Creative Blog

Issues important to discern and creatively explore!

Say NO TO FOLLOW! A little self-reflecting rant.

Enough of this Follow Me stuff! Seriously, I follow enough stuff already. Follow me tells me you are going to push your brand, your thoughts, your ideology on me…one tweet, one post, one update at a time. Really, are we so self-indulged to think that everyone has something so important to say that we must follow everything. That is not social…it is a dictatorship of push notifications.

Say yes to join! Join the conversation, join the community, join the fun…join not follow.

Think about it the next time you set-up a campaign. But who really wants to create a campaign, everyone creates campaigns. Why not create communities. Communities do not follow everyone in the group, they join a conversation. They area community of people with common conversation.

How about just share! Share the conversation.

We are so excited that we have created a social media account, we want to stamp it on every freaking media outlet from television, print, websites, post card, etc. We place icons on these pieces with something that says “Follow Us.” But how do we follow you when you do not even put the URL for us to click and type. I guess “you” spent so much money on these campaigns, you feel like you have to tell everyone and include the social networks to make sure the “target audience” follows the message. But what happens after you follow? Seriously, what do I do after I follow. Should I sit back and feel excited that you are now going to overwhelm me with updates and not even let me join the conversation. Because when I follow you, you do not even have the common courtesy to respond with a conversation after all of your push notifications.

We are so excited that we created these campaigns, we do not even think of the un-sustainable effect they will have with a “Follow” mentality. Why…because what is going to happen when the person who is pushing the information leaves, changes, looses interest in the campaign. If it is all push, then the community is not leading the charge…the community is the sustainable part of the message.

Say no to Follow and yes to Share! Go find the community and build the technology around the community to facilitate engagement.

Innovation: Print & Social Media Working Together

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with one of the Social Media team members with Greenville Hospital System. They showed me this little idea they created! Little cards that had intriguing little quotes that complimented a Social Media outlet they were trying to promote. These cards were  used to hand out, place around town, used to give out in the hospital, or even at events.

How cool! They are almost the size of playing cards using the branded colors of the Greenville Hospital System. Each card had a different phrase or quote promoting a Social Media account, whether it was the Careers Twitter Account (@ghs_careers) or the main Facebook account for the hospital (Facebook.com/GreenvilleHospitalSystem).

What a fun little way to spread the word or even prompt a conversation about  the information or community surrounding a Social Media account. So simple, thoughtful, and intriguing. It is so hard to find intriguing ways to promote Social Media accounts. So many organizations and people are using Social Media to promote Social Media. When you are trying to build community, you have to assume that most people have not used these platforms or do not know the actual URL (account username) to find these accounts online.

I even see many organizations advertise on billboards/flyers and use the Twitter bird or the Facebook logo with the phrase “Follow Us.” FAIL! Nice Try! You cannot assume that people reading these promotions know how or where to find these accounts online. If you look at the bottom of each of these cards, you will see the actual URL address for the Social Media account they are promoting. Even the Facebook cards have an image with the thumbs up “Like” logo indicating the action item desired.

I just think these is so smart, it is fun to watch organizations find innovative ways to use media to engage a community with new forms of media.

To learn more about Greenville Hospital Systems Social Media presence, CLICK HERE or go to http://www.ghs.org/socialmedia

Something to be learned from the Spiro Institute

Today, I was invited to attend the first in a series of First Friday Speaker Presentations by the Spiro Institute at the new campus for Clemson University called Clemson At The Falls. It is a center for Professional Advancement and Continuing Education located in downtown Greenville, SC. Today’s speaker was Steve Edwards talking about “Amazing!!! Simple Tools to Transform Your Life from Ordinary to Amazing.” I talked more about my thoughts and reactions to the insightful presentation in the above video.

To download the flyer for the event, CLICK HERE!

The next event by the Spiro Institute will be October 15th at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts. The event is titled Entrepreneurship Tomorrow and will be featuring:

Nikki Haley – Republican Nominee for Governor of South Carolina
Steve Edwards – CEO of the Edwards Group
Greg Smith – VP & GM of Xerox Mortgage Services

It will be moderated by Claude Lilly who is the Dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science. To learn more about the event, CLICK HERE.

Building Communities is a lot more FUN!

Why do we use Social Media technologies? To me…to connect and build communities of like minded individuals. Why do you use Facebook for your business? Do you use it to just update with information and events? How about use it for what it was originally designed to do, build a community of people to share and connect.

