Dragon Dictation on the iPhone is Awesome and Free

If you’ve ever heard of or used Dragon Naturally Speaking you’ll be excited to know that there’s a new speech recognition app for the iPhone from the same company called Dragon Dictation. The app is really simple and you can dictate from anywhere and send it through text message or even through an e-mail. As a matter of fact I’m writing this post on the app right now. I did go back to edit a little more on the computer before posting this though, but only a little, as you can probably tell.

Dragon Dictation Start Screen

And just like Dragon Naturally Speaking or Macspeech Dictate you can speak punctuation as well. If you want to put a period or an exclamation mark after any sentence, all you have to do is say it. If you pause for too long while you’re recording your message, the app will take you to the editing screen, but if you want to continue you just have to tap the recording button again and it’ll add more text to where you last stopped.

Dragon Dictation Recording Screen

Anytime you want to go back to edit what you’ve recorded, just hit the Done button to go back to the editing screen and hit the little keyboard icon so you can change anything that you need to fix. You can select words to delete if the app got the dictation wrong and in some cases it will provide a drop-down menu on some words if it feels your grammar wasn’t correct.

Dragon Dictation Editing Screen

I honestly can’t believe how good this app works. I’ve used both Dragon Naturally Speaking for the PC and MacSpeech Dictate on the Mac and both are awesome programs, but they require a little bit of training to work well at first. The Dragon Dictation app on the iPhone seems to work great right out of the box and requires no training at all.

This app is definitely a must-have for any writer and right now it’s free. Get it while it lasts, because I don’t think it will stay free for long.

Update: A friend of mine said that he tried it out and he thought it sucked. I think because I’m already familiar with using Macspeech Dictate, I speak into it properly instinctively. You have to speak almost like a news reporter; very proper and clearly.

Google Halloween 2009 Logos

Did you check out the cool Halloween logo Google put up this year? It seems simple at first, but if you click on it, you’ll get some fun results.

Google Halloween Logo 1

Ooohhh, more candy!

Google Halloween Logo 2

Even more candy?!?!!

Google Halloween Logo 3

Awwwww, candy all gone…

Google Halloween Logo 4

…and there’s your Halloween 2009 search results.

Google Halloween Logo 5

And if you check out their robots.txt file at http://www.google.com/robots.txt, they’ve added a funny little Halloween themed rule.

Google Halloween 2009 robots.txt

The Balloon Boy Is Everywhere!!!

No matter where you’re at, you’ve probably heard the news about the boy in the balloon today. Our sales team at work was hearing about it from our clients over the phone, people were getting emails about it and it was all over Twitter. This was a story that couldn’t be avoided.

Have you seen Google Hot Trends lately? This story has taken up almost every single spot in the list of top 40 searches. At one point it had taken up every single spot except for the very last entry which was “garth brooks out of retirement,” except I wasn’t able to get a screenshot of that one.

Check out the screenshot I WAS able to get. I put arrows next to the searches that weren’t related to the balloon boy/attic boy story.

Hot Trends Balloon Boy

Tools To Help Build a Powerful Digg Profile

Do you wish you had the ability to get articles up to the first page of Digg? Yeah, so does everyone else, but it takes a lot of work. If you want to gain some rep on Digg, I suggest you start with this article Louie Baur: How to Be a Power Digger. If you don’t know Louie Baur, you will soon. His stuff is all over Digg.

Once you’ve started building up that powerful profile, here are three tools you can use to help you manage and build your Digg user empire.

Check Friends is a simple little tool that allows you to enter up to 10 different “friends” and will then check to see if they’ve Dugg any of your stories. It will go back up to 50 submits, so if they aren’t Digging your stuff, you might want to let them go.

DiggStatistics.com is similar to Check Friends in that it’ll check to see who’s Digging your stuff, but it provides many more statistics.

If you submit your username, it’ll spit out a report showing your last 10 submissions, the friends who have Dugg your stories and how many stories they’ve dugg as well. Then it will go deeper into those friends and show exactly what stories they’ve dugg.

