Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Web Secret #142: Tim’s Laptop Service Manuals

Have you bought a laptop lately?

Even though these useful devices cost between $1,000 - $3,000, the manufacturers no longer feel the need to include a manual.

I am not sure what the thinking is behind this.
  • Maybe they are just trying to save money. Wow - that's infuriating. Can't handle thinking about that.
  • Maybe they think all laptop purchasers are naturally technically savvy. Then why do my friends and relatives keep calling me for help?
  • Maybe they imagine that all of us have the time to scour the Internet searching for an online version of the manual. Sounds fun - and I have so much extra time on my hands anyway.
Since none of the above is remotely acceptable, imagine my joy when I stumbled upon "Tim’s laptop service manuals." I'll let Tim explain what he has included in this fabulously useful website:
These are the professional, official documents published by the various laptop makers, either for their own technicians or for the use of the general public.

They generally detail the exact list of parts in each model of laptop – often down to individual screws, ... and describe the procedure for disassembling and reassembling the entire machine, including panels, RAM, wireless cards, keyboards and touchpads and LCD screens, all the way down to the motherboard itself.
Oh Tim, where were you when my company sent me two memory cards with no instructions on how to install them in an antiquated Dell? Or when that Acer netbook started glitching nonstop?

To fully appreciate the treasures that Tim has posted on his site, I looked up the manual for my current MacBook Pro. He has the actual technician's manual!
  • Is your hard drive noisy? Here are the troubleshooting instructions.
  • Is your USB port failing to recognize devices? The manual lists what to do.
  • Battery won't charge? Here are your next steps.
How useful is that?

I think I'm in love.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Web Secret #141: Dunbar's Number

In all of my presentations about social media, I emphasize that the quality of one's friends, followers, readers, etc. is far more important than the number.

Well there is some hard core science behind my recommendation.

In 1992, long before the advent of social media, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar hypothesized that there is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. By stable, he meant relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Though Dunbar did not assign a precise value to the number, (it lies between 100 and 230), the commonly used value is 150. So 150 is referred to as Dunbar's Number.

Well, the 1990s came and went and nobody, except social scientists, were paying much attention to Dunbar's work, until....the social media explosion of the 21st century.

Consider:One social media expert, Jacob Morgan, has even argued that Dunbar's number is irrelevant:
I have around 1k+ linkedin connections, 1k facebook friends, and over 4,300 twitter followers. A very tiny portion of these people are strong ties. What social networks have allowed us to do is to build massive networks of weak ties. I use these weak ties all the time to reach out to folks for guest articles, business requests, speaking engagements, or ideas and advice...

We shouldn't be trying to figure out how we can maximize the number of strong relationships we can build or how we can beat Dunbar's number... Build weak ties where you can because they are extremely valuable, more so than strong ties.
Well, I am not sure I entirely agree with Mr. Morgan. People are constantly asking me questions about social media. Should they have a Facebook? Be on LinkedIn? Do both? To these and other similar queries, I always answer with a question. "What are you going to use it for?" Once you can answer that question, making a useful recommendation is easy.

Say you want to use Twitter to be elected to public office, it would make sense to work very hard to get a million weak tie followers.

But for most professionals, Dunbar's 150 strong ties will do just fine.

A handful of key colleagues are usually more instrumental in getting referrals, speaking gigs, or even a new job, than hundreds of random "friends."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Web Secret #140: SEND6

As I have progressed from giving 1 hour presentations to all day workshops, my PowerPoints have grown accordingly. Now my files are, to put it bluntly, too big to send via conventional e-mail unless I have:

1. a very fast Internet connection
2. a very new state of the art computer
3. a lot of patience
4. all of the above.

Since few people, including myself, fall into category number 4, I am always looking for easy to use and FREE websites that will make it possible for me to send these bloated files. Today, I ran across

Sending couldn't be simpler, or faster. From the home page of SEND6 you fill out a simple form indicating the e-mail of the person you are sending the files to, a message (if you want to add one), and then you select up to 6 files (max 50MB) to forward. You can even select to have a copy sent to your e-mail.

Your recipient receives an e-mail with a link to your files, and has 7 days to download them. You can send files twice a month under the FREE plan.

SEND6 has a variety of subscription plans if your needs are greater. For example, for $29.99 per year, you can do 25 sends per month.

As the folks at SEND6 state, "Send large files. Professionally."

Couldn't say it any better myself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Web Secret #139: Generations 2010

The Pew Internet & American Life Project produces yearly reports exploring the impact of the Internet on our lives.

At the end of each calendar year, they dissect how the various living generations are using web based technologies. This past year's report Generations 2010 reported on some fascinating trends.

Not surprising: There are still notable differences by generation in online activities.
Surprising: The dominance of the Millennial generation, (that Pew documented in their 2009 “Generations” report), has slipped in many activities.

Not surprising: Milliennials, ages 18-33, remain more likely to access the internet wirelessly with a laptop or mobile phone. In addition, they still clearly surpass their elders in using social media and playing games online.
Surprising: Internet users in Gen X, ages 34-45, and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities, including visiting government websites and getting financial information online.

Not surprising: the very youngest generation differs the most from the oldest generation.
Surprising: Key internet uses are becoming more uniformly popular across all age groups. These online activities include seeking health information, purchasing products, making travel reservations, and downloading podcasts.

EVERYONE is using the Internet and social media in growing numbers, and generational differences are beginning to shrink at a VERY RAPID rate. Consider that social media usage for people ages 74 and older has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%!

What do these findings really mean? In just a couple of years, age became MUCH less of a digital dividing line, and older people are becoming about as skilled online as younger ones.

How and why did this happen so rapidly?

Good question.