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How To: Make your Mac Cool, and Efficient

Everyone has that tech geek for a friend. The one who does all this unnecessary, but kind of neat, crap with his phone and computer and all the other devices he has.

I’m that nerd for my friends, and while it may get its fair share of the wrong side of jokes, they don’t laugh when I get stuff done way before they do. It’s not that I’m a better typographer, or that I’m smarter, I just know how to use the tools in front of me better than everyone else. Here’s how:

I use a basic Macbook Pro from 2010. The standard 15-inch “let’s go to college and get a mac” type of laptop. It’s currently running Version 10.8.4, or Mountain Lion’s latest version.

Multiple Desktops

The first thing you need if you’re multi-tasking on your Mac is multiple desktops. Whenever I’m working on multiple projects; video editing for a story, researching for an article, and perusing Twitter and my RSS reader for stories and breaking news, I always have multiple desktops running to keep my work organized. Using Apple’s trackpad, I can swipe between each desktop using four fingers left or right, allowing me to get to my different projects easily. Image

Personally, I like to organize things into three different categories; social, video and text. The reason is strictly personal preference but it allows me to easily remember where everything is. For instance, social will carry my Tweetdeck acount, instant messaging and RSS feed. Video is obviously going to be where my iMovie is housed, and because that’s typically a full screen project, I leave that one specifically for that, and text carries all the different projects on excel, word and Evernote.

Different Applications

The thing that makes Mac so appealing to hardcore computer users and the casual fan, is the ability to personalize. And leaving all the different options for backgrounds and menu bars aside, there’s still plenty of room to work. There are thousands of games and productivity applications on Apple’s App store for Mac that gives you the opportunity to tailor your Mac to exactly what you need.

Evernote

If you’re a writer, blogger, journalist, photographer, social media user, college student or someone who just needs a place to organize everything; Evernote is for you. It allowsImage you to connect via the Cloud to your phone and other devices, for free, so when you type up a study guide or line of questioning for an article, it’ll show up on your iPhone within minutes. My favorite feature is the opportunity to organize different notebooks. I have stuff set aside for school and my work, as well as my blog on WordPress.

Stock + Pro

If you’re job requires you to know what’s going on on Wall Street, having Stock + Pro is a necesity. ImageNot only does it have a realtime ticker that you can attach to the top bar or let it float freely, but it also allows you to track, monitor and add new companies to the ticker and main page. It gives you all the need to know stats and lets you monitor in real time whats going on around companies.

The pro version of Stock +, you can access a mini RSS feed about specific companies, giving you the latest news about Apple, US Airways or Amazon.

Instant Messaging

We’re always communicating. On Mac, it’s even easier. iMessage, the iPhone to iPhone wifi messaging application, entered the desktop and laptop world with the introduction of Mountain Lion. It allows you to directly “text message” an iPhone from your laptop.I spend all day on my laptop, and so I can instantly message back and forth with any of my contacts that are iPhone users.

Adium is a program that I use for Facebook chat. Since Facebook allowed different programs to access its chat feature, the chat service has increased immensely. I’ve used Mac’s native iMessage program, Trillian and now Adium, and each one has its fair share of bugs with Facebook, but Adium works far better than the previous two.

Push Notifications

ImageApple is doing whatever it can to streamline its different products so they have similarappearances and features. Mountain Lion also brought the Notification Center to the Macbook line, and it was a much needed addition. As a previous user of Growl, the third party notification service, I was very pleased to see Apple make it a native feature. Almost every single one of my applications is connected to my Notification Center in some way, and I love it. My Tweetdeck feeds directly in, as do my iMessage, email, Facebook, Stock +, Adium and anything else I need.

Those are some of the cool features that I use on my Mac to make things work, what do you like to use?  Make sure to follow my blog by submitting your email on the right. You can also like my page on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter

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Twitter for Journalists: How Twitter can help you get a story

There are 500 million tweets a day.

Think about that. That is 500 million messages that carry a potential article idea behind them. Granted most of them are about the #gameofthrones or #thebachelorette, but if you really dive deep into the Twitterverse, you’d be pretty surprised about what you can find, and how you can use it as a starting block.

There are some great tools and strategies available for using Twitter to gain sources, scoops and ideas. The key is, figuring out which of those work for you.

