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Recipe for the longest possible life

A recipe for the longest possible life:

  1. Don’t laugh or cry
  2. Don’t visit foreign countries
  3. Don’t shake hands
  4. Don’t kiss
  5. Wear protective clothing at all times
  6. Don’t swim in the ocean
  7. Don’t swim in a pool
  8. Stick to basic foods
  9. Don’t take risks
  10. Keep your thoughts to yourself

 

A recipe for the happiest possible life:

  1. Laugh often and make others laugh with you
  2. Cry in sympathy, cry in sorrow, cry in joy
  3. Embrace friends, embrace strangers
  4. Love everyone and be loved
  5. Travel the world and see as much as you can of it
  6. Wear what you want, be who you want
  7. Swim in every sea and bask on every beach
  8. Sample new flavours every day
  9. Take risks without reward
  10. Share your wisdom and treat everyone you meet as a teacher.

 

mucky baby

Scott Joplin – to Infinity and beyond

If you have played Bioshock: Infinite you will have found yourself humming a beautiful melody that plays while levels are loading throughout the game.

Although a familiar tune to me, I was keen to find out what it was and using the very helpful SoundHound for iPhone the answer soon came: Solace by Scott Joplin. A name as familiar as the tune, but in the same way I was annoyed that I didn’t have any actual knowledge to justify the familiarity. Further investigation was urgently needed.

Research called on two more of my favourite apps – Spotify and Wikipedia.

Spotify revealed a positive treasure trove of recordings – so many of them songs that have punctuated all of our lives through popular media, yet the origin had passed me by. Who was this genius? Surely a highly educated, classically trained musician – probably from an affluent middle class white background. How wrong could I be.

Wikipedia introduced me to a story that couldn’t be more different and incredibly inspirational.

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Scott Joplin was the son of former slaves, born in Texas less than a couple years after the abolition of slavery. Although from a musical family, their labourers income could not stretch to affording quality musical instruments but the young Joplin was fortunate enough to have access to a piano (owned by a local white family), with which he taught himself to play.

Through his life he perfected the early jazz ‘rag time’ style that is so evocative of the era, and arguably wrote the soundtrack to turn-of-the-century America, that went on to be featured in well known movies and TV shows such as the Oscar winning The Sting.

Although in his life time Joplin achieved reasonable success, it was not huge, and tragically before he eventually died from dementia in a mental institution in 1917 aged just 49, his biggest regret was that he felt he had not achieved his ambition to be the most successful African-American songwriter of his time.

In the decades after his death however his music was to become incredibly popular, achieving astounding success. Performed and recorded countless times across the world, literally woven into the fabric of popular culture and ultimately to make Scott Joplin posthumously achieve his dream by some considerable margin.

Listen to the oldest surviving recording of ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, recorded I’m 1906.

Nikon D7100

 

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I recently took delivery of a brand new Nikon D7100 DSLR camera in time for a family trip to the States. I’m going to write a detailed review when I get back, but initial results have really impressed me and the more I use this camera the more impressed I get!

With improved and very snappy auto-focus, an eye-watering 24.1mp – enough to create seriously large prints, studio-quality 1080p video, slots for two SD cards (with options to use one for video and one for exposures if preferred) and a wealth of control and options – this is by far the best camera I’ve ever owned.

If you are considering this model, here is a link to the seller I purchased from who also had the best price I could find. When I told them I was travelling and could they speed up delivery they sent it overnight by courier at no extra charge(!):

Nikon D7100 Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit (24.1MP) and 3.2 inch LCD

Here are a few of the first photos I took using the default/auto settings. These images have been down-scaled to reduce file size but have had no other post-processing, so not as sharp as the originals but I think you’ll agree they are still very impressive.

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Please look out for my detailed review later in April/May 2013.

 

My Top Tips for Managing Twitter Accounts

Twitter was born in March 2006 and launched to the world in July of that year. I’ve been a daily Tweeter since April 2007 – just after it’s big launch at SXSW when it really started to capture the public’s imagination.

Over that time I’ve built up a sizeable following and people often ask me how I manage to keep a track of my followers. Here are a few tips to help you manage your account.

Firstly, you need to really decide what you want out of Twitter. If you’re an individual you may simply want to keep in touch with a circle of friends and acquaintances, occasionally adding a few more into your network. If you’re a business or Tweeting on behalf of a brand, then creating a sizeable channel of potential and existing customers may be your goal instead. Either of these are perfectly valid reasons for having a Twitter account of course, but the way that you manage your account will probably be different in both these examples.

In my case I have my own personal account – @Rokkster, but my business also has its own account too (@RokkMedia). The waters are muddied slightly because although @Rokkster is my personal account I often touch on my work and so I have to be conscious that anything I say in that account is likely to reflect on my businesses. That’s not an issue for me, but it may be for others. Just something to bear in mind.

Tip #1 – Don’t be afraid to follow back.

