Tech

Things We’ve Written About That Are No Longer ‘Things’

The other day I saw this tweet and thought “Huh, I did actually forget about the whole clown thing from last year”:

 

In that vein, I got to thinking about some of the other things that I’ve forgotten about over the past few years. We stay on top of the trends, new apps and websites we think are cool or could become be a big deal, but that doesn’t always mean those things have staying power. Thanks to @imchip’s tweet, I dug through some of our older blog posts to take a look at some of the apps that have been left behind:

Yik-Yak. This was a blog post I’d written almost 3 years ago now, and I’d completely forgotten about how FUN this app was. An anonymous social network that allowed you to post an update and up-/down-vote others within a certain location, it was pretty hilarious. The app wasn’t really popular in rural Maine so I only ever saw maybe 4 yaks that summer when I wasn’t traveling. However, Yik-Yak was also an example of social media turning ugly after some Yakkers used the platform for cyberbulling and making bomb threats. A couple months ago, the company announced that they would be no more. Although I admittedly haven’t paid attention to the app in a long time, I’m still a bit sad to see it go.

Meerkat. In 2015 live video was a budding enterprise and we saw the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. But as they say, “There can be only one.” Periscope has since been acquired by Twitter and lives on. Meerkat, on the other hand, was declared dead last fall. Meerkat’s parent company, Live On Air, said they learned from the experience and have developed the Houseparty group video chat app. In the meantime, live video is now widely available through Periscope, Facebook, and Instagram.

Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go was launched around the time of the Great Clown Scare of 2016. It was an overnight sensation. But a few months later, Pokémon Go dropped almost totally out of my newsfeeds, social media news stories and blog posts. But is Pokémon Go dead? Not by a long shot. Squirtles, Zubats, Psyducks and their ilk may make a splash again this summer as the company plans a big update. Meanwhile, Pokémon Go remains popular with certain folks but is no longer considered a “viral among the masses” app.

Peeple. Back in the fall of 2015, John brought Peeple to our attention.  Advertised as “Yelp for People,” there was a lot of backlash at the concept, pre-launch. As a result, post-launch Peeple was declared “boring” because the creators actually took people’s feedback into consideration and ended up with a watered down version of the app. While Peeple is still in existence, it hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Prisma. Like Peeple, Prisma is still an active app, but I think it’s become more of a niche thing than a “used among the masses” thing. Something else that I found interesting: Other apps like Microsoft Pix are starting to replicate the artistic photo effects of Prisma, meaning there’s more competition in the market. Again, I don’t necessarily think Prisma is dead or dying, it just seems to have plateaued.

And finally, something that used to be a thing but is no more — MySpaceBack in 2007, I was on MySpace for a hot second before getting freaked out by the whole thing and deleting it (only to have my friends convince me to get Facebook the next year). MySpace had a good run and has exchanged hands a couple times over the past couple decades (technically it does still exist). Perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in the post-MySpace news is that Tom, the dude everyone had to be friends with, was able to retire very early and spends his days traveling around the world taking photos (source).

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Our Top 5 Tech Thursday Videos

We’ve been doing Tech Thursday videos for a few years now, and if you’ve been watching them, you’ve probably noticed how they’ve evolved as time has gone by. If not, we have a few examples below from our “Top 5 Tech Thursday Videos.” Most notable is probably the fact that we used to pre-film and spend time editing our videos down to 3-4 minutes. Now, we hop on Facebook Live with a topic and few key points, and away we go!

The below list is semi-subjective, mixed with videos with the most views AND those that we believe were the most helpful in general. In creating this post, it was a lot of fun to go through our Tech Thursday video archives and be reminded of our earlier days (especially the videos where we were both silly and informative).

Without further ado, here are our pics for the top 5 Tech Thursday videos:

The classic: “OGP”  

This video is set to the tune of “O.P.P.” by Naughty By Nature, with original lyrics written by Nicole about open graph protocol. The lyrics are also published in the YouTube description and are worth reading because they are very informative (Kassie is a visual learner, so if you’re like her having a chance to read through the lyrics is pretty helpful).

A Good Question: How to Find Blogs to Read

Another oldie is from a question we’ve gotten quite a bit is “Where do you find blogs to read?” If you’re looking for content to share on social media or looking for inspiration on your website, one of the best places to look is other blogs. In this video, we share where to start in the search for blogs (that are actually relevant to what you’re looking for).

From the Business Side of Things: Company Retreats 101

Earlier this year, we had our annual Breaking Even company retreat, and decided to share some tips on what ‘company retreats’ mean for smaller businesses (we also wrote a whole other blog post about it here).

