. I don’t sync via the Address Book, remember – I use Exchange for that. One contact list is all I’m trying to maintain!

So, since my contact information pipeline is disgustingly busted, I had to resort to using the Facebook iPhone app to sync photos to contacts in my address book on the iPhone (which, again, is the same contact list sitting in my Exchange account). That worked well enough – for now.

Since I need to keep Outlook open anyway [*grumble*], I tried the new Outlook Social Connector extension – which, for what it is, works quite well but falls short of being insanely useful. Typical Microsoft. You can’t configure settings to keep it from spilling insane amounts of crap into new folders, you can’t sync contact pictures from the social network providers to your address book contacts, you can’t automatically sync contact lists with Facebook, and… MySpace? Who the f*ck wants to correspond with anybody who still posts updates there?! Judging from the lack of updates from that idea, I’d say it’s dead.

I did find a handful of interesting duds Windows utilities, but each one of ’em crashed before I could do anything. If you’re interested, I wielded OutSync and Synrc.

The solution? For Plaxo to stop eating contact pictures, support Facebook and Gravatar for contacts outright, for it to support Exchange without needing to go through Outlook (a complaint that has resulted in a combined two-star rating in the iPhone app store), and to update their software more frequently. I’m a Premium member, not looking for a free ride. Seriously – they’re the best game in town for what I’ve been trying to do.

And while I’m on the subject, WTF is up with the Mac Address Book still not being able to export or import a simple CSV (or tab-delimited) file?! If that’s what you need, Mail Scripts works wonders. There’s also Hubi’s Address Book Scripts, although I wish he’d make one that would help eliminate duplicate data even if they happen to sit in different fields.

Maybe an enterprising Windows / Outlook developer will help that side of the equation?

Don’t even get me started on how to eliminate address book duplicates. That’s a different matter entirely (for a completely different post, once I find the best solution for the problem).

Why Didn't Second Life Become a Hit?


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Over on Lockergnome, Guyfromdenmark wonders why Second Life never became a hit. When it was first launched, he (and many of you, really) thought that it would be a HUGE deal. It pretty much just fizzled and died, and our Denmark friend asks the community their thoughts on what happened.

Second Life is a free program that lets users (Residents) interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet others, socialize, take part in individual or group activities, and create or trade virtual property and services with each other. Second Life is for adults over the age of 18, while Teen Second Life is for the younger crowd (ages 13 – 17).

Nothing really “happened” to it other than being overrun by people addicted to porn and gambling. That covers about 90% of the galaxy, right? It was a fantastic platform, so long as you knew how to use it. Second Life, in my opinion, was the victim of overload.

Everyone was all into Second Life. Some of us were looking at it going “Dude… seriously? It’s an avatar.” I went on record with these same thoughts years ago. I was fairly certain back then that it wouldn’t be a huge hit. It’s still around, to be sure, but it’s not the be-all, end-all that people thought it would become.

I don’t hear much about it in my regular news feeds, and I rarely hear of anyone logging in there. I can’t say anything “happened” to it other than people realizing that it wasn’t really all that exciting in the first place. It was new and different, yes. It just wasn’t revolutionary.

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That Which Smells Like a Rose

Over on our questions and answers community, ageekmom asked everyone what their favorite scent or smell is. This may seem like something completely wacky for me to write about, but I cannot help but have a million things running through my head as I read the answers given thus far. I found myself agreeing with several of them, only to remember I’m supposed to choose ONE thing as a favorite. In a world with so many amazing foods, perfumes, flowers and coffees, how the hell am I supposed to choose just one?

Think about the things you smell every day without even thinking about them. Perhaps the smell of a freshly-washed baby makes you sigh contentedly. Perhaps you enjoy the smell of meat sizzling on a grill. Which outdoor scents work to restore your sense of calm? Can you even narrow it down to just one favorite smell?

The software found in our download center isn’t of the scratch ‘n’ sniff variety. However, you WILL find just about any titles you can think of – at the lowest prices.

