Posts Tagged: evernote

New Layer of Tools for Social Data: Backup Plan

I haven’t talked tools on this blog in a while, but with the continuing saga of privacy issues, lost Facebook pages, Gmail accounts being locked out, Tweets disappearing into the ether on occasion, and everything else – it was time. Social media has been around for years, but now that it’s dressed up a little more in prettier and easier to use tools, more people and businesses are using it. As with anything that begins to grow rapidly, problems can arise. Whether the problems are external (hackers, malware, viruses) or internal (a service unable to keep up with the load, or having technical issues like server crashes) the end result is lost data and frustration. To avoid that, you need a backup plan (literally).

So let’s talk backup tools for the social age, shall we? I’m just going to run down a few backup tools and strategies that are in my tool box here, and hope you put your favorites in the comments so we create an arsenal of helpful tools. One thing you’ll notice is how many different ways I try to back my stuff up. You never know when one of your backup methods might have an unavoidable glitch – be prepared as best you can.

Backupify

I use Backupify to backup my social presences. It currently backs up: Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Zoho, Google Docs, and Photobucket. It is in beta testing for backing up WordPress, Basecamp, Gmail, Facebook, Friendfeed, Blogger, Hotmail, Picassa, Google Contacts, and Google Calendar. It eventually will add YouTube, Xmarks, RSS Feed, Tumbler.

Pluses: it works flawlessly, it’s easy to set up new accounts, it’s reasonably priced, and the services not in beta are mostly useful to me (some of the ones in beta would be even more useful). Minuses: no great search feature.

Silentale

This is a new service I’m tying and is in invite only private beta. (I gave my invites away already, sorry.) It has a bit of potential over Backupify for me because it catalogs your stored data, associates with your contacts in a smart way across networks, and makes it all searchable. If you ever actually lose your data, being able to search your archive while you sort it all out will be key.

It backs up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Contacts, Highrise, Gmail, Google Apps Mail, IMAP and POP3 email, AOL mail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. I love the way it figures out who is who in my contacts, what their profiles are, and what I’m talking to them about everywhere. It claims to give you a 360° view of your contacts, and so far – it’s right. This one may be a keeper.

BatchBook

BatchBook by BatchBlue is not what most people think of as a backup plan. It’s a CRM tool that integrates social media, email, to-do lists, sales tools, contact info, notes, files/attachments and more into one big database that you can update on the fly. It easily syncs with Basecamp, Freshbooks and other tools I use, too, to give me one more place to store the things that keep my businesses running.

DropBox

DropBox is a tool to share content with collaborators in the cloud. To this end, it works as an effective group backup system in addition to a way to effectively share the files you need for projects, and a way to access data when you move from machine to machine. If you have ever done a collaborative project you know how much stuff can be generated and how many people can get involved in the process – to have one folder only those who need access to can use is an amazing thing. We used DropBox and Basecamp to write Twitter for Dummies, for example, sharing data and proofs and screenshots between all of the authors, the publisher and editor. Since everyone involved lives in a different state, it made writing the book much easier.

Time Machine + External Drive

Since I’m a Mac lover and my business runs on Apple products, I make full use of their time machine tool and a slim, light hard drive that easily pockets into my laptop bag to keep an ongoing backup of what’s on my actual machine. This is key, since I have gigabytes of music to keep track of in addition to my work info. I love the simple restore aspect of Time Machine as well as the other features.

Amazon S3 + FTP

This is one I use just for my music. I run a simple backup to the cloud using Amazon S3 and a simple, free FTP tool to send a backup of my music online. Can you tell music is as important to me as my businesses yet? 🙂 Amazon’s S3 service is simple to use and super cheap.

Disqus

We can’t overlook Disqus, the social commenting and sharing plug in for blogs. Why is it on the backup list? They have a handy comment export system that allows you to back up the social comments on your blog periodically so you don’t lose them in an outage. Yes, comments are social, too. (For that matter: export your blog posts in a backup file regularly as well)

Xmarks

This is technically a synching tool for your bookmarks, but because it syncs your bookmarks to each browser (currently FireFox, Chrome for Mac – Dev Channel, and Safari for me) and also to their site, it works as a nice backup tool for my bookmarks as well. Of note, I also use Evernote for this type of backhanded backup of sites and bookmarks, though Evernotes other features put it in a different category than a simple backup for me.

