Why Can’t Americans Vote Online?

Why Can't Americans Vote Online?Over the years and with lots of experience under my belt, I have learned the truth behind this old adage: “Don’t discuss religion or politics.” It seems that these hot topics are even more volatile during campaign seasons as people, locked into their religious beliefs and/or political affiliations, try to change another’s opinions, beliefs, or indoctrination. Unfortunately, these initial discussions can begin as an attempt to garner support for a particular candidate who shares one’s views on a subject of importance to them, but in fact, then leads to an argumentative confrontation.

When I presented this topic to Chris Pirillo here at LockerGnome for his perusal, he supported me in my decision to write the article, but pointed out that it was a hot topic that needed to be handled in a sensitive manner. To do this, I knew that it would be necessary for me to present this topic with the pros and cons specifically spelled out.

Our right to vote, guaranteed by the US Constitution, has undergone many changes over the years and today, with social networking sites affecting almost one billion of us, we find ourselves interacting in the world arena in unprecedented numbers. For many of us, staying constantly connected to online political updates, financial news, or keeping up with social networking sites has taken on the status of electronic survival. For others, it means that one device isn’t going to be enough to stay in touch with family, friends, and associates, and these individuals have, therefore, found it necessary to surround themselves with one, two, or three electronic devices (in my home we have eight of these toys).

In addition, high-speed Internet connections are paramount if we are to be successful in our quest to communicate important events quickly. While I firmly believe that all Americans should have the right to pursue liberty, we must acknowledge that at times this liberty is going to come at a cost. For those of us on the Internet nearly 24/7, we all need to be aware that any information put out there is basically open for the world to see. This information is a collection of data about our habits, our personality traits, our surfing habits, and our family lives that we may have unwittingly made available for anyone — good or evil — to access via the big computer in the sky.

It is this problem — the accumulation of data about you and me — that is perhaps the main objection to allowing online election voting. Those in the against camp tend to adhere to the following beliefs as to why online voting should be banned:
Why Can't Americans Vote Online?

  • Security is the paramount reason for those who are opposed to online voting. They are of the opinion that any system can be hacked and that no security system is 100% secure.
  • With millions of computers already compromised by viruses and in the hands of unscrupulous individuals, these controlled systems could actually alter voter results to gain political office for a candidate of their choice.
  • Opponents of voting online further offer that using HTTPS connections cannot be trusted since they can also be breached in an attempt to manipulate voters.
  • One such form of these viruses occurs when someone clickjacks your input. We know that this happens on common issues, but when it comes to voting online, an entire election could be controlled from behind the scenes as your vote is hijacked and you vote yes for no and no for yes without your consent.
  • Last, opponents are quick to point out the cost of adding new equipment, training voting personnel, and tabulating the results. They know, as do we all, that with tax revenue being down from federal to local governmental agencies, there is already an economy toll being taken as we strive to work under the newest budget cuts.

While opponents of online voting present a solid set of reasons as to why online voting should not be allowed, proponents present an equally compelling set of reasons as to why online voting should be allowed:

  • First on the list is the belief that online voting is an economically wise choice when compared to the traditional voting methods. Advocates state that, with this method, there would no longer be a need for a vast array of polling places or for a multitude of paid voting officials.
  • Green effect. The advantages to the environment are obvious since there would no longer be a need to print millions of ballots, millions of registration cards, millions of absentee mailing forms, or ballot initiative information (sometimes in multiple languages).
  • In addition, since voters could stay at home, the green effect would also be felt in the saving of gasoline.
  • Last, they purport that online voting would make it easier for the elderly, the disabled, the disenfranchised to participate from the comfort of a Wi-Fi cafe or their own home. This could mean that the election would more clearly result in the wishes of the people rather than in the wishes of the rich minority. This factor alone could be critical in local elections where the passage of a municipal bond or school bond proposal may require a certain percentage of voter support.

