Thursday, May 30, 2013

Email is NOT Broken, It's User Error article at The Peorian

Have you noticed all the tech articles that rant about how email is "broken"? 

I've never been able to understand all the whining and complaining about how bad email is. It's called "a relic of a bygone Internet era." Crammed email inboxes are blamed as sources of great stress and frustration.

People dream about "Inbox Zero" (all emails are replied to or deleted). They moan about "not being able to control who sends you email" and "not knowing how to prioritize email messages for response."

Email is not broken at all, in fact it is still potentially the most targeted communication channel -- as long as you don't sign up for spammy newsletters -- or put your primary email address on registration forms at dubious websites -- or display a harvestable email address on your website.

Your email inbox is what you make it to be. If you strictly control your email address, you won't have much trouble with spam and irrelevant messages clogging your inbox.


"Email is NOT Broken, It's User Error" -- my latest article at The Peorian online magazine, with 11 tips on how to improve your email experience and avoid spam.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sharing Large Video Files on RapidShare

I had a large (500 MB) video file to share with a client today. It was too big to host on my free accounts at Dropbox or MediaFire, so I used RapidShare to host the file. But RapidShare has no intuitive way to share a file with the public. 

(I found out later that all file folders are set to Private as default, as of January 2013, to provide greater user security and privacy -- but locking down a file is a bit excessive, don't you think? I mean, it negates the "Share" of RapidShare! Maybe they should call it RapidUpload instead....)

I had to get the client to start an account at RapidShare, then we added each other as contacts. But I still was unable to share the video with him. 

My folder was set to Private and I could find no way to set it to Public. We were on the phone trying to figure this out. The client contact is a computer programmer and, in spite of our combined expertise, we kept failing at the task.

In my extreme frustration and desperation, I Googled the problem with the query being "share RapidShare file download."

I found a forum called Fan Edit which contained the instruction to create a new subfolder and then set the download privileges for your contacts on that new subfolder.

So I created a new subfolder called New Videos, dragged and dropped the video file into the New Videos subfolder, and right clicked on it to set the Privileges. When the Privileges panel appeared, I saw my contact's name, and I clicked on buttons to the right of his name to enable him to see the contents of this folder and to download the data in this folder.

He was then able to start downloading the video file.

It was convoluted and time-consuming, but we finally solved the problem.

I am now looking for an alternative to RapidShare for sharing large files. 

The way hosting companies can do this for free is to set a time limit on how long a file remains on their servers. Your recipient has, for example, 7 days to download the file, then it gets deleted.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bad Usability of Google Play Music Manager

This new Google product SUCKS. This is a BUR: Basic Usability Review, which means a quick attempt to get things done. A full blown usability analysis would be more comprehensive, time-consuming, and patient.

Users typically are in a hurry, multi-tasking, and unwilling to spend a lot of time trying to figure out an interface. We don't want to have to learn whole new interfaces that violate our expectations and the norms established at the most popular software products and websites.

Checking the internet forums, I'm not the only one complaining about the glitches and dysfunctionalities of Google Play Music Manager. It's a really bad idea to release a product without doing usability testing, but nobody does this anymore. 

I'm reviewing the free "standard" version. Why would you upgrade to a paid version when the free version is full of problems?

Almost nothing about Google Play Music Manager is intuitive, i.e., compliant with software norms that users expect. Novelty in interface is a very bad thing, especially when there is no guidance from link labels, tool tips or help files.

Configuring the Google Play Music Manager. One problem right off the bat is I don't want my entire iTunes file uploaded to it, nor do I want all the mp3s on my hard drive uploaded to it, nor do I want to automatically add songs I upload to a file. I want my Google Play playlist to be very selective.

When prompted to upload music "Select music to add to your Music Library", you get the options: *iTunes Player *Windows Media Player *My music folder *Other folders. I chose Other Folders. I then went to my folder "MP3 Conversions" which contains my own Str8 Sounds music composed in Sony ACID. I then selected only one specific album "Age of Dissent."

The songs got uploaded, but with the default titles, which I always change. Also. there are 192 kbps, 256 kbps, and 356 kbps versions of songs, to accommodate various music hosting sites.

But in Google Play Music Manager, there is no indication of these variations. I want to keep only the 356 kbps mp3s and delete the others, but I can't tell which is which. I'll have to delete the whole library and start over again, selecting only specific songs, if that's possible.

Usability problems abound. It's not easy to see how to delete a song, edit the title of a song, edit the title of an album, etc. If you spend an hour fussing with this and checking out forums and help files, you might make some headway.

I had to Google "delete songs google play music manager" because the Google Play Help file did not list this topic. There is a "menu icon" that appears after the title of a song. You click that and get options like "delete". However, there are no tool tips that pop up when you hover on a tool icon, so you're groping around in the dark. The "menu icon" doesn't look like it would activate a menu drop down list.

