Are you following me?

Twitter is all about following others but with over a hundred million Twitter users, the real challenge is finding the right followers that meet your interests.

In addition to the helpful built-in “Suggestions for You” functionality in Twitter, here are some helpful tools to help you find and mange followers as well as associated groups on Twitter:

WeFollow: Great tool for finding followers by categories and interests and you can get a high level snapshot of their reach.

Followerwonk: I started using this for competitive analysis but found it to be helpful to connect the dots between keywords and users as well as building your list of followers.

Twitoria: Need to do a little spring cleaning on your Twitter account? This tool enables you to identify friends that have not tweeted in a long time so that you can remove them, leaving room for real followers who really care about you.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/are-you-following-me/

Start Me Up: How to Remove Unwanted Programs on Startup

Ever notice when you first boot up your PC machine, it’s loading all of these applications in the background? Ultimately, this contributes to longer load times and sucking up your memory resources on your system. In most cases, programs are configured to load on startup including new device registration reminders (HP is notorious for this), instant messaging apps and other third-party applications. In addition, these programs usually run hidden in the background so by disabling them, you will see a difference in your computer’s overall performance.

Disabling them is quite easy and can be done on all PC-based operating systems–from Windows 98 thru Windows 7. Here are the steps:

1) Launch Start (hit Windows key) and in the Run option type “msconfig” (sans quotes) in the window

2) A pop-up window will appear / Click on the Start-up tab and disable the items by unchecking them (see below). Once done, simply click OK and reboot your system and you’re good to go. Depending on your operating system, you might see a alert message when you reboot, confirming the details of your setup. You can dismiss this message by turning off the reminder.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/start-me-up/

Put Down that Cocktail and Try Handbrake for Video Encoding

For many years, I have used Handbrake for optimizing my movies for my iPod and iPad. Handbrake is a FREE, open-source video transcoder application that makes the process of video conversion an easy task. Available for Mac, Linux and Windows, the interface is really easy with the ability to export to a multitude of video output formats and settings, most notable the common ones like MKV and MP4 with presets for the iPad, iPhone, iPod and AppleTV. By default, Handbrake will output the files as an MP4 and you can also configure the screen size, chapter selection and frame rate so that the outputted file is tailored for your needs and that device.

The process is pretty simple–you browse to the source file and set your preferences and export it. Once done, it tells you to “put down that cocktail” and enjoy your movie.

Supported Sources:

• Most common multimedia files that libavformat and libavcodec support.
• File format: MP4(M4V) and MKV
• Video: MPEG-4(ffmpeg), H.264(x264), or Theora(libtheora)
• Audio: AAC, CoreAudio AAC (OS X Only), MP3, or Vorbis. AC-3 pass-through, DTS pass-thorugh (MKV only)

Misc features:

• Chapter selection, Chapter Markers and Subtitles
• Constant Quality or Average Bitrate Video Encoding
• Video: Deinterlacing, Decomb, Detelecine, Cropping and scaling
• Live Video Preview

Follow this link to download it: http://handbrake.fr/

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/put-down-that-cocktail-and-try-handbrake-for-video-encoding/

Looking for your cookies?

The other day, I went into the local QuickTrip for a quick cup of coffee and I noticed this half eaten cookie, marked down 30% and several questions came to mind. How could they sell this cookie? Who would buy it? Would one eat it after buying it?

Computers also have cookies and they represent small files which are stored on your system. During the early days of dial-up modems and older browsers, cookies and temporary internet files helped with the load time while delivering a Web experience that was tailored for the user. So, if you would frequent a site that required some form of authentication (i.e.: bank site), the Web server would look for these cookies on your machine and deliver the appropriate page, based on your settings.

So, cookies are created when a Web page is loaded, unless the functionality is disabled in your browser settings.

By nature, cookies are NOT viruses as they are encoded in a plain text format and they cannot be executed. Unlike traditional computer viruses, the do not have the means to replicate and spread to other networks or systems. Given that, they are not an immediate threat to your system, unlike our half-eaten cookie at QuikTrip. 🙂

However, cookies can be used for malicious purposes as they contain user information as well as browsing history and preferences. As a result, they fall into the realm of spyware so I would recommend deleting your cookies by clicking on your Internet preferences and delete your session history.

Follow these links for steps using the most common browsers:

Internet Explorer: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/278835

Safari: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Safari/3.0/en/11471.html

Firefox: http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Deleting%20cookies

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/looking-for-your-cookies/

Easy Mobile Plugin for WordPress

Marketing outreach on mobile devices is nothing new but finding a free, turnkey solution can sometimes be challenge. For the past few months, I have been using a neat WordPress plugin for sending mobile alerts to subscribers. Easy SMS works quite well and is easy to configure and use.

Users simply enter their phone number, carrier and once confirmed (via text message authorization), they are indexed to receive updates. From there, you can send SMS messages to groups with options to test and schedule alerts. The dashboard also offers a high level of stats, so that you can measure your outreach efforts as well as do basic list management. All you have to do is use the shortcode to embed the form on any post or page and you’re good to go. It also has the presets for 80+ carriers, with much room for adding new carriers as well as editing the carrier details.

For more specs and a full list of features, follow this link: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/easysms/

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/easy-mobile-plugin-for-wordpress/

Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a fine product and is used by millions of users to create spreadsheets, manage email, write letters and create Powerpoint presentations. However, with all that functionality comes a hefty price tag and there are many alternatives to MS Office. For years, I have used OpenOffice, one of the best open source and free solutions with full integration and compatibility with MS Office. So, you can create a document in OpenOffice and someone on the other end of the globe can open it in MS Word.

Available on all platforms including PC and Mac, it is the best open-source office solution for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. Free to download and use, I highly recommend it. The only thing lacking is an open source solution that is comparable to Outlook but you can always use one of the free mail clients like Thunderbird, IncrediMail or Mail. For a complete list of features and learn more about it, follow this link: http://why.openoffice.org/

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/free-alternative-to-microsoft-office/

The dangers of texting while driving (for some)

My lovely wife sent this to me as she knows the dangers of texting while driving as she has been in one texting-induced car accident. NY Times recently rolled out this test and it truly makes you wonder if it’s worth it to text your friends about the latest Judd Apatow movie while doing 75 on the interstate.

I strongly recommend taking this test and let know what you think. Ready? Crack those knuckles and give it a spin:
Click here

btw, I tried it and actually scored better while texting but I don’t count because my brain is not wired correctly..:)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.carlferrara.com/the-dangers-of-texting-while-driving-for-some/