Monthly Archives: December 2009

A great addition to my toolbox: ImageOptim

Recently, I happened upon ImageOptim, a lightweight and incredibly effective image optimizer for PNG, JPEG, and GIF images (runs on Mac OS X only — sorry, Windows friends). It provides a ridiculously simple frontend to several commandline optimization tools. I often find myself dropping image sizes on an average of 20% per file — pretty impressive for already small .pngs that I work with. If you’re a Web designer and have Mac OS X, I consider this tool a must-have for squishing down your images to the last byte.

Collecta’s blog shows citizen news reporting in action

The Collecta blog has posted a neat case study about the Charleston flooding that happened a couple weeks ago, and how people used Collecta to tie together information from places like TheDigitel and @chswx (the Charleston Weather Twitter account I run) to keep up to date on the situation. I’m a big fan of Collecta, and an even bigger fan of the power of real-time technology to enable community journalism, so this case study is a fantastic. Also, if you haven’t read it already, Christopher Zorn’s account of his usage of Collecta to guide his family through the floods is another great example.

An ode to Norm’s

UPDATE: A tweet from Clay Taylor (@imallergictocats) indicates that Norm’s will be back next year after a renovation. I sure hope that’s the case! Original post below:

As you may or may not know, Norm’s Pizza and Subs — home of the fabled Nerd Table and an otherwise very important part of my college experience — is closing for good today. (The original closing date was December 1, but the restaurant got a 11-day reprieve, opening from 5-midnight in December.) Word is they’ve run into lease issues, among other things. It’s quite a shame, because there stands to be a great deal of College of Charleston students who will never understand the importance of Norm’s takeout during finals week. A great deal of the MUSC community is also going to have to find a new place to get lunch — not necessarily an easy feat on the western peninsula.

As long-time followers of this blog know, Norm’s was a staple of mine in the several years I lived downtown. I found it to be a wonderful place to swap stories, make new friends, or even just a place to sit back and step out of the madness for a little bit, no matter how full it may have been on any given night. While living in West Ashley had made it difficult to stop in over the last year and a half, I still managed to make it in for lunch a fair amount, and did my best to stop in during the evenings as well, even if it wasn’t as often.

Thanks to Traye and the crew at Norm’s for the memories over the last several years. You’ll be missed.

What do you want to see from Social Media Club Charleston?

The Social Media Club Charleston steering group is meeting in a few days to review 2009 and look forward to 2010. It’s been a great kickoff year for SMC (at least from my perspective), with a core of great engagement and a fresh helping of new faces at each meeting. If you’ve attended one of our panels or networking events this year, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you! You’re making Charleston’s technology and social media community stronger by participating.

Here’s another chance to participate — I’m interested in what kind of panels and events you might want to see next year. This is what’s on my drawing board so far:

  • A frank discussion about disclosure online. Social media’s nature is driven by disclosure — but are we giving away too much? I’d love to see a local privacy expert or two come out of the woodwork to help us with this discussion. Privacy is a big part of our culture, and a discussion about how much privacy we’re ceding using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite (and, in some cities, Foursquare) and the like could be incredibly enlightening.
  • A panel about crisis communication in the age of social media. After last week’s AdFed U panel, Lyn Mettler, Mike Haskins (Executive VP for Marketing at College of Charleston) and I got to talking and crisis communication — and how it’s changed — came up. One of the high points of my college career was a seminar on crisis communication put on by CofC’s Department of Communication Advisory Council, in which we had to generate a response to the Firestone/Ford Explorer incidents in 2000, where faulty tires caused a number of traffic accidents, some fatal. (I blogged about it shortly afterward if you care to read more and don’t mind my awful 2006 style.) Three years ago, we talked about stalling the press with refusing to comment and waiting for a statement. With social media, everybody’s the press, and it’s very hard to stall a tidal wave. This would be an incredibly beneficial panel.
  • And, of course, the networking events people love. We like to put the “social” into “social media,” and we’ll continue to do so.

The floor’s yours now — what do you want to know about? Sound off in comments.

Posterized

Increasingly, I’m sharing things that fit my definition of “interesting” over on my Posterous blog. If you haven’t tried it yet, Posterous is a neat way to share cool things quickly (as easily as sending an e-mail!). Some folks use it for their full blog, too. It lets you autopost to as many services as you can think of (including blogs that support MetaWeblog API, as WordPress does), so your shares can be broadcast far and wide. I’m currently posting to Tumblr and Facebook from mine; not quite sure I want to open my Twitter stream up to that just yet. Expect a future revision of jaredwsmith.com to include a spot for these shares. Are you using Posterous? Leave a comment — I’d love to see what you’re sharing.

I’m falling for Chrome

I’ve resisted Google Chrome over the last year, primarily because it hasn’t been extensible. Well, that’s all changed. I’m running the development version of Chrome, Chromium, on my Mac, and starting to add extensions to it. (You can’t add extensions to the “official” Mac beta.) The speed is incredible, and makes the formerly nimble Firefox feel like it’s got a boat anchor attached to it. If you’re frustrated with Firefox, Chrome is an increasingly good option for any platform — Windows, Mac, and Linux. Try it out.

Slides from my AdFed U SEO presentation

Last Friday, I got the opportunity to speak as part of a panel at AdFed U, a series of educational seminars for businesses and marketing professionals put on by the Advertising Federation of Charleston. The panel included Caroline Nuttall, the publisher of CHARLIE Magazine who spoke on online advertising, and Lyn Mettler, Web strategist and fellow SMC Charleston steering committee member who spoke about leveraging social media. My presentation focused on SEO — but rather than talk about ways to bolt SEO techniques onto sites, I really focused on the need for well-structured, well-written content combined with standards-compliant code and a content management system to keep things organized and straight.

We had ten minutes to talk (and I know I went over!), so this presentation scratches the surface of the surface on the topic. It’s geared — as best as I can! — to a non-technical audience, so the geeks of the audience may be disappointed. If you have any questions or comments about my presentation, please feel free to leave a comment on this post. Thanks to AdFed Charleston for the opportunity to be a part of what is an excellent series. Follow AdFedCharleston on Twitter to keep up with future seminars and events.

A doozy of a weather day ahead

In advance of a doozy of a weather day, I’ve spent a portion of my evening revamping the Charleston Weather blog. I’ve installed the latest P2, Automattic’s excellent real-time WordPress theme, and I’ve also (with any luck) enabled PubSubHubbub for posts to the blog. Weather information is exactly what the real-time web is designed for, I think — tomorrow may be a great test of that. So, especially if you’re in Charleston, follow the blog tomorrow along with the alerts we’ll have on Twitter, Identi.ca, and Facebook. Hopefully things will turn out better than the strongly-worded alerts have been telling the story, but it’s tough to say.