Broken Xbox 360


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Every weekday, I ride my Gazelle for 45 minutes. This helps me get my muscles moving and helps to keep me healthy. While I’m “working out” on the machine, I usually either watch a movie or play a game on my Xbox 360.

However, when I signed on today, I noticed my avatar was freaking out. I guess this may be a bug report? It used to look like me. I’m not sure what’s going on. Perhaps Microsoft feels that my mug is too ugly to have on their system.

Whatever is happening, I will continue to burn calories. It will just be more tedious and boring to do so without my beloved console.

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What Will the Internet Look Like in Ten Years?

I came across an interesting question on Lockergnome earlier this morning: What will the Internet look like in ten years?. The author states:

… the idea of adverse changes, in my mind, is anything that would change the complete freedom that we have to do just about anything. Certainly crime should not be allowed, but anything that is not criminal should be fully allowed.

That’s an interesting thought. Sure, I agree that crime shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. However, how the heck are we ever going to stop it? Thousands upon thousands of people fight hard every day to try and curb the growth of crime online. Sadly, for every criminal they take down, more are waiting in the wings to step up.

The author states at the end of the article:

The internet policy is something almost as important as health care, and no matter where you stand on health care, you can see that much twisting of the truth is coming from all parties. How much like that will the fight over the progress of the internet be?

Chilling to think about, for sure. It’s also likely very true. Everyone wants to control the Internet. How ugly do you think that fight for control will get? What direction do you see the Web going in over the next ten years? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

This wasn’t the only great article I read today. If you have something you want to share that I haven’t already highlighted here, please pass it along. I’m always looking for something interesting, funny or thought-provoking to read.

In our downloads center, you’ll find tons of great software and applications for anything and everything you could possibly imagine. Keep your eye on what’s new, what’s hot, what’s on sale, and what may be completely free.

Do You Remember When Life was Simple?

Think for a moment, and look back to when you were much younger. Remember how easy life was back then? I know – we thought it was hard, and horrible, and tragic all the time! But we used to make choices using the “eenie meenie miney moe” methodology. We fixed our screw-ups by yelling “DO OVER!”. Then we grew up, and realized life just doesn’t work that way. We can’t get a do-over. We can’t blindly guess what the best choice is.

I read a post today on Geeks talking about these very things. Not only did it make me smile as intended – it also made me really think about my life. I’m happy with who and where I am right now. Yet I am an adult. I have big people problems and situations to deal with. I have a business to run. I have a community to hopefully make happy. I have friends, family… DOGS who depend on me.

Wouldn’t life be simpler if everything could be figured out the way it was in our youth? Wouldn’t it be a much more fun World to live in? What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts, and your memories!

Don’t forget to read the full post from above, as well as all of the other cool things that were talked about in our community today.

How to Create or Edit an Avatar


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How often do you change your avatar? You know what an avatar is – it’s that graphical representation of yourself that you use online! You put avatars on Twitter, on forums, and just about anywhere else you have a presence online. Wicket keeps bugging me for an avatar. Crazy dog – I’ve made him one! He is just too lazy to use it anywhere!

If you want to spice up your avatar, consider using Avatar Pho.to. It’s a free web-based photo editing platform, with one-click fixing! Edit your pictures and add cool effects to them in seconds, just by clicking your mouse button.

You can take a graphic and animate it even. If you look at the examples, you’ll see several different representations of Britney Spears. She appears blurry, animated, and even sketched! You can matrix your avatar, set it on fire, or make it look like it’s underwater!

Assuming you don’t want to use Britney as your avatar, just upload your own picture or link to wherever it resides online. I uploaded one of my own avatars to play with. The effects are fun, and allowed me to spice up the old boring avatar. I wouldn’t recommend using MY picture for your own avatar… you do want friends online, right?

If you have other recommendations for cool or fun websites, let me know what they are.

