cycles of improvements

A good friend of mine shared something with me that was really cool.  Surely, you’ve heard to TED Talks. In case you didn’t here’s a brief description:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

And that’s taken right from their website.

I honestly don’t watch enough of them.  Some of videos I seen are “knock-yer-socks-off” type of good.  Most everything I’ve seen so far has been really inspiration.

So, my friend shared with me, TED Curator Chris Anderson on Crowd Accelerated Innovation, which was featured in Wired. I’ll embed the accompanying video here. I think both the article and the video have profound impact. Anderson’s video focuses on videos, but I feel the same sentiment can be applied towards Twitter and Facebook, and other social media outlets.

What I find interesting, is the concept of people who have passion and are self-taught, can raise the bar on those classically trained.

Innovation is hard work; it based on 100’s of hours of research, practice… abscense of desire… it’s not going to happen…

– Chris Anderson

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How I manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc

First, this is not going to be an article on how to make money with Twitter, social networking, or Facebook.  This is simply a post about how I’ve recently came to peace with managing my virtual life.


Good question.  Let’s face it, in this day and age, when anyone wants to find out more information about you, they’ll hit Google and put in your name.  As a I hiring manager, I would hope any potential employee I’m interested in is involved and engaged in some online community.  As a potential hire, I am proud of the work and contributions I’ve made to the Internet at large, and I would hope to stand out against my competition.  If I ever decide to look for job in the future, look at the great network I have to work with.

It’s also fun! I don’t need to bore you with examples of friends I got back in touch with, or how my current position I got through networking.  I’d rather share examples about new friends I’ve made, many of which I’ve never physically met, but we’re connected to each other in other ways.

It’s a great resource!  I am sure many of you have had an experience where you said something on Twitter and then a company spokesperson, or someone you didn’t know offered help.  A couple of months ago, I tweeted some things about the book “Visible Ops Handbook” and I started tweeting back and forth with the authors, who were really nice and helpful.  How cool that I can connect with an author of book that really helped me!

The future knows no limits!  Let’s just say, that one day I might get tired of being in IT Operations and I want to social media or product development instead? It could happen.  And if I wanted to reach out to get inspiration and encouragement I got a place to go, and one never knows where my connections could lead me.  Who knows, maybe you really can make millions on Twitter, (although… for the record, I seriously doubt it).


Okay, of course I use Twitter and I love being able to integrate with Facebook.  I also started using twitterfeed and tonight I just started using HootSuite.  Sure, I also use the other usual suspects, too. But just not as much:

  • friendfeed
  • Ping.Fm
  • Bright Kite
  • FourSquare
  • CoTweet
  • Plaxo
  • plurk
  • LinkedIn
  • Brazen Careerist

I’ll explain how these tie in later.


Hang with me on this.  This all ends up everywhere, but I’m gonna break it down for you.  Consider this: Twitter essentially feeds everything!

twitter + facebook

This is the first step.  You got your Twitter account, right?  And you’re on Facebook?  Sure, there was a Twitter Facebook app, but as I have evolved with my Twitter usage, (we’ll still get to that), I didn’t want to bombard my Friends on Facebook with everything.  Especially since they can be a different audience.   I saw one of my friends was using a Facebook App called, “Selective Twitter Status.”  The way this works is you just put this hashtag in your Twitter update: #fb

Selective Twitter Status

Then it will be posted on your Facebook profile. If it doesn’t have #fb it won’t be posted on Facebook! By the way, the icon above is a link to the app.

twitterfeed + twitter +

Remember I said Twitter is the source?  I started using Twitterfeed to post articles I normally post to Twitter.  Basically, once you create your Twitterfeed account, you subscribe to RSS feeds.  Then if you are willing to try to grok the advanced features, you can really do some cool things.

I have my favorite RSS feeds, set to check hourly, and then post one or two articles.  I don’t want my followers/readers to get burdened with too many automatic posts.  Now here’s the secret sauce! In the Advanced Options, I can prepend something.  So if I want it to go to Twitter and Facebook, I simply tell it to append #fb to the post.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about you ask? allows you to shorten URL’s, which is critical to keep under the 140 character limit for Twitter.  Now, if you actually take the time and go sign up for a account, you get some cool things like a handy dashboard and your very own API key!  You can do all sorts of cool things with this if you use TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Twitterfeed, etc.  You will be able to see what’s getting the most bang for your buck.  I can now see how many of my followers are clicking on my shortened URL’s and adjust accordingly.  Remember, I don’t want to flood my followers/readers so they’ll unfollow/unfriend me. -> twitter + facebook

This is one of the cooler sites that integrate with Twitter, I believe.  I would consider it a supplemental blogging site.  It’s not my main blog and it isn’t something I post to all the time.  Rather, it’s something I use to post cool news articles I come across in my daily Internet journeys. I have it set up that posts both to Twitter and Facebook, so I don’t use the #fb here.  You can see my Posterous here, if you want:

what about

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome! But I went to relying on my apps posting to the various sites as opposed as letting a single place do it.  I started having too many double posts on my sites, so I figured with a little trial and error, I could make it less annoying for my readers/followers.

other tools?