If you have any followers that are Digging your stories, but are not mutual friends, it’ll list them too. Lastly, the report shows who and how many deadbeat friends you have that haven’t dugg any of your last 10 submissions. These may be the ones to cut loose.

If you’re the type of Digg user who likes to submit a ton of stories throughout the day, there’s not better tool to use than the BiggBoard, which allows you to enter your username and watch which of your stories have hit the front page and when, which stories have been buried, and which submissions are upcoming. The upcoming list shows you how much time is left to get that story popular too, so you have a good idea if you should be pushing the story out to some more friends.

I think these tools can be a great help to building a strong profile over at Digg, but if you abuse them, you can expect to log in to a banned profile the next day.

Microsoft Takes a Hint From Google and Makes a Search Game

If you’ve had the chance to play Google Image Labeler, now you can try out Microsofts take at a game for searchers that will also help their algorithms.

Microsoft Page Hunt

Page Hunt is a new game from Microsoft Research Labs that will serve up a web page and you have to guess the keywords that would cause this page to show up in the search results. You only have two minutes to score as many points as you can. If you guess the right words that make this page show up in the first 5 search engine results, you win.

Microsoft wins here too of course, because this kind of information will be used to update and modify their algorithms for Bing. They want to see if the right results are coming up for the keywords the users think should apply to those pages.

When you’re done, you can review your results and see how well you did or you can just start a new game. It’s fun for a while too and great way to waste a bit of time.

Somebody Claimed That My YouTube Video Was Theirs

So I logged into one of my YouTube channels that I use specifically for video gaming and when I clicked on the “account” link, there was a notice on my page that said “You have videos that may contain content that is owned by someone else. Please review these videos.”

I clicked on the link and it turned out that it’s only one of many of my videos. It’s a video of me playing Resident Evil 5 on the Xbox 360.

When I clicked the “Copyright Info” button, I was assuming that it was going to be Capcom or a related company who had a part in creating the game.

Well, I clicked through and it said that my video “may include content that is owned or licensed by CNET.” If you’ve never heard of CNET, they’re basically a large media company that specializes in news, reviews, downloads, etc.

What I’m guessing is that they did a review or something of Resident Evil 5 at some point and then saw the video I posted and assumed that I stole it from them. If they cared to compare my video to theirs, they would probably find out otherwise.

Anyway, I’m told by YouTube that my video is still available worldwide, but that ads would now appear next to it.

I really don’t care all that much about it, but I wanted to dispute this, just to see how it all worked.

I clicked on the link that said “Learn more about the dispute process.” The next page took me to an explanation about valid and invalid reasons of disputing a claim.

YouTube Dispute

I THINK that my reason is valid.

On the dispute form page, there are several warnings of submitting a false claim or in bad-faith. If either of these are found to be true, there could be penalties taken against the account or the account could possibly even terminated.

I submitted the dispute anyway in hopes that my account wouldn’t be terminated. I didn’t steal the content from anyone and I don’t believe CNET has the rights to it.

Anyway, that was about a month ago now, and I never heard anything back about it. I guess my claim turned out to be valid. Either that or they didn’t really care that much and just let it go.

So if someone claims one of your videos as their own, now you know what to do.

The Facts About Social Media

Social media is huge and there are tons of reasons why you should be utilizing it for your own business.

Social media is used by so many people around the world, you’d have to be crazy not to start using it to bring in more customers.

WAIT!

Before you jump right into posting your useless crap on sites like YouTube and Facebook, think about WHY people use social media. It’s because people want to communicate with each other. They don’t want you posting useless information about your company and then leaving to do the same thing on some other site.

You need to speak with your customers. Listen to their needs and interests and interact with them on the same level.

Without interaction, you FAIL.

Think about that before creating a zillion social media profiles and then never using any of them again. Look into the sites that best suit your business and where you have an audience. Start there and build up a community. Then you’ll understand social media.

I came across this awesome slideshow that you should definitely check out. It will help explain everything a little better and give you the why’s and the how’s of getting into social media.

