Are you a trail blazer?

White noise

information overload

Information overload

With all the feeds we get each day, whether they be Tweets or Facebook or email or news reports or telephone calls or even, yes, even a face to face meeting. It has been occurring to me that there is a lot of interference and traffic out there. Noise if you like. A white noise that obscures sometimes some very useful and genuine comments and info.

Filtration

Do we have a good method of filtration going on or are we being guided by everything that comes our way. I liken it to a video I once saw of an ant colony and the researchers were studying their behaviour and determining how they travelled and how they made their way back to base.

Obviously, they must use sent trails and they lay them down and everyone else follows them as well. Hey presto a fool proof system to get about and never get lost. Being researchers off course they have to test their theories and after the ants had created their best laid plans and trails the researchers created a circle of scents and trails all around some ants to see how they coped and would they get past it. Basically they surrounded them, with too much information to process, or white noise if you like, and they could not get back to the well laid plan. They were too distracted and could not get outside the circle. They really needed a method of filtration to find that one trail and stay on it at all costs and against all other distractions.

Unsung heroes

I know in amongst everything that bombards me every day there are unsung heroes who have gems of wisdom to help me on my way and keep me focussed and yes I do get a bit overloaded and distracted, but I do try and say to myself, be yourself,  do not try and be anyone else. Because someone finds a certain feed or path the way to go that is maybe not for you and you need to focus and keep going on the scent trail that you have visualised an laid down.

So do we curb our appetite for more info?

So what are the solutions and how do we cope? Do we simply switch off a lot of the noise and, I know a lot of contacts who have done this and are off various platforms and are in their case thankful for it. Bur remember that is maybe not the best approach for you.

Can we apply a filter to things then and just cherry pick what we see and what we interact with?

Well, yes off course you can, but there is always the fear that you filter out and disconnect from some info and miss a great nugget of gold and a gem that would benefit your business and your life. But hey, that is always the case, sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time. Don’t let anyone tell you anything else.

Conclusion

I have to admit and say that it is an every changing medium for me and do encourage business owners to use the social media platforms and get out there. Join groups and contribute to what people and business are saying. I am, always changing what I look at and I am rather pleased with myself in the fact that I am now not getting as worked up about some of the feeds. No longer thinking every post is a nugget of gold but applying my filters, where do I want to be and how am I getting there, who can help and what can I do to contribute. I seem to be surviving OK.

How do you cope with all the info and what are your measures of filtration? Would be good to see some comments here. I hope to learn a lot.

Big Brother is watching you and has been for a while

data capture nline

Big Brother is watching you

“‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” Part 1, Chapter 3, pg. 37

The above is all inspired by someone the other day putting up a quote about the fact they had read 1984 and couldn’t believe how bad things were back then. Which made me laugh.

George Orwell’s 1984 was a book I read at high school for my higher in English prep. I was into science fiction and that genre and this sort off ticked some of those boxes. Obviously, it was about the state watching everything that the populate did and the perceived freedom people had was really not freedom at all. Orwell based it on the communist state in 1948 and his publisher’s enforced that he change the title to 1984 to make it more sellable and not offend the communist state of Russia.

History lesson over now, I came across a comic photo of Cortana, Microsoft’s office help in Windows 10, based on their game character from their Halo franchise. She will listen to you and answer questions to help. Similar to the OK Google in Android Google NOW.

But what are these helps really doing?

In the comic photo I saw that someone was happy that Cortana was there and they could chat, until eventually they had to switch Cortana off as she was so intrusive the person’s privacy ceased to exist.

My title is that Big Brother, the state in Orwell’s book that spied on everyone, has been watching us for a long time is in fact very true. Since the Internet has been around we have been spied on and catalogued in our preferences and histories and then email allowed us to be spied on. Particularly when it went online and became web based. Our shopping habits are spied on by supermarkets and stores, again with loyalty cards, as we scan, they record. We get vouchers emailed and sent through the post that give us money of the things we buy each week and use. Isn’t it amazing how do they know?

Should we be worried and concerned?

I meet a lot of different people in my IT travels from training to techie talks with geeks like myself. They range from the extremists who are so paranoid that they don’t use a lot of the available tech and systems that are around just now, to the laid back who use everything and deal with the aftermath.

I must admit to being nearer the second type of person with some criteria on what I would and would not do. I do love the latest tech and am slightly addicted to where it is taking us.

