Tag Archives: guide

The Ultimate List to What is Noisy in Social Media

While invitations to Google+ have been throttled to the point of being valuable enough to sell for real money on eBay, I was lucky enough to be in one of the first rounds of participation. One of y’all invited me, and my life hasn’t been the same since.


Yeah, I don’t mind sharing things that I think are hilarious, interesting, fun, useful, or whatever – and this can lead to several updates over the course of a short period of time. It’s not that I’m posting a TON – it’s just that few others are posting as much as I am. This has caused some people to label my updates as “noise.”

No. What I post is not noise. If you need clear-cut examples of social media noise, here:

  • Location Check-ins
  • Name Dropping for the Sake of Name Dropping
  • Photos of Nothing Interesting That Nobody Would EVER Care About
  • Status Updates Claiming That You’re Bored
  • Adding No Value to News That Everybody Else Has Already Shared
  • Stump Replies to Other People without ANY Context
  • Generic, Banal Updates
  • Links to Blatant Spam Re-Blog Pages
  • “Me Too”
  • Sycophants

Based on this list, I am far from “noisy” on Google+ (or anywhere else, for that matter).

I can point you to thousands of examples every single minute that I have to filter through – even after trying to pare down who and what I choose to follow. At least I feel that when I update a status on any one of my social networks, there’s SOME kind of value being passed along.

Zagat Puts Reviews in Your Hands

At first glance, Nina Zagat looks like any other woman you might happen to meet in New York City. She is pleasant and personable, with a huge smile that lights up her entire face. Spend even just two minutes speaking to her, though, and you’ll understand why she and her husband Tim have made Zagat Rating and Review guides into a household name. She embodies everything that one would hope to find in an entrepreneur. Nina is smart, creative and passionate about what they’re doing in the NYC offices. She also has a damn good eye on the future and what they need to do to keep up with the times.

Zagat Survey began as a hobby for Tim and Nina back in 1979. They saw a need for good restaurant guides, and wanted to fill that gap. I believe it is this enthusiasm and love for what they are doing that has carried them to the top over the years. They became a leader in the social space before the social space was even defined. In the years since their launch, they have expanded to become the world’s most trusted source to help consumers make informed decisions about restaurants, nightspots, hotels, attractions and other leisure activities.

Zagat is working hard to lead the mobile push, as well. Nina chuckles when she speaks of the ways they are pushing forward to embrace the mobile market. She admits that the majority of their users come from iPhone owners… but they are working hard to improve their Android app and their upcoming Windows Phone 7 app. Look for information about that here on launch day – November 8th!

Today, Zagat Survey® has expanded to cover more than 100 countries worldwide and a range of leisure activities including dining, travel, nightlife, shopping, golf, theater, movies and music. Zagat content – available today on most media platforms – lets people search for and find the perfect places for their needs based a wide range of useful criteria. That breadth and depth of information has made Zagat a name that consumers can trust – even if they aren’t sure how to pronounce it.

The single best component of Zagat is the fact that their information actually comes from YOU. The surveys are filled out by consumers just like yourself… people who eat, shop, watch movies and visit local attractions. The information is compiled into a guide by Zagat’s content department. The star ratings are given based on the feedback provided by all of you.

Zagat is not just an ordinary guide book – it’s a way of life. Check them out today.

Where Do You Find Reviews?

I have told you that you need to research before buying anything so many times that I have had nightmares about it. I dream that you go out and grab any old product off of the shelf, simply because it is shiny and new. You didn’t do your homework. You just took whatever caught your eye, took the toy home and then proceeded to become disillusioned. I warned you, didn’t I? The problem is, no one seems to be listening. The Pew Research Center says that only 58% of you are researching purchases online before you buy.

This Pew study doesn’t distinguish how the “online research” happens. This can include doing simple searches, heading to a product website or asking for opinions via a social networking service. Any of these methods of obtaining information will work. It doesn’t matter how you do your research, it simply matters that you do. That which sounds too good to be true usually is, young grasshopper.

