Archives for May 2008

Emma’s Tech Tip – Twitter

This week’s tech tip will focus on twitter. What is twitter? I’m glad you asked. Twitter is one of those applications whose value proposition is hard to describe. In fact, once I tell you what it does you will probably scratch your head and say, “Why would anyone want to do that?” or “That sounds pretty useless”. Both reactions are normal and expected. In fact, that was my opinion in the beginning, and to some degree it still is. But being the early adopter that I am, I am giving it the old college try, and at the moment, it doesn’t suck.

Twitter is a social networking service that allows you to post personal messages about yourself. Think of it as a place to deposit the random thoughts you have during the course of a day while you are sitting in traffic, waiting for the bus, nailing that job interview, listening to the cell phone conversation of the jackass sitting next to you at the airport, etc. The idea is to keep you connected (in a disconnected world) with friends and family by sharing information that lets them know what you have been up to, even if you have not talked in a week, or a month, or a year. Of course this works best if you have someone to share your “tweets” with.

One caveat of this service is that the messages you post are limited to 140 characters. So your thoughts must be succinct. This limitation means that you can “tweet” (that’s what it is called when you post a message) via text message from your cell phone. That is where the service really shines because all my inspired thoughts come when I am away from my computer.

You can also integrate your tweets into your website or blog as I have done (see “Twitter Updates” on the left side of this page). Now you can all see what the gerbils in my brain are up to.

Ta-Da! We Got Pigtails

That’s right people. We got pigtails, and Emma couldn’t be cuter.

Mother’s Day Update

This year we celebrated Mother’s Day with Elena’s Mom, Frank, and Cousin Jessie. We played Dominoes, ate Pork with white rice and beans, and talked. Elena was really happy and said this was the first Mother’s Day where she actually felt like a Mom. Gift-wise, I hooked Elena up with a certificate for a professional one hour “Deep Tissue” massage (so they can release the gargantuan monkey-fist of tension that burrows in her neck). Emma gave her Mom a Static Electricity Eliminator because Elena hates getting shocked.

Girl Over Board!

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Emma loved the water. In this picture, Elena can be seen giving Emma “the dip”. This is the process whereby Emma sits on Elena’s feet partially submerged in the water and Elena hoists her up so that Emma hovers above the surface. Then after a few second hold, Emma is lowered back into the water below, to which she shrieks and laughs and then says, “More”. Sharing Emma’s awe and wonderment to the world around her is probably the greatest pleasure Elena and I can have. Little by little Emma grows a little older, a little wiser, and we allow her to experience things in new ways.

Happy Mother’s Day

Summarizing a Mom’s day in 2 minutes and 55 seconds.

Emma’s Tech Tip – 1-Click Answers is a pretty neat site. It is an information aggregator that allows you to obtain information about words, phrases, abbreviations, etc. It is part dictionary, part encyclopedia, part translator. Results of a search are pulled from thousands of sources and presented to you in a single page. Not the links, but the content (which is important to note).

As much as I like the site, I don’t think I have visited it in years. The killer app that I want to introduce you too here is their “1-Click Answers” tool. This light-weight application runs in the background and allows you to Alt-Click on any word in any program on your screen. Doing so brings up a pop-up window with a concise AnswerTip.

So say you are running Microsoft Word and you want to know how to spell something, or find alternate definitions. Alt-Click on the word in question and the answer appears. Or say you are reading a web-page and you come across an unfamiliar phrase, select it, then Alt-Click and the definition appears before you without you having to switch windows or load a separate application. When you are done, close the pop-up to dismiss it. It’s simple, intuitive, and an application that I love having installed because it works across all programs on my computer.

If you want to give this little gem a whirl, you can get the 1-Click Answers tool here.

Emma Loves H2O

We went to the lake last weekend and rented a row boat. Emma was literally jumping off the boat and into the drink. She is fearless when it comes to water. She really can’t get enough. Once we returned to land we let her play in the shallow end. The rough, sandy shore and tadpoles did not bother her one bit.

Pretty in Pink

Emma sporting her new bathing suit. I love her so much!

Emma’s Tech Tip – Google Alerts

Previously I told you how Google was poised to take over the world. Today I am going to introduce you to one of their many “killer” applications, Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a free tool that allows you to schedule searches. Why would you want to schedule a search? Say you wanted to know whenever your name was mentioned anywhere on the internet. A scheduled search allows you to automatically have a search performed weekly, daily, or as-it-happens. Results are emailed to you at those scheduled intervals. Google allows you to configure scores of these alerts so you can automate the process of searching for things you are interested in. So say you love a particular show, sports figure, actor, product, company, etc. You can get “timely” (and that is the operative key word here) updates relative to your search.

You might think that this is a tool for tech geeks but I assure you that it is not. I see professionals from all walks of life using this tool, and it is easy to figure out who they are. Take for example Jose Pino. A guy who I have never met but whom I appropriately gave props to in the “Paper Plate Speaker Project“. Within a few days he chimed in with a comment on Emma’s Web Page. Clearly a Google Alert user who has a rule configured to search the Internet and report back to him anytime his name appears somewhere. I do the same thing which is extremely convenient.

The Internet is full of cool and useful applications. It is my and Emma’s goal to introduce some of these tools that you may not otherwise learn about, so that you may leverage the full potential (or at least 5%) of the Internet.

So if you are feeling like a hero, go over to Google Alerts now and set up your first filter. If you found this information helpful feel free to leave a comment here to let us know. Feedback (especially positive) is always welcome.