Saturday, October 20, 2012

New bloggers and new blogs on a sunny October day

One of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday, I have to admit, is running my one-day blogging course for UWA Extension. I know, it's not exactly cool to love working on the weekend but it is honestly just heaps of fun to meet a dozen or more bloggers-to-be and turn them into published bloggers by the end of the day.

New bloggers working hard
So as you might guess, today was another one of those days. I was trying to count how often I've run this course in the past two and a half years and this might have been the tenth time, I'm not sure! I feel like we should have had cake! Of course, we did have some chocolate to keep us going, although of all the bloggers I've met, these ones liked chocolate the least. Which is not such a terrible thing because it means I have a couple left over to munch on while I write this post.

Every group of new bloggers is different - last time, for example, a big proportion of them were planning to blog for very specific business-related reasons. This time was different again and we had a number of aspiring novelists, people with passions to share and a couple of business bloggers with some fun ideas. It was also interesting that we had lots of bloggers come in pairs - two sisters, an aunt and nephew and an aunt and niece - I love the idea of keeping blogging in the family!

View from lunch
What impressed me even more was that as well as not wasting precious minutes eating chocolate, this group were by far the most conscientious I've ever had. Despite enjoying this amazing view over lunch, they all raced back as soon as their last mouthful was done and got straight back onto their blogs again, writing their About pages or fiddling with their design. I have a good feeling that a large number of today's new bloggers will still be blogging in a few months' time.

Without further ado, let me introduce some of our brave new bloggers:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Using social media on your travels

I spent yesterday evening at the Scarborough Library here in Perth chatting with a bunch of travel-mad locals about how best to use social media on your travels. As usual at these kind of library talks, I get to meet a variety of people with varying levels of expertise in social media but this group had another interest in common, which made for lots of interesting interaction.

What I hadn't expected (although it's logical, in retrospect) was that most of these attendees are planning incredible trips for 2013! One is headed to Everest Base Camp, another to scale Kilimanjaro, yet another to drive around the United States for a year, someone spending six months backpacking around South America ... the list goes on. To say I was a little envious is an understatement!

Fortunately, I managed to (more or less) get over my jealousy and continue to tell them all about the possible social media tools they might consider using to keep family and friends back home informed about their travels, and to reach new friends (and even strangers!) to get information to help them on their trips.

We covered enormous ground in just an hour, talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogging and Instagram and you can imagine I was rather thrilled when it sounded like a few new blogs might be some of the aftermath of the talk! As usual, I also learned a lot - for example, I hadn't realised to what extend Cuba blocks social media and this will be a communication stumbling block for one of last night's attendees who's planning to spend a month there as part of her South American jaunt.

Of course, being there is the best option but if you couldn't make it, here's the overview of what we talked about.

Thanks to Stig Nygaard for the Kilimanjaro pic

Monday, October 8, 2012

Basic but essential Facebook: Checking your privacy settings

Whenever I'm working with a client on their computer, or I have students in a computer lab and we even vaguely mention Facebook, I'm very vigilant on teaching them one thing: how to check their Facebook privacy settings.

Depending on when you set up your Facebook account, your privacy settings may or may not be private - if you've never done anything about it, then it's well worth spending a couple of minutes checking, and this is how.

Thankfully, the system is much simpler than it used to be, and the "average" private setting is to allow only your friends - that's the people who you approve to be friends - to see what you post. To do this, click on the little (almost hidden!) arrow at the top right of your Facebook page:

Yes, you should be able to find it with my huge big orange arrow pointing at it, right?! Once you click on that you'll get a drop down menu, so choose "Privacy Settings" from toward the bottom of the list.

Your Privacy Settings screen will look something like this:

The important part is the second half of this image - Public, Friends or Custom. You can basically ignore Custom - it doesn't offer anything that's important to many people - but I strongly recommend you switch your Privacy Setting to Friends instead of Public, if that's where it is.

During my courses, the only other tweak I strongly suggest to Privacy Settings requires a scroll a little further down the page to the second section labelled "Timeline and Tagging". This can give you the option of screening stuff (photos or updates) your friends post before it ends up on your profile page. The default options are a bit less private than what I (personally) think is OK - of course, it's up to you! But if you're interested, these are the options I choose:

And one last word or two. Whatever you put on Facebook, make sure you're theoretically OK with anyone in the world seeing it. I don't mean that you should be paranoid and complain about Facebook, but you should realistically remember that once something's "out there", it can theoretically end up anywhere - whether your friend leaves their Facebook page open at work and someone else sees it or someone forwards your status or photos to a friend - anything can happen, even though it probably won't, but just be smart about what you post online.
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