Business Administration Education Guide

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It’s Not Playdo It’s Plaxo With A Pluse (Review)

As a online researcher with what seems like a billion news sites, social networking communities and information resources along with my personal interests, local events I would like to attend and blogs I would like to read -- I simply can not keep up with them all. I’ve tried a handful of free online tools that make big claims to simplifying my life by coordinating everything in a one two three WOW format but so far none of them have held up to what really works for me.

So I stumble upon yet anther one called Plaxo 3.0. Plaxo is an online address book service founded by Napster co-founder Sean Parker. However they’ve received a lot of scowls from earlier Plaxo versions. Plaxo 3.0 is said to be better, more secure, less spam and basically a new Plaxo with less evil. Their website tour didn’t impress me but I decided to watch their video tour which was more impressive. Not yet a wow kind of moment, but enough so that I decided to sign up and see if it can hold up to their marketing of “it’s simple” and “don’t leave home without it” tactics.

Using my Hotmail as my test it did indeed easily sync up my Hotmail contacts into Plaxo. I could have added my Outlook if I wanted to download the software and instant message people through Plaxo. However, since I use AOL I didn’t seem the necessity of adding anther. What I would have liked to do though is sync up my AOL instant message contacts with my instant messages in MySpace. I don’t use MySpace for IM but it does tell me when I have new mail when signed in.

After syncing my Hotmail, it didn’t point me to do anything else so I moved over to Pulse to explore what that was.

Welcome to Pulse. Let's get you up and running.” - Size 18

Get me running with what? What is Pluse? For all I know it’s the newest internet plague…I don’t want to run with the plague!

Thankfully in very small font it says “Not sure what Pulse is or why you should use it? Read our blog.” – size 8

According to the blog “Pulse is a social network for your REAL life.”
Real life? Is that like Second Life? I call my real life by my real name that I rarely use online… Than again I’m not even sure if that’s real either though…but I’ll run with it. Pulse is for real life, got it.

So what Pulse is suppose to do is gather all of the social networking and community websites that I belong to and “through the power of RSS and APIs” Pulse will pull in whatever community website I update and share it with whomever I designate to read those particular websites i.e. family, online buddies business contacts and real friends.

As of May of 2007 (and a promise to add more in the future) Pulse can “pull together” Amazon.com, AOL Pictures, Del.icio.us, Digg, Flickr, Jaiku, Last.fm, LiveJournal, MySpace, Picasa, Pownce, Smugmug, Tumblr, Twitter, Webshots, Windows Live Spaces, Xanga, Yahoo! 360, Yelp, and YouTube.

Here’s the promise that seems too good to be true. The webshots on the What Is Pulse blog look tempting and technically I belong to more social networks than a nerd should. I don’t read or even check in with most of them regularly, but from time t time one will send me an automatic email telling me I have mail from Webcam Wendy or Make Money Mike. Sometimes though rarely, I do receive a genuine email from a potential network buddy or online acquaintance. The social networks I use on a daily basis has blogs from a select few I would love to keep up with but have seem to lost time to do so. So I’m giving Pulse a chance to impress me.

The simple 1 2 3

1 Set up your profile.
2 Connect with your friends, family, and business network.
3 Add feeds for the sites you use.

Profile – simple enough

After I click on Save Changes, nothing happens. This is one of the things that may or often frustrate new internet uses (whether your 15 or 85). It doesn’t tell you what to do next. So I take the initiative and click on “Pulse Feeds”.
Here a not so long list of available feeds allows you to add whatever communities you would like to coordinate and sync. Here is where I take Pulse for a true test drive.

Amazon Wish List – why is this the first one? I have never created a wish list because it just seems like internet begging. Maybe I should create one – maybe some generous anonymous online sugar daddy / sugar mommy will buy me one of the more pricier reference books, tech toys or perhaps someone indulge me in escaping reality with a fantasy books.

When you choose to add a social networking and or community website you belong to you have five options to choose from. However you are only allowed to choose one. What if I want both my family and friends to view a website but not my business contacts to view a website?

  • Business network
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Public
  • Nobody

“Sites you use’ will ask for you to choose a nickname and than provide you with a public profile and calendar. Not sure how or why I would use this but that is what experiments are for.
Add site

Again, not sure how this is used but it says that any site you add will be listed on your Plaxo profile and asks if you would like it to be seen on your public profile.

It seems like Plaxo has a lot of features and I keep adding content and links to the features.
After you’re done with Sites you use and adding any sites you would like to, it again leaves a user hanging in “what next”? So I go over to Connections. In connections it asks for you to add your connections from their list of available capability such as Hotmail or Outlook, but didn’t I do that already at the beginning? Ahhh you have to go to Address Book to see them. So if you want to find a connection you have to sync up your contacts which is a separate function and sync from Address book. That’s sort of annoying.

I don’t often save my planned and potential events in Hotmail but I want to try out Plaxo’s calendar, but if I want to try it out I have to download Plaxo’s software for Outlook in order to sync my Outlook calendar with Plaxo even though I have no intention of using the Plaxo IM feature. That’s annoying!

Calendar download for Outlook was confusing and I never was able to get it to sync -- so I can’t give a review of this feature which says a lot in and of itself.

So I’m done – now what? Yet again I’m left hanging with “what now?”

I lick on My Profile and it an edit profile window comes up. I don’t want to edit it I want to see what others see.

I click on Plaxo and assume that will take me to a home page. No, It takes m to the last page I was on.

I log out and than back in to see the promise of easy coordination and it’s not what I was expecting after almost an hour of adding social network community websites and syncing my Hotmail account. I log out and use a different browsers to see if I can find me as a non member. Nope. There isn’t a search field to look for my membership name.

I log back into Plaxo using my regular internet browser and share a message. It shows on Pluse page but since I have no friends (oh is me) no one sees it. In connections I can look for names so I randomly choose a name. I pick dawg because there is always a Dawg somewhere right? Not in Plaxo, no Dawgs to be found. Okay, how about a Smith? Smiths are like ants you can’t take a step forwards or backwards without stepping one right? Apparently in the internet world Smiths are hiding under the cyber sidewalk. Than it hits me… You can only search for connections that you have always established in your profile and only with connections that also have Plaxo profiles.

Test

As a test, I send an Plaxo Invite to my work email address. This is what I get.
From: Plaxo Pulse
Subject: Sierra added you as a connection on Pulse
At that point you must open the email or view it if you have Outlook.

Email says:

I'd like to connect to you on Pulse.
Pulse is the easiest way to stay up-to-date and share photos, contact info, recommendations, or just about anything from the sites you already use (YouTube, Flickr, Digg, etc.) with the people you know.

Thanks,
Sierra

To accept this request and see what I'm sharing:

I accept the invite from myself and join Plaxo to see what I’m sharing.
Only a small portion of all that I added shows up and the picture I added to the profile is non-existent.

The news sources for Plaxo says this is a don’t leave home without it…I’m leaving home to go outside ad play.

Last thoughts of Plaxo: A couple of hours wasted and disappointed yet again.

Why: because I wanted to be able to read postings and blog entries from MySpace, Live Journal & Tribe all in one location.

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