Friday, May 28, 2010

Day Twelve: Internet Explorer - Outcast

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

Winston Churchill

Before leaping into this project, we attended an industry seminar on blogging. The presenters one and all basically advised: "To understand blogging, you must blog."

So we did.

At this same event, some bright spark asked about browsers; apparently the majority of peeps these days use Mozilla's Firefox (yes, even on PCs)...not good ol' Internet Explorer. One presenter put us all on the spot and asked disdainfully..."Is anyone still using Internet Explorer?"
One brave lass put up her hand. The audience chortled under their collective breath. (We sat on our hands, rather than walk into the trap.)

Days later, we switched to Firefox; obviously the cool people use that. Weeks later, have to admit, still not enamoured of Firefox, but continue to use because the "cool" people use it. (We promised our kids not to use that "C" word under any circumstance...apparently we're too old to peddle that term, along with "dude" and other such favorites.)

We digress.

Having learned another browser, it was disconcerting to find out that the coolest of cool browsers these days is TweetDeck. Heaven forbid. It's heavy going keeping abreast of all this newfangled technology, but TweetDeck is mesmerising...

We've fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

TweetDeck looks like the control panel in a jumbo jet. It's a giant four-columned dashboard which manages all your social media. Twitter itself is a little Disney-esque for our liking and you have to move between screens to read incoming news alerts and then post a message, for example. TweetDeck is clever because you can see everything at a glance, deleting, cutting and pasting, clicking through, tracking people or companies. The program links you to apps like Flickr, FourSquare as well as the obvious -- Twitter. It's like Winston Churchill's war room.

Best feature we've found so far is the facility to autoshrink tweets and translate them into one of any of the world's most popular languages. (I started with Afrikaans, and stopped myself at Cantonese...could spend all day doing this.) More to the point there is an option to schedule posts to multiple social media. Haven't quite figured out how to do this yet, but before the day is over we plan to do so.

Dare you to translate this sentence into Galician and tweet to us from TweetDeck! I'll c u when u get there:

Coolio...(sorry kids).

Posted by: Claire

Day Eleven: Counting Your Chickens

Well, now that you have your blog up and running, it's essential to ensure that you are attracting and expanding your target audience. Fortunately, there are some very handy tools to help you monitor your progress.

Bravenet and Google Analytics are just two of the possible counters, for lack of a better term, which enable dopes, doyennes, and everyone in between to track their traffic. Happily, both services are free of charge.

You need to know who is visiting, how they found you and what they were looking for. Both Google Analytics and Bravenet provide you an incredibly sophisticated perspective on website usage and, if you map trends, help you to orient the site to attract the right people.

Here's a brief, simplified, and by no means complete summary of the data you can access:

Visits--not particularly useful; 100 visits could be 100 people visiting once or 1 person viewing site 100 times.

Unique Visitors--this is the metric that matters--a visitor that has not visited your website today.

Page Views--total number of time page reloads–-could be that one person--your mom, your secretary, or your stalker. Also could be an ever increasing fan base.

Page Views Per Visit.

Bounce Rate--how many people make it to your home page and then go away immediately. Experts say if you are getting 35% then you’re doing really well; 50% is average. Like your golf score and your weight, lower is generally better. Although, if they depart quickly it may mean that the visitor found what he needed on the home page, such as address or opening hours.

Exit Page.

Traffic Sources--where your visitors are coming from--is it other sites, search engines, etc.

Future topic: what to do with these numbers once you crunch them. Meanwhile, have a lovely holiday weekend; we intend to take a break from blogging and hit the beach.

Posted by: Keri

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day Ten: Read on if You Value Your Privacy...

"Facebook Privacy Tips? What a bizarre title. If you truly want privacy DON'T use Facebook. Simple. really."

So tweeted one reader in response to's informative article, 5 Essential Facebook Privacy Tips.

