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Creative Blog

Issues important to discern and creatively explore!

Protecting our name & online accounts from being hacked!

So I get this email below from my father this morning…I have been hacked! Oh yes, someone has broken into my email and hacked me. What have they done, sent out emails (from my contact list) including some weird link that leads them to a place of no return. BLAH…

Almost a year ago, I was hacked in a different way. I had someone break into my car and steal some very expensive items from me. Yes, I was hacked (well robbed) here as well. I am convinced this situation was predicated by someone learning my location based on conversations on Social Media sites, broke into my car in the middle of the night, and steal my stuff. That is why I am weary about some of the geo-location, social media technologies (Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, etc.)

We are being hacked everyday from our new, digital lives. Whether it is a email account being hacked, houses broken into, social security numbers compromised, bank accounts with malicious charges, or Twitter accounts being used on our behalf with contradicting messaging. Look at the gulf and the BP situation, “Terry” created @BPGlobalPR to spread off color messages about the gulf situation, BP’s brand was hacked! Or was it really?

College coaches everyday deal with someone using the college coaches name to maliciously sell advertising to make a buck. Hackers are on so many levels compromising our very core of our own brand identity…so we are forced to squat. Seriously, go out and find all the digital domains, acquire them, and hold them so no one else will use them maliciously.

I wonder if Coach Steve Spurrier knows if his name is on this site, using Steve Spurrier’s brand equity to sell ads for someone else’s benefit? Are they hijacking his name or is it Coach Steve Spurrier’s fault for not knowing how other’s are using his name online? Maybe Coach Steve Spurrier knows about this site and is benefiting from the traffic? I know this…I am not clicking any of the links on this site until I know that Coach Steve Spurrier is benefiting from his brand equity being used, or any Steve Spurrier for that matter.

So let”s back up and think more about the main reason why I am writing. First of all, one of my accounts was compromised. Some person or person(s) used my email account to email a group of my contacts (my sphere of influence) to market their “product.” Yes, this is a technology inconvenience.  My mother called me and said, hey you should just delete all the contacts and close account. Let’s think about this for a second.

Yes, I have logged into this account (which is an old hotmail email account) and deleted all of the mail in the inbox, outbox, folders, sent, etc. I also deleted all of the contacts in the address book. I even went ahead and changed the three year old password. But, I am not going to delete the account. Why? Because it is my name, my brand, my face. The email account is BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com…if deleted, someone else can open a BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com account and begin emailing using my branded name.

Why do I care, because I do not want some other person using my name to communicate a message that I cannot control. Now it would be different if I was JohnSmith “at” hotmail.com, but I have a unique name. There are very few Bobby Rettew’s out there, and I would like to make sure I protect the branded name I have worked so hard to build. I do not want someone using this email account for reasons that could potentially “hack” my brand equity.

Leason I have learned: continually change my password. Yes, I am squatting on this email account…but that is my choice. Our name is everything to us…it is our branded image, even our email accounts.

iPhone4 and the iPad ready for a cruising!

So once I had both my iPhone4 and iPad set-up and ready to go…it was time to get ready for the road. Since I burn up the road…I had to find tools necessary to make travels fun, practical, and safe. With this said, I had just dumped XM Radio because their in-ability to correctly bill the right amount, on the right terms, and never fixed the problem. Let’s just say after a few months of unnecessary billing and no reasonable resolution, I had American Express handle this situation and cancel my account. Now with this said, I needed a decent alternative.

I only listen to some local radio, mainly sports talk radio for Clemson Sports. Other than that…it was music from my iPhone. So once I bought the iPad 3G it was time to take advantage of Internet service while mobile. Especially with the recent multi-tasking upgrade for the iPhone…it was Pandora time.

So installed the iSimple iPod, iPhone, and iPad Direct Connect Kit. This basically installed the ability to plug directly into the docking area of the iPhone4 and iPad to play music and sound into the stereo system. It also charges the iPhone4 but not the iPad. Now, I can open up Pandora, ride down the road, and listen to music…using the 3G and Edge service from AT&T. I sometimes even prop the iPad right under the radio to see the Google Maps app for directions. I have also downloaded the Sports Radio app for local, regional, and national sports talk radio.

I have also bought a bluetooth headset for the road. Now, I do not like all those peeps that have these weird ear pieces in their ear as they walk around stores, restaurants, etc…”Beam Me Up Scotty.” But, I was tired of the ear buds getting tangled up while driving and talking. So I bought the Motorola MOTOROKR  S9-HD Bluetooth headphones. A colleague of mine swears by them and they also had good reviews. So I am trying them out…so far, LOVE THEM!

Just a few solutions for me to make my traveling time a lot easier, fun, and hassle free!

Just Met Mr. DroidX – It is so COOL! First Look!

OK…so here it is! Watch the two videos below. I want to thank Robin Blackwood at JDPR and Verizon for giving me an opportunity today to sit and play with the new DroidX. First of all it is cool. The first video shows me just playing with the DroidX for the first time.

The second video shows this cool feature called “Swype” where you can drag your finger across the keyboard to spell different words.

More to come and I might have one in my hands to play with for an extended amount of time? Maybe even next week!