Of note: I use the paid version of any service not in a free beta. That means I pay for all but one of the services above (well, Time Machine is technically free as well, but I had to buy a Mac with OS X to get it and a hard drive to use it). I don’t think “free” and “data backup” are necessarily two things meant to go together. On the other hand, money is a subject I take seriously so I look for good value. Each of the services above offer plans that work out to $20 or less a month.

Interruptive vs Disruptive Technologies

After reading Chris Brogan’s post on interruptive communication today, and responding in the video below on Utterli, I started percolating on the concept. I love when something simple gets my brain cranking, don’t you? Here is the link to Chris’s post, the video is embedded below, and after that are my thoughts as they strayed farther and farther from the topic and onto their own path.

Chris’s post got me thinking about two things. One was my own dual style of working: management vs creative. The best encapsulation of the dichotomy there as relates to running a creative business I have yet read is by Paul Graham, found here. Go, read it. I’ll wait. The second is the concept of interruptive technology versus the concept of disruptive technology. I see those two terms interchanged often, yet I don’t actually find the concepts interchangeable.

Interruptive Technology

These are technologies most often used to complete a task or communicate. I rank mine in order of “interruption level” in the video. What makes a technology interruptive is how it alters the work flow or life flow of another person or company. That means email will remain the least interruptive (in my opinion) and the most useful, for now, at tracking the minute and changeable details of a project. The phone and in person meetings or conference calls remain the highest level of interruptive technology with the lowest return. Yes, you get to see the body language (meeting/web cam) or hear the vocal inflection (phone/conference call) with these technologies, but they leave room for excessive blocks of time not spent working on a project, and for project details to slip through the cracks with no written record.

Disruptive Technology

Though this term is often used interchangeably with the above (as you can see in the replies to Chris’s post), to me it is not at all the same thing. A disruptive technology may involve communication (like Twitter) and it may become interruptive (like Twitter or Instant Message services), but it has a wider impact, disrupting an entire system, not just an individual work flow (like Twitter DMs and their effect on Email, or like Google Wave is hoping to disrupt multiple systems, including chat, message service, email and more). It is that system wide disruption as opposed to an individual, more myopic effect, that sets the two apart for me.

And Then There Is Ego

Once you realize how interruptive technology diffuses your efficiency and can put speed bumps and road blocks in your work flow, you may turn to disruptive technologies to manage your systems (Away Find is a great example of this, as is Evernote, and also using a mobile phone and voice mail to control what reaches you to interrupt your flow without missing the important items). So where does ego come into play?

Ego becomes its own problem when people begin to take your time management personally. There are a number of people and companies I work with that are awesome, and that have time management systems of their own. They see that I try to work within their parameters, and they do their best to respect mine – it s a win-win (It helps that I started adding an “effective work flow for this project” section in contracts). Then you get people who aren’t able to see your system (or the systems of others) as time management – these folks take it as a personal slight if an email isn’t replied to immediately, and then, they begin to bombard your system structure like a Kamikaze pilot from WWII – hitting your DM box, your email repeatedly, your phone, text, instant message windows and more in a look at me blitzkrieg. What kills me is the message is often then “Hey, call me ASAP.” and not “These xx items are urgent because of xx. I know you are writing per your away message, but could you please contact me.” (Guess which one would actually get a response from most people, by the way.)

Truly, there is not much you can do about how someone else’s feelings work. Personally, aside from doing my best to be tactful and understanding, I haven’t found a “magic formula” for the times when ego enters the equation. Have you?  How are you using disruptive technology to handle interruptive technology?

CEO On The Go: Mobile Office Toolbox

It’s time to open the tool box again, and talk about tools for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and business owners or CEOs who are always on the go. We discussed before that a good tool kit for managing social media is essential, but your business is about more than just engaging online. If you are like me, you find yourself needing to work or manage the office on the go.

Some of the tools I use to manage my business are tools I also use to manage and monitor my social media and online life as well. You’ll see those on both the “social media toolbox” list and the “CEO on the go toolbox” list. Also, it’s notable that several of the tools on both lists have had significant upgrades in recent months that make them even more integrated, collaborative with other tools, and useful.

