Categories
Technology

So You Think You Are Doing Twitter Right?

I subscribe to a lot of superfluous newsletters and blogs, just because I can. If you are like me, you probably do too. Plus Gmail really came through for us and threw in those updates and promotions tabs. I ignore 90% of mail from them. Every once in a while though, a subject line will catch my eye and I will click. If the content therein delivers even more I will click through to the site. And that is what happened with this HubSpot post. I ignored it for days. (We all do that when we have no time. Okay. Lie. We always have time. We just have time to do something else.) It was what I needed. “11 Twitter “Tips” and “Tricks” That Don’t Actually Work” it read. I had to read this and it was very timely.

This is for you brands on Twitter. In Kenya and everywhere else. You should read the HubSpot post too.

1. Follow, breathe, unfollow

Whoever told you that gaining lots of followers entails following loads of folk then unfollowing them after they follow was either stupid or malicious. Brands have done that to me on Twitter. And somehow, they do not think it is odd to do that. They somehow assume you will never know. How in the world is getting followers who don’t care about you and losing some potential ones in the process helping your brand exactly? That is not what being on social is about. Ask Safaricom. They followed us, even if just for DMs and never ever unfollowed. Because we tight like that. And you wonder why we never hama. Also, sue that agency doing that for you. Probably why you should be keener about what’s happening on your accounts instead of leaving everything to an intern in another company that knows nothing about your inner workings, what you are trying to preach on Twitter. I will not even mention names.

2. Jump on the trending hashtag

Like seriously? Someone actually thinks that is a strategy that works? Why would you use a random hashtag to say something just so that it can appear to many more people who couldn’t care less about who you are? The only time jumping on a trend works is when it is relevant to your audience. Otherwise it makes you look vain and cheap. Even worse is jumping on one, then filling the #entire #tweet #with #nothing #but #hashtags. Does that even look legible to you? Did you know that you do not even have to hashtag a tweet for it to show up in that search you want to appear in? The recommended maximum number of hashtags is two. Yes. Two. It is not that hard. Try it and see people engage with you.

Doing Twitter Wrong.

3. Sell products wherever someone mentions a keyword

Do you know what that looks like on first glance? Bot alert! You are a bot dear brand! Especially if I have never heard of you. Interjecting into a conversation only works if you are just talking and asking for opinion and whatnot, not selling your virgin human hair at me because I said my hair was bad. Jeez. What is virgin human hair? I thought we were still on weaves? Monitor relevant keywords alright, but don’t be a pain.

Irrelevant twitter marketing

4. Vanity

All you do is talk about yourself. Me this, me that. You don’t even retweet anyone or talk about anything else. Yawn. I will not even push this any further. I am bored.

5. Not responding to tweets

Okay, fine. You may be getting a lot of mentions that make no sense. I am not saying you should reply to everything. That would be weird. But why not reply to a genuine question? You might as well not be on Twitter then. In fact, the only reason I will walk into your store is because you are still awesome, social or not. You might not even need to be on Twitter anyway. We are not at that point in the country where your supermarket audience is majorly on Twitter. Yeah, being out of Twitter is an option. It’s better than having an account that tweeted in 2009 when Jack Dorsey was still trying to figure out whether Twitter was a messaging app or social network.

Do your thing

You know what, don’t listen to experts all the time. In fact, don’t even pay attention to me. You know why? Because you will Google and because Google is not human and whatnot, it will give you the most visited page from maybe back in 2010, when Twitter looked completely different and advice was completely different too. Like the customizable background picture that was a selling point with the old profiles. I am sure you know those are gone now with the new Facebook-like profile design. Recognize.

Do what you would like done to you and see how it works. If you wouldn’t like some other account doing that to you on a personal level, then don’t do it on a company account to another innocent citizen. Period. We will love you a little more and maybe even get interested in your product the day we need it. Think Durex. Some of us couldn’t care less about it because, you know, we don’t need it. But you know what, if I was ever to run into a situation where condoms were needed, like I don’t know, when I am married and don’t want kids or some other sane reason, I won’t go for a condom I have never heard of because hey, Durex popped into my Timeline all the time with its very interesting quips.

I am out.

Categories
Technology

How We Moved

The journey to this place began a while back. A while back when someone asked me why I don’t blog seriously. I dilly-dallied. The Kikuyu in me could not wrap my mind around how I was going to spend money to host my site. So I brushed him off. I told him I blog for fun. And who are you to judge me? Okay, I did not tell him that but that is what I was thinking. We all think that when we know we should and can do more but we don’t want to. Laziness.

For a while now I have learnt that you all love edifying information. I have realized that you love reading if the content adds value to your life. I have met people who only know me via my blogs. I have even got proposals from some other Kikuyus to make money from blogging and split it with them. Cough. All this got me thinking.

