Thoughts on Instagram

I’ve been wanting to talk about my use of Instagram for a while. This post isn’t meant as a rant against Instagram nor do I have any negative feelings toward Instagram. I totally get why people use it. This is mostly about how it doesn’t fit with my own online behavior and why.

I have been sharing photos on Instagram off and on for about 2 years now. Over those 2 years, I’ve struggled to figure out exactly where Instagram fits in with the rest of the social media services I use. I primarily use Twitter and Facebook. I sometimes want to share a photo to Twitter and not Facebook, or to just Facebook, or to both. Instagram of course allows you to pick where you want to share whatever photo you are posting. But Instagram is its own thing too — just like Twitter and Facebook. You post a photo to Instagram, people can “heart” a photo they like and leave a comment on a photo you post. But if you share that photo to Twitter or Facebook, you get separate “likes” and responses to that photo in addition to the ones on Instagram. For me, I realized I was managing engagement on photos I’m posting to Instagram in multiple places. I have some people leaving comments on a Instagram photo on Facebook or replying to me on Twitter, and then some people commenting on Instagram.

For me, I realized I was managing engagement on photos I’m posting to Instagram in multiple places.

Unlike others who are heavy users of Instagram, I don’t have a big audience there. The audiences I talk to online are on Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, this is more public where I can engage with lots and lots of other nerds and geeks like me. Facebook for me tends to be more private and personal — with a lot of engagement happening with family and super close friends. If I want to show off some new nerdy thing I have added to my collection, I’d most likely share that to Twitter. If I want to share some cute photo of my puppy, I’d share that most likely to Facebook. (Sometimes I’d share the same photo to both.) So I essentially share photos I post to Instagram to one of these to get the photo in front of people I want to see it. So why wouldn’t I just publish photos directly to Twitter or Facebook depending on who I want to see the photo?

So why wouldn’t I just publish photos directly to Twitter or Facebook depending on who I want to see the photo?

The other issue for me is how Instagram makes photos look. I know a lot of people love the “old-school” feel with Instagram’s filters and squared look. Originally, Instagram locked you in to sharing squared photos but now they support showing photos in portrait and landscape orientation. But when I share my photos, I want my photos to look as great as possible. When I share photos directly to Twitter — they look great. When I share photos directly to Facebook — they also look great.

Speaking of Twitter, when I share an Instagram photo on Twitter — the photo doesn’t even show up natively in their timeline forcing people to click through to Instagram to actually view the photo. This is what it looks like when I share a Instagram photo to Twitter:

This is what it looks like when I natively post a photo directly to Twitter instead of using Instagram:

If you want folks to see something and having have to jump through hoops (clicking someplace else) just to see it isn’t a great experience.

So in thinking about this some more, I’ve decided I won’t use Instagram to share photos to Twitter. Photos I want seen by my Twitter followers I will just post them to Twitter. However, I’ll still use Instagram to share photos to Facebook. This leads me into some feedback I have for Instagram. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, I would love the see some synergy between how Instagram exists with Facebook. Why can’t Instagram’s comments use Facebook’s commenting platform? Why can’t the “hearts” on Instagram photos be the same as “likes” on that same photo on Facebook? Why do I have to manage these two independently of each other? I’ve had this argument with several die-hard Instagrammers who completely disagree with my suggestions but I find it weird they are so separate. Those die-hards like having their little Instagram community separate. This, to me, doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on Instagram. How do you use Instagram and handle posting photos to Instagram and sharing them to other places?

This post was originally published on Medium on October 22nd, 2015

Fix “popping” audio issue on HP Spectre X360

I have noticed when playing audio such as music from Groove Music in Windows 10 that there would be “popping” from the speakers on my HP Spectre X360. To fix this, I went into the DTS Audio Control Panel app, clicked on “Listening Experienced” and *unchecked* “Audio Enhancements”. The popping went away. I tweeted about this and had some folks on Twitter confirm this worked for them on their Spectres as well.

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RSS readers

John Gruber on RSS readers:

RSS readers exploded in popularity a decade ago, and Dan is right that their use has died down dramatically. But I think “RSS is dead” is the new “email is dead”. And I know from my server stats that an awful lot of people still read Daring Fireball in an RSS reader — many of them using NetNewsWire. For me, as a news junkie, an RSS reader is something to get worked up about.

