Archives November 2012

Do You Zite? You Should!

What is Zite?

Zite is an app for your iPhone, Android, or tablet.  A free app, I might add.

What does it do?

Zite is a “personalized magazine”.  It pulls in content from all over the web, and presents it to you in categorized pages.  Even better, it allows you to decide which categories you want to see.

What kind of content?

As they say on the Zite site, “current events, important ideas and smart opinions that are circulating in our world — what’s happening and what’s interesting.”

How is it personalized?

In addition to the above, each time you read an article, you can choose to give that article a thumbs up or a thumbs down.  Zite keeps track of the choices you’ve made, and over time works to present you with more of the content you like, and less of what you don’t.  You can even connect Google Reader and Twitter accounts, if you have them, to further personalize Zite’s choice of reading material.

I’m not big on promoting brands as a rule, but I would definitely recommend this app to anyone.  Especially if you’re like me, with a wide variety of interests, and no time to go out and manually search for what you like to keep up on.  And Zite is proving to be a useful business tool, as well, providing me with ideas and sources for both marketing my business, and using in my business.

Give Zite a chance today; you’ll be glad you did!

Facebook, Privacy, and You! (Part 2)

Today we will focus on the Facebook security setting that deals with Active Sessions.  Each time you log in to Facebook, a “session” is started, and certain information is recorded: date, time, approximate location, and device being used to log in. Note that the word “approximate” could really be replaced with “best guess at” for reasons we’ll discuss below. Now, unless you physically log OUT of a session, it will remain open for quite some time.  And each device that you use (phone, tablet, computer) will result in a new session being started, again for reasons we’ll discuss in a moment.

So… it’s quite possible for any one Facebook user to have several, even dozens, of sessions open at the same time.  Don’t believe it?  Why not check your account right now? Simply click the little drop-down arrow in the upper right corner of your (computer) screen, then click “Account Settings”.

Next, click “Security” on the left hand side of the next screen. The last setting will be Active Sessions, and will show where you are currently logged in, as well as the number of other active sessions currently associated with your account.

Click the Edit button to the right, and voila!  There are all your Active Sessions, displayed for your enlightenment.  Surprised?  I was, the first time I looked, particularly when one of my locations was Joplin, and another Tulsa, OK.  So, how do we account for all of these sessions?

When you sign in to Facebook, a small text file called a “cookie” is placed in your browser’s cache by Facebook’s software. Each physical device you use receives its own cookie. This cookie identifies you to Facebook, and remains until you log out, at which time the software automatically deletes it.  Guess what happens when you close your browser without logging out? The cookie stays. And stays. A little checking shows that the cookie will not expire by itself for TWO years.  For the tech-oriented, even clearing your browser cache (and thus deleting the cookie from your system) will not close a session.  In fact, there are only two ways that you can close an active session.

The first, obviously, is by logging out of Facebook each time you open it, from each device that you use.  Not just closing your browser or app, but actually clicking or tapping the words “Log Out”. Of course, logging out means you’ll have to log back in every time you need to use Facebook, and who wants to do that? To be truly security-conscious, you should, especially if you have logged in from a public location via wi-fi.  But there is another, easier way — simply do as we have already done to pull up your Active Sessions, then click “End Activity” next to each session.

This method is actually more secure than simply logging out, as it allows you to monitor your log-in locations as well, and identify anything that looks suspicious.  As we’ve discussed (and will do further shortly), location accuracy can be hit-and-miss, but if you notice a session that says your location is Papua, New Guinea, or something equally ridiculous, you can safely assume that your account has been hacked. End that session, and immediately change your Facebook password.

Now, a friend of mine who lives in NYC recently updated her status, and Facebook displayed her location as New Brunswick, CAN — roughly 600 miles away as the crow, or Canada goose, flies. Not very accurate, true, but probably not an indication of a hacked account. So, how did that happen?  Facebook approximates location through your device’s IP address (a unique set of numbers that identifies each device attached to a network), and, as it happens, there are many factors that can affect your IP.

Let’s start with the obvious: mobile.  When you log in to Facebook from your smartphone (over your cell network, not wi-fi), your signal is picked up by the closest tower, and, depending on cell traffic at the time, could be routed through several other towers until it is officially logged. Which means your location could be pegged incorrectly by a wide margin.  Example:  My cell phone, on the desk next to me, currently shows as logged in to Facebook from Olathe, KS!