Some Personal Development: Crushing Limiting Beliefs

What made this video so great is that it’s a little off our path of marketing and tech, but still relevant. In marketing and growing business, our own thoughts and beliefs (whether at the front of our brains or more subconscious) can have a huge impact on your success.

Getting Organized and Productive: Systems 101

One of our monthly themes this past year was Systems (i.e. what they are and how to create them in different areas of your life). In this 101 video, we summarize some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re thinking about creating your own systems for things.

All of our old videos are uploaded on our YouTube channel, so if you want to check those out definitely head over there!

And yes, we still take recommendations for Tech Thursday videos, so if there’s something you want to learn more about related to tech, business, marketing, social media, etc, drop us a line or write us a message on Facebook to send in your video topic! (That’s also where you’ll find us live every Thursday at 12 p.m.).

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

What I Learned Making An Online Course

I made and launched an online course very very recently. It took me about two months to do it.

Lesson 1: Have a very small agenda for each video.

Who knew it would take seven minutes to explain the ins and outs of Facebook- specifically the fact you need a personal Facebook account to make a Facebook page and how to navigate between them?

Not me, that’s for sure!

When I planned thirty videos and two ‘bonus videos’ I had no idea that a “small concept”  takes a long time to explain when you really dig deep into the topic and keep in mind audience members who have no background in the area.

Try to have one small point per video. If you are ambitious (Ex: five reasons why you need to drink more water every day), prepare to be very succinct on each point. You will probably ramble a bit, because you are nervous and kind of excited. Another option is to follow an exact script, if you can avoid sounding robotic. There are free online teleprompters you can use to help you get through what you need to say and help you with pacing.

Lesson 2: Do a few first.

It’s really tempting to set everything up and just get them DONE (er, “over with”). But do one or two videos and re-watch, looking for things like 1) if the camera angle cuts off the top of your head, 2) the room seems echo-y, 3) your audio is picking up your computer mic and not the nice one you have plugged in. Two out of three of these things happened to me. You’ll only notice these things if you make yourself watch the two videos you just made and make adjustments. It will feel like extra to do this but trust me, you’ll save yourself time, effort, and heartache later.

Lesson 3: The resolution is here.

You will film at a certain resolution but at full screen on some devices (ex: my giant 20 inch monitor), it will still be blurry. Remember you can always reduce your resolution (likely for file sizes) after filming but you can’t make it bigger after the fact. Compare the filming resolution of whatever software you are using with the online learning software you plan to use, then just be ok with it.  (More on picking your online course distribution software here.)

Lesson 4: Filming is grueling.

According to basic math, filming 30 2-5 minute videos will take you 30 videos times 5 minutes, maybe an additional ten minutes for snack breaks. Unfortunately, filming doesn’t follow the rules of basic math.

I filmed ALL DAY starting at 8 am and finishing at 6 pm. If you buy this course, you’ll notice the daylight changing as I go on.

Basic math doesn’t realize you will be interrupted by phone calls, people stopping in, your dog barking, your weird heating system clicking as it kicks on… and any number of other things. Plan for a full day of filming and start early if you are planning on using natural light (much easier than wrangling the perfect artificial setup). I actually almost lost my voice because I spent the whole day talking, despite only seeing one other person the entire day.

Lesson 5: Get a little help from your friends.

If you think people are going to be clamoring for your online course, think again. I’m saying this as someone who has a ‘platform’ set up for distribution- you have to do a little outreach.

I emailed a few business groups I’ve done work with to let them know about my course and offer their friends/members a discount code to purchase. This means 1) Other people besides me will be saying this is good, building credibility and 2) I can measure which relationships ‘work’ by seeing which coupons are most redeemed. I’ve even considered granting a limited number of people access for reviews, feedback, etc.

Lesson 6: Your first course is going to feel rough.

I am saying this as someone who just invested a significant amount of time and effort knowing this is will not be the best thing I ever produce.

But here’s the thing; the only way you can get better at something is to practice. Plus you’ve just spent five hours editing yourself on video (adding some title/ending slides, adjusting volumes, etc.), so you may not be feeling enthusiastic about it at this point. Ask a friend or coworker to review and catch anything you may have missed…and just release the darn thing. If you get too precious about it, you’ll never get the feedback you need for future videos. Plus, your friend will probably tell you it’s fine and not understand why you haven’t put it out there already!

My best advice? Just jump into your online course experience! Most of us have not grown up acting, video editing, or teaching so it’ll feel strange and exciting to try to show what you know to people who don’t know you. But I have a feeling the best part of what I’ll learn from making this first online course will come a few months from now and prepare me for my next project. Onward and upward!

