How to create a no-maintenance family blog in 3 easy steps

What do you do if some of your family won’t join Facebook yet get miffed if they hear your news second hand?

An easy option is to create a private blog that gets automatically (the no-maintenance part) populated with your family’s facebook updates and pictures.

Creating the blog is a relatively quick one-off job. It might take an hour or so but once its all set up you don’t need to touch it.

I picked WordPress for our family as my sister and I used it already (and it’s free, as are most blogging platforms).

How to set up your blog in 3 easy steps:

1.  Set up the blog

2.  Invite your family to join you

3.  Set up the rules to create new posts on your blog (more on this below)

1.   Setting up your blog

Pick a name for your site.  This will become part of the web address so should be easy to remember.  For example allthingsjones.wordpress.com

Set your theme and title. WordPress has lots of free themes you can play around with and personalise with your own photos or pictures.

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Set the blog to private to restrict access to just your family.  This is done under “Settings”,”Reading” in the WordPress blog dashboard.Image

2.  Inviting  your family to join

You can assign different access levels from editor to follower depending on whether you want to allow them to add/edit/delete posts or just read them.  This is done from the “Users” “Invite New” menu on the dashboard.

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So now that you have your blog, how do you (and your family) auto-magically add posts to it?

The answer:  Using IFTTT (IF This, Then That).  Now this sounds technical and involved but it’s really not, no coding experience or IT knowledge whatsoever is needed.

3.  Setting up the rules to create new posts on your blog – automatically!

If you haven’t yet heard of IFTTT, it’s just a really easy way to get the internet to work for you.  You can set up rules like “If I post a photo on facebook, add it to my family blog”.  So every time you post a photo on facebook, within 15 minutes your photo will appear as a new post in your blog and everyone who is  following your blog will get notified that there’s a new post. And it’s free!

First – join IFTTT here.

Second – register your Facebook and WordPress (or whatever platform you are using for your family blog) as “channels”.

IFTTT1

Third – create your rules (known as “recipes”).

IFTTT2

You create rules by choosing a channel to get information from (for this rule facebook is the “this” channel), the trigger (each time I post a photo), and a channel to send the information to ( the “that” channel is your family blog).

IFTTT3

IFTTT guides you through setting up your recipes step-by-step to make it super easy to use.  You can accept the default values for your blog post initially and then play around with them later when you have it all working.

Your recipe should look something like this when it’s been set up:

IFTTT4

Now all you need to do is activate your rule, add a photo to facebook and wait for it to appear on your blog. Too easy!

Each rule or recipe will keep working until you switch it off.

Now get the rest of your family facebookers to do the same…

…and keep the facebook haters happy 🙂

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Joining Jess at www.essentiallyjess.com for IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)

There are heaps of other things you can get IFTTT to do for you – there are thousands of recipes you can look through to see how other people are using it to make their online lives easier. Check out the two IFTTT articles linked below for more information.

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Meetup, BigTent, GroupSpaces and other social sites where you actually get to know real people…

…and not in the biblical sense, or at least I don’t think that’s the primary intention.

I had mentioned in my post here that I’d recently found a list of even more social media sites than I had previously listed here. The social media world is so HUGE… it’s exhausting just thinking about it. However I’ve started so I’ll finish, (yeah right, wouldn’t that be nice…hey guys, I’ve finished the internet, phew… go me!) and have been taking a look at a few more.

Image representing Meetup as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Some (like Tagged and LiveJournal) I can’t make sense of, maybe I’m not who they’re pitched at; but others like Meetup, BigTent and GroupSpaces seem like a great idea!

In case (like me) you’re new to these sites, the basic concept is to use the ease of connecting with like-minded souls online to create equivalent location based groups who actually meet up and interact in person – a concept called “building social capital”.

For decades the internet and computers had been (partly) blamed for the reduction of physical interaction between people (i.e. reducing social capital) so here was the antidote!

Image representing BigTent Design as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

I started looking at MeetUp (which led me to the other two) and quickly found out that I’m really late (like really, REALLY late) to the party. It’s been around since 2001 in various forms and globally it has over 11 million members in over 100,000 groups having over 300,000 meet up’s per month. The other two sites are smaller, GroupSpaces in particular doesn’t seem to have much of a Sydney presence.

A quick look at the MeetUp groups in Sydney showed a lot of singles groups (mainly billed as “girls night out” groups so maybe I’m being cynical here), even more tech groups, plenty of startup/entrepreneurial groups and a good amount of book clubs, fitness clubs and mothers groups.

GroupSpaces
GroupSpaces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The site owners make money by charging whoever sets up the group a nominal fee per month. MeetUp.com helps the group get started by sending out invites to possible members. The site is modern looking and really easy to use – although I couldn’t find the pricing model, the only reason I knew there was payment involved was because they were advertising a 50% discount. GroupSpaces starts at around $15 per month so I’m assuming the others have similar prices (Edit June 2013 – BigTent is a free service).

Such a great and seemingly simple idea – and yet another part of the interweb I have only just discovered 🙂

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If you’d like to know more, there’s a history of MeetUp on Wikipedia here and an article on the Social Capital Blog here. There is also an indepth Harvard study on MeetUp written in 2005 here.

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Ravelry – a social media site for Knitters

A while ago I linked an infographic here that listed most of the familiar social networking sites, and quite a few I’d never heard of before.  To confuse matters further I found some more yesterday including some really cool niche ones.

I haven’t looked at them all yet but I’m loving Ravelry – a knit and crochet community.  The login page completely won me over – how cute is this?

Ravelry social media knitting
This is just gorgeous!

