Tag Archives: Community

How to Handle Uncomfortable Situations in Social Media

Earlier tonight, we had a situation on Lockergnome where a brand-new member posted, claiming they were going to commit suicide. Many of our regular members rushed to reply, urging them to seek help and giving out the Suicide Prevention Hotline number. They handled it in absolutely the right way. However, there were a lot of questions afterwards. They wanted to know how they should handle these situations in the future. Many were very shaken by the incidence, and felt that we should be doing more to help… even demanding that we somehow locate the anonymous user via their IP address and call the authorities.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do when something like this happens. We can offer encouragement and urge them to speak with a trusted adult, friend, religious leader or teacher. We can give them the appropriate hotline number. But we cannot DO more than that. We don’t know these people or their situations. We have no way of knowing if they are telling the truth or simply trying to troll our community. We don’t know where they live, nor even their age range much of the time. We can also end up getting into legal trouble if we start giving out actual advice.

Almost all of the time, these people are looking for attention. Either they find it funny to upset a community full of people or they have a deficiency in their lives they are trying to make up for. I’m told by a close friend in the medical field that people generally don’t go around warning the Internet if they are going to harm themselves – they simply do so. Yes, there’s always the chance that someone could be serious. And I would be heartbroken should that happen in our community. But I have no way of knowing if they are serious – just as you don’t.

If you ever come across a situation such as this, don’t try to “talk sense” into the other person. Don’t try to be their counselor. Don’t encourage them in any way. Simply give them a link or phone number to an appropriate help agency, and ask them to talk to someone they feel they can trust. You will have done literally all you can do at that point. The rest is in their hands.

You won’t find anything uncomfortable about your experience when you visit our software center.

Follower Challenge: Can We Reach 500?

Are you a follower? Wired shared a list of Top Ten Most Popular Celebrities today. Britney Spears gets the most Twitter love apparently, with over 5.3 million followers.

Justin Bieber beat Britney on the Holy Kaw! Twitter’s most-listed though. Bieber’s 264,700+ lists completely crushed the number two on the list, Lady Gaga at 106,900+ lists. Poor Britney isn’t even close. She’s only on 59.900+ lists.

Enough of who’s the hottest celeb though. Let’s talk about who’s cool. Everyone has left the Bell Harbor Conference Center, but you can still connect with the Gnomedex speakers and attendees.

Just click the “Follow this list” button on @gnomedex/gnomedex10-attendees to connect with all the movers, shakers, and deal makers who attended the conference. That’s 236 of the smartest, coolest geeks you’ll ever meet—a Who’s Who of Social Media Leadership.

If you’re not following these folks, you should be. Otherwise you’re going to miss out on all the latest gadgets, great new software, and amazing people.

So come on people. It’s time to step up. Follow the Gnomedex 10 attendees, and let’s increase the number of followers to 500.

Find New Friends with Invisible Note

For those of you who may not already have enough friends and connections, DreamHost has come up with a new way of meeting people: Invisible Note. If you’re lonely and looking for a completely random person to connect with, this may be the service for you. There’s no stress that comes along with meeting face-to-face, nothing to get dressed up for, and no hands to shake.

When you visit the Invisible Note Web site, you will make up a random email address, consisting of [email protected]. That email will sit in the database waiting for the next person who chooses the same email address to come along. You’ll then be connected with each other. After all, if you chose the same words for an email address, you MUST be compatible, right?

The caveat, of course, is that your real email addresses will be exchanged once you’re matched up with someone. Might I suggest you create a free email solely for this purpose, such as with Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail? You can create something new and make it NOT identify with the real you in any way until such time as you are (maybe?) comfortable enough to share that information with your new pen pal.

I’m not sure, folks. On paper, this may sound like a fun and interesting research project. It seems more like a stalker-case waiting to happen to me, though. What are your thoughts? Will you try out Invisible Note for yourself?

Can Hanging Out Online Help You Lose Weight?

Thousands of dollars are spent every week by people desperately trying to lose weight. Tips, tricks and hints are found everywhere you look. Weight loss is something that millions of people obsess about, and it’s one of the hardest things in the world to achieve. We try every fad, gadget and food that we can get our hands on. Some literally starve themselves to oblivion. Others yo-yo up and down without ever hitting the goal they have set for themselves. We try so hard – in so many ways – to get into the pants size we dream of. Who knew all we had to do was log on to the Internet?

Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (KPCHR) designed a website to track the weight of about 350 of the 1,600 overweight or obese participants of a longer-term study. The site was designed to act like a weight-loss program which offers personal counseling and group meetings. The researchers feel that the mixture of accountability and sociability is what made it such a success. The study showed that the more often people logged into the site, the more likely they were to maintain weight loss.

This isn’t surprising to Nancy Makin. She lost more than a quarter of a ton after her sister purchased a computer for her birthday back in 2003. Nancy was afraid to go outdoors, due to the stares and rudeness she encountered when she tipped the scales at 703 pounds. After receiving the computer, she went online and found how easy it was to make friends when someone cannot see you. She began losing weight as she became integrated with an online community. She emphatically states that it wasn’t that she was no longer hungry. The key was the friendships she made, the fact she felt she belonged and the sense of community she came to love.

“The key is to find contentment and value in yourself by reaching out and doing something not for you, and the weight will come off as a side effect,” said Makin, who believes that community plays a larger role in weight loss for the morbidly obese, while accountability better helps those who are over weight.

I couldn’t agree more with the findings of this study. I’ve been building and catalyzing communities online for many years now. I’ve personally witnessed any number of physical – and emotional – changes in people over the years. Becoming a part of a thriving community – feeling as though you’re an important member of that society – can be the catalyst needed to change a person’s life.

What about you? How has your life changed for the better once you became part of an online community?

How to Share Your Life Online

Have you ever had someone tell you that you shouldn’t have posted something on your Twitter or Facebook account? Were you perplexed by their seeming inability to “get” whatever it was you were trying to say – and why? Community member Mitch Bartlett recently had this experience. He recently lost his Dad after a long battle against Cancer. Mitch chose to post a short message on his Facebook wall. The next morning, his cousin called to yell at him about his choice of posting this information in such a public manner.

There are many people who still view the Internet as some type of toy. They simply aren’t connected in the ways you and I are. We live our lives online. What better way to spread news of a life event or receive support in a time of need than by reaching out to your online community – a part of which often includes your relatives and close personal friends? Why is it “wrong” for us to share every part of our lives with our connections – good OR bad?

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that there are some things that should never be shared in a public space online? Or – do you side with Mitch when he says that “the Internet is a tool that enriches your life, no matter the scenario?”

You don’t have to worry about sharing anything at all when you visit our software center – other than your love of great programs!

Used iPhone 3GS Unboxing


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When I received my iPhone 4, I decided to give my 3GS model to my assistant and Community Manager Kat. She works extremely hard, and is always willing to drop whatever she’s doing to take on something else whenever I need her to. She’s fantastic at handling the community issues that crop up, and it seems as though everyone loves her. I was lucky as hell to find her three years ago on accident, and I don’t know what I’d do without her! Here you’ll find her attempt at an unboxing video. GO EASY on her, y’all. This is the first time she’s done something like this. She was extremely nervous, so she asked her daughter Ashley to join her in the video.

As you can see, I threw in some extra goodies! Kat was quite shocked to find everything that was in the box. She tells me her favorite is the gorgeous CalypsoCrystal iPhone Dock. These are solid lead crystal, and each are hand-made. They truly are beautiful, and the video doesn’t do it justice.

I included the Richard|Solo external battery so that she never runs out of juice. There’s a car charging kit as well as a wall-charging plug.

Next in the box was the ZeroChroma iPhone Theater Stand with Sound Scoop. I thought this would be a nice addition to her accessory collection. You never know when she may want to watch movies or listen to music… that sound scoop REALLY works well!

I also included the ThinkGeek AirVolt Wireless Charger (click here for ThinkGeek Coupons). Kat is a big-time fan of anything from ThinkGeek (hint! hint!). I know that these wireless chargers are a lifesaver at times, so I wanted to make sure she had one.

Kat indicated she has already bought a “girly” looking iPhone case. Lord help me… I’m not sure my heart could take seeing it when she’s here next month for Gnomedex! However, I did send my case along.

