HootSuite and WordPress

Yesterday HootSuite and WordPress announced that you could use HootSuite to post to your WordPress hosted blog. Here’s a bit of the copy from the WordPress Announcement:

You can schedule and cross-post content to multiple WordPress.com blogs (posting to self-hosted WordPress blogs isn’t available yet). You can also set up a Home Feed for blogs you’re following, and reblog posts that you like. Check out the tutorial video HootSuite’s put together to see how easy it is to get going.

This adds to the impressive set of apps (mobile and PC based) that work well with this great blogging platform.

Obviously we like WordPress here at SOL-IS, we have a self-hosted implementation of their software running this blog. But any effort to tackle this digital jungle needs to have cross-service support. And for serious users maintaining an internet presence across Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and more, will eventually turn to an application like HootSuite.

It’s good to see them extend this support.

To see more on third party apps, see Jared’s recent post.

Security Advisement

Recently there have been notable security problems with the personal email accounts of some in our community. Pepperdine makes considerable and diligent efforts to secure your private information, as of yet none of the incidents are related to Pepperdine systems.

However, whether dealing with Pepperdine network access, or your own personal email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, or your home internet providers), all security efforts by professionals working on the behalf of users are ineffective if users don’t participate substantially. Consider for a moment that all the technical wizardry of firewalls, anti-virus, encrypted storage, secret questions, and other measures are undone if a user uses simple passwords or logs in from unsecured locations.

With these recent break-ins it is a good opportunity to remember that passwords should be complex. Pepperdine systems demand a certain level of complexity, but other, personal accounts may not. Please self-assess the quality of the passwords used on personal accounts. Do they include a number? That’s good. Do they include a word found in a dictionary or any portion of a name? That’s not advised. For more security you may want to consider adding a symbol to your password such as a semi-colon or dollar sign or increasing the length of the password to 8 or even 14 characters.

Also remember that using a public computer, perhaps in an internet cafe, public library, airport or conference center might be unwise without additional precautions taken. If you must use one of these unsecured locations to login to important email, financial or Pepperdine systems consider speaking with the local staff about security precautions you can take.

Finally, there is one other consideration that few people consider. While your banks, utility companies and government agencies may have very secure websites, if you list your personal email address as a contact with them (for such things as password-resets when you forget your account passwords) then anyone who gains access to your personal email account may also obtain access to all of your other accounts as well. Consider an additional level of vigilance to protect such an important account’s security to safe guard your electronic identity.

Thank you for considering these security recommendations. Please see any member of the Information Services staff for more detailed suggestions or advice addressing your specific digital security needs.

Additionally a wealth of self-service information is available from the University IT Security website:

Third-Party Twitter Apps


From the moment Twitter released its API to developers, there has been no shortage of products to assist people in using and managing their Twitter Accounts. I have been using HootSuite for almost as long as I have been using Twitter. As I was getting familiar with HootSuite, a business-minded product called Co-Tweet came out. All along, in the periphery I knew of a couple more major players, Seesmic and TweetDeck. I started playing with Seesmic and TweetDeck this week to see what each had to offer. For the most part, each of these products does the same thing. They send updates to your Twitter account, and let you do all the things you would do on Twitter’s website on either a desktop application or the product’s website.


Since HootSuite is the first one I used, I’ll start with it. HootSuite has a pretty simple interface. You can add multiple accounts, and can assign users to tweet for you. There is a convenient bookmarklet that you can drag into your browser’s bookmark bar. HootSuite can shrink URLs for you in order to save Twitter real-estate. 140 characters go away quickly when you are using long URLs. HootSuite has all the features you would expect. You can read tweets from people you follow, read and send direct messages, and of course post updates.


Co-Tweet was the next product I tried. Co-Tweet was designed with business in mind, and expects business clients to have multiple users associated with a single Twitter account. While HootSuite has a similar feature, the User Interface (UI) is a little more serene on Co-Tweet. A less flashy UI makes for a more respectable business client. Co-Tweet does all the things I mentioned HootSuite does. It is easy to use, and I am happy with it.