It gets worse. Trying to do basically anything in the Google Play Music Manager is a major hassle.

I edited the information on a song. I changed the title, added the genre, composer name, etc. But there is no Save or Finished Editing button. So I clicked on Enter, which closed the Edit panel, but took me out of the album I was in.

So I see a big bright orange Upload Music button. When I click it, I get Download Music Manager message. I already did this. I go to the bottom browser tray and click on the Google Play Music Manager icon. I upload another album. The task progress bar indicates all songs are uploaded. I go to My Library. The songs are not appearing.

I'm done for today. I've already wasted too much time on this mess.

Time Tech "Google Play Music All Access Review"

Str8 Sounds "Age of Dissent" on Google Play

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SEO Resources

Here's a list of information on search engine optimization (SEO). 

Online Resources

Google Webmaster Tools

Google SEO Starter Guide [PDF]

Google Webmaster Central blog

Google's Inside Search blog

Matt Cutts (Distinguished Engineer at Google, in charge of web spam) blog

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Journal

Search Engine Roundtable

SEOMoz blog

Brad Geddes / Certified Knowledge blog

Traffick: the Business of Search blog

Webmaster Radio FM [podcasts]

SEO Book blog

Google Blogoscoped

Search Engine Watch

State of Search

SEO Chat [forums]

Local SEO Guide

Stone Temple blog

Recommended SEO Books

The Art of SEO – by Stephen Spencer, et al

Search Engine Optimization Secrets – by Danny Dover

Marketing in the Age of Google – by Vanessa Fox

Get to the Top on Google – by David Viney

Landing Page Optimization – by Tim Ash

Pin It

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Google Search Results Without URLs?

This has to be one of the worst developments I've ever seen regarding search engines. 

If Google actually makes this change of removing the URLs of listings, you won't be able to spot a malicious, spammy, or poor quality domain, and you'll waste a lot of time visiting websites that repulse you, but somehow got a high SERP ranking.

Many people, and especially web savvy professionals, look at the URL (web address, starting with http://www. ) to decide if a webpage or website is worth visiting.

Let's hope this test is abandoned and never implemented. Otherwise, the Age of Blind Web Navigation is upon us.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

SEO and Social Media Presentation

Learn how SEO and social media can work together to achieve your business goals. Find out the secrets of Google-compliant search engine optimization. Discover how to leverage the core values of social media: sharing and caring -- to gain a strong competitive advantage.

If you're a beginner with little understanding of computers and online marketing -- or you're the head of IT at your company -- you'll learn all the basics and new things you've never heard before.

Watch me do a quick SEO (search engine optimization) diagnosis on the websites of large, prestigious companies, showing you the SEO errors they need to fix, and how to fix them.

Take back to your company a wide array of practical, down to earth tactics that can boost your search engine rankings, drive qualified traffic to your website, and interact on social media to establish your industry leadership and become top of mind choice.

No droning on and on in vague generalities.

Easy to understand explanations, step by step tips, and specific examples.

Co-presented with Randy McDaniels, President, McDaniels Interactive (Pekin, IL).

Mark your calendars now. 

Peoria Public Library, North Branch. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 from 6 PM to 7:30 PM. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

SEO Joke

An SEO expert walks into a bar, nightclub, tavern, saloon, dive, speakeasy, pub, lounge, honky tonk, roadhouse and orders a beer, brew, lager, ale, stout, cold one, drink, alcohol, liquor, liquid refreshment, intoxicating beverage and notices, spots, sees, looks at, identifies, recognizes, gazes at, surveys, pays attention to, picks up on his radar, stares at, observes a really beautiful woman, lady, gal, chick, female, girl, dame, lass, broad, widow, sweet young thing, opposite sex, floozy, temptress, sister, bimbo, ma'am, flirt, skirt, blonde, vixen, vamp, diva, princess, matron, hot mama, fox, babe.

That was a joke, quip, gag, laugh riot, wisecrack, tomfoolery, jeer, chuckle generator, humorous saying, funny remark, josh, kidding around, tease, jape, spoof, jest, spree, silliness, gambol, verbal frolic, goofy statement, LOL.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Unreadable Website Text: Light Gray on White Backgrounds

Do NOT use light gray text on a white background, even though almost every web designer is doing this.

It is horrible, this trend of faint text that is almost impossible to read. If you want people to be able to read your text, make it solid black, or at least a dark color on a light background. Light colors on light backgrounds are unreadable. They make you look like an amateur.

What are they teaching in the web design schools and seminars these days?

What on earth is the point of making your text so "subdued" or "subtle" that it appears to be erased, vanishing, illegible?

I know one excuse. Some designers hate words. They want their pretty unimaginative pictures and fancy boring design elements to get all the attention. The text is just a nuisance to them. They don't like to read. They like to look at colors and illustrations and photos.

Here's the worst example I've ever seen....