If you are in the market for a new product – ANY product – don’t just read the specs listed by the manufacturer. Don’t make a decision based on how good something looks, or even how shiny it is. Read reviews. Talk to people who have bought or tested the same item. Do a few online searches. Heck, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there aren’t complaints lodged against the company you want to purchase from.

Do your research.

Paris, France Tips

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Next week will be my first time to visit France! I am going to be the Keynote speaker for the LeWeb Conference. There are over 1800 people registered for this particular conference, and the speaker lineup is astounding. I am honored to have been asked to speak at LeWeb – but I’m nervous, as well!

As I said, I’ve never been to France. I also don’t really speak a single word of French! I feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get around. I feel lost already, trying to figure out where I should go, what I should see, and what I need to do!

What suggestions do you have? I’ve already gotten several good ideas. Keep them coming!

If you’ve never been to Paris, what would you want to do if you were to get to go?!

[awsbullet:paris france travel guide]

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Top 10 Things to Do in Nottingham, England

The following recommendations were sent in by Ross, who happens to own his own travel business across the pond. Between being a native of Nottingham — and running the travel business — I am confident that Ross’ suggestions of things you won’t want to miss are right on target. Here’s hoping you’ll get to visit one day!

  • Sample a Fine Pint in England’s Oldest Inn! Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem (below Nottingham Castle) is England’s oldest inn, serving food and drink for over an incredible 800 years! A real highlight is the Medieval food night (finger-licking food crusade-style) — be it lamb chops, pork cutlets, or oven-baked chicken drumsticks served with hot roasted spuds. And to drink? Flagons of the finest ale served up by the establishment’s very own serving wenches, authentic to the fullest! What a scrumptious number 1 in the top 10 things to do in Nottingham.
  • Nottingham Castle — Home of the ‘Sheriff of Nottingham’ Just above the city, Nottingham Castle has a vibrant museum and art gallery housing collections of silver, glass, decorative items, visual arts, paintings, and Nottinghamshire archaeology and history. This is also the home of the legendary ‘Sheriff of Nottingham’ and, believe it or not, there is still a Sheriff of Nottingham today — however, it is now purely a symbolic role. Be warned: the guides here are some of the most boring you will meet!
  • Explore Nottingham’s City Caves Enter and explore a whole new world in the caves underneath Nottingham city and descend into the dark depths of the original Anglo-Saxon tunnels. These caves have been used and adapted over the centuries by local people to escape and take refuge from the world above. During World War 2 on 8 May, 1941, 500 high explosive bombs were dropped over Nottingham in a fearsome blitz; thousands of people sought refuge and retreated to the safety of the shelters built in the caves.
  • Visit Sherwood Forest — the Home of Robin Hood Once a royal hunting forest, this is the legendary home of the outlaw Robin Hood. Today, it’s part of a national nature reserve because of its national ecological importance. There are 900 veteran oak trees here, including the famous Major Oak. This forest veteran is a huge oak tree thought to be around 800 years old. In a 2002 survey, it was voted “Britain’s favourite tree.” According to local lore, its hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s men. What can I say, I’m a tree-loving kind of guy and have to say that this is one beautiful tree and certainly worth a visit.
  • Take Some Spare Pants on a Nottingham Ghost Tour Join a ghost tour and let yourself be led into parts of the city where the street plan is nearly 1,000 years old, hear fascinating stories about ghosts and the odd gory execution whilst looking over your shoulder in the graveyard; this, of course, is a must do! Don’t forget your spare pair of pants.
  • Take a Poke Around the Bad Boy Poet’s Home at Newstead Abbey Best known as the former home of the poet Lord Byron. Visitors interested in the poet Byron can see his private apartments as well as letters, objects, and furniture that belonged to the poet. You can have fun trying on replica period costumes in the Dressing Up Room or marvel at the expansive paneling in the Great Hall. Personally, I think you can’t beat sitting out in the sun enjoying lunch in this beautiful English setting. My tip, though, is not to bother viewing the Japanese gardens as they are, in my view, not very Japanese. Having said that, I have never been to Japan, but you can trust me.
  • Sample a Ghost Supper at the Galleries of Justice if You Dare! The only museum of its type in all of Europe! It has preserved the site of Nottinghamshire’s old courthouse and county gaol as well as maintaining a vast collection of spine chilling artefacts relating to crime and punishment over the last three centuries. Go deep within the gaol to discover unsolved mysteries and see if anything paranormal happens to you. With unexplained sounds, smells, sensations, and apparitions reported frequently, it won’t only be the storyteller giving you the heebie jeebies!
  • The Shakespeare Festival Every year in August, Nottingham Castle provides the perfect backdrop for the Shakespeare Festival. These productions are performed in beautiful Elizabethan costumes by a cast of Britain’s finest professional Shakespearian actors. They include live music, action, exciting sword fights, and hilarious comedy all set in the stunning natural surroundings that Shakespeare intended for his plays. I recommend this greatly as an evening with Shakespeare is an experience in itself. (Shakespeare himself won’t be there.)
  • Visit Wollaton Hall, Gardens, and Deer Park Standing on a natural hill three miles west of Nottingham City Centre and built by Sir Francis Willoughby between 1580 and 1588, Wollaton Hall is a beautiful Elizabethan mansion set in 500 acres of spectacular gardens and parkland. Explore the magical home, stroll around the gardens, and if you get bored, you can chase the deer around the park. Be warned though that these deer don’t fear easily and may even end up chasing you instead; you may be wondering how I know this.
  • Go to a Nottingham Forest Football (Soccer) Match If you have never been to a live football match before, then head over to the ‘city ground’ and watch two times European champions Nottingham Forest. There is nothing quite like a live football match; soak up the atmosphere, enjoy a half time pie, and cheer on the Reds to victory. Having said this, I am actually a Liverpool fan, so don’t expect to see me down there!

