Understanding what it is to be your own brand

Your public persona matters. It’s not necessarily about “statistics.” It’s not a matter of having the five star rating, or how many followers you have on Twitter, or how many Likes a Facebook post gets. It is about engagement. Wanting to be known, to be found, to interact with friends and fans. I’m by no means famous – not even by “Internet standards.” The coolest moment of my life was when I was a freshman in college, where someone literally said out loud: “wait, you’re NuAngel?” he had recognized the moniker from my days working on 3dfx drivers. But that was the only time. And that was over a decade ago.

Still, I treat myself like a brand. This is a lesson every high school kid should learn as soon as possible. With or without “PRISM” everything you do online is going to end up somewhere. Pictures sent, conversations had, jokes told – it will all be found. Even the posts you “Like” on Facebook can come back to haunt you, if it could be seen as “advocating” for something unsavory. You need to treat yourself as a product or a brand – you want people to like you. As many people as possible. Which sometimes means playing the center of the road, and doing what you can to be liked by the largest audience. You are your own politician, running for office, and you want the largest number of votes. You want potential employers to search your name and find someone who is likeable, and possibly even someone who is publically engaged with their own community.

Sometimes you certainly don’t want to play nice. And that’s okay. But you also need to ensure you don’t have a public brand meltdown (ProTip: combining “the love of Jesus Christ” and ‘cursing people out with F-Bombs’ doesn’t usually boost public perception! But you can always blame it on “hackers.”). Know when you’re going too far, know when you’re defending yourself at the expense of becoming the butt of the joke. Know when to laugh at yourself and relax. You’re online. Like it or not, the Internet is a “public place.” People are watching, people are talking. People won’t even talk behind your back, because they’re hiding behind fake names – so they’ll say whatever they want. You need to not be that person, and be the same person you are in both worlds.

If anything, perhaps the keyboard can give you a bit more bravado. It works for the bullies out there on the internet. You can’t be seen. People don’t know if your face is red, if you’re mad, if you’re laughing. There is a difference between taking advantage of this and using it to your advantage. You aren’t trying to be an anonymous bully, but even if you’re seething, you can publically “laugh it off” and move on. Sarcasm doesn’t always come across in a text-based medium like the web. Don’t use it, unless you’re positive your audience is going to understand it and appreciate it, and you emphasize it. People on the internet have coined the phrase “literalnet.” The people of the literalnet will never understand sarcasm, no matter how you try to present it. They will take every single word as written fact. Beware the literalnet.

Interact with people whenever possible. Comment back to your commenters, retweet people, tweet back, cross-link your social networks, your profiles, your personas. In this day and age where everybody has a blog, they still may not understand that they are becoming a brand – and you need to be in control of your brand’s message. If you’re a public person, embrace it – but understand it.

Some of the reasons I love using Windows 8

It’s easy to spot a “H8er.” There are people out there who will not give Windows 8 any credit, mostly because it’s a Microsoft product. Some just because they don’t like change. But the people who irk me are the ones who criticize it, but have never laid hands on it. And those people, the H8ers? They’re easy to spot. I called a few out in the comments of a recent BetaNews article. Here are some of the things I had to say.

First, with regards to not being a brand loyalist: “Maybe, and – I get that this could be an impossible stretch – but just MAYBE Brian Fagioli just isn’t a brand loyalist? Maybe he genuinely LIKES Google Music AND Windows 8???? Maybe he doesn’t think that because he likes a music service that means he must live his life on a Chromebook!?”

I continued: “I know… it’s a stretch that there might be people out there who use more than one brand of device.
If it makes you feel any better, those people must all also be swimming with STDs.” I was clearly joking about that last bit, of course, and the author of the post (Fagioli) responded, clarifying but in essence agreeing with what I described: not being locked in to any one “ecosystem”.

Addressing a few complaints based on theory from screenshots, I explained busted a few myths for the commenters: “You can pin any icon to the Start Screen, even if it’s not a Live tile – you don’t have to dig through the ‘all programs’ menu. “To launch the calculator on any Windows 8 computer, you simply type “calc” and press enter. No more bringing up the run menu, or clicking the start button – the start screen is a giant Run prompt.”

Further: “I’m a Windows 8 user who thinks the whole thing needs improved. The name “WINDOWS” indicates a multi-tasking ability that is sorely lacking from the Modern UI experience (and no, snapping apps to the left or right doesn’t count). But it’s easy to spot someone who doesn’t like it but hasn’t given it a fair shake. Windows 8 has a steep learning curve, but once you learn it, it feels like everything you do is just more productive.”

In closing on that thought: “It’s easy to laugh off Microsoft – but the jokes are old. It’s not 1997 anymore. Linux has gotten stale. Microsoft is innovating for the next several generations.”
When asked what benefits I found in Windows 8, I promptly devised a list:

1. Direct sky drive integration with multiple applications.
2. Live Tiles.
3. Push Notifications (no matter what your smartphone may have you thinking, no Windows desktop OS had these, prior).
4. (Windows Server 2012) the ability to perform a chkdsk on the C: drive without requiring a reboot.
5. “Universal design” – all apps can benefit from a similar experience, take advantage of features such as:
6. In app searching via the charms bar.
7. In app settings (again, in one location).
8. Touch not required, touch pad can be effectively used.
9. App Results (Start Screen as Run prompt).
10. Old familiar keyboard shortcuts stll work (Windows Key + E, Windows Key + R, for example).
11. A free mail app fully compatible with everything from Exchange server to GMail.
12. A free calendar app akin to those found on mobile devices, which allows syncing of appointments, meetings, and To-Dos.

In closing, I added this: “Again, at first I thought it was “change for change sake” – but the more I use Windows 8, the more I like it. Remember, when Windows 95 came out, nobody knew what a Start Menu WAS. We all asked Microsoft what was wrong with the Xerox/Apple/IBM/Windows 3.1 interface of folders on a desktop? Then we wondered if Microsoft BOB was going to take over the world with skeuomorphism. Then we joked about clicking on Start to Shut Down.”

“–then we just got used to it.”

Ouya's here!

Well… Ouya’s there. Because I suspected I may be in the midst of moving when the Ouya consoles were shipped, I had it addressed to my parents’ in Pennsylvania. I did not end up moving as I had thought. The console arrived the day immediately following my most recent trip home. I would not be returning home in two weeks. That day is upon is. This article publishes at 6 AM, Eastern Time here in the States. I’ll be at work around 7:30. If all goes according to plan, I should leave work around 4:30. Perhaps earlier if I’m lucky. Hopefully not much later if unlucky.

Then I drive for 3 hours, listening to fun music while I cross the state line and arrive at my parents’ home and treat myself to a nice 4 day weekend. Where I plan to immediately rip open the box containing the Ouya console, hook it up, and begin tinkering with this thing that I’ve been waiting for for such a long time! It’s been driving me crazy to know I could be toying with this thing, but I have to wait, wait, wait for my next planned trip to Pennsylvania. So close but so far away.

Hopefully I’ll get some good quality time with my Ouya and I’ll be able to write more about it in the coming days, weeks, and months!