Second Look: HTC Incredible & Preview of DroidX

In the video, I basically look over some of the functions that I have been testing, but after taking on this project…I have had so much interaction about this craze over Android, Droid, DroidX, and on, and on, and on. I have more friends, fraternity brothers, and some random people calling for my opinions and thoughts. Some have even offered me money for the HTC Incredible…we know that is not going to happen. But, I have found a new community of advocates for a totally different platform other than my iPhone status-quo.

But here is my question…or thought, I am still trying to sift my way through all this branding mess. So when I was in Best Buy the other day, I asked the dude to explain a couple of things to me. How is Android different from Droid and DroidX? Two very similar branding conventions that have some things in common but totally separate brand. I have honestly been walking around this whole time, after seeing all the Droid commercials, thinking that Droid was just a shortened version (from a naming convention) of Android. I just began to realize that Android is the platform, Droid is a phone, and DroidX is the newer version of of the Droid. This is freaking confusing for someone who is the target market for Verizon…to entice to make the switch. I have to admit that Apple makes all this branding so freaking simple. I even learned that Motorola had to pay a butt load of money to Lucas Films to use the word “Droid.” That is a lot of money and I still had to get out a pen and paper to connect the dots for the Ah Ha moment.

OK, now that I have tackled that little conundrum. I do not care if people think I am an air-head, but Verizon and Motorola need to sit back and think through some of this branding…Android, Droid, DroidX…RoboCop please. I really do like my friends at Verizon and have enjoyed playing with the Incredible, I even want to buy one and sign-up for a package. Enough on the branding…that is a problem for the big daddy marketing company that has the big daddy contract.

Now on to the what else I found in Best Buy…a demo model of the DroidX. It is a  non-functioning demo, but it gave me a chance to hold it and compare it side-by-side with the HTC Incredible and the iPhone4. The DroidX is bigger…well I think a lot bigger. Bigger screen size, bigger camera, bigger battery, bigger in width and height, and has a ridge in the back that props it up somewhat.

I just wonder what it is like to put it in your pocket and use it on a daily basis. I have also heard that Motorola might either lock down the “Root” or even encrypt the “Root” making it a lot harder for “hackers” to boost the performance and alter the settings. I even had one of my buddies tell me if he finds out the “Root” is encrypted then he will forgo the DroidX and just get the HTC Incredible.

My fraternity brother called me tonight and had a long conversation about the DroidX and he spent about an hour telling why the DroidX is going to ROCK. He then went on to remind me that since I am a video guy that the DroidX is going to not only be able to shoot HD Quality video but also immediately replay it with the HDMI out. That would be kind-of cool in a client meeting! Here is a link he sent me comparing the DroidX and the HTC Incredible.

http://www.geeksugar.com/Droid-X-vs-Droid-Incredible-8892870

Here are some pictures comparing the DroidX and HTC Incredible.


The Interview – Documentary Approach to Storytelling!

No I do not mean a job interview, but this can be loosely applied. I am thinking about what it means to conduct an on-camera interview for a story using video. Once, again…a story. One of the most profound ways to tell a video story is through the eyes, ears, experience, and perceptions of others. Writing a story for the news, for video, or however you want to display the information can be done in so many ways. But one way is through interviews. We can write the best copy, but interviews provide that red-string that binds a compelling story together.

This post is dedicated just to the interview…not to the implementation of the interview into a story. One fundamental ideal I always carry with me comes from a long time journalist and NBC Corespondent Bob Dotson. I remember the first time I ever listened him to speak to a group of journalists (photojournalists) at the NPPA week long boot-camp in Norman, Oklahoma. The best way to conduct an interview is through a series of questions and statements; but what ever you do, ask the question and stare…make the interviewee fill the void. When you get back to listen to the tape, you do not want to listen to answers with your “Uhh Haa”, “Really”, or “Wow”. You want to have the interviewee’s audio as the only audio in the interview.

Conducting an interview is like telling a story…the interview needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. You want to create a conversation between you and the interview subject. Also…you want your interview subject to forget that the microphone and the camera are surrounding them!

When I conduct an interview for a story…I first think of how to make the technology go unnoticed. The first thing that needs to happen is that the wireless microphone needs to be put on the subject FIRST. It needs to be put on in a way so that it is hidden from the view of the camera and thus the final audience. I like to have the transmitter placed behind the subject, maybe of the pants waste-band, then the microphone and wiring under the shirt, blouse, or sweatshirt. The end of the microphone near the neckline of the shirt to pick up the audio of the subject. Then, the camera needs to positioned in a place that the subject is not focusing on the camera. It can be placed in the adjacent room where the lens can zoom to shoot through the doorway.

Once the camera is rolling, I like to start off with what I consider throw-away questions and answers. I ask a series of questions that have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand but merely to learn more about the person to gain trust. This is to build the conversation so that when the real questions are asked, the answers come naturally.

As I move into the questions that are the purpose for the interview, I am building up to the main questions, the main purpose of this interview. I always have notes of topics that I want to cover on a notepad, but in topic form so that I do not use the piece of paper to recite the question. I use the interview as an opportunity to explore the subject’s expertise, gaining knowledge not only for me as the storyteller but for the audience.

As I move through the questions…I always have a few questions that are the most important, the ones that require the best response. I place these appropriately in the line of questioning that makes sense and come out naturally. I build the interview to these questions where each question leads to the next response that ultimately leads to the questions that matter to the interview.

The Interview is merely the process of telling a story. Allowing the interview subjects to provide supplementary information that supports that main object of the story. The interview provides context and allows their “expertise” to bring credibility to the story and context to the audiences minds.