One of my favorite Facebook Page communities is the Clemson Alumni Association’s Facebook Page. You should check it out some time. If you look at the image in this post from the Facebook Page (look below), you will see how the community engages with each other. This was a video post letting everyone know that homecoming is right around the corner, bottom-line a reminder to mark your calendar. If you look below the video, someone that was new to the Clemson Homecoming experience posted a question. People from the community stepped in and engaged the conversation, reinforcing the experience. You do not see the Clemson Alumni Association respond till later, but the community of fans were the ones leading the conversation.

Do you want to control your community or do you want to let your community grow…let the technology be the platform to connect and engage. I choose the 2nd option. Are you building Social Media platforms to push information or a creating a place that connects and engages like minded people. Does it have to be a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, YouTube Account…could it just be a regular lunch meeting using a calendar as the technology that allows to connect.

I want to thank my buddy Dave Lee for inviting me to join his NFL Fantasy Football League this season. This has been a fun place for us to connect, share in our love for the game, and meet new people. Oh, by the way…it has helped me get into the NFL and follow the success of one of my favorite Clemson Tiger Alums, CJ Spiller. What a cool Social Media technology that has connected like minded people.

Collaborative Editing – A Lesson in Listening

Collaborative writing…well that can be tough, but collaborative video editing? This can be difficult, exhausting, time consuming, etc….but maybe not? Collaborative storytelling is the way I like to look at it. Five months ago, I was asked to work with the Call Me MISTER program to help create a 10 year anniversary video project for their big summit. The goal was to interview many of the “MISTER’s” and supporters of the program, allowing them to talk about the program through their eyes.

It was a team of us traveling all over North and South Carolina to interview each of the 20 individuals, our guide was just a few questions. What we found…a lot of stories to be told, each with a different viewpoint of the Call Me MISTER program.

The Call Me MISTER program is an initiative to place black males as elementary teachers in the class room. That is it…you can look beyond the initiative and derive more underlying themes, but there is a need especially here in South Carolina to change the face of our educational system. What a better way to do so than to place educated, black males as role models, as educators. Not football players, not rappers, not drug dealers…but teachers, leaders, educators. This initiative is based at Clemson University with many black colleges in South Carolina with this program in place.

We interviewed many of the “MISTERS,” the graduates of this program. We interview the presidents of each of the South Carolina institutions (Clemson, Benedict, Claflin, and Morris). We interviewed those who support the program including Wachovia, Doris Buffet (Sunshine Lady Foundation), Mott Foundation, DuPont, and the Self Foundation. We found so many stories, so much passion, so much that needed to be conveyed.

So when all the interviews were complete, this team worked together in a room and took close to five hours worth of video interviews, and collaboratively constructed four final video messages. We collaboratively decided beginning, middle, and end. We created criteria which helped us clarify what was to be cut and what was to be included; to support the mission and the audience’s needs.

Each one of us had our own predispositions, our own viewpoints, and we learned to identify what comment was purposeful and what did not add value to the mission. We all had a deciding factor in the construction of the storyline, all four of us. We listened to the stories and to each other; and we let the MISTER movement dictate the message.

What a great way to tell a story, a collaborative way to find the story within the story. We listened.

Bridging the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”

For about six months, my wife and I did not have health insurance. Yes…no health insurance. This was probably the first time in my life that I walked around, drove a car, existed without health insurance. At the end of 2009, my wife and I decided it was best for me to un-invest in a company in which I was part owner. This company was my last health insurance provider before becoming self-employed. For years, I have worked for major companies, all of which offered major health coverage. But when December 1, 2009 rolled around…Sarah and I were un-insured. You never think about it until the first time you fall, get sick, or even have that one moment in the car when you think you were close to an accident.

Carrying health insurance is more than just something that is a luxury, in the world of small business…it is a line item. It is that one thing that is tough to justify, especially when building a business…trying to decide whether to pay yourself (which pays the mortgage) or have health insurance. We set benchmarks for the business, and when we felt the revenue reached a certain goal, investing in health insurance became a reality. That is why we invest in an HSA Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC.

So, on August 6, 2010…I worked with South Carolina Hospital Association to find and document stories of the un-insured. AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 put together a free medical clinic in Greenville, SC at the Carolina First Center. Over 2000 people came from all over the Southeast, some as far as Virginia. Each one, seeking medical care.