The Search Feature

I cannot stress enough how many times I was able to find stories by searching for key words on Twitter. Because I am based in the Phoenix market, my Tweetdeck (we’ll get to that in a minute) has a couple of key search engines running constantly. At any given time, I have the words “Phoenix” and “Arizona” as search words on Tweetdeck. I give each one a column and occasionally will scroll through the columns to see if anything is worth looking at. Granted, most of the stuff is irrelevant, but in every box of Cracker Jacks came a toy.

Lists

The best way to keep yourself organized on Twitter, as you start to follow more people, is lists. On my account I have lists for major news outlets like the New York Times, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, and another list that is following ESPN Chicago writers (I’m a diehard Chicago sports fan, so it makes it easy to track). The key is organizing the lists based on what works for you.

Some people like to do it by industry, for instance they’ll have technology bloggers, industry members and other journalists organized into one list and so on. I set up my Tweetdeck account to send me push notifications when anyone on my “News Outlets” list sends a tweet. The last two stories I wrote for the Phoenix Business Journal, regarding JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America’s investigations about mortgage-backed securities, came from seeing one of these tweets.

ImageTweetdeck

I’ve mentioned the app several times in this article already, and I really can’t speak highly enough about it. For journalists, Tweetdeck is hands down one of the best apps for Twitter. It’s a free download on the App store (and online for non mac users), and it allows you to monitor multiple accounts, lists, search words and pretty much everything else, all in real time. The big downfall that I have on Twitter.com is the constant need to refresh. Seeing something in real time, versus being five minutes behind because your screen didn’t upload could make the difference from being first or second on a story.

Communication

Constantly be communicating on Twitter and other social media platforms, and I don’t just mean pushing out your content. It’s important to market your work on these different mediums, yes but it cannot be the only thing journalists do. The most important thing to do on Twitter, Facebook, Google or whatever else you use is to respond and engage. I regularly retweet, respond and follow people, one) with the hopes of possibly finding a story or topic and two) because it helps your search engine optimization on these sites as well.

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These are simply some of my ideas and tools that I use on Twitter to get access to different scoops. How do you use Twitter?

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Iran’s new President is tweeting his US foreign policy

Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the new Iranian president who took office officially last week, has taken a unique approach to handling the United States. Dr. Rouhani has been taking to Twitter to express his feelings about the United States and Iran’s nuclear program.

The most interesting part about Dr. Rouhani’s twitter account is the fact that it’s in English. He has two accounts, one in Persian and one in English, to help communicate. In the past he’s replied, RTed and responded to a lot of concerns, complaints and comments handed to him.

While this isn’t the first foreign or domestic dignitary to have access to social media, this is the first from Iran to relay his message regarding the United States directly to over 16,000 followers. Check it out: ImageImageImageImageImage

On his account, he also said “the worst approach is to speak loudly, but act slowly”. Now, whether or not his 140 character diplomatic messages are hot air or actual substance has yet to be determined, and because Iran’s government system is a labyrinth of political ties with religion, a lot of his talk may not even become something measurable. But there’s a saying in PR, “there’s no such thing as bad press”, and this is a giant leap forward in changing the perspective of the Iranian president from it’s former leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was notorious for his anti-American rhetoric.

This probably won’t solve the tense chest puffing going on between the United States and Iran, but it is a step in the right direction. This new president is showing that he is at least willing to open various channels of communication, no matter how informal they are, to show he is willing to try and alleviate the murmurs of nuclear war.

Washington Post sold, Gannett Layoffs, Boston Globe sold; and why it matters

Over the past week, the journalism world has seen some major shifts to the media galaxy. Let’s recap:

  • The former owners of the Boston Globe, the New York Times, sold the paper to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million, compared to the $1.1 billion it was bought for.
  • Gannett laid off 244 employees, including reporters and editors from the Arizona Republic, in what many presume is a move to even the books in light of its recent media buys
  • And on Monday, The Washington Post was sold to the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, for $250 million.