I needed to stop playing. I needed to go hard or go home. I was not doing this for me. I was doing it for us. For that girl who is Googling what his hug meant. For that guy who needed to know how life in Moi University is like. I needed to establish a platform that offered information on those trivial matters (depending on how you look at it) and future issues.

This site is in no small part inspired by peer pressure. My blogger friends all got domains this year. Even my non-blogger BFF got two on the eve I launched this one in secret! This site was pulled together by myself, with tons of help from Barrack. Armed with the will and an Internet connection, we got to work. It was on the 23rd of April 2014. Looking back at the chat, I can’t help but laugh.

S: Sawasawa. Now tell me what should be the first step to get my domain. I am very serious now. So serious. I need to get serious with my life.

B: Haha.. Step 1: Have the domain name Step 2: Send me cash I set it up for you That includes giving me info about you etc..Name, Birthdate, address etc

S: shikungigi.com. We already already established that. How much is it?

B: Yes I will have to compute that

S: I need details on how exactly you go about it bana. I need to know these things. 😀

B: Okay…you can do it by yourself 🙂 I host with Sasa Host They are affordable and customer care is reliable

S: Ehe go on I can’t do it by myself obviously 😛

The rest, as they say, is history. If you have thoughts on moving your blog to your own domain or you have been wondering what it takes, this is for you.

Day One: Setting Up and Installing WordPress

After making the decision, the next step was setting up on Sasahost. Paying up for the hosting took a few minutes really, Ksh 2,320 for domain registration and hosting. In between instructions from B and my multitasking, shikungigi.com was live. The next step was to install WordPress. I did this amidst B literally shouting in my ear (if he could) and getting lost in my unending rumblings over Hangouts. It’s never quite the same, talking and chatting.

Between setting up and installing WordPress, I learnt these things:

1. A lot of people host with Sasahost. I did not just take B’s word for it at first. I had to ask around just to be sure.

2. You can check who owns a certain domain on who.is. Just for fun, I checked out wanjikungigi.com and it was taken. B says we Kikuyus ran out of names thus the proliferation of Wanjikus. Oh well, I don’t need that one.
3. You need to extract all the WordPress files in the right folders for things to run right. And not doing it right is not the end of the world. You can undo most of the moves. Oh, you also need a database, clicks away thanks to the graphical CPanel.
4. B studied Art & Design in form one and two. Lol

That was day one.

Day Two: Installing a Theme and Importing Posts

Day two was look-for-a-WordPress-theme day. I am a sucker for the medium.com look. And boy did I search for a theme that is medium inspired. Google grew tired of me that day. Turns out I am not the only sucker for that clean, focus-on-the-content Medium look. (Of course you are not, Shiku. Get over yourself.) There are tons of blogs that discuss medium-like themes for WordPress. None of them makes the cut though. I installed five themes, still tucked away in here. The closest — at least to me — was the one I currently have. WPMedium. It has no left sidebar that toggles out of sight when you click away. B was also part of the quest to turn the web upside down for a theme. He stumbled upon this awesome one that I cannot even imagine buying right now. Cough. I am still, after all, Kikuyu. The closest theme to Medium right now is Ghostium. It is not even a WordPress theme. That was the point I learnt there’s a whole other blogging platform called Ghost upon which Ghostium runs.

Let’s just say this is not the end of my search.  I decided to leave it at that for now. WIP.

Later on the same day, I began to import my blog posts from Blogger (blogspot.com) and WordPress.com. Quick lesson, just in case you don’t know this. Downloading WordPress on your own self-hosted blog means you are now in the WordPress.org crowd, like we are now. If you opened a blog on wordpress.com, you still need to import your posts if you ever make a move. The good thing is, WordPress has the import tools for this purpose. It is a pretty straight forward move and takes minutes, depending on how many posts you had on your blog.

Image: techriff.com
Image: techriff.com

I hit two snags at this point. One. I am the bright Google+ evangelist that had turned on Google+ comments on blogspot.com. Google+ comments cannot, obviously, be imported. They are however still floating around on Google+ space. I moped over that for days after this but I had to let them go. Otherwise, all other pictures, posts from both blogs and comments from wordpress.com were brought along here.

Two. I had turned on Publicize before I started importing. Publicize is a feature available on an invaluable plugin called Jetpack. Jetpack turns your self-hosted WordPress site into one that has all those sweet little features available to wordpress.com users. Forgive me if it is getting too technical. You will need to know this. So what did Publicize do? As the posts imported, it posted every single post I had ever written to my social networks without my knowledge. I only knew about it when an enraged (slight exaggeration) tweep told me I was filling his timeline with automated nonsense. Lol. And that was how a few people discovered this place before it was ready. So much for a grand entry into the world of serious bloggers. In retrospect, that was a pretty stupid move. Publicize and all other automatic sharing tools should be the last thing you ever turn on in this process.

