November 2012 – Stay N Alive

Help Me Sell My New Book – Get Free Stuff!

Who wants to help me promote Google+ Marketing For Dummies? I need volunteers to share my new book, now available on Amazon ( in the best way they are able. This can be through an ad that stays on your blog for a month, a mention to your audience as many times as possible over the next month, a shoutout in your email list – let me know in the comments what you’re willing to do. Here’s what you get if I agree to your offer:

1. I’ll send you a free, signed copy of the book, and an extra book to give to your audience.
2. Some time in the next month (first come, first serve), I’ll do a post on featuring a few items I notice with your website or social presence that I think you can improve (let me know what you’d like me to look over with your offer).
3. I’ll give you a free code for 1 week on Pluralsight to access my courses (and others) on Facebook and Google+, and get a screencast-overview of my best tips for marketing on Google+.

Let me know in the comments what you might be able to do to help sell Google+ Marketing For Dummies in the next month, and I’ll contact each of you to arrange the above items as you’re able to help out. I’m also open to other ideas if you have something grand planned!

Moving Forward From My "Mormon Moment"

As some of you may be aware, I have spent the last, almost 3 years, helping to grow Social Media in what some have perceived as very much a pioneering role for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Consulting for them for years before, I started just over a year after Barack Obama was elected and Mitt Romney had lost the Primaries to John McCain, myself being perhaps the first person at the Church with the word “Social” in their title. My, thanks to the work of many, have we accomplished a lot since then! It is with sadness and a sense of completion and accomplishment that I now move on from that role, to now serve as Director of Social Media for Deseret Digital Media.

When I first met with the Church, back around 2007, the beginning of Twitter and Facebook, social media was new, and foreign. In many ways, in a time that pre-dates Romney’s run for President, the Church was too. I still remember when Venturebeat “scooped” that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was trying to purchase Facebook (which, in case for any reason you were wondering, was completely and as far from the truth as you could come). What was funny was I had been on contract with Facebook shortly before that (writing tech docs for the company), and had been consulting directly with the Church at the time the article was written. I smiled as I saw the news, but mostly kept my mouth shut. These were 2 foreign organizations that people were very curious about!

Since that time, I remember the vision of a technology that could, just as in the Bible, and just as in The Book of Mormon (as Mormons believe complements the Bible), allow a religion’s message to reach “every nation, kindred, and tongue”, without the need for door-knocking, street preaching, or soapboxing. With these new technologies, one could truly reach the people that were actually interested in and seeking a message, rather than finding a needle in a haystack. The “small villages” of scriptural times were back with the advent of social media.

Within that time we were able to go from just a single Twitter account at (now, to now hundreds of Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, and Google+ Pages, as well as Youtube channels with views in the millions. We worked on growing the strength and understanding of social media within the organization. I remember at the beginning much of my work was just in training people the value of what social media could do. Now that’s no longer a question, but rather a point of “how has it helped us?”

We achieved Facebook “like” buttons on all articles on and began to grow shares of our message. We built numerous campaigns. We were able to expand our advertising efforts. We built community. All of this was the work of many, and I appreciated every person I was able to work with and help in these efforts. I also appreciate the amazing trust people put in me as I helped each of those that needed it.

What I appreciated most during this period though were the individuals I was able to touch, both directly, and indirectly. From training individuals at the Church, to working with ecclesiastical leaders and those at the local congregational level. I appreciated the opportunity to reach out to people during the New Zealand and Japan earthquakes, and especially my dear friends in South Asia who so sincerely want to use these tools to spread a beautiful message to the people of India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong, some of Social Media’s largest audiences. I hope these relationships will continue as I move onto other professional pursuits. I feel the momentum is finally in place to where I can move on and help in my next pursuit.

What will I be doing next? As I mentioned, I have accepted a position as Director of Social Media for Deseret Digital Media. As some of my friends may know, I previously worked in publishing, and love the publishing industry. Deseret Digital Media, actually still owned by the Church (but keeps itself at a distance to an extent), owns the digital presence of,, (a crowd-sourced movie and TV ratings site), and many other digital presences that span from Salt Lake only, to an entire global presence targeting wholesome, family valued content for its viewers and readers. It is a for-profit company of which I’m excited to begin work on finding ways to increase those profits, find new and better ad products for their advertisers, and to grow their presence to an even greater capacity globally and help families around the world connect better. It is a fun and exciting challenge for the next phase in my life, and one where I think I can again, just like I feel I did at the Church, make a dent for the good of the world. I’m excited to learn from, lead and grow with those I’ll work with there.