We get what they mean having just read this article, and explored behind the scenes on our own Facebook (FB) accounts. Please read the above linked article and take steps to protect yourselves - and your kids - from prying eyes. It'll take you about 10 minutes all told and involves about 40 separate processes. Annoyingly, FB's default setting for everything is "everyone"... and there is no global change setting to restrict info to your "friends" only. So this is an uphill task, but persevere.

Take one example of why it's worth doing this; unless you're smarter than we are, and have already obscured your birthdate, then everyone with Internet access has access to this piece of info. By everyone we mean everyone...not just the universe of Facebook users. It's out there for all and sundry to see.

It's not that we're precious about our age but just think for a moment how frequently you use this information as the first line of security in many of your relationships with third-parties - with your online bank say, an online retailer, with your utility provider perhaps. It's one of those pieces of information, much like your email address or your zipcode, by which we identify ourselves to others.

OMG, this is beginning to sound like a bad radio ad for a credit checking agency.

We thought it was time to jump into this subject as it appears to be a political hot potato at the moment. Not only has Google been under attack for vacuuming up unprotected wifi data - this may well be an innocent mistake - but this news has been followed by fresh revelations about FB.

Apparently FB's 'partners', all commercial software companies (such as Microsoft, Google to name a few), can currently access your FB account unless you specifically close the back door to your account information. To fix this:

  • Click Account

  • Click Privacy Settings

  • Click Applications and Websites

  • Click Instant Personalization Pilot Programs

The nub of this whole privacy issue is why did FB, Google and others leave us all so exposed?

So think twice before you activate that "Location" setting on your twitter account. Why share this information? Lindsay Lohan doesn't have a choice; we do.

As of 25th May, FB issued a statement saying it was actively reviewing its privacy policy and soliciting our opinions. To learn more, sign up to their FB page.

POSTCRIPT: FB listened, changes have now been made to the privacy settings...see attached link for information

POST POSTCRIPT: FB under investigation by the House for the abuse of data.

Posted by: Claire

Day Nine: The Pesto Problem

We didn't give a tremendous amount of thought to the name of our blog. We wanted something that would describe our journey, and that would be a bit clever and witty. We have since learned that we did not choose all that wisely. Our name is long, contains an unfamiliar word that is hard to spell, and has embedded within it the word "pesto". As a result, a search of 'fromdopestodoyennes' can send you to cooking sites with recipes containing basil, garlic and parmesan cheese.

Well, it could be worse. We could have emphasized the speed with which we intend to learn all of this and called ourselves or even worse, focused on forwarded twitter posts with, right?

So in the world of blogs, Shakespeare may have been wrong. A rose by any other name may not smell as sweet.

A blog's name must:

1. Be easy to remember and spell.
2. Be catchy.
3. Be relatively short, ideally no more than 4 syllables.
4. Contain no offensive or unrelated words in the name.

And fromdopestodoyennes does not fit any of those criteria, alas.

Loved these articles on naming your blog. Thank you, If only we'd known who was on first last week....

A PS to the copyright post: The Laurel and Hardy video clip we put up was blacked out with a message that said: 'removed for improper usage'. The clip is no longer available on YouTube, so our best guess is that it violated some copyright protection and was flagged. We were kind of excited--it meant that either someone or something not related to us by blood or on our payroll had visited our blog. We chose another L&H video from YouTube. Will keep an eye out to see if it, too, is revoked.

A PS to our repeated attempts to post audio: IODA Promonet did not respond to our application, so we gather they were not interested in our custom. We also learned that the html code that enables us to post requires a visual component, so audio posting, unless you are a true webmaster, is not doable.

Posted by: Keri

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day Eight: S.ave O.ur S.ouls

We know it's happening; things are a-changing round here.

Friday's tweet shared our excitement about a clever software program, Tweetdeck, which enables you to manage all your social networking posts from a single dashboard.

Did we really just write that?

Not only can we parlay the jargon...we have taken to fantasizing about acquiring an iPhone, or the even sexier iPad. Think how much more glamorous / sexy / cool (strike as appropriate), we'd be if we had one or both of those..?

Howzat? What about that Coach bag we've been saving up for?

Boy, how we've changed.

We even threw a garden party, inviting respective husbands, friends and neighbors and found people comparing notes on their social networking experiences. (The majority of punters were pretty sceptical by the way, especially on its relevance to business or for providing professional services.)

A lone voice in the wilderness was a social networking guru working mainly for consumer brands as part of a collective of creatives, fondly described as a "collaboratory". Her comments are worth considering.

Just remember to think of Social Media as the Wild West. Other than the basics (how to twitter, how to use tweetdeck, Google Analytics etc, there really aren't any set rules, which makes it sometimes very frustrating. Just stay fluid and enjoy the ride. She also added: Working with Social Media is also a bit like working with Spaghetti. You throw it at the wall and see what sticks...

Spaghetti and the Wild West in the same breath. We can feel a very poor segue creeping up on us...

Do you know the origin of the term "Spaghetti Western"..? These low budget movies, starring American actors, were so called because in order to save on costs they were mostly filmed in the mountains of Italy or Spain - hence the association with spaghetti.

Another interesting, and vaguely related factoid, Ugly Americans - that devastatingly satirical cartoon on Comedy Central - will return to our screens in the Fall; see the cartoon above for a taste (pun intended).

See, we told you you'd learn lots reading this blog.

Posted by: Claire

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day Seven: I Think I Can, I Think I Can

While we were not overly concerned that "from dopes to doyennes" would be grabbed by a competing blogger, securing a domain name is another step up the technology mountain.

We started the climb with Network Solutions....

Click on the "domain names" tab and enter your name for a search. You will be asked what "extension" you want--this refers to .com, .net, .org, etc. We chose .com and were delighted to learn that our name was indeed available. We jumped around the site a bit looking at various packages and tools and soon realized that we needed a live person (or a little blue engine) to help us. We were fortunate to find a phone number connecting us to a nice chap named Jimmy who helped keep us on the tracks.

We sought:

1. Our name.
2. Privacy protection--which would prevent telemarketers and e-advertisers from getting access to us. (We're not entirely sure this was necessary, but weren't keen to find out the hard way.)
3. Web forwarding--which enables us to be found as "", abbreviating the awkward and lengthy blogspot address.

The good news is that Jimmy helped us achieve all three of those goals. The less good news is that these services cost three times what we initially expected. The front page of NetSol featured a 'web package' for around $15/annually which we found encouraging. But when we described what we wanted and Jimmy crunched the numbers, our bill was $55 for the year.

But, in for a penny, in for a pound, so we forged ahead. Jimmy entered the domain name per our phone instructions and advised us that it would take two hours for the web forwarding service to activate. Without web forwarding, prospective readers would have to type in the exact url to find us. Web forwarding enables them to type the blog's name "" and land on our front page, which is much handier. We waited patiently through the afternoon, periodically checking the web forwarding. Six hours later, no joy. Finally, we thought to check our NetSol account, and discovered that dear Jimmy had logged us in as "topes", not "dopes". There's clearly a joke, or at least a wry ironic comment to be wrung out of that situation....

So, another call to NetSol, some reconfiguring on their part, a credit card payment and refund later, and we are web forwarded.

We continue to attempt to post audio clips, today trying yet another music source: IODA Promonet. We had to fill out an application on their site; approval is pending and if we are given their blessing, perhaps we will have better luck sourcing sound. Stay tuned.

We've also discovered another good resource for all things social media: It contains the latest news on social networking, as well as helpful tutorials, product descriptions, and much, much more....Check it out!

Posted by: Keri

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day Six: Policing Copyright on the Internet

Is copyright an issue?

In researching this blog, we’ve spent way too much time on YouTube; people are just so darned imaginative.

Browsing for a usable video-clip of Sly Stallone starring in the horrible adaptation of Judge Dredd, we came across imaginary fight scenes pitching Robocop against the Terminator or Terminator vs Neo.

This creative sampling of videos - which may also involve changing a sound track or splicing different clips of films together - is apparently known as “mashing.”

Type in “fave movie lines,” for example, and you stumble across a compilation of some of the best one-liners from recent movies – all shambolically woven together. One such home movie carries the heartfelt plea: “Please don’t sue me, I’m not making a dime from this!”

Both Facebook and YouTube raise many issues related to intellectual property. And since learning how to download the goodies available on YouTube, we thought best to consult a neighborhood legal eagle about Internet copyright. (At this point we’d like to throw out our own legal disclaimer about what’s written below…)

Q: Could we get in trouble reproducing images that we’ve downloaded from, say, YouTube?
A: The short answer is that most of your blogging, especially if you aren't gaining commercial benefit directly from the copyrighted materials, is "fair use."

"Fair use" is the magic catch-all phrase here and refers to criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching. This argument stands squarely on the idea that your ‘borrowing’ has a nonprofit or educational purpose. Assuming you stay away from lifting people's copyrights and trying to sell it, you generally will be ok.

Q: If we’re readily borrowing video links from Universal Studios or grabbing images off Google, then what’s to prevent someone from lifting our copy without crediting us?
A: Your works are copyrighted when created. They don't need to be registered. They can only be registered when "published." And "published" is a term of art--there is uncertainty whether blogging is publishing. It's probably not--which makes a lot of your concern about copying others' work moot, but also makes it difficult for you to have copyright protection.

Q: What about "mashing"? Is this illegal and is anyone policing this?
A: This is similar to “sampling” in the music world. If you “mash” something that isn’t protected, then there’s no harm. If you “mash” something that is, then there could be a problem. But, generally, in your case, you could argue “fair use” or “parody.”

Q. Is everything on Google Images safe to use?
A: Using Google Images will not insulate you. In other words, just because they might have an image doesn't mean that they have it legally. Again, however, the first step is (a) whether the matter is protected and (b) whether your use is "fair."

Heavy stuff.

To lighten the somber mood a little, check this out.

Allegedly this guy, Kent "Toast", is the world's fastest clapper. Here he gives us his rendition of the theme from that famous cop show, Hawaii 5-O.

BTW, did you know that the bubbly female cop in Reno 911 is now the celebrity presenter of Clean House?

Posted by: Claire

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day Five: Twitter & tequila!

Pee Wee Herman Demonstrates How to Get Ones Message Across

Did you know that the average person spends a superficial 3 mins and 4 secs digesting news on their favorite news sites? (source:The Pew Foundation "State of the News 2010")

Not only are we spending next to no time gathering news info...we're not interested in hearing the full story; apparently, these days, we only read headlines. Perhaps this goes some way to explain the success of, which we must confess we've been using pretty passively - up to now - as a sophisticated news feed service and event planner.

Twitter is neat because it doubly pre-qualifies stories; not only can you select by interest area i.e. Art, or Design, but info can be further pre-qualified because you choose the info sources you trust (venerable institutions, legacy media or simply fave places to hang out). In twitter dialect you "follow" these people and/or places. And the best news of all is that these tweets are economical, headlines only, max-ing out at 140 characters inc URL links (conveniently twitter abbreviates URLs, so as not to squander your character allowance.)

Another smart feature on twitter is the DM facility (sorry to say we've lapsed into twitter lingo). DM-ing is to tweeting, as chatting 1-to-1 on Facebook is to posting on a person's wall.



We've decided to take the bull by the horns and add that innocuous blue twitter button to our blog. We're not convinced that anyone else is out there in cyberspace listening to us, but if any of you are twitter novices and fancy tweeting (under the radar), then let's give it a go...this is not highbrow stuff.

So here's our link to Twitter. Be gentle with us peeps.

Follow clairebatten on Twitter

(If you want to join the twittering classes, it's easy to do this yourself. After you've registered at and you're on your home page, scroll down to the bottom of that page, select "goodies", then select "buttons". It's really that straightforward.)

Racing ahead
We wanted to end with a cute animation from Wacky Races. Found a wonderful website run by a couple of Hanna Barbara acolytes who sat down (separately), watched all 34 episodes of the cartoon and counted who won most frequently. They then compared notes and published a table. So who would you put your money on? Peter Perfect, Dastardly & Mutley, or good ol' Penelope Pitstop driving the Pussycat Wagon? And the winner is...

Having (almost) mastered embedding animations (a.k.a. gifs), we now feel quietly confident that audio and home video will be a breeze. But that's a story for another day...and a second shot of Tequila.

Posted by: Claire

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day Four: The Good The Bad and the Ugly of Facebook

Depending on who you ask, Facebook has somewhere between 100,000,000 and 400,000,000 users. That's an awful lot of people and a true cross section of the world. This means a wide variety of usage styles and a panoply of posts. We have broken them down in to three basic categories:

The Good

Thanks to our friends at Headhouse Books for sharing their experience using Facebook as a marketing tool. Here is what we learned from them:

FB is an amazing way to communicate with existing customers. It is the utmost in targeted marketing, since all of the "Fans" want information about your business and are interested in your products and services. Considering the costs of direct mail, billboards, and other traditional methods of advertising which are expensive and diffuse, Facebook is far and away the most effective and cost effective mode of customer outreach. It is also instant; if an event is cancelled or a hot new product has arrived customers know immediately. And the potential for overnight exponential growth is absolute. Fans are often willing to pass on your page to others, and this creates tremendous opportunity for expansion and exposure.

The Bad

Bad Posts are Boring Posts. I'm not the least bit interested in my own laundry; why would I want to read about yours? Ditto what you had for breakfast, where your dog peed, and whether you are feeling energetic or lethargic at a given moment. Finally, unlike cheese, pasta, and good company, Facebook and wine do not mix. (at least not in excess.) Beware of indiscreet posts; they are admissible in a court of law, not to mention the water cooler corner at work tomorrow.

The Ugly

These are the people who post material about their colon surgery, their marital woes, or their ferret's folliculitis. If you have the misfortune to have "Friended" such a person, we highly recommend a break-up.

And finally, we liked the following, a rather amusing and sardonic assessment of Facebook comments and their translations. Thank you,

We've had a couple of questions about how to follow our blog. See that FOLLOW icon in the upper right margin of the blog next to the video clip? Click it, and proceed as directed. And here's a blogger resource with further details on following.

Posted by: Keri

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day Three: From I'm a dodo to have a go-go

In Disney's universe, friendly bluebirds are ubiquitous; they accompany Brer Rabbit on his woodland walks, dress Cinderella in couture and tidy up after the slatternly Snow White and Sleeping Beauty in their respective cottages. Hardly surprising then that uses this iconic bird to give form to its version of instant messaging. Twitter seems to be all the rage. You're either in the know, or you're not. Devotees even seem to have their own cozy lingo, but it's not as scary as all that...

Twitter is sometimes called a "micro-blog". It provides a forum for you to air your views and share your opinions. The difference is that you have a scant 140 words in which to get your point across. We've all heard the PR stories surrounding Ashton Kutcher and his cult band of twitter "followers" - an understandable phenomenon for celebrity gossip is addictive (People magazine has some 3.75m readers). But what of business users? Is it just twenty-somethings tracking celebs or are grown-ups tweeting too? does a great job explaining how to test your wings. Check out their kindly tutorial on Twitter101. Here you'll find the insider's guide to the jargon, best practice and a rocking case study on the Geek Squad at BestBuy and how they are using twitter to get closer to their customers Twelp (Twitter Help) case study

Blogging On The Fly.....

One intrepid reader, shortly departing for South Africa, asked us about blogging from afar using a PDA. So we asked our tech support guy (and babysitter's boyfriend) who responded thus:

"Quick answer is yes, but I would need to know more information on a few things.

What kind of device?
Is there a stable connection to the Internet?
What blogging software (e.g., Blogger) is being used?

A modern PDA (which have mostly been replaced by Blackberries, iPhones, etc.) would be able to blog if it has an internet connection and the software being used can be accessed from any kind of device."

We also found you a resource for mobile blogging. Hope this helps you live happily ever after......