I would suggest to you that you are kept on record on the World Wide Web at a host of locations from government bodies who use your ID and unique NI number to shops and web page stored info. (Cookies and their friends). So worrying would be a fruitless activity and probably not get you any real benefit. Paranoia is the other extreme I find and people go to amazing lengths to avoid their real data and identity getting out there. It will get out there and to be honest it already is out there, is the amazing and correct answer to that.

Precautions

Of course I am not saying forget everything and lay abandon to any security and common sense, now that would be absurd, and I do meet that category of person as well.

We really need to use the latter, common sense and be aware of what we are doing.

  • Not clicking on everything that pops up.
  • Not filling in every form of filed that is asked of us by companies.
  • Unticking boxes that want to store our info and sent us data all the time.
  • Have all updates on and installed.
  • Make sure we have the latest and up to date Anti-Virus and spyware/Malware kit on our machines.
  • AND above all use common sense.

What are your thoughts on this and what do you do? Are you paranoid or very open?

Great to hear your comments.

Who’s in control?

sicial interaction

Eye Contact

I spend, probably like yourself based on the fact you are reading this, a lot of my time interacting with connections and friends on social media. Technology has become my tool for everyday life and connection to the correct people and areas for my personal life and my business life.

I often here myself tell people when I meet them, that I love technology and where it is taking us. We can handle and do so much more than we have ever been able to do in the past.

Until I bumped into this chaps YouTube Video, wow this made me think and challenged me and touched my sensitivity about what it happening all around me.

Check it out the read on for my initial thoughts after watching this video.

Well what do you think? I hope you watched it all to the very end.

I think it was well written and constructed and touches a lot on what society is now doing. Where we are placing our time and ideas. For some the security of having instant friends that interact with you remotely can be reassuring and social media in the past has been known as a medium to save people’s lives because they posted on it in a time of need and help was given.

But, the questions I suppose we are asking ourselves are, are we in control of it or does it take control of us? And is it changing society for the better?

If you do what the chap in the video did and simply walk down the street and take a bus or tube train and watch the amount of face down glued to the device people there are, it will astound you. But because this is a current 21st century thing we accept it I suppose as a sign of the times we are in.

I wonder what the future will look back and say. Will museums and documentaries reflect on this changing social culture as a good thing or a bad thing?

I still think the flexibility of mobile working and connectivity is amazing for running my business, but I am now challenging where I stand with talking to people. Actually looking in their eyes and engaging with them. Hence my top picture. Laughing out loud together in the same room and space.

I am a people person and always have been since high school and I always like to get in front of a person to talk over things, whether work or private concerns. Remote working only takes me so far and I am sure others are in the same boat.

What are your thoughts on this video and does it challenge you in anyway?

Well done to Gary Turk for making this and challenging where are and where we are going.

I want to stand on a platform with regard to this matter.

bridging the gap

Choosing a platform

During the time of election fever and the stance of many politicians and the media flooding our households, Internet and newspapers with all the spin and comments of election contenders, it occurred to me that many of them are launching the election campaigns on a platform of one thing or the other. If it isn’t the NHS it is migration and immigrants.

It got me a thinking

It started me thinking of what is the platform I stand on with regard to my business and how it operates and runs and then to take it into the techie world, what Social Media and Internet platforms do I use to get the message flooding to my customers and potential customers worldwide.

Platforms there are so many

It is the case that there are so many platforms, as with the election there are so many stand points that people take and you don’t know at times which one to believe, so we base our beliefs and decisions on past experience and their record if they have done the job before. When I set my company up I knew I did it out of passion. I wanted a company that had a drive and passion for what it did and did it well and honestly. So that was my initial platform if you like, I then structured the offering my company had around this. My testimonials from clients were my gauge as to whether I was achieving this each and every time. Then learning and tweaking happens. No one is perfect and it is the driving force behind our actions that should be considered.

So honesty, integrity and doing the best job as promised was my platforms and I hope I have achieved them as often as possible.

The other thing I did as an organisation was start to business network, before I even setup as a company I attended some networking groups to find out what business was saying about the climate and how they were getting on. I wasn’t setting up blind as they say. This paid off and I have continued to business network to this day. It is a great place to bounce ideas around, meet great people and pick up so much information and ideas.

What about online platforms?

