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With very little ballyhoo and even less fanfare I deleted my Tumblr account last week. I actually deleted both of them. Bet you didn’t even know that I had one.

And how would you? I never really talked it up. And why didn’t I talk it up? Because I didn’t have time.

Between updating my status on Facebook and Twitter and Google+, checking in on Foursquare and Yelp, putting pictures up on Flickr and videos on YouTube, logging what will no doubt eventually become admissible evidence on Untappd, keeping my resume semi-up-to-date on LinkedIn, blogging for work on the SAP Community Network and ASUG (login required)  and my work intranet site (and don’t forget my work-related podcast), I found a lot of my evenings gone. My wife and I agreed that I should probably spend the rest of my non-work time on things like writing this blog and mowing the lawn and making sure my kids can recognize me when I pick them up from daycare. So my Tumblr account(s) had fallen by the wayside, and I decided to kill it off.

But I really feel like that should just be the first step. I should be able to wittle it down to a handful of places that will let me update my status, check in to places, review things I like, and read the statuses, updates, and reviews of those people I like. The problem with that is coverage. I am on 25 different social sites because I HAVE 25 different social networks. Some people are my friend on Facebook but not on Twitter (it’s largely a work/personal line, but that line gets blurrier every day). Some people are on Google +, which I kind of like, but it isn’t like my Aunt Betty is gonna hop over there anytime soon. If I want to track certain people down, I need a specific checkin site — and God forbid they’d all use the same one.

The bottom line is that no one social network right now lets me do everything I need to do, and they definitely don’t let me do it with all of the people I need to do those things with. Facebook comes closest but has too much Farmville for me to take it seriously, and without hashtagging its too hard to keep up with certain things. Google + has a lot to offer, but its Circles concept is totally upside down right now, and very few people are on it. Twitter hasn’t developed anything new since it first came out (besides of course “the new twitter”, which is irrelevant since nobody actually uses the Twitter website), so it isn’t much of a threat to either Facebook or Google.

In the long run, I’d like to see one unified social messaging system developed, so that I create one message (it could be a blog, a tweet, a check-in, a review, and it could be tagged by me and others for context and relevancy) and have people subscribe to my notes (by tags) and view and interact with them wherever they want. Then I’d like to be able to see all of the engagement for my messages in one place, so that its one big conversation. Right now it’s really frustrating to see one message from one person on 5 different networks because they have to blast it out — worse yet is that any conversation the message starts is then spread out over 5 networks.

In the short run, you’ll still be able to find me everywhere. Except of course on Tumblr.

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I’ve seen a lot of blog posts recently about how people use certain social networking sites (the most recent from my dear German friend Natascha). Never one to pass on a meme, I’m going to rehash my thoughts on this subject here. First let me warn you that anything you say on the internet is there forever, and if you think someone won’ t know it is you, well, just be prepared to be wrong. All that said, never put anything online (or anywhere else for that matter) if you aren’t prepared to defend it, be embarrassed by it, or answer for it in court. So everything I say after this starts with the supposition that you aren’t going to say anything too stupid.

I’m a member of lots of big social media/networking sites, but I only use a few. Here is how I use them:

