Monday, July 16, 2012

Technology Overload

Yesterday I accomplished one of my goals for my crash course. I went to Barnes Ignoble and bought "Social Media Marketing for Dummies." Criminy! Remember when I said in a previous entry "There must be a SM for Dummies book out there, right?" Whew--there are more like 30. Marketing on Facebook. Marketing on Twitter. Social Media Community Management. Introduction to Antisocial Media.

Okay, I made that last one up. But... I was sort of overwhelmed. I ended up with a pretty good one...$33 later. (Ouch.) The first twenty pages have been very informative, and when I flip through it I see a lot of other things that look like exactly the knowledge I am looking for. There's even a CD with a 3-hour training course on it included! Now, to dig in.

And then today, the iPhone came through. Got a charger and a pretty blue case for it, and after sitting on my counter, plugged in, making random little self-satisfied noises here and there over the past two hours, it is now charged up and ready to go.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

One Week (almost) Later...

Sunday, July 15

Continuing my list of things I need to do...

6.) Create a better online portfolio. Any one of several of my designer friends can point me in the right direction for this one.

Well, readers, that little blurb above was actually written July 10th, when I was still semi-intoxicated with my own notions of how I was going to quickly get myself up-to-speed in all this Social Media stuff. One of my goals was to post to this blog every day.

You'll also note that the day I am actually posting my second entry is July 15. A full five (or six, depending on how you slice it) days later.


As gently noted/commented by my old college buddy Pete Niedbala, daily updates to a blog can be....well, unrealistic. (And Pete, by "old" I only mean that our friendship goes way back, not that you, personally, are an old dude. Not yet. Even though you were a year {two years?} older than I back in our college days. I'm sure you've amended that by now.)

So the dive into Social Media may have been a racing dive, where one hits the water at a shallow angle in order to maintain maximum speed. I think I performed a racing dive, followed almost immediately by a kind of sinking, legs-and-arms akimbo, unsynchronized water ballet/train wreck.

Nevertheless, there is progress to report, and now that I think about it, in quite a few areas.

First of all, I have discovered that my blog is not on Wordpress, but on Blogger, which is not all that surprising given my love for almost all things Google. And this time around I am actually making my entry from my blog's dashboard.

I think I may have a smartphone, an iPhone no less, in my sweaty little hands soon, possibly even later today. Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend.

I joined Twitter and made a first silly tweet, then today actually found something online worth tweeting about. The article, titled You are the creative type, is about how little creative steps can lead to something much larger than the intended creative goal. If you missed the tweet, the article can be found at

I did not do much on Facebook. I did not even manage to log in every day, one of my easiest (I thought) goals. Gotta do better on that. Did not even so much try a "Log in Through Facebook" link on anything to see what the big thrill would be.

I tried to pin something to my Pinterest account and failed. Really. I mean, geez, how hard can it be? Hard enough to trip me up, apparently. Gotta fix that.

And as long as we're listing stuff in the "Fail" category, I did not get very far into Rule the Web, and I have not gone looking for any Social Media for Dummies book. (Although that may be a little side trip for today, a quick jaunt to Barnes and Noble, just down the street. I really do need to do it, and it will also help, as this blog entry is now, in my avoidance of another project that is literally looming over my head, which I have so far successfully avoided: install a ceiling fan.)

I have an offer from LinkedIn for a free month of premium membership, whatever that is, which I have not acted upon yet, but which I intend to. LinkedIn is sort of a mystery to me. Can anyone tell me, for instance, how large the site is? It seems to me to be a business-oriented Facebook, but... what would you use it for? Is it one of the big ones, not to be neglected in my Social Media swim? I've joined, and connected with a few score others, but I'm not really sure why.

One of the most pleasant surprises so far is hearing from a few people who've actually read my blog. People I haven't heard from in a long, long time; people giving me words of encouragement and support. So nice, thank you!!

And people giving me interesting, useful information. For instance, the link to the article about iGoogle being shut down (November 2013, I believe was the date for that event).

I wish to pause here and thank said folks for taking the time to read this blog. And I am feeling more than a little self-conscious at the moment, thinking, "Why am I wasting these people's time with this blather? Why would anyone read this?" I don't know. I guess it's one of the mysteries of social media I have yet to learn about. I admit, having this little outlet into which to spew my thoughts does in fact give me some motivation to continue to spew. Which is a good thing. I see it as one of those little creative steps mentioned in You are the creative type.

Well, alrighty then. That about concludes today's entry. Time to tackle the ceiling fan. I'll end this entry with a photo of my child in a meadow out in the middle of the forest. Just because I can, and to give you a break from all this blather. Katy and I just got back yesterday from a short camping trip to Latour Demonstration Forest. We stayed at Old Cow Creek Campground, and did, in fact, see some cows, which for Katy may have been the highlight of the trip. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SM, Here I Come

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 5:00 a.m.

In exactly two weeks I have a job interview for a position I would really like to get. I think my chances of getting the job are quite good, as I held the position once before, around ten years ago, in a different lifetime. I’m also confident in my abilities in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, and my design abilities in general, and the bulk of the job lies in these areas.

But in the ten years or so since I worked for this organization, something has happened which is making me feel less confident than I would like to be about getting this job: It has continued to evolve, and I have not. I figure this is the ideal time to stop dabbling around with my toe in the water and plunge headlong into something, the very mention of which strikes fear into my heart: Social Media.