With regard to online platforms, I have always been as you can imagine, the company is called IT Turning Point, very aware of what technology is doing and where it is taking us. The Internet has been with us for years and introduced so many changes in the way organisations and customers operate that it has dragged some organisations into the 21st century screaming and kicking.

The key of course is to decide your best and most appropriate route to market and then target the majority of your efforts there. This of course sometimes takes more than one attempt to get it right and is what I like to call a toe in the water scenario. We try and see if it works and tweak and try again until we hit the sweet spot. I decided early on to have a website and had it up and getting found before the official company launch, so when I launched people had a shop window to visit.

This of course was mentioned on all emails and literature to drive traffic in that direction. The site was optimised at the time for the search engines and we were off.

Social media was my next area of consideration and what should I do here and which platform would be best for me to use. I did the following and it has worked for me over the years.

My company was primarily B2B so LinkedIn to me was essential and getting my profile up to 100% as it was at the time and then making good honest connections with potential customers, existing customers and other companies and contractors that might be useful for me to touch base with and bounce ideas around. A company LinkedIn page was setup as well as my profile and maintaining it and promoting it became a goal.

For more awareness of brand name and getting me more widely known quicker I also thought that Facebook would be a great place to have a business page. So off I went on my next platform and got that page up and running and started to gain likes and awareness.

Remember, I am always aware of where technology is trying to take us and I launched a Twitter account at the same time to take advantage of the profile raising for my brand name.

In the corner of my eye I was always reading techie articles about search engine Optimisation and how you can get found online to make sure my efforts where not all in vain. This kept me informed that Google the main and most popular search engine was changing what it calls it’s algorithm that checks the Internet to find you and me and was placing more emphasis on Social Media activity and content. So this means and still does today that you need your website optimised, but you also need to be active in the realm of social media. You need to have link popularity, which means people are coming to your site from various locations and landing there and then leaving to go to other locations from your site.

Other social media platforms are out there, Google+, Kiltr, Pinterest and Instagram. It was now a case of deciding which platforms I felt I could benefit from and manage easily.

Again tools were there for the managing and these have helped immensely. Such as Hootesuit, highly recommended and there are others.

Email newsletters were the next thing I had always ran since setting up and had made a decision that a monthly newsletter would be the thing. So to this day we send out a monthly newsletter to a database of people who have signed up for it. Again there are laws about spamming people.

Have we reached our goal?

No, is the easy answer, we are always looking at tweaking and changing what we do and managing it differently and we do use other mediums to get the message out there, such as PR articles to business press, etc. We also run an online blog about technology amongst other things.

All these various platforms have meant that we have been able to vary our offering and develop it over the time the company has been running and as long as we keep to the company platforms of honesty, integrity and doing the best job as promised then we will keep it up.

I hope this helps, let me know your thoughts on the whole area of platforms, online or offline.

The Communication Revolution

communication revolution

Communication Revolution

Nice to talk to you, how are things going?
Can you drop me a day and time for a meeting?
When can we talk about the training you need?

You know I see around a hundred questions a day coming my way in various guises and usually keep on top of them, but I have noticed recently that I have dropped the ball on a couple and  wondered why.

I use technology for most things and particularly admin, tasks and communication so how can this be happening? Well in fact the very saviour that I use to keep me organised is the very thing that is making me drop the ball.

How is technology failing me?

I have been doing some historical research and asking the question of how we communicate and of course using my age, no comments here please, as I remember using various versions of communication over my years in industry and business.

Here is a rough breakdown of what I experienced: –

  • Phoned into the office once or twice a day to see if there were any messages for me
  • Got a pager that bleeped when the office needed me, then found a phone and phoned into the office
  • Technology improved and I got given a pager that had a scrolling screen across the top and I could read the messages. This was amazing, where was technology taking us?
  • Got my first company car with built in car phone, large box in the boot and aerial on the roof. The handset took up most of the foot well and a microphone hung in your face as you drove. But, hey that was advances in technology and don’t be fooled I loved it. It also meant I now couldn’t hide anywhere.
  • The next was a company car with a cradle and no large box in the boot and no aerial on the roof. The phone had it all built in and could be removed from the car. What…I was lost for words and it was great. It fitted in my pocket and I could call the office or any clients I wanted. This was just amazing.
  • Then on top of all this I was given a small portable compute that had all my product range on it that I was selling and could work out a quote on the spot for a client. I was then hooked on technology. The tech kept me informed and allowed me to be more flexible in what I was doing, simply brilliant. I could juggle all these no problem and I was mobile even back then.