As a refresher, my social media toolbox post highlighted: Evernote, Shareaholic (FireFox, Safari), Ping.fm, Ubiquity/FireFox, TweetDeck, TextExpander, Quicksilver, Google stuff, my HTC Mogul PDA and my MacBook. Expect an updated post on my social media tools to drop here or elsewhere soon, as some of those have been adjusted with passing time. You’ll notice that Evernote makes an appearance on both lists, and with good reason – the company introduced some nice on-the-go integrations recently.

So how do I run my business on the fly? It’s important for me to have as much data as possible accessible from anywhere. This means that I use a lot of web based solutions. Until they make a 1TB USB Flash thumb drive (and consider this an official “would someone PLEASE make one?” request), I can’t fit all of my data into any lightweight portable form to take with me. If you are a CEO with a MacBook Air or a netbook, this is doubly true for you – you have even less storage and need computing from the cloud solutions even more.

Equipment

My most essential tools are my MacBook and my HTC Mogul PDA. All of the tools I use for my business are accessible at least in basic form from both (some of the mobile sites leave something to be desired, but I find this true of many mobile sites). Along with that, I carry the chargers with me, which takes up valuable space in my League of Awesomeness laptop bag. Since power is key and cords are bulky, I am researching adding one of these to my arsenal. I also keep my iPod on me with a backup of my presentations, in case something horrible happens to the laptop – color me paranoid, but you never know.

Services

Evernote

Yes, Evernote is on both lists. It is a powerful, flexible way to annotate and track your life and business. I talked about the desktop and web plug in features in the last post. What makes it even more effective are the way it integrates these features into your mobile life. Evernote on my phone lets me keep track of anything I’m doing. I can handwrite a note using Ink Note; I can record a meeting, sing a song I’m writing, speak a poem or story idea I have or give myself a quick voice reminder using Audio Note; I can take a picture of anything and record it with the Photo Note feature; I can even send myself files and text notes. Evernote upped the game recently for this heavy Twitter user by allowing me to link my Twitter account to my Evernote account. By then following @myEV on Twitter, I can DM myself notes and reminders and links to add to my Evernote storage as well. With tagged search and other features, all of my notes are easy to find and ready for me to come back to the next time I load up the desktop app or go to the web site. I can even share the notes with people working on a project with me.

Freshbooks

I can not say enough nice things about FreshBooks. They recently won a Webware 100 award, and with good reason. This accounting solution is lightweight, easy to learn, easy to use and flexible enough to incorporate several other on-the-go tools to make it easier to track time, expenses, calls and more. I love that I can create estimates and invoices for my clients that include action items, allowing them to link to the live estimate or invoice and make change requests, accept the terms, pay online and more. It’s very convenient on both sides. Not only that, the customer who has an ongoing project can log in and track time spent on their project, see progress reports and more. It handles staff that work for you as well as clients, and now it is going social – allowing freelancers and subcontractors to link to projects as well, creating a network of people I work and collaborate with. I use this every day, either via the web client, the time tracking widget for my MacBook, my phone (using other services to text in time tracked, expense, or calls made) and more. An ideal accounting solution for the small to medium business that integrates with applications like Xpenser, SkyDeck, etc and exports compatible file types to other accounting software as well.

Xpenser

This little tool let’s me send a tweet, an email, an IM or an SMS from my phone to track expenses. It tracks mileage, meals, time on a project, and more. All you have to do is link it to FreshBooks using the FreshBooks API and it sends all of these expenses to FreshBooks to be associated with a client and project. It also offers a full slate of reports and other features to make it a good stand alone solution for export to desktop accounting programs.

SkyDeck

Another tool that integrates with FreshBooks, allowing me to sync my calls from my cell phone into my FreshBooks account and associate them with a client or project for billing time. It also has some pretty nifty other features, like being able to make a text or call right from the application, see who you call most, get reports to your email on your cell phone usage and even get nudged if you used to talk to someone and don’t call them as much anymore. There is a social aspect to SkyDeck, as it lets you connect with your friends who also use it, a nice touch.

Kall8

The Magnitude Media 800 number is run through a company called Kall8. It costs very little money to run the line, and comes with some nice features. A favorite is call block per number – you can log into the web site and block a number if you get put on a fax machine auto dial list or a telemarketer gets around the National DNC list somehow. This is very handy. Since it is web based, you can forward your calls anywhere you are, receive web based faxes (and send them), get voicemail and more.