I met a nice lady named Judy. Judy was a sassy lady, but one with tremendous conviction. She was determined to be seen and determined to seek help with her medications. She was so determined to be seen by a physician, she arrived a day early and spent the night outside the front doors of the Carolina First Center. I do not mean she slept in her car, she propped a chair against the front door and maintained her spot in line, overnight, outside, during a huge thunderstorm. She was determined to be seen the moment the doors opened. You never know what it is like to go without health insurance, until one day…you do not have that opportunity.

So many Americans today are without basic health insurance, access to care. They have no primary physician. This lack of insurance takes them to the Emergency Departments across America. Our Emergency Departments are today’s primary physician for most un-insured. Hospitals everyday write-off services because those who seek care come without insurance and the inability to pay the inflated costs dictated by insurance providers. Hospitals are struggling, trying to find the balance between providing quality care and declining reimbursements for the un-insured.

I met Sid at the Carolina First Center while waiting to have his eyes checked. Sid told me about a time he had to go to the hospital and the final bill was $13,000.00. He said, ” $13,000…I will never see $13,000.” This statement is the epitome of today’s un-insured population. America is slowly spreading the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.” No wonder the idea of providing basic medical attention and simple health insurance is a promise of care for today’s struggling population. Imagine not having insurance, falling and breaking a bone, and then no idea what to do! So many small business survive everyday with this basic fear, the fear of the unknown.

AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 was just one event, bridging the gap just a little more between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

Read more about the day at SCHA.org by CLICKING HERE.

Sometimes storytellers need to step aside!

There is nothing better than a good story. But a story that is told through the eyes of the people that lived the story…there is nothing better. This is a story of connection, of young and old, and of how fate can help us through tough decisions. But this story is better told by the people that lived this story…that is why you should watch the video above.

Storytellers like myself can sometimes get in the way of the story. Our lens has so many pre-dispositions. We have a way to cloud the bigger picture. We sometimes get so engrained in how we perceive the story should be told…or even how we think the audience should receive the message; we loose sight of the real message.

Outside The Lines (OTL), an ESPN Production, told this story through the eyes, ears, and experiences of the people directly involved in this story. As you watch, you will notice they all look straight at the camera…as if they are telling the story to “us” the audience. They are not looking slightly off camera as if they are taking part in an interview. No…they are looking at us, their eyes are staring at straight us…looking into our souls.

Hats off to OTL and Ben Hobbs of ESPN, thanks for reminding us that sometimes it is better to let those tell their own story! Yes, we know OTL edited the video together in a seamless storyline, but it was still a purest approach to reveal the true, inner story.

CLICK HERE to read the whole story on ESPN.com.

Anderson Area Chamber New Media Workshop

I was asked a few months ago by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce to spend some time working with businesses concerning New Media and Social Media Strategies. This morning was a great workshop with a small group of people inspired and engaged. It is was so much fun to work with small business owners that are so passionate about their business. This post is just for you, all fourteen of you that spent time with me this Wednesday morning. I encouraged you not to take notes, but to take part in the conversation. Here are the two presentations form this morning. The first presentation below was the primer, the place to get us going.

The second presentation below was a way to think about implementing New Media into your strategy. It is full of some examples and case studies.

I am also including the worksheet as a PDF to download. Click Here to download.

Thanks to the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting this workshop along those who attended, specifically sitting through two hours of my crazy information.

Social Media – A Digital Discourse Community

Over the last month I have been diving into my work and stepping back from this digital community…basically observing. This digital community that has been coined as “Social Media” has been emerging for years, and there are so many contributors. The growth of digital connection points are inflating faster than an “e” ratio.

I think back to 1993 when I was first introduced to the “Internet” and “Electronic Mail.” It was a way to communicate with a college girlfriend at Appalachian State University in Boone. By the time I was a junior at Clemson in 1995, they were teaching some of the first web development courses and creating online Dungeon and Dragons for communities to interact. These digital community continued to grow and language continued to evolve, especially with the advent of online chatting like AOL Instant Messenger. There was a distinction between Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication. Bottomline, individuals began experiencing a digital divide that separated their thoughts from their audiences…it was called a keyboard and a computer screen. This was the enabler that allowed us to become empowered with our thoughts, ambitions, and the ability to engage in discourse that would not normally be socially accepted within an in-person interaction. This was the true beginning of the digital divide as we know it…the new social media revolution. A platform to freely express and lay claim to our thoughts…and the best part, we could turn it off when it was convenient for us as the author.