You sign up by picking a username and password after verifying your email address – no facebook or twitter login options as yet.  The first time you login you see a 7 minute video at the top of the page that clearly and concisely explains how to use the site. You can search for patterns, join groups, ask and answer questions, track your yarn and find the best places near you to meet other knitters and source your supplies.

Check it out at www.ravelry.com

The site has almost 3 million members and a quick search found lots of Australian users. I haven’t knitted in years but am now tempted to give it another whirl, this looks like fun!

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Pinterest – how to verify your wordpress website

English: Red Pinterest logo
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I noticed the other day that you can now verify your website on Pinterest. This process is slightly more complicated for hosted wordpress websites than self hosted ones, but fear not, it can be done!

Simply follow Eric Lingenfelter’s instructions here.

When you’re finished, your link will have a nice reassuring tick beside it – like so:

wordpress pinterest verification
Taa daa!

You’re welcome 🙂

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How to Create a Winning Meme – Mashable

See on Scoop.itTechnology InfographicsHow to Create a Winning Meme

meme, social media, annoyed picard meme
Here’s one I made earlier…

Mashable
Compiled by Pelican PR, one infographic looks at patterns in 100 memes from 1980 to today, and determines the necessary ingredients for a video or photo to take off.

Multi-tasking mush brain and other maladies I may have…

I found this infographic “Is Your Computer Killing you?” on scoop.it tonight. Apparently the relatively harmless sounding “multi-tasking mush brain” can lead to ADHD, checking my fb before(and in) bed could be causing insomnia, and while I don’t have a gaming addiction (which caused 15% of divorces according to an online divorce study) I definitely do have an inability to get off the internet. Apart from at work of course – unless I’m grabbing lunch, or a coffee, or have a few minutes spare between meetings, or am on the train….

Right, I’m switching off (well it is 11pm) and setting my alarm (again) for a run before work (to stave off obesity – see below).  Lets hope the pressure of putting that here will force me to do it 🙂

Update: and so it did! Hoping now that I can do it again..

Is Your Computer Killing You? An infographic by WhoIsHostingThis.com Reviews

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Are you acting your social media age?

I hadn’t even heard of some of these…

Social media use by age group
Social Media Demographics via VentureBeat

Joining Trish for Wordless Wednesday here

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Find of the week: Polyvore.com (dress-ups for grown-ups)

I randomly saw a reference to Polyvore this week and had to go try it out.  Hours of fun! It took me just a few minutes (at least that’s what it felt like…) to put together an outfit (known as a “Polyvore set”) and post it here. I could even click through an item and buy it if I happened to have my credit card handy (very dangerous).
It’s like having those cardboard cut out dolls and paper outfits of my childhood but with an unlimited amount of real clothes – what’s not to like??
Try it out here: www.polyvore.com
Have you heard of it?  Have you used it?  What do you think?
1990's style for 2012

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Spooky Spokeo…how much does it know?


Spokeo is a “Personal Information Site” that uses deep web crawlers to find information publicly available on the web to build a profile of you, yes you. And me, and anyone else that has ever signed up for anything on the web.
I’d never heard of it but started seeing it in search results over the last few weeks. We have some major changes happening at work so I was googling a few names (as you do) to see what linkedin had to say about them. I kept seeing these “Spokeo” results so clicked in to have a look.

“Not your Grandma’s phone book”

Spokeo is a people search engine that aggregates white-pages listings and public records. Luckily for us non-Americans, the name search is limited to US residents. You can search on an email address for non-US residents which will tell you a bit more, but then it wants to charge you for the privilege. The urban legend website lists quite a few similar sites, the most comprehensive (for free) seeming to be pipl. Urban legend also mentions concerns about so-called invasions of privacy – but from what I can see (and read), all the information available is public anyway.

How much does it know?

I come from a large Irish Catholic family so put the lot into pipl to see what came out. I put both names and primary email addresses.

Mum – nothing even though she has a gmail address.
Dad – ditto
Sis 1 – lives in the US so they had her age, work address and Spokeo even had a google map of her house (this site returned very little for free for anyone else), but then again her address is available in the white pages.
Sis 2 – not a lot, only found one social network profile but she uses a wide variety of email addresses and online profiles, and lives in Dublin
Sis 3 – found a load of her public profiles including tweets and facebook pages – she runs an online wine business in Shenzhen, China (www.crushedgrapes.cn) so would be delighted I’m sure.
Bro – again, lots of tweets and public profiles – but again, he runs a live music service (www.45sound.com).
Me – pipl returned my age from my bebo profile (I’d forgotten I was on that site) which was a bit disturbing as I try to keep that private, not that I’m embarrassed of course, merely for security purposes.. Anyway, I went to the effort of getting my bebo password reset only to find that I can’t remove the year of birth – how annoying! Apart from that, again I wasn’t too concerned by what it found.

So why are people freaking out?

From what I can see, two reasons – firstly, Spokeo (and pipl etc.) gathers all the data it can find about you on the web, so if you use the same email address and your real name for all your online memberships, it will probably build quite a comprehensive picture of you which could be a bit confronting. If you don’t, it won’t. It could be used by someone stalking you, but then again, they could find all that info about you anyway if they looked hard enough.

Secondly – there are rumours out there that if you go onto the Spokeo website it downloads cookies that start tracking your movements and therefore gather more data about you. Now, I don’t really believe that, but since it wouldn’t kill me to delete all my cookies for the last hour, I’m going to do it anyway 🙂

So if you’re curious have a look at the sites below:

http://www.spokeo.com
http://pipl.com

Did they have much info about you? Anything that freaked you out? Should I be more concerned? Let me know!

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