Conducting an interview is just a conversation, an exploration…learning more about their experiences and expertise. The video camera is merely a device to help us relay this story to the intended audience.

Foursquare & Gowalla – The Next Bonus Card?

Where ever you live or how ever you shop…you have been asked to sign-up for a bonus card or discount card. You know that little card that you can put in your wallet or on your key-chain. The one that is swiped each time you walk in that store and make purchase. You might be that person with all sorts of bonus cards from the local grocery store, hardware store, and even your local sporting goods store.

You were attracted to this card because of the immediate savings you will see when you check out. You can experience the “buy one, get one free” or even the “half off” special. Whatever the promotion, swiping the card earns you savings. Swiping the card provides the retailer a better understanding how to stock the store based on your demographics. It is a smart way to not only audit the “stock” but to audit buying tendencies of each consumer.

Is Foursquare and Gowalla the global bonus card system? Well, first off…let’s look at the incentives of this innovation:

  • Some retailers are offering promotions when checking or checking in multiple times.
  • Finding like minded individuals who have been to the same or similar location(s).
  • Reading reviews and/or experiences of other “consumers” at a particular location.
  • Ability to build a map or trip for group of individuals to enjoy.
  • Providing community based marketing for retailers and organizations.

How do you feel when you walk up and swiping that bonus card? Other than the great savings you are experiencing? Do you think about what tendencies are being saved when you swipe that bonus card then your debit/credit card. Now I am not preaching this whole conspiracy theory that the government is out to get us. But, what are retailers saving about us on the world wide grid. Are tendencies are being saved, each time we swipe the bonus card, the credit/debit card, when we do a keyword search in Google, and even when we Tweet. I have Google Alerts set-up with my name as the search keyword and look what was sent to me in my daily update, a link to this:

http://shopalize.com/bobbyrettew/all

Yes…I have not seen this site before (Shopalize), tracking keywords in my Tweets. Where ever I go, what ever I say; in this digital world, someone is aggregating my information for marketing purposes.

As I was sitting here writing this post, a Verizon Commercial (above) played. The one thing that stood out in this commercial (as this lady walked through the town…chatting on her phone) the “world” around her was “tuned” to her position. Each turn of the corner…tuning to her Tweets, her “Check In’s”, her searches, her purchases. Her “Check-In’s” geo-located to aggregate all the relevant purchasing power this lady has during this little trek. She has walked this path before and the little towers tuned to her position are the collectors of the magic little bonus card in her palm…the mobile device.

Foursquare, Gowalla, Geo-Location…the new ROI?


It was just two years ago and everyone was going nuts about Twitter and creating lots of comparisons between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…and so on. Books were being written about the business applications of these Social Media outlets and conferences around the industry being put on, talking best practices. But the one thing that kept on arising…what is the purpose behind all the mess. Both sides were asking these questions…the groups that created these platforms and those engaging. ROI was a huge discussion. Both the investors of the platforms and the business using these outlets…why and how?

Then…this crazy thing called “geo-location” was emerging publically. Basically not only telling the world what you are thinking, but where you are located when you are saying your thoughts. These crazy technologies popped up with lots of traction, ie. Foursquare and Gowalla. People tagging their location by “Checking In.” A new craze of people jumping on board. The early adopters trying them out and others sitting back to watch the recourse.

A few months ago, I shared a few beers with Olivier Blanchard at a great pub in Greenville and we talked about what all this mess means. Well, a few beers brings out lots on creative thoughts but we both agreed on a few things. But here are two points that came up in the discussion (fyi…I am not speaking for Olivier):

1) These geo-location technologies are the true ROI for Social Media. Why, because now retailers and organizations can now place a name, information, and demographics to a decision making process.

2) These geo-location technologies are creating a true paradigm shift how retailers and organizations reach audiences. This is the point I am excited to write about.

Imagine this…you are planning a trip.  You are getting on a plane and you live in a metropolitan area like New York City. You get up in the morning, grab your bags, and head out the door. On the way to the subway, you drop into a coffee shop for a java and “Check-In.” This coffee shop knows you well because you have been “Checking In” for a while and they already have your carmel latte ready right when you “Check-In.” You grab that java and out the door you go to catch the subway. You have made this trip before because you travel for business. As walk down sidewalk, you stop for a paper and “Check-In” at the local paper stand. After picking up the paper, you make you way down the stairs into the subway…there are television and LED screens along the walls. This geo-location has tracked your tendencies, knows what food you like, what shoes you like…because you “Check-In” to the spots all the time. So now, based on your preferences, there are ads showing on these television screens targeted specifically for you. There is even one that tells you that your plane is on time and references you by name. Geo-location is creating a direct, one-to-one conversation between your location, your tendencies, your buying power….AND their message. This is just one scenerio in this Time Square Effect!

These “Check-In’s” are the public domain of your credit card transactions. But now they are combining your purchasing power with your location from a public position.  This is like the “global” version of your CVS or Walgreens Card…telling everyone where you are going and what you are doing. The marketers are eating this up as fast as they can, leveraging the information we knowingly post publicly; why…to help you make purchasing decisions.

Our Social Media transactions (both on a conversational side and a location side) are becoming the collective database we knowingly support each time we go the local super market for eggs and milk and “Check-In.” We are creating the ROI for marketers. This comes to no surprise because we are a debit card/credit card carrying society. Now…it is more public.

