Thursday, April 23, 2009

Paying it forward .... twitter style

The amazing thing about twitter, is the almost instantaneous nature of the conversation (or referred to as "tweets" from the twittersphere). The tweets are usually short and to the point, and really, how can they not be, when you are only allowed up to 140 characters per tweet?

So how does one pay it forward on twitter?

Firstly, paying it forward...

Paying it forward, if you weren't sure, is a concept by which I try to live my life by, and I know others do the same. To pay it forward, simply means helping out someone randomnly (unplanned) in a way that potentially may give that person the necessary leg up so that they can achieve something important in their life. To you it is nothing of any great significance, and doesn't really cause you any discomfort, mentally, emotionally, physically, nor financially.

To the recipient however, your paying it forward may just be the missing piece in the puzzle for them to achieve something positive/life changing/life saving from their life, for their life. For example, placing some spare change into a parking meter, allows a person to park (they may actually have no money), and make that critical job interview on time, therefore win the interview process, get the job, and become employed for the first time in two years. What did it cost you.... $3.20 perhaps. But for them, that $3.20 helped them get their life back on track.

So, I understand the concept of paying it forward, now how can I pay it forward on twitter?

Twitter works on building a social/business network by finding people to follow, and people follow you..... and so it goes.

You can pay it forward by simply connecting two people, who may not know each other, together, and you have paid it forward, because you are the middle link.

  • Someone may be on hard times and needs that leg up.... you know someone who can assist, and by bringing them together, you have paid it forward.
  • You come across some information tweeted by someone you follow, and you think it is interesting enough to retweet (share it again)... this information then goes out to all of your followers, maybe onto someone who really needs this tweet... you have paid it forward.

Paying it forward on twitter can really work. What does it cost you? Apart from your time... nothing.

So, the next time you feel an urge to share the love, I have three words to share...

Pay It Forward

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why I choose BlackBerry as my communication device

If you didn't already know, I am @TferThomas on twitter, and it is crystal clear from my tweets I am very passionate about BlackBerrys and mobilised technology, and yes, I will fess up, I am biased.

Having said that though, I will NEVER EVER rubbish a person's mobile/smart phone choice. It is a basic fundamental right, as individuals, to be just that, an individual, and choose your weapon... oops, I mean phone, of choice.

As a result of my passionate tweeting of all things BlackBerry, a number of people have actually taken the time to ask me .... well, why? So the point of this blog post, is to try to explain why I choose BlackBerry as my weapon for communication (ha ha).

For the purpose of this blog post, I will use specifically my 9000 Bold as the example (I also have an 8100 Pearl and an 8300 Curve), and cover off what features and add on's that I use (this is NOT an exhaustive list).

Standard capabilities, staying in touch:
The BlackBerry Bold has a number of standard inbuilt features to enhance and make easier your day to day communication with others:​

• It is a phone....
do I really need to explain this any further, apart from a lot of people don't realise you can make conference calls, straight out of the box.​

•It has an email function...
apart from linking your web based email addresses to your BlackBerry (which can be done with basically any phone these days), by utilising a BlackBerry BIS plan (Business Internet Service, and no I am not going near BES, Business Enterprise Service, in this blog), you can have up to 10 email addresses pushed to your BlackBerry. Currently I am running 8 email addresses, neatly and tidily. Under most BlackBerry plans that I have seen, for a monthly BlackBerry plan fee, the number of emails per month is unlimited.​

• It can SMS...
Or as a colleague of mine calls it "Short Message System". Again, I don't need to waste time here.​

• It has MMS...
Multi-Media Messaging Service. Basically like a text message but for multi-media.​

• For BlackBerry owners across the world, we are spoiled with PIN messaging...
A messaging service between BlackBerry devices, using their individual PINs that are unique to each BlackBerry device (consisting of alpha and numeric characters). It is included in your BlackBerry Plan, and to talk to someone else, you must first introduce yourself and ask they accept you (sort of instant messaging, but only between consenting BlackBerrys)​

• IM...
Instant Messaging. This is the same service you can access and use on your PC, lap top or Mac etc, but is a mobilised, cut down version. A good example of this is the third party applications from MSN, Google and Yahoo. I must say, as a result of twitter, I very rarely use Google Talk these days, but it is still on the BlackBerry... just in case.

So, yes, you say, most of these are available (apart from PIN messaging) on my phone or smart phone. That's true, but then we start adding to the communication (both social and business) ability of the BlackBerry with dedicated specifically designed third party applications:

Who hasn't heard of twitter? Basically twitter is a social and business networking tool, where you start by answering a simple question... "what are you doing?" which needs to be provided in 140 characters or less. You find people to follow, and people follow you. Yes, I know you know what it's all about, and there are a heap of twitterers out there who blog about using twitter every moment of every day, so I don't need to reinvent the wheel here.