Now, lets take a look at what each of these mean:

  1. The newspaper, which was once regarded as the goliath of the advertising world and the most viewed piece of media on the planet, is now worth a fraction of what it was worth just 20 years ago. It’s a sad moment but the ink and paper that our grandparents grew up reading every morning is going to become a shadow of a past world. Today, we access more content through our fingertips and cellphones then a copy of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That’s not to say we’re less informed, today’s content is easier to access, and more widely sought after. This generation’s hunger for content is greater than ever before, it’s just being desired at a much more rapid pace than before.
  2. With layoffs becoming an unfortunate reality for members of small to medium size media outlets around the country, and the average salary of the college-grad journalist plummeting like a rock, the journalism world is losing its sex appeal. This current generation of leaders in today’s media grew up seeing the likes of Woodward and Bernstein cracking the Watergate scandal, and Walter Cronkite comforting millions throughout the Cold War. Our generation, the supposed future of the media, watched cover-ups go untold and tweets delivering the news of the Osama Bin Laden assassination mission. We no longer have a hero to grow up wanting to be, because everyone has the opportunity to be the next Couric or Woodward.
  3. With digital tycoon, Jeff Bezo’s purchase of The Washington Post, there is still hope for the daily journalist. Maybe we’re not going to be looking at news stands in the future, but a future type of media platform: mobile and digital.

By 2016, there is expected to be 1 billion users on Tablets and smartphones worldwide.

First of all, that’s insane. Second of all, it shows us exactly where media companies need to focus their efforts. I’ve said it on this site time and time again, companies, if they can find a way to utilize a model like The Daily, which incorporated a newspaper style of reporting combined with a digital and social media style of communication, will prove to be successful.

These three media moves tell me one thing: The newspaper is not dying, it is evolving. It won’t be the page turner at the kitchen table that your dad used to read, but instead, it’ll be the finger swipe of the iPad that we’ve all become use to.

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The Digital Generation

My generation is living in a world of constant contact. Since the time we could read the Internet has played a roll in our lives, and the social communication that comes from it has influenced how we communicate and handle relationships. While I watch my parents huff and puff over something new on Facebook, or furrow their brow over the concepts of Twitter and Vine, we just click the app store and throw it on our phones. 

There’s all these how to’s that are out there for businesses and personal lives on how to be a “social media guru” or some other phony title like that. While levels of skill vary from person to person, the social media guru is every person from 20-28; the digital generation. 

We, for the most part, understand what communication is supposed to be on social networks, and how it varies from platform to platform. We also snicker at everyone older than us trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing. 

I watch newsrooms simply push content out on Twitter feeds and Facebook without any message behind them. The standard headline, link, attribution tweet that we barely pay attention to between the #foodporn and cat pictures. Imagine being at a nice bar filled with colleagues during happy hour. You’re there networking with coworkers and other industry members, picture these types of people:

1) “The News Guy”-every two seconds this person is bringing up an article he read sometime today, and telling you exactly where to go to read it. He goes on and on, ignoring the conversation people are trying to have, just because he wants to be the one to say “I know this.”

2) “The Health Nut”- Everyone knows the person who is constantly making you feel like a fatass because you grabbed the burger instead of the tofu salad at lunch, or because they woke up at 5 in the morning to “hit the cardio”. 

3) “The ‘just-over-the-top’ partyer”-The person during happy hour and appetizers that’s throwing them back just a little too quickly. Not too belligerent to really make you feel uncomfortable, but the subject of conversation consistently goes back to the late night at the bars, or the crazy party they went to. 

There’s plenty more. Social media is a reflection of who we are. And while we’re certainly better at it than the latter generation, ours still carries faults. Everyone does it, I can definitely promise I’m the first option up there, the newsaholic-talks-too-much-about-the-world guy who doesn’t care if the conversation is about the ball-game, I want to discuss the Egyptian revolution or Snowden’s asylum efforts.

Which one are you?

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How 500 million tweets a day have changed the world

ImageYesterday during the American Society of News Editors conference, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke about the impact and growth of Twitter, as well as it’s influence on the ever-changing world of media and journalism. In a one-on-one interview and a live question and answer (streamed live on CSPAN for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there), Costolo gave newspaper editors everything they wanted to hear, and some of what they didn’t, about what Twitter does for journalism.

“We think of Twitter as a global town square; public, live, where conversation and media are distributed,” said Costolo when asked whether or not he viewed Twitter as a journalistic body.

“We don’t do any analysis of information as it pours in. We don’t report on the tweets as they come in, we think we’re complementary to news organizations. It’s the job of journalists to analyze, synthesize and go deeper into information,” he added.

Twitter changed the way journalists handle incoming and breaking news, no doubt about it. But more and more frequently, we’re seeing journalists use Twitter as a crutch for their reporting and we’re seeing “news” programs like Sportscenter use Twitter as the basis for a lot of their one-liners. What happened to writing and reporting on your own? Have we created a market as members of the media where we’re so pressured to push out content that we can’t even take the time to write our own damn stories?

