Brave New World? My Chromebook first impressions

After a whole lot of research and investigation, I finally decided to recommend a Chromebook for my mother’s next computer.  All she really does is browse the internet.  Video chatting?  By the time her old Celeron powered Microsoft Vista ‘laptop’ booted up, no one really wanted to video chat anymore.  So I wanted to find a cheaper way of accomplishing what she needs and a Chromebook seemed to be a good option.

Getting up and running was easy and the Acer C720 I purchased was quite snappy.  So when my father in law wanted help with a new computer, I suggested the larger HP 14 Chromebook.  He travels for work, but other than helping him the first time he had to connect to the internet, he hasn’t called with an issue in months.

So…I figured if I was going to support them- I was going to need one myself.  (Well, that and I had an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket.)  One click later and on the way was a matching Acer C720 like my mom’s.  I wanted something lighter and portable and was willing to trade the better IPS screen of the HP 11 Chromebook for the C720’s more powerful Haswell processor (even if it’s a Celeron).

Setup

After a warm up from being left outside (winter delivery FTW), the C720 booted right up, asked to pick a wireless network and downloaded the latest updates.  Once I signed in (with my primary Google account, since I have several), I was greeted with the home screen.  First order of business- put it into ‘Developer Mode’.  Once that was done and the Chromebook ‘powerwashed’ itself, I signed back in, fired up a command shell and installed Crouton.  XFCE Linux allowed me to install Firefox.  Some command line changes in XFCE and I now had a working Citrix Receiver.  This allowed me to connect to my Win 7 Virtual Machines.  Now I really could use my Chromebook on the run.

Franken-Chromebook
My Acer 720 running a Win7 VM in XFCE inside a Crouton shell on ChromeOS.

 

Travelling with the Chromebook

So, I was scheduled to head to Vancouver, Canada for SAP dCode Inside at the BusinessObjects ‘mothership’ and decided to bring my Chromebook as my main PC, along with my iPad Mini.  (My work laptop was along for the ride, in case of a serious issue.. This ‘job insurance’ added 5 pounds to my carry-on bag- UGH!)  In order to maximize my carry-on, I used my normal computer backpack (Samsonite Tectonic M) rather than my ‘go bag’ (Mountainsmith Small Messenger).

One problem appeared when I got to Canada.  No power cord!!  I thought I was being slick- since the Acer and HP both shared the same cord (from the power brick to the outlet), I’d bring one for both.  I was in for a bit of a surprise when I was unpacking and saw no power cord.  This changed my plan a bit, so I powered off the Chromebook to save the battery.  I used one of my 12 free GoGo Inflght credits on the way, so the battery was down to around 90%.  Since I needed to get a full day out of it on Tuesday,off it went.

When I booted up at 9am Tuesday morning, the battery was still around 85-90%.  I decided to go all in and spin up Linux and connect to a VM for email and Lync, switching back and forth to the Chromebook to keep my notes in Google Docs.  I do like the seamless switching that Crouton gives you…very nice!  By the end of the day, a full 8 hours later- the battery meter was at 15%.  With the exception of an hour for lunch, the Acer was running and connected to Wifi.  I can’t complain about the battery!  And lucky for me, I didn’t forget a charger and cable for my iPad Mini, so I had entertainment on the plane ride home.

Conclusion

Are there things missing from the Chromebook?  Yup.  Unless you have a Google Cloud compatible printer or a computer connected to a printer with Chrome running, you’re out of luck printing.  And yes, if you’re not connected to the internet you really can’t do anything.  But if you’re reading this and thinking about a Chromebook, you already knew that.

Do I like the Chromebook?  Yup, I do. It’s been a great ‘second screen’ while watching TV.  It also is portable and quiet.  It’s also light enough that I’ve been grabbing it to head out to Starbucks to write, instead of my iPad 2 with keyboard.

What do I wish the Chromebook had?  To be honest, I’m missing some tools that I would love as ‘Chrome Apps’ (apps that work offline).  If Evernote or Microsoft OneNote would come up with one, I would be totally psyched.  GDocs is good but the image inserting doesn’t really seem to keep pace with Evernote/OneNote for my blog writing style.

Would I recommend the Chromebook?  Yes, with conditions.  I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary machine to anyone outside my parents age bracket.  Most folks still have a need for some applications that aren’t Chrome Apps or some form of offline app.  Would I use the Chromebook to replace my Windows or Mac machines?  Not as a daily driver.  But as a ‘second screen’ or light ‘companion’ machine, you really can’t do any better than a Chromebook.  Especially for less than 200 bucks!

