My very own mom just joined the ranks of iPhone owners. (Welcome to the party, Mom!) Much as I was excited to show her all the cool stuff (FaceTime! Apps! Visual voice mail!), I quickly realized she needed to walk before she could run.
In other words, she needed a course in Basic iPhone Operation. After all, she was accustomed to a simple flip phone with a physical keypad. Going from that to an iPhone is like trading a car for a 747: confusing, intimidating, and no doubt a little scary.
With that in mind, I put together this list of 11 tips for iPhone newcomers. If they seem overly obvious to you, well, you're not the target audience. But I'll bet you know someone who is, so feel free to share this with the iPhone newbies in your life. Trust me: they'll thank you!
1. When in doubt, go Home. Want to go back to the main screen, the one with all the icons? That's called the Home screen. It doesn't matter which app you're using or task you're performing--a single press of the Home button (the only physical button on the front of the iPhone) will return you to the Home screen.
2. Always turn your iPhone off before you slip it into your pocket.Although your iPhone will switch itself into idle mode (where the screen turns off but the phone stays on) after a designated period of inactivity, you should get in the habit of manually turning off the screen. Otherwise you might accidentally place a call or run a battery-draining app while slipping the phone into your pocket. So remember: when you're done using your iPhone, press the top button (aka, the Sleep/Wake button).… Read more
What are the must-have apps for a new iPad owner?
As readers of my Cheapskate blog know, that's something I'm loathe to do. But for me it was a legitimate business expense, and dang if my curiosity didn't get the better of me. Would the iPad live up to the hype? Would I find new and unexpected … Read more
FriendFeed is a powerful service you can use to follow all the public online activity of your friends. It takes all your friends' activity on Twitter, Digg, del.icio.us, Flickr, YouTube, and 30 other sites and creates one giant uber-feed that you can display in one place. Furthermore, people can comment on what their friends are doing, and you can read those comments, so the service acts as a good way to discover the things your social network thinks is important.
In this guide we'll tell you how to get started with FriendFeed.
FriendFeed is a young service and its developers update it frequently. This guide is current as of June 5. If you spot errors, feel free to e-mail me and I will make the appropriate corrections. Thank you.
Step 1. Join up. This is easy. Go to the site and sign up.
The service will ask you if you want to install the Facebook app. FriendFeed in Facebook is a bit misleading: It will show you all your friends' activities in your profile page except for what they do on Facebook itself. FriendFeed doesn't have a feed of that data.
FriendFeed gives you the option to read in your address books from various online e-mail services. Then it matches those addresses to existing FriendFeed users. It's a good way to stock your network with friends, and doing this does not spam anyone.
Once you've added a few friends, you can let FriendFeed recommend other people to follow. Go to the "friend settings" tab and click "recommend." The app will show you a list of people who are followed by folks you're already following--friends of friends. Chances are very good you'll find people you know on this list.
If you have skipped all the friend-adding features so far, you'll get the option of signing up to read 12 popular FriendFeed users. Following these users will put you smack in the middle of the Web 2.0 echo chamber, and if you want to track your friends in the real world you might find it hard to hear them over the noise of these 12 white guys, but it is a good way to get started with the service. If you haven't added any friends in the previous step, I recommend you pick at least one person from the dozen top users so you can see what the service does. Try either Paul Buchheit or Bret Taylor, co-founders of FriendFeed.
Assuming you've added either your friends or the famous people, now you'll now see the FriendFeed main content page.
Step 2: Reading FriendFeed FriendFeed shows you a list of all the public things the people you're following are doing on the Web. But it gets tricky: It's not strictly ordered by time, with the most recent activities on the top of the list. While new items do start on top, an old item that's scrolled down can move back up to the top if another user comments on it.
The grouping of comments on items, and the persistence of heavily commented-upon items at the top of the list, is what makes FriendFeed a very good way to get a look at what is popular in your social network at the given moment. To help you grasp the zeitgeist even better, FriendFeed automatically includes items from friends of your friends in your main content window.
This means, however, that items from friends of yours who are not Web 2.0 celebrities can quickly scroll off your main content stream. FriendFeed's founders are working on new features to help you track the people who matter to you personally even if their items don't get the comments that stick them to top of the feed. In the meantime, you might want to limit the number of celebrities you subscribe to.
