Showing posts with label Social Networking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Networking. Show all posts

October 9, 2012

Pinterest: Time Waster or Useful Utility?

"What is Pinterest? Why would I want to join? Isn't it just another time-waster?"

 These are questions I see being asked constantly about Pinterest. I'm a Pinterest user. I like it. You can find me there under my Twitter handle LorineMS or by searching for Olive Tree Genealogy.

Here's what the Pinterest site has to say about what Pinterest is for:
Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
Some of my Pinterest Boards
Once registered on Pinterest you simply create Boards and then you start pinning websites on your boards. I started off very simply by creating a Board for Genealogy Websites, Cooking, Technology and Antiques.
More of my Pinterest Boards
 As I filled those boards with my pins, I realized I needed to divide them into more precise categories such as Breakfasts, Slow Cooker Recipes, Veggies to Die For, and so on.  You can get as creative or plain as you want with your Board titles! Pinterest makes it easy to move your pins around if you find you want to create new boards with more specific topics.
One of my many cooking boards
 I use Pinterest to capture recipes that I don't have time to look through carefully. Because when I know I'm going to try a recipe I capture it on Evernote. But if I'm busy but I don't want to read through the recipe and think about whether or not I want to make it, Pinterest is the option I choose to save or bookmark it.
My Genealogy Board of Fav Websites
I also use Pinterest to organize my favourite genealogy websites. All I need to do is "pin" a website that I like. I do this by downloading the Pin It Button which I then can see on my Firefox browser. That means whenever I find a webpage I like (genealogy, cooking, technology, antiques, etc) I simply click on the button. Then I'm offered a choice of available photos from the webpage. I choose one and the photo plus the original site's URL are pinned to whatever board I choose.
Drop Down Menu with Pin It Button
Pinterest is very easy to use. There are drop down menus which allow you to quickly and easily create boards, move your pins from one board to another, reorganize the order of your boards on your Pinterest page, and so on.

Pinterest is also a social tool - you are meant to follow other people's boards and have them follow yours. I like following specific boards rather than every board one person has on their page. So I mainly follow genealogy and cooking boards that appeal to me.

Following other boards allows you to spot a yummy recipe or cool new genealogy website that you didn't know about. Then you repin it to your board of choice and you've got an automatic bookmark/reminder of that site.

There's a couple of drawbacks to Pinterest. You can't pin from Facebook. There may be other sites that are not Pinterest friendly. Some sites don't have any graphics that Pinterest recognizes so that blocks pinning unless you use a workaround I figured out.

Here's what you do if you want to pin a specific webpage but the graphics are not recognized by Pinterest. Copy the URL of the webpage you want to pin (highlight the URL and copy with your mouse).  Now poke around in the site until you find a graphic that Pinterest can use.
You can edit URLs in EDIT PIN mode
 Never mind if it's not the right URL to lead others to the page you want. Right now you just want the graphic. Pin that to your board. Now go in and EDIT that pin. You'll see a field where you can change the URL. This is where you will PASTE the URL you copied previously. Bingo you've got the graphic you want and the correct URL to take viewers directly the appropriate page.

So come and join me on Pinterest! It's fun, it's easy and it's such a cool way to  organize your favourite sites in a visual way.

November 14, 2011

Staying Connected

Have you figured out all the ways you and your family or friends can stay connected online? Or how you can stay connected to your favourite blog or website or personality?

Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Google+? These are a few of the social networking sites that can help you stay connected with friends, family and people whose work or posts you enjoy. 

Take me for example. Here's the many different ways you can follow, like, circle, connect with or interact with me or my Olive Tree Genealogy website, blog or newsletter.


* Follow me on Twitter @LorineMS

That's where folks who tweet have the challenge of sharing information in 142 characters or less. I can interact with others who I follow. They can interact with me. Or I can post my thoughts on any topic I'm interested in and try to get a discussion going.  I can also search for others discussing a topic, by using the Twitter Hashtag (#) followed by the topic name.

Did you know I was chosen as one of Ten People All Genealogists Should Follow On Twitter? That's pretty cool!


