Limiting Distractions: Notifications

Sometimes, especially if you’re like me, you’ll be on a roll when it comes to work, perhaps figuring out a program you’re working on, when you suddenly get interrupted. And just like that, your mental focus is gone. What were you doing? You’ll figure that out after a few minutes.

Notifications can sometimes be that interruption. Sure, it may be cool to have your iPhone docked next to your computer. But if the constant comments on Facebook are distracting you, is that a good thing to keep in sight?

The better question: are you in control of your device, or is it in control of you?

While I’m not one to disable all of my notifications1, as some have done, earlier this week I started disabling notifications that I had set up for some time. In particular, anything with a social element has been muted. My iPhone and iPad no longer have permission to display notifications, play sounds, or show a badge icon. In short, if I want to know what’s going on there, I’ll find out when I manually check those platforms.

Even if you’re a heavy Twitter user, is there any reason why you need to be disturbed with every mention? Is something so urgent that a social media message should disrupt your life? I’m doing my best to say no to those questions. My iOS devices are useful. To me. They respond to what I want to use them for. And that’s how this relationship will stay.


  1. Yet 

4 Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts

It seems that more and more people are finding their Twitter accounts hacked unknowingly. If you use Twitter, you undoubtedly have seen it. Your friends post a reply or a direct message (DM) with a link to you but from out of the blue. ‘Why would they care about my IQ?‘ you may ask yourself.

Well, here are X tips to help you stay safe on Twitter (and other online sites)!

  1. Never give out your password – This is the most important rule. Even if someone claims to be a Twitter owner, do NOT give out your password!
  2. Don’t click links from strangers – Remember when your mom would tell you not take take candy from someone you didn’t know? Well, even though you’re older, live on your own, and have a job, the rule still applies. Watch what strangers send you. If you get a random @reply saying “Hey, I saw you in this pic. http://badlink.com/haha”, don’t click it!
  3. Watch for odd links from friends – Just because you have followed so-and-so for a long time doesn’t mean that all that they post is ok. Make sure that what they send is in line with what they usually send. Do they never DM you, but you suddenly receive a DM with a link? (As a side note, I’m not saying to click on links from your friends. If it’s a legitimate link, they’re sharing it with you for a reason!)
  4. Avoid Phishing Scams – What do I mean by phishing scam? Well, let’s say someone wanted you to think you were signing in to Twitter. It may even be identical to the real login page! But, the URL might say login.twitter.com.someothersite.net. That is how you can tell if it is fake. So, how can you stay safe from this?  If you need to login in a site, make sure that you’re truly at the site before you log in! For example, if you are signing in to Facebook, make sure you’re at Facebook.com before entering in your password.

In short, think before you do anything. It’s always better to play it safe. Common sense is the big key. Keep some of that and you’ll be safer already!

How Do YOU Use Social Media?

I’ve been thinking about social media and how it has expanded in recent years. In the days before Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, social networks seemed to be much smaller groups of individuals. You would have your Livejournal, Xanga, or ezBoard (now Yuku) collectives, but none of them have the reach that social media seems to have today.

In today’s online world, with just under 10% of the world’s population on Facebook alone, social media is playing an important role in the modern world. Businesses are finding more and more use for social media networks to relay information and communicate with customers.

I’m curious how other individuals and businesses use social media. Please take the time to comment on this blog and answer the question: How do you use social media?

Twitter Approaching 10 Billion Tweets?! Amazing!

It’s hard to believe that Twitter is already approaching the 10 billion tweet mark. It seems like not too long ago, we were faced with the Twitpocalypse.  But, in under two days, Twitter will break past 10 billion tweets.

That comes out to lots and lots of messages that are being sent across Twitter! Want to get a visual on just how fast tweets are coming in? Check this link out!  Hundreds of tweets are generated each second. That’s so hard to believe.

Of course, with all of this happening, I just have one thing to ask: If Apple can reward someone for buying their 10 billionth song, can Twitter give away a $10,000 gift card for sending the 10 billionth tweet? Just saying.

Thanks For The MacBook Pro, SourceForge!

When I first signed up for Twitter back in February, I had no idea that it would be helping me win free stuff.  Even now, I still can’t believe it.  Except, of course, for the fact that I’ve actually received the free stuff.

I also would never have expected SourceForge to ever give me something for free, either. Yet, they have. And for that, SourceForge, I definitely thank you! I am My family is glad to have a new MacBook, too.