I debated strongly in this move of going back to an entrepreneurial effort (where I was before the Church). For varying reasons including a family of 8, I felt I could accomplish more in this role, and could still on the side keep the efforts I have with SocialToo, this blog, my books, and my training courses on Pluralsight. I anticipate all those efforts, and perhaps more, to continue to grow and prosper as I push forward in this new role.

I will miss all those I worked with at the Church – from Church Ecclesiastical Leaders, to Managing Directors, to the employees getting things done and helping move the work forward. They were some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with – former Novell execs, successful entrepreneurs, and Microsoft execs to name a few, to successful scientists, businessmen, and doctors. It has been one of the most amazing, rewarding, and fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had.

Lastly, on a personal note as a member of the Church, which I am still an active part of, my testimony of this Church, after working “in the trenches” and seeing it from the inside, remains stronger than ever. I have seen our Leaders – the President and Prophet himself (Thomas S. Monson), to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to the members of the Quorum of the 70 that aid those with the keys, truly lead this Church through God. They are certainly not perfect, but what they have to say is important, and their callings and the mantle they hold is divine. They have my full support and love moving forward.

I can’t wait to see where the foundation that has been laid for social media in the Church takes us. The future is bright, and full of opportunity – while “the Mormon Moment” may be over for me at least as an employee, the best of “the Mormon Moment” for the Church I think is yet to come.

The Microsoft Surface’s Beauty is Only "Surface Deep"

As a long-time Microsoft fan (my first computers were all PCs), and with all my excitement about Windows 8, I was very excited about the Microsoft Surface. In fact, I was so excited that despite Press not getting complimentary Surface tablets (or even trial ones) at Microsoft’s recent Windows Build conference, I went out and bought my own. With all the hype Microsoft was giving it – run all your Windows apps across every Microsoft device, in a beautiful, comfortable environment – I was anxious to try it out! It took a few days, but despite my initial excitement, today I returned my Microsoft Surface RT and will not consider a new one until I’m confident they fix a few things.

The Pros

When I first opened my Surface, it was a  beautiful experience. From the Microsoft Store here in Bellevue, Washington (the busiest I’ve ever seen a Microsoft Store), to the packaging of the product, to the shiny, beautiful hardware that Microsoft had created with the Surface RT. Then, you turn it on. It has beautiful fonts. Beautiful colors. A bright, shiny beautiful screen that draws you in. It’s not the Windows you grew up with.

Installation was a little slow, but I anticipate that’s the Windows experience loading all the information it has on you in SkyDrive, as well as any new updates that may have loaded since it first launched (oddly, after 1 week from their launch, even after it first booted up, I still had 4 new updates in Windows Update to apply). All that was okay though because the interface was just beautiful. It is by far Microsoft’s most beautiful device and operating system to date.

My initial impressions were pretty good. In fact, they lasted for a day or two after first opening it. This device really takes several days to really do a good review. The biggest excitement for me was the ability to be able to run Microsoft Office – on a tablet! As a writer, my publisher has specific templates I have to use for my writing, but some times I like to just sit in front of my TV, or maybe even the beach in Hawaii, and write in places that aren’t always convenient for a laptop. Having a fully functional Microsoft Office was very exciting for me!

Then there is the SkyDrive integration. I was able to integrate all my favorite social networks, all built into the operating system, and have SkyDrive remember the authorization for each. Then, under the “People” tile, it would show me the updates from my friends and I could respond right from the OS, no other app to install! The thing is this thing almost doesn’t need a Facebook app (Facebook hasn’t shown interest yet in building a Windows 8 app) – it’s built into the operating system!

In addition, I could pull in my photos from Facebook and Flickr and elsewhere and load those, right inside the OS. When I need a photo for a blog post? Facebook and Flickr now become options on top of the other folders on the drive. It all integrates seamlessly and smoothly into the operating system.

The touch keyboard turned out to be very nice. I was a little worried at first, but as I got used to it I started to realize I can actually type faster on the touch keyboard than I can on my laptop or a traditional spring keyboard (Microsoft sells those as well) because my fingers don’t have to go down as far and I don’t have to press as hard. I don’t know how that works ergonomically, but I could definitely type faster, once I got used to where the keys were.

Here’s why I’m selling it

There were a few other features (Microsoft Music is pretty cool, for instance), but that’s where it ended. The thing is, with the exception of the touch keyboard, all of these are Windows 8 core features anyway – none of them are very unique to the Surface itself. And Windows 8 is still pretty cool! The Surface however, I soon found, would lag as I typed. It was slow. Very slow, and it didn’t take much to achieve that.