Why Can't Americans Vote Online?In my personal opinion, until security issues can be dealt with, I don’t believe that online voting is a practical alternative to our traditional methods. My concerns are most likely due to my being recently contacted by my credit card’s fraud department. During the conversation I learned that someone had made a charge, in the amount of $1,040, to purchase women’s clothing from an out-of-state mail order service. Thankfully, the people in the department were on their toes and caught this before my card was used to purchase additional items.

However, while this was frustrating, I know I am only one of the millions who will have their credit card information compromised. That being said, the most disturbing thing to me was the nonchalant attitude displayed by the issuing credit card company. It seems that it is making so much money off the retailer and consumer that it is not taking this problem seriously enough.

But how would any of us feel if our right to vote was stolen? Would we take such a casual approach? Until we can be guaranteed that our voting rights will not be compromised, I personally believe voting online cannot become a reality. However, if and when we can be assured that our security and privacy will not be jeopardized, then — and only then — online voting may become a reality.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Windows 7 For Dummies

There should be an image here!Windows For Dummies is the all-time bestselling guide to the Windows operating system. Windows 7 For Dummies answers all your questions about the interface adjustments and all the new tools in Windows 7.

Whether you’re new to computers or just eager to start using the newest version of Windows, expert author Andy Rathbone will walk you step by step through the most common Windows 7 tasks, including managing files, applications, media, and Internet access. If you’ve never used Windows before, it shows you the things most books assume you already know, like how to navigate the interface, customize the desktop, and work with the file system. Then it helps you get comfortable using all aspects of Windows 7.

  • Nearly ninety percent of the world’s PCs use the Windows operating system
  • Covers basic management of applications, files, and data; creating and printing documents; setting up an Internet connection and e-mail account; and online security
  • Explores using Windows to edit and manage audio, video, and photo files, and how to create CDs, DVDs, and playlists with Media Center
  • Helps you tweak and customize Windows 7 to operate your way and set up user accounts, build a home network, and maintain your PC
  • Provides troubleshooting advice, helps you find missing files and use the Help system, and explains common error messages

Windows 7 For Dummies will have you up and running on the newest version of Windows quickly and easily.

Long and Short Terms Goals of Voting

Now that the election season is over and we have a few days break before the next cycle, let’s take a few minutes to consider some features of voting as we know it. In particular, how do we decide how we will vote. After, all, that is one of the most important decision theory problems we can face.

We assume voting is secret, but for most of the life of the USA, this was not the case. Parties printed their own ballots and made them large and in different colors so that goons, I mean poll watchers, could easily monitor which way a person voted. In fact, there was significant opposition to secret balloting, which was imported from Australia, because real men were proud of how they voted (of course women did not vote). Getting to the polling place could result in a severe beating and even death if you carried the wrong color ballot, and the parties did not want to give up that power to dissuade the opposition.

Another assumption is that we generally decide between two major parties and a few minor parties are tagging along for comedy relief.

Let’s stick with that assumption for a moment. And consider a related business decision. To simplify things, assume a one-dimensional space — a long beach. Some vendors are selling hot dogs on the beach and they can walk north or south to establish a temporary sales place. Where should they each go to maximize sales? The usual answer to this introductory puzzle is that they should end up somewhere in the middle of the beach, north or south, and they set up camp immediately next to each other.

Going back to politics, Nixon famously said that a politician on the right must lean far enough to the left to capture more votes, and that this required shifting to the left sufficiently far to anger his constituents on the right. The same obviously goes for someone on the left who must lean to the right. We see this every election.

Which brings us back to the hot dog vendors. They know where the center of the long beach is because they can see the ends. But how does a politician know where to position such that a maximum number of votes is assured? Certainly both parties will end up next to each other, and even overlapping per Nixon’s advice, but where is the middle?

Much money is spent on polls and other tools to establish that sweet spot.

