Using iTunes to backup your music

iTunes to CD-DVD

Now here’s a tip I’ve been waiting for. It’s not rocket science. It’s iTunes science!

How to backup your iTunes music library, and most importantly of all, keep it backed up. I used to walk around in a constant state of paranoia that all my music was about to vanish. Now I can relax a bit.

From the blog One Digital Life which is full of useful stuff.

Big Companies Do Nice Stuff

I’ve had two good experiences today. Both nice things that companies have done. So in the spirit of helping to spread good stuff I’m going to talk about them.
O2 treatsFirst I’m going to praise O2. I’ve had some relatively poor experiences with them in the past, but anecdotally no worse than anyone ever has with a mobile company. But today I got a text message letting me know that I could get a ‘treat’, all I had to do was phone a freephone number and choose what I wanted. (Note: being a sceptic I went and checked the T&Cs online first. But they’d told me how to do that too, which is good). Anyway I called, and I got offered:

  • 40 free off peak minutes a month
  • Unlimited texts every day between 7 and 8pm
  • 40 free texts a month

All on top of my normal package. It’s not like they’re bank-busting offers for O2, but they made me feel nice for a few minutes. I told a load of people in the office, and now I’m writing about it.

The second company to do something good today is Telewest. And it’s all around paperless billing.

Telewest Future Forest

Lots of people offer paperless billing, some incentivise it with cash, some play the environmental card, both are good reasons for me to consider it. But Telewest have gone one step further with their environmental pitch. They’ve teamed up with Future Forests, and if you sign up for ebilling they dedicate a tree to you (or a loved one) in the Telewest Forest. I thought that was sweet.

PEZ MP3 Player

pez mp3 player

Who cares about Apple, Creative Labs, Sony and all those guys. Surely the best MP3 players simply have to be made by Pez. It’s got a tiny memory, looks really flmsy, the battery life is bound to be shocking. But there’s something strangely desirable about this PEZ MP3 Player.

The site I found it on has some other really nice stuff in stock too: nice teeshirts, rude trainers, and more.

Feedburner – RSS + nice touches

feedburner page

I’m now going to attempt a cunning blog maneuver, I’m going to try and join two recent posts together (admittedly in a bit of a clumsy way).
Feedburner is a really cool service for bloggers or web site owners. It allows you to make your RSS feeds much more manageable and measurable. It helps end-users to subscribe to your feeds by creating a page that is accessible to almost any web browser, and then gives you a choice of how you’d like to subscribe to a feed. It handles this in a dynamic fashion: if your browser can deal with feeds it doesn’t get in the way, if it can’t, Feedburner steps in and helps.

Anyway, in my quest to make more sense of RSS feeds I was browsing through my Feedburner pages, and I chanced upon this:

feedburner dialogue box

I thought this was another really nice example of a charming (if very US-centric) dialogue box. Rather than saying ‘you must be registered to view this page’ and not letting me see anything. It dims out the underlying content (see main image) thereby teasing me in, as well as up-selling in an approachable human way.

I liked it anyway.

RSS what?

marketing sherpa logo
According to a report from Marketing Sherpa:

Currently at least 75 million consumers and businesspeople in the USA and UK use RSS on a regular basis. However, depending on which study’s stats you believe, only 17-32% of RSS users actually know they’re using RSS.

I don’t find this at all hard to believe. I use RSS all the time, lots of people I know use RSS, but without knowing what RSS actually is or how it works. Before trying to write a definition of RSS I did about 10 minutes of fruitless searching, attempting to find a definition that you didn’t have to be a techie to understand. I couldn’t. I’m sure that there are simple definitions out there. But all the ones I found tended to stray off into scary things like XML definitions.

Having tried (and in most instances failed) to tell clients about RSS feeds the most useful description of RSS I’ve found is something like this:

“Using RSS you can make your website content very portable. It takes the most important information: titles, text, links and images. And makes it easy for you, or other people to display it in the way they choose. An RSS feed enables people to view your site content on their phone, on their computer, on other websites (MyYahoo, Google personal home page, etc.). It gives you extra distribution channels for your content with almost no extra effort.”

That’s the fundamentals (as I see them). Of course there’s loads more you can do with RSS, but as a basic description this sort of works for me. If my dummies definition misses lots of important things please let me know.

Smart Error Page – Odeo

Odeo Error Page

You know those pages that come up when a web page has moved, or you’ve typed the address in wrong? (For the technically minded they’re called 404 errors, but you don’t really need to know that unless you’re in the business). You don’t see as many of them as you used to, but they’re still around.

This is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, from Odeo. Why do I like it? Well it’s not the copy, it doesn’t even read proper to me. It’s the fact that they’ve got a cute little tickbox that allows me to say that I’m not happy about the page being missing. From what I can tell it doesn’t actually do anything (maybe it gives them some reporting behind the scenes, but it’s invisible to the user).

But that’s not the point. It lets me get the frustration of ‘the machine’ not working off my chest.

I’m halfway through writing a piece on ’emotional architecture’; how you can create emotionally positive results by doing simple things with your website. And how this should be built into your site planning process. I may never finish it, but this is a good example of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Videos From the Googleplex

Google have released a heap of videos from their internal archives:

In addition to helping distribute content from across the world, Google would like to share videos featuring our company.

Some great stuff in there, especially the ever-brilliant Seth Godin doing a presentation that seems to cover the central themes of a selection of his books in under 50 minutes. I saw Seth present years ago when he was at Yahoo! and he’s always stuck in my mind as one of the most natural and compelling presenters out there.
Visit Videos From the Googleplex