  • Facebook – I used to only use Facebook to let people find me. I basically created my profile so people from the past could find me and send me a friend request. Then I’d usually send them an email, catch up, and just forget about it. Lately I’ve been using it marginally more, reading it when I’m really, really bored, and posting to it occasionally (although mostly I just share my Twitter updates with Facebook when I think it’s appropriate for that audience). I’m not even remotely selective here – I can’t think of a single request I’ve turned down besides people named things like Spammy McNotYourFriend.
  • LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn sort of like I used to use Facebook, but work-specific. I accept virtually every request I get, I’ll respond to direct messages, and I’ll look up people’s contact information if I need it, but that is just about it. It’s a nice way to keep tabs on my network without actually trying to keep up with them. I never read anyone’s posts on there, although I sometimes do share tweets with it.
  • Google Buzz – This is the only thing Google ever did that I don’t absolutely love. Oh, that and the Android platform, which I’m not behind at all. But those are the only two things. This whole thing is just a poorly-executed waste of time. I will say I always get a little tickle when I happen to bump into someone in there.
  • SAP Community Network and ASUG.com (login required) – These are strictly work areas. I blog in both spots, and occasionally turn up in the forums, but mostly I use these sites to gather information to make me more perfectly adequate at my job.
  • Twitter – My true online love. Sure I’ll occasionally tweet about what I ate for breakfast, and read when others do the same, but I like Twitter because I have a lot of friends on there with similar work interests, so I can talk somewhat randomly about life and work and not have to worry about a filter between the two. I like that you have to be clever and concise. I like that you sometimes speak in a sort of secret code that people that aren’t in Twitter don’t understand. And I like the conversation, which is totally cliché and totally true. Twitter is the one place where I’m selective about who I follow (but not who can follow me) because I simply don’t have time to really follow more than 100 people (and I’m up to about 250).

I like social media because it allows me to stay in touch when I don’t have time to stay in touch. I can drop out for a few weeks and its not a huge deal. I can participate in the middle of the night whether other people are online and actively participate or not. I can more easily segregate my friends into non-work, work, or both, and I can choose when to interact with each.

And it makes sure I never miss things like VanDerMemes (via @gweiswasser).

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I am going to continue the trend of reviewing health related products. Recently I officially claimed the self imposed title of “avid runner”. It has been about 4.5 years in the making but I have finally crossed over into almost cult-like behavior when it comes down to my running. Recently my normal runs have been lasting 4-5 miles and I am stretching my long runs out to 9 or more. I wasn’t always this into running, in fact not too long ago I despised it with every fiber of my overweight being. However I, much like Jamie, decided that being a fat dad was an overall bad thing. So about 5 years ago I took to running. I won’t bore you with my lifestyle change &  running history now, I will save that for a different post. However I want to make sure you know that I am into running more than a sane person should be.

So this Christmas, my wife bought me a new iPod Nano because up until very recently I needed music to run, and my old iPod Nano is a disaster. So after fooling around with the new Nano, I decided that I didn’t like it very much, my old iPod was still better, and I really don’t need music for running anymore. So with that realization I decided to purchase a Garmin Forerunner 305 with heart rate monitor. This was great for me since I was satisfying my inner techy-nerd and my clinical addiction to running at the same time. I now possessed the ability to track my runs, watch my heart rate, and look really cool all at the same time. I became a triple treat. Kind of like the end of the 7th Harry Potter book.

I also went with a Garmin because its Garmin Connect site syncs with a site I belong to called Earndit. Quickly, I will let you know that Earndit is a fantastic site and a great way to be rewarded for your hard work. While they are relatively new, and they are picking up reward sponsors quickly. So jump on the bandwagon. Oh its free to join also.

Unfortunately not every product can be perfect, except bacon. There are 3 issues I have identified with the Garmin Forerunner 305 that I think you should be aware of if you are considering purchasing one.

1) It takes forever to find & lock on to a damn satellite. I would say that on the average it takes 5 minutes to lock on. I find this to be a big problem especially in the cold because you have to wait and wait on the Satellites. I am pleading with you Garmin to release a firmware upgrade or something, so you can fix this. Brutal.

2) The buttons on the watch aren’t the easiest to use and it is very hard to tell if you have pushed one or not. I am glad I am not a biker because it would be dangerous to have to fiddle extra time with the watch while riding. Eyes on path.

3) The software that comes with the watch I believe was updated last in 2004. My 5 year old could produce better graphics and functionality with a marker and a blindfold. Again, Garmin please release some new software that doesn’t look so terrible.

These may seem very trite complaints because honestly I am wearing a GPS receiver on my wrist that can communicate with outer space. Its pretty incredible.

Now that that’s out of the way, I really do like this watch. I am racking up reward points like crazy, it has helped me run longer, and not be confined to any specific route that I had already mapped out. I am getting instant feedback on everything you can imagine, my pace, distance, heart rate, etc. I can actually race myself with the watch which is really cool if you are looking to set PRs without forking over serious scratch for organized races. I think overall this device has made me a better, happier, more attractive runner.