Google Image Labeler Is a Great Time Waster

Google Image Labeler isn’t that new of a service anymore, but I wanted to write a post about it so anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet gets the chance to play with it.

You can start the game either as a Guest, or if you’re logged in, you can create a nickname for better score keeping.

Once you hit the “Start Labeling” button, you’re randomly paired up with someone else online. You’ll both have two minutes to start labeling the same sets of pictures with tags that you believe describe what the images show.

Google Image Labeler

If you’re labels match your partners, you’ll get some points, the amount depending on how specific your labels are.

Once you start playing, you’ll be able to start making guesses, but there’ll be a list of phrases that you can’t use. I don’t know if you’re penalized for accidentally using them though.

I typed ’em several times, because I was just trying to make as many guesses as I could before the time ran out.

When the game’s over, you’ll get to see how many points your team scored and what your partners guesses were for the same images.

google-image-labeler-final-score

I think it’s a lot of fun and at the same time you’re helping Google provide better image results. 🙂

How to Install Subdomain Version of WPMU on GoDaddy

If you’re having problems installing WPMU on a GoDaddy Shared server, don’t worry, so is everyone else, as I’m sure you’ve found out through your own research.

If you’re installing WordPress MU on the main site of your shared server, follow the WPMU guide over here.

That should work for you.

Now if you are trying to install WPMU on a domain on your server that’s aliased to your main domain, this is where it gets tricky.

You still have to follow the guide I just linked to above, so complete those steps first.

After all of the different things I tried, I felt like it was never gonna happen.

I thought I almost had it when I got the subdomains to work without a 403 or 500 error, except that it showed the home page of my main site on the server, instead of the site WMPU was installed on.

I just couldn’t figure it out and I was about to give up until GoDaddy gave me a hint in one of their support emails.

Basically they told me it was not possible to use Wildcards properly on aliased domains.

“Unfortunately this type of DNS setting will not function for an aliased domain name. We are unable to assist you with custom DNS settings in the account. We apologize for any inconvenience regarding this issue.”

Of course they were wrong, as usual, but I never thought anything about the problem being that the domain was aliased so I searched Google for “wildcard on aliased domain in godaddy” which led me to this post at Webmaster World.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you’ll find the exact code you need to place in the root of your MAIN SITE htaccess. Not the site that has WPMU on it, but the main site, so it will be your root .htaccess file. If one doesn’t exist, just create one using notepad and name it .htaccess. Do not add .txt or anything to the end, just .htaccess. The .htaccess file extension will be invisible on your computer unless you set your PC to “show all files”.

The code looks like this

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?([a-z0-9-]+).wpmudomain.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{SCRIPT_FILENAME} !^/wpmudomainfolder [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /wpmudomain/$1 [L]

Once you have this in your .htaccess file, the subdomains should be working perfectly.

You’ll also notice that the favicon on your subdomains will be showing the favicon from your main site. You can fix this just by uploading your own favicon to the root of the WPMU site.

I hope this has saved you the nearly four weeks it took me to figure out.

Google Hot Trends May Be Misleading

Demi Moore Bush Hot Trends

If you take a look at Google Hot Trends today, you’ll see that the top result is “Demi Moore Bush.” So what do you expect that’s about? Probably something not safe for work, I’d assume.

But after digging in to the results on Hot Trends, related searches are “demi moore”, “comedy central,” and “demi moore george bush.”

Then if you look in the news articles section, you see some mentions of “The Billy Bush Show” and then something about Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore broadcasting their Super Bowl predictions.

Hmmm, nothing seems to correlate here.

I don’t see why people would be searching for “Demi Moore Bush” when looking for the news article about the Billy Bush Show and I can’t find any news about Demi Moore visiting George Bush or his father.

Now if you look at the search results, you’ll see that there is definitely some not safe for work web pages here.

Maybe some TV or radio show mentioned something about some old photos Demi Moore took when she was young, and everyone started searching like crazy, because the first result from “downtownalleys” certainly makes a point.

You know what? Maybe Google Hot Trends isn’t misleading after all. 😉