The Mark Ledden Blog

…audio, video, web and general tech ramblings.

Tag Archives: postaday2011

QuickTip: Use Hootsuite To See What’s Going On Where You Are (Or Any Other Place)

I’ve been using Hootsuite for some time now and I’m still finding out neat little tricks all the time. The location search feature was introduced a while a go now but I hadn’t really put it to the test. So, I decided to give it a go.

On your main Hootsuite dashboard, up in the top right-hand corner you’ll see the magnifying glass icon. This is the search tool. Some of you will already know that (sorry). Now, click on the search icon and you’ll get the dropdown box for your text entry.

Search Box

For a general search, you would just pop in what you’re looking for and away you go. But if you notice the little crosshairs next to the text box, this allows you to search relative to your current location.

(NB: You’re browser will probably ask for you to give permission to Hootsuite to identify your location)

If you put in your search query then hit the cross-hairs you will get a stream of tweets which match that query and are local to you. You’ll see “geocode:” and a bunch of numbers in the header of the column. This is just the longitude and latitude of your current position.

This could be very useful for local businesses looking for potential customers. I use it sometimes when I travel around with my laptop and I want to see what’s happening on Twitter locally. I just use a location-based search with nothing is the text box. That way I get ALL the tweets which are nearby.

Bonus Tip!

If you want to see local results for a location which you aren’t currently in then all you need is the coordiantes or that location. You can get this information from various sites. Lifehacker have a great trick for getting this information straight from your browser using Google Maps.

Just get the place you want on Google Maps (make sure it’s centred) then drop this code in the address bar and you’ll get a popup with the coordinates.

Pretty cool, hey?


The Animals of Twitter: Brizzly Bear

Brizzly is what New Twitter should have been. It’s a single column layout which displays images in video in the timeline, much like the Facebook feed. Come to mention it, it also has Facebook integration.

There are clear indicators when you have mentions, unlike Twitter. And DM’s popup in the corner and take the form of IM chat windows. Very cool.

If your looking for something a bit different than Twitter web and you don’t really want to jump into something more hardcore then Brizzly is definitely worth a try.

Quick Tip: Use Wordpress ‘Copy a Post’ To Make Templates

If you want to save a bit of time and you regularly post items which have much of the same structure and content, you can use the new post copy feature in the recent update of WordPress to take away much of the work.

First thing you’ll need to do is make the template. Just create a new post as you would with any other. If your post is part of a series you can have some of the title already filled out eg: “One Cool Series of Posts: ____”

I’d also suggest putting TEMPLATE in the start of the title for easy identification. You can then add in any kind of filler you have on this series of posts at the start and end. Say, you have the same opening and closing paragraph for example.

**Hint: WordPress, it would be cool to have a ‘Templates’ tag to keep these posts in, to separate them from drafts etc 🙂

When your ready to use your new template, hit ‘Copy a Post’ in the Posts Menu on the dashboard. As shown below. You’ll then be given a list of all your posts which you can use to copy.

Select the post you want and that’s it! You have an exact copy of the original post. In the case of the template for the series of posts; just adjust your title eg. “One Cool Series of Posts: Cool Post Number 3” (Remember to remove TEMPLATE, of course!). Then just add your content specific to this post and you’re done 🙂

I think it’s a great feature for WordPress to implement and I hope some of you find this useful. Another use could be for reversioning a post. You may have done a post on a list of your favourite apps. Some of which may just need bringing a little up to date.

5 Android Apps I Couldn’t Live Without

The phone I have isn’t too fancy but it’s by far the faniciest phone I’ve ever owned and It’s allowed me to do more than I could ever image with a phone. When the upgrade was nearing on my old contract I knew I had to go for an Android phone.

The biggest thing to get over when moving from a fairly standard phone to a full touch screen is the simple lack of buttons. I had huge difficulties at the start finding a comfortable solution to inputing text into my phone. I couldn’t get along with the stock keyboard. My thumbs were just too fat! It even drove me away from texting and any other activity which required the delicate touch I lacked when it came to input on this new breed of phone.

This brings me to probably the most important and underrated app on my phone. Most likely because once it’s there you don’t need to think about it. I probably use it more than anything else and it just makes my phone usable for someone like me. (I even wrote a blog post about it)

#1 – Swype

I started using this in it’s early beta after hearing about it from some blog (no idea which one). In fact it’s still actually in beta but it’s works beautifully and I’ve never had any issues. The concept is quite simple, the keyboard is laid out like any other and all you need to do is drag your finger around over the letters to make the word you want to spell. It doesn’t even have to be that accurate and it does a pretty good job of guessing the word you want.

#2 – Opera Mini

This is a bit of a swiss army knife app. I use it both as a backup browser; when I need something fast (bus/train times, other info etc). I also use it when I’m nearing my data limit as it manages to get you what you need with minimal bandwidth. It acheives this by running all of it’s traffic through Opera’s servers and compressing the web pages, often by as much as 90%. I can’t really get on with it on a full time basis as it’s not overly pretty, lacks some features and because of the compression, pages may not render properly. Though it’s not a huge app but it’s incredibly powerful so it’s always good to have around when you might need it.