Here are some key Pros that I want to let you know about.

  1. Once a Satellite locks on, it stays on. I have not experienced any drops and that is with running through some thick woods. Also it is very accurate in terms of measuring distance.
  2. Garmin’s online workout tracking site is really good.
  3. Garmin syncs up with a lot of other sites. Earndit as mentioned above and RunKeeper are the two I use. You can also convert your run data and plot it on Google Maps.
  4. The heart monitor is awesome and you can also purchase a Foot Pod for indoor running & Pedal sensor for your bike.
  5. The Garmin support staff was extremely quick  and helpful when my watch wouldn’t power up. We solved the issue right over the phone at no cost.
  6. What else… Oh it cost less than that new iPod if you look online for it.

On our Sandwich Scale I would rate the Garmin Forerunner 305 a Muffaleta. Which if you look at their product lineup in this category is fairly accurate. And as any good review goes, if Garmin is willing to have me try out other devices or products I am more than happy to do this for them.

The iPod Nano however didn’t fair so well on the scale. I am giving it an MLT (Mutton Lettuce & Tomato). If I were to use this in a workout or running setting it would last no more than 6 months. There is no real way to protect it or sheath it from my over-active sweat glands. Also it would be nearly impossible to easily skip songs while working out. Smaller isn’t always better Apple.

-S

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Yesterday I wrote a blog about some pants I got for Christmas (which are awesome). I reread it last night on my couch, caught some typos, and decided to test out the WordPress App I downloaded (for free) to my iPhone. I changed the spelling on 3 words, everything looked great, and I saved it. No problem.

When I looked at the blog again this morning, it had done that awful thing where it inserted a bunch of line breaks where they don’t normally go, and then it CHANGED THE FREAKING TITLE OF THE BLOG TO AN OLDER BLOG TITLE FOR NO REASON.

Suffice it to say, I’ve deleted the app and I won’t be using it again anytime soon. Beware bloggers — sometimes the internet really is out to get you.

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I’m writing this blog from an iPad. Not my iPad mind you,but an iPad.
I’ve really wanted one for a while now, so I borrowed one for a few weeks to decide whether or not it’s worth 6 months of allowance (yes, I’m on an allowance, and yes, that is a very good thing). So I’ve got one on loan for a couple weeks for work, and I’m trying it out. The simple run-down follows.

Pros

– Fantastic as an e-reader, although I was pretty limited by not being able to sync it from my iTunes.
– Surfing the web is pretty good, but it depends on how interactive you want to get. The way web-based gmail looks on the iPad will make you want to browse the mobile site from your computer. Seriously.
– Angry Birds. It doesn’t look or play any better on the iPad than on other devices, but if buying an iPad is the only access you would have to that game, its worth the price of admission.
– The official Twitter app is awesome. Again, it makes you wonder why you cant use it on your pc.

Cons

– This freaking thing is slippery. The one I borrowed didn’t have a case, and I’ve spent the last several days petrified I’m going to drop it.
– It is much easier to type on than the iPhone, but it is really limiting to lose half of your screen to a keyboard when you want to type, anything.
– Not all iphone apps work on the ipad and vice versa, so you may end up repaying for some stuff. Also, because Steve Jobs is a control freak without any real need to adjust to peoples needs, there’s the whole iTunes, syncing, accounts cluster going on.
– I borrowed this one from work, so I can’t, you know, use it for what the internet is best for.

Conclusion

I can see where the iPad and other tablet devices could be really useful, but it really depends on what sort of tasks you use (or would
use) your computer for. As long as you you don’t expect it to replace your laptop, and you spend a lot of time using not-terribly-hardcore software, the iPad could be a way to get to what you need quickly and easily without lugging around a laptop.

[Note: I used the WordPress official app to write this, but it wouldn’t let me publish it, so I had to email it to myself and go from there. Which was a real pain, as was trying to format it.]