The New Digital Discourse Community has been growing for the last decade and has not only empowered movements, but given voice to those who were not willing to share previously. It began to coin the term “Thought Leadership” providing ample space for free-thinkers to gain a equitable landscape against those who owned it for so many years, the mass media outlets. The printing press did the same thing with the Bible, printing books against the will of the Catholic Church and now we use this online paradigm to lay claim to that same thought leadership.

Now…communities are growing all over. From Facebook, Twitter, NFL Fantasy Football Leagues, Ning, Blogs, and the list goes on and on. The discourse communities are growing faster and the conversation is more powerful with less words. Take a look at Twitter. Communities of conversations based on 140 characters. Hashtags that help us organize thoughts or organize like minded conversations. Language is evolving and it has nothing to do with abbreviations, it has everything to do with context. The context is the new age marketing paradigm that brings voice to small people and businesses of the world to compete against big box competitors.

Just imagine, at any point in time….you could enter one of these online groups, post a comment, picture, or video and be heard around the world instantly. Just ask those who used Twitter during the Haiti earthquake, they used it to be found…someone was listening and some responded. Communities of discourse, language being traded and now we are trying to not only leverage the language  but the communities that exchange the language.

Let’s look at what Wikipedia terms as discourse community: The term discourse community links the terms discourse, a concept describing all forms of communication that contribute to a particular, institutionalized way of thinking; and community, which in this case refers to the people who use, and therefore help create, a particular discourse.

Leverage…we are leveraging the hopes of this and these communities. We are filling rooms of people, signing up clients, engaging conversations with those to pay us to help them with this discourse community. Why…for leverage. I am not complaining. I have clients that have paid me for my hands on training and knowledge to a truly un-defined marketing medium that is escalating faster than college course can be created. Hell, I am teaching students to use it to leverage others. But what are this or these discourse communities that we are talking about? Just another place to share knowledge, exchange ideas, leverage relationships, and gain market share…this discourse is the same discourse exchanged in a new, digital community…online. Are we really saving money by cutting printing costs for the new digital medium or just re-allocating resources for another marketing venue? I would be willing to bet that the communities built around traditional media, those same mediums being phased out for newer digital mediums, cost the same to run online. It costs money for servers, bandwidth, power, people and just as eco-non-friendly as cutting trees.

This is not a rant, yet an examination. It is not meant to diminish media(s) but to get right down to the core. We as practitioners must recognize the inherent value of media and the discourse communities that surround…and decide if it fits our needs. Most importantly, look at the discourse being exchanged in the communities surrounding these media(s), understand the language, and decide whether to interact or move on! It is more that just pulling out the whole fit the square peg in the round hole sales routine with Social Media. Look at the discourse being exchanged and let’s decide if we want to join the community.

If you have some thoughts, please let me know. I am noticing many people from the academic community are reading this blog post. Please share your thoughts!

Stepping into the audiences’ mind…Audience-Centric

I was hanging out on Twitter the other day chatting with a few friends, and the conversation kept towards audience. Well, trying to fully get into the mind(s) of the audience(s), to fully understand their view-point. Why do we do this as communicators, so we  can clearly communicate our message. I do this mainly because I cannot produce any piece of creative for a “client” until I fully understand the audience.

I look at the communication relationship with the audience like ballroom dancing. You know, you will have people watching your every move, so you have to be in complete rhythm  with your dancing partner. You have to know the next steps, the next twist, the next move and you have to do this completely anticipating your partners movements. In-order to do so…it takes practice, communication, and trust. To eloquently dance across the floor with complete fluid movement, you have to know the person you are dancing with…it is a relationship.

When I create a presentation, a video, a graphic, or any piece of creative…I have to know my audience. I have to completely feel that I am seeing their respective view-point. This has to be done in-order to create a message that is effective and efficient. I have to know what makes them tick, what makes them look away, what engages, and what distracts. It is more than demographics and hard numbers, it is the subjective pieces of information the defines the passion behind their inner being.

This takes time and research. Many times (to begin the dance), I just get out an ole piece of paper and draw a simple triangle…a perfect triangle. You know, a triangle that has equal lengths on all three sides thus creating equal angles. At each point I write three different words: Audience, Purpose, and Delivery. In the center of the triangle, I write Context. I do this each time I begin a project. I define the audience(s), the purpose behind the project, and the method(s) the message will be delivered.  From this, I write a mission statement that yields context. By defining the purpose and delivery of each piece of communication, it takes us closer to understanding the audience and how/why we are communicating the message.

