Help Fundraise for One Economy: Bringing Tech and Internet to Communities in Need

Please click here to visit my razoo.com fundraising page or use the widget at right.

Online fundraising platform Razoo launched a new DonateAnywhere widget this month and I’m excited to be selected to the #ZooGooder team of a dozen or so chosen to lead a series of discussions on fundraising in the digital age of social media.

Join us for our first weekly Twitter chat at 6 p.m. PT / 9p.m. ET and. John Haydon will be co-hosting the first one. To participate, use your favorite Twitter client or service and follow the #zooGood hashtag.

In addition to these weekly chats, I chose to raise funds for One Economy Corporation with a goal of raising $8,000 by the end of the year. Not an easy choice given the breadth of my endeavors and pet projects and the 1.5 million or so fundraising causes listed on razoo.com. But after much internal deliberation and debate (and cross-research on sites like Charity Navigator) I decided that One Economy will have the most effective global reach with the money I raise as part of the #zooGood campaign. One Economy brings broadband into low-income households and builds and maintains virtual and physical community centers to provide underserved communities the training and tools needed to leverage the internet for information and local resources on education, jobs, health care and other vital issues.

More about One Economy in the video below:

This is a cause that I have long been passionate about and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus on it more publicly in the coming months. One Economy Corp is a top (4-star) rated charitable organization according to Charity Navigator and it has been expanding its geographic focus areas over its 10-years to cover the Middle East, Africa, and North America. More recently, One Economy launched PIC.tv, the Public Internet Channel website, which has boundless potential that I find very exciting as a long-time web producer and content creator myself.

So let’s see if we can hit $8,000 in two months, while helping to bolster One Economy Corp’s profile as a leading charitable protagonist for leveling the playing field, proliferating the spread of broadband and computer ed into underserved communities, and creating opportunities and local resources in cities and villages worldwide.

I’m dropping my first $10 in the bucket and you can too — the widget is on the right side of this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated – if you’d rather not donate money, thanks for reading this far and for your generous re-Tweet and/or Facebook share! You can also fan One Economy on Facebook and check out the Digital Connectors page (some of whom met recently with FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in SF).

Thanks and see you on the #zooGood hashtag!

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Facebook Apps Soon to Vanish from Profile Tabs

It’s been a year since Facebook went public with a Developer roadmap which signalled a shift away from third-party app integration and increased importance on the Home Page news feed. Last October, the Facebook home page news feed went real-time, significantly altering the user experience to focus primarily on the Home Page, as opposed to profiles or third-party applications.

The latest platform change “coming soon” is a bigger blow to the personalization of the profile page. In the past months, we’ve seen all kinds of irritating warnings that Facebook would soon strip application Profile Boxes and to move these boxes to the tab bar. Now, these tabs are the next casualty.

Facebook app profile tab

This is unfortunate in that it limits not only the personalization of ones profile but also the effectiveness of calls-to-action that benefit from users adding custom tabs to profiles as if they were virtual lawn signs. I proudly display a “No on 23” tab in my profile (direct link), so friends and anyone else who lands on my profile page can learn more about an important proposition on the California ballot next Tuesday. It’s alongside two other tabs that are “soon” to be pulled by Facebook: Goodreads and Last.fm — services I use to track the books I read and music I listen to (respectively). I don’t care (or know) if many visitors to my profile even notice these tabs or take interest, however, it adds value as it’s an intricate part of getting to know me. Sure, books and artists that I have “liked” are listed in my profile, but there is nothing live or temporal about that data other than when (in real-time) I click like and it reverberates through my network via the news feed for 24 hours or so.

I’m betting that you also like the ability to integrate 3rd-party applications and services into your Facebook experience and as tabs or boxes on your profile page. Again this is not a sudden occurrence, we were warned a year ago, and more recently applications which depended almost exclusively on the Facebook Platform, such as Causes and Zimride, have gone entirely standalone.

Does Facebook have something in mind to replace this experience or do we just have to learn to accept a more dumbed-down, walled-in Facebook from here on out? What’s next for Facebook application campaigns based on profile tab proliferation, such as those created by PopRule and others?

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Review: RIM Blackberry Torch 9800

rim blackberry torch 9800 at&tWhen Research in Motion released its latest and most sophisticated smartphone to date in August it was met with mixed reviews from critics. But over-enthusiasm for the latest product from the world’s dominant smartphone manufacturer is to be expected. A month later when I received a Blackberry Torch (9800) to test as an AT&T brand ambassador, I immediately noticed people staring, knowing exactly what I held in my hand.