I use Twitterberry on my Blackberry.  I love how easy it is to fire off an update.  I also have UberTwitter on my Blackberry, but don’t use it too much.

I use Twidroid on my T-Mobile G1.  It’s much better than it was when it first came out. It’s a full functioning Twitter client.

On my Mac, I used TweetDeck and just went to Seesmic.

On my WinXP desktop, Adobe Air has an issue, and Tweetdeck and Seesmic won’t work, but Twirl does.  You just got to remember to use the #fb hashtag.

As I mentioned, I started using HootSuite.  It allows you to schedule tweets.  For example, my wife, @lilyan is going to be on the Today Show on 9/21/2009 at 8:30 so I want to be able to tweet about it to remind our friends.  I schedules several Tweets over the next few days to remind people, and I did include the #fb hashtag.

that’s it?

Yes, for now.  But I am always looking and trying new and different tools.  But the way I’m doing it now is pretty manageable and is working well for me.

You have questions or suggestions?  I would love to hear them so send them along!


inconceivable, yes… impossible, no.

please stop the voices

I’ve posted before about innovation and creativity.  Recent events have brought this back into my daily thoughts and how I continue to try and define myself.  Those are mere details that I don’t want to get into, however I do have some things to share.

you’re not helping

On Twitter, someone tweeted about this incredible post (apologies to you; I can’t find the original tweet):

The Makers of Things

In the late 1800s, the Brooklyn Bridge was built with no power tools, no heavy machinery, and only a basic, evolving understanding of how to make steel. It’s not these facts, but the stories surrounding the facts that inspire me when I take a good, long stare at a suspension bridge. But first…

Rands has quite a following.  I had not seen his blog before but you can bet I’ll be following it.   To me, the message is that despite the impossible, don’t stop trying.  Sure, I over simplified it, but that’s okay.  It’s such a great post, any summation I do would not do the post justice.  Just go read it.


However, it does help slam some things I’ve been juggling into perspective.  I don’t have or know all the answers, but I am not afraid to try new things and take some lumps, (or teeth marks on my skull) for something I believe in.  Change is scary.  New ideas can seem silly.  The wrong motivation can really crush the spirit.

In preparation of this post, I was trying to come up with a catchy title so I looked up innovation in the thesaurus:

Main Entry: innovation
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: change, novelty
Synonyms: addition, alteration, contraption, cutting edge*, departure, deviation, introduction, last word*, latest thing*, leading edge*, modernism, modernization, modification, mutation, newness, notion, permutation, shift, variation, vicissitude, wrinkle*
Antonyms: custom, habit, old, old hat, rut, tradition

Naturally, the synonyms are all familiar to me, but what was interesting was seeing them in this context.  The synonyms that speak to me are:

  • addition
  • alteration
  • departure
  • deviation
  • introduction
  • leading edge
  • modernism
  • modernization
  • modification
  • mutation
  • newness
  • shift


The element that all these words have in common, is “change.”  Could the essential nugget of wisdom of innovation boil down to one thing?  Change?  Yeah, I think it does.

I’m conflicted.  I like to think of myself as an “Agent of Change” but I sure feel like a jerk saying that.   And there are probably people out there who think I’m a jerk for saying it, but the truth is, I do like change.

what about the risk?

But what about risk?  I’m not afraid of the risk of a change or a new idea, what I am shy about, is the risk of exposing myself.  For the most part, I feel like I am confident in who I am, but it’s one thing to pitch my ideas to higher ups or more experienced people in my arena.  It’s a personal risk, for sure, but also it’s pulling back the kimono a bit, right?  It’s exposing myself to someone who could squash my spirit or worse.  So it is risk? Or fear? Or both?

What holds me back?  What holds you back?