It all goes back to one month ago… I had heard about SourceForge’s 2009 Community Choice Awards and some live feeds they were going to do for the event. But wait! There’s more?  They were giving away four MacBook Pros during the live coverage. Wow!  Of course, what are the chances of me winning one, right?

Well, winning one required tweeting answers to trivia questions.  I was shocked when the first question was one that I actually had an idea about.  “What movie did Apple use to hype its new QuickTime4 format?”  I won’t give the answer, so have fun figuring it out!  But, being the first to tweet @SourceForge with the correct answer, I soon learned I was right.

And so that started the journey of the new MacBook!  It took some verification of personal data, some FedEx transit, but in the end, it made it here one month after that fateful night.  Tuesday, I received an email with the FedEx tracking number and, thankfully, within two days, it was here.

Here are some photos from the grand opening! (Sorry for the lack of thumbnails… WordPress is giving me some issues with uploading photos.)

While it’s such a sweet looking piece of technology, I decided that I would not keep this.  Nope, this MacBook is now my dad’s newest toy. I still have plans for a MacBook, but it wasn’t going to be this one.  So, there you go, dad!

Again, a big thank you to SourceForge!  I come to your site often for open source needs.  And now I can we can thank you for this shiny new MacBook Pro, as well!

Some New Blog Features

While I’m finishing up several new posts to put up in the next fews days, I thought I’d mention a couple features on the blog.

First, I added in the ability for users to rate my posts. So now, not only can you leave a great comment, but you can also rate posts. I do hope some of my latest ones, and ones coming up, will be of use to many people!

Secondly, if you haven’t already seen, I’ve added a few small Twitter things to my sidebar.  If you’re a Twitter user and feel like following me, go ahead!

I had added in a little comment box to the side bar, but I have since disabled it. If you think you would like me to have that back on, let me know, and I’ll restore it.

Hope you all enjoy some of the things I write! 🙂 I do like feedback, so please feel free to leave me some!

How To Be Safe On Twitter

I’ve been asked by several people to put together this article.  As such, if you would like to contribute to it, suggest improvements or changes, or even write a similar article for me to post, leave a comment and let me know!

So, you got yourself a Twitter account.  It is the big craze, after all!  But you’re not sure about all of the other Twitter users.  Or perhaps you want to keep an increased level of privacy around your account.

Well, this article, hopefully, will tell you how you can keep yourself safe on Twitter!

Now, why do we even need to consider Twitter safety?  Well, perhaps you want to keep your activity away from the public eye.  Perhaps you wish to keep yourself safe from possible predators or other ominous folks.

What are some ways that you can protect your tweets and privacy?

  1. Protect Your Tweets – You don’t have to have your tweets open to the public. There is a built in feature in your Twitter settings that lets you make them private.  The only way people can read your tweets is to be approved to follow you. This not only protects what you say but also who can read your tweets. This is the biggest step!
  2. Watch What You Tweet – This rule applies to anything you do online. With the increase in Twitter usage, it seems easier and easier to just post anything. Yet, that is exactly what you do not want to do!  Even if you have protected your tweets, do you want them to know about where you exactly live, or where you will be at an exact time?  It is always better to play it safe!
  3. Use The Block Function – Do you have some shady characters that are following you that you really don’t want to see what you write?  If you’re wary of certain followers, you can safely block them.  This isn’t a sure-fire way of keeping people away from your tweets, but it can help you manage trouble-users.
  4. Remember Your Audience – Even if you have protected your tweets, there is the potential that someone will re-tweet you. With that in mind, any of your tweets could potentially be made public. Therefore, if you’re going to tweet something, make sure that it is something you wouldn’t mind someone in the public seeing. This goes in line with point #2, but it still is different.

In the end, common sense is what wins out with Twitter.  Make sure that you’re always tweeting with your full thinking faculties.  Otherwise, you may find yourself embarrassed, frustrated, or worse.

It’s quite possible that I missed some options for privacy protection.  If I have, please leave a comment! As I stated at the beginning, I’d be willing to post guest articles as well, should anyone want to write additional material.

Twitter: The New IM?

I think this is a blog worthy of a little trip down memory lane.  All of this will take us on a cruise through the history of Instant Messaging.

Instant message has its roots before the days of the modern internet.  Some types were peer-to-peer, others had people connect to a central server or network.  IRC is one of those types, and it is something that is still quite popular in the interwebs today.