Each piece of communication is delivered on some platform whether via print, web, video, email, radio, etc. But this is the theatre for our performance. Our audience(s) are sitting in the seats. The goal is to engage the audience with the piece of communication. We want them to dance with us! We want them to forget their peripheral vision and interact with the message.

Before we can dance with our audience, engage them with the message, we must know them! We must be able to look through their eyes, hear with their ears, feel their tendencies, and understand their pre-dispositions.

It is Video Time using DroidX and iPhone4

So I spent some time looking at the differences in video recording and displaying on both the DroidX and the iPhone4. So here are some thoughts…I going to break them down according to the device. I explain a little more in the iPhone4 description, but this is where I define some terms for the rest of the write-up.

iPhone4 Thoughts
1) The video quality is great especially since it is acquiring the image at 720p – 30 frames/second. This means that the video image is 720 lines across the width of the video display. It uses a progressive scan where the image is displayed line but line from top to bottom across the page. There is a debate  whether  progressive or interlaced is beter, but a progressive scan provides less visual artifacts and less motion blurring.  Here is an article about progressive (the “p” in 720p) and interlacing (the “i” in the 720i). I think that the actual resolution of the iPhone4 is a little better than the DroidX camera, with less visual artifacts, but does not have the chroma in outdoor settings as the DroidX.

2) The back camera focal length is 3.85 mm with f-stop of 2.8. This is essentially equal in focal length with a 35mm SLR camera with a 30mm lens. This is a pretty wide angle lens with a wide range of view. It is a pretty good camera, but for people like me…I want the original file. If you email the file or upload it to FTP site/YouTube, it compresses the video. So, I have to dock the phone to retrieve video in the most native format. Great articles by Ars Technica and Falk Lumo about the camera.

3) When recording the video from the camera, you are not allowed to zoom. You have to use your body to zoom by walking closer to the subject.

4) Displaying on an monitor, you have to purchase the PC adapter for the iPad. This allows you connect to a monitor that has a PC (VGA) input. This will not allow you to play the sound on the monitor, you have to connect the earphone out to the monitor or speakers using a mini-plug. The PC (VGA) connector is $29 on the Apple.com website. But you will also need a PC (VGA) cable to complete the connection.

5) Controlling what is displayed on the external monitor is tricky. It only will display pictures/video from camera or video form the YouTube application. Displaying videos from the camera can be tricky. Sometimes if you select to play the video, it might not immediately display on the external monitor. The same with pictures, you have to be in a slideshow mode to get the monitor to recognize the images.

6) It has two cameras! This is cool, one on the front and one on the back. This allows the user to record videos or take pictures using either camera. The front camera also allows the ability to do face-to-face video phone calls. You can just touch the screen to select which camera to use to record. I have actually used the front camera to record a video and it gives me a frame of reference for what I am recording. It allows to frame yourself properly without lots of mysterious room above your head. The back camera is the one with the flash for taking photos in low light.

DroidX Thoughts
1) The video quality is great with the ability to record in 720p. It has great image quality but when displaying the video on a Flat Screen HDTV, I noticed some artifacts in high contrast areas. Basically, when you watch the video on the HDTV and walk up close to the screen, you will see block like images around high-contrast areas. But, the DroidX had better chroma quality than the iPhone4…the video did not look as washed out.

2) The focal length of the DroidX’s camera is a little wider than the iPhone4, giving the ability to capture more landscape. I had to back up some with the iPhone to capture the same image as the DroidX. Also, since I am a Mac user, I can connect the DroidX via the USB cable and navigate to find the video files. This allows me to download the native video files to edit.

3) You can zoom with the video camera on the DroidX, very cool.

4) Displaying on a monitor is done with an HDMI mini-D to HDMI cable. This can be purchased for $39.99 at a Verizon Retail store or $24.99 online at Verizon.com. Yeah…$15.00 extra bucks to purchase in the store! Not Good!

5) Controlling what is displayed on the external monitor is a little tricky but a great idea. Once you connect the DroidX via the HDMI cable to the external monitor; you can select a picture or video and the media plays on the external monitor screen. Then the DroidX turns into a remote control. Great idea and neat interface.