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There is a battle going on for your business. Its starts by letting the world know where you are and how great it is there.

As I browse the Android Market and its hundreds of thousands of apps I see more and more of them out there focused on creating a real-life game out of people’s daily routines. The social check-in is the big thing right now. Some use it for discounts, some to get badges, and some who believe the world revolves around themselves and think we actually care where they are. There’s even  a TV show in the works about it.

So while the Social Behavior and the psychology of why people like to share location information is an interesting topic, it involves waaay more research than I am willing to do for free. So, what I’d like to do is review the 2 biggest Apps out there for telling the world where you are: Foursquare SCVNGR.

Both have an extensive user base, both offer free stuff & discounts, & both want you to check in somewhere. However, when you break down their version of the “game” its a little different.

Foursquare

The “old man” when it comes to socially checking in at places. Foursquare’s game is straight forward: check-in and leave tips for others. If you check in frequently to a particular location, you can become “Mayor”. Some businesses reward their mayor for his/her patronage by offering special incentives that all other “non Mayors” can’t get. This creates a huge competition for these coveted spots and it is thought to drive business for those locations. Foursquare also has a Badge System. So the more you check in, you become more eligible for badges. There are badges out there for everything: Going to work, Going to the Gym, Staying out late, Voting, etc). You name it, there’s probably a badge for it. This is also a great way to invoke participation from the user base. Businesses can also create badges to drum up business and rewards. Apple, Sports Authority, & RadioShack are just a few that have done this. Is it working for these businesses? I don’t know. This is where the “I need money for my research time” comes in. I can tell you with very little research that its working for Foursquare and they are growing like crazy. They are hiring in their NYC &  San Francisco offices. You can find me at http://foursquare.com/runsheprun. I am always willing to add friends.

SCVNGR

SCVNGR is a bit newer to the game, but is roping in clients like crazy also (GameStop, Journeys, & The New England Patriots to name a few). So what sets SCVNGR apart? Users still check-in to a location, they can still receive badges & cool stuff for completing certain check-ins. That’s about where the similarities stop. SCVNGR uses a point system for users to accumulate points and play against friends. Its more of a healthy competition between Friends than Foursquare. SCVNGR also (in my opinion) is more based on the “social” aspect of the Social Check-in rewarding users more points if they check-in simultaneously with other users, take a picture or complete some other task at a venue. SCVNGR also has developed “Treks” which are a series of locations remotely close to one another in which a user must complete a challenge at a venue in order to complete that leg of the Trek. So not only do you rack up Points you also rack up completed Treks to brag about. Where SCVNGR has really found a niche is College Campuses. This is a great idea to get lazy college kids to class and become more active on Campus. I surely would have been more active at college if I got points (imaginary or real) for attending class. You can find me at http://scvngr.com/runsheprun. I will score more points than you.

What about (insert app I haven’t downloaded here)?

As mentioned prior, I’m not getting paid for this review and have to devote some time to Family & Work.  There are some other Apps out there that are worth mentioning that do this similar thing but I haven’t had the time or willingness to try out. So here’s a quick “Thanks for Playing” list:

Gowalla – Based out of Austin, TX. this app seems to be big at Colleges also but seems to favor the large Coastal Cities instead of the bubbling metropolis of St. Louis.

Facebook – Yes the giant has added a Locations feature to their site along with txt, email, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I like Facebook for what it is: A way for me to post links and make funny comments on peoples pictures. Thats it. I don’t want to live in Facebook.

Brightkite – I will be honest. I don’t know much about this app. It looks to incorporate some qualities of all of the above, but alas I have no funding and no bias.

Who Cares?

This over-sharing of one’s self might be a little too much for some people to handle or really even care about for that matter. However, its nice to keep your daily routine somewhat on its toes if you can potentially rewarded for just living your life. I for one really strive on encouragement and these types companies do a good job at keeping me active and trying new stuff.

Ok, so thats my rundown on the social check-in and my humble opinion on the 2 big players (read: downloaded on my phone).

Did I miss anything? Want to tell me about how great some other Apps are? I want to hear about it.


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