Category Archives: Software

Keyboard Control in Forms

It’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Years ago, during a period when I was using Access a lot, I got to design forms and you can set the tab control in an MS Access form pretty easily. Down one side and then to the fields on the right? Or across then down, across then down? You think about user interface, and make decisions. Then as you use the form, can modify and improve.

So many times these days, especially in web forms, that capacity seems to be lost. Maybe it is really really hard to control on sites, I honestly don’t know. But I feel quite skeptical.

You go to a site page which exists solely for the purpose of typing data in, but you can’t simply start typing, you need to click in the field first. And then when you tab out of the first field, it doesn’t necessarily take you to the next field! Some pages / screens, you need to mouse from field to field.

It used to be that there were keyboard commands for navigation in nearly every instance.

I strongly encourage anyone involved in such things to take that back in to account, and move us forward to a more efficient process.

Any tips / suggestions/ feedback much welcome!

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Filed under Social Media, Software, Uncategorized

Socially Medium

With my ingénue eyes, Social Media is a fascinating, vibrant field full of mystery and excitement.. and twists and turns equal to any film thriller. Since I don’t work in the field, it is always new and fresh. And I’m not encumbered by too much actual technical expertise.

So I’m launching a sometime-series of Social Media from the layperson’s point of view, or the consumer’s point of view, or something like that.

Catchy title in process — currently ‘Socially Medium’ under consideration.

Today I just have to mention that HootSuite, much as I love it and celebrate it every day, is making me crazy.

I have used it with a range of accounts, from 2 to 5 at any given time.  These accounts are mine, family members, work places.  I’ve found HootSuite really has a serious ceiling on its functionality, and 2 accounts seems to be a limit (I’m using the free version).

So in my comments today, it’s with that framework in place – 2 account, each of which has all 20 lists in place.

Problem #1: Favoriting – when I favorite a tweet within Hootsuite, it doesn’t give me the choice of which account I want the favorite to be added to.  It makes a decision based on which account I’ve used more it seems like.  So, often the wrong account is used.. not a big problem, since I do the process knowing that that is the likely outcome, but it’s annoying. I could go to the Twitter site and favorite it there, but I’m usually trying to spend fewer minutes rather than more, and staying in Hootsuite is simpler.

Update: You know what? Classic case of the utility of writing — I figured something out about this since releasing it in this post. When Hootsuite doesn’t ask which account the favorite is for, it assigns the favorite to the account that owns the column from which the tweet came.. so if it’s a company-list, it favorites the tweet on to the company account, personal list – personal account. Finally. Still doesn’t work for me, because I put things in lists in a very organic manner, and that 1:1 correspondence is pretty off base. Good to understand though!

And when the thing I want to favorite is in a list/column from the other account, not the one I want the favorite on, just realized: If I click on the account of the tweeter (bringing it out of the paradigm of the particular column that tweet was in), then Hootsuite does ask which account I want the favorite to be on. Hallelujah.

Atleast, those are my working theories for now..

Problem #2: The lists. I often find interesting accounts on Hootsuite that I want to add to a list, or several.  One thing is that the add-to-list process works for one list at a time, which is painful. The other is that Hootsuite doesn’t update the list names from changes made in Twitter .. at all, it seems. So I have to know that X old name = Y current name.

Also, Hootsuite constantly changes the order of the list names that it presents. So I can add an account to a list from either of my accounts in Hootsuite, which is nice.. if I can find it in the constantly newly-sorted order.

Also, it presents some list names twice.. so it’s either showing two different lists with the same name, or one list twice. Neither is optimal..

I have somewhat randomly redundant processes, and overlapping list memberships, so it’s not fatal, but it bothers me. I wish there was some way to tell Hootsuite to update its list info from Twitter periodically. And I’d love to be able to order the lists that it shows in that ‘add to list’ function myself, or just have it use the list order established in Twitter.

Also, the bit.ly links – seems like for a while Hootsuite would just not send scheduled tweets that included those kind of links, so after noticing that, I started trying to remember to replace each of those links with a Hootsuite –generated link. Not time-efficient much.. and then sometimes I forget, and now it seems one tweet with a bit.ly link did go through. So maybe that isn’t required any more.

Finally, I noticed somewhere something about 6 characters being set aside for the tweet wrapper or something.. it had been the case that Hootsuite would send tweets that were longer than 140 characters. My understanding was that other Hootsuite users would see the full tweet, folks using other interfaces would not. But now it seems that Hootsuite won’t send tweets over 134 characters: 140 – 6.. but that’s not always the case either.