This post is not meant to poke holes in our Social Media tendencies but bring an awareness to the massive database we are creating. There is so much value in the “Checking In” model. We are helping the local retailers compete with the big box providers. If there is one group that should try to leverage this technology…well it is the small retailers or companies trying to compete in a global economy.

Video – Good Ole fashion Storytelling

It took years and years for me to get to the point of understanding what it means to tell a story. A Story…which is comprised as a Beginning, Middle, and a End.

Hmm…let’s think about this for a second. It is currently recommended that if you are creating online video content, that you keep it within a few time parameters.

1) If it is a single person speaking right at the camera…then a minute is about as long as the human attention span can stay engaged.

Jakob Nielsen’s “Talking-Head Video is Boring Online” states that “Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.”

2) If there are more shots beyond the headshot edited over a person speaking (a narrator), then a person’s attention span on average is willing to hang around for about 2.5 minutes. What do I mean? Well, there needs to be a variety of shot selection instead of just looking at the one talking head shot.

Now, given these parameters…let’s talk about Beginning, Middle, and End edited so that it tells a cohesive story between 1 to 2.5 minutes. OMG….seriously. Did you know that if you wrote a script for a video that is:
– one full page length on an 8.5×10 in piece of paper
– one inch margins
– single spaced
– 12 point font size
then it would take roughly 2.5 – 3 minutes to narrate the script. Most people have a hard time condensing a blog article less than five paragraphs. This is why I like Twitter…tell a story in 140 characters.

Many people in advertising and pr like to plan, and plan, and plan, and pre-plan the plan. You know, write the script with the message/vision in mind. Dictate what the narration is going to say, script each person in the video so that it is a controlled message. There is tremendous value in controlling the message.

I typically take a more journalistic approach to creating messages for the clients who choose to work with me.

  • Identify the context by analyzing the Audience, Purpose, and Delivery.
  • Identify the cast (people/subjects featured in video)
  • Identify the storylines that provide context for each subject
  • Write an overall OUTLINE of the story
  • Schedule Interviews
  • Outline the questions/points for the interview
  • Interview each subject on-camera as a conversation
  • After each interview, log and transcribe each interview
  • Write final script
  • Identify gaps in story
  • Write narration and on-camera host scripts that interweave the interviews that display the story (Beginning, Middle, and End).
  • Edit the story. Be prepared to deviate from script based on pacing and story execution. Place each piece of the puzzle together to support overall message.
  • Revision Cycle with stakeholders
  • Deliver the message to the target audience

Now this is a basic overview of the “journalistic approach” to storytelling. But really…it is the approach of letting the subjects tell the story. Using keen interview skills to listen to responses, and being prepared to alter/adjust the interview to pull relevant topics from the subject…bottomline, to meet the needs of the message. This most important part of this process is…LISTEN! Listening is the key to telling a good story. Listen to the subjects, listen to the message, listen to your instincts, listen to the responses on tape, listen to facial expressions of the subjects, listen to the clients reactions.

So how do we listen? Well, let’s talk about listening during a few keys areas of the process.

1) Listening during the interview.

Bob Dotson (NBC Correspondent) said the best way to listen during an interview is to ask a question/make a statement then sit there and force a response. Do not say a thing, create a silent void for the subject to fill. Do not sit there and do the typical “Ahh Haha” or the “Yes” while the person is talking…you will corrupt the audio recorded!

Listen to the subject by watching their facial expressions while you ask questions. This is key to seeing and understanding what makes the subject tick. Did you know that the first two or three questions are typically throw away questions. Questions that get the subject warmed up…use them to your advantage…make them feel comfortable and forget the camera is there. While you are listening to the responses…stay tuned into the how the subject’s mood changes so that you know when to ask a hard question. LISTENING will help you frame your interview session. Interviewing a subject is like telling a story…there is a beginning, middle, and end to the question an answer session.

2) Listening during the logging/transcription session

This is the time to watch, listen, and analyze whether the interview session translates the intended message. Listen for changes in the storyline both in the interview and the over-arching story that is being created. Listen and log “soundbites” that fit into the storyline. As you are logging/transcribing take note to the “soundbites” that might fit in the beginning middle, or end. Listen and take note to the comments….additional “B-Roll” or footage might be needed as complimentary video to reinforce the comments.

3) Listen during editing process

As you are constructing the message from the script…listen as the message flows. If it feels awkward, forced, contradicting, etc; then be willing to listen to your instinct to change so that you feel “at peace” with the pacing.

4) Listen during the revision process

Watch and listen to others as you present the story to your peers and the stakeholders. Watch their facial expressions. Notice when each person starts to lose interest by playing with their iPhone, or looks away. Notice when there is a complimentary emotion that matches the moment in time in the story. If someone cracks a joke, then the audience should smile or laugh. If not, the editing did not execute the purpose. Listen to the responses and be willing to step away from the creative enterprise to think critically about the overarching goal. Be willing to question and listen to why each person had a particular response

LISTENING HELPS US TELL STORIES!!!!

Android Apps – Must Have, I think?