Home Cloud Providers…My take

My friend John Appleby penned a post on his blog (People, Process & Technology), waxing poetic about the different cloud providers he was using at home and his thoughts on how they were working out.  I started to write a pretty lengthy comment with my opinion, but it ended up being WAY too long for a blog comment.  But short enough for a blog entry!  Here we go…my take on personal cloud providers.

Music- iTunes Match & Amazon Music

I signed up for iTunes Match and it seems to work fine.  With a tween daughter, I am mainly buying music via the iTunes store because it makes managing music on her iPhone easy to manage.  Since I am an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Music makes pretty good sense since the 20GB Cloud Drive storage comes with Prime and music does NOT count against that limit.  I end up using Amazon Music as my ‘backup’ for iTunes.  Since my iTunes library lives on an iMac, I usually run the Amazon MP3 sync application once a month or so to upload/match everything to the cloud.  It also allows me to get to my library from my Win7 laptop (small SSD, so minimal music stored locally) and my Kindle Fire HD.  Frankly, I use Pandora One much more than my local iTunes library.  Then again, my iTunes Recent Purchases playlist looks like a Tween girl’s: OneDirection, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift.  

File Storage: Many!

Ah..this is the doozy.  I have an account for all of the main players: Dropbox, Amazon Cloud, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive.  Dropbox is my main vehicle of choice, mainly for the super-swift syncing.  I have rarely had an issue with Dropbox syncing anything.  But I am almost out of room for the free plan and I am going to need to think about what to do.  Believe it or not, I am considering switching to Microsoft SkyDrive.  I have 45GB of free space there, (additional is thanks to my Office365 subscription) and I am currently using SkyDrive to backup my Dropbox.  The setup is kinda like ‘Inception’ for cloud storage providers: I installed Dropbox on one PC, then installed SkyDrive.  Next, I moved my Dropbox to inside my SkyDrive folder.  This works pretty well, but since I have it on my notebook, it’s not an ‘always on’ sort of arrangement. I may move it to my iMac at some future point.  The Windows client for SkyDrive has been pretty solid, but I need to test it out on the Mac to be sure if I want to a full switch.  Otherwise, I might just have to pony up and buy a larger Dropbox.

Photos: iPhoto, Flickr, Picasa

This is where John and I depart a bit.  I am not even an ‘amateur’ photographer.  So iPhoto, Flickr and Picasa work perfectly fine for me.  I use iPhoto on my iMac for the pictures, where I then upload them to either Flickr or Picasa Web Albums.  Picasa is usually the web albums of choice, as Staci and I can use apps on our mobile devices to see the pictures.  This just means that I have to actually download the pictures off the camera and upload it.  I just wish that there was an ‘official’ plug-in for iPhoto and Picasa anymore.  I don’t like using the actual Picasa app on the Mac.

Email: Gmail

Easy- Gmail wins.  My domain emails are Google App based, and I have a bunch of other Gmail accounts that get used.  On my iMac, Mail.app works alright.  On Windows, Postbox is the best $10 bucks I ever spent for email.  I have Outlook 2013, but I haven’t attached any accounts, as Postbox works so well with Gmail!  The only downside to Gmail is that the Gmail App is sluggish on my iPad2 and I don’t like that there’s not push available for Gmail on iOS anymore.  This is one of the reasons I’m actually considering going Android for my next phone. (But that’s a separate post that I’m working on!)

OK…perhaps I’m not using the cloud stuff as much as John.  And I’m OK with that.  I’ve got lots of local backups going on, but am worried about physical drive failure.  That’s why I’m adding another bucket here- backup.

Backup

While my iMac is using Time Machine and has been pretty solid, I’ve had to move a lot of my media (movies, photos, large download storage) to external hard drives.  I do worry about physical drive failures for those, so I’ve started to research online backup.  I’ve narrowed it down to two providers: JungleDisk and CrashPlan.  The geek in my like JungleDisk, as I can access my backed up files via Amazon S3 storage.  But there’s a cost to that access.  Do I really want to pay that extra to access files in the cloud that I can get to already via other cloud solutions (Dropbox/SkyDrive, LogMeIn)?  

The cost-benefit analysis lead me to CrashPlan.  CrashPlan+ Unlimited is only $4 a month for one PC, compared to almost double for JungleDisk+S3 (but with multi-computer access).  All of the drives I will be backing up are connected to one computer (the iMac), so the single PC charge is OK.  (I am installing DropBox on Abby’s Macbook to backup her files, since outside of schoolwork, she doesn’t have anything that doesn’t reside on the iMac.  I will fully worry about her situation when she gets to high school.)  

CrashPlan seems to get high marks, so I’ll be making use of it post haste.

Well, that about does it for this blog comment blog.  Stay tuned for a quick review of CrashPlan, as well as a post where I try to figure out whether to go iOS or Android for my new phone. 

Network of Truth? One Version of the Truth? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

The gents over at the Diversified Semantic Layer (Greg Myers, Jamie Oswald and Eric Vallo) podcast had themselves a spirited discussion around SAP Analytics latest mantra, ‘The Network of Truth’. Make sure to check out the show notes over on SCN for a good laugh and handy reference guide, too. The discussion was always cordial, but got animated when discussing Greg’s theory that perhaps the ‘Network of Truth’ may have some legs to it.  I left this comment on Eric’s Show Notes blog: “I’m going to lean towards Greg’s side of the rumble. I agree with a lot of what he’s saying, plus it’ll be a fair fight now.”  I figured I’d expand that thought a little bit outside the SCN comment box.

I see where Greg is going with his line of thinking.  The whole ‘Network of Truth’ theory (and not the SAP marketing end of it- take the tools out of the equation and think in broader terms) is something along the lines of the evolution of how people utilize data. My take? As data access becomes faster and faster, conventional relational data warehouses become a commodity. Some businesses will require a data warehouse structure in order to aggregate disparate sources, group it together and make it logical.  But it won’t need to live in a slower relational data warehouse.  If the analytics tools that access that data don’t adapt, they’ll be left behind.

To Jamie’s point, ad hoc and ‘green bar’ reporting won’t be going away anytime soon, either.  Folks are going to want formatted reports, ad hoc report access and the like for years to come.  The question should be: How do we manage the needs and expectations of those ‘classic’ users with the changes and new methodology that newer analytics tools are seeming to bring?  Think about it- just a few years ago, BI teams were just getting their hands around analytics for mobile devices!  What will the landscape look like in the next 5 years?  A common semantic layer, perhaps?  Jamie and I are agreement about what we think the benedits of a unified semantic layer could be. (Heck, we’ve both blogged about it before.)

But like a fully implemented ‘Network of Truth’, a common semantic layer (likely based on HANA) is some time in the future.  Then again, so are Greg’s musings from the podcast. It’s going to take transformational changes in how we consume and utilize data to see where the ‘next big thing’ is coming from…and leading us to.

Windows 8 Impressions…and why I went back to Windows 7

I have been slowly connecting all of my Windows 8 notes for a few months now and was getting ready to put together a whole long detailed ‘Impressions’ blog.  I even hinted at it when I left a comment on my buddy Dallas Marks’ Windows 8 blog entry.  And then it happened.  I finally lost all patience with Windows 8 and spent 3 hours formatting and reinstalling Windows 7 back on my laptop.   Was it just an angry overreaction?  Perhaps.  Was it that my laptop wasn’t 100% compatible with Windows 8 and it was a bad idea to install?  Perhaps.  Am I glad that it’s gone and back to Windows 7?  Yup.

Here’s the hardware we’re dealing with today:

We’re playing with a Dell Inspiron 1121, also known as a Dell 11z.  The specs are:

  • Intel Core i3 ULV
  • 64 bit Capable
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128 GB Samsung 470 SSD (90GB free space)
    • (Upgraded RAM and SSD)
  • 11″ Screen w/a built-in Sprint WiMAX 4G card

For those who know me, this is the laptop you see me with at conferences and such.  Pretty light, easily transported and with the upgraded SSD and RAM, fairly snappy for what I need it to do:

  • Email (trying Postbox right now, since 99% of my email accounts are Gmail based)
  • Internet Stuff (Social Media, Reddit, etc…)
  • Blogging/Note taking (Evernote, Windows LiveWriter)
  • Light BI Development, mainly web based or via RDC.  But with local installs of SAP Visual Intelligence & SAP Dashboard Designer.
  • Content Creation (Presentations, PDFs, MS Office, etc…)

That’s about it.  A light to medium duty notebook, mainly for internet-ing and making stuff.  In no way is it meant to be a hard-core development machine.  So, I thought that this PC would be a natural candidate for a Windows 8 upgrade.  The majority of my content is stored in Dropbox, so a quick backup and I was off to upgrade.  I documented my upgrade process, as well as the Windows 8 ‘impression’ notes I made along the way. You can find these notes on Page 2 of this blog.

I won’t bore you with the list of differences between Windows 7 and Windows 8- countless blogs and articles are out there for your reading pleasure.  I have three main reasons for going back:

  1. Desktop/Metro app switching.  Chrome- some features only work in desktop mode.
  2. Wireless connectivity.  Or lack of consistency.
  3. Sleep mode.  Lack of consistency.  Sensing a theme?

Ok, maybe you can chalk up #1 to a lack of familiarity with Windows 8. But after a solid three months of use, I never could get used to the whole Metro vs Desktop setup.  I also wasn’t a fan of having two apps installed for the same thing.  Evernote is a great example- at launch, the Metro app wasn’t a full featured client.  You needed to use the Desktop version to do real rich text formatting and features. A Metro app finally came, but it still wasn’t as fully featured.  GMail? When you opened Metro Chrome, you would get a popup that Voice calling was only supported in the Desktop.  And I never got to really use IE10, as the ‘cool’ Metro version only was available if you chose IE as your default browser.

Reasons #2 and #3 seemed to broach a theme.  Like any new OS, there will be times where behaviors aren’t fully consistent. And maybe since I wasn’t using a PC that was ‘certified’ for Windows 8, I shouldn’t have expected it to play nice all the time. But when the OS is set to go to sleep when you close the lid and you close the lid, it should sleep.  Not Windows 8. Even after updates, it would work ONCE and then I had to always press the power button.  This got old, REALLY quickly.  Same for the Wifi.  It would disconnect instantly at sleep and take FOREVER (scientifically proven, of course) to reconnect when woken up.

There were also the little things that drove me crazy: Having to use my Hotmail address as my login token.  (The only reason I still have a working Hotmail account is that I use it for Xbox Live!) The ‘Messaging’ app that like to announce that I had a Facebook message come in, but then wouldn’t load any more of the conversation if I took focus off it.  The fact that in Metro, I had to CTRL-C to see the time, as the clock was only on the Desktop side of the house.  And the fact that my Desktop picture was only on the Desktop and not the Metro side.

At the end of the day, Windows 8 wasn’t worth the frustration and learning curve.  If I had to buy a new Ultrabook, I would make sure that it had a touchscreen.  I kept feeling like I should just touch the Live Tiles.  As touchscreens become more prevelent and apps all become Metro native, I think Windows 8 will find its place.  But right now, it’s just not the right OS for my needs.

<Geeky installation & application notes follow on Page 2>

When worlds collide- Enterprise Technology & FPS Gaming

I found the two videos below on the ‘Montage Parodies’ subreddit (section of Reddit.com) and tweeted out the links for laughs.  I received some funny responses and retweets, but most people didn’t quite understand what was so funny.  So, I figured I’d take a minute to explain why these made me laugh and want to share.

The background for these clips revolve around video games, specifically first person shooters like the Call of Duty series. Gamers would take their ‘favorite’ moments, add some catchy music and post their montage online.  Naturally, montages became a competition in themselves, with more people adding complex transitions and special effects. And with that kind of competition occurring, parody was soon to follow. The parodies usually included mixing gaming clips (good and bad moments), techno or dubstep music, random gamer shouting and of course, silly pictures flashed in. Usually things like snack foods and energy drinks popular with gamers were included in the parodies. The more ridiculous, the better.  A Train simulator montage? Sure- Go for it. (Caution: if you’re susceptible to flash induced seizures, I would steer away.  Plus, it is REALLY LOUD and has some PG-13 language.)    

Now, these particular parodies are obviously geared towards SAP professionals who are also gamers (like myself).  That’s why I found them an fun way to mix work and play. And definitely shareable.  Plus, what SAP-er wouldn’t love a video with a flash of Bill McDermott’s awesomeness! 

SAPVisi Hard Mode

Spreadsheets: Minimal Scopes

If you’re a gamer (casual or serious) or just want a good laugh- take a second to check out these videos. (Remember to wear headphones if you’re in the office!)  To the person responsible- thanks for the laughs!  I enjoyed the funnies about SAPVisi and ‘spreadsheets’.  It’s nice to take swipe at our day jobs sometimes!

Amazon Kindle Fire HD: First Impressions

I've been wanting a smaller form factor tablet for a while. And when I got a couple of Amazon Gift Cards and a coupon for Christmas, I decided to take the plunge. I was torn for a long time between the Kindle Fire HD 7 (KFHD) and the Nexus 7. For me, the KFHD ended up winning the debate for these reasons:

  1. I am an Amazon Prime member. This gives me access to the large library of included free streaming movies and television available to US-based Prime members.
  2. The KFHD has a MicroUSB port. I have used this port and a $2 cable from Monoprice.com to play the above mentioned media to my HD television. With my new Sony sound bar, the output looks good and sounds great.
  3. The price. At the end of the day (using giftcards and coupons), I got the KFHD for $30. I did just spend an additional $35 on a SquareTrade Accidental Damage warranty, since I plan on not really using a case for the KFHD.

So, why the 7-inch form factor. To be honest, I was looking for a 'one-handed' media consumption and internet browsing device. Something light and simple that I can use from my armchair and throw in the front pocket of a bag easily. I have been looking at the iPad Mini, but really couldn't justify the cost for a non-essential device. But for less than $200 MSRP, one could theoretically save enough pocket change to pick a KFHD up. Here are my thoughts:

Stock Apps:

If you aren't technologically savvy, a KFHD with the stock apps and downloads from Amazon's App Store may be enough. Especially if you're a reader and are just reading books, checking email and Facebook and doing some light web surfing. Amazon's Silk browser isn't really living up to the hype, though. You can open up attachments in the standard version of OfficePro. But if you're a bit more technologically astute, I would recommend 'sideloading'.

Sideloading:

Sideloading is the process of manually loading an app (called an APK) to the KFHD. Change your KFHD's settings to allow for third party apps, install a file manager app from the Amazon App Store (I like ES File Explorer) and you're all set. This is how my KFHD has really become quite useful. Using the XDA developer forums and Reddit's Kindle Fire subreddit, I was able to discover the 'Google Apps' zip file. This has allowed me to get a KFHD Gmail client, Google Maps, Google Talk and most importantly- Chrome on my KFHD. I was also able to sideload a number of apps that I use daily on my iPad, including Dropbox, Zite and Wunderlist. So far, the only hiccup has been that for the Google apps, you must turn off the notifications or else the Kindle's status bar will disappear. A few simple clicks and that's taken care of. I use the stock email app to alert me and head over to Gmail in order to do any real emailing.

(My Kindle Fire HD 7 home screen. Google Chrome? Front and Center!)

 

App selection:

The reviews are correct- the Amazon App Store is definitely limited compared with Google Play or the Apple App Store. But that's OK by me- the KFHD isn't my main tablet. If there's an app I really need and not on the Amazon App Store- I'll try and find the apk online. If I can't find a trustworthy APK, I'll fire up my old Droid X and download the app from Google Play. Then, I back it up to the Droid X's SD card, connect it to my computer and copy it over to the KFHD. A few extra steps? Sure. But I saved myself a bunch of money and I get to tinker a bit with all those devices.

So, I've got some apps on it- what am I actually doing with the KFHD? Pretty much what I said at the beginning- it's my armchair companion. Instead of having my iPad open and on my lap while watching TV, I have the KFHD. It fits nicely in one hand to read a book, much like my Kindle Keyboard. The screen is quite nice and is easier on the eyes (resolution-wise, that is) than my iPad 2. It's portable enough to just slip in a pouch with my MiFi and earbuds and take it with me. Much less bulky than carrying around my iPad in a case. The verdict is still out on the KFHD long-term, but as an Amazon Prime member- I am definitely taking advantage of the larger movie and TV ecosystem. I haven't changed my spending habits, though. I don't think a device is going to make me do that!

 

Next steps? I am thinking that once I get bored of the stock look and feel, it'll be time to start playing with 'rooting' the device. Perhaps I'll just root it to remove the carousel and run Fancy Widgets or even take the plunge and completely wipe it and replace with Cyanogenmod. But the moral of the story is, the Kindle Fire HD 7 isn't really a bad option as an additional media consumption or companion device. Would I use it as replacement for my iPad? Nope. Would I use it as an optional or secondary device? Absolutely. And so far, the KFHD is doing a pretty good job at it.

And yes, I posted this via Blogsy on my iPad. But it was written (in Evernote) on my Dell Inspiron 11z, which I used to call a netbook, but it really isn't anymore. I'm thinking that a “what's in my bag” entry should be next on the blog roll!

 

Social Media and Me…and You and a billion other people

I recently attended an excellent SAP Mentor webinar regarding the impact and usage of social media.  We heard about SAP’s thoughts and strategies on social media and the Mentors were able to share theirs.  Then by chance,  the very next morning I was part of an email discussion at work about which social media sites people have joined and what kind of value they saw each bring to them.  I can’t help but how subjective these things really are.  Every individual is going to have their own thoughts on what they get out of each.  And that’s exactly is what is at the heart of the matter!  Each social media avenue can be used for a different purpose, depending on what you’re looking to get out of it.   For me, this is how I break it down:

Twitter
This seems to have become my main information hub.  I follow trends, look for news, track blogs and pretty much see what’s going on through Twitter.  But to be honest, I usually keep it limited to ‘work’ on here.  While I do find myself sharing personal ‘check-ins’, the occasional pithy comment or family news item; when I look at my followers/follows I see SAP Mentors, bloggers, influencers, ASUG-ers, techies and other SAP/BOBJ folks on here.  I realized that I’ve done this on purpose because…

Facebook
I hate to say it, but Facebook is for family and friends.  Pictures, stories and the relationships on here have been cultivated around the premise that my Facebook account is where I can connect with my Uncles in Florida and Washington State, cousins in Mexico and close friends spread amoungst the wind.  But there is a bit of overlap, though.  I have some people who are on both Twitter AND Facebook because not only are they colleagues, they’re friends.  That reminds me, I really do need to do some more reaching out in Facebook to friends from Twitter.  I am REALLY bad at searching for people and sending friend requests!

Here’s a Facebook example, I won’t engage in a conversation about BI4’s GA date on it.  I’ll rarely like a company page, unless it’s on a whim or having to do with something outside of work.  For example, one page I liked was Seagrave Fire Apparatus.  They have ZERO to do with BI4, but since I rely on their ladder truck to get me home safe to my family (non-work activity)- I liked their page.  BI4 comments will go to Twitter or…

SAP Community Network (SCN)
For me, the main blogging and news information portal for SAP-related news.  I blog on here and read blogs on here.  I am not as active on the Forums as I probably should be.  I consider SCN one of the main hubs for SAP/BOBJ information.  The SAP Mentors tend to centralize content on here (or link out to it) and even before I was a Mentor, I looked for their unvarnished views on products and technologies.  But I don’t think SCN is for…

Personal Blogs (you’re here already)
If I want to blog about my latest family vacation, post some birthday party pictures or review the newest gadget that my wife got mad at me for buying, I’ll post it here.  I would like to think that my personal blog kinda straddles the line between Facebook and Twitter.  Since it’s public, anyone can read it if they choose.  I am not limited to just SAP/BOBJ posts like on SCN or to only a selected list of people like Facebook.  Which bring us to…

Google+
Right now, G+ is limited to early adopters and has shown some promise.  I really do like the ‘Circles’ approach to life.  I can put people in my ‘SAP’ circle and when I want to make that comment about BI4, I can just limit the post to those folks who would be interested.  Or if I posted some birthday party pictures, I can limit that post to just my Family.  I think that this is a powerful feature and I suspect that others will likely roll out this kind of functionality at some point.  I do see promise in Google+.

LinkedIn
Now you’ve noticed no pithy ‘linking’ to LinkedIn in the blog.  That’s mainly because I don’t really use it as ‘social media’.  For me, it’s mainly a form of online resume and professional network documentation.  I have connected to folks that I want to stay in touch with professionally,  figuring out who works where and making sure that I have a professional appearance online.  Some folks really use the groups and other features of LinkedIn, but I find that they don’t really work for me too well.  So for now, I consider LinkedIn to be more of a placeholder than active social media experiment.

These are the main forms of social media that I utilize on a daily basis.  The moral of this story is that you should take the time to find the strategy that works best for YOU!  The amount of value that you will derive from these networks really depends on what you put into them.  If you want to just consume the information, good.  There’s plenty out there for you to find and read.  Want to start producing?  Go for it…but remember it takes time, effort and quality to start being heard.  Don’t be discouraged.  In today’s world, it seems that you are your own brand.  How you present your brand is up to you!