Step 3. Add your personal feeds. If you like what FriendFeed does, you'll probably want to join in as well, so your friends who are on FriendFeed can follow you, too.
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What is Flock and why should you use it?
Flock is essentially Firefox with a handful of highly focused extensions built in to let you connect with social services like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and others. We think Flock 1.0, which is now in public beta, offers a fantastic browsing experience that brings you the best of Firefox with a few tweaks that prove to be exceptionally helpful. For Web newbies out there, Flock's offering provides an easy way to manage and monitor profiles, media uploads, and communications with all your social networks while continuing to browse other sites like you would in any old browser.
Here are four steps to get you up and running with Flock's biggest features:
1. Setting up permissions and accounts
Once installed, Flock will want to make itself your primary browser. We'd recommend holding off on making it the default until you decide whether or not you like it more than whatever you're currently using. Just remember the default browser is the one that URLs open up from when clicked on from other applications on your computer.
Flock is based on the same underlying code as Firefox, and basic features work the same, so if you're a Firefox user you'll feel right at home.
To experience what Flock offers beyond Firefox, the first thing you'll want to do is connect it to your social networking accounts. To do this, you'll have to introduce yourself to the sidebar menu, which is where you'll find nine icons that serve as ground control for most of Flock's special features. Click on the one shaped like a key, which takes you to the accounts and services control panel. Here you'll find links split up into four sections for people, media sharing, blogging, and social bookmarking. Clicking each of the links will take you to the site or service, and if you've got login credentials, entering them will automatically save your account settings.
Continue reading to learn about ways to track friends, exploring and saving social media, and easy ways to share and blog Web content you come across using some of Flock's built-in tools.… Read more
What is Facebook and why should you use it?
Facebook is a social networking service that lets you connect with friends, co-workers, and others who share similar interests or who have common backgrounds. Many use it as a way to stay in touch after finishing school, or as a way to share their life publicly. What makes Facebook different from other social networks are its extensive privacy controls, its development platform, and its large and quickly growing user base. Facebook has been called the "thinking person's" social network. Compared to many other social networks, Facebook gets new features and improvements on a regular basis.
Facebook, like other social networks, is all about getting in touch with others. Luckily for novice users, Facebook has created some simple ways to find your friends using your e-mail address, or the buddy list from your AOL instant messaging account. You can also search by name, or pull up listings based on your computer's address book.
To get started adding friends to Facebook (many of who may already be on the system), I recommend a multipronged attack. Use your most active Web mail account (Hotmail, as one example), and your AIM buddy list, which in some cases could pull up nearly everyone you know. Since everyone needs an e-mail address to sign up with Facebook, giving Facebook permission to use your existing address books should make it possible to track down everyone with whom you communicate.
Once you've added the people you know or remember (you can always add or delete them later on), one of your first steps should be filling out your own profile. You're welcome to do this before tracking down your friends, but you'll find that people are almost always constantly making tweaks to their profile, so nothing is set in stone. The two main things that are important here are a personal picture, and your contact information--both of which Facebook highlights when you're setting things up. For profile pictures, it can be anything you'd like, and you can simply upload an image to the service from your hard drive. Filling out the rest of your profile is as simple as completing any Web form. You're not required to include anything about yourself, so don't feel too inclined to fill out information you don't want others to see; which brings us to the topic of privacy, which you can read more about after the break...
Continue reading to learn about privacy, saying hello, "poking," sharing bookmarks, and using Facebook applications. We'll also delve into some advanced items, such as add-ons and hidden features.… Read more
What is Google Reader and why should you use it?
Google Reader is a free, Web-based reader for RSS feeds. You can find feeds on nearly every Web site. RSS feeds offer a simplified view of Web content down to just text, pictures and videos--minus the site's style and formatting, which can sometimes hinder or befuddle casual reading.
Google reader lets you subscribe to these feeds as easily as typing them into your browser's address bar, and lets you read them like you're browsing through e-mail. There are many online RSS readers available, but Google is one of the best. It's easy to get a grip on Google Reader basics, but there are several tips and tricks that can make it extremely productive.