That was day two.

Day Three: Redirecting Blogs

I was so excited about day three. This was the day I was going to redirect my existing blogs to this one. In layman’s terms, I was to make sure that whenever you clicked on the link shiqoue.blogspot.com or wanjikungigi.wordpress.com, they would lead you to a similar post here. I would be lying if I said it was that easy. Actually, look for that person who told you good things come easy. Look for him (it’s likely to be a him) and smack him in the face for feeding you with the biggest deception this side of the Sahara. Then do not listen to him ever again.

To cut the long story short, the redirection process that never was lasted a whole week. It takes a whole week for Shiku to throw in the towel on these kinds of minor issues. I wonder how long it would take for me to give up on someone I love. Hmmm… Anywho, I scoured through blogs and blogs of ‘expert advice’ that never worked, especially for Blogger redirection. I would tweak the code then something would happen, but not exactly what was supposed to happen. I did not even watch any motion picture that weekend. Go hard or go home, remember? Slowly, it began to dawn on me that I needed to move on. I am not a fan of transitions nor do I like losing stuff I have worked for. Who does, anyway? But I had to. (In case you are wondering what is the point of redirection, it is to keep your readers and authority on Google.)

Both Blogger and WordPress have official ways to redirect. Blogger gives you addresses to configure on your DNS settings. I did this with timely help from a customer care rep at Sasahost. Needless to say, that was a disaster. I ended up having two completely different sites. One with the www and one without. I ditched that redirection and asked Sasahost to revert back to original state as soon as possible. WordPress on the other hand, offers a paid solution for redirection. There was no way Shiku was going to pay for redirection for only 22 posts. Thank you very much.

All that search engine ranking I had garnered with my blogspot.com blog will have to be forgotten. It’s actually pretty easy to gain momentum with your own domain as I am learning with only one post up. My advice: If you have the dough, just start from your own domain from the very start. Thank me later. (And dare anyone get on my case for saying dough. Like who says dough any more? I do.)

Today

So here we are. I have just shut down the two blogs. My work deskie also gave me pointers to achieving that left sidebar look. Off canvas navigation is what he called it. Don’t I just love this learning curve. I will get around implementing it one of these fine days.

New things. New resolve. Smarter work. Welcome to Thoughts and Stuff. If you are setting up your own domain, all the best.

Update: I did buy that awesome theme. I find it very hard to drop for another, years down the line. Love it. Oita by Elmastudio.

Categories
Love Technology

Why She Gave You Her Number

So she gave you her phone number and you feel a tad achieved. Cool. But do you know why? If you thought that is the first step in the ‘ingia box’ sequence, think again. It should be noted, however, that the reasons below will not necessarily apply in the world beyond Web 2.0 per se. I do not go out much so my experience as far as number exchange is concerned is a bit biased. I have several memories of giving my number to people I just met mostly during my late teenage. One particular one is worth telling before I give you the reasons.

One bright afternoon in the year 2008, I met a strange dude in the dusty grounds that are the chief’s camp at Kikuyu. I had just landed my first phone and thus was understandably excited and eager to fill my phonebook with numbers. You know what I’m saying? The chief’s camp is a forlorn place where kids like me back then who had attained the new status of adult went to sign up for identity cards. After a rigorous exercise where some other rough guy turned my fingers about in ink and made fingerprints in some document (my memory is fuzzy at this point) then took a very dark picture of me that will forever be my identity, I walked out to find two guys who were coincidentally walking out of the place too.

One of them seemed to have his act together and said hi. Then the conversation picked up as we walked down the hill towards the main road. Apparently he lived in the general direction I was walking too. Muthure, I think. Now that I think about it, he might as well have come from Dagoretti for all I know. The guy was on a mission and direction was the least of his concerns. Half the talk for the next ten minutes was on why I would not give him my number. Eer, because I don’t know you, perhaps? Eventually we had to part ways and he made a final attempt for my number the umpteenth time. What was I supposed to do with a new phone anyway? Just like that, he got my number.

I swear I had not even walked two steps before my phone rang. Yes. I had made a mistake and he was going to bug me for the rest of that month and many more months to come. I picked that call by the way, with a smile. Again, what am I supposed to do with a new phone?

“Ulisema ni Calo (sic)?” he asked.

“Eh,” I answered.

Sigh. He was a shrubber. Maybe, just maybe, that contributed to my shunning him after that but that is a story for another day. To cut the long story short, his number was edited to read ‘Do Not Pick’ just to remind myself never ever to pick his call even 10 years down the line. There is your first reason, gentlemen. She is not used to the occasion where numbers are exchanged so she’ll give it to you anyway.

