Why Twitter?

Prior to blogging on Standing Stones, if you had asked what I thought about Twitter, I would have gladly let you know that (for me anyways) it would be a giant waste of time.  I also would have been dead wrong.  I saw no value in micro-blogging to the world about anything, and I still think Ashton Kutcher is a bit of a knob.  As I started to look into getting the word about my blog out there, I found out that Twitter could be a tremendously valuable resource.  Since creating my account, I’ve discovered it is that, and much more.  If you’re not a Twitter user, here’s a few observations…

  • Before joining, think about what you are trying to achieve on Twitter.  Like any software tool, you need to decide how you will apply it (hence the word application).  For instance, I started following some of the companies and products I find most interesting, like Microsoft, Google or Playstation 3.  You can follow your favorite celebs, if that’s your thing.  The beauty of Twitter is you decide who you want to follow, and receive their Tweets.  None of it is forced marketing or advertising.
  • Build your brand.  Personal branding is all the hype right now.  Whether you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, or a real estate agent (the list is endless, by the way), you can spread the word about your company and your products.  Again, the beauty is that you know you’re getting to people who want to hear about them… Your followers!
  • Start Tweeting. I don’t have a high number of followers, but I noticed that when I tweet regularly, I usually get a few notifications of new people who have somehow got word of my messages, and have started to follow me.  Don’t just watch other people’s tweets.  Participate!
  • Aggregate & Go Mobile.  There’s a lot of aggregation going on right now between Social Networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  Consider using software like TweetDeck (image below) to aggregate your Tweets to update your Facebook Status or LinkedIn Profile.  Also, make sure to get a Twitter client on your smartphone.  I use UberTwitter on my Blackberry Bold.  Works like a charm!

There were none more skeptical about micro-blogging than me.  In fact, hardly any friends or family of mine use Twitter!  Why would I want to join?  Exactly because none of my friends or family are on there.  It gives me a great opportunity to build a new network of relationships (18 Million roughly).  Once you get into it, you’ll realize it’s a pretty powerful tool.  There’s a ton of other uses and tips I could share, but I’ll save some more for another post! 

Take care, and Happy New Year from Standing Stones.


Technology In 2010 – What To Watch

I won’t for a minute profess to having any special insights about what will become the most prolific technology in 2010 or what will end-up failing miserably.  What I can say is I’m watching a few companies and technologies in 2010, and I will be happy to share some things to watch out for with you.

  1. Microsoft’s Project Natal – Will probably ship near the end of 2010.  While it makes some lofty assertions about how it will change the face of gaming forever, whether it actually works well remains to be seen (and is the topic of much discussion already on the internet).  Still, it does have serious implications to the future of home computing and Human Computer Interaction (HCI).  A great example of this is Milo and Claire.
  2. Tablets – I think the tablet form factor is going to really explode in 2010, as wireless networking continues to improve with 802.11n and more and more Operating Systems and applications considering mobility as a key vector.  In particular, keep tabs on the JooJoo (Picture embedded below).  Its sales performance could impact whether the widely-speculated Microsoft and Apple tablets actually get launched in the coming year.
  3. Microsoft Office 2010 – If you’re not already using Office 2007, might as well hold-off on that upgrade because Office 2010 is already in beta, and we can safely assume its launch in the sometime in the next twelve months.  While Office 2007 introduced a new (and vastly improved) UI, Office 2010 is set to build on the Ribbon functionality, while also providing Microsoft Office Web Applications for both home and business users.
  4. Aggregation – This point is highly speculative, but I just don’t think the killer app is out there yet for aggregating and managing social media for end users (or corporations for that matter).  There are many aggregation services, but I don’t see one that offers a scalable and tailored UX, depending on your social media objectives.  I think 2010 is the year this service will materialize.

2009 was a crazy year in technology with an explosion in mobility and mobile applications; 3 major OS’ released – Windows 7, Snow Leopard and Chrome OS; and an immense proliferation of cloud services for both consumers and the enterprise.  There will be numerous surprises I’m sure in 2010, and you can count on me to blog about them.  Any of your own predictions?  Leave a comment, and let’s start a conversation.