Many people I know are cautious about following back too many people for fear of creating an unwieldy stream. This is a genuine concern. The most that can be followed realistically is about 150-200. So how do I manage 17,500+ followers?

The answer is in LISTS. Twitter has provided the ability to create lists for a long time now and although most people don’t use them it is probably the most powerful feature in Twitter (Google+ and Facebook offer similar features too).

In my case for example, I have two key lists – one for people who have engaged with me at some point and one for people who I want to keep an eye on their tweets, but haven’t engaged with me (not a crime and not to be expected for global brands, celebrities, or information ‘tweet-casters’ like news accounts).

Other people create specialist lists such as people in their industry, tweeters in their local area, celebrities, political groups etc. There’s no right or wrong here and you can literally create hundreds of lists if you wish.

My lists are private, i.e. the membership is not visible to the public. This is just a personal decision however and depending on what you create lists for – there’s no reason normally to not make them public.

In this way I am able to monitor about 2-300 people on a daily basis in my ‘engagement’ list and only miss occasional tweets. Alternatively messages in my main stream change every second and even tweets from people who are of interest to me are gone before I have a chance to read them.

How you monitor these lists is easier or harder depending on what application you are using. Twitter’s official website and mobile application, for example, require you to dig through your profile before you can view your lists. If you use these primarily therefore you are unlikely to keep a regular check on your lists.

I use Hootsuite on my computer, Tweetbot (iPhone only) and Twitter (iOS or Android) on everything for monitoring my lists (Twitter’s mobile app or website is not great for managing lists but their desktop app works well enough. It’s also very useful for seeing recent followings to follow them back). Hootsuite allows me to create columns and position them where I want – so my lists are usually placed ahead of everything else. Tweetbot allows me to replace the main stream with a list of my choice.

I also SWITCH OFF my main stream as the speed that tweets come and go renders this useless.

Sadly, this does mean that I am undoubtedly missing out on some fantastic tweets, but that’s unavoidable.

If you have anything over 500 followers and are avoiding following any more people for fear of drowning in tweets then this is the solution for you.

I recently attended an entrepreneur’s conference in London where a well known brand owner gave a passionate keynote on using social media. Everything he said was great advice and he pleaded with the business people there to work on their social media accounts for the betterment of their businesses.

However, when I looked at his account I noticed that he had about 5400 followers but was only following back 350. That’s less than 10%! To me as a potential follower that said that he was unlikely to ever engage with me – and to the 5050 followers he hadn’t followed back that he probably didn’t care about them much either. Now, I’m sure that wasn’t the case and in fact he made a big point of saying that he always replied to tweets (although to date he hasn’t replied to mine!) – but perception is everything and to his unfollowed followers that can’t ring true.

The solution though is simple. Follow those who follow you (within reason – see next tip), and place those you want to follow on a regular basis in to lists. Job done. The ROI for his brand in doing this would be increased loyalty which undoubtedly will lead to direct business too.

Tip #2: That Said – Be Selective

Having urged you to follow back I would still urge you to be selective whith whom you follow. Twitter unfortunately is now groaning under the weight of spammers (and worse), and no matter whether you are exposed to those tweets or not, none of us want to encourage them. So here is the fltering process I go through before I follow anybody back:

1. Are they using a photo/image in their avatar – or is it the ‘Twitter Egg’? I don’t care particularly if it’s a real photo, a logo, or anything else – but if it’s an egg this is a pretty good indicator of a spam account (but not always). Chance of not being followed: 1/5

2. Is there a bio? If there is no bio or description of the Twitterer that can also be an indication of a spam account (these people create thousands of accounts, mostly using automated software, which are used to tweet spam messages).  Chance of not being followed: 1/5

3. Bio exists but it describes the objectives of a typical spammer. An example would be: ‘I’m a stay-at-home mom making thousands a week’. That one would be quickly passed over. Chance of not being followed: 5/5

4. Check last few tweets (up to 10). I’m looking here for some level of engagement or personal insight. If I only see quotes (e.g. ‘Be true to yourself and others will believe in your truth’) – that’s a very strong indicator that the account is an automated spam account looking to build a following before releasing it’s spammy messages! If I only see other people’s Tweets re-Tweeted, that isn’t a definite no-no but if those RT’s are spam-like messages then that is. If those RTs are pertinent to that account (for example the @RokkMedia account largely tweets mobile app related news), that may still be OK – if I’m interested in that information. In those cases I am more likely to add the account to one of my other lists. Chance of not being followed: 2/5

5. Abusive or obnoxious views. We all have off-days and when things wind us up Twitter can be a good place to let off steam – but if I am seeing constant expletives and venomous messages there is no way I’m going to follow. Chance of not being followed 4/5

This process is purely for those who have followed me first. If I engage with someone on Twitter or in ‘real life’ then of course none of this applies and I will simply follow and add to one of my lists.

The final point I want to make concerns when to unfollow. Personally, unless you start spamming me there are few occasions when I will unfollow beacuse of my filtered list system. I have previously written a post covering my reasons why which you can read here.