I completely agree (emphasis in bold above mine). I’m a news junkie as well and my RSS reader is extremely important to me. When I see someone doing something interesting with RSS – I do get worked up about it. Right now, I bounce between two RSS readers: Digg Reader and Feedly (I use the app Nextgen Reader on all my Windows devices to access my feeds). I really like Digg Reader’s integration with Twitter for their “Digg Deeper” feature which brings up popular articles people I’m following on Twitter are tweeting about. My RSS reader is as important to me as Outlook is for email. I am constantly reading up on new articles that come through all day long. I also use Flipboard to read up on news too but I tend to be someone who likes the way RSS readers treat RSS feeds you are subscribed to like email – with most recent articles that get published coming through by newest post first, etc. I triage through my RSS feeds like I do email.

 

Remembering Windows 95

20 years ago today – Windows 95 was released. Windows 95 was the most significant update to Windows ever made at the time – ushering in the transition from 16-bit architecture to 32-bit architecture and introducing a completely brand new graphical user interface designed to make Windows much more consumer friendly. I was only 12 years old at the time but well on my way to being the computer nerd I am today. I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of Windows 95 in honor of its 20th anniversary.

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There are two things about Windows 95 that were big deals at the time for me when Windows 95 was released: it’s new UI and the Internet.

First – a little bit of backstory. In the early 90’s, my dad brought home our family’s first PC: a HP Vectra 486U. It ran Windows 3.1.

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It was with this PC that I fell in love with Windows. My dad’s job at the time dealt with a lot of computer stuff and I learned to do things on the PC by watching him do things. I had tons of fun. But Windows 3.1 wasn’t exactly intuitive or easy to use. And I quickly got bored with MS Paint. I wanted to do a lot more. You had Program Manager that would be your go-to spot for all your applications and then File Manager to manage your files, etc. But Windows could be so much more easier to use. As a kid – I wanted Windows to enable me to do more.

When Windows 95 came out, my dad and I upgraded our PC together. When I say “together” I really mean I watched him go through the setup experience. And when the upgrade was done and the PC booted into Windows, I can remember being blown away by the new UI. It had a Start button! What did the new Start button do? A taskbar! This was all new! No more Program Manager! So how do I get to all my programs? How do I manage my files? I was so excited to learn the new Windows. I dove right in. The Start menu for me was the single best thing about Windows 95.

The next best thing about Windows 95 was how it made connecting to the Internet and browsing the web much more easier. When Windows 95 came out, I had already been “surfing the web” and checking email. In Windows 3.1, I remember having to use a command line to dial-in and connect to the Internet. With Windows 95, you could do this simply by double-clicking on a connection icon you setup for your Internet service. It also came with a brand new web browser called Internet Explorer. However, my dad didn’t like IE at the time so we kept with Netscape as our default web browser. But even Netscape was better on Windows 95 (they released Version 2.0 after the release of Windows 95). I do remember moving away from Eudora and using the inbox e-mail client Windows Messaging for my e-mail (as a 12 year old and one of the very few kids to even have an e-mail address at the time, I didn’t get much e-mail though).

After Windows 95 was released, I got a huge kick witnessing friends and family all of a sudden in the market for PCs. The PC market exploded with Windows 95 because it made using PCs and connecting to the Internet really easy. And I quickly became the kid everyone wanted to help them learn how to use their PC and the Internet – and I loved it.

Windows 95 helped people DO more with their PCs and I think at its heart – that’s what Windows is all about. And it’s great that Windows 10 has gone back to this.

 

Collecting Designer Series Greg Capullo action figures from DC Collectibles

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been the masters of DC Comic’s Batman series since it re-launched in 2011 as part of the “New 52”. Scott serves as the writer for the Batman comics and Greg is the artist that draws the stories. I’ve been a HUGE fan of their run with Batman. They’ve done some fantastic stories such as Death of the Family, Court of Owls, Zero Year (a reimagining of how Bruce Wayne became Batman) and Endgame which features the epic final battle between Batman and The Joker – for good. Now, they’re hard at work on a brand new storyline that features an All-new Batman, new characters, and new villains – which has been interesting to read (I’ll write more about this in another blog post). I’ve been collecting the DC Comics Designer Series Greg Capullo action figures from DC Collectibles which do a great job celebrating Greg’s fantastic artwork on Batman. I’ve nearly completed the entire collection! I’m only missing Two-Face.