Setup: Finding RSS Feeds
As mentioned earlier, nearly every site has an RSS feed, and you can usually find it by scrolling around and hunting for the little RSS logo (a little orange box with three white waves). What makes Google Reader particularly useful is that it can take any old Web site URL and find the RSS feed on its own. If you don't quite remember the name of the site, or the exact URL, Google Reader has a built in directory you can search by keyword. There's also a neat feature called "bundles" that has over a dozen themed groups of preselected feeds you can subscribe to at once. Adding one of these bundles organizes the newly subscribed feeds into a handy folder.
Once you get going with Google Reader, you'll likely have a bunch of sites that need organizing into groups. The easiest tool to handle this is folders. To begin this process, just click on manage subscriptions in the lower left-hand corner of Google Reader's main page. This will take you to an options menu where you can create and delete folders and feeds, as well as quickly categorize the feeds you have into folders.
To change or make a new folder, there's a drop-down menu on the far right side of each feed. To make a new folder, click on it, and pick the New Folder option. After naming it, the feed you clicked on in the first place will automatically be sorted into this folder. Once you've created a folder, you can quickly add several feeds by clicking the drop-down button on the far right to change folders.
Seasoned Gmail users might be familiar with "starring" and labeling, Google's simplified version of managing feeds and stories instead of folders. Google Reader is no different, letting you star or tag posts with labels for quick sorting later on. There are two ways to star a story--either click on the star icon on the top left of a story, or add star option on the bottom left. To read through just starred items, pick the starred items feed on the top left menu.
Labeling is a slightly more complicated affair, but a powerful tool to swap through genres of feeds with just a few keystrokes. Like stars, you can tag any feed item on the fly by clicking the edit tags button on the lower right hand side of the story. You'll notice right away the story has automatically been tagged with its parent folder. To actually search through tags, you'll have to use a simple keyboard shortcut by pressing G followed by T. This will pull up an overlay that lets you sort through stories by tag using your keyboard arrows. We'll get into more depth on keyboard shortcuts in the advanced tidbits section below.
Continue reading to learn how to read and share feeds, along with some advanced tidbits for taking your reading to the next level.
2view is a neat little tool that lets you add Flickr-like notes to any photo online. If you're unfamiliar with Flickr's note system, a) you should read our Newbie's Guide, and b) you're really missing out on some fun to be had with photos that are shared online. Flickr's Notes feature lets users add their two cents to a picture, and mark certain things of interest with a very specifically placed caption. It's the Web equivalent of a sharpie marker, although a little less permanent.
To use 2view, just plug in any old … Read more
Flickr is a popular photo-sharing and hosting service with advanced and powerful features. It supports an active and engaged community where people share and explore each other's photos. You can share and host hundreds of your own pictures on Flickr without paying a dime. There's also a pro service that gets you unlimited storage and sharing for about $2 a month, making it one of the cheapest hosting sites around (more on that later).
Flickr was created by a small Canadian development team in 2002 before being acquired by Yahoo a year later. Many other photo sites (including Yahoo Photos) are easier to use, but none offer Flickr's interesting features or its cohesive community of enthusiasts.
Adding your photos to Flickr
First step: Get your photos into the service. Flickr has a few options to get photos from your camera into your account, the easiest one being a little uploader app you can install on your PC or Mac (there's also a Linux version.) When it's installed on a PC, you can right-click on any photo and send it straight to Flickr. You also can use this uploader to create albums (Flickr calls albums sets) for your pictures. You can install software that lets you publish from any folder in Windows XP, without the need to use the uploading program. If you're using a Mac, there's also a plug-in for iPhoto.
If you're not keen on downloading a piece of software, Flickr lets you upload six individual photos at a time. This might work for some weekend shots, but if you've got more than 20 shots it's worth trying out the batch uploader. We recommend using the downloader software, or if you've got Yahoo's Widgets Engine installed, the latest version comes with a widget that doubles as a photo viewer and uploading tool.
Continue reading to learn how to tag and organize photos, add notes, geotag, create albums, find out if you need a premium membership, and our list of Flickr users worth checking out.