* Google+     To circle or follow my website, go to Olive Tree Genealogy

It's a bit easier on Google+ because we have on limitations on how much we say. So for wordy folks like me, it's great! I can share tips with you, or start a discussion on a genealogy topic. Or, as I've been doing recently, posting a few photos of my favourite pieces from my collections of antiques.


* Like my Olive Tree Genealogy page on Facebook.

A summary of the Olive Tree Genealogy and Ask Olive Tree blog posts are posted here every day. Readers can interact or post their own quesions or thoughts. You can also post videos or photographs


* Subscribe to Olive Tree Genealogy free newsletter .

Every so often (once or twice a month) the Olive Tree Genealogy newsletter comes to you in your email or you can go to Yahoo Groups to read it. You can't post to the newsletter, it's an announcement only type of deal. This is where I post updates and announcements of new genealogy added online


I haven't mentioned Olive Tree Genealogy Blog because if you're reading this, you already know that you can post comments and join in any post discussion you wish. 

So there you have it. These are the ways I connect with family and friends, or follow personalities I'm interested in. You may be thinking there is NO WAY you are going to sign up for all these networking options! And you don't have to. Choose the one that suits you best.

But don't overlook the terrific new tools that can keep you connected online.

August 23, 2011

Please Don't Expect to be My Friend if You Won't Tell me Your Name!

One of my pet peeves is when someone on Facebook sends a friend request but they are using a pseudonym (usually something like "GraveSeeker" or "GenieGal" or....) and I have no idea who they are. 

They could send a personal message at the same time as the friend request, something along the lines of "Hey Lorine we met at the Genealogy Conference in Boston. I'm Janis of AncestorsRUs" or "Hi Lorine, we've never met but I'm the webmaster on AncestorsRUs website"  But they don't.

So off I go to GraveSeeker or GenieGal's Profile page, only to find that's no help either. They have no identifying information on their profile page, no indication of who they really are, what their interests are or how they know me. 

It truly puzzles me. But an interesting thing happened recently on Facebook. I got one of those anonymous friend requests. Facebook kindly informed me we had 57 mutual friends. A look showed me that they were genealogy people I know and who my anonymous requester was also friends with.

So I asked around - who is this person? And guess what - no one I asked had a clue who she/he was! It seems everyone I asked was accepting his/her friend request based on the fact that so many other friends were accepting. Now maybe someone in that friend list knows who this person really is. But why is GraveSeeker (or GenieGal or whover) making us work that hard to find out?

I dunno, maybe it's just me but I feel uneasy about letting a complete stranger who won't even use his/her real name see my personal family photos or read my status updates and have a glimpse into my life.

Sorry Ms./Mr. Anonymous but I won't be accepting that friend request.

August 18, 2011

Small World Experiment (6 Degrees of Separation)

 Yahoo  and Facebook are joining forces to test a social experiment that showed there are just six degrees of separation between most people on the planet.

The current Small World experiment -- anyone with a Facebook account can participate by going to -- could help determine that. The study is intended as academic social research and will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, said Watts, a widely recognized authority on social networks.

From the Small World Experiment website:

The Small World Experiment is designed to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world can get a message to anyone else in just "six degrees of separation" by passing it from friend to friend. Sociologists have tried to prove (or disprove) this claim for decades, but it is still unresolved.
Basically you sign up as a sender. You are given a target somewhere in the world, and a message to send. Using your Facebook account you send the message to one person. That person sends it on and so it goes until it reaches the intended target. Sounds like a bit of fun and you'll be helping social research.

July 11, 2011

Jumping on the Google+ Bandwagon

Last week I finally got an invite to join Google+. Why do I say "finally"? Because invites have been few and far between, and even those who were lucky enough to receive an early invitation were often shut out. Google opted to keep the doors to Google+ shut much of the time, preferring instead to control how many new members were using the site at any one time.

If you don't know what Google+ is, it's actually called the Google+ Project. That's its official name. You can read about it at the official website. I love going there because I get a little notice saying I'm part of a small group of people who are helping to test this new offering by Google. Makes me feel important!