Since she’s new to the iPhone and smartphones in general, Kat is very excited to start trying out apps. Anyone who wishes to send her a free code to test something out (and then possibly talk about it here on my blog), feel free to Email her directly.

Kat – thank you for everything that you do. No one really has a clue how hard you work, or the amount of hours you put in every week. Hell, I’m not sure even I know how much of yourself you give every day. Just know that the entire community appreciates it, and we’re better off for having you running the show behind the scenes.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Britain's Got Talent: Connected is Connected to Our Community

Boy band Connected made it into the finale on Britain’s Got Talent just a few days ago. These young kids are incredibly talented. As I watched their last performance in the above video, I was shocked at some of the notes the boys managed to belt out as though it was nothing. I know if I tried to make my voice do that, glass things in my office would shatter and my dogs would cower in fear.

Why am I watching this? Two of the boys in the group are cousins of chat room moderator and Lockergnome blogger Dan Wood – better known by most of you as Guru_Meditation. In his offline life, Dan is a prominent disc jokey in London. He has had a hand in guiding this group’s career, and states that they’re already very popular around England. I have a feeling they’ll soon be popular with the girls around the world. Even though they didn’t win the finale, they’re going to go quite far in their musical endeavors.

You don’t have to be connected to get the best software and apps for your devices.

Should We Use YouTube Moderation?


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Have you tried YouTube’s Moderation feature yet? If not, why not? If so, will it be worth keeping around for us to use? To me, it seems interesting – but relatively stunted if we can’t get a lion’s share of people to use it to generate good ideas. I’m not going to answer the same questions over and over again.

YouTube moderation in our channel will allow you pose a question or even offer up a topic for a future recording. The community can vote on whether your idea is good or not. Head over to the profile page, scroll down past the favorites to the moderator session. It’s already live on the page – at least for now. We’ll see how things go before I decide if we keep it active permanently or not.

You’ll need to sign in with a Google account, such as from Gmail or Google Docs. If we have a lot of fruitful topics and possibilities arise from your crowd-sourcing ideas, we’ll keep the moderation turned on. Answer the question of what video I should do next. Once you’ve submitted your answer, people can vote it up or down.

We can also turn these questions back to the community. If I don’t have the time to do something specific (such as build a computer), there’s always a chance that we could upload a video submitted by one of you showing off your building skills.

Keep your questions fresh and interesting. Make sure it’s something I haven’t already answered a hundred times, and that it’s something others will want to know. This is your chance to help define the YouTube channel.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Did Apple Forsake Its Community

My friend, Matt Gamboa, was denied the ability to purchase an iPad at a Seattle-area Apple Store – simply because he was trying to use a legitimate Apple gift card (at that time). Surprised? So was I. Read his message to the local media (largely unedited)…

As you may or may not know, Apple, the mobile device manufacturer, did the absurd thing of denying a customer trying to purchase an iPad with cash. I had the same experience right before this story ran, except I was trying to purchase [an iPad] with an Apple Gift Card.

The unbelievable thing that first comes to mind is the fact that Apple already had my money. I had received the card as a birthday present two months ago, more than enough time for a transaction to clear starting from the bank account it originated from to Apple’s tracking system. The idea of a company not accepting payment with money they already have is extremely absurd.

The reason I’m writing to you is because my story extends off of the poor lady’s story on not being able to purchase. The original story was put out on Monday, May 17th via KGO and extended through CNN. I had put myself on the waiting list (that all stores keep) at the Bellevue Square, Washington store. This day was the same day my iPad arrived. I walked in, like the lady in the story, excited and expecting to be able to pick up my iPad which had taken about 2 weeks to arrive. There was a line, and I waited. When I finally got up to the counter, I was met with, “We don’t accept gift cards for iPads.” Oh, the obscenities running through my mind!

I was caught off-guard, and so I didn’t say much then except the shocked, “What do you mean?” response. After walking out, I came back in and asked a floor person why they don’t accept gift cards and they answered with, “I don’t know. Corporate locked us out. You can use it online though.” Now, pay attention to this “I don’t know” answer because it plays a big part in Apple’s disconnect between its stores and offices.