Next up is Seesmic. Seesmic has a desktop application as well as a web interface. I have been leaning toward web-apps in my general preferences lately but I wanted to try out the desktop version to get a feel for it. The desktop version was pretty easy to use. There is a convenient tab bar on the left that lets you toggle between your friends tweets, any lists you follow, and more. I thought that by comparison with some of the other products, the desktop version of Seesmic is less attractive. This doesn’t mean it is inferior, it just didn’t have much style. The web version is another story. I found Seesmic Web to be a little easier to use. The navigation bar is more straightforward, and I was able to find things much faster on the web interface. The first thing I did was make a Chrome App for it. You can choose either a white or black template. I chose the black, since it made the interface look more professional. Overall, Seesmic had the same things to offer as the first two, but it made image integration a little easier, and offers URL shortening services from multiple vendors, not just a proprietary one.


Last up is TweetDeck. From what I can tell, TweetDeck doesn’t have a web version. It makes you install Adobe Air, and the first couple times I tried, the installation failed. After the third or fourth try, it finally worked. It looks like if you go to the website and click “Launch TweetDeck”, it opens the desktop application that you had to previously install. Overall, the UI for TweetDeck is very nice. The features are easy to use. Finding the Twitter lists was a little trickier than on Seesmic, but it was still easy to figure out. One thing I have noticed is an alert each time a tweet comes in. A little popup window shows you the new tweet, and plays an audible alert. If I was to use this full-time, I would proably turn off both features, but the audio would be harder to live with than the popup I think. I found TweetDeck very easy to use. It shares a lot of the features as the above options, but is more closely in competition with Seesmic.

For the most part, Seesmic and TweetDeck behave the same way. Seesmic web looks similar to TweetDeck, especially in black. Both have an eye-catching interface, and both offer a lot of the same features. It looks like these two are in constant competition for users, which is always a good thing for the customers.

Now that I’ve tried out the big names in third-party Twitter apps, it looks like the bottom line comes down to user preference. If you like a specific color-scheme, or the way the UI lets you find your lists or your friends, then go with that one. They all have something to offer. For my part, I am happy using HootSuite for personal use, and Co-Tweet for business use. Of course Twitter itself is about to throw its hat in the ring and offer a business interface. Whichever one you choose, have fun. Don’t feel locked into one version because at this point, they are all free. You can always find something you like.

Facebook Privacy

Facebook has changed its privacy settings. If you haven’t already seen the popup window requesting that you update your settings, you will soon. It looks pretty straightforward, but you will notice that “Everyone” is the default setting in this new tool. Before accepting the default settings, it is important to think about the implications.

TechCrunch posts a concern for the motive behind the new privacy settings, and the implications. If you choose the default setting of “Everyone”, Facebook can claim that if sensitive data is leaked out, they aren’t liable since you chose the Everyone option. TechCrunch isn’t the only big name with concerns.

Mashable ran the policy by some privacy experts and came to similar conclusions. Users are being encouraged to share everything. This is not bad in and of itself, but it is likely to affect the majority of users who don’t pay attention to things like privacy.

Here in the SOLIS department we have been discussing Facebook’s evolving privacy issues. My colleague David Dickens noticed early on that things he was not sharing were showing up if his friends installed certain apps that mined for personal data. Even setting up privacy back when Facebook was strict about it didn’t keep his data private. For the most part we are fine with the privacy settings, since we know that anything put anywhere online isn’t completely safe. We expect a significant amount of our online dealings to be made public in one way or another. We want to encourage our readers, peers, and students to think about the same things.

You can read Facebook’s explanation of the privacy settings here.

The bottom line is not that the sky is falling and we are all doomed. This has been a good opportunity to rethink the kinds of material you post online, and the fact that if it is critically private data, maybe we should rethink posting it in the first place.

Google Scholar features Legal Opinions and Journals

A couple weeks ago Google announced a new feature on Google Scholar. In a blog post entitled Finding the laws that govern us they explained this new feature. You can now use Google Scholar to search for full-length legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts.

Designed to empower the common-folk, this feature should be especially useful to our law students. Not only is the full-length opinion available, but references and citations regarding related cases are noted as well.

To search for these legal opinions, visit http://scholar.google.com.


As this image indicates, there is a radio button you need to select for “Legal opinions and journals”. They are currently referencing the blog post as well. It is worth reading, as it explains the reasoning behind the project as well as the particulars.

Google Scholar has been a useful tool for research in the past. This new feature makes it even better. Check it out, and come back to let us know if it is useful to you. We welcome your comments.

Google Chrome OS

For those of you who do not follow Google as closely as some of us here on the SOLIS team, you may not have heard yet that Google is making a new operating system (OS). What’s an OS? The operating system at is basic level is what runs your computer. Windows, Macintosh, and Linux are all popular operating systems currently. Google wants to offer its own service to this list, and it is going to do so in a completely different way.

Google released a new web browser about a year ago, called Google Chrome. Out of the box it was already faster than most existing web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera. That was impressive enough, but then it got even faster. Google also focused on browser security, and worked to keep different web-based applications from interfering with or hijacking each other. This is also a valuable feature. So, with speed and security, what do you get? A new web browser that lets you do the kinds of things you want to do, and it allows you to spend less time to do it.

Let’s take a look at the currently available operating systems. For the most part, Macintosh and Linux have a much safer OS than Windows. Part of this is due to the fact that Windows is such a big target for malicious programmers, and part of it is just the way Windows does business. Anti-virus programs and mal-ware detectors do a lot to make computers safer, but the risk involved is inherent in the way an OS performs.

An OS allows programs you install to take control of various portions of your computer. This is what makes it possible for mal-ware to do what it does. Once it is granted access, it does what it does. This ends up causing havoc and pandemonium and ultimately we end up having to go out and buy a new computer with the same vulnerabilities as the one that was hacked.

Google is trying to rethink the way operating systems work. When Google began looking into the idea of an OS, a number of things came to light. Today’s computer users are spending a lot of time on the internet. We use it for email, chatting, Facebook, watching videos, listening to music, banking, shopping, and more. A lot of users simply hop on the internet when they turn on the computer, and when they are done browsing the web, they turn the computer off. In light of this, Google decided to extend the idea of its Chrome browser to an OS.

The Chrome OS was discussed today at a special event. The official launch date is still unknown, but it is likely to be early next year. They discussed some of the features of the new OS, including the way it handles web applications. Gmail, Youtube, and Picassa are all examples of web applications. Essentially, while using the Chrome OS, it will be a very similar experience as using the Chrome browser. Different tabs will be opened for different applications. They even pointed out that the new web-based Microsoft Office 2010 is perfectly suited to this new way of doing things. Anything you can do online, you can do on the Chrome OS.

It looks like Chrome OS will be able to do quite a bit when it launches. There are still a number of other questions about it though. Fellow SOLIS blogger David Dickens asks how will the OS handle files? Can a cloud-based service transfer a file to another cloud-based service without using the OS as an intermediary tool? These questions are important to think about. There are many more unanswered questions at this point as well, but this is simply meant to introduce the idea of the Chrome OS.

Now that we have covered some of the basics, lets take a look at this short video about the new Chrome OS.

This video was a basic introduction to what Google has in store for us and the reasons we would want Google’s new OS. Those who want to learn more can view the related videos displayed at the end of this introductory video.

Is this OS going to be for everyone? Probably not. Certain types of computer use will be better suited for a traditional OS. For most personal use though, Chrome OS has potential to be very beneficial. As more information becomes available, the SOLIS team will keep you posted.

Google Wave Preview


Google recently started sending out invites to those of us who couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. Wave was designed to re-imagine e-mail. The developers were trying to figure out what e-mail would look like if it were invented today.

I got my copy of the Google Wave preview a couple weeks ago, and so far I am pretty happy with it. It is still very clearly in “preview” mode, a departure from a standard Google protocol. Typically Google releases ready-to-go software. The preview mode has a lot of bugs and quirks, but this is to be expected.

Google Wave allows you to collaborate in real-time with anyone you would normally e-mail. You can see chat messages as they are typed, share documents in real-time, embed Waves into presentations and web sites, and more. The possibilities continue to expand. Those familiar with Google Docs should be familiar with the collaboration features. By sharing a document, multiple users could have the same document open and can edit any piece that they need. After a brief delay, the content shows up for all the collaborators to see. Wave is designed to reduce this gap, and show updates as they happen.

So, what can Google Wave do? Lots of things. One way we are testing it out is the ability to paste a Wave into a web page. The following image shows a Wave I started.

In this Wave I simply added a title and embedded a gadget that allows users to share files in real-time, and even browse the web together with the same browser, all while in a video chat setting. We had tested it earlier, but this time we wanted to see it in a web page.

This is what the Wave looks like in the School of Law website. Now that this Wave is embedded, I can type anything I want into the Wave and it updates both locations. Anything I type from my Wave account will show up on the web page, and anything from the web page will show up on my Wave account. I think this feature is pretty cool.

So what else can Google Wave do? There are a number of tools already available for Google Wave. There is a simple survey tool, a map, and even a Sudoku Wave. You can play chess, connect-4, and a number of other games, all with real-time chat. You get to see the chat text as it is typed. A number of the better programs are only available to those who participated in the development sandbox. Hopefully these will be officially launched soon.

For those of us who have been excited about Wave all summer, we were able to watch an 80 minute video introducing us to Wave. They have since made a condensed version, only 10 minutes long. Much better for those who don’t have 80 minutes to spare. Here is the video:

As Google Wave continues to mature and develop, the SOLIS team is looking forward to seeing what the future will bring. Wave has the potential to revolutionize collaboration among social groups, as well as business. Who knows, maybe even the legal community will give Wave a try.

Update: For anyone that has a Wave Preview account you will see a sample embedded Wave. Those who don’t, please pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or Google’s login page for that matter.

Update: The embedded Wave was making the blog jump down to the Wave login so we temporarily removed it. When Wave is out of preview mode we will re-enable it.

What’s Twitter For?

It’s a difficult thing to explain what Twitter is for. Partly because so many people use it badly. There are many things which Twitter can be used for. Some of these innovative approaches (like interactivity in class) are interesting and certainly a valid use of the technology.

But what’s it for? What might you be missing out on? If Twitter is just a novelty tool, then you’re just expending your excess productivity time fairly innoculously.

Maybe you should consider that Twitter is all about the coffee.

It’s all about the coffee

A fine article to help you discard your provincial notions of Twitter and maybe to get you beyond the curiosity stage. You might even teach-by-example your students, friends and family (maybe even all of Twitterdom).

Over 10 years ago I was giving Introduction to the Internet classes and the lesson we’re still learning today was what I was trying to teach then. The real value the Internet brings to your life isn’t in your web-browser. It’s on the other-side of it.


School of Law Facebook Page

The School of Law now has a Facebook fan page. It is gaining momentum and now has a vanity url. The link to email your friends is http://facebook.com/pepperdinelaw.

Some new features are going to be added soon, some of which will replace the current Weekly Dicta announcements. We will have featured content from the Deans’ Suite, Alumni, Financial Aid, and more. Keep checking back on the page to see what is going on at Pepperdine. Be sure to become a fan too.

Making Graphics in PowerPoint

When you make a digital sign here at the Law School, we ask that you submit two copies of the slide. A PNG and the “PowerPoint Original”. This is so we can whip up a few quick corrections, if needed.

This presupposes that you use PowerPoint to make your digital sign. In fact, this is what our latest round of training did. At that training I asked if anyone wanted to try a graphics design class to supplement this and go “to the next level” with better graphics instruction. There was some interest. I hope we can support that interest soon.

The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

In the meantime, I ran across a quick eLearning article about how to make graphics in PowerPoint. I think it’s excellent. You might want to give it a try.

See How Easily You Can Create Graphics in PowerPoint