Ever since I have started comparing the iPhone4 and the HTC Incredible, I have had so many people reach out offering advice, information, and I have even re-connected with old friends and fraternity brothers from Clemson (Lambda Chi Alpha). One in particular (Brian Lindenmeyer who is a long time childhood friend and  fraternity brother) has been sending me tons of great information about the Android platform and raving about Verizon’s network. He should be the poster child for Android and Verizon. You can follow him on Twitter: @lxadoz104

Brian has been on the Verizon network for close to 10 years where he began with his Palm Treo moving to the Blackberry and then on to the Android platform. He and one of my other fraternity brothers Rob Christie (@ronx), who is a Senior Software Architect at GlaxoSmithKline, have been sharing a Google Doc with their “Must Have” Android Apps. They have agreed to let me share with you, so here ya go and enjoy!

ADW Launcher: 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.

3Banana Notes: Great note taking app. Lets you create an account on their website for free so that your notes are synced automatically.

AppBrain App Market: Lets you install apps through a web interface! Review and select apps to install from the comfort of your PC, then use the app on your phone to sync your selections and easily install them to your device. I also use this as a way to back up the apps I have installed so I can easily reinstall them when I wipe and install a new ROM.

Assistant Free: Easy access to all your financial accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) and even your bills (phone, utility, etc.). I was skeptical about this one at first, but I’ve read some articles that proved their credibility. This is a great app.

Astrid: Task list. Syncs with RTM (rememberthemilk.com)

ASTRO: Nice file manager application. This also lets you install APK programs that you download to your SD card (the ones that aren’t available on the market)

Auto Ring: On my BlackBerry, I had a sound profile called “Ring Only” which would silence all alerts except for phone calls. I use my phone as an alarm next to the bed, so I want it quiet at night, but I still want to be able to get phone calls in case of emergencies. This app lets you set up a whitelist of whose calls should get through, and when to enable/disable.

AutoKiller: Automatically adjusts memory settings for best memory usage so your phone always performs well.

Chrome to Phone: Only for Froyo, this lets you click a button on your Firefox or Chrome toolbar to immediately send the link to your phone. Great for sending links to google maps directions to your phone for navigation.

Dropbox: My favorite free online cloud storage utility now has an Android app that lets you access your Dropbox from your phone! Check out http://getdropbox.com

Beautiful Widgets: Costs a buck or two, but gives some pretty nice home screen widgets. The big clock and weather display I have on my main screen is one of the widgets from this app.

FeedR: Great program for my RSS/news feeds

Google Voice: I don’t use Voice to make calls, nor do I give out my Voice number often, but the Visual Voicemail functionality is great.

Grocery iQ: Build new shopping lists quickly by saying the item name, scanning the barcode, or using predictive search.

Handcent SMS: Improved text messaging functionality

LauncherPro Beta: Absolutely the best launcher in existence! Multiple screens, multiple custom dockbars, VERY smooth 3D applauncher. DOWNLOAD THIS NOW!

Lightning Bug – Sleep Clock: Listen to thunderstorms, rain, beach sounds, etc., to help you sleep. Very configurable; excellent quality!

Maps: Find places in relation to where you are. Street view. Turn-by-turn GPS navigation!

Mint.com Personal Finance: Manage your personal finances in one place. Mint.com has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years as an intuitive, secure, central location to manage all of your accounts and get personalized reports and overviews. Now there’s an Android app that lets you do all of this on the go!

OpenSudoku: Gotta have my sudoku

Pure calendar widget: All sizes of widgets that give you a nice list view of meetings, events, etc. for the week. Also integrates with Astrid and/or GTasks.

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: Best music streaming app I’ve tried.

ROM Manager: If you will be rooting your device and want an easy way to manage backups, load new ROMs, and interact with your Recovery module, you will NEED this.

Root Explorer: **Only for rooted devices** Best file manager for /system file manipulation. Very powerful.

SetCPU: **Only for rooted devices** De facto way to overclock your device after it’s rooted. You must install a new kernel (easy to do with ROM Manager) first. You can set up profiles to automatically adjust your cpu clock speeds if the battery gets too low or if your battery or cpu get too hot. Very configurable. Buy it through the market or download it for free on xda-developers.com.

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 one has saved me from impulse buys quite a few times.

Swype: Awesome replacement on-screen keyboard that lets you trace the letters of a word with amazing accuracy. Because of this, I never use my slide out keyboard anymore! This app is currently in closed beta (not available to the public), but it should be available again soon. In the mean time, try ShapeWriter Keyboard. Same idea, and I’ve heard it’s almost as good as Swype. (or, just let me know and i’ll send you a copy that works without needing a beta account)

TempMonitor: Keep an eye on your battery or cpu temps by sticking it in the notification bar. Useful if you use SetCPU to overclock your device.

Terminal Emulator: **Only for rooted devices** Access the OS shell (command prompt) for all your h4x0r needs.

Titanium Backup: **Only for rooted devices** Essential for backing up all your apps and data to your SD card

Touiteur (premium): My preferred twitter client. I like the interface (and theme) better than any other client, and the developer is always updating it in the market.

USAA: I can check my balances with Assistant Free (a.k.a. Personal Assistant Free), but with this one, I can pay bills from my USAA checking account, transfer funds, and do other tasks that require a little more security.

XBMC Remote: If you have a HTPC and use XBMC, you will love this one.

AndChat: Nice free IRC client

Barcode Scanner: Good for scanning QR codes or any other type of barcode. I don’t use this anymore since ShopSavvy can scan QR codes for links now.

Caller ID Faker: App that uses BluffMyCall to let you spoof your caller ID. The free service only lets you make 2 minute calls, and requires you to listen to a brief ad before the call goes through, but it’s worth it for freaking out your friends.