However, I suggest that the politician’s dilemma is an opening for a sophisticated voter with a long view on history to have more power than a single vote. My suggestion requires that the minor parties garner only a few percent of the total vote, and that one of the majors is virtually guaranteed elections. Then suppose you, the smart voter with a long view, wants more care given to the environment. If that is important to you, then voting straight Green party contributes to meeting your desires in two ways: (1) the majors will look at how many votes the minors are getting in an attempt to shift policy to pick up more votes in the future; and (2) a large showing by any minor party is looked at carefully by professionals to see if the body politic has changed under them. A large showing by the Green party will naturally cause the majors both to announce new initiatives aimed at saving the environment.

So while common knowledge, and advice from professional politicians, is that voting for a minor party is simply throwing your vote away, I can argue that indeed it is throwing away the short term opportunity to contribute to a specific candidate’s victory, but it is not wasting a vote. It is is investing for a better future.

This is meant to be a thought-provoking exercise. I am not seriously advocating anything for anyone except that I always encourage thoughtful analysis. In fact, I will delighted if a reader can effectively refute the value of my suggestion.

Foursquare Makes Voting on Election Day Cool With “I Voted” Badge

Today is one of the few days Americans actually get to exercise their most powerful civil right – the right to vote. Today is election day. In the 2004 and 2008 elections, young voters demonstrated they had a stronger voice in the popular elections than ever before – technology can definitely be attributed as a cause of this new trend.

FourSquare I Voted Badge is given to FourSquare users when  they vote in the 2010 Election But just how cool has voting become? And how popular will the youth vote be this year? Thanks to geolocation apps like Foursquare, voting is cooler than ever. This year, for example, if you “check-in” to a location on Foursquare when you vote, you get the “I Voted 2010” badge (forget that lame sticker your parents wore after voting during their lunch break from the office years ago). You also get the option to tell all your followers on Twitter that you voted. What could be more cool than not only sharing every detail of your life with your friends, while also creating social pressure to make sure that they vote, too?

It’s also easier than ever to vote with geolocation apps. This year with Foursquare, you can just check the iPhone or Android app for the closest polling place to your current location – Foursquare is keeping a database of polling locations and pushing these places to the top of the “Places” tab for today. Since these types of apps also give awards to “groups” of people checking into places, and for also checking into a place more than once, you may also be able to get a secondary badge or two for checking into a polling location. And who knows – it might even help a voter become “Mayor” of the polling location. (How’s that for some Election Day irony?)

Do you think Foursquare and other apps will directly increase interest in voting this year? Or we just a bunch of politically active narcissists?

What Do You Accomplish By Voting?

There should be an image here!The best thing about elections is when they are over, the political ads stop for a while.

Take a moment to consider what elections do. Do they decide the best candidate, or at least the candidate preferred by the most people? Not necessarily-particularly in races with more than two candidates and almost all races start out that way.

To see how this happens, first consider dice with non-standard markings. The faces can have any value in the range 1-6. Assume a set consists of four dice labeled A, B, C, D. One die is thrown at a time. The highest value showing wins. If we are told that on the average A beats B, B beats C, and C beats D, then we automatically assume A beats D. This is called transitivity. (An example of transitivity is “heavier than”: if A is heavier than B, and B heavier than C, then A is heavier than C.) Is it possible to number a set of four dice such that, on the average die A beats B, B beats C, C beats D, and D beats A. Is that possible?

The surprising answer is yes. I first saw this in the book by Martin Gardner, Wheels, Life, and Other Mathematical Amusements more than twenty years ago. This is a startling phenomenon. Chapter 4 of the referenced book discusses this in detail, and several other people have published discussions of it.

