Simple, Sensible and Effective Suggestions for Improving Facebook

Facebook is a great utility with lots of great features, but there are also quite a few not so great features which aren’t hard to fix, and some features not present which shouldn’t be hard to add. This is my list, in no particular order. I’d love to hear from you for your ideas, or which ideas listed here that you’d like to see the most. Who knows? Maybe Facebook staff may actually listen to user feedback! 🙂

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Testing SoundCloud for WordPress.com with My Own Music

This is my own song, uploaded for the purposes of testing out the SoundCloud music player features newly integrated into WordPress.com blogs. Please do have a listen while reading some general descriptions of the SoundCloud platform following to see those features in action. I wrote the song, but it was beautifully sung by Lis Soderberg, with background parts, recording and mixing all done by the very talented Allister Bradley in the summer of 2008 at Humber College. I just strummed on a guitar. Lyrics are at the bottom. 🙂

Please click here for the guitar and ukulele tabs PDF containing lyrics,  chords and notes for The Comparison Song

Up till Aug 2009, there wasn’t a music player, and not one with social media features, on WordPress.com blogs. If you wanted to share audio files with such features, your best bet was probably to make a “static video”. You know, those “videos” with just one image and sound? Either that or get a space upgrade to be able to upload MP3 files, but there wasn’t a real music player with it

SoundCloud logo (I like it!)

Well, I’m so happy to see WordPress.com finally has a system to integrate sound media files into its blogs the way video was been integrated for a while! They chose SoundCloud.com as their platform, the way they had chosen VodPod for videos.

“[SoundCloud is] …a really useful service that is part Flickr for music, part professional music collaboration hub. Artists such as Beck, Moby and Sonic Youth now use the service to distribute tracks through their blogs and connect with their fans.
WordPress.com blog, Aug 13 2009

More than just another free music player, though, SoundCloud has some quite awesome features.

  • You can leave comments at specific points in the track so you don’t have to go find the time, or try to describe it awkwardly, etc.
  • You can just click a share button to share it on Facebook and various other social media or social bookmarking sites! That’s very nice!
  • The sharing of music otherwise among members is similar to the combination of notification on Facebook, and Inbox notifications, on your account via SoundCloud’s side. You can “follow” people like on Twitter to get the info via newsfeed, or get notice similar to a tag or email sent to you and/or your email off the site.
  • There is even code provided for people to embed it into their blogs and websites, with the player included! That’s really cool!
  • Their music player is like “fab five” man! You can also control lots of privacy features, and you get your own URL for your account on their site that the public may also visit like how MySpace works.
  • A free account can be had with 10 tracks for sharing, an Inbox, detailed statistics, viewing, privacy and other features of popular music and video sites at least as good as most of those other sites.

The WordPress folks really picked a fantastic platform in SoundCloud! Well done!

Of course, you should not be uploading copyrighted material that isn’t yours to SoundCloud. That was to be expected. But how nice, was it then, that I just happened to have a song I had written and recorded in the past to use? I don’t devote enough time to my singing/songwriting, and I don’t exactly go pimping my music a lot, even to many of my friends. So here’s hoping there’s something new here for some of them, and you, to enjoy, aside from the tech review.

I will be further checking out SoundCloud’s features in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s given me a whole new set of motivation to write more songs and record more. In the meanwhile, if you want to know more, you can take the tour on their site.

I would highly recommend it!

LYRICS

I could compare you to a summer’s day,
Or, if you prefer, a winter’s night.
I could compare you to the moon unphased,
Or the sun at dawn, noon or in twilight.
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

I could compare you to the sweetest tune,
Or, if you prefer, the sweetest kiss.
I could compare you to a sacred rune,
Or the lores, that tell of eternal bliss.
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

Choose any flower that blooms in the spring,
Or any leaf that turns in the fall.
Choose stars, or rainbows, angels, songs birds sing,
Or the sky, or sea – any thing at all!
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

No, there’s not one that can compare to you.

07.?.2003 – 07.31.04


How to Get Social Bookmarking for WordPress.com

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UPDATE ON OCT 23, THIS POST IS NOW SEVERELY DATED!

WordPress has since made social bookmarking a setting on your blog. However, services like Add to Any still has a purpose in that you have access to a LOT more services than the default WordPress provides, and that you can put it anywhere in your post and not just at the very end, where people might forget about it for one reason or another (like galleries). That said, WordPress does cover most of the major sharing services relevant to North America, at least.
Add to Any has upgraded this procedure to an easy one-click move using your browser to let you do this! BRAVO!!!

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to very easily share, store, organize, search and manage bookmarks of web pages via icons that do those tasks within a click or two. As you’ve surfed the web, you have probably come across icons similar to one of these below:

 

Popular social bookmarking icons

Popular social bookmarking icons

 

The problem I have encountered with many of these free services are that they don’t work in the free WordPress.com on which I and millions of other users, literally, are blogging. The reason why has to do with Javascript codes those services tend to use that do not work in WordPress.com. I’ll leave it at that because if you know the technical details of that, you aren’t likely needing to read this post.