DroidX is in the HOUSE! My Overview!

OK…after many requests…here are my initial thoughts of the DroidX! I do have to give a shout out to Robin Blackwood at JDPR for letting me play with this toy!

Well…watch the video first of all. This video covers the apps I use, the Mobile Hot Spot feature and a few other details.

One of the big questions from a lot of developers is whether the DroidX can be rooted. Basically to get to the core of the code. If this is your cup of tea…here is the link to the Engadget Post –> CLICK HERE or watch the video below!

I have a new video coming comparing the video playback of the DroidX and the iPhone4. Good stuff and I am using the cameras from the phones to show the difference in the video quality.

One of my close friends (Brian Lindenmeyer) recently purchased the DroidX and has been working on a document with his review of the phone (Below). I think he has some great thoughts and even slams my beloved Apple iPhone4, but I like his points overall.

Device Overview by Brian Lindenmeyer (@lxadoz104)

Awaiting the update to fix some Wi-Fi signal issues, corporate sync issues, and battery meter issues.  Overall, this device is more than I could have ever imagined.  Lots of this love for the Droid is based on the simple, but robust, integration to Google services.  We’ll cover this under applications.

UPDATE 7/20/2010 (9am) – I got the update from Verizon – so far things are definitely improved.

Couple other things:  I think the built-in launcher is fine, but did like Launcher Pro (may try it again).  I also didn’t find that any enhancement to the SMS messaging was needed.  Lastly, I do set up Twitter and Facebook as I like the contact integration, but the Twitter app that is built-in only supports one account, so grab another one if you have two…I’m still looking.

Platform/ROM/Built-in Apps

Not that I need to given the RAM, but I am looking forward to ROOTING this device to removes some bloatware (Amazon MP3, Blockbuster, CityID, etc.).   Otherwise, the first thing any Blackberry converts like myself need to realize is:
1.      Android manages memory much better
2.      Instead of folders to remove or arrange icons on the main screen, you have desktops to do this.  Your “cabinet” or folder of applications is more like an iPhone.

Aside from the bloat (and l lack of rooting/custom ROMs – we’ll skip that at the moment) – this phone simply rocks.  If you aren’t a Google Fan, you better be if you use this.  The integration to Google services is without a doubt the best integration of any device – and I’m including the MobileMe Apple garbage.  REMEMBER – Apple charges for that – Google doesn’t.

Must have – The Google Additions:

I’ll start with the Google Apps (or tightly integrated to Google services):

Google Voice:  If you don’t have a google voice number – get one.  The ability to use this phone as a secondary number is fantastic, along with the ability to call international at low rates.  But what is the best part is free visual/transcribed voicemails.  Yes, you can even text from your Google Voice number (although I’ve never done this, since I only text my friends who have my cell phone number – no need to confuse the less-technically savvy.  Fantastic launcher replacement with tons of options to tweak and lots of great features.  I still like LauncherPro Beta better (see below), but this one is a very close 2nd.

GTasks:  This app/widget allows you to enter tasks into your Google Task list and syncs with the server.  This task list is integrated into the Google calendar online.  Only issue is that Google Tasks doesn’t support reoccurring tasks, so for that I suggest you make reoccurring events on your google calendar.

Google Listen:  I thought the worse thing leaving my Blackberry behind would be losing PodTrapper – which I used to automatically get podcasts delivered to my device OTA so I could listen on planes or when driving.  Enter Google Listen.  This app is integrated to Google Reader (the RSS application Google has) and allows you to subscribe to RSS podcast feeds.  The only issue is that it doesn’t queue the podcasts automatically, but I have found that it downloads them quickly and allows for offline listening.  PERFECT.

Google Maps/Navigation:  Built-in, better grab the update that’s available from what was loaded just to be sure.  By the way, I gave my wife my Garmin Nuvi…this GPS is better.  Only issue is that the ETA is a bit off, even after calibration.  I guess Google is trying to be green and tell me to slow down.

Google Shopper:  Simple app that allows image, voice, or type searches on products to give you local and web pricing on the item.  This is just like going to shopper.google.com, only it’s built for the phone and has the voice and image search.  I took a picture of a RedBull Sugar Free…and instantly found the lowest price locally near me (KMart) and of course some online vendors

Google Talk (GTalk):  Since I lost BBM (Blackberry Messenger), I’ve had to get back on GTalk.  Well, the beauty I forgot about is that GTalk can save chat history in your GMail so that you can search for it later.  Great when sharing links with friends, etc. or you just want to refer back to the thread.  Use “is:chat” in the GMail search…and yes, you can also do this from the GMail phone app!

SMS Backup: OKAY – I know this isn’t a GOOGLE app, but folks, this may be the best FREE app there is.  Simple and does what the title says – backs up your text messages to your gmail account. This is a must have since this makes it easy to search texts (They get automatically labeled as SMS).  SIMPLY AWESOME.  I will pay for this app if/when needed.

Market Apps I use:

Quick Settings: Quick access to all the essential settings (ringer, brightness, wifi, bluetooth, etc.) with an easy to use UI. You can select from many different settings to display on the main dialog, and can even add a shortcut to it in your notification bar.

Pandora: Great app as usual

Slacker Radio: I have this in addition to Pandora as I don’t have a ton of custom channels on Pandora – and if I want to just listen to 80’s, Slacker has all the channels pre-configured.  While Pandora is my bread-n-butter, this is a close 2nd in terms of streaming radio/media.

Amazon App:  Look, I’m a prime member, and I basically order everything from Amazon.  Great app, just as good as it was on the Blackberry, only now I have a huge screen to look at the stuff!

Kindle App:  Again, I had this on the Blackberry, but now I have a much better screen.  Who needs a Kindle when you have a Droid X that can read just fine!

ShopSavvy: Great for comparing prices by scanning UPC codes. It will search online as well as nearby stores (if you let it use GPS). This also is a built-in QR Code reader as well.  Worth keeping just for that.

TempMonitor: Keep an eye on your battery or cpu temps by sticking it in the notification bar.  Since I have the cardock, the device can get hot running GPS up near the window.  Good to monitor this.

Facebook for Android: Syncs pictures (not flawless, but works), and is a decent app.  The widget is the main thing, but the fact is that I use the web / touch web interface.  I do use the social network app/ widget built-in that gives you a feed of twitter and facebook in on view.

Twitter for Android:  Yes, this is on my device because all other apps over this past weekend (7/18-7/19) didn’t work due to API issues.  I will go to Touiteur or Tweetcaster.  I like Tweetcaster since it is Free and supports 2 accounts (it does have ads on the bottom).  But I may drop the money on Touiteur since my buddy on a Droid swears by it.

Adobe Reader:  While OpenOffice is built-in for viewing, I like the Adobe Reader app as it has more functionality and I get a ton of pdf attachments via email.  Enough said.

HomePipe:  Access files on your home PC directly from your phone.  You can also stream your mp3s to the built-in media player.  Great app for basically connecting all PC’s you have that are on and running the PC-based app.  Not completely cloud, but still cool

QuickDesk Beta: Lets you access your most used programs from anywhere, without having to minimize anything you’re working on.

SyncMyPix: This app actually stores the Facebook photos in your Google Contacts, whereas Facebook for Android only matches the photos up so they display in your Contacts on your phone.  If you don’t want people’s Facebook profile pics stored in your Google Contacts, don’t use this.

Bubble:  Simple bubble app and leveler.  While the bottom of the device isn’t completely flat, still cool in case the wife asks you to hang some pictures!  Works on all sides.

DirecTV Scheduler: Great app for those with DirecTV and DVR’s.  Search, browse, and schedule recordings from your phone for any of your DVR’s.  Supports single or season recording.  Was using it when it came out for Blackberry, glad to see it’s here on Android.

FitDeck Mobile (Bodyweight):  I travel and this is a great app for bodyweight exercises I can do in the hotel room.  The also have a Pilates, Office, and Stairs program.  I own Pilates, and will be buying the other two soon.

iHeartRadio:  Yes, in case Pandora and Slacker aren’t getting it done, I can switch to iHeartRadio (Clear Channel).  Not great, but still worth checking out.

NotePad:  Since Google Docs, and the integration in general, doesn’t have a replacement for Outlook notes, I use this.  Doesn’t sync, but still a nice app.  If need be, I just create a task (with no reminder) on GTasks, or I go to Google Docs via the browser.

ScoreMobile:  Great score app  (alternatively I’m trying out SportsTap as well…both are equal, but I like ScoreMobile since I’m used to it from Blackberry days)

USAToday:  I read it when in the hotels, now I get it on my device.  The news feed widgets are preconfigured for USA Today feeds so this may be a bit redundant.

