Friday, September 18, 2009

Twitter for beginners

This is for Bill who wanted to know about Twitter and for others who are curious.

What is Twitter?
  • What is it? Twitter is a online service you can sign up for. It's free to use.
  • What does it do? It allows people to send out short messages (140 characters or less) to anyone and everyone who wants to read them. It works like texting on a cell phone, but it get's sent out and anyone can read it, like a broadcast. You can also "follow" someone's broadcasts (called "tweets"). If you send out "tweets," some people might decide to "follow" you (in other words, they will read your "tweets" in their account.
  • What are the benefits? You can read information from other people (like the news headlines, or your favorite author, or a friend). You can let people know about you, like what you're doing, or the story you want to tell, or information you want to share.
Suggestions for how to phase in your use of Twitter
  • Setup an account (details below) It's easy and Free!
  • Follow what's going on for a while - you can just do this for a few hours, days, months, years...
  • Find people to follow
  • Observe RT, @, #FollowFridays (more on this below)
  • Find out about Hashtags - maybe make one of your own (more on this below)
  • Then, Dive in and start posting messages
Setting up a Twitter Account
  • Web - The basic account is set up so you can use it with the web. After getting an account, you just login and use it. You can look at posts of those you follow, search for people, and post your own "tweets"
  • Phone - You can also set up tweeter to send and receive messages using your phone
Suggestions for newbies
  • Follow first before starting to send out "tweets"
  • Look around at who other people are following, click on those people to see what they are "tweeting" about and then follow them if you like what you see. You can always stop following or follow anyone as much as you want, whenever you want.
  • What it means to have followers - People who "follow" you will see your posts on their "home" page. Usually people follow you to see what you're posting ("Tweeting") about, or because they want you to follow them. You'll see many organizations try to follow you because they want you to follow them. It's your choice though.
  • How to follow someone - You can follow anyone by searching for them or by clicking on their icon in someone else's "following" list and then once you see that feed, there will be a link/button near the top left that allows you to "follow" them
  • Examples of people to follow: @nytimes (news headlines, you can click on a link to get to the details of the news), @zondervan (gives bible quotes). You can also search for famous people (entertainers, politicians, etc.) or authors, etc. You may like to track packages using twitter (see
How to find people and topics
  • Once you set up an account, there is a "find people" link at the top to search for people to follow
  • You can also find people by clicking on anyone in your list of people who follow you or who you follow and then look at the list and click on them to see who they follow or who follows them. Whenever you see someone you like, just click on the "follow" button to follow them.

How to use Twitter to send messages (Tweet)
  • How to "Tweet": Just click on "home" and then type something in the "What are you doing?" box. Then click on "update." You're "tweet" will then be viewable by anyone following you or looking at your profile.
  • Short URLs (links) - If you want to send a link in your "tweet" you will find that shorter links will fit better in the 140 character limitation for "tweets." You can shorten your link (called a URL in tech-speak) by going to (no .com here, just, entering the URL (link with the http:// on the beginning) and clicking "shorten." You will get a shortened link that is something like which should be shorter so it uses up less space in your 140 character "tweet"
Twitter commands
  • DM: You'll like to know that you can also DM (Direct Message) someone if they are following you (this is like sending an email to that person). Nobody but you and that other person will see these messages.
  • @: and you can also send a message to someone that everyone can see by putting @ with their name (like @henrywill) in the message. This allows that person to see what you sent them, but so will everyone else.
  • You can also mark tweets as favorites (see the link to the right of the tweet posting). You can look at favorites later (and others can also look at your favortites)
Special Twitter text (#, RT, @ replies, DM, etc.)
  • # is a special character in "tweets," see the information in the section below about "hashtags"
  • RT = Re-tweet. This is used when someone takes someone's message and decides it is good enough to send to their followers. Example: you see someone post a message, like "Johndoe: Free fries at "Joe's Cafe" this Saturday!" You would like your friends to know about it, so you send out a retweet "RT @JohnDoe: Free fries at "Joe's Cafe" this Saturday!" - You just add the "RT @" to the beginning of JohnDoe's message. You can also add your own text at the end if you want. Note: you'll notice, if you want people to retweet your messages, you need to keep them short enough so they can add the "RT @" and your Twitter name to your message and still fit within the 140 character "tweet" limit.
  • @ - as explained before, this is a way to send a message to someone, but allow others to see it. Example: if your friend "SusieSmith" tweets "John, did you get to "Joe's Cafe" for the free fries this past Saturday?" you can reply with "@SusieSmith yes, Joe's Cafe fries are the best, even if they weren't free!" - everyone, including @SusieSmith can see this. (note: if you don't want others to see your reply, use DM)
Special Twitter hashtags (#FollowFriday,,etc)