This online course- Internet Marketing for Artists– is live now and ready for participants. If you or someone you know is an artist and want to increase your business presence on the internet, this course is for you!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Online Tutorials You Never Knew You Needed

If you’ve ever needed to find out how to do something, there’s a 95% chance you’ve referred to Google, YouTube, or somewhere on the internet to find out (note: that statistic is completely my own and based solely on observation). These searches may include how to do a side braid, deep water aqua-jogging instructions, how bad is it really if I eat bacon while pregnant, or how to change the serpentine belt in a 2011 Hyundai Accent, to name a few. In addition to these completely necessary inquiries, you may not be aware that there are questions you haven’t even thought to ask.

Besides using a search engine like Google, there are specific websites where people ask questions, get answers, and participate in a larger community of others who do the same. And while you can learn basic life lessons from these sites, there are other how-to tutorials that can make you wonder if they are legit.

For instance, did you know you can become telekinetic with the help of WikiHow? Admittedly this is a ‘results may vary’ situation as it takes years to hone this skill… or may not actually exist, depending on your belief structure.

Remember, it’s all a mental game.

Maybe you want to learn more about being random, and need some clear, not-so-random advice on how to get there.  After reading this article, hopefully you won’t need to refer to the internet for a randomness tutorial.

If you suspect you’ve been cursed, fortunately there is an article on removing black magic spells that you can refer to.

Perhaps you want to jump on a YA trend from 10 years ago. If so, “How to Write a Novel About Vampires” might be for you (and remember, “Names like Dracula sound cool but are unrealistic”). Who knows, your books could turn into a trilogy/four movies!

For general pet-lovers, there’s a lot of helpful information on animal care, including “How to Help Pets Cope with the Back-to-School Transition” (hey, it’s tough for everyone).

One of my favorites is “How to Be the Angel Child in Your Family” (I mean, I could have written this one when I was younger).

Tragically, the following articles are no longer in existence: “How to Trick People Into Thinking Your an Alien,” “How to Give Someone a Passive-Aggressive Christmas Gift,” and “How to Catch Santa Claus on Videotape” (I was actually pretty upset about the alien one).

Now there are a few websites that can help you get to even the most obscure information. Let’s get oriented.

WikiHow
Most famous for: the most ridiculous and illustrated step by step instructions ever.

WikiHow is the source of a fairly comprehensive articles on just about every topic you can imagine. They don’t say things like “Turn on your computer” when you’re reading an article about how to post to Facebook but it’s pretty darn close for that. What I do like about the site though is that it’s not ‘for dummies’ in that it doesn’t imply or even assume the person reading it is dumb, just that they don’t know something.

What I like about WikiHow is they also aren’t too precious about what they will give a tutorial for and it seems like the people writing some of them are having a genuinely fun time.

Quora
Most famous for: Questions you’re too embarrassed to ask on LinkedIn.

Quora is where you ask  business or skills questions more than “how do you change a tire” type questions. That said, it is not free from snark.

This is from Quora, which I personally appreciated as a person who knows a little code (I came into the world of websites at a time when Wordpress, Joomla, and WYSIWYG editing was in full force, so I can do a few things with code but it’s not part of daily work). Even with minimal knowledge about coding, I do appreciate the absurdity of learning any skill overnight, which is why this post has some comedic value:

 

Yahoo Answers
Most famous for: Asking your personal/life questions… sometimes into a void.

Like Quora, Yahoo Answers has a lot of “Umm…what?” questions, but there are some genuine inquiries with helpful answers that prove it isn’t all bad or weird.

It also appears to be a fairly popular place for getting help with math/science homework. Then, there’s questions like this:

Yahoo is famous though for having lots of posted questions with no answers to them or disappearing user names, making it hard to see who even asked the question in the first place.

As silly as these all these articles and questions may seem, I like to think that the majority add value to someone’s life, somehow. Like it’s easy to dismiss the laptop question but when someone mentions the weight of electrons, it can make you think of the question a different way.

Overall, it can be nice to remember just how simple the internet can be at times: people connecting with other people and sharing information, even with strangers.

With these sites, it seems nothing is off limits in terms of questions or answers (as with most forum type websites, depending on the level of monitoring). My advice, when you post a question, be prepared for all kinds of answers and potentially some trolls. But if you can tolerate some sass or an insincere answer, you may find something you didn’t even know you were looking for… in the best way.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Getting Rid Of Spam Cell Phone Calls

I swear if one more person calls to offer me $500,000 for my business, I’m going to scream.

It used to be as cell phone owners, we were free from telemarketing calls. Now none of us are immune.

What can you do to make your phone a telemarketer free refuge? (Non-profits are still allowed to call you, my college certainly does.) Here are a few things you can do.

Download a call blocking app.

It didn’t occur to me an app could do this until one of my friends mentioned it. I have one on my phone and it actually says ‘Spam’ on it when I go to answer!