Alright, I feel like I am rambling a bit.  I think I went down the rabbit hole.  Anyways, where was I…

Back to innovation.  Whatever word you pick to use to describe it, I’m okay.

cms for the masses

I love Drupal. What? You haven’t heard of Drupal? Well then, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Drupal is a robust, open source CMS application written in PHP and using MySQL. I’ve played around with Joomla, and it’s pretty cool. But when I had a big project for a real “content management system” I went with Drupal and never looked back.

The original goal of my original project was to come up with some way for multiple users to submit and publish content on a community website. I was in the position to upload and edit multiple PHP pages to make any updates or changes to the website. I figured there should be a better way. That’s where Drupal came in.

I set it up for my son’s school. It was very successful. I handled the administration and the care and feeding of the webserver, and a real marketing pro handled the content part of it. As of tonight we have over 200 registered users and a ton of anonymous users. I’m proud of it.

At work, we have a fine “oral tradition” that our newer employees, (myself included) are having a hard time getting our heads around. I installed Drupal as a way to address this. So far, so good. Many see the value of what I’m trying to do.

Now, add a dash of “social marketing” into the mix. I am a big fan of transparency. I want to lay my cards on the table and let you see what I’m working on, what my team is working on, and help you understand the challenges we face. It would be really great if I could get my team blogging on our departmental Drupal site. I’m not yet convinced they are comfortable with this. As I said in previous posts, opening up the Kimono a little bit can be a little uncomfortable.

What are your thoughts on getting your team to participate in this sort of communication? How would you sell your team on doing this? I realize that this might add some additional overhead to the workday, but I wonder what the ROI is on this sort of PR. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.  How can social martketing help an department within a company?

lord of the dance

Surely you’ve heard of the Stone Roses.  They had that hit song in the 90’s, “Fool’s Gold.”  Yeah, it was a great song and was over 10 minutes.  Ian Brown was the singer you heard.  He’s great.  He’s been busy since the Stone Roses.  He’s got this song that I can’t get the lines out of my head…

Is it the questions or the answers that’ll lead you to the Lord of the dance?
I admire your style
Love your smile
Cross the street
Is it your destiny or circumstance that leads you to the Lord of the dance?

I’ve been thinking about who, or what is The Lord of the Dance.   And more importantly what is it that exactly leads me there.

Life is funny

Life is funny, because nothing can be as it appears and what happens tomorrow can be something you just don’t expect to happen.  I’ve had great pain in my life and sometime it would have been easy for me just to give up and take the easy way.  Other times, the situation was just something I had to deal with.  It wasn’t something that was going away or change quickly.  I had to learn to take it one day at a time.  You know, I’ve always heard people say that, but now I know what they meant and how to do it.  It saved my life.

But there have also been great and wonderful surprises.  I have meant so many wonderful, cool, interesting people on the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn and one Web2.0 services like Twitter.   I’ve mentioned before how I felt it was best to keep a low profile on the Internet and poo-poo’ed any idea of pulling back the Kimono, so to speak.  But I made the mental leap, and I am so thankful for my online network of friends. Many of these people I have met in person, but many I have not.  I am looking forward to making new friends and contacts and being open with all of them.

Questions and Answers

I used to play a lot of “What if…?” games with myself.  Like the Buddhist teachings, this only added to my misery.

The Four Noble Truths present a formulation of the Buddha´s understanding of the nature of dukkha, or “suffering[13] , the fundamental cause of all suffering, the escape from suffering, and what effort a person can go to so that they themselves can “attain happiness.”[14]. Roughly put, and on a very basic level of understanding, they state that, firstly, life as we know it ultimately is or leads to “suffering” in one way or the other. That, secondly, the cause of this “suffering” is attachment to, or craving for worldly pleasures of all kinds and clinging to this very existence, our “self” and the things or people we – due to our delusions – deem the cause of our respective happiness or unhappiness. That, thirdly, the “suffering” ends when the craving ends, one is freed from all desires by eliminating the delusions, reaches “Enlightenment”; and that, fourthly, the way to reach that liberated state is by following the path the Buddha has laid out.

I hope I didn’t loose you with that quote.  My point is that instead of sitting around and lamenting why things are they way they are, I could be doing something for myself.  My “enlightenment” happens to be when I play with technology and when I can do something for someone else, be it my work, a friend, a relative, a family member, or a stranger (don’t get me wrong, I got prejudices around strangers, too).  With my new found respect for taking things “one day at a time” if I can do just something every day to better myself or learn something I’ve always wanted to learn, I am making progress.