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How to Change Avatars on the iPhone


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If you have an iPhone, chances are you have a contact list. In your contact list, you may have photos. If not, you might want to use the eMees App to assign an avatar to them. When you launch the App, the first thing you have to do is to select the gender you want.

The App walks you through the process, having you choose the structure that you feel fits your person the closest. Change their skin and hair color, and more. You can choose what type of smile they have, or even make them sneer. You can take any of the facial elements and move them up or down, or even a bit to the side. Choose how small or large you want the elements to appear, as well.

This App is so detailed that you can even choose their eyebrow shape and color. Once you are finished tweaking the eMee, save it with a person’s name. Browse your gallery, and then assign them to the person you wish to set that avatar for.

Have fun with this! Make your friends and family look true-to-life, or create fun ones that make them look the way you want them to! Give them funny faces, or even add some silly backgrounds. Go ahead and download the App for $2.99 and give it a try yourself!

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What Information Should You Put in a Social Profile?


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When you build a profile for yourself on a social networking site, do you put much thought into it? Do you take the time to really make it stand out, and reflect who you really are? You should, you know. Your profile on sites such as my new Geeks site can make or break you if you don’t follow tips like these.

  1. Be YOU. Be honest, be descriptive, be straightforward, be humorous. The more someone looks at your profile and learns about who you are, the more likely they will be to stick around and follow you.
  2. Watch what you say. Remember your PUGS. Watch your grammar, usage, and punctuation. Use your SHIFT key to capitalize the first word of every sentence (and proper nouns). Remember that the sentence usually ends with a period… or some type of punctuation.
  3. Make it look like you. Customize your theme to your liking. Drag elements around, include an RSS feed, embed photos, videos, widgets, and so on. On Geeks, you can customize many things in your profile, such as the colors, what’s included, etc.
  4. Do something different. Why would someone want to add you as a friend? What are you doing to evoke a response, other than asking for it directly? What’s going to make people want to connect with you?
  5. Avatar. Your avatar must be family-friendly. The picture needs to be square, and 183×183 pixels works best. If your image is larger than that, the site will automatically resize it for you, and your avatar could end up looking bad.

People are saying that Geeks is like a cross between MySpace and Facebook. We’re geared towards Geeks, though! We’re trying to do something different, although it’s still a social networking type of site.

What kind of Geek are you? You do realize you don’t have to be a computer Geek in order to join us, right? If you are passionate about something, then you are a Geek. You can be a music Geek, a motorcycle Geek, or even a toothbrush Geek! Come check us out. I guarantee you’ll find something to grab your interest, and keep you coming back.

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Is your Avatar a Gravatar?

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I know a few of you use forums. Some of you have blogs and other social accounts. Most of these places allow you to set up an avatar. The hope is that one day, you only have to upload an avatar once and have it populate to all places you are on the Web. There is something that may be used throughout any blog that uses WordPress, and that has this feature enabled. For years, the Gravatars have been a plugin for WordPress. Now, the new version of WordPress has support for these Gravatars.

If you’ve commented in my blog in the past, you’ve used an Email address. This is what will allow you to have a Gravatar that follows you around once you register. Your Gravatar will automatically be posted with your comments on any blog you visit, as long as you comment using your normal email address. You don’t have to sign up with my blog, or anything!

Of course, you will need to sign up for free with Gravatar. A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs? Setting up gravatars on your weblog is easy, you don’t even need an account! Plugins are available for leading weblog software, and our tutorials will have you running gravatars in no time. To request a gravatar from our servers, you simply add an image to your comments area with an “src” attribute that points to our gravatar image generator and includes an MD5 hash of the commenter’s email address. Since all gravatars are rated with an MPAA style rating, you can restrict your site to show only gravatars whose content you are comfortable with.

You may have more than one email address or more than one avatar that you want to manage. That’s fine, you can do that! You can upload your image, and it helps you crop it down so it fits into an avatar size! It’s super easy, even if you aren’t good with photo editing software.

The challenge now to you is to go sign up for Gravatar, then leave a comment in my blog so that we can all check out your avatar!

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