Next, consider wi-fi.  Of course, if you’re logging in from a restaurant halfway across town, the session that results should still show the same city name, right? Not necessarily.  Think about this — if the restaurant is part of a chain, and the chain franchise controls all of its network traffic by routing T-1 lines (big data pipes) from a central location… then your log-in at Panera in Springfield could show you as being in St. Louis!  That’s just an example for illustration purposes — I have no idea if Panera’s data goes through StL. 🙂

Okay, but what about the good old PC sitting at my house, connected to my cable company’s network — that will always be accurate, right? Not so fast! My own IP address changes two or three times a year, solely due to network updates by my Internet access provider. And oftentimes when such changes occur, the location assigned to a particular IP isn’t updated in the system right away, and could reflect another locale altogether, even one that is hundreds of miles away! I would guess that is the likely cause for the sudden displacement of my New York friend.

If you’re curious, you can mouse-over each location in your Active Sessions list to see what the IP address is for each.  And yes, you should monitor your sessions on a routine basis, and end those that are not actually being actively used. Remember to always log out of Facebook (or any other app, for that matter) if you have logged in from a public wi-fi location.  If you see anything that you feel isn’t right, change your Facebook password — it’s always better to be safe than sorry (and you should change it regularly, anyway).

That’s it for this post!  Sorry for the incredible length, and thank you if you have read this far.  We’ll return next time with another post that’s more concerned with privacy than security.  (And a new look for the blog!) In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving from Diamond Mind Web Design!

New ‘Amazon Pages’ In Time For The Holidays

Looks like Amazon is capitalizing (some might say “finally”) on the Social Media craze, by rolling out something new: Amazon Pages, which will allow companies set up their own pages on as “custom destinations,” in other words, landing pages.  These new pages will come with URLs and dynamic designs with large photos and social media links.

So far, just an enhanced version of what is already available to businesses using Amazon for e-commerce.  The BIG news is that Amazon will be integrating what they call “Amazon Posts,” to allow companies to engage their audiences and market themselves across both Amazon AND Facebook.  And finally, they will offer Amazon Analytics as a way to track marketing efforts and sales results.  For more on the specifics, visit the Amazon page here.

One can assume that it’s only a matter of time before other social media sites like Twitter and Pinterest are added to the mix.  Even though the new Pages are as yet somewhat limited in what they offer, given Amazon’s huge stature in the online world, early adopters are likely to see a large (if temporary?) jump in their search engine rankings.  And it’s all free, so why not take advantage of the possibilities?  For a more detailed examination of this news, you can read the Telecrunch article here. Or to go ahead and get started, call Diamond Mind Web Design at 417.496-9905.

Facebook, Privacy, And You! (Part 1)

Control Your Facebook PrivacyOdds are, you have a Facebook page, or if you don’t, someone in your immediate family does.  After all, more than 150 MILLION Americans use the site (as of June 2012), and in October, Facebook topped the 1 BILLION mark worldwide. That’s a lot of people, which also means a LOT of information being shared, in large part unintentionally public.

Did you know that, according to a recent Huffington Post online poll, over 25% of Facebook users don’t know how to change, or even view, their privacy settings?  Nearly another 10% almost never look at, or make any changes to, their settings.  That means 1 in 3 of us have little or no control over how the information we post to Facebook is shared, or seen by others.

Tomorrow, we will be starting the first in a series of posts designed to help you take charge of how you share your information on Facebook. For the most part we will be covering Facebook’s privacy settings, though we will also touch base on some security settings as well.  We’ll be using screenshots whenever applicable, and will try not to force our readers to hold a PhD in computer lingo just to understand what’s going on!

One important caveat: The information in these posts is good today. Due to the frequency with which Facebook updates their operating system, we cannot guarantee that it will be good a month from now, or even tomorrow!  It is up to you, once you have become familiar with how privacy settings work through these posts, to assume the responsibility of reviewing them on a fairly frequent basis.

Facebook’s creed is “More sharing!” so it’s very unlikely that any changes they make will work to add more protection to your privacy, despite what they might publicly state.  Never the less, Facebook is still a valuable means to connect with friends past and present, and a useful tool for business as well.  Like any tool, it is safest when used correctly. So, stay tuned!  Tomorrow’s post will be on Active Sessions, or, why your status update shows you are in Tulsa when you’re really in Springfield!