The essential error made when considering transitivity in dice is assuming that throwing many times to get an average is equivalent to weighing objects to see which is heavier. This is not the case. Averaging decreases information, and that information is critical. To see how it works, I reproduce here a figure from Martin Gardner (he gives references to how it was invented.). The figure shows four dice that have been unfolded to show the markings on all sides. Each arrow points toward a losing die. If you were allowed to pick one of these dice to throw in a bet against me, I could always pick another one which has a 2/3 probability of winning on each toss. Try going through each of the combinations to see if you agree with that statement.

Other than changing how you might bet in rare circumstances, transitivity also has ramifications in voting when the ballot has more than two candidates. The majority of voters can easily prefer Amy to Bert; Bert to Charley, and Charley to Amy. Who should be elected? Whoever gets the most votes generally wins unless a runoff is required. Is a runoff guaranteed to result in an election that displeases the minimum number of voters? In a mayoral election in San Diego, three candidates split the vote almost evenly. No matter who was declared winner between the three contenders, 2/3 of the voters disapprove. The spread in the total votes cast was small enough to consider statistically insignificant. If the top two vote getters were subjected to a runoff, would that improve matters?

I’ve mentioned the logical problems with voting in other posts. Perhaps these issues seem remote, but in many elections, even without fraud, technical maneuvering, or help from the courts, there is no rational reason to believe the favorite candidate is always elected. The example non-transitive dice demonstrates how our intuition can mislead us.

Political scientists might disagree with me, but I think our system could be greatly improved. Often we do not ask the right questions: like what do we want to accomplish by voting? Define what you mean by “will of the people” and how you measure it.

For those who wish to learn more about this fascinating subject, I recommend Basic Geometry of Voting by Donald G. Saari.

[Photo above by John C. Abell / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Help 140 QuickBooks Tips Help You

There should be an image here!Seth has written another eBook, and I was only too happy to collaborate with him on it. Following is his introduction to the newest creation.

I have written another eBook, and this one is called 140 QuickBooks Tips. Once again, Chris Pirillo has been gracious enough to co-brand this with me so that more people might benefit from the help it offers in terms of the little things that make it easier to use QuickBooks. There is a reason why QuickBooks is the #1 accounting software in this country — and possibly in the world. I have used QuickBooks since the DOS version and it has always been very easy for me to use. Since I live, eat, and pretty much breathe QuickBooks, I have a search column set up on my Tweet Deck Application based on the word “QuickBooks.”

This lets me see any time someone uses the word “QuickBooks” in their tweet. Of course, I see a lot of people like me posting blurbs with links to blog posts with QuickBooks Tutorials. In my case, every QuickBooks Blog post comes with some sort of QuickBooks Video Tutorial. These are screencasts showing you step-by-step where to click and what to type in order to accomplish those things that you need to be able to do with the software. While viewing this Twitter feed on QuickBooks, I see many complaints about the program not being able to do something. I will probably make some people mad when I say this, but the reality from my own experience is that 90% of time it is user error. This is not to say that the QuickBooks user is a bad person. The QuickBooks user more than likely is a very good person frustrated by their own lack of experience and knowledge. Again, QuickBooks is the #1 Accounting software in the country and because of that I think people expect it to be completely easy to do everything that they want to do in QuickBooks.

The fact is that QuickBooks is accounting software and as such it helps to have some knowledge of accounting. It goes beyond writing checks and recording deposits. Usually from what I see, the frustration sets in when the person using QuickBooks does not have the accounting background and therefore not only doesn’t understand how to do what they want to, but doesn’t understand from an accounting perspective why it is not feasible to do it. Nine times out of ten it is not that it can’t be done, it is more a matter of understanding the accounting fundamentals which gives rise to the understanding of how to get QuickBooks, an accounting program to do what you need it to. Since I have the accounting knowledge as well as the practical I am able to go from what we want the transactions to look like (this takes a good solid understanding of how the financial statements work and relate to one another) to how it needs to be accomplished at the nuts and bolts level.

