Category Archives: Geek

Revisiting the Facebook reach debate

facebook_logoThe debate around Facebook Pages and their organic reach has been ongoing for years now, but it always spikes again when Facebook themselves cop to the fact that organic reach is changing or that their algorithm has changed in some manner.

The latest development is an apparent admission on Facebook’s part that Pages will now see organic reach drop to “between 1-2%”. For what its worth, previous organic reach was around 6%, and two years ago I remember telling bands I worked with that 10% was probably a sign things were going well – anything more than 10% would be a bonus. So, let’s be clear: Facebook organic reach has never been all that great.

Now though as we drop nearer and nearer to a zero figure, it rightly leaves many wondering why they bother. Just last week, Eat24 announced they were deleting their Facebook Page citing the hopeless reach as a factor.

I certainly sympathise. Let’s be clear: I’ve never been of the view that we all deserved unlimited reach with our Pages. However the ideal always felt like a balance of sorts, with day-to-day posts achieving decent reach (provided they were good) and ‘milestone’ posts (which in the context of bands would mean new single/video/album/tour) getting promoted to ensure maximum reach not just to fans but to broader audiences too. There was logic to this: it ensured a good flow of decent content to fans (which in turn kept them on the site, thereby benefiting Facebook as well) whilst also ensuring that Facebook would see money for promoting those key posts to broader audiences.

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Got an Android device? Using Google Music? Then get this app:

Cast to UPnPI stumbled on this app the other day, and its a fine example of someone taking Google’s infrastructure (in this instance its Play Music app and the Android platform) and making something pretty awesome.

So what’s the app? Titled (rather un-sexily) Cast To UPnP/DLNA for GMusic, the app turns your Android device – and specifically the Play Music app – into a UPnP/DLNA host. In plain english, this means you can play your music from your phone (and this includes the All Access streaming part of Play Music) to any UPnP/DLNA receiver – like your Xbox360, a Sonos, XBMC etc etc.

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Nevermind Apple TV or Chromecast – buying an Android TV stick is a complete no-brainer

mk808bLike most geeks of my ilk, I have a few devices that plug into my TV and connect me to the net. With my Apple TV I can watch Netflix and do various others things. Having jailbroken it, I can also run XBMC now, which finally makes the device more worthy of its pricetag. Elsewhere I have an Xbox 360 which can also stream Netflix, and additionally can stream Sky, BBC iPlayer and various other on-demand services. Generally, that’s the one that sees the most use here.

Lately though, something else has eclipsed both – and frankly is proving such good value for money that it beats even that Raspberry Pi in the “so cheap it’d be mad not to buy one” stakes: an MK808B Android TV stick.

What’s an Android TV stick? In short, its a tiny dongle-like mini-computer with an HDMI socket, bluetooth, wifi and two USB sockets. It plugs directly into your TV and turns it into an experience similar to that on an Android tablet. And the price? Just £33 – including delivery.

Here’s the thing: Apple TV, Xbox, Roku and various other devices of their ilk are all closed platforms in one manner or another. You can only run the apps that they permit onto their platform. Android, on the other hand, has an infinitely wider number of apps available and as such leaves them all for dead when it comes to beefing your TV experience up. YouTube, VEVO, Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, TuneIn Radio, Google Music, Google Movies, XBMC, Skype… you name it, the Android TV stick can run it. You can even add in support for beaming content from your phone to the TV (e.g. to show a photo) Its really quite incredible.

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Old smartphone + Skype = simple access-anywhere home security camera

Skype_std_use_logo_pos_col_rgbIt seems inevitable these days that we’ll be changing our phones at least once every two years, if not every year. As a consequence then, most of us will no doubt have some spare handsets lying around. In my case, its a couple of old Android phones and an old iPod Touch.

I’m one of those people who hates to see old tech go to waste, mainly because I’m of the view that they’re still eminently capable of doing some useful things. You only have to see how much the Raspberry Pi has taken off to know that low-powered tech can still perform a lot of useful tasks. So, with that in mind I thought I’d see what could be done with my old handsets – and found rather a nifty solution. By simply installing Skype on them, then setting Skype to automatically answer with a video call, I can use the handsets as globally-accessible video cameras, letting me check on home when I’m away etc.

If you want to give this a go, its dead simple. Just do the following:

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Rolling your own easily accessible cloud network drive with OwnCloud and Transmit

owncloud-logoFor a while now I’ve been trying to solve a particular issue with how I work. I use a Macbook Air, with a 128Gb hard drive. That’s not a lot of space, especially when you’re working with a lot of assets like video files and whatnot around an artist campaign. Across my campaigns a lot of assets wind up getting saved to my hard drive: photos, cover art, promo videos etc etc. Storing it all takes up more and more space – annoying when I may only need the files a few times across a campaign lifetime.

With that in mind, I was looking for a cloud storage solution with the following criteria:

1) Must be accessible as a network drive on my Mac so I can simply copy files to/from it
2) Must also be accessible from mobile/tablet so I can get to files on the move
3) Must be private by default (ie content not accessible via public URL)
4) Must also have means to share links privately to other people

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