So where are we now? And I still haven’t answered why technology is letting me down?

Yes, sorry was caught up in nostalgia when times were developing fast and things were simpler.

Now I sound like my gran.

Well, now we have the Internet, the cloud, the web, back then we didn’t so communication was done differently. Now I can get communication from all sections of the Internet that I am active in and believe you me there are a lot of them. Because I am also mobile a lot of the time these communications come in as I am on the hop and I read them quickly and think I will answer that when I get back to base and have time to think it through and check a few things out.

So where do my communications come from now? Well here is the current list and I may have missed some: –

  • Letter, or snail mail as it is called.
  • Emails, quite a lot of emails to various accounts I use
  • Direct messages I get from Facebook, three possible accounts
  • Direct messages I get from Twitter, three possible accounts.
  • Emails I get from LinkedIn
  • Messages I get from my blog I founded and write
  • Messages form my website activity
  • Messages from any LinkedIn groups I am in
  • Messages from Facebook pages I manage
  • Google Hangouts, sometimes a few open at one time talking to more than one person, like holding two phone calls at once.
  • Skype, which I must admit I don’t use a lot really
  • Phone calls on landline and on mobile
  • Text messages
  • Even my file server at home emails me when it updates or has had a problem…….

So my dilemma is that I have on occasion been out the office and mobile and got a message through one of these mediums and read it over and thought I will answer that once I can put a reasonable response together. I then get back to base and there is something in my mind about a message I must answer so I open my emails and check each account, all emails have been read, which of course they have as I looked at it when I was out and about. So it doesn’t jump out at me.

Or on occasion I can’t find an email and think how else did the message come in and spend a bit of time going through all of the above until I hopefully stumble across it. An example recently was one that I had read over when I was out and about that it was a direct message and then my day got busy and confusing. When I got back to base I looked and it wasn’t there. I checked emails and other areas and couldn’t find it. Finally I think found it as a direct message to one of my Twitter accounts I use.

So maybe you can see my dilemma, the very thing I have embraced to make my profile and business public and found easily is also the very thing that is causing me to be juggling so many forms and ways to communicate that I occasionally drop the ball.

What’s the solution, or is there one?

Well, the solution is obviously a difficult one. I could peal back the activity to the essential areas and not over complicate things. Hence only check and receive important messages. But being into all the aspects of the current Internet I find this difficult to rationalise. I even teach people to use it to its fullest. No I will just have to be more organised again and make sure I am aware of the source of communications that come my way and prioritise and deal with them as appropriate. A few extra hours each day might be useful.

What are you experiences of this phenomenon, is it something you have experienced or is it just me?

My Double Google + Experience

google plus

This is about something that caught me off guard, and I am fairly sure it will have caught others out the same way – so what exactly is it?

To explain – I am very keen on using social media, and have a footprint on most of the main platforms that would help my marketplace and business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Kiltr, and of course – Google+.

I went about setting up the various accounts, and then proceeded to create business pages. All went well. I had a personal Facebook page and then a company page. I had a personal Google+ page, and then went on to set up a company page.

Following me so far? Good! I was indeed a happy bunny, as all was progressing as I had expected. To bolster my knowledge, I attended various Social Media talks and workshops. One suggested getting your company listed on (what is now) Google Local Listings – so I went about doing this. I registered my location and opening hours, and thus got my business on Google Maps. This means that when someone performs a Google search for me, my company pops up on the right hand side of the screen with all my details. I checked all was working, and yes – there it was! Meanwhile my company page on Google+ was gaining visitors and followers – all was just as it should be.

Now this was around two years ago, and I have grown the page to get it where I want it, everything seemed to be going in the correct direction.

So why is this a Double Google+ experience?

Well this year I attended another talk on social media and the speaker displayed the Google+ page of another business, it had all the default settings and it appeared no effort had been spent on it. I sat thinking how glad I was that I had spent the time on my page.

Anyway, I went back to my desk and searched for my company in Google – it was (happily) listed on page one of the results. I then clicked on the Google+ page link under my company name, and to my astonishment discovered my page had very few followers or visitors. It also had the default settings and appearance! I then launched my Google+ account and went to my company page there, and it was the fully customised and populated one – I somehow had two Google+ pages.

