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Roll Your Own TwitPic-like Media Hosting Using Posterous

Roll Your Own TwitPic-like Media Hosting Using Posterous

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    One of the more useful aspects of Twitter is the ability to quickly broadcast images, videos, and other media to your followers, making it an effective “mo-blogging” (mobile blogging) platform. Twitter doesn’t have this ability built in, though; sending pictures or video clips to Twitter requires using third-party services like TwitPic. Most Twitter clients will automatically upload images to these third-party hosts and add a link to your tweets, making the whole experience rather seamless.

    This is a pretty good solution for casual sharing, but if you’re using Twitter as part of your personal branding efforts, or if you’re serious about the media you’re distributing, you might want more control over how your media is stored and displayed online. TwitPic and the other services don’t offer much in the way of page customization. They also scatter your content over several sites.

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    Then there’s the Twitter API limit, which limits access to only your last 3200 tweets. Assuming you’re sharing things on Twitter that are more important than what you ate for lunch and what cute thing your cat just did, you might worry about losing your online history as you build up past the 3200 mark.

    Having discovered too late Twitter’s API limit (I’m almost to 3700 tweets at the moment), I decided I didn’t want to risk my images and other posted material becoming difficult to access – although much of my Twittering is purely personal, my stream is an important part of my online professional presence, and I want to make sure it’s not only archived but accessible moving forward.

    Enter Posterous. Posterous is a lifestreaming service that sits somewhere between Twitter and a blog in terms of features. It’s not really intended for essay-like blogging, but rather for capturing images, video, web links, and thoughts quickly and easily. What’s important here is that you can post via email or even SMS message, and it can be set up to automatically forward anything you post to Twitter, Facebook, and a number of other services (including your own blog). Using Posterous, I can create a permanent record of the images, videos, audio clips, and other material I post to Twitter, and I can do so in a customizable, brandable space that offers me far more control over my content than I have with services like TwitPic or even Twitter.

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    Here’s how to set up and use Posterous as a home for all your tweetable media.

    Set up a Posterous account

    An unusual thing about Posterous is that you can’t just go to the website and sign up – you create an account by using the service.

    1. Send a photo, video, or just text email to post@posterous.com.
    2. Within a few minutes, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to your newly-created site. At the moment, your post is it’s own stand-alone site. Click the link that allows you to change your password.
    3. Posterous assigned you a username based on the username of the email address you sent your first email from (the part before the @ sign). Change that to whatever you want your site’s URL to be (it will be “username.posterous.com” where username is whatever you choose) and enter a password.
    4. Now go to the “Manage” screen and start customizing the site.
    5. Click “Edit this site” to change the name of the site and add a theme under “Theme and customize my site. If you know CSS and HTML, you can create your own theme. Also, you can upload a header image to really brand your site.
    6. If you really want to get fancy, you can set up your Posterous site under your own domain name; follow the instructions on the “Edit” page.
    7. You can also enter your Google Analytics Domain ID to track visitors using Google Analytics. Follow the instructions on the “Edit” page.
    8. Click “Edit my profile” to add personal information and upload a photo of yourself.
    9. From the “Manage” page, click “Manage emails and phone” to add other emails and your cell phone number so you can post from them. I recommend adding your main email address and your phone’s email address (if it’s different from your main email).
    10. “From the “Manage” page, click “Autopost to Everywhere” to add your Twitter account and any other accounts you want to post to via Posterous. You can add Facebook and other social networks, image-hosting sites like Flickr and Picasa, and your own websites, among other services.

    Now you’re set up to post to Posterous and have those posts forwarded automatically to Twitter (and wherever else you choose).

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    Post images, videos, and other media via Posterous

    1. Add an address book entry to your contact manager for Posterous. Add both the main email address, post@posterous.com, and the SMS short code, 41411.
    2. Anything you email to post@posterous.com will be automatically forwarded to all the services you’ve set up under “Autopost”. The subject line will be the title of your post at Posterous and will make up the body of your Tweet, so limit yourself to 130 characters (to leave room for the shortened URL to your post).
    3. Posterous automatically resizes images to fit your theme. If you send multiple images, Posterous will create a very nice gallery so that all of them can be viewed within the main post. Videos are embedded in a Flash player, as are MP3 files you send to Posterous.
    4. If you might only want to post something to Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or elsewhere, add one or more of the following email addresses to your address book entry:
    5. You can post text-only entries through the SMS number. Type “POST” (without the quotes) and enter up to 110 characters.
    6. If your email program adds a signature line or a “Sent via” line, you can make sure that doesn’t get added to your post by typing “#end” (without the quotes) at the end of the text you want in your post.
    7. You can also add a “Share on Posterous” bookmarklet to your browser for one-click posting from the Web. Any text and images you select before clicking will be posted (and you can add your own text as well). If you don’t select text, Posterous will scan the page for likely “excerpts” on the page, which you can scroll through until you find the part you want to post.

    Drawbacks

    While I think there are a lot of benefits to tweeting this way, even for regular text tweets, I have to admit there are also a few drawbacks. The most notable is that you have to remember to limit yourself to 130 characters (or less) in order to accommodate the link to your Posterous page. As if 140 characters wasn’t short enough!

    Another drawback is that you can’t post through your favorite Twitter client – you have to use email or SMS to get your post to Posterous. In effect, Posterous becomes your Twitter client – but only for posting.

    Finally, many Twitter clients offer previews of images on the more popular image- and video-hosting services. Your followers won’t be able to preview your images on Posterous in their Twitter client.

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    Obviously, I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, but you should be aware of them before taking the plunge yourself. If Twitter is not just a pastime for you, but a real part of your business or professional life, this is a way to take a lot more control over the content you post to Twitter.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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