The Art Of The Segue

(Adapted from a Facebook discussion, so some of you will have already been down this road with me before…)

So.  I’m driving around one day with the radio on, listening to AC/DC’s “Back In Black” on a local radio station.  The song ended, and without a pause or a break, launched right into “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.  My first thought was, “Whoa, now THAT was a jarring transition!” (Listen to the two songs back-to-back sometime; you’ll see what I mean.) This particular station’s motto is, in fact, “You never know what we’ll play next,” but I spent the next several minutes thinking about how that’s not always such a good thing, and that the DJ (whether live or programmed, I don’t know) really didn’t seem to have put much thought into what I call “the art of the segue.”

The Art of the SegueThe very next day, radio on again, but a different station this time, I was listenening to “Under The Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  That song ended, and again, the next song started up without a break, only this time, it was “Party In The U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus, and a big smile broke out on my face as I thought, “Aha! Now that DJ gets it!” Did the two artists have a particular style in common? No! But the guitar solo that ends the first song is nearly identical in tone to the guitar sound that begins the second; the two songs flowed seamlessly into each other.  Even better, there was subtle subtext going on with the Southern California origins of the Peppers and the lyrics of Miley’s “Party.” Ask my friend Chris Jarratt, the graphic designer, and he’ll tell you that subtle cues are often just as important as the more overt ones.

So, what does all this have to do with web design? Well, in my youthful days as a non-professional DJ (as distinguished from an “unprofessional” one), I learned how important the art of the segue was when it came to setting a mood, or keeping the dancers on the floor — you have to learn how to successfully transition from one moment to the next in order to keep the message going.  The same holds true for good website design; everything that goes into making up the design of the site should help move the viewer along through the site, so they don’t lose the train of your message. The way the text flows, the images and graphics, the navigation, even the color scheme should transition smoothly from one thing to the next.

Why? Think back to those original two songs by AC/DC and ABBA.  While I like both songs, and had enjoyed listening to the first, as it turns out I missed most of the second song because I was distracted by the jarring transition, and spent the next several minutes thinking about that disconnect, instead of hearing the “message”, or in this case, the music.  Don’t let your website viewers get disconnected from the message you are trying to convey with your site and end up losing them because of an unprofessional, jarring segue.  It’s far too easy on the ‘Net to surf on to another website, so your site needs to pull the viewer in with smooth transitions.

Now that you know more about the power and the art of the segue, take a look at your own site(s), and think about whether or not improvements can be made in the way it transitions from one message, or one page, into another.  If you have questions or concerns, you can always contact Diamond Mind Web Design for advice. We can help you turn “surf-by” traffic into click-through traffic!


Win an HP Officejet 6500A Printer! Here’s How.

11:11am, 11/1 — That’s a lot of ones; must mean something, right? Here’s what it can mean to you: a brand new wireless, duplexing, color printer from HP! One lucky winner could receive this spiffy prize, courtesy of Diamond Mind Web Design and our referral partner Lasertek, Inc.

Contest Rules:

  • Runs from November 1st through November 30th, 2012  UPDATE: Contest has been extended through December 21st, 2012!
  • To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to the new Diamond Mind Web Design blog, at  (or use the link to the right if you’re already here)
  • IF we reach 111 subscribers by the ending contest date, THEN we will hold a random drawing from all subscribers for the prize.

That’s it! Simple, right? Who couldn’t use a new printer? And this one is perfect for the home or small office: the HP6500A All-in-One Inkjet will print, copy, scan and fax, at 30ppm. Connects via USB, ethernet, or wireless. Comes with a duplexer for double-sided copying/printing, and it’s compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, Linux, etc.  And you can even print to your printer from anywhere in the world via a web app!

We like to do things big, and this printer is valued at approximately $200.00! Here’s the kicker — if we don’t reach our subscriber goal of 111 by the end of the contest, then the pretty printer stays on the shelf.  🙁  So, don’t just sign yourself up, be sure to share this contest with all your friends and associates!  Not only will subscribers have a chance to win the HP, but in the weeks and months to come, you’ll get all kinds of useful info on websites, social media, and everything else Internet-related.

All HP printers come with starter ink right out of the box, but what do you do when that ink runs out?  Go to the big box store and get a refill, right?  NO!  You call Gary Gauger at Lasertek, Inc., where they specialize in ink and laser toner cartridges for almost any major brand of printer, and can provide new, remanufactured, or even the ever-popular compatible cartridge at terrific prices, and with terrific service.  Visit their Facebook page right after you sign up for our blog, and Like it will you’re there, will ya?