As computers became more ‘flashy‘ and graphical user interfaces (GUI) came on the scene, some of the more popular ones that we all know and love (or at least know) came about. These include ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.  Once AOL’s hit the web, other branded IMs came up.  MSN, YIM, and a few other three lettered IMs that probably came up, too.

Well, each of those offer a service that allows you to chat with one or more people. They send a message, you respond.  It doesn’t get any easier to explain than that!

So, what about Twitter?

I know that I am guilty of using Twitter for IM-type purposes. All you need is a Twitter app and you may as well tell yourself you’re using an IM app.  And, before you even know it, you’re trapped.

It all starts with someone posting a very interesting link about images from the moon.  Before you know it, you and them are chatting back and forth, sending each other @replies without a care in the world.

This seems to be the habit of more and more people. Have you seen this yourself?  Have you checked Twitter, only to find that the past twelve minutes worth of tweets have been between two or three people, all replying to each other in rapid fire?

With more people using Twitter, this could possibly be a replacement IM system. However, before you go dumping Pidgin and load up Twhirl, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Replies aren’t private – Just because you thought it would be cool to send a message to @BrentSpiner doesn’t mean that only they will se it.  So, while you may think it’s cool to start messaging your friends, remember what you put in those messages. If it’s private data, you probably shouldn’t post it on Twitter at all, especially a reply.
  2. API Limits – No matter how fast you want your friends’ updates, you’re still limited. Twitter has a limit and, unless you want to sit on their web page and constantly refresh it, you won’t be getting true real time, or instant, messages.

Does Twitter have the potential to eventually be an IM service? It’s possible.  It would take some changes on their set up to allow for it, but it could be done.  Will it be done, though, is the question.  Their current setup seems to be popular enough as is, so major changes would probably not be in their best interest.

Now, that said, Twitter is still a very useful tool for pushing out information to people. After all, it is called a micro-blogging platform for a reason.

Are there ways you can make Twitter more useful? I’ll be writing about that coming up soon.

What do you think?  Does Twitter serve as your second IM?  How do you use Twitter?  Leave your comments below!

Why Do You Tweet?

I’ve been on Twitter for almost four months.  It seems like longer, but it really hasn’t been.  Time just has flown by way too fast lately!

When I first signed up with Twitter, I saw it as something that people used from their phones.  Honestly, I have no need to update people from my phone about everything I’m doing.  I enjoy my privacy!

That said, I have found Twitter to be a useful tool.  For one, it lets me follow certain people and organizations and get 140 characters (or less) of information from them.  For example, I’ve been following @Nasa and, if not for their tweets, I wouldn’t have known about the ability to watch the Atlantis shuttle launch live recently (via NasaTV).  Or I can get notification quickly of new Stargate news from @GateWorld.

With Twitter expanding as rapidly as it seems to be, there are so many useful apps and widgets that seem to keep popping up.  I can post a blog, like this one, which TwitterFeed will send to my Twitter account.  That, then, is fed to my Facebook profile.  There are enough apps out there to have Twitter do so many things.  I’m not even sure I want to guess at what will be coming in the future!

I also have found that Twitter can be a relatively useful marketing tool, with various degrees of ‘success’.  I’ve not tried to use it too much on that level yet, but it definitely has potential.  I, personally, still need to look into that, as I know I’ll be using it to try and market a few sites I work with.

So, for me, personally, when it comes to what I say with my personal account, my replies, or anything that I put up, why do I tweet?  I like how easy it is to get updates from those that I follow, how easily I can update ones that need to be updated on something, and how simply it is all done.  It can let me get information from a target group and project information to a target audience.

Why do you tweet?

Introducing The New Blog

So, this is my new blog.  Plain and simple.  I can’t say I expect for much to come from it, but then again, I’m seeing this as a work in progress at the moment.  So, call this the WIP Blog.  Jerenspeak.  Better yet, let’s call it Jerenspeak Beta.  I think I’ll keep it named that for a while.  After all, it never hurts to keep things in beta for years.

What do I expect to do with this blog?  Probably ramble about various things, from cool websites and games to neat gadgets and music.  Oh, and I’ll probably talk about new sites I’ve put together, ideas, and what not.

And, should anyone have any suggestions on something really cool I should talk about, I have no problem with that either.  Whether you contact me through this blog, my site (Coming Soon), Twitter, whatever.

Let the blogging begin!  Or… continue.  Or whatever.