Clearly, there is a LOT of mystery involved for me! A smidge less would still be completely sufficient, honest.

Adapting to conditions is constantly required, would be nice though if the conditions would remain consistent – or get better. If only Hootsuite would fix these things, I’d be a very happy participant!

Insights/suggestions welcome. But save your breath if you would tell me to use a different interface – honestly that’s just not going to happen any time soon. The investment is too great.. I save most of my computer-y energy for work, constantly getting the best out of the different accounting software programs I’m using (3 different ones right now, between work and home).. everything else is secondary.  Including this site, etc.. simple suggestions welcome, anything more is probably not realistic. This is the elsewhere-focused outback on social media, hopefully with some attendant charm, despite all interwoven deficiencies!

P.S. Some other things I want to write about soon include Facebook advertising and that new option ‘Listly’..

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Filed under Infrastructure, Site, Social Media, Software

Using WordPress – why and for how long?

A new member of my work community just commented on my blog being here at WordPress rather than separately hosted with its own URL and all.

So here’s a blog post about it, and an opportunity for further conversation with anyone considering these questions.

First, I agree. Real blogs should be hosted by your nearest awesome ISP (which I have), and have all the serious trappings that come with that. I’m a firm believer in doing things the substantial way whenever possible, for best results and also because that inherently benefits the whole business community.

Right now, though, I’m here. Temporarily.

A little background: I worked at Minnesota Regional Network from 1997 – 1999, back when they were the backbone of the internet in the state of Minnesota (along with the University of Minnesota). That was a great experience. I remember looking at websites for the first time when I started there, back when there weren’t all that many on line (many times fewer than the number of Google + accounts right now!).

The browser, Netscape, had ‘what’s new’ and ‘what’s cool’ buttons, and those buttons were relatively authoritative regarding the entire internet. Our engineers generally scoffed at the World Wide Web, being much more engaged with UseNet and bulletin boards and so on. We were an early provider of online access to the masses, our employees helped many people log on for the first time.

One year when I was there we had a booth at the State Fair, which was really fun too. We would ask people walking by if they wanted to see the internet. There was a lot of skepticism and plain lack of awareness, but sharing those initial exciting experiences was really great.

I developed a huge respect for the Internet Gurus who keep it all running for the rest of us, great fascination for Unix, and a life-long loyalty to the Mac OS.

I consulted for the first time after leaving there, and set up my own website using Dreamweaver and other tools. HTML coding didn’t appeal to me very much, and there were many who were focusing exclusively on it, so I didn’t spend much time gathering that skill set. What little coding I did was much more fun thanks to BBEdit than it would have been otherwise.

And I remember launching my website! And then waiting for a response! Waiting for an audience! Scanning the hieroglyphics of my web logs, trying to understand trends and future promise. Waiting! Waiting for an audience that never really materialized.

That feeling of launching the website — to resounding silence is one of the main reasons I was interested to try WordPress this time around. Built in audience (sort of), built in community (kind of). Built in mainstream normalcy (for what it’s worth).

Also I wanted to start this way because I may have clients with WordPress sites, and wanted to share that technology knowledge base with them.

The other whole reason goes back to my not learning HTML. I have another core belief that it is optimal to let experts engage in their expertise, and pay the valid rate they charge. There are a lot of challenges to that practice right now, but to the extent we can return to that practice, again there are multiple community benefits. But right now, I don’t have the resources to allocate to that. WordPress does that for me, allowing me to gain a clearer idea of what I want when I do launch my actual site.

So I do definitely see this as a short-term situation. I’m establishing blogging habits, becoming slowly familiar with how this site can interact with other sites, making initial attempts at a category and tag system, seeing how my content feels in this particular visual setting.

At the optimal future point when it is time, I will give my awesome ISP a call and start the next step. My ISP, ipHouse, is run by some of the most dedicated folks in the internet-serving community, and it’s great knowing that there’s no further decision to make in that area.

At that point, with all the social media tools available, I know I will be able to connect in with my existing audiences seamlessly. It’s all such a different world from back then. It’s not all perfect, there is a lot of noise. But the amount of content and ease of access to that content on today’s internet continually thrills me.

So thanks for that comment, Glenn. And would love to hear further comments from you and anyone else on comparative benefits/costs of WordPress vs. independently hosted & managed website.

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Filed under Infrastructure, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media, Software, Technology