You’re not a stranger

You have known each since forever but somehow you have never asked for her number since you had other ways to communicate i.e. Facebook, Twitter, physical meetings; the works. If you ask for her number, it will pretty much be expected for her to give it to you. She might even ask why you never had it in the first place. Like I thought you had it all this time!

You make her laugh

You make her ROTFL. She LOLs and DWLs in all your conversations. You are conversational. You seem genuinely interested in what she has to say on Twitter. You moved the talk from the wall (back in the good ol’ Facebook days) or TL to the inbox and DM respectively. You are too sweet in all fairness. You like her photos with moderation, not all of them like a depraved stalker. You tell her stories. You want to know about her day. You are the best buddy she could ever ask for. (Yes, I said buddy. Friend zone alert.)

You bugged her craftily

You asked for her number the first time and she did not budge, probably because you asked too soon. So you completely forget about it (or pretend to) and you proceed to make her days (refer to previous reason). Months pass on. Long rains come and go. You keep the DMs and Facebook chats alive until you are sure there is no chance in hell she will say no the second time. You keep the chats so entertaining she bookmarks the threads on her Opera Mini. She is in. In fact, when you ask for her number and call, she will glow. If you disappear after that, she will actually search you out. Ask why you disappeared, why you are doing this to her.

You massaged her ego

Say she has a blog, or talks about a certain issue on your social network with some level of tact. You hit her mentions, telling her how impressed you are by her prowess. How you would love to have her as a business partner nini nini. How you have bookmarked her blog on Pulse. How you will refer her to a professional you know. I mean, wouldn’t you give your number to such a person yourself?

She likes you

Okay guys, I had to put this one here even though it is the last possible reason. In all fairness, I added it to give you some hope that it is not all in vain. She might actually like you and that is why she gave you her number. Most times, it is directly connected to the making her laugh reason. The liking grew on her. After all, she’s not made of stone. Also, she may feel indebted to you for some skewed reason. She does not want to be the bad guy.

Why She Gave You Her Number

Other reasons include assuring her it’s just for WhatsApp purposes or giving her an out-of-this-world reason. For instance, that you know her BFF who happens to be stuck somewhere in trouble. Call me right now. It’s urgent.

There you have it. Don’t go misinterpreting these acts of kindness. She is not easy. She is just responding to her instincts based on your personality and behaviour. Be assured that no girl will give you her number the first day you ask on social media, especially if you are not Mark Masai or some other hot celebrity. Also, no sane girl will give you her number after you have followed her on every possible social network, +1’d all her posts, liked all her photos and retweeted all her tweets. Creepy much.

Now go ye and hatch that plot!

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Categories
Technology

Where Would I Be Without the Web?

Well, for starters we would not be here, you and me. I’d probably be in a publishing house somewhere editing manuscripts because my job description would not even exist. Or perhaps married with two kids with a few more on the way.

Also, I’d be risking my life in another way other than walking along a very busy road while typing this. You on the other hand, would not be reading this. You’d probably be in front of the television tending to your couch potato ways. Alternatively you’d be planning a day out with real people. A day in the movies with your significant other because there would be nothing like The Pirate Bay or Free TV online etc.

Without the Web, I’d have no clue on what American artistes sing in half their songs, let alone rap along. I’d still be writing lyrics in exercise books (lol) and cutting out lyrics from the Sunday Nation. I’d probably have a pen-pal on the papers too, remember those?

Yes, I still keep them. 😀

I used to think it was so amazing to write to another person in another part of the world! Similarly these bunch of envelopes would not be here right now because I’d have written you all letters on flowered writing pads with flowery words and figures of speech. Then some of you would write back having sprayed the letter with some strange cologne and with some ‘dedz’ at the foot of the foolscap.

If you want envelopes, you know who to call.

Without the Web, I would obviously read more physical books as opposed to hundreds of webpages that most of the time tell me the same things in a different way. Just between you and me, we have read a dozen web articles on the same topic. How successful people start their day. 100 signs you are an introvert. And we still click on because the title is catchy then end up realizing we just got duped. Thus the birth of the term bounce rate, you know, how fast you close that tab after realizing the whole article is nothing like what the title promised.

Without the Web, I’d still keep a journal to record my daily shenanigans. I’d still be waiting for the day someone would accept to publish my random musings. Oh, I’d probably have collecting stamps as a hobby.

Without the Web, I’d never have met my first love. There, I said it. Back in the day, before Facebook was pretty on mobile (try remember how ugly that thing was on mobile), there were other mobile websites where we chat anonymously using cartoon avatars and weird pseudonyms. We called them WAP sites. It was unbelievable to me that I could access the Web on mobile so you can imagine how enthusiastic I was. I got into trouble enough times with my mum. I hang out on two, Bluepulse and Cellufun. (If you click on the Bluepulse link, it is dead. Cellufun still exists but it is mostly for games I think. That is how much the Web has evolved.) I met him on the former. That is a story for another day if I get consent to write about it.