Here is my update on Apple’s sketchy way of doing customer service. Flash forward to Thursday, May 20th. Apparently, the story got noticed by Apple’s execs, and they decided to reverse the “no-cash or gift cards” policy and now you can pay with those methods. Great! Not so much for me, though – because when you reserve an iPad, you have 24 hours to pick it up or it gets released to the next on the list. This means my iPad got released on Tuesday, a day or two before this lame policy was reversed! You know what that means (more obscenities running through my head).

This is where it gets good. Naturally, the first thing I did was contact the Bellevue Square Apple Store where this whole frustrating dilemma started. I called them at 9:30AM sharp right when they open. I didn’t expect my iPad to be there anymore, but I expected to be treated better given the circumstances. Going into the call, I was expecting to receive only one thing:

The ability to purchase an iPad immediately with my gift card.

I mean, I deserve that – don’t I? I explained my situation to the first Apple Store employee, Jonathan. He was quite calm, but it was apparent I was not going to get anything out of him. He told me that they couldn’t give me an iPad that was in stock because it was on hold for other people who reserved it after I did. So, I asked to talk to a manager.

This lady (Laurie) was calm at first and gave me a nice tone until I started fighting for my situation. She basically told me the same things, and all she could do was add me back to the waiting list… at the end of the line. She could not advance me to the front of the line because the list was “auto-generated” and she had no control over it.

(1) She should have control over it. She’s the store manager; if any business wants to satisfy customers, they need to be able to have flexibility around all things customer-related! This locked-out reservation list is one of those things [they should be able to adjust]. If you order food and it comes out raw, the waiter won’t say: “We can’t cook more food, the order which food is cooked is auto-generated and we have no control over it.” If corporate controls that, then there should be some corporate representative I can talk to. I don’t want to be put at the end of the list and wait another 3 weeks. I want it NOW because I should have had it two days ago!

(2) I caught her agreeing with me on a plaguing reality about Apple Store and Apple Corporate’s communication barrier. I brought up that it seems the Apple Stores have no clue about policies and what’s going on with their products. When I was in the store, I asked when the next shipment would be in. They responded: “I don’t know, whenever it arrives is when it arrives.” I asked why I couldn’t use an Apple gift card at an Apple store, and they responded, “I don’t know, corporate locked us out.” And even in this call, I asked why she couldn’t move me to first in the list, and her response was, “I don’t know, the list is auto-generated.” How can any store wish to please its loyal customers if all they ever say is “I don’t know!?”

I put myself on the waiting list again. I had also ordered [an iPad] online after I couldn’t buy it in-store, but this will take another 2.5 weeks to be shipped. That could be another event in and of itself.

What was my timeline?

  • I waited 2 months for the iPad to be released (got the gift card on my birthday in March).
  • I waited another month for the iPad 3G to be released.
  • I waited another 2 weeks for the iPad to arrive in-store based on reservation.
  • I have to wait another 2.5 weeks if I keep my online order.

Four months just to get a product because of nonsense policy? I own a 13” Macbook, iPod Touch, iPod Shuffle, and used to own an iPhone (until it broke). I’m a loyal customer, I deserve more than being slapped in the face with this hassle.

And so ends Matt’s tale… for now. What do you think?

Public Microsoft Live Meeting for Community Members

Are you a Windows 7 user? Learn how people within the Microsoft and MVP organizations interact with the community by joining a public virtual meeting. The online live conversation with Microsoft Community Managers Matt Bernardy and Jake Grey will be held on May 4th, 2010 from 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. PMT. This is your opportunity to learn more about the Clubhouse, Microsoft Answers, the MVP Program, and to ask questions about all of the Windows community programs.

My assistant, Kat happens to be a Microsoft MVP in Consumer Security. She’s held this position for five years running, and has been asked by Jake to speak during this broadcast about her MVP experience.

To join the Live Meeting, follow these simple steps:

  • Find out what time this Live Meeting is in your country/region.
  • Download Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007. We recommend you download the program several hours in advance to avoid technical difficulties during the session.
  • Enter the meeting and fill in your name.

This is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have about how Microsoft works with you – the consumer – to make your experience a positive one. There are many new and exciting things going on, and you won’t want to miss out on this discussion.