#3 – Juice Defender

If you have a samrtphone you’re probably well aware of their terrible battery life. You more than likely plan when your next charge is going to come from and probably stare anxiously at the battery level. Either that or you’re phone is dying in the middle of an important call.

There are a whole host of battery saving/monitoring apps out there. I used to use APN Droid which cuts off all your connectivity apart from calls and SMS. I still do use it for extreme battery levels and times when I know I wont be using my phone but still need it on. I also use it when I need to restrict my data usage.

However there are other occasions where simply cutting off connectivity doesn’t seem to cut it. We’re paying for these 3G data speeds and it kind of defeats the point of having a smartphone if we’re not using them to their full capacity.

The happy medium comes with Juice Defender. It cleverly and comprehensively monitors and restricts battery usage according to a plethora of different settings. It’s aim is to give you the longest life of your battery while still being able to use your phone to it’s full potential. If you go and get this app now you’ll instantly notice a difference.

There really is so much control you can take over what aspects of your phone use up your battery that you’re more likely to get lost in the settings. The free app is enough for most but for those control freaks the paid app is more than worth it.

#4 – EasyTether

This is another one of those ’emergency apps’. For those occassions when you’re out with your laptop and can’t get any free WiFi but have have your phone in your pocket with super fast connectivity and you desperately need to get some work done. After trying the free app I had to pay for the upgrade to get the https option. It’s probably the cheapest option out there and it’s cross-platform, working great on my Ubuntu netbook and Windows 7 desktop.

There isn’t much to say here as it does exactly what it says on the tin and turns your phone into a modem. I’m very happy with it. If you need a tethering app (without root) this is the one.

#5 – DropBox

This app would probably be on most people’s lists and there’s not a whole lot I can say about it except it’s helped me out of a few tricky situations where I desperately needed a document but had no Internet but my phone. In a way it’s starting to help my phone to act as a USB ‘gateway’ drive (or some similar kind of jiberish). It’s something I’ll always have with me and lets me access important files when I might need them.

Bonus App! – The Trainline

This is a recent little gem I’ve found which has already saved me a bit of money. I do a fair bit of travelling by train and know a few ways of saving money and getting the most out of my tickets. This app has allowed me to buy advanced tickets for the next day or the week ahead at a fraction of the price and at crutial times when I don’t have my laptop with me.

It’s quick, easy and from what I hear, very secure. My only gripe is the booking fee (£1 each time). It’s not huge but on the ocassions when I do have my laptop I’ll always book with Virgin Trains as they don’t charge a booking fee. Virgin Trains say there is an Android app on the way and for that I cannot wait. Until then The Trainline app is great!

So that’s my toolbox of apps I don’t think I could get along without. Are any of these on your list of favourites? Or do you have a few others which you rely on?

Celebrating The Physical Music Format

For those of you who didn’t know it, last Saturday (the 16th April) was Record Store Day. This is celebrated across the world and aims to promote and support the independent record stores so many of us rely on.

The main focus of the day is centred around the special release from participating artists. Last year was the first year I took part and was the first I’d ever heard of the event. Being in Manchester I was well aware of Piccadilly Records, being an essential music hub and also one of the major stores participating in the UK.

On my first Record Store Day in 2010, I was queing up outside Piccadilly Records at 7AM. It was 6:30AM this year, who knows what it’ll be next year and the following year! Fair play to these hardy people below who queued up from as early as midnight and brought sleeping bags and picnics. That’s dedication.

I came down to show my support and bag myself some collectables. For me and I’m sure almost everyone there, it’s purely about the music and more specifically the physical format. The iTunes users are at the other end of the scale here and were presumably absent from the queue. There was even a specially made bag on sale which proves my point. Lovely 😉

I still feel listening to the sound generated from the grooves in a record is one of the best listening experiences you can have. And it’s about the collect-ability, you get to hold your music. Here’s what I managed to grab this year. Luckily, as I was so close to the front of the queue I  managed to get everything I wanted.

Last year there was a huge amount of hype over the new Blur single, with it being the first thing they’d released for over ten years. I managed to bag one of those too 🙂 Here’s some other pieces I picked up.

MP3’s and iPods might hold all the convenience needed for today’s way of life but there’s something about records which is understood by their die-hard fans which will never see them fade away. I’m already looking forward to what next year brings. Keep hold of the physical format, keep those records spinning and support your local independant record store 🙂

Test Post (Kind Of)

This post is coming straight from OpenOffice, via the Sun Weblog Publisher extension. I’m giving it a try because I really don’t like the WordPress editor anymore. Well, I never did really! I find using a dedicated word processor helps me focus, having less things to distract me. I’ve also recently suffered from less-than-ideal internet connectivity and this will help prevent any loss of work.