Facebook for Android: Though I think the main interface is lacking, the contact picture sync is decent and it provides the ability to “share to facebook” for pictures and other things. If all you care about is synching pictures with your contacts, check out SyncMyPix (see below).

Gmail Notifier: Provides more customization options for your gmail notifications. I use this to customize the LED notification when I get new emails.

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.

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

SyncMyPix: I used to install Facebook for Android only for the feature that syncs facebook contact photos with my Contacts list on the phone, and it would still miss quite a few of my contacts. I just found this app yesterday and it works much better for what I want it to do. It does a great job matching up your facebook contacts with your google contacts, and after it syncs, it shows you the results. You can then manually match facebook contacts to the appropriate google contact for any that did not auto-match. One thing to note about this app, though. 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. I actually like this, though, because I have never bothered to manually set profile pics in Google Contacts. If none of this makes sense to you, chances are you’ll like this behavior too 😉

iheartradio: For general music streaming, I use Pandora. iheartradio doesn’t buffer nearly as well, and has some other glitches, but it’s the only app I’ve found that lets me listen to my local morning radio show when I’m not in the car.

Movies: App by Flixter that lets you easily find information on movies. Box office, just released on DVD, etc. I like this app for watching trailers. NOTE: I don’t keep this app installed on my phone anymore because I hardly ever used it. It’s still a good app and worth mentioning though. *Update: IMDb may end up replacing my need for this*

Poke A Mole: Fun “Whack a Mole” game

Scanner Radio: listen to live audio from over 2,200 police and fire scanners, railroad communications, and weather radio broadcasts from around the world. Very fun!

Shazam: I hardly ever use this app, but it’s really nice when I do want to use it. Identifies songs by listening to a few seconds.

SMS Backup: Backs up your text messages to your gmail account. Very nice — now I can search my texts via gmail. Will probably move this to my must have list pretty soon.

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.

Toss It: Very fun (and addicting) game of wastebasket hoops

My New iPhone4 & HTC Incredible – WOOHOO!

Watch the video but big thanks to JDPR and the folks at Verizon Wireless for making this happen! I am not getting paid for this little deal, other than forking out $200 buck for my new iPhone4. But, when the folks at JDPR heard about my new iPhone4, they wanted me to test drive the HTC Incredible on the Android platform!

Hospital Social Media Bandwidth Demand is Heating Up

Evolution, evolution, evolution. Word of mouth gone digital…and the result, a CIO’s worst nightmare: SQUEEZE MORE IN THE PIPES!

BizReport.com reported in April, 2010 stats that we already know intrisically…7% of all business Internet traffic is going to Facebook and 10% of bandwidth used in a business is getting chewed up with YouTube. Makes sense because YouTube has become the number two search engine below Google.

Let’ look at the Facebook stats:

  • More than 400 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook

WOW…so, we know that people are accessing Facebook at work in some capacity. Let’s look at another statistic that I found interesting: There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices and people that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

Well…if you can’t get it on the company computer then you can pull out that iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc. to access you favorite social media site. I have already tackled the reality of why hospitals and organizations should open up the pipes to Social Media, so I wanted to look at what are the hesitations for corporate decision makers. What are the top two arguments for not opening up the pipes to Social Media: 1) employee productivity and 2) bandwidth.

Infrastructure is a huge issue. Think of it this way. I have a house that was built in the 1920’s. The plumbing in the house was probably re-built in the late 70’s. I have a half-inch pipe servicing my house…so when someone is the shower, you better not flush the toilet or turn on the washing machine. And…do not plan on taking two showers at one time or consider doing the ole Navy Shower routine: turn on water and rinse, turn off water and wash, turn on water and rinse.

So…using this analogy…think of bandwidth in the same regard. Lots of hospitals have the same position when it comes to IT infrastructure. Legacy wiring, switches, etc. to support an ever increasing demand for bandwidth. So imaging opening the flood gates to all social media and other resource intensive web based, community platforms. There is only so much a hospital or organization can support given the current infrastructure. So with the demands of increasing bandwidth needs and access to information…there are policies and procedures that have to be put into place to decide how to allocate resources. The Department of Defense just recently opened up the pipes to Social Media but put into place strict guidelines for use…a “Consistent Policy.” “There has to be since 47 million of Americans visit Facebook daily, which is nearly as many who watch TV daily (55 percent),” states Neilsen.

So how do we get hospitals’ and organizations CIO’s and IT Departments on-board with opening up the pipes for Social Media’s:

  • First – Build a team to assess this demand. This includes heads of marketing/pr, IT (CIO), finance (CFO), and service area department heads.
  • Second – Build an advisory team built of individuals on the ground level. These are the individuals actively accessing Social Media as brand ambassadors.
  • Third – Build policies and procedures for implementing Social Media usage on all levels. Whether it is a patient, visitor, employee, or leadership…all users should have guidelines for usage.
  • Fourth – Assess current infrastructure and how the increase in demand of data will affect infrastructure and costs associated with opening the pipes.
  • Fifth – Implement a strategic plan for who and when can access Social Media platforms. This is based on access and cost to access data.

Bandwidth costs money, whether if it is the amount of data transfer, the physical pieces of technology that manage the pipes, or the human capital accessing the networks…time and usage is money. So what type of investment should we allocate to this growing demand for information?

