Previous Blog Posts

11 February 2010

Once upon a time I was able to write for the wine blog,, tweet, and maintain the Write Technology blog, all while actually working. Sadly, those days have past and I had to let something go. In the end, because I write about tech for, I decided that the Write Technology blog was a bit redundant.

However, the content and comments are captured here. There are occasional useful and interesting tidbits (based on the comments) and I figured they should be preserved for posterity. The Search button in the upper right corner will let you search the entire Write Technology site, which includes all of the blog posts.

 | Posted by | Categories: Blogging |
Free Social Media Classes

I just wanted to let you know I’ll be leading a series of
three social media classes at the ____ library as part of their Business Technology series. Each session
lasts from 6:30 – 8 pm.

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, May 14: The Art of Blogging: Content not Technology

Monday, May 18: 140 Characters or Less: Meet Twitter

Thursday, May 28: An Introduction to Creative Commons and Copyright

Offering free classes to my local library is a way I can give back to the community in which I live. I’d love to see you there!

Comments Off on Library Business & Technology Series
 | Posted by | Categories: Uncategorized |

Last week I saw a post on TechCrunch for Topify, a new app in private beta. I grabbed one of the beta invites and started using it. I'm hooked.

Topify makes Twitter user management better by doing all the things you wish Twitter did already.
When you log into Topify, you're given a special Topify email address. You'll pop that email address into your Twitter account. Now when someone follows you on Twitter, you get a detailed email. The follow notice has run through Topify, which is then emailing you all information you wished you had previously. That boring Twitter email (John is now following you on Twitter) has been vastly improved.

The Topify email gives you their avatar, number of followers/following, last tweet, bio, and when they last updated their Twitter account. You can decide, quickly, how to proceed. In some cases, you'll know instantly it's a spam twitter account and you can go out and block them.

But perhaps you want to follow them back. All you need to do is hit reply and send in your email program. That's it. Topify will take care of your follow-back.
Additionally, if you want to send a direct message to the person after you follow them, you can again hit reply. It's so simple, but very elegant.

The TechCrunch invites have all been taken, but you can still request a Topify beta invite.

Reposted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0 |

(reposted from

Since I got the Kindle, I've started every morning skimming through the Wall Street Journal Marketplace, Personal Journal, and Technology sections. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to read about a new Kindle app for the iPhone while reading my Kindle. 😉

When the new Kindle was announced, it was inferred that interaction with other devices would be coming soon. Today, Amazon released the free Kindle app for iPhone / iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store (app iTunes link).

The Kindle and the iPhone app now sync with each other via Amazon's Whispersync. If you've started a book on the Kindle, that same book is available on your iPhone. Additionally, it will open to the page you left off reading.


Amazon sees the iPhone as a complementary technology. Battery life, small size, and eye strain might all get in the way of reading on the iPhone, with Kindle viewed by Amazon as the superior device for ebooks. However, they also know you won't always have your Kindle with you. According to Ian Freed, vice president for Amazon Kindle, “Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch is a great way for customers to catch up on their current book wherever they are, like in line at the grocery store or between meetings.” The funny thing is, I can actually see that happening. Well, maybe not between meetings, but when I'm stuck in line somewhere or waiting in a parking lot somewhere, I always play with the iPhone. Now I can read while I'm killing time. It's not a bad alternative.

Using the Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch app, you can

  • Access your entire library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers
  • Adjust the text size of books
  • Add bookmarks and view notes and highlights

There is a downside. For instance, I have been reading a lot of documents (books and papers) on the Kindle that did not come from Amazon. I've been using calibre to upload things via my computer. As far as I can tell, the iPhone app uses Amazon (not the Kindle) as its hub and therefore has no knowledge of anything else I might be reading that is non-Amazon. Amazon also didn't integrate book shopping into the app, and suggests you use your home computer or access their Kindle store from Safari on your iPhone. I'm also not sure how well this will work for folks who want to use their iPhone as an eBook reader without a Kindle. The app is very much an accessory for the Kindle device.

Hopefully other devices are on the horizon for WhisperSync. I'd love to see integration for Blackberry and the new Palm Pre. 

 | Posted by | Categories: Go Gadget Go! |

Skittles Lets Go

2 March 2009

(re-posted from

The hot topic on the Interwebs today is Skittles. Go to and you'll discover that they've relinquished control of their web site.