So here it is, a test post with a little extra. Lets see if this thing actually makes it out to you 🙂

Happy Twitter Birthday To Me!

Today is the second anniversary of the creation of my Twitter account. Whoop!

It seems like a long time but for the first nine months or so I never actually used it. So, basically I’ve only really been a Twitter user for one year 😉

I got my account purely to bookmark my name as I though I’d need it some day. The question of whether I actually ‘need it’ is still open, but I like to think I do.

In the early days, before I got going I protected my tweets and had really gotten into the platform at all. It wasn’t until my social media work at university where things really took off.

In that class, for me, Twitter was the easiest things to get to grips with. I grew to use it more and more and still find myself learning things every day.

So here we are, one two years later and I’ve just managed to pass the 400 followers mark!

Happy Birthday to my 140 character self 🙂

“Seesmic Is The Best App For Managing Your Facebook Page On Your Android Phone, But It Still Isn’t Quite There”

I’ve recently found Seesmic for Android to be the best solution for managing my Facebook pages on my phone. Saying that, even though it is the ‘best’ solution, it’s still not perfect.

In this post I went through my journey to find a way of managing my page, from interacting through comments to uploading media. Before finding out about the update to Seesmic for Android I was using a combination of Hootsuite.

The problems I’m having with Seesmic remind me of the previous problems with Hootsuite except this time is with video. With Hootsuite, you can only upload photos with a Twitter account. If you only have a Facebook page selected, it wont work. And with Seesmic, you can happily upload photos to Facebook pages but not videos.

When I tried to upload a video straight from my SD card it wouldn’t work, there was an ‘issue’ with the file. Then I recorded a video from within the app, it was low quality and the length was limited. Then at the final point of uploading it threw back and error saying a Twitter account needed to be selected. Hopeless.

So, Seesmic is the best all-in-one solution, allowing you to interact with your page and upload photos. But If you desperately need to get video on your page from your phone then Pixelpipe is the way to go at the moment. Hopefully either Hootsuite or Seesmic can offer us this functionality or maybe even Facebook can get their act together.

Revising My & Google Reader Combo

As you may know from this post I have automated the process of sharing items from my Google Reader account to my Twitter account. I made a point that I would closely monitor it to make sure it doesn’t seem too spammy or overwhelming for other users.

I had the feed set to check and post new items, one at a time every 15 minutes between the hours of 8am and 10pm. I also let it guess the appropriate hashtags and drop them in too. I’ve already reduced the number of hashtags from three to two.

Here’s an overview of the activity since the start of my little experiment.

You can see how the zero marks on the graph reflect the lack of activity on the weekends. Monday’s are the most active because any spare time I have over the weekend I may still read and share items but they wont reach Twitter until Monday. On a Monday I’m generally getting over 300 clicks from around 20 posts. As you can see below, the number of clicks over time closely matches with the number of posts over the same period of time.

For me, I think it’s been working quite well but there are ocassions when I look at my Twitter profile and see the ammount of hashtags and it just seems a bit gareish.

Will I be making any changes?

Yes, I’ll make a few tweaks and will continue to keep any eye on things. In the feed settings I’m going to increase the update from 15 to 30 minutes. And in the Twitter settings I’m going to remove the hastag placement completely.

Tweet Power, Grateful Mentions & Yet More Stats!

So last week I wrote yet another post about SoundCloud. This time though it was a nice and compact ‘quick tip’ on how to use it to incorporate a demo reel of your work into your portfolio. Something which I thought was a bit more original than the millions of SoundCloud reviews out there. (Yes I know I wrote a SoundCloud review, but it’s time to think outside the box/cloud!) Anyway, take a look here if you missed it.

The next day the lovely people of SoundCloud were good enough to thank me for the post. See, look.. 🙂

It’s always amazing to hear back from things like this and it is a great way of demonstrating what social media is all about. What made this message all the more powerful though was the ‘Hey’ at the start of the mention. As you knowledgeable people will know, if the tweet had simply started with @MarkLedden (making it a reply), the reach of that tweet would’ve (generally) been restricted to those who follow both SoundCloud and myself. I say generally because it will still turn up in searches and would show up on their profile. But the fact that it was styled more like a mention then everyone who followed SoundCloud would’ve instantly seen it. Which is nearly 60,000 people! ..or robots 😉

Now it would’ve been nice if all those followers had rushed over to read my post but let’s be realistic, the yield was a mere fraction of that. You can see how many people actually followed the link by clicking here. Yeah, not that impressive, right? But hey, I only get very modest traffic as it is. I’m no prolific writer and I don’t offer anything special so this was actually a massive boost for my blog stats. Cue the graph…

A big spike for little old me. But as you can see, after all the excitement, things have now returned to what they should be. *Sigh* Ah well, the next post will have to be even better!! And I’ll need more of them!!!

Anyone out there should keep writing as it’s these little victories which give you the motivation to crank out another blog post, just like I have done here 😉

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