It is based on this experience that I have written 140 QuickBooks Tips. My expectation is that you will find more than a few gems in here that will help you do something you didn’t know before or help you to do it better than before. There are also some Accounting tips that will help you understand what you will want to learn more about in order to be a more effective QuickBooks User such as learning about the relationships between the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet Accounts. When CPA’s review or audit a set of books, they go through the balance sheet thoroughly knowing that along the way they will hit most of the important areas of the Profit and Loss. Then they review the profit and loss. And did you know that the Statement of Cash flows is really the most important one, yet it is the least often understood by owners of small businesses? Get your copy of 140 QuickBooks Tips today and please visit my blog for a whole lot more of great QuickBooks tips and free video tutorials on how to use QuickBooks more effectively in your own business.

Be sure to check out the many other excellent eBooks we have available.

Oh, and have you joined the community on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube yet?

[Photo above by James Vaughan / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Truthy.Indiana.Edu To Search, Identify Smear Tactics, Twitter-Bombs Through November Election Runup

There should be an image here!Astroturfers, Twitter-bombers and smear campaigners need beware this election season as a group of leading Indiana University information and computer scientists today unleashed Truthy.indiana.edu, a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation leading up to the Nov. 2 elections.

Combing through thousands of tweets per hour in search of political keywords, the team based out of IU’s School of Informatics and Computing will isolate patterns of interest and then insert those memes (ideas or patterns passed by imitation) into Twitter’s application programming interface (API) to obtain more information about the meme’s history.

“When we identify a trend we go back and examine how it was started, where the main injection points were, and any associated memes,” said Filippo Menczer, an associate professor of computer science and informatics. “When we drill down we’ll be able to see statistics and visualizations relating to tweets that mention the meme and basically reconstruct its history.”

The team will then generate diffusion network images that visitors to Truthy.indiana.edu can view as groups of nodes and edges that identify retweets, mentions, and the extent of the epidemic. Visitors to the site will also see the output of a sentiment analysis algorithm that examines and extracts mood-identifying words and then assesses them on a known psychometric scale. That algorithm identifies the meme on scales ranging from anxious to calm, hostile to kind, unsure to sure, and confused to aware.

Menczer got the idea for the Truthy Web site after hearing researchers from Wellesley College speak earlier this year on their research analyzing a well-known Twitter bomb campaign conducted by the conservative group American Future Fund (AFF) against Martha Coakley, a democrat who lost the Massachusetts senatorial seat formerly held by the late Edward Kennedy. Republican challenger Scott Brown won the seat after AFF set up nine Twitter accounts in early morning hours prior to the election and then sent out 929 tweets in two hours before Twitter realized the information was spam. By then the messages had reached 60,000 people.

Menczer explained that because search engines now include Twitter trends in search results, an astroturfing campaign — where the concerted efforts of special interests are disguised as a spontaneous grassroots movement — that includes Twitter bombs can jack up how high a result shows up on Google even if the information is false.

This is one reason Truthy.indiana.edu also relies on input from users to denote a meme as “truthy,” or misinformation represented as fact. Having a crowdsourcing component will help the data mining effort and hopefully keep the loop between social media and search engines honest, researchers said.

“One of the concerns about social media is that people are being manipulated without realizing it because a meme can be given instant global popularity by a high search engine ranking, in turn perpetuating the falsehood,” Menczer said.

As information scientists, the group is interested in understanding meme diffusion from various perspectives: Menczer, associate director of IU’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, focuses on data mining and meme burst modeling; Rudy Professor of Informatics Alessandro Vespignani’s work relates to epidemic and contagion modeling; Associate Professor of Informatics Alessandro Flammini, also director of IU’s Complex Systems Program, conducts complex network analysis, especially related to online text and social media; and Johan Bollen, associate professor of informatics and computing, has a background in cognitive science and specializes in sentiment and mood analysis from online text.

The Web site’s name, Truthy, references a “stunt word” first employed by television comedian and political pundit Stephen Colbert in 2005 to satirize the use of emotional appeal as fact.