Fortunately, the AddToAny service for social bookmarking has an option that doesn’t use Javascript. They provide those Share/Save buttons in blue above. I’m sure there are other similar services out there which offer codes not involving JavaScript, but I found this one to work very well, and best in this process. You can customize it as you like after you try it out and adjust it for your routines, learning style, etc. It’s not an automatic point and click, unfortunately, but it is routine wants you get the hang of it and might be worth it to you if you want to make it easier for others to share your posts.

You have to do this for every post, though, and not just put it in the sidebar in a Text widget.

If you know of an easier option, or have feedback on the instructions, please do share!

But until we find something easier, let’s get it on!

Before you do anything in this routine, click on this link, AddToAny, and bookmark it. You will need it each time you do this so it will be a valuable bookmark.

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1. Publish your post without the social bookmarking icon (window #1).

  • In the few minutes it’ll take you to do this in a more efficient way than including the codes before publishing, you’re not likely to find someone desperately wanting to social bookmark your post… no offense intended. 🙂

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2. View your post (not blog) in a different tab or window (#2).

  • Ctrl+click on your blog title while still in your Edit Post mode.
  • Click on the title of the latest post so its URL is in your address bar, not just your blog URL.

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3.  Open another tab or window and click on your AddToAny bookmark (#3).

  • Play around with the Button choices (second choice in the graphic below), if you prefer the buttons to look one way or another but that’s your business. I’m leaving the default to save extra steps.

 

AddToAny blank web page

AddToAny blank web page

 

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4. From Window #2 with your blog post, copy and paste the title and URL, one at a time, into the Page name and Page url fields, respectively, above.

  • You will be much more efficient at this if you learn to use Ctrl+C for Copy and Ctrl+V for Paste.
  • If you have mapped your domain, using your original WordPress.com domain is “better”. I won’t write out how but you can test it if you like. Your mapped domain still works, so it’s not necessary. It’s a slight extra annoyance, but becomes routine quickly, and is definitely worth the extra little typing hassle to me!

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5. Click More Options beside the Get Button Code button, and click the No script (no drop-down menu) option.

 

AddToAny with No Script (No drop-down menu) option checked off

AddToAny web page with No script (No drop-down menu) option checked off

 

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6. Click the Get Button Code button to reveal codes below it.

 

AddToAny web page with codes generated (at bottom)

AddToAny web page with codes generated (at bottom)

 

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7. Click in the box and copy the code.

  • All the text inside the box is highlighted the moment you click inside so all you have to do is copy it, either by the Edit menu command or Ctrl+C.

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8. Go back to Window #1 where your post was made and click on the HTML editing tab (circled in red below).

  • This can be a scary experience for anybody who is allergic to computer code or has codephobia, but trust me, it’s completely safe!

 

Wordpress.com Edit Post screen interface, with HTML edit tab in red circle

Wordpress.com Edit Post screen interface, with HTML edit tab in red circle

 

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9. Scroll down to the very bottom of the codes, click at the very end.

  • Hit Enter twice and Paste, or Ctrl+V.
  • Your codes should appear as you need them.

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10. Click the blue Update Post button near upper right of your WordPress.com Edit Post page the way you would normally update or save a post.

  • Click back on the Visual tab of your editing procedure.
  • You should get something that looks like the icon below if you had not switched button style in Step 3.

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11. Optional: view your post and test out the button by clicking on it and following through with choices.

  • I personally just test it on Facebook. You can follow through to make sure it works without actually taking the last step to post it so as not to drive all your Facebook friends crazy with your blog posts all the time.
  • You will have to find some social media platform that works for you to test, but if you don’t test it and it doesn’t work, someone using it will probably tell you about it. That’s what’s great about the blogosphere and Web 2.0. You just hope they do it nicely.

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If you’re a little more comfortable with HTML codes, I have included what I have done to create my social bookmarking icon bar below. The graphic I created myself, and the URL for it is in the codes in red. However, you will have to figure out yourself how to efficiently put in codes like that because it’d be twice as long a post to explain! It’s not rocket science or anything. Just needs a little more patience. 🙂

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<a href=”http://www.addtoany.com/share_save?linkname=How%20to%20Get%20Social%20Bookmarking%20for%20Wordpress.com&amp;linkurl=http%3A%2F%2Fidigitalcitizen.wordpress.com%2F2009%2F03%2F01%2Fhow-to-get-social-bookmarking-for-wordpresscom%2F&#8221; target=”_blank”><img class=”alignnone” style=”border:0 none;” src=”https://idigitalcitizen.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/sharesocialbookmark5.png” border=”0″ alt=”Share/Save/Bookmark” /></a>

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