Remember the one stat that I mentioned earlier, one that I am sure is making a CIO happy: there are more and more people accessing Facebook on mobile devices. Is this out of necessity because corporate pipes have been locked down or is the mere fact more and more mobile devices have access to fast data and applications. This is diverting the bandwidth issue but raising the problem of whose mobile device is being used to access the Social Media’s? Is the company footing the bill for the device or is it a personal device; regardless, people are accessing Social Media.

People want access to stories and they are connecting with stories via social media’s!

It is a Social Media Revolution…I am still thinking!

Well it is a two days after the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Social Media Revolution and day two of synthesizing a ton of good conversations. One thing that has been re-affirmed…it is still Social Media and it needs to stay social. Seriously, they are media’s and they are controlled by the social masses.

Reed Smith finished with this parting question,” Who Owns Social Media?” My opinion, the masses. The people that are using these media’s to socialize, share information, connecting with others are the ones that own social media. Organizations are just one of the many people in this vast paradigm interacting with other colleagues,  constituency bases just like my mother sharing pictures of her Vegas trip. She has an audience, she engages with her audience, shares information, receives a level of response, and continues to engage in conversations. If people were not responding, commenting, engaging, sharing, and generating conversation…then Facebook would not be the Number One website jumping over Google (Via Ed Bennett)

We as marketers, hospitals, organizations should understand and respect the paradigm, or we will find one more way to shape a vastly growing medium into a form of one-way conversation…one more time! So, it comes back to audience…knowing our audience and finding ways to join the convesation instead of creating one more marketing stream, hoping that some mom from the age 25-34 is going to by into our poorly created message as we cram it into a medium with a sledge hammer. We have big sledge hammers!

Social Media is no longer an after thought when it comes to hospitals marketing strategies. VP’s and Marketing Directors are quickly trying to evaluate staff resources and figure out how to staff the shift.  The shift is not just Social Media, but New Media and Rich Media. We are asking questions to those large organizations how they are staffing a marketing/pr and comparing it the numbers of the web/media staff. Some do not have a web/media staff, outsourcing to a vendor in the hopes it will create a band aid until the next fiscal conversation.

Ed Bennett told the crowd of 125 at SCHA’s Conference Center that his staff at the University of Maryland Medical Center is 8 web/new media professionals servicing all social media and web outlets compared to the marketing/pr staff has 8 members as well. They are making the shift and taking control of creation and distribution of the their message. Amen brother…preach it to us, we will follow. Trust me, every decision maker in that room was jotting down that number and thinking about integrating those stats into their strategic capital requests! Bottom-line, that is where the ROI discussion should be located.

Social Media efforts are now being integrated into every aspect of a hospital’s and physician’s marketing efforts. They are learning that Social Media has another ROI point of interest, it is generating direct hits to their web portals, directing audiences to the message, reducing bounce rates, and creating strategic linkage systems that bolster rankings in the search engines. It is a search engine war as hospitals in the same geographic areas are competing for the search engine space. Not only with Google but with YouTube…why, because YouTube is the Number 2 search engine right now, today! (Via Ed Bennett) Hospitals are creating rich media that gives audiences palatable information that helps potential clients make decisions from service lines to which ER (ED) to choose.

Social Media efforts are being integrated daily into all campaigns. It is no longer the game of just creating a billboard and “brochure” and then create a totally different message for web/social media/new media outlets. Now, these efforts are being combined, where there is a conversation of consistency in design across the whole board. You no longer see the Facebook and Twitter logo as an after thought at the bottom of a print piece, it is taking over as a major position in the design and including the exact URL to find this social media outlet. Oh yeah…we are in a mode of securing our domains before someone takes over our message. Look at what happened to BP, someone created a Twitter account (@BPGlobalPR) to post off color messages about the oil spill in the gulf. Is it really a pr nightmare?

And…OH…AND…TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ARE NOT THE ONLY SOCIAL MEDIA’s! Conversations are being created on Flickr and YouTube. People like to share pictures and video. They like to be creative and find others that share their vision. So campaigns are being created so that audiences can take part in the media creation. Organizations are creating campaigns allowing audience to submit videos and pictures that lead to idea generation and community building. We all have a way to express ourselves so why not capitalize on user generated media. Plus, marketing departments know they are biased based on strategic messaging (that waters down the social conversation), it makes more sense to let the audience lead the way. Once again, the masses own Social Media.

Policies and Procedures…oh yeah, that too. It is time to dust off that HR generated web policy that we have employees signed, the one that was created in the 1980’s. It is time to realize that we cannot close the pipes much longer inside hospitals and organizations. There is this new little nifty thing called a mobile device. Yes, those phones that are now media generators and media distributors. We can now walk around hospitals until we find that service bar on the phone, take a picture, and upload it to Facebook. Do not mind the fact that I cannot log onto Facebook from my company issued computer…we will show them. Do not mind that the hospital’s Wifi is in and out, we can get close to a window, get service, and send a picture of Uncle Harry that just got out of surgery and is ok now! Oh, there is this new thing called an iPad and a Netbook that does not need Wifi anymore and it has a the ability to do more than the mobile phone. So we need to generate a policy that is more than just a social media policy, it is Media Communication Policy for not only employees but patients as well. Signs need to be put up around hospitals to remind of best practices when taking pictures and sharing information.

IT IS A SOCIAL MEDIA REVOLUTION!

So where are we now and where are we going? Heck if I know, but I know this…location based technologies like FourSquare and Gowalla are hear and gaining traction. They are the real Social Media ROI generators, when people check into a location, it provides an exact location for all the masses to see. We now can start targeting information and strategies based on where the masses (or audiences) are checking in. We should, because Starbucks is doing it, providing incentives for those who check in the most…DISCOUNTS! Hmm, this could work well for hospitals that have wellness programs integrated with work-out facilities.

I tell you what, that Reed Smith and Ed Bennett are smart peeps…and Micheal Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins Law Firm got me thinking about this Social Media Revolution. It is about audience, purpose, delivery, engagement, and right to privacy. Yes, Right to Privacy…and what is your expectation to privacy. These new policies and procedures need to include how, when, and where information is created and distributed, especially if the company is footing the bill for that Balckberry, iPhone, or Android you are carrying. If they pay, they might have a right to access the information you generate on that device.

Social Media is here to stay and we cannot avoid it…AT ALL. So it is time to find ways to staff it, generate best practices, follow the audiences that own it, and be prepared for it’s evolution. This Social Media Revolution is going to evolve into the next media revolution that has the acceleration of an “E” ratio…forward and fast!

BTW – The Adams Group had two great recaps of Social Media Revolution: Part One & Part Two

It is a Social Media Revolution! Getting ready for healthcare panel discussion.

South Carolina Hospital Association (@SCHospitals) and Carolina Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society have put together a Social Media Conference in Columbia, South Carolina; a conference to bring hospitals from North and South Carolina to have a conversation. They call it a Social Media Revolution.

Thought leaders Ed Bennett and Reed Smith will be leading the discussion and providing the platform for hospital discourse to flow freely…the conversation: what does Social Media mean for my hospital. If you want to follow the conversation on Twitter…Click Here or use the hashtag #smrev via Twitter.

I have been asked to lead a panel discussion in the afternoon, so I thought I would spend a few minutes to refine some notes for the discussion.

Here are our panelist:
Dr. David Geier (@DrDavidGeier)
Director of Sports Medicine | MUSC

Ronda Wilson (@GHShospitals)
Director of PR & Marketing | Georgetown Hospital

Andrew Busam (@randolphhosp)
Public Relations Coordinator | Randolph Hospital

Sally Foister (@SallySF & @GHS_org)
Director of Marketing | Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center

Discussion Points:

Marketing
– How did you get started?
– What are your successes?
– How did you get started operationally/organizationally
– How do you manage your outlets?
– How do you find the resources to manage?
– How does SM fit into overall strategy
– Georgetown – Why did you wait “so long” to integrate?
– Dr. Geier – How do you use it under the umbrella of a bigger organization?

HR/Careers
– How is SM being used as a HR/recruitment tool
– How do you manage conversations inside an organization? Or do you?
– Can it be used to recruit nurses?
– How are you using to promote career paths?
– Is recruitment a part of your strategy?

HIPPA/Patient Information

– How do you deal with privacy?
– How do you deal with SM Diagnosing?
– Do you want to be a thought leader online but not physician online?
– How do you use SM to create conversations as a physician?

General
– How can a small bed hospital use SM to engage a community?
– How do you monitor conversations and address audience concerns/complaints?
– How do you manage accounts?
– Who wears the “Company” hat or who keeps it personal?
– What is the strategy from an aesthetic branding perspective?

Building Career Relationships Goes Beyond the Resume

When I think back over the course of my career…the one thing that I can say is that I have never gotten a job because of a resume. Every job I have gotten has been based on a relationship….the resume was a formality in the job hiring process – HR required it for my file.

As I work with students and other professionals, it has been my philosophy it is not what you know..it is who you know. When teaching on a collegiate level especially in a business writing class; i do not teach how to write a resume…I teach how to build relationships to get the resume in the right hands.

It is my belief that that the hand shake is today’s resume in the business world. During a recessionary time period, employers are being flooded with resume’s after resumes. Even a janitor job in Ohio received over 700 job applications…WOW. In a slumping economy, it is important to find ways to separate yourself away from the pack.

Think…does two pieces of paper listing your job history, education, experience, and qualifications accurately represent your abilities, personality, and willingness to be a vital part of an organization? Why do you think so many employers want to interview the person before they are hired. Imagine if you spent just as much energy when applying for a job figuring out the name of the hiring manager or decision maker, then put yourself in a position to meet them and shake their hand.

Some say that the origin of the hand shake came from Medieval Europe where kings and knights would extend their hands to each other and grasp the others’ hand as demonstration that each did not possess a concealed weapon and intended no harm.

The hand shake communicates lots of different non-verbal cues but ultimately it is a product of relationship building.

Why do we spend so much time building a resume. Well, it is an educational/professional process to organize our background, qualities, education, honors, etc. into one place. It is a snap shot of who we are and what we represent professionally. It is tremendous exercise to go through the process of compiling a resume. This forces the job seeker, to organize thoughts so that when we meet with other professionals…this writing process has organized our thoughts. It is a starting point for conversation and can be a reference when filling out a job application. It is my opinion that the resume is not the “end all be all.”

There is more to a job or joining an organization than the ability to organize our resume. We should spend just as much time, actually more time building career relationships as we do putting together a resume. We should be teaching students and professionals how to network, make “elevator pitches”, shake hands…ultimately building relationships.