All levity aside, Google+ is pretty cool. It's a new social networking site and having played around in it for several days now I'm categorizing it as a combination of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype. A good combination. Google does it well.


In Google+ you have Circles. They consist of your social network. Your Circles can hold  friends, family members, business associates, people whose comments you want to follow but you don't necessarily know. You set your own circles and then you simply click and drag to drop people into them. It's a great interface and easily managed. People can be in more than one circle and that's important if you want to filter your news stream.

For example, I have 91 people in my circles now. That's not very many but the chatter on my news stream is constant and sometimes overwhelming. So I put some of those 91 people into a second circle I called "FAVS". Now I can filter my news stream to only see posts by those people in my FAVS circle. I can still see the others by choosing any circles I want, or all my circles. So I might pull in my FAVS several times a day but only pull in all my circles once a day.


Google+ also has Hangouts. These are Video Chats where you very quickly start a Hangout by dragging and dropping a friend or an entire Circle into the Hangout with you. Bingo you are chatting. You can enable or disable your webcam if you're in your PJs and someone drags you into a Hangout. You can also mute your microphone and simply chat by text. I haven't actually been to a Hangout yet. I started one but no one was online that I was comfortable chatting with. I want to start with a good friend or family member first. 


In Sparks you choose an interest (I chose "genealogy") and add it to your personal Sparks. Sparks then provides you with a constant feed of news about your topic of interest. It's easy to keep up with the latest happenings and share things with other friends who have the same interests. I've got "genealogy" and "recipes" going right now but am going to play with Sparks and see what else I can get. It's kind of like a Google Alert except it's not coming into your email box.


This is what I'm loving most about Google+. When I am in my gmail account for example, I can see my Google+ notifications at a glance. I can comment on posts directly from my gmail. I can see who has added me to their circles and I can add them to mine right in my gmail account. No need to open another browser window or leave my mail program. This is a big plus in my opinion.


Profiles are your personal page with your information. You share what you wish to share and you have complete control over your privacy settings. One thing I suggest is that when you join Google+ take a few minutes and fill out your Profile completely, including a photo, before you start adding people to your Circles. It will make it much easier for your friends to determine if you are the right Sally Smith they want to have in their circle if they can see a photo and a little information about you!


I've got a lot more exploring to do in Google+ and I've got a lot more to learn about how things work and how I can make it work for me. But I've learned a couple of things that might be of interest to some of my readers.

Vanity URL

Your default profile page link is long and unwieldy. But Google+ has a way for you to make it memorable. You simply add your gmail account name (mine is olivetreegenealogy) to  So mine becomes  (Add me to your circles if you are on Google+ and want to connect)

If you don't have a gmail account you can choose any available username to tack onto the end of

I don't advise using a third party service such as gplus (which is not a Google service) to create a vanity URL. Why would you do that when Google+ does it for you quickly and easily?


Many of us are genealogy bloggers and we want our blog posts or titles to go to Twitter and Facebook and now to Google+. So I hunted around and discovered that you can sync Google Buzz to your blog(s) and then enable Buzz in your Profile. That pulls your blogs in to Google+.  I'm pretty sure there will be a better way, if not at present, soon, but for now I'm using this method. I'd love to hear from anyone whose figured out another more efficient way of pulling in an RSS feed!

+1 Button

 This is similar to the Facebook "Like" button. If you read a post from someone in your circles and you think it's great, click the +1 button. That tells others reading it that you consider it interesting or thought-provoking or humorous. You can also Share it with others and pass on good posts that way.


I've only been in Google+ a few days. But I like it. I like it a lot. I will at some point have to decide how I'm going to manage my social networks. Will I give up Facebook in favour of Google+? Is there room for both in my life (with some tweaking so that there is no duplication)? Is Google+ a flash in the pan?

I want to interect with  other genealogists and bloggers. I want to keep up with emerging technology, and I'm going to be choosing the platform(s) that best enable me to do those three things. Perhaps I will keep Facebook  for Family connections and Google+ for everything else? I don't know yet but I'll be considering my options carefully over the next few weeks.

I don't want more work. I don't want more reading. So my final decision will be carefully thought out with one of the main criterias being that my work load does not increase.