[Photo above by AZRainman / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Steve Chaplin @ Indiana University

[awsbullet:stephen colbert]

Top Five Tips For People Looking Into Working With Computer Hardware

There should be an image here!Gnomie RyGuy 5320 writes:

Hey Chris! I have seen in your videos that sometimes people send you little “Top Five Lists” about a multitude of things. I thought I should take a shot at it, so here goes!

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me “How do you know bow to build a computer? Can I learn how?” So here are my tips for them.

1. It’s not as complicated as you think. Computers in themselves are extremely complex, but the way the components come together is not! Everything in a computer has a special place, and it’s actually quite hard to wire something in a way that will damage it. This is even the case with compact computers like laptops and flatscreen all-in-ones, though they are hard to work with due to the scale of components and because everything is crammed into a tiny space.

2. Start with a tower computer. Tower computers are amazingly simple! You can put together a working tower computer in minutes! I first put together a tower at the age of 11. My only prior experience was that I saw my dad tinkering in an open computer. It really is simple if you see past the mess of wires and complex-looking labels.

3. Don’t be afraid to open it up! Want to see what’s in your computer? Most tower computers are designed to be easily popped open with the removal of a few screws. I’ve even seen a few that pop open when you press a button! They are designed to be opened, and you can only damage them by messing with something recklessly.

4. Experiment! Now, you may not be as lucky as me, but I have a supply of old computers from my grandmother’s attic. If you have an old computer that you don’t care about, experiment! Hook things up, move things around, see what works!

5. When all else fails, ask for help. If you don’t know what something is or what it does, look it up, or ask for help. Most geeks, like me, will be more than happy to help you out. Almost everything is labeled, too, so you can find out what something is and find out what to do with it.

I know this is a top five list, but let me add one more thing. When you’ve built, or at least messed with your computer, you can make yourself look pretty darn smart! How many preteens do you know who have built computers? In case you were interested, I’m now 14 years old. I can also truthfully say I’ve built six working computers over three years… from a pile of “junk!”

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and have a great day!

P.S. I wrote this all on an iPod touch. My fingers hurt now!

[Photo above by Extra Ketchup / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Get A Grip With Twitter Tips

It seems as though everyone in the world is on Twitter now. Sadly, not all of them know how to utilize this fabulous tool to maximize their outreach. The reach you can have by using social media can be staggering. However, you have to know how to use the service correctly to get your message across in a way that people will want to read.

I am by no means an expert on anything. Over the years, though, I’ve learned what works through trial and error — and what doesn’t! I’ve made some amazing connections online, and I’ve soaked up every bit of information that I could from them. After receiving a lot of questions and emails from many of you who are struggling to “master” Twitter, I decided to put together an eBook full of Twitter tips and tricks to help you get started.

To help keep you in the tweet spirit, the eBook contains 140 tips, all written in 140 characters or less. Best of all… it only will cost you $1.40! So why should you shell out a buck and a half of your hard-earned money for yet another eBook? I’ve come up with several reasons, actually!

If you’re new to Twitter, or still unsure how to use it effectively, this eBook will guide you in all of the right directions. Navigating your way through the maze that is Twitter can be daunting. Who should you follow? How do you get followers? What should you say? How do you say it?!

Twitter is a great tool for getting out information about your organization. However, doing so properly is crucial to people taking notice. When you have a startup that you’ve poured your heart, soul and money into, you may not have much of a marketing budget left at the end of the day. Why not make use of social media to get that word spreading like wildfire?

Your customers are on Twitter, and they’re talking about you. Do you know how to best take advantage of that? I have one word for you here: ComcastCares. Frank and his team are listening, and they’re using what you are saying on Twitter to help make your experience better. Isn’t that the kind of service you want to provide?

Are you launching a new product or service? What are people going to think about it? Use Twitter to effectively gauge consumer reaction, and to promote what you have to sell.