Here are the call blocker apps for Android and here are the call blocker apps for iPhone. Try the free ones but honestly, to get your life back it’s probably worth a couple bucks.

Ask to be placed on the ‘Do Not Call” list…. or wait until the end of the recording to take yourself off it.

So if you get a real live human on the other end of the line, you can be asked to put on their do not call list. You can also add yourself to the main government list here: https://www.donotcall.gov/

What about robocalls? If you wait until the end of the pitch, you’ll hear a brief “… or press 2 to be placed on our do not call list”. I actually did this about ten times and seem to have gotten a lot less calls.

(Kassie Note: I recently received an automated phone call from a telemarketer about credit cards, and there was no “do not call list” prompt after staying on the line. So I pressed “1” to go through the “talk to a representative” motion, and just asked the person I got on the line to take me off the list. After said representative declared “You are obviously unhappy with your current credit provider” I think he realized his mistake and took me off the list. In other words, it may take a few extra minutes but you can usually find a workaround).

Send spam calls directly to voicemail.

This doesn’t exactly solve the issue but will cut down significantly on your annoyance. Most phones will allow you to send people not in your contacts list directly to voicemail.

Get Google Voice.

We recently switched to Google Voice for Anchorspace calls and it has been great. Voicemails are transcribed, and I get an email when I miss a call. I even get to have a sweet cordless phone on my desk to answer calls (P.S. you can also have these go to your cell phone; I just like that mine don’t). Much like Google is good at filtering email, it’s pretty good at filtering voice spam, too.

Escalate to your phone carrier or the FCC.

Most phone carriers have a process you can go through to get rid of unlawful calls; Verizon’s is here. Remember chances are if you’re getting harassed by a person or company, others are as well. If you aren’t the kind of person who complains on your own behalf, complain for those other people.

The FCC also has a way for you to complain about harassing calls (well, all harassing communications really): https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Maybe it’s never occurred to you that you can stop annoying calls to your cell phone, but think about it: if you even save yourself fifteen minutes a week, that’s fifteen minutes you could be doing something else. Take back your time, and your phone.

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Can Your Phone Do That?

In addition to phone cases that do more, there are lots of accessories and attachments available that can transform your phone into any other tool you may need for your business. I couldn’t cover ALL the possible phone accessories/attachments in one blog post, since there are so many (and you can only really use one or two at a time, otherwise you’d have an Inspector Gadget phone). The following phone related gadgets are practical and affordable, plus their application can mean saving money on an extra piece of equipment.

Car Mount. This is helpful for people who travel a lot for work related purposes, but it can also be useful if you need a mount for pretty much any reason. This mount attaches to many different surfaces, so you can set it up on your window, wall, kitchen counter, and pretty much anywhere else. Think about anytime you’ve been using Google Maps on your phone for directions while trying to drive- not exactly a safe situation unless you have an extra arm. There are several different types of mounts available for different prices, but here is a recent list of 17 to get an idea.

Square Reader: If you’ve ever needed to accept a card payment from a customer on the go or without a retail setup, the Square Reader lets you swipe from your phone. To get the reader, all you have to do is sign up for a Square account and you’ll get the magstripe reader. Although it costs a little extra, you can purchase a Square Chip Reader for $29 that reads both chip cards and the usual stripe. Either way, the processing fee is 2.75% (which, if you consider the convenience factor is a bit of a fair trade). The reader works online and offline, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of a bad internet/data connection in order to accept payments.

Keyboard. A useful tool for freelancers/people who may not have the budget to purchase a laptop but need to work on the go. Typing on your phone’s keypad is fine for shorter content, but as someone who has to type a lot of longer content, that tiny keyboard gets old fast. Some keyboards can be connected physically or through Bluetooth. Some of these keyboards range from $30-$130, depending on the brand. A couple features to consider- whether or not it comes with a stand (which I’d recommend if you don’t already have one to keep your phone upright while you type), and whether or not you want it to fold (which may be useful if you pack up and go a lot).

Dongles. Need to connect your phone to a projector? Certain dongles (the funny name for certain cords that connect your phone to another device) can hook you up. This Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter will connect your phone to a projector or any compatible AV device. For Samsung users, this HDMI cable will also do the trick. It’s also a great way to do movie night (not really a business application, but a fun idea nevertheless).

Selfie Stick. Don’t knock it till you try it. Selfie sticks are not the magic wand of narcissistic millennials, they can also have a business application. You can use them to get a better vantage point for a picture, recording live videos, and more. (Additional ideas for using a selfie stick include self defense and feeding your pets). Selfie Sticks may seem like a frivolous phone accessory for your business, but you’d be surprised at how handy they can actually be.

Are there any practical phone accessories you’ve found helpful that got neglected in this post? Let us know! We love hearing about useful tech stuff 🙂

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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