Destiny or Circumstance

Remember that climber that got trapped and had to hack off his arm to survive? That was a remarkable story.  You can read it, but I heard that guy interviewed.  He didn’t give up, give the terrible circumstances he was in, he made his own destiny; he didn’t give up.  He kept a level head, thought things through, and made some tough choices.  During this time, Outside magazine published an article on people who were “lucky.”  More or less, it said people tend to make their own luck and was back with some studies.  For example, they put a $5 bill on the ground and people just walked by it, no one saw it.  Then, a guy who said he was lucky, walked by and saw the money on the ground.  They suggested that “lucky” people are actually paying more attention to their surroundings than those who were “unlucky,” whether they realize it or not.  I’d like to think that’s how I am, or that’s how I’d like to be.

So, who is the Lord of the Dance?

I think we are our own, “Lord of the Dance.” That is to say, there is a little Lord of the Dance inside of us.  Certainly, there are things we do, choices we make who help define who we are and where we are going.  And sometimes is it really hard… super hard to see the end of the tunnel or to have faith that there is an end to the tunnel, but there is.   And while I still don’t know if it’s the questions and answers or destiny or circumstance that will get me there, (honestly I think it’s both), I’ll know the real Lord of the Dance better;

I am my own Lord of the Dance.

i feel like a new man

Wow, it’s been a crazy couple of months.  I’ve been settling into my job, (which I am so happy at), I’ve been wrapping up some projects, and I’ve been finishing up with some clients AND trying to develope some new business leads.

My job is going great.  One of the things we were really lacking, (my department) was a robust ticketing system.   Someone suggested RT::Request Tracker.  I had never heard of it before, and I am very impressed.  The best thing, I believe, is that every browser works with it, and works well.  It’s all Perl based so one can grock it fairly quickly.  But it’s also very powerful and configureable. It was a bitch to install it since it required so many Perl modules, but I stuck with it and got it going.

I might have mentioned before that I am a big fan of Drupal.  We set up a departmental portal recently using Drupal.  I like it.  I used Drupal for our son’s school and was very impressed with it:

One of the things I would like to try to promote is the social networking tools like Drupal or Twitter at work.  I would like to have a departmental blog.  I feel it is very important to communicate the work we are doing, (which is nothing short of excellent).  I’m not sure how my reports will feel about it.  We’ll just have to see.  If you got some ideas or thoughts around bring social networking into the office, please let me know.

On the productivity side of things, I’ve been loving Remember the Milk.  They just release a Firefox add-on that integrates with Gmail.  It’s pretty slick and I use it quite a bit.  I see they also released some clients, but I haven’t had a chance to monkey around with them, yet.

I also spent some time tending to my long neglected WordPress installation.  I need to read documentation more closely.  I got my tags issues all straightened out and things are humming along nicely.

Another b0rked WordPress upgrade

You might have seen that I had some problems with my upgrade to WP 2.6 last night.  Dreamhost, my webhosting provider, has a “one-click install/upgrade” and for whatever reason the process treated my WordPress installation as a “new” installation and changed my configs to point to an old database with a different table prefix.  It’s easy to fix but takes some time and some paying close attention.

In the process, I also found out that I needed to drop Ultimate Tag Warrior for tagging so I disabled the plugin.  I was able to import the UTW tags right into WordPress and the tags and tagging is working SO much better.

I’m going to be trying to update more often.  I’ve been really busy so I got to say about a lot of things.

all is well with wordpress 2.5

If you saw my last post, you saw I had some problems with my “one-click-install” from Dreamhost.  I finally got a response from their support folks.  Apparently, the installer thought my WordPress installation was a new one, and by default, new installations have a randomly generated table prefix.  I’d by that but that doesn’t explain how the first post basically took over my blog. changed the title, and changed the admin password and the admin email address. Oh well.

Other than that, I had some other weird things to check out.  My dashboard page was spewing errors and it seemed that my problems were related to the K2 theme… but I am not using the K2 theme now.  Somehow, the upgrade reactivated the K2 plugin that disabled the default WordPress sidebar widgets.  I did some mucking around in the files and commented out the offending functions, but then realized I should just disable the offending plugin.  I also had to “restore” wp-admin/index.php and wp-admin/includes/dashboard.php since I didn’t keep detailed track of what I did.  A md5sum and a diff helped me realize I should just restore the files from the WordPress 2.5 zip file.

The other thing I did was disable “SpotMilk,” which was an admin theme.  Now that it is disabled, I see all the functionality of WP 2.5.  My advice to you, if you are running SpotMilk, is to forget it.