I found that something as simple as using Google Reader, as I hit the “j” and “k” keys on my keyboard to go back and forward through items, it would go quickly at first, but then after I went through about 20 or so items on the page (I read hundreds of news feeds a day – follow to see my shares from that) it would slow down, considerably, to the point that it wasn’t even usable.

I noticed this on other websites as well. I also noticed it within various apps, such as browsing through photos, or watching videos. Microsoft Office tends to lag. Mail doesn’t respond well.

I really wanted to like it. I really did like it for many reasons on the surface. However, when it comes to what lies beneath – the hardware, I’m afraid Microsoft put this operating system on a piece of hardware that just isn’t powerful enough to power it. Microsoft launched this thing too early – period.

On a $200 or $300 tablet, I would likely forgive these things. For the UI itself, it’s worth keeping at that price. But at the $700 price point for the 64GB version I purchased, Microsoft should do better. They’re trying to compare themselves to Apple at that price point, and have specifically done so in their demonstrations and advertising. If you’re going to compare yourself to Apple, your entire experience needs to work together fluidly, fast, and smoothly. Unfortunately, with Microsoft, it’s not what’s on the Surface that counts – they’ve got to be paying attention to how fast it can run.

Will I buy one later? I want to see if Microsoft fixes these slowness issues. They can do this with both operating system updates and through perhaps the upgrade of the Surface Pro, which should run on a faster processor (scheduled to come out in January). I may give it a try then. Until then, Microsoft has lost my trust with this one – I feel they tricked me. And with that, it’s going to take some effort to gain my trust back again.

Maybe they can try installing some of these to make it go faster?

Photo courtesy Justin Allen.

You can also see I’m not the only one with this experience:

Chris Pirillo’s review:
TechCrunch’s review:

Microsoft is Finally Achieving What it Set Out to Do With Passport – the Key is Consistency

Back in the year 2000, before “the cloud” was even a marketing term, Microsoft launched a product known as “Passport”, a product touted to be the end-all-be-all of identity services that developers could integrate into their products for identity and storage of personal information. I remember because I was a developer at that time and I recall looking into what the company I worked for at the time needed to do to integrate it into our product.

The problem at that time, however is that most people only had Desktop computers and therefore not as much a need to have a consistent identity as they do in today’s mobile-centric, “post-PC” world. The product pretty much failed, and was revived a little later as Live ID. It’s safe to say that Microsoft, like Marty of “Back to the Future” was ahead of his time. With the release of Windows 8 however, it looks like Microsoft is finally back in their own time, and the future looks sweet.

A Consistent Experience

The one word to describe Windows 8 as opposed to the former Windows is consistency. In previous versions you had Pocket PC followed by Windows Mobile followed by Windows Phone for the mobile experience. Then on the Xbox you had an entirely different experience. And on the Desktop it was just “Windows”.

Windows 8 fixes that, however. With Windows 8, now all Microsoft devices will be powered by the same operating system, same underlying architecture, same SDKs for developers to build their apps under, and even a consistent cloud architecture through Azure and SkyDrive (for users) that follows you across each device you use. Microsoft is also building apps for 3rd party devices to continue that experience there as well. The result is a brand that follows you wherever you go.

Good for Developers

Finally, developers can “build once, write everywhere”. When building apps to put in Microsoft’s new Windows Store, it takes only a few tweaks to format those apps to work on the Surface, on Windows Phone 8, as well as even Xbox and any other device that supports the Windows 8 experience.

Expect games like Halo on the Xbox 360 to have versions that work on your phone, your Surface, or your Desktop. Even the Xbox controller and Kinect SDKs are consistent, and simple to integrate for your apps across multiple devices.

A Writer’s Dream

Through Microsoft Office 365, I can now have all my books, posts, and writing sync’d across multiple devices. I get the experience that most people expect, meaning I can use the same interface my publisher wants me to use for the templates they provide for my books. Finally, I can write my books even on my phone or tablet device – that’s pretty powerful!

Passport is Back, With a Vengeance

Microsoft Passport is finally back, in this case the form is as your “Microsoft ID” or “Windows ID”. It’s accompanied by SkyDrive, and now whenever I log in with my ID, all my preferences follow me from computer to computer. This even includes authorizations I’ve given to Facebook and Google and Twitter, and all my friends in those place! My photos follow me. My lock screen will even follow me if I want it to. All my settings can follow me wherever I go.

I’m loving the new Microsoft, because it means that all of the sudden your desktop machine or phone or tablet are all just “Windows devices”. In the new Windows world it shouldn’t matter what type of device you are on – all the apps you love on Windows follow you wherever you go.

Microsoft is finally where it wants to be, and it will only get better from here.

This post was typed entirely on my Microsoft Surface – something I bought with my own money