If you have something important to tell the World, using Twitter can be one of your best friends. Just take a look at what people such as Drew Olanoff and Mark Horvath have done. Our guide can help you communicate with the rest of the World effectively via Twitter.

Do you not have as many followers as you would like? Let our tips help you to become someone that everyone will want to follow! Your name doesn’t have to be Ashton Kutcher in order to get a zillion followers, honestly!

Are you shy? Using social media services such as Twitter can help you to break out of your shell, 140 characters at a time. The tips we’ve gathered together in this eBook can help you get started, and will provide you with a lot of insight as to how it all works.

When looking for a career change, networking with others is the name of the game. Even if you’re happy in your current position, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to network to your possible future benefit on Twitter.

Posting about your breakfast or your trip to the restroom doesn’t make for interesting reading… so what DOES? Do you even have a clue as to what people want to read? Think for a moment about what you enjoy learning from others on Twitter. Now take a look at your own tweet stream — and our tips — and figure out if you’re saying something worthwhile.

Everyone who is ANYONE is on Twitter, including me! Isn’t that reason enough for you to be there, as well?

Many of the tips in this eBook were submitted by people just like you, from right here in our community. I’ve given credit where credit is due in the guide, and would like to thank them again here. If you have ideas for tips or tricks we forgot to include, go ahead and email them to me! They may just be included in a future revision. Be sure to give me your Twitter account along with your submission, so that I can credit what you write back to you.

[awsbullet:twitter guide]

140 Tweets About 140 Twitter Tips

It seems as though everyone in the world is on Twitter now. Sadly, not all of them know how to utilize this fabulous tool to maximize their outreach. The reach you can have by using social media can be staggering. However, you have to know how to use the service correctly to get your message across in a way that people will want to read.

I am by no means an expert on anything. Over the years, though, I’ve learned what works through trial and error — and what doesn’t! I’ve made some amazing connections online, and I’ve soaked up every bit of information that I could from them. After receiving a lot of questions and emails from many of you who are struggling to “master” Twitter, I decided to put together an eBook full of Twitter tips and tricks to help you get started.

To help keep you in the tweet spirit, the eBook contains 140 tips, all written in 140 characters or less. Best of all… it only will cost you $1.40! So why should you shell out a buck and a half of your hard-earned money for yet another eBook? I’ve come up with several reasons, actually!

If you’re new to Twitter, or still unsure how to use it effectively, this eBook will guide you in all of the right directions. Navigating your way through the maze that is Twitter can be daunting. Who should you follow? How do you get followers? What should you say? How do you say it?!

Twitter is a great tool for getting out information about your organization. However, doing so properly is crucial to people taking notice. When you have a startup that you’ve poured your heart, soul and money into, you may not have much of a marketing budget left at the end of the day. Why not make use of social media to get that word spreading like wildfire?

Your customers are on Twitter, and they’re talking about you. Do you know how to best take advantage of that? I have one word for you here: ComcastCares. Frank and his team are listening, and they’re using what you are saying on Twitter to help make your experience better. Isn’t that the kind of service you want to provide?

Are you launching a new product or service? What are people going to think about it? Use Twitter to effectively gauge consumer reaction, and to promote what you have to sell.

If you have something important to tell the World, using Twitter can be one of your best friends. Just take a look at what people such as Drew Olanoff and Mark Horvath have done. Our guide can help you communicate with the rest of the World effectively via Twitter.

Do you not have as many followers as you would like? Let our tips help you to become someone that everyone will want to follow! Your name doesn’t have to be Ashton Kutcher in order to get a zillion followers, honestly!

Are you shy? Using social media services such as Twitter can help you to break out of your shell, 140 characters at a time. The tips we’ve gathered together in this eBook can help you get started, and will provide you with a lot of insight as to how it all works.

When looking for a career change, networking with others is the name of the game. Even if you’re happy in your current position, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to network to your possible future benefit on Twitter.