From the pictures I’ve seen, I know that Nottingham is a beautiful area. After reading the tips from Ross, I’m inclined to believe there are a lot of cool things to see and do, as well. Hopefully I will have a chance to visit one day.

10 Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

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Have you ever visited Japan… or anywhere seriously cool like that? What were some of the best things you were able to see and do while there? Shogo is a member of our live community who happens to live in Tokyo. He sent in his list of top ten places to visit should you ever find yourself in the area.

  • Go to Akihabara – It is the most famous tech town in Japan, even known as Akihabara Electric Town. Funny thing is, the train station in Akihabara actually has a exit to enter the main area that has electronics in Akihabara. Go at night, I personally think it has one of the best night scenes in Tokyo.
  • Tokyo Animation Center in Akihabara – This is pretty much the place you have to go, if you go to Akihabara. It has a lot of information, demos, showings and events about animation (called anime as many of you may know in Japan) and gaming.
  • Go shopping in Akihabara – Again, Akihabara is very famous for the vast amounts of electronics. Just go to the main street, Chuo-dori (Pronounciation : Chūō-dōri) and go in any direction, any street.
  • Go to Chuo-dori on a Sunday in Akihabara – Cosplayers galore.
  • Japan? Sushi. – You have to eat Sushi, but not at those conveyor belt shops. You have to go to a real restaurant, and experience real Sushi. Just watch how much you eat, it’s expensive. I recommend trying Ginza Hokake in Ginza. (A course is 10,000 yen which is about 100 usd.)
  • Check out the Sony Building in Ginza – You can even see cutting edge products that aren’t available for purchase yet.
  • Tokyo Tower – Getting less geeky, you might want to go to the Tokyo Tower, much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. There is a glass floor on one of the floors, and you can look straight down through it, quite exhillirating if you have a fear of heights.
  • Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum – Although it is not exactly in Tokyo, it is very near. It is very interesting, has exhibits on space, ocean, transportation and more.
  • Tokyo Disney Land or Disney Sea – Just like any Disney Land but hey, its fun!
  • Asakusa Shrine – Just plain beautiful, if you want to see the beauty of classic old Japanese architecture, you have to go here. Make sure you bring a camera, you would want to take a picture every step you take.