There is a navigation tool that floats and lets you navigate between Chatter, Products, Friends, and more. But each of those goes somewhere interesting: Chatter goes to the Twitter Search page for Skittles (which is also the home page), Products takes you to Wikipedia, and Friends takes you to Facebook. In fact, it seems that only Contact Us takes you to an actual Skittles hosted page.

I've read different takes on this all day. I've seen people screaming that the economy isn't that bad and why can't they hire a web designer. I've seen others celebrate the rather, um, ballsy take on a web site. I think I fall somewhere near the middle, leaning more towards ballsy than cheap. I feel like Skittles, in relinquisihing control, has admitted that all of us folks out here on the Web actually have a clue. They've taken listening to the consumer to a whole new level. However, I think there needs to be a little more integration of product in there. I suppose you can get that from the Facebook Fan page, with the apps and such, but really – if I'm going to the Skittles web site, I want more information on Skittles (more branding, perhaps) from the company in conjunction with user-generated content.

This type of approach to a web site may fall into the "all publicity is good publicity" category. It seems to have moved past that, but earlier today, the Skittles twitter search was showing some rather crude comments with #Skittles in the text. It currently is showcasing people talking about the web site and or those who are using the Hash Tag for the fun of showing up on the front page. No one is really chatting about the candy. The Wikipedia page focuses on types of flavors, but doesn't tell you anything really useful about the product. The Facebook Fan page is fun, but again, not useful in a "learn more about the product" kind of way.

The point has been made, repeatedly, that ad agency Modernista did this about a year ago. According to, however, Skittles is the first consumer product to give this a try. Another quote in that AdAge article struck my fancy (emphasis mine):

An spokeswoman said that "Skittles as a brand is all about embracing and empowering the conversation online — just look at the YouTube entries and their Facebook page. Its kind of a natural evolution for them moving in to something like this."

Now, is that how you think of Skittles? When I think of Skittles, I think of candy that is chewy and turns my tongue colors. I like Skittles' approach, but I wonder, would it be more effective if they scaled it back a little and still retained of bit of their own content?
What are your thoughts on the new Skittles site?

Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology,, Twitter, and FriendFeed

 | Posted by | Categories: Marketing |

Kindle 2 First Look

25 February 2009

Yesterday my Kindle 2 arrived. Today my husband ran off with it to his office, so I can't play with it. I did manage to finish a novel on it last night though.

At first, I was completely against the idea of ebooks. I swore that nothing could ever replace the printed page. Interestingly, in college I swore that nothing could replace pen to paper and 4 years later I ended up with a minor in Computer Science.

About 6 or so months ago, I saw a Sony eReader display in Borders and after standing at the display for about 45 minutes, I was convinced. The eInk Paper used for eReaders is actually easier on my eyes than regular paper. It was so much like a book, yet I couldn't destroy it by breaking the binding or dogearing the pages, or scribbling notes that I could never find again.

Another flashback – I started the wine blog accidentally. I was taking wine notes, pen to paper, but they weren't searchable. I couldn't ever find anything again. So I switched to online, to what eventually became my blog, and it became searchable.

The Kindle, in particular, has the ability to add notes, highlights, "dogeared" bookmarks, and to pull sharable clippings. And it's all searchable. One search can sift through all the books on the Kindle, as well as Google, Wikipedia, and a dictionary. I think, perhaps, this XKCD cartoon says it best.

At TK09 a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine let me borrow his older Sony eReader, as he'd purchased a new one. I used it on the plane and kept reading it once I got home. At some point, the husband took it and he got hooked as well. (He has a habit of running off with these gadgets, yes?)  I was completely thrilled with the eReader reading experience.

Last night, I finished a novel on the Kindle. It's a novel I started in paperback. As a paperback, it's slightly oversized and large – a bit unruly. I have a terrible habit of breaking the binding on books and since I borrowed this one, I was having a hard time keeping it pristine. (My books all appear to be well-loved.) On the Kindle, the book was suddenly irrelevant and out of my way. I guess I'm trying to say that it was the content that suddenly mattered more than the form factor. The Kindle itself was so unobtrusive that reading the book was more of a pleasure than usual.