  • By putting a # in front of some special keyword text, it allows people to search for that keyword. For example, #PM allows people to search for #PM as a keyword (called a hashtag because the # is known as a hashtag in addition to a pound sign). You can search on all types of subjects in twitter to see what people are saying about that subject. Look at the bottom right of your home page to see the "trending topics" of which hashtags people are using. You can also find a list of hashtags and graphs of how much they're used at
  • One popular hashtag is #followfriday or #fridayfollow - people use this hashtag on Fridays with a list of people they think it would be good for their followers to follow. It's a good way to find out about people to follow.
  • You can find other popular hashtags at
Getting followers
  • How to get followers: First find people you like to follow, many will follow you back. You can also ask people you know to follow you.
  • Good practice when someone follows you - It's best to thank your new followers, tell them what "tweets" you like to read or what you're intersted in, and/or what you like to tweet about.
Great uses of Twitter
  • I mentioned earlier about how to track packages in twitter, but there are new uses of twitter coming on line all the time. Twitter can also be used to update your status in facebook and to read news headlines, jokes and more. Read the followers and following lists of some people you follow or who follow you to find good ideas. Let me know of any good ones you like in the comments of my blogpost here.

  • (track packages via twitter)
  • 9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Retweeted

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Five R's of Dealing with Temptation

I was listening to a copy of one of Lloyd Pulley's presentations the other day. He speaks on a show called "Bridging the Gap." He gave this list of the Five R's for Dealing with Temptation.

The Five R's for Dealing with Temptation:

1. R: Remember: Remember who you are. You are the Salt and Light. Matthew 5:13
2. R: Realize: Realize the cost of yielding to temptation and the Reward for not giving in Romans 6:23
3. R: Ruthless: Be Ruthless with your flesh - Make to provision for your flesh to sin - Matthew 5:29
4. R: Renew: Renew your mind Romans 12:2
5. R: Rely on His Grace: His grace teaches us to say "No."

Psalm 138:6

He also said we should get busy!
Spurgeon said: Some Temptations come to the industrious, but ALL temptation comes to the idle

I hope this encourages you to overcome temptation!

Barre Chords, Minor and m7 Chords on the Guitar

I've been learning new things on the guitar this summer and thought I'd post about them.

Barre Chords, sometimes called Bar Chords, allow you to move the same Chord "shape" up the guitar to another fret and form a new chord.

Keep in mind that each Fret is a half step. So, good examples are that the E chord, moved up 1 fret (you need to bar the 1st fret then to do the equivalent of moving up the Nut, the place where the strings go over the top part of the guitar neck) forms the F chord! (Because in half steps, the scale is A, A#, B, C, C#,D, D#, E, F, F#,G, G#, ...)
If you move it up 2 frets from the Nut, it would be the F# chord.

Also, the A chord, moved up 2 frets becomes the B chord!

The guitarforbeginners website shows what I'm explaining with a little animation.

Minor Chords
I also learned how to easily form Minor Chords from the E and A chords.
When the highest string (the highest frequency, the one closest to the floor) being held down is moved down one fret towards the Nut, a half step (to the minor 3rd), the chord becomes a Minor chord.

So, if you take the A chord and move your finger on the B string one fret lower (toward the Nut) you'll have an A minor chord.

For the E chord, you move your finger on the G string (actually playing a G#) down a half step (1 fret) which in this case is the nut (or an "open" string) to get Em (E minor)!

Am7 and Em7:
To get these minor chords to be minor 7th chords, just remove the 2nd finger (counting from the side of the neck furthest from the floor) so an open string is played.

So, to change the Am to Am7, lift your finger on the G string.
To change the Em to Em7, lift your finger on the D string (you'll only have one finger left, it will be on the A string 2nd fret (playing a B)

The same is true for the A7 and E7 chords.

If you look at some chord diagrams, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guitar with a Capo

Did you know that Capo is short for Capodastra?
Neither did I until I started reading up on the Capo to figure out what some of my friends (who are guitar teachers) were trying to teach me about Capos.

Here are some websites that teach about Capos on guitars. Some of them have tables that you can print. You'll find that they each have a different way of expressing the table of the use of Capos. The basic idea though is back to the "Capo Triangle" that one of my friend/instructors told me about, it has 3 "sides" which are: The Key of the Chord, The chord shape (and where the Capo is), and the root note of the chord.

And for those who want to go beyond, there's chord transposition with some music theory here:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Clock that Lost it's Second Hand

We have a clock that was always a bit behind on the time. It seemed as though the clock was having difficulty lifting the second hand as it made it's way from the 6 back up to the 12.

Well, recently, the clock fell off the wall and I put it back up. A few days later I realized that the second hand had fallen off and was laying inside, but I didn't have any interest in taking the time to fix it.

Then, just the other day, I asked my wife if the clock was keeping time. She said that now the time was correct! The clock is now running on time without the burden of lifting the second hand!