YouMail

You may be thinking I spend a lot of time using call management solutions. I do. The less time I spend on the phone, the more work I get done, so I have several options for filtering calls. In addition to Kall8, I use YouMail. YouMail gives me the Caller ID of every caller, shows me when a friend is calling, but most importantly for this woman who hates to waste time checking voice mail, it transcribes my voice mail to text messages for me. Fantastic feature, and a total time saver.

PockeTwit

This Twitter client from Google Code is wonderful. It gives you an attractive, iPhone-like Twitter experience complete with avatars and a full feature set (as well as interacting with other services, like identi.ca, etc) for your WinMo Touch phone. The fact that I can use features like favorite, retweet and more while on the go is invaluable for me, as a heavy Twitter user.

QIK

This live streaming video solution for my phone lets me grab events and interviews on the fly and share them immediately without needing a ton of expensive equipment.

Contxts

Contxts give you Paperless Business Cards. Text geechee_girl to short code 50500 and you’ll see what I mean and why these are so handy.

Google Docs

I use Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office when traveling, as it lets me access my work from anywhere. At the home office I use iWork instead of Office, which imports and exports Google and Microsoft compatible formats.

Small Notepad and a Pen

Trust me, even with a phone and laptop on you, there will always be an occasion to use the old fashioned pen and paper when you are traveling. Your IMAP Gmail may hang up or fail, you may need to write notes larger than a business card back, your battery may run out of juice – stuff happens. Be prepared.

And there you have it, the tools that let me run two businesses, plan events like SMBNH and PodCamp NH, advise companies and write for my freelance writing clients while I’m on the go. What’s in your toolbox for business or for social media?


Disclosure: some links in this blog will be affiliate links

The Value of Face Time

On occasion people ask me why I don’t post more here. It isn’t that I don’t have valuable information to share with you, I do. In fact, I have so many post ideas and things I want to share with you in my head it gets a bit crowded sometimes. I tend to wander around muttering to myself or jotting things in my HTC Mogul using Evernote‘s Voice Note, Ink Note or Photo Note features so I don’t forget, which can get me more than a few funny looks until people figure out I’m just making mental notes.

I don’t post more often because I like to put most of my ideas into action instead. I am a woman of big ideas, a connector, and I try to enact as many as possible, as quickly and as well as I can. I don’t like a good idea to die on the vine. A lot of these big ideas involve connecting the real world with the online world. The value of social media to people and businesses is in the connectivity it brings, and the doors that opens. This means I believe just as much in the value of face time as I do in the value of online time, and I try to instill that belief in others by building powerful real life networks.

I’ve been putting these thoughts into practice with Social Media Breakfast NH, Podcamp NH, in-person relationship building, client coaching and strategizing, writing books to make the concept easier for others like Twitter for Dummies (co-author with Laura Fitton and Michael Gruen), investigating co-working spaces like the upcoming Port Forward, real life networking whenever possible at events like NH and Boston Media Makers, local off-web events like Chamber meetings or last night’s Extreme Website Makeover event, one-on-one time with my colleagues and friends whose minds inspire me, and more. There is something about translating connections between the tangible and the intangible that makes the ideas much more vibrant and that makes the connection adhere more fully.

How is face time important for your business? Simple: it brings the human element into your brand. You can attempt to engage people online until you are blue in the face. You can throw money and resources at social media until you go broke. But if you can’t translate that rapport and effort into time off the screen somehow, you’re missing a key component to your overall social media and business development strategy. It’s not your 100 or 100,000 or more followers on various platforms that counts, it’s the number that come to your movie, attend your event, support your cause in person, talk about you to their friends, go to your concert, use your service in their homes or businesses, drink your wine in real life… you get the idea.

Never underestimate the value of face time. How do you employ face time in your business or life?

How Do I Use Evernote Project

I talked about Evernote in my last post. It has truly become an essential tool on my desktop, online and on my phone. I think it was Ari Herzog who pointed me to the “How Do I Use Evernote” You Tube project (I could be wrong – I can’t find the Tweet, IM or email now), and I loved it. I actually found it hard to state only one way I use it, it’s become such an integral part of my toolbox. I replied, and you can see my unedited, no-make-up, just woke up response here, or you can view the initial video below and hit the “Reply” button underneath to put your own response on YouTube for all of us to see. Also, related to this project, I like how YouTube is doing some Seemic-style conversation threads, but have to say that Seesmic does it a bit better as far as tracking the conversation that flows from it.