Complete strangers were coming up to me at the bookstore and I was getting glared at while filling up the car.

“Is that the Torch? Can I see it?”

“That’s the new Blackberry, isn’t it? Is it awesome?”

I would respond to such unexpected queries a question of my own. “What do you want this Blackberry to do that your current phone can’t?”

As a dedicated Blackberry user for the past few years I was anxious to try out the latest operating system – 6.0 – which is currently available exclusively on the Torch. My reason was similar to the answer I got to the question above: I want to be able to browse the web and access more than just stripped-down-for-mobile versions. Blackberry OS 6 introduces a WebKit browser to a RIM device for the first time. Using open-source languages and technology, WebKit enables faster browser speeds while rendering better displays for mobile. It’s the engine powering Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS browsers.

First thing I did was open the browser to find that some pages that wouldn’t open in my Blackberry Bold (running OS 5.0) would open without a pause on the Torch, thanks to the upgraded browser. I was always impressed with the vivid display on the Bold’s screen and the Torch provides the same 480 x 360 resolution over a larger area. The screen switches quickly between portrait and landscape navigation depending how it’s held.

The slideout keyboard is full QWERTY and should be very familiar to any Bold or Curve user, although it is slightly recessed into the body — it took a little getting used to before I could thumb away emails at full speed. The virtual keyboard, which appears when the keypad is not out was a bit tentative at first, but its response quickened — as did the browser speed, with the recent firmware upgrade pushed over-the-air (6.0.0.695 — check at AT&T or RIM to make sure you have the latest update).

I’ve never been a fan of virtual keyboards but I did find that I had as much success typing (with medium-sized fingers) on the Torch’s on-screen virtual keyboard in its standard or wider (landscape) form as with iPhone or Android keyboards.

Photos taken with the Blackberry Torch 9800.

The browser can be navigated with the trackpad (identical to the trackpad on the newer Curves and Bolds), with the touchscreen, or both. Throw in a 5 megapixel camera with flash and video recording capabilities (see end of post) and it’s the only gadget you need.

blackberry torch 9800 social feeds app os6What I love most about the Torch is where Blackberry remains best-in-class: email, SMS, Outlook server integration, Blackberry Messenger, and the tactile full-QWERTY keyboard. It’s every bit as much for the Blackberry purist as it is for the consumer who seeks more, and at the same price as a Bold, I’d definitely recommend it.

The Torch is also the first Blackberry phone to have an integrated app to manage your online social networks. This gives you the option to have updates from Twitter, Facebook, and instant messenger clients like AIM and Google Chat, interspersed with your other messages, or — as that may be a bit overwhelming — within the Social Feeds app, which can also aggregate RSS feeds and display (or sound off) alerts. Personally, I prefer to manage these apps and services separately and I’ve disabled the Social Feeds feature — opting to take advantage of the Torch’s multitasking capabilities and with 512MB of RAM – double that of my Bold 9700 – it’s been a breeze. A few of the apps that I use on the Bold, such as Viigo, are not yet available for OS 6.0 but that is changing. I just downloaded the OS 6 version of Socialscope and am impressed with how much more can be done with apps customized for 6.0 (most other Blackberrys use OS 5.0).

The Torch is not meant to revolutionize the smartphone as a gadget — there are other smartphones available that shoot video in HD, have larger displays, and can be co-opted as video game controllers. The Torch represents a broad leap in RIM’s Blackberry evolution with the new browser, operating system and form factor and should satisfy consumers that have been waiting for the right time to buy a Blackberry — and die-hard aficionados alike — for months to come.

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Pixies Play 33 Songs for 33 Miners in Chile

pixies black francis chileThe Pixies made the most of their first-ever headlining gig in Santiago, Chile last night, capturing the celebratory emotion of the just-completed Mina San José rescue and bottling it up into a 33-song set.

Listen to the crowd react as Black Francis prefaces the set by recognizing the need celebrate this day and adding, “so we’re going to play 33 songs tonight….”

Can’t possibly dream up a more timely (or easier to write) press release for someone in music PR:

The band’s scheduled performance happened to fall on the very night that the 33 miners were dramatically rescued from 69 unimaginable days trapped 2000 feet below the surface of the earth.

I’m doubly envious as I felt a bit short-shrift by the last Pixies show I saw (at the Palladium this year) especially compared to a 33-song set (plus two-song encore).
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