Without the Web, my circle of people would be totally different from what it is now.The Web has brought me together with a bunch of folk. Other folk I’d never even imagined talking to in real life are now buds because Facebook and Twitter bridged the gap.

Without the Web, gatekeepers and broadcasters would still be duping us into believing their content was original. Comedians too. Now all we have to do is Google or even stumble upon videos on YouTube way before Larry Madowo ever lands them. We know the news before the newspaper is out the next day. On my end, I read the physical newspaper just for the ads mostly. Also, we get to stop a show from airing just from making noise on Twitter. How is that for power to the people!

Without the Web, I’d still be calling radio stations to request for songs. (Double lol) Request for songs that are getting to us years later after people in the West grew tired of them. The same for series. Series would still be aired on TV by the way, RoboCop and Early Edition style. You all made them stop because you get the episodes immediately they are aired abroad. Don’t complain when NTV and company air soaps. That is the only target audience that actually watches them religiously.

What else have I left out? Also, where would you be without the Web?

Categories
Technology

How to Take a Social Media Break Without Breaking a Sweat

First things first, if you clicked this link hoping to learn how you can quit social media altogether, kindly move along to the next link. You cannot quit social media. At least not in this day and age. Unless, of course, you have never entered the fray in the first place.

Moving on, you can take a social media break like I do every once in a while for various reasons. Mostly I just do it to look at things differently; to react to situations differently other than just tweeting about them.

Let’s get to it. This is how you can take that social media break, whether you work in the industry or not. It does not involve deactivating or deleting accounts which is pretty pointless in all fairness.

Decide you want to do it

You will have to make this decision in earnest. Resolve to go on holiday and mark the dates. Do you want to take the break for an hour, a week, a month? (Yes, there are those who are off social media only when they are asleep.)

Also, determine what exactly falls into your definition of social media. Facebook? Facebook and Twitter? Facebook, Twitter and…? Once you determine the timespan, figure out why you want to do it in the first place. Reason enough? We are good to go.

Log out

Log out of your Facebook and Twitter and whatever else you spend your time on. Log out on your favourite browser or mobile app. Alternatively, you can use Facebook as a page you manage so that you do not leave it unattended, especially if you are in the social media marketing department. That way, all your activities on Facebook will be for work and nothing else.

Also, disable all those apps you have set to launch when your computer starts up e.g. Google Talk and Facebook Messenger. Unpin that Tweetdeck tab on your Google Chrome and close it. You could unpin that Metrotwit icon and whatever else you may click on accidentally on your taskbar. And yes, you are a certified social media addict if you have all these going on on your desktop. Rejoice.

Unsubscribe

Unsubscribe from those daily bundles. Switch off packet data and Wi-Fi. If you cannot function in this proposed arrangement, probably because you need to check your mail and stuff on the Internet, you will need to do the following: Transfer your social networking apps to your memory card and… wait for it… remove it from your phone. Yes. Remove it and keep it safe because you will be needing it after the break.

Alternatively, you could simply stop reloading credit into your phone. Also, you could toss your phone out the window of a fast-moving car, provided you have a new phone planned on your budget come the end of the social media holiday. See? There is a wealth of strategies you can adopt.

Retreat to alternatives when the withdrawal symptoms start to show

You love motion pictures? Go hard on them. Watch movies and series during your free time and resist the urge to tell the whole world what you think of, say, Lupita Nyong’o’s acting and whatnot. Just watch and talk to people within inches of you about it, not strangers you’ve never met. Just this once.

Look around you when you walk or travel. I realized just the other day that I miss so much during my bus trips because I am always on my phone. If you think admiring the world around you is boring, get a book to read on your way to and from work. Lose yourself in it, just don’t miss your stop. If there is yet another unusual traffic jam on Waiyaki Way caused by a stalled vehicle near CCK, make a witty comment to the guy seated next to you. You may discover that you are not as introverted as you have always thought you were.

You can also decide to have your letting-off-steam avenue as another social networking site that your people don’t frequent. I realize that that goes against what I am trying to communicate but hear me out. Sites like Pinterest and Google+ are not your average social networking sites. They are more. And since they have the element of growing your business or helping you organize interests, they can be perfect spots for chilling out during your break.

Yep, even Honda campaigned for social media intermission a while back.