ImageI’m reading this book, An Accidental Sportswriter by Robert Lipsyte and he talks about how Gay Talese meticulously examined every sentence, reading each word with the upmost importance. Granted, Talese’s time and ours are slightly different, but the thought process still needs to be there. Our words are the product, they’re what we get paid for. If a cook was more worried about speed than quality, we’d be eating a lot of undercooked meat.

I know some of you are sitting there thinking, “that’s not a similar scenario.” Bullshit.

Our words move mountains, at least they have the potential to. They put us in (and out of) wars, removed people from office,  and changed the prices of stocks enough to give the guys on the NYSE floor a heart attack. Our words mean something. They are substantial, and we need to treat them like that.

Instead of using Twitter as a crutch, why don’t we use it as a resource. A spot to find new sources, a chance to deliver our content and do more than just advertise it, communicate to our audience about what it means.

I see journalists send 25 tweets a day about new and old stories they’ve pumping out, but not one tweet about the message behind it. If someone asks you a question or comments through Twitter, answer it. Pose questions to your followers. Your avatar on Twitter holds more weight as it scrolls through a timeline than an old friend from college.

Use that power.

Greenwald’s Meet The Press incident shows why “bloggers vs. journalists” still matters

This is a perfect example of the going on right now between the new and old guard of journalists and should be watched very closely. Are Bloggers journalists? You decide.

ASU Cronkite School creates program to bridge gap between science and journalism

ASU Cronkite School creates program to bridge gap between science and journalism

ASU and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass communication are starting a program in the fall that focuses on bridging the gap between medical science and journalism.

I wrote this article for the Phoenix Business Journal on Tuesday, June 18. I want to know what you think regarding the bigger issue: do you think journalism is going towards specialization and “niche” style reporting?

Let me know what you think in the comments below, or email me at martinjoe91@gmail.com Make sure to follow my blog by submitting your email on the right. You can also like my page on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter

Attorney General Eric Holder press conference

Eric Holder, the attorney general, says that the United States is not in the interest of pursuing journalists for doing their job. Instead, Holder says, The US is after government officials who are violating their office.

Interesting twist on the story. Journalists and the government could be drawing new lines in the sand after the Associated Press inquisition as well as warrants against Fox News reporters.

Government and Journalism; where do we draw the line?

Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch

Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch

We’re all screwed.

We’ve seen the headlines, and heard the conversations; the government, specifically the Department of Justice, is has monitored the Associated Press, and has issued warrants for emails for Fox News reporter James Rosen, because they felt his investigative reporting was criminal.

This is the moment we’ve feared. 

As journalists, we’ve written about other countries censoring their reporters with this feeling of supremacy. ‘This is terrible that’s it’s happening over there, good thing it’s not us.”

Now what?

We’ve hidden behind the 1st Amendment in the past, used it as our shield. Now, as the government is obtaining phone records from Verizon to uncover terror plots, and monitoring reporters to make sure they don’t find classified information the question arises; where do we go from here? We need to decide right now, as an industry, how we’re going to play this. If we don’t, our jobs, and potentially our democracy is in peril.

I’ll try and stay off my soap box on this but it’s really hard not to. Journalism is one of the only industries specifically mentioned in the Constitution. It is woven in the daily functions of government because it keeps them in line.  Without the reporter standing on the steps of Congress questioning their every vote and speech, the reigns of democracy are in the hands of a headless horseman. 

This is bigger than a paycheck, this is a democratic issue. Not a party issue, but this stands on both sides of the aisle. If the government continues to try and press its boot into the back of the neck of the journalism industry, we’ve lost the center ground that’s been our framework for years. It’s our job to question their every move, make sure it’s for the betterment of the people, not the individual. Joseph McCarthy and Murrow, LBJ’s Vietnam and Cronkite. Those are shining examples of the fourth estate working to its full capacity.

As journalists, it is our job not to trust the godforsaken word of the press secretary. It is our job to check everything we can. Democracy depends on it.

If the federal government continues to try to batter and bust the Shield Laws we have in place, the last foundation of credibility we have with our sources is over. There is already a rapid waning effect taking place with sources. Why do they need to talk to us when they can send a zip file to Wikileaks and start the next “-gate” scandal?

We’ve used the 1st Amendment as our shield in the past, our reason for being. It’s now time for us to stand in front of it and protect the 1st Amendment.

 

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