My wife and I talked about how sometimes our lives are like that clock. We each came up with our own lesson. My wife remarked that sometimes we get too busy doing many things, just like the clock trying to tick out every second, and because we are trying to do too much, we get behind. That's a great point!

I had a few thoughts about the clock:
  • Sometimes we try to keep track of everything and schedule things with such precision that we don't leave any margin (this reminds me of the book I read some time ago, that I would highly recommend, titled "Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives" by Richard A. Swenson)
  • We get so bogged down in the "overhead" of scheduling and keeping track of things so closely, that we are slowed down and are less effective
  • Sometimes too, because we're so concentrated on over-managing our time, we miss the things that are most important!

So, I hope you, like me, can take a lesson from the clock that lost it's second hand

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Recently I read a book summary that mentioned the importance of always keeping your top 3 goals written down so you can concentrate on them.

Lately I've been getting lots of messages from the Lord about Focusing. I need to Focus and concentrate on the most important things. And, now this is very important, I need to start removing the distractions.

I was mentoring someone the other day about this subject.

Did you ever notice that when you use a magnifying glass to look at something, it magnifies the area your looking at and at the same time, the area below the glass that you're not viewing is obstructed?

Well, we need to put that same principle into effect in our lives. We need to purposely obstruct all of the items that are not in our focus.

Let me give you some examples:
I realize that much of my email that comes in is from mail lists I signed up for so I could be informed in case I might be interested in something. Well, Gmail lets me create a filter that puts them directly into an archive. So, I don't have to read them, but if I'm ever looking for something, I can just search my email to find them when I need them. It's like having a reference library that only stores things you're interested in!

And, in my personal life, there are THINGS that distract me from PEOPLE. I have to remind myself that people are way more important than things. So, I have to remove the frustrations and time consumption that the things pull away from the people I need to care about!

I hope this all helps you to gain more focus and more concentration on the things that are important to you! Of course, before you focus, you need to establish your goals of what to focus on. I'll have to write about that sometime too.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Continuous Partial Attention (CPA)

This Past Sunday, Dr. Cleophus LaRue, the preacher at the Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ spoke about the concept of Continuous Partial Attention (CPA) which was coined by Linda Stone, the former VP of Microsoft.

From what I understand, CPA is the notion that in the current age, people are giving partial attention to many messages all at the same time and therefore we are sharing our attention between these several messages and activities. I can see it occurring at work. There is so much work to do that we all find it difficult to give full attention to any one thing; we are constantly "multitasking" between tasks and what we're listening to. For an example: I have actually been listening in on 2 webinars at once while I was also doing work. It certainly is making it difficult to concentrate on any one subject and I can see that it spills over into my home life as well.

How does CPA effect your work? Your home life?

Dr. LaRue made the point that due to the advent of CPA, it is even more difficult for us to tell others the good news of what Christ has done for us all on the cross, yet we still need to tell the story!

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Big Great Invitation

The Big Great Invitation:

This past Saturday, two of our friends: a father and daughter, were out in a canoe with one of their young friends on a lake. The daughter remarked that it was on the very island they were heading to that she had asked Jesus into her heart. She then asked her friend if he had ever asked Jesus into his life. He replied "no," but that he would like to. Once on the island, he also asked Jesus to be his Lord.

The story helped me to realize that sometimes people might be involved in a church, yet they've never been given the invitation to give their lives to Christ.

I realized from the story that there might be people who read my blog who fall into that same category. So, if you've never been invited, and if you want to give your life to Christ, here it is, I'm extending to you the BIG GREAT Invitation to the most important decision you'll ever make; a decision that will be the best decision you could ever make for yourself: that of giving your life to Christ Jesus.

If you have any questions about it, I'd be happy to discuss it. Just contact me via the contact link at

I like to write to encourage people, well, this is the most encouragement I can give: eternal life now as part of God's kingdom and the assurance of hope for the future!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Raising the Threshold and Getting Things Done

In a conversation with my manager yesterday, I was reminded of the book "Getting Things Done" (GTD) by David Allen (see part of the book here). The book describes having a system to process all incoming information (requests, actions, FYI, etc.). It works for job assignments, monkeys on your back (this is a reference to the Harvard Business Classic "Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" by by William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass), and email too.

In the GTD book, there is mention of how some incoming items should be handled right away if they take about 5 minutes or less to get done. This has worked great for me. Yesterday, my manager mentioned that since I have lots of small work tasks piling up, maybe I should try to tackle some of the small tasks ("low hanging fruit") to get them crossed off my list. It was then that I realized that sometimes we need to "Raise the Threshold." We need to change the 5 minute threshold to 30 minutes or 60 minutes so that we can get some of the tasks hanging around on our list moved off and completed. I'm working on that now. Maybe this idea will help you too!

By the way, if you're interested in GTD, take a look at the links above. You might also be interested in the related information for managing your email.