Call people

So you cannot talk to your best friend any more because you are so used to tweeting and chatting each other up on Facebook Messenger and Google+ Hangouts. What next? Call, call, call! You know, that thing you used to do for hours on end back in the day when you got your phone. Wipe away the cobwebs on the calling button and get talking. With your mouth. It is refreshing. You may run out of words to say because you are so used to typing and hiding behind WhatsApp smileys but it gets better eventually.

Finally…

If you are not really prepared to go full throttle on an actual break, you can go on a mini-break, especially when you need to focus on a project and all you keep doing is chatting people up. Just turn off the chat features across-the-board.

There are social networking sites that make it very difficult to go on breaks; read Google+. 😀 But, you can go on a Hangouts break by signing out of it. You can also decide to ignore that notifications bell. I know someone who does it pretty well. I tried to ignore it on my break and failed miserably in a matter of hours.

There you have it. The ball is in your court. I promise you will come back feeling a lot better.

Categories
Ideas Technology

January Things

Days fly. Blink and it’s February already. I wonder what you have achieved in January, or you were so busy labelling it Njaanuary that it just passed you by. Let us hope not.

I am not one to make yearly resolutions, I make daily ones. Just last week, I made one. I decided to write on a controversial topic and not share it. I wanted to see what would happen. It was an experiment, more or less. Did I learn something? Oh yes, I did. More than something. Sharing counts for a lot in today’s online reading. (I had to make sure.) Most of the things you stumble upon on the Net are as a result of sharing from your networks and friends.

For instance, that post did not even get to 100 views. I am guessing those views are from the few who have either bookmarked the blog or keep checking every once in a while. The rest of the views are from the normal traffic from Google and links from my social profiles. If I had shared it, the story would be so different. I am still not going to share it, it is still an experiment in progress.

On the other hand, even without sharing, I got a few reactions. One from a loyal reader and the other from a stranger. A stranger who had the guts to call me names and lecture me on how uneducated I was for not holding the same views as he did on the homosexuality topic. It is safe to say that I blocked him on Google+ and moved on with my life. One wonders what would have happened if I had actually shared the post. Lesson: Even when you don’t expect it, random people on the Internet will think they know everything and try to shove it down your throat. Keep a level head.

“…sarcasm is really the only time people tell the truth.” Propaganda

Indeed I have a friend who does not hold the same views as I do regarding homosexuality but we talked about it and moved on. We respect each other’s opinion. I respect your opinion. Respect mine.

This week, I am on another venture. I am avoiding social media. Well, mainstream social media: Twitter and Facebook. WhatsApp too. While it is quite difficult to do that being a social media manager and all, I log on to these sites for work only. I know, that sounds forced. You know that feature where you use Facebook as a page? Yes, that’s how I am rolling now. I will tell you how that goes by the end of this week. I had tried pulling the stunt on Google+ but that is quite impossible nowadays. You are there busy searching something out on Google or checking your mail and the bell up there comes short of shouting out your 5 notifications.

Miss me. 😉

Finally, my dears, if you feel you have anything you want to tell the world and you don’t have a channel to do so, the door to my blog is wide open. In short, I am calling you to be a guest and write here. I promise I will make as much noise as I make with my own pieces. Last time I hosted a guest, he was awesome! He just decided to remain anonymous. You can do that too. If I have ever rejected your post, don’t look at me like that, I need sanity here even as I endeavour to diversify and make this less about me. Yes, that is the other resolution for this week.

Later gators!

(This is also not getting shared, for purposes of consistency, domino effect and whatnot.)

Categories
Technology

Well, I Love the Google+ Party

I was going through the newspaper last Friday night when I came across a snippet on Google+ on the Daily Nation’s Zuqka. “Can You Quit G+?” It read. I was obviously concerned as anybody who knows me knows I am the weird Google+ crusader. I read on…

“Google has become sadistic in retaining Google Plus users by threatening to delete all your Google Data at quitting point.” When and where did this happen? I asked myself.

Later on the same night I stumbled upon an article on Mashable. It was titled “Sorry, Google+, We Still Won’t Come to Your Party”. It went on to list reasons why Google+ was not the party you want to join.

I will tell you why that whole article was misleading.

1. Google+ is not anything like Facebook. It would beat the purpose of having it anyway. Why would you want a second Facebook? Therefore, trying to compare the two is a bit misguided. There are people who do not have Facebook accounts because it is not fun to them.

2. Gmail is now more integrated into Google+. True. Apparently, people are too busy to opt out of this feature. No one is too busy to stop something they do not like. You make time for what concerns you. Random people cannot email you if you do not want that. You can opt out here.