5 Reasons To Install Microsoft Security Essentials

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, until they actually got it right.  Microsoft has finally entered into the anti-virus and anti-malware fray, in a meaningful way, with the Security Essentials solution.  The Beta was launched earlier this year, and it is now in full production.  The CNET Reviews are promising, and I decided to install it on my own home machine.

Thank God.

My previous AV program was Alwil’s Avast! Home Edition.  A free and functional AV solution, that I really didn’t have too many complaints about, other than that it created two system tray icons; the fact that it actually talked was somewhat annoying (don’t leave comments about how this could be turned-off.  I know, and it’s not the main point); and finally, the User Interface was lacking…

Despite these drawbacks, don’t get me wrong.  Avast! worked well, it was not a CPU or memory hog, and it never caused any problems on my machine.  I just wanted to try something new, and now I’m glad I did.  Instead of going into lengthy detail about Security Essential’s advantages, here’s 5 reasons why I recommend installing it on your PC.

  1. A tremendously easy and fast installer with no guesswork.  Downloading took about 5 seconds as it was only about 4.8 Mb.  After completing download, I selected ‘Run’, and the install itself was less than one minute to have the software actually running on my computer.
  2. Lightweight and not resource intensive.  During the first scan, I made sure to run all sorts of programs.  I couldn’t even gauge a negative performance impact.  I have restarted my machine several times, and believe startup may actually be a bit faster than when I was running Avast!
  3. Intuitive and Easy-To-Navigate User Interface.  To be honest, who needs bells and whistles with an AV?  Just some modicum of effective protection is required.  This is a really easy program to run and configure.  I provide a snapshot below of the main dashboard.
  4. Potential for scalability and integration.  My office productivity suite is Microsoft Office 2007, my browser is IE 8, and my OS is Windows 7 64-bit.  Why wouldn’t I employ AV from Microsoft?
  5. Pricepoint.  It’s free, so go install it.


I purposefully did not mention effectiveness, as it has not yet found any viruses or malware on my machine.  Third party research indicates it does an admirable job, but I couldn’t in good conscience list it as an advantage.  I’ve not experienced it’s deletion or quarantine functions first-hand.  But don’t worry, I pledge to you all to surf all kinds of porn sites (in the name of research) to put its effectiveness to the test.

In summary, I guess I just believe that if you develop and distribute software, it’s really up to you to secure it effectively,  To date, this has been a recurring and rather harsh criticism of Microsoft.  But  now, they’ve done the right thing by making it available for free (to valid “Genuine” Windows users).  If you plan on buying an AV solution, don’t.  Just like the music industry, those companies have had it too good for way too long.  Try this, and of course, let me know what you think!

Answering The Call

It’s been a crazy long time.  Seriously, when was someone going to release some titles for the PS3 that gamers could actually get stoked about?  For nearly two years now, my PS3 been a really top-notch Blu-Ray player, and nothing more.  Now… Finally, it’s time to answer the call, and as you would expect, I’ve gladly stepped-up.  I picked up Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 yesterday.  I’m not even a big FPS-guy, but the press on this game has been crazy.  Take a look…

Yeah, it’s that good (especially in 1080p).  If you don’t believe me, then checkout some of the record-setting sales figures.  By the way, those are screenshots, not concept art.  In general, reviews in the blogosphere are really positive, and there’s some awfully cynical gamers blogging out there.  In a nutshell, the campaign storyline has all the ingredients of a formulaic army shooter.  American soliders, Russian Terrorists, invasion of US = all around good times.

I’ll admit, I’m still a total noob for Modern Warfare 2, but I’m excited to see such a great game emerge at long last.  As I progress, I may comment on this post, or add to it.  So the PS3 is finally going to provide the pleasurable and super-violent gaming experience I had always hoped to be able to one day enjoy on it.  And I haven’t even bought Assassin’s Creed 2 or Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

By the way, if anyone hears of anything new, and worth checking out, please feel free to leave a comment.