We did not, however, live happily ever after with our attempt to post audio today. We tried and failed, with Hypster, and ITunes. (We won't trouble you with the links as they were singularly un-useful.)

Any suggestions for future success are welcome.

Posted by: Claire

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day Two: Blogging for Beginners

Do you ever feel like you are climbing Mt. Everest? We do.

Well, we built the thing. We are posting on it. But what exactly is a blog? In short, what fine mess have we gotten ourselves into? Can we expect nothing but trouble?

Not big on reinventing the wheel, we came across a great description of a blog that addresses the subject from several angles. Thank you, Parm Farm. We also found a great how to create a blog video. Thank you, YouTube.

Having been advised by some cyber marketing gurus that blogger was the best host in terms of generating traffic because of its connection to Google's ubiquitous search engines, here we are.

The blogger site is pretty user friendly if you know the jargon:

--"Templates" are the ready made layouts; just pick one and name your blog. No messing about with margins, spacing or any of those headaches.

--"Gadgets" are anything you add to the blog besides the textual material; title--which they call a 'header', photos and illustrations, video clips. We just discovered that there is a feature on blogger that enables you to post video, which might have saved us a lot of time on Day One fiddling with the Zoolander clip although now that we are in the know on YouTube's 'share', it couldn't be simpler.

--When in compose mode (aka "posting"), the little icons at the top of your text box are quite handy. Bold and italic are self explanatory. Just highlight the text you want to emphasize and click on the appropriate icon. Spell check works the same way it does in Word or any other program we have used in the past. The green thing that looks like an overweight inchworm wearing glasses is for hyperlinks--just cut and paste the link as directed and you get one of those cool blue underlined or highlighted phrases that enables you to jump right to another place. The mini postcard adds a picture--click it, then click 'browse'. Select the picture you wish to post from your desktop, then click "upload", then "done". When you return to your posting/edit screen, there should be a bunch of gibberish there. (This is html--the language spoken by your computer--don't mess with anything inside the pointed brackets--the things that resemble the 'greater than/less than' symbols in elementary math--your computer will translate the html into a picture, boldface type, or whatever you have told it to do. But not if you change so much as a period.) Next, hit "Save Now" then "preview". If all went according to plan, you should be looking at the picture you wanted to post. If not, try, try again. That's what we do.

Or, put another way, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." --Lao-Tzu

Posted by: Keri

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day One, Uomo vs Mac

Remember that scene from Zoolander?

This is how we feel a lot of the time. Having taken a short break from the work force amidst the tech explosion, we missed a bit. Now that our kids can change their own clothes, not to mention passwords, screen names, filters and the like, we need to play catch up.

Today we set up a YouTube Account, uploaded video, and built this blog all in 1 hour and 41 minutes, give or take a croissant, brioche and two cups of loose leaf Chrysanthemum tea.

We'd like to say it's easier said than done, but it wasn't. The good news is, it wasn't entirely due to our limitations. Despite our fragile self confidence and immediate presumption that we are to blame for the glitch, we learned that this is not always the case. Amid our attempt to sign on, Google experienced a server error and sidelined us for a bit. We persevered, however, and this is what we learned:

1. When signing up for YouTube, it is hard to find a user name. Many are taken and we tried thrice before succeeding. We linked several uncommon words together and finally hit. We will tape the name and password to computer til they are firmly committed to memory.

2. Help page was surprisingly helpful.

3. We spent 15 minutes struggling to copy our video clip. The penny dropped; we were doing things back to front. We wanted to retrieve video from YouTube and post to the blog--so we asked it to "upload". To our way of thinking, this meant that they would send their clip to us. To their way of thinking, "upload" meant we wanted to post our video to YouTube. Duh. Finally, we happened upon a "Share" button, lovely little thing. That gave us the ability to post the clip on blogger, twitter, facebook, and possibly the Vatican website if we liked. Hence, we learned the difference between upload and share. Any scoop on what download means? (What goes up must come down, right?)

Thus ends our inaugural experience with YouGle and GooTube.

Thank God it's Friday.

Posted by: Claire and Keri