Posting about your breakfast or your trip to the restroom doesn’t make for interesting reading… so what DOES? Do you even have a clue as to what people want to read? Think for a moment about what you enjoy learning from others on Twitter. Now take a look at your own tweet stream — and our tips — and figure out if you’re saying something worthwhile.

Everyone who is ANYONE is on Twitter, including me! Isn’t that reason enough for you to be there, as well?

Many of the tips in this eBook were submitted by people just like you, from right here in our community. I’ve given credit where credit is due in the guide, and would like to thank them again here. If you have ideas for tips or tricks we forgot to include, go ahead and email them to me! They may just be included in a future revision. Be sure to give me your Twitter account along with your submission, so that I can credit what you write back to you.

Windows 7 Build 7000 Wallpapers

Gnomie Michael Coombes writes:

Hey Chris, Just saw your video on wallpapers in Windows 7 Build 7000, and thought you might like to know a few things about them, in case you didn’t already:

The default wallpaper you get is based on the locale where you install it, so being in the US you should have had some nice pictures of locations such as Crater Lake in Oregon and suchlike. This, itself, is quite nice, but just in case you didn’t already know, you can find the wallpapers from other locales in C:WindowsGlobalizationMCT for that international feel.

Hope you find this useful!

Tipit.to

In the real world, it’s customary and appropriate to tip people for certain things to show your appreciation for their work. These people appreciate the tips, and we’re happy to give them, especially when they do a great job. The amount of each tip can be large or small depending on the circumstances, but no matter what the amount may be, a tip is a tip. While we may not think twice about tipping people when we’re at some place like a restaurant, we hardly ever think about tipping people for the work that they do online. A big reason for this is because it’s not always easy to give someone a tip online, but Tipit.to hopes to change that.

The next time that you enjoy a particular online service, blog post, video, or piece of software, why not contribute a tip through Tipit.to? You can leave a tip for a company or individual whether they’re using Tipit.to or not, and if they’re not using it then they can claim the tips later. PayPal is used to receive and distribute the money, and a small charge is used to cover the transaction fees. Right now one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is trusting a service like this, but if you’d like to send or receive tips for online content, then here’s a solution to look into if you’ve already decided not to use PayPal itself.

Poll Everywhere

I love polls. They’re simple, informative, and easy to understand. If you want to get a quick overview of what people are thinking, then there’s really no better way to do it than a poll. The introduction of interactive polls on the Internet has enhanced what polls can do, and new methods of participation in and consumption of information are once again transforming the way that polls work. Poll Everywhere isn’t your standard online polling service because it includes support for text message voting.

You’ve seen text message voting before on television shows like American Idol, but now you can gather information in the same way with Poll Everywhere. A variety of paid accounts are available, but a free option does exist so that you can try out the service with a limited number of people. The polls are easy to create, and you can share and export the results in a variety of ways. Since people are becoming more attached to their cell phones, it only makes sense that you’d offer support for text message voting in addition to online voting, which is also available. This is a great tool for presenters and anyone else who wants to find out what the public is thinking.

Listphile

At first, lists seem to be the most simplistic type of content to create. All you have to do is write things out in a certain order and then you’re done. We’ve been writing lists on standard paper in addition to napkins and gum wrappers for quite some time, and if lists are boring to you, then that’s because you haven’t seen what you can do with them online. Not only do they quickly become collaborative, but you can also enjoy some other added benefits. Listphile demonstrates and enables you to use some of these list features in a nice way.

While lists are certainly a part of Listphile, you can also create and share atlases and databases. The integration of voting, images, video, and maps really helps the service to stand out, and you’ve probably never seen lists like this before. Text can only go so far, but adding other visual and interactive elements makes each item stand out. From now on, anything less just won’t be acceptable.

[tags]Listphile, Lists, Voting, Images, Video, Maps, Atlas, Database[/tags]