I just turned 50 last December, so I guess technically I am a tail-end Baby Boomer. I’ve been fiddling around with computers since senior year in college, and have been keeping up on my internet skills, mostly, since the early 90’s. But it’s slowly starting to dawn on me that in two weeks I will be competing with the kind of young whippsersnappers who were born with a smartphone in one hand and an ipod in the other. Youngsters who know computers and software inside and out, and who swim through social media like barracudas in warm tropical seas. Kids who can out-blog, out-text, out-internet me in their sleep.

In short, it is time to un-dinosaurify myself. It’s mostly so I can get this job. But it’s also because this has been one of those things that has been bugging me, little by little--creeping up on me so slowly it feels a lot like rust--as I feel myself fall further and further behind the curve. Or behind the wave. Which is full of barracudas, all of whom want to take a bite out of my behind.

Last night I had the brilliant idea that the best approach to this self-instructed crash course in social media would be to implement the learning-by-doing method. Why not, I thought, blog about the experience? Why not use the very media I am trying to learn to broadcast to society in general how I am doing? That’s the heart of social media, right? To be able to bore your friends and acquaintances with all the minutiae of your life that in former times would have been too incredibly dull to even mention?

So herewith, early one fine July morning, I begin my blog. And immediately I have a confession to make. I am not writing this entry directly into my blog. It’s not that I don’t have a blog that would serve the purpose. The sad fact is, I’m not sure I can find my blog from this computer--instead of the one I used to start the blog to begin with (which--I think--has a bookmark to lead me there)--so I’m just word-processing, and will post this first entry later.

To save just a little face, I do need to mention that at least I am not simply using Word or Wordpad and storing this document on my computer’s hard drive. Heck no--how old school is that?! I’m using Google docs and storing in the cloud. “Hooray!” my inner voice says. “Your big toe is now fully submerged!”

All right, so now it’s time to make a list. What are my assets going into this project, and where do I need to focus my efforts?

My assets, as I see them, are this:

1.) Fluency in the graphics world. As I mentioned before, I’m pretty comfortable with Adobe’s Big Three. I have no trouble taking a digital photo or video, downloading it to my computer, and uploading it from there to a website. Unless said website is my own blog, which, at this moment, is out in cyberspace somewhere.

2.) I am also fairly comfortable with several of the building blocks of social networking. I do in fact have a blog set up. I did it through WordPress and the name of the blog is... as you know already... Greg’s Plate. I have blogged before, about six years ago, and when I was doing it regularly it wasn’t too difficult. I mean, I could at least find the thing and post something without getting that sinking feeling I have in the pit of my stomach right now over my lost blog. Poor little thing, all alone out there in cyberspace with no entries yet! I hope it’s not cold and hungry.

3.) I also have a page on Facebook. You probably already know this by now too, since one of the things I need to learn how to do is to direct readers from Facebook to my blog. I think this is as easy as copying and pasting a link, but since I haven’t done it before I’m not sure. Don’t want to take anything for granted.

4.) I also have a book I need to dig into. It’s called Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet--Better, Faster, Easier. I’ve had the book four or five years. It was pretty handy back then when I read the first few chapters. Today, it’s seeming a bit fossilized as well.

5.) One of my biggest assets, which I would be terribly remiss not to mention, are my more tech-savvy friends. Some of you reading this will recognize yourselves here, only slightly camouflaged to protect you from any blowback from having to admit you know someone who can’t find his own blog. I work with one person, about ten years younger than me, who is one of those guys whose knowledge of computers, software and internet stuff is, to me, like the Holy Grail of Social Media wisdom. If I could just do some sort of mind-meld with him, I’d be able to save myself these next two weeks of plodding, tripping, and dragging myself along the information superhighway. (Heh... even that sounds quaint now... “information superhighway.” Does anyone else out there remember that term? We’ve gone from superhighways to clouds. Where next... solar computing? The vacuum of space storage systems?) There are also a couple of other important players in my “live tutors” category whom you will meet as we go along.

6.) Google. Google has been my friend and cyber-ally for some time now. I’ve been using gmail for years, Google docs for a couple of years, and in the last two years have been having fun by sharing a spreadsheet with a couple of friends on an annual project, and sharing photos through Picasa. My homepage is through iGoogle. However, lately I am getting confused about what iGoogle is, and Google+. I just read something about Google+ (200-something million users) as being sort of a competitor to Facebook (900-something million users). I need to look into Google+ more deeply.

7.) On a tip from one of my live tutor mentors, I recently started a Pinterest account.

8.) I have a cell phone, and I am counting it as one of my assets because it has introduced me to the world of texting. However, it is not a Smart Phone. It is only a Phone of Moderate Intelligence. This needs to change, and pronto. Of all the technological things that have been making me feel left behind lately, cell phone/smartphone technology is by far the leader. So much so that when I’m in public I am almost embarrassed to get my puny little TracFone out for any reason. I think in this day and age, and especially for a job like the one I’m going for, a smartphone is an absolute necessity.

Okay, to summarize this list of assets so far:

1.) Graphics knowledge
2.) Blog: Greg’s Plate
3.) Facebook basic knowledge
4.) Rule the Web book
5.) Tech-savvy friends
6.) Google experience
7.) Pinterest page
8.) Cell phone

I admit, they looked more impressive in paragraph form.

Here are some things that are on my list of to-do’s:

1.) Log in to Facebook at least once a day (which I am not doing now. Sometimes I do not log in for a week or more.) Get really familiar with everything it can do.
2.) Maintain this blog on a daily basis.
3.) Start a Twitter account, and make some tweets.
4.) Figure out what it means to “Log in through Facebook,” and why this might be advantageous / disadvantageous.
5.) Undoubtedly, there is a “Social Networking for Dummies” book out there. Buy it. Read it.