I think WordPress 2.5 is really slick.  It will be great to those new users.  It’s the “Ubuntu” of blogs.

where/how do i fit in?

I saw a link to a great post in my Twitter stream this morning. It triggered one of those “a-ha” sort of moments. I just got up, got a fresh cup of coffee, my daughter is sitting on my lap drawing on some business card and I have one of those rare moments of clarity. I’m going to be thinking about this all day.

I’ve recently begun to follow Chris Brogan on Twtter. I had subscribed to his RSS feed for some time, but recently I wanted to follow more people on Twitter. Sometime between when I went to bed and when I woke up, he posted a URL for an excellent blog post:

As some of you know, I am between jobs right now and have had some “identity crisis” with trying to determine just how I fit in, or what I should fit myself in. I have a pretty extensive background. In my “professional timeline” I’ve been a tech support rep, manager in said tech support department, internet abuse investigator, senior unix admin, senior unix engineer, manager, director, principal engineer. In my “personal timeline” I’ve been a unix and linux enthusiast and hobbyist, social media geek, (I’d be hard pressed to be an “expert” but I sure seem to know way more than 90% of the people out there), hacker, I can explain complex technical things in a single bound, run servers in my basement, live, breath and sleep all things internet related.

I recently interviewed at a great company here in Atlanta and finally got to meet with their CTO. It was a great experience and we definitely spoke the same language. But they were looking for someone who had specific, Exchange 2007 experience and I completely understood why. But the CTO said something really interesting. He said, “I’ve got no doubt you could become an expert in about three months, let’s face it at some level if you understand the commonalities, it’s all the same but we need someone with that experience yesterday.” He was right. I have no doubt I could become that expert they needed and it was gratifying that he recognized that. But in the end of the day, I am still looking for a job.

Since I have been “out of the office” I’ve been overwhelmed at how un-technical most people are. I don’t mean this as a criticism. I was really surprised. I thought almost everyone would be jumping on Twitter once they heard about it, or most of the people I knew would be on Facebook. Nope, it’s a different world.

Probably the epoch of my revelation was when I attended a “LinkedIn Training.” Don’t laugh, I actually found it really informative. As part of my severance package, I got access to an outplacement agency. It was probably one of the more valuable things I got. I had been at the same company for 12 years and needed some of the resources they offered. Anyways, I decided to take the “LinkedIn Training” since it was free.

Of the 30+ people in the room, only maybe six of us were actually already a member of LinkedIn and I had by far the largest amount of connections. No one had heard of Twitter, or Facebook, or had a blog, or used the tools Google had. It was quite enlightening.

In another class at the outplacement agency, we started to talk about having an “online identity.” This was wholly unknown to most everyone. I had begun, earlier in the year to actively groom my online identity. Up to that point, I was decidedly trying to stay more or less anonymous on the Internet. My days as a paranoid abuse investigator and sys admin must have somehow jaded my outlook. So, I began telling my other classmates about my blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and how it could give a potential employer more information about you that might not come across in a resume or an interview. I told them about using Grandcentral as a voice mail box and call screening tool, (Yes, Mr. Pabian… we think you’d be a great commission-only insurance salesman…), and how I use Google docs to keep my resumes so I could get to them whenever or where ever I get a Internet connection. The biggest shock, to me anyways, was their reaction. They got it, they began to understand. Some of them, literally had their mouths dropped open. It was kind of cool, actually, to be seen as an expert.

In following up with some of them, some of them really jumped in with both feet. They have Grandcentral numbers, they are on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It was cool. I actually offered to teach a class at the outplacement agency and they seemed interested.

Back when the lay-offs happened, our friend Lance Weatherby wrote a post for the casualties. It was insightful and helpful:

Lance’s advice, “You need to decide what you want to be” I am finding it to be very true, but hard to put into practice. My background, interests, and expertise make me want to be more than just a linux admin. I want to be creative, innovative, and help change the world. I can be a leader, innovator, and creator. So far, what I’ve found is, to scratch this itch, consulting seems to be the best way to approach this. I’m just inexperienced at this point with being a consultant and have some angst.

In preparing this post, I just happened to look at Chris’ post from this morning:

That’s just what I needed. Maybe this week will be more productive than I thought.

So, I begin this day with a considerable amount of food for thought. It’s going to be a good day. I am going to close with some lyrics from the Beta Band since it was playing while I typed this, and I found it encouraging:

If there’s something inside that you wanna say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I Need Love, yeah
I Need Love

Okay, out of context that may sound corny. Watch the video: