Its always exciting when an artist has a new release go public, but these days (and I’m old enough to have had vinyl/CD only releases in the 90s) its often tempered by the fact that the same day your release gets out it also appears on P2P networks and the endless pile of borderline legal filehosts. So, to try and keep an eye on things the first thing I do is sign up for Google alerts for new mentions of both my artist name, 99th Floor Elevators and the title of any new release, in this case ’99th Floor Elevators Hooked EP’.
Of course the very next day of my latest release I did my usual Google search query and although the Beatport (they had the exclusive option on the release for the first few weeks) entry was top of the SERPs, and my own 99th Floor Elevators MP3 page was second, queuing up in the majority of the results underneath was a swarm of outlets offering that very same release, free, most even showing the official MP3 artwork, one even having the cheek to use Beatports widget so ‘freetards’ could stream the tracks first!
First things first. I contacted the offending websites in the top 20 results (and this really is like playing whack-a-mole*) and issued DMCA’s (here’s a sample DMCA takedown notice), then I (for starters, I’ll be repeating the process today) filled in Google’s online DMCA takedown submission form with a sample of offenders from the top 10. Be aware that there is a separate process for YouTube.
Anyway, to cut a long story short the results from the first page that I had submitted to Google were gone less than 24 hours later. Bravo.
Of course, the very same day those links that were removed were now being replaced by a whole host of new parasites (to which hopefully the same process will remove them as quickly!).
If you want to go through the same process yourself , read this piece from IP Watchdog, which will help you write a template DMCA notice to issue to individual websites (separate to filling in Google’s online submission form).
And do remember also that this process is very much the same whether you’re finding your images used, videos or anything being shared or exploited, without your permission. There’s a separate process for infringement on YouTube.
RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.
Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”
RSS Still A Killer App
There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.
Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of choosing and certainly in the SEO, Search and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.
RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!
My RSS Toolbox of Choice
I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.
RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.
Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.
So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.
Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).
I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.
Your OPML Starter Kit!
Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.
Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.
To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).
If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.
You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.
Getting Started With Stuff to Read!
Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.
After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!
Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).
We did a inventory this week to try and discover what our most crucial tools in the office were. Things we found crucial to the way we work, things that we found cost effective (mainly free!) and things that made our lives easier, cheaper and more streamlined.
We’re probably considered tech nerds to many, we spend way too much time online, we collect social media infographics on Pinterest, we jailbreak our iPhones and are early (over) adopters of anything to do with social media, but one thing we do have in common with most is that we appreciate free stuff and it kind of took us by surprise at just how well equipped a small business can be on a shoe-string budget.
We’ll accept that, at least for now, the Apple Mac book’s are on hold and we like the variety of software and the familiarity of the Windows OS. So.
Having said that, if you’re really feeling the pinch you can give that old PC or laptop a real speed boost by loading it up with Ubuntu . Ubuntu is the totally free OS that runs on Linux so there’s something of a learning curve vs. Windows, but the GUI (the graphical user interface) is surprisingly easy to get to grips with and you can run Firefox, Chrome, Mozilla Thunderbird and thousands of other similar software tools that’ll make it possible to run everything you need to run a small business just as well as Windows.
Take into account too, that Linux is known to be more stable than Windows and is based on Unix, which also powers Apple’s OS. If you want to try it out without committing yourself you can even boot it up from disc first.
If you’re grabbing the download of the Ubuntu OS then this office suite will be included in the install. Libre Office is a newer spinoff of OpenOffice, which was originally run by Sun Microsystem’s as a free alternative to Microsoft Office (you’re not still paying for that are you?) and does pretty much the same things as the paid software. So, you can write documents, do spreadsheets, edit Word docs (here called ‘Writer’), edit vector graphics, do database editing and presentations (similar to Powerpoint).
Still paying over the odds for your phone calls? Why? Skype is pretty much ubiquitous these days and as well as using it for (free) Skype to Skype calls worldwide, you can extend its usability by using USB phones (those headsets really aren’t that cool right!) and on the move (over WiFi) with Skype mobile apps for Android and iPhone handsets.
I had a recent laptop burn out which not so long ago would have crippled my productivity stone cold dead. Thanks to my Dropbox sync from laptop to cloud, all my working files and documents were safe and accessible immediately. You can sync up to 2GB for free and there’s an iPhone app for handheld access and a ton of add on services to squeeze even more usability out of the service. 50GB will cost less than $10 a month. You might also try Box.net (who’s free version extends to 5GB) and the much hyped GDrive. Essential.
There really is only one choice (in desktop apps) for me, for managing my Twitter (and Facebook, Foursquare and Linkedin) accounts. I’ve been using Tweetdeck for quite a while now and it was my favourite social media management tool until Twitter purchased the company and messed up all that I liked about it. Never mind, you can still ‘downgrade’ from the latest version to the ‘pre-Twitter owned’ version (hunt down the older Tweetdeck 0.38.2 from Oldapps.com) if you hate the latest version.You’ll need to install Adobe Air too. Schedule your social media posts, keep track of hashtag searches and monitor your @mentions and followers in real time.
Hootsuite is almost up there (for me) in terms of features and usability but is web-based vs desktop and its user interface is a little cluttered for me.
Besides being a voracious user of the often much maligned RSS (for which you should be using Google Reader of course) for keeping in touch with news, my most useful ace up the sleeve is by telling the mighty Goog to alert me when ever anything with my chosen keywords gets mentioned via Google Alerts. I can even tell them how often to let me know, as it happens, daily or weekly. Brilliant.
7.GOOGLE APPS FOR BUSINESS
For smaller teams (of 10 or less), Google Apps is an excellent set of collaboration tools in the cloud and include Gmail (please tell me you don’t still have a Hotmail address?), Docs and Calendar and has transformed how we work with others in many ways. Convenience.
I love Bit.ly, the ubiquitous URL shortener. It tracks every click on those URL’s I scatter across various social media networks, it gives me real time analytics and even lets me use my own custom shortener. Particularly useful for tracking the effectiveness of social media campaigns.
Invoiceable (ex-Invoice Bubble) is an alarmingly simple and useful free tool that enables you to use invoicing to clients. You can create professional looking invoices for free, hook it up to your Paypal account, have recurring invoices and even fire off invoices and estimates as PDF’s. Invoice Bubble is financed by small ad placement which you can remove for $5 a month.
Yeah, we’ve all heard of Basecamp, which kind of set the standard for online collaboration and project management, but here’s a younger upstart out of Latvia. Teamlab offer a brilliant set of business collab, document and project management , CRM and team management tools. You can import projects from Basecamp, documents from Zoho, Google Docs and Box.net and even have your team enter blogs, forums, polls, bookmarks and Wiki’s. Free. Pretty awesome. Alternatives to consider? Freedcamp and Project Bubble.
We will never stop raving about WordPress simply because it offers a brilliant platform for any young (and old) upstart to launch an online enterprise, blog or store, super quick, simply and cheaply. Hook yourself up with a reliable webhosting account (one with CPanel and Fantastico) and a domain name and you can be up and running in minutes. Absolutely indispensable.
We love Mailchimp too, primarily as its a great intuitive mailing list management service and also because they have a ‘forever free’ service if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers which lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. You can hook it up to your WordPress blog and if things really take off upgrading isn’t going to break the bank. Such is the nature of ‘disruptive tech tools’, we are now looking into Wysija WordPress newsletter plugin (you’ll see it in use on this site very soon!).