3. A social network is supposed to be fun. Very true. Apparently, according to the writer, we share photos of babies on Facebook because everyone is there. Okay, sounds legit. But wait a minute. Everyone was not there back in 2004. It is quite a fallacy to gauge a 10-year-old against a 3-year-old child. And by the way, you can share GIFs of your babies on Google+. So much more fun. And less mundane. Google Plusers love that “Google+ has always seemed a little too hung up on the mechanics”. That’s what makes Christmas photos sparkle. I would be very careful when using the term friend on Facebook. Most people do not even know half the people they call friends up in there.

4. Circles are not a euphemism for segregation. Ignorance is no defence. Circles are moulded around the thought process of having different interests. While Facebook is showing you the same status updates for an entire week, (now that we are comparing networks, I might as well) Google+ lets you get information on what interests you in an organized manner.

5. So what if a sizeable number of Google Plusers are only there for the Hangouts? Who uses every feature offered on Facebook? For the record, Hangouts is the last thing I normally think of when I am on Google+.

6. Lastly, Google+ started as an invites-only gig. That is how we got in. That cancels out the last paragraph where he claims that people will go to a party if there is restricted access.

Anyway, you can choose to listen to people like this and keep ignoring Google+ or you can choose to venture in and see what my hullabaloo is about. There are immense benefits in adopting social networks earlier than others, trust me. And by the way, I have been forced to parties I did not want to attend and they turned out to be awesome because things do look different from the inside, after all.

Think about it. No one is forcing you to join anything, the Facebook evangelists just want you to think so. Meanwhile, my buds and I are partying on Google+.

Excited Kid Birthday
By the way, you can upload GIFs to Facebook through this Giphy site here. 🙂 (Photo credit: Giphy)
Categories
Technology

A Sad Samsung Story

So, last time I mentioned my Samsung Galaxy Pocket and told you it was going to be a story for another day. Well, the day is here. That particular phone lasted me less than a year, about ten months. What kind of phone pulls a stunt like that? My first Android and it does that to me. Of course it is as low-end as it gets but I cherished it. I dropped it all the time though. You can’t blame me. It was tiny and always in the palm of my tiny hand all the time so it was expected. When it was not in my hand it was under my pillow, no matter how many times I was told that it is dangerous to keep it there.

Categories
Technology

Why Google+ Is a Plus

Google+. A lot of Kenyans online are not actively on it. Any time I bring it up in an appropriate situation, people brush it off. Those on it are simply so because they have a Gmail account, not because they log into it and engage in activities within it. Well, I am here to tell you this: you are missing out. Jump on the Google+ bandwagon now. I am not marketing, neither am I exaggerating, I am just giving it to you straight.

By the way, Google has some major issues, from why it should go into your email to show you ads that are in line with the subject of your private messages to those hours it decides (let me have this one, Grammar Nazis) it will not transmit emails for hours. (This happened a few days ago.)

I’ll begin with the reasons you should be on Google+ as an individual, even when you’re not a blogger.

  • The amount of information you get on Google+, especially if you circle based on your interests is amazing. You can choose to view information just from a particular circle on your stream. Say you have this insatiable interest in programming, all you need to do is follow relevant authorities in the subject and place them in a particular circle with a name that tickles your fancy. Even if you don’t, there is the What’s Hot feature that displays trends and everything awesome on that particular day among Google Plusers. (Update: Today, there is a tab titled Explore where you can search out all you want and get related searches while at it.)
  • When you are really bored in the office, just visit Google+ and I promise you will laugh through the afternoon. Of course you have to follow the right pages to see the hilarious gifs. (I love the cat ones for obvious reasons.) There are specific pages dedicated to everything funny.
  • Hangouts. Okay, Facebook has chat and video too but who else lets you have a group video chat for free? Only Google Hangouts. Plus it is integrated with everything Google, from Gmail to Youtube to Google Drive so you can share so much in one joint. Say you want to send a Youtube video link while you chat but can’t remember the url, just search for it right on the hangout and send!
  • The Android experience is definitely not complete without a Google+ profile. I am not a fan of having my background data on (unless there’s free Wi-Fi around) or sharing too many pictures online but if you are, you can use the Auto Backup feature, allowing all your photos and videos to be uploaded to a private album after which you can share at your disposal.
  • Google+’s cover photo is so much more awesome than Facebook’s and Twitter’s. I am just saying. If you are a budding photographer (a legit one), this where you can show off your work really well. The notification system is also quite subtle. A bell icon is visible in every Google platform with a number depending on how many notifications you have. Click on a particular notification and you can perform an action (e.g. comment on a post or circle someone) right there, without having to open a page to do it. (Update: The Google+ cover photo was toned down to one that fades out behind your profile photo.)

Now for the part I am really passionate about, for all you bloggers and companies seeking a strong web presence out here. I started this blog in 2011, just to share my thoughts about random things. Google+ came on later and I got in when it was accessible by invite only. I didn’t see much to write home about. But that is the thing about new products and services in the technology world, you have to give them time. So I did. I integrated my Google+ profile with Blogger and much later, used Google+ comments on my posts.