Currently, I have access to 5 twitter tools:
1. twitterberry (twitter for BlackBerry) via a dedicated icon on your home screen (or wherever you decide to place it)
2. SocialScope (tool which integrates with twitter and facebook, via a dedicated icon)
3. yatca (yet another twitter client application, which works not only from a dedicated icon on your home screen, as well as from your option menus from any program's menu (very handy)
4. Viigo (as it is in beta testing, cannot say anything else here), but has a dedicated icon, and one of my used third party applications, and
5. Another one that is even more secretive from an existing webmail provider (and is integrated within the menu options). ;)

And as you only have 140 characters, you need to be able to shorten any posted url s, and sure you can use (a web based url shortening site) or you can download bit.lify by Ubiquitous Systems onto your BlackBerry, which then adds a further option in your BlackBerry menu within any BlackBerry program.... very handy. Again, unlike tinyurl, this is a third party application that has been designed to integrate into the BlackBerry's menus.

Yep, I still have the "L Plates" on here as only a very recent, albeit unconvinced, Facebook participant. Via Facebook for BlackBerry 1.5 I can converse with my friends, view comments, send messages, upload photos, write on walls, etc.

I also use Socialscope which enables me to do some of these things, including uploading photos. And from the other "secret" web based application, again similar functions. Further, I can send a tweet (including photos, using as the bridge) to twitter, & it also updates my Facebook page... pretty cool hey?

Voice activation is hear to stay with the BlackBerry, and with every application designed, it keeps getting more and more refined. Vlingo allows you to:
• Complete searches on the internet
• Compose and send updates to twitter and Facebook
• Compose and send SMS'
• Compose and send emails
All by using your voice (Google has recently introduced a voice activated search function as well for BlackBerrys (and no doubt almost every other phone operating system type). Furthermore, Vlingo again, like yatca and bit.lify is integrated into the BlackBerry's menu options.

I am sure most people have heard of Flickr, and the BlackBerry version, from a dedicated icon on your home screen, allows you to upload your photos to your Flickr account, which people can view etc. Why have I included Flickr as a communication tool?

Have a read of this....

"You've been sent a Flickr Mail from Emma J. Williams:


:: Schmap Melbourne Seventh Edition: Photo Inclusion

Hi Thomas,

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released
seventh edition of our Schmap Melbourne Guide:

Flinders Street Station

On a desktop computer, you can see exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the our guide at:

Flinders Street Station

Finally, if you have a blog, you might also like to check
out the customizable widgetized version of our Schmap
Melbourne Guide, complete with your published photo:

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please enjoy the guide!

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides


By uploading this picture onto Flickr, via my Flickr account, Emma and I were able to connect.

In essence...
What I really like about all of these applications (some more so than others) is that they all integrate really rather seamlessly in with the BlackBerry OS (Operating System), which makes it dead easy for me to communicate with others, quickly and very efficiently.

Originally, the BlackBerry was a business tool for the high flyers, large corporates, or key government departments. Now, it's a totally different story... building on the second to none email efficiency and ability, the BlackBerry now appeals to a much wider audience (hey, I even know of a 16 year old girl who has one).

The BlackBerry allows me to stay in touch, without the need for a laptop, desk, or even office. And that my friends, the very essence of flexibility and availability, is why I choose BlackBerry as my communication device, my phone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paying it forward... simply put

One thing that I can confidently say is on twitter (, I am well known for promoting the concept of "paying it forward". Well, at least with my twitter friends, and my friends, colleagues and peers in person.

A common question people ask when interacting on twitter, is how do I "pay it forward"? Hmmm, good question, and one that I shall now try to cover off here.

Firstly, paying it forward is never something you could say is pre meditated. Instead, you pay it forward, when the moment grabs you.... or spur of the moment, totally off the cuff. So being in tune with your inner self is important. Some call it your higher self, others refer to it as your sixth sense, but whichever it is... listen carefully to it. It is normally right.

Secondly, a paying it forward action should never have real negative implications for yourself. For example, putting some loose change into a parking meter (something I have done) is not really going to tax your overall position financially, where as spending $5,000 on a random someone just may. Paying it forward comes from someone who "can" to someone who possibly "can't".

Thirdly, paying it forward is done without having to think "what will I get out of this?" The very point of paying it forward, is to do it when you get the opportunity, done randomly, and with zero expectations to receiving anything in kind. Rest assured though, when you are in need, pay it forward comes full circle.

So the next time you get a feeling to help someone out, listen to that feeling, run with that feeling, and pay it forward.