Happily I'm not just limited to ebooks from Amazon. There are a lot of free books out there that are legal. Some friends pointed me to where I downloaded Pride and Prejudice and L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Finally, there are the newspapers. I'm receiving the Wall Street Journal through an official 2-week free trial. I probably won't continue it, as I find $120 for a conservative newspaper a bit extreme. (I just love their tech reviews and the wine reviews.)  Through a straight RSS feed, I'm also receiving the Cincinnati Enquirer – my local paper. Although not as pretty or organized, it's still inherently readable and useful. Much more so than the actual paper, in truth, because it's searchable.

So there you go – my Kindle 2 review after less than 24 hours with the gadget. I love it. Not having had a Kindle 1, I have nothing to compare it to, but I'm perfectly content.

 | Posted by | Categories: Go Gadget Go! |

My various rants on my frustration with many conferences has led to something. Who knew?

Spaces of Interaction: An Online Conversation on Improving Traditional Conferences is a free, two-day online conversation this week, Feb 18-20. 


Throughout the two days, you can tune in and listen to folks like Jay Cross talk about "The Tyranny of Powerpoint" or Teemu Arina talk about "Using Social Media  to Run Better Events."You can view a nifty Flash presentation on why we need this virtual conversation or just visit the Conference community site

I'll be participating on Friday afternoon (4 pm EST) on a panel with Tony Karrer called Engagement: Improving conferences through increased
. While it focuses on education, I think that the conversations at this complete event would benefit any conference organizer or attendee that wants to improve their conference experience.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences |

If you've sat through one of my sessions on Creative Commons and attribution in social media, you'll be interested in this little tidbit of news.

Those good folks over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have updated their Legal Guide for Bloggers. Similar to useful Creative Commons Legal Guide for Podcasters,
the guide basically tries to clarify all sorts of things that might get
a well-meaning blogger in trouble. The guide clears up things such as
online defamation, intellectual property (copyrights!), trade secrets,
right of publicity, publication of private facts, and intrusion into
seclusion. It also talks about how to deal with online bullies and the
wonderful practice of disemvowelling.


Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers
sometimes publish information that other people don’t want published.
You might, for example, publish something that someone considers
defamatory, republish an AP news story that’s under copyright, or write
a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public

The difference between you and the reporter at your local
newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of
training or resources to help you determine whether what you’re doing
is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn’t help –
in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the
courts haven’t yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here’s the important part: None of this should stop you from
blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning
democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn’t use the law to stifle
legitimate free expression. That’s why EFF created this guide,
compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights
and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

To be clear, this guide isn’t a substitute for, nor does it
constitute, legal advice. Only an attorney who knows the details of
your particular situation can provide the kind of advice you need if
you’re being threatened with a lawsuit. The goal here is to give you a
basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let
you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the
knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.

EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers

 | Posted by | Categories: Blogging |

Goodness, my inbox is filling with requests for my presentations.

Well, folks, here you go:

  • Cool Tools (W102) is available for viewing and embedding only on SlideShare. Why? Well, because with viewing only the hyperlinks work and the video is embedded.
  • Intro to Twitter/140 Characters or Less (FR210TI) has its own wiki that anyone can access. You can find all the resources, plus the presentation for download. Additionally, the Cool Tools presentation is available for download on this wiki.
  • Finally, ASTD has posted the handouts, which include the slides, for everyone's presentations. You can download those from the TK09 web site.


 | Posted by | Categories: ASTD |

Vote for me

It's silly, and it probably doesn't matter much in the scheme of things, but I like to think my efforts over at my Wine Blog mean a little. 😉

can now vote for the City Beat Best of the City Awards. My wine blog, My Wine Education, is listed as potential best blog. I really wish they'd broken
it out into categories, but they didn't.

All you need to vote is an email address. Go to CityBeat's Best of Cincinnati page
and read the instructions. Once you get to the survey, you can vote on
your favorite liquor stores, wine shops, and restaurants, as well as
just about everything else. (Again, I wonder why they only have one
category for blogs.) It's a fun survey. You can fill out as much or as
little as you wish. The BLOG category is listed under PUBLIC EYE.

I think I'll win? Not in a million years. All my favorite blogs  – and
closest friends – are nominated too. The competition is stiff. But at
least I'm in the mix, yes? You have until March 1 to vote, so you know
I'll be mentioning this again.

I appreciate your vote for My Wine Education. Everyone knows, a blog is nothing without its readers.


 | Posted by | Categories: Uncategorized |