Little did I know that I was giving my blog the boost it needed in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So much so that most of the things I have written about in these two years end up on the first page on Google search results from a wide range of search criteria. And this is how Google+ does it (directly or indirectly):

Automagical Hashtags

Post anything on a popular topic and Google+ adds a hashtag to it automagically, with no effort on your part. As such, people will see your post alongside a list of related posts they flip through on the social network. Like this particular post will be automatically shared with #Google+. Automagic it is! (Oh. I just recently learnt how to use the word automagic and its derivatives so you have to understand my excitement.)

Google+ Automagical Hashtags

+1s Everywhere

Integrating Google+ with your blog is a great plus, literally speaking. A comment, a reshare or a +1 automatically gives your post more visibility on Google’s search results. Do I need to go into the details of why you need to be visible on Google? It’s their social network so obviously they promote posts made on Google+ better than those on Facebook or anywhere else. Provided you have the right content for your target audience, then you will definitely find your page up there. Grab the opportunity to write while everyone is sleeping through the Web revolution. I can assure you that a lot of what makes Kenya is waiting to be published online, people are just not serious about it.

Author Credibility

Just being on Google+ (and being in circles) gives your content enough credibility in the following ways:

  • One, it shows the number of people who have you in circles. If you have a good number, you will obviously appear like an authority of some sort (whether you are one or not).
  • Two, an image on a search result is bound to grab the attention of the searcher, especially if you are really photogenic or simply know how to pose ;).
  • Three, you are well on your way to establishing a personal brand in cyberspace as you are finally appearing everywhere relevant as an information source. This guy here explains it so well.

WordPress Got It Too!

You will have to verify your email address on Google+ to seal the deal. The whole process, including linking your profile to your content is known as Google Authorship.

Even WordPress realized they were doing the world of blogging wrong by not having Google+ as part of its integrated features. Now, an author can log into WordPress with his/her Google+ account and automatically share a post and get Google+ details displayed.

There is a wealth of Google+ I have not explored. I will as days go by and it morphs into something more awesome. See? You are missing out. Become a Google Pluser today, or at least start a page for your company.

Categories
Technology

What’s up with my WhatsApp?

First things first, nothing is up with my WhatsApp. I don’t have WhatsApp. I had it, but I don’t anymore. No, my phone did not fall into water or get stolen. My trusty phone is intact despite all the times it slipped from my tiny grip.

In short, I deleted my WhatsApp. Why? Because I wanted to. In fact, I needed to. A number of factors led me to this decision. I tend to have a sentimental attachment to any form of information delivered on my phone so you can imagine how hard it was to delete all those interesting conversations that had accumulated in my little Samsung Galaxy Pocket.

For one, men had finally found a way to get my number the easy way. No, let me put it this way; I was giving my number away too easily. Maybe it’s because I feel that WhatsApp is like any other social network. Only difference is that it needs you to have your friend’s number. What’s the harm in that? That aside, I have quashed a vulnerability. He has no excuse to ask for my number if it is not to call me. I can simply say I do not have WhatsApp and move on. No more dishing out my number to tweeps like I am another Shiku I don’t know. (By the way, I wonder how a dude can delude himself into imagining that a girl will take him seriously when he makes his intentions known solely via an app. Seriously? Do you think your dad won your mum’s heart through some scribbled shorthand?)

Secondly, I would keep falling out with friends that had grown close to me in the past couple of months. I attribute this to talking too frequently on that little app. Frankly, I could ‘talk’ with someone for an entire day and continue the next day. We would argue at some point and get really mad at each other. Eventually, it really got to me. WhatsApp was making me do things that I was not accustomed to. It makes it so easy to send multimedia to friends across the globe. Somewhere in the middle of that frenzy to send pictures of yourself, your food, your dog and practically anything and everything you own and see, you will find yourself sending something that will make either party mad. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Let’s just say I am still adapting to the information age.

Back in the day, 2008 to be precise, it was so hard for me to upload a photo on Facebook, leave alone send a multimedia text to anyone. I remember my first profile picture was Juniper Lee (Google to the rescue!). That is all I could put up because I neither owned a high-end phone with a camera nor did I own a USB cable. I did not even have a picture of myself on the Internet. When I finally put up a photo of myself, it was months down the line and I used my BFF’s phone. Nimetoka mbali!

Now you know why you do not see me on WhatsApp. I took a break. I tend to run away from situations. If I feel I am pissing you off a lot, I will back off. Maybe in that time, I will grow up a little to handle myself in a better way. In the meantime, you will also forgive me for whatever wrong I did.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp (Photo credit: abulhussain)
That’s what’s up with my WhatsApp.