Other Apps recommended (but I haven’t tried), compliments of Rbb Christie (@ronx):

TripIt: If you use TripIt online, this is a must-have. Gives you quick access to your travel itineraries in an easy-to-read format. The TripIt service is pretty cool. You can email confirmations you receive from airlines/travel services/hotels to the tripit email address and it will automatically add all the info to your account.

IMDb: App for looking up movies, showtimes, trailers, etc.  I use the website all the time on my PC, so this should come in handy.  Just recently released, so I haven’t had many chances to use it yet.  Good chance this will move into my must have list once I start using it.

Communicating beyond the boundaries…true friendship!

Steve Hartman is probably one of the most gifted storytellers on the planet. He not only has a way with words but has the incredible ability to seek out the stories with layers, ones that are the most relevant.

I do not need to write anything about this video other than, these are the types of stories that define the very fabric of our natural being, What it means to cross all boundaries and find true friendship. Here are two creatures different in so many ways: size, type, and even communication. But they find a way connect…WOW!

We should only hope to achieve.

Teaching is fun…especially when NetworkBash is involved!

I have a few passions in my life, my lovely wife, my family, teaching, and telling stories. The semester is about to begin at Clemson and I teach Business Writing. It is listed by the registrar as English 304 and housed in the Department of English as an Advanced Writing class. This is actually kind-of funny, I enjoying writing…creating a story that resonates with an audience. But I am not the most technically/grammatically proficient when it comes to articulating my thoughts. I get emails all the time from people reading my blog criticizing the way I write. Well…I write in an conversational tone, mainly as a stream of consciousness. I write to articulate my passion…passion is the key word.

Regardless…I am getting excited. Extremely excited. The semester is getting ready to begin. I get to put away business twice a week, and work with the next wave entrepreneurs. ENGL 304 is set-up to help students articulate thoughts and ideas using business communication to tackle the business world. If you look at the boiler-plate syllabus, we are supposed to teach students how to write proposals, memos, resumes, emails, etc. But…this ENGL 304 instructor will be working with students to learn how to use these tools to become business leaders. I am teaching how to become thought leaders and build business relationships using these tools.

My ENGL 304 class also has the sole responsibility to execute three events this semester,  NetworkBash 2010: Ignite, Excite, Engage! Three events strategically planned to allow students to build career relationships. Three events:

NetworkBash 2010
Ignite: September 8, 2010
Excite: October 6, 2010
Engage: November 4, 2010

Three events, three opportunities, three great ways for students of ENGL 304 to build a great connection point for other Clemson University students, engaging and having real conversations with potential employers. We have partners both financial and strategic. We work with the Michelin Career Center, Clemson Alumni Association, and the Advanced Writing Program. Our financial partners are to come, but last year we worked with the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CH2M Hill, Immedion, and Tiger Properties.

So the point…each event will have an individual theme, bringing students and employers together to build relationships. Not to talk about a resume, but to learn more about each other, ultimately helping students learn the value of connections and relationships.

NetworkBash: Ignite (9/8/10) is designed to prepare students for the Career Fair put together by the Michelin Career Center on September 15, 2010. Students will interactively learn interview skills, how to pitch themselves, and ultimately how to get beyond the resume.

NetworkBash: Excite (10/6/10) is designed to allow students to learn how to use different Social Media techniques and technologies to build relationships.  This will be a discussion around different Social Media(s) and how they can help each of them open the door to career relationships.

NetworkBash: Engage (11/4/10) will be coordinated with the Clemson Alumni Association the Thursday before the NC State Football weekend. Alumni can can come into to town a day early (before the football game) and spend time with students networking, sharing how they built the relationships that helped them professionally.

The best part about these events, ENGL 304 students helped design and will help execute these events. They will use Business Writing as the fundamental technique to put on an event that ultimately will benefit their long-term goals.

This event was a product of a group of students in the Spring of 2009. One day I was teaching the class how to use Twitter to create a clear and concise elevator pitch (take their pitch and write it in 14 characters). One student looked at me and said, “this is great but I need to get a job and I am not sure how to get in front of the right person to use these skills.” So we decided to begin putting together an event where students and professionals could come together and network. Not just using the typical resume interaction, but really network and have a conversation that build a relationship. Here we are and this will be the third iteration of NetworkBash. I am excited! I am passionate…this is why I teach.