I researched and found out that Google creates a Google+ page on Local, but doesn’t explicitly tell you – however this is the one that any searchers will see. I realised that I really had to fix this. Further research led me to carry out the following procedure, and Google doesn’t make it particularly easy.

  1. Sign in to the Google Local page, this used my business email account – rather than my personal Google+ account – I then made my personal account a manager of the Local Google+ page. I then have to wait 19 days, yes 19 days, before I can make my personal email account the owner of the local page.
  2. 19 days later I logged in again with my business email to the Google+ Local page, and then was able to make my personal email address the owner.
  3. I was then given the opportunity to merge the Local page with my previously created business page. Once this option is chosen you are told which areas will be merged. This new merged page will then have the link on Google maps, and all your company details, as well as all the followers I had built up.
  4. I checked by searching in Google and clicking on the Google+ page link to find the old local page still there.
  5. Once you merge the pages you get the choice to delete the old page, which now shows up as backup of the company page. I deleted it and double checked a Google search to see if anything had changed. They had – and I now had the local page I wanted – the one I had originally set up and gained interest in.

So now hopefully you see the double Google+ problem I discovered, and then thankfully cured.
Please let us know if this has been useful.
Were any of you aware that this issue existed?
We’d love to hear from you!

It’s Friday, Suspend those thoughts!

twitterThought I would jot this down for any of you who have had a similar or might have a similar experience in the near future.

Let me explain what happened and the tile will become clear.

It was Friday like any other, well in fact it was a slightly busier Friday than most others and it meant that my timescales for my Friday routine would be changed drastically.

I have started the day by getting up earlier than normal and attending the launch of a new Business newspaper in Fife and a chance to meet and network with new people and of course some old associations were re-established. I then visited a company within the business centre, where the launch had taken place, about some business we were doing together and finally met a young entrepreneur for a coffee and catch-up about where he was and what he was embarking on now. Always and exciting meeting and very inspiring.

Social media wise this had meant that I had not done any of my Follow Fridays yet or even tweeted about the launch I had attended. Once back at the office I proceeded to open up Hootsuite and get down to the social media business of the day. I had lots of thoughts and wanted them out there.

Hootsuite on my mobile had registered an error when I tried to tweet from @itturningpoint earlier. I thought it might be my signal strength at the time and now that I was back at my desk and on the land based Internet I could get this done.

I duly opened up Hootsuite and went to it to find that I had a message pop up on the screen to say  that my Twitter account had been suspended……………What?

I then went and logged into Twitter in my browser and found that indeed my Twitter account was suspended. I had received no email or earlier notice of this event and the screen did not even explain why this was the case. I had no idea at all why I was suspended and for how long or how to get out of this situation.

I clicked on various links in Twitter and found a form you can fill in to ask for it to be reviewed and I did. I simply put Why? In the subject line and then asked why and how this can be reversed in the main body of the form. I submitted this and within a few minutes received an automatic email that told me I had been suspended and that the account would be deleted. No further details as to why.

There was a small sentence at the bottom however that said if you disagree with this decision please reply to this email and say you disagree and that we should not suspend and delete your account and we will review it again.

Obviously I diligently did this and then just had to wait.

In the meantime I had contacted Pauline at Floriizel Media and asked if she had come across this before and what were the ways out of this. Pauline suggested all the things she had experienced and I explained what I had already done. Between us we thought that was all we could do and the wait was on to see if Twitter would reinstate the account. Pauline also noted that another account I had @Invitebiznet was also suspended. Now I was feeling victimised.

You guessed it I had to go through the same procedure for that Twitter account and wait and hope that Twitter would reinstate it. I had Googled in the meantime to see if there was a surge of accounts being suspended and maybe Twitter had a problem out there and was trying to keep it quiet. I found nothing significant.

I waited and checked occasionally; nothing.

Then on Saturday I checked during the day and as if by magic both accounts were back up and running as if nothing had happened. No email of explanation, so I am as much in the dark as I was at the beginning. There are loads of articles on Google about how not to get suspended, but I have been doing nothing out of the ordinary and felt that I had broken no rules as far as I was aware.

The lack of explanation from Twitter I think is the most alarming thing and shows a complete lack of customer care and service.

So be aware and I guess keep pestering until they put it right again. Of course, unless you are breaking the rules, then simply stop.

Ian Thomson
Founder/Senior Trainer/Consultant
IT Turning Point
www.itturningpoint.com