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How to Find Your “How To” Topic

Geek!This is Evan Brammer’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

As I was mulling over the possibilities for my entry, while tossing ideas back and forth with my wife, I realized that I just could not think of anything. What should I teach everyone “how to” do? I don’t know. I suppose it would be good if someone were to post something on “how to” come up with a “how to” topic? That would be good. WAIT! That’s what I can do. I’ll do a “how to” on “how to” discover exactly what your “how to” is.

Step One: Just Start Typing (Free Write)

If you are unsure, as I was, of what to write about – just start writing. Put your fingers to the keyboard or pen to the paper, and let the words fly out from beneath your fingertips. It doesn’t matter what you write about. You are free. Just keep writing, no matter what. If you cannot think of anything to write, then write that: “I cannot think of anything to write. I cannot think of anything to write.” Not incredibly useful, but…

As your fingers move, so will your thoughts. You’ll discover that when you write just anything, you can write anything! Next, you have to focus that “anything” into “something”.

Step Two: Focus that Anything into Something (Focused Free Write)

With your fingers blazing, begin to let you thoughts drift away from the aimlessness and onto a specific course. Just like a kayak on a big river, you can go in any direction you want – but if you want to reach your destination, than you have to chart your course. By allowing your mind to start in the river of aimlessness and then traverse into the bay of specificity, you open yourself to the wideness of possibility and are able to settle on what works best.

To focus your mind, ask yourself a few directing questions, such as: “What do I enjoy?” or “What am I good at?” Use these questions, and others, to bring your free-write into a more purpose-built writing exercise. If something doesn’t immediately come to mind, keep free writing until something does. As your ideas become more focused, the possible topic for your “how to” will emerge.

From there, you will need to refocus your focused thought.

Step Three: Refocusing your Focused Thought (From Broad to Exact)

Now that you have a general idea of what your “how to” could be, figure out if your topic needs to be refocused. Sometimes, the topic at which we initially arrive is entirely too general or broad. To continue on that course to actually writing the article on such a topic would be disastrous, as we cannot write about everything successfully in equal terms.

Think about making your “how to” topic more specific. Your original thought might be, “how to take over the world.” Now, can that topic really be covered in appropriate detail in such an article? Most likely not. So determine one aspect of the general topic and use that. Instead of focusing on “how to take over the world,” try just one part, such as: “how to harness the communicative tools currently available on an Internet that is transitioning from a static web of hyperlinks into a more social 2.0 conversation to bring the world under total domination.” Now that is an article that can be written and enjoyed, I am sure. Just… pick a better title.

With that, we have discovered the three basic steps to discovering what needs to be discovered. From here, we can all learn “how to” write a “how to” for anyone that might need to know “how to.”

Help! (the Yellow Tint Video)

Oh man, the video quality totally sucks – but at least I did it. Since I’m a YouTube Director, I can upload more than ten minutes worth of video at a time. “It” doesn’t really have a name yet, “it” was recorded this morning at 3:30am live-to-tape, and “it” is just the beginning (as I hope to record in higher definition with better screen switching soon). For now, this certainly works. Three things to note: (1) Cat Schwartz should be joining me soon, virtually; (2) Darth Vader’s floating head will be a regular feature; and (3) While the workflow isn’t perfect yet, my EyeJot widget is the best way for you submit video.

Free Cheat Sheets

After you’ve finished watching Darth Vader Calling the Emperor, you should probably find something a bit more constructive to do. Spurred on by Sean’s linking to a couple of WordPress cheat sheets (API, Theme), I went looking for some of my favorite cheat sheet authors to see if any had been updated – or new ones added. I found a wealth of great desktop-based cheat sheets. The Cheat Sheets from ‘ILoveJackDaniels’ are simply amazing, and their design is definitely the one to beat. The Quick Reference Cards page has links to a few good ones, largely for the geekier development types. The Google Cheat Sheet PDF is a must-have, even if you already think you know your way around Google. Cheat Sheets are great when you need a one- or two-page reference (and digging through a manual or help file is just too arduous a task).