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I also discovered that DC Collectibles sells action figure base – which you can order here from Amazon for $12 for 20 bases. I just got these today as well and they work awesome (however, I have an issue where the Catwoman action figure doesn’t like to stand properly with these bases).

At SDCC 2015 last week, DC Collectibles unveiled two new action figures to come as part of this series – Wonder Woman and Endgame Joker. You can bet I’ll be picking these up one they are out but apparently we’ve got a long wait for these as they won’t hit until next summer.

Electric cars need to be cheaper AND have more range

I recently purchased a new car – a 2015 Ford Focus – and love it. And I am a huge Ford fanboy. However, it’s not the electric Ford Focus. Just a regular fuel-powered version. I briefly considered the electric version but the biggest reason why I didn’t choose it was because of it’s range – only 76-miles. I like to drive and go on road trips – that wouldn’t work for me. And I certainly couldn’t justify the price of 30k for a car that had a range like that. No way.

I caught an article today on MSN that featured electric cars that promised the most range. If you go through the slideshow – you can see there is a HUGE gap in range between electric cars by BMW, Chevy, VW, Nissan. Mercedes. Fiat, and Kia and several Tesla models. Everyone else is building electric cars with a range of around 80 or so miles. But Tesla jumps up a 200 mile range. Ford wasn’t even on the list. Sigh.

I started thinking about this a bit. If I want a electric car that has a range of 200+ miles – I would have to pay over $50,000 to buy a Tesla. So you’re either stuck with being able to afford a electric car with shitty range, or dishing out a lot of money for one that has great range. This puts electric cars out of reach for the majority of consumers. This issue needs to be solved.

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I think the automotive companies need to really think hard about (and truly invest in) improving the range of their electric vehicles at the same time keeping the car affordable to most consumers. The first automotive company that does this really great will help spur a sort of electric-car-revolution I think. Yes, Tesla is certainly helping push this. And rumor has it, Tesla’s Model 3 will be priced at $35,000 and have a 200-mile range. That’s a great start but I think more can be done.

A electric car with a 200-mile range at around $25,000. Yup.

Tesla clearly has the edge here. Their technology has proven it has the range needed for a good electric car. And they have made their patents for all their technology available for anyone to use. So why isn’t more automotive companies taking advantage of that to develop better range electric cars? Ford recently opened their patents to competitors too

Ford says by opening up their patents to competitors, they want to help “accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles”. But Ford… you only make an electric car with a 76-mile range!

Ford should seriously consider utilizing Tesla’s patents to improve their own electric cars. Seriously. As should other car companies.

Ok so I digressed a little from my original point of this blog post but as I mentioned, I am a Ford fanboy. I want a electric car. I want it to have awesome range. And I want it to be a Ford.

The reality is, ALL car companies should be doing more – whether its utilizing Tesla’s patents or doing their own R&D – to improve the range of electric cars and make them more affordable to consumers.

 

Testing out the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in

Today, the Office Team has announced the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in. You just download and install the plug-in on your WordPress blog and you can start using OneNote to write blog posts.

NOTE: When setting up the plug-in on your WordPress blog – make sure you follow the instructions especially the part about configuring the plug-in to work. At first, I neglected to do this and just assumed it’ll work by simply installing the plug-in and turning it on but no, there is additional configuration needed. 

How it works: You write whatever blog post you want to publish on your WordPress blog as a page in one of your OneNote notebooks. I’ve created a new notebook specifically for blog posts. After you’re done writing up your blog post, just go into your WordPress Dashboard and start a new post. Then click the OneNote icon in the menu.

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It will fill the post title with the page title from OneNote and add whatever you have written in that page from OneNote into the body of the post. It works pretty good. If you’ve added images into the page in OneNote, it’ll even add those images!

I wrote this blog post using the universal OneNote Preview app on Windows 10 (Build 10122 we released yesterday). I did find some issues using this with Microsoft Edge and flagged for the Microsoft Edge Team to look at. I also found some weird formatting issues with my theme but I think its just because I hacked up this theme too much.

Try the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in on your blog!