Author Archives: Michelle Lentz

by Michelle Lentz

The TechCocktail conference is tomorrow, 9 am – 5 pm, at Loyola University – Water Tower Campus, Chicago. It’s an all-day event that offers some great speakers, interesting perspectives, and a small environment. The goal of the conference is to “assist attendees by bringing them essential business startup tips, advice, and knowledge from a super-cast of successful founders, developers, and entrepreneurs.”

Speakers include author Geoff Livingston (Buzz Bin blog/Livingston Communications), Mike Domek (TicketMaster), Dick Costolo (Feedburner/Google), Jason Fried (37signals), Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV), and more. A bunch of locally owned start-ups will be there as well, including the wonderfully time-sucking, to which I am addicted, as well as crowdSPRING, Edmodo, and the list keeps going.

Following the conference, you can attend the 8th Chicago TechCocktail mixer event. A cocktail party for the TechCocktail, of course. Over 600 guests have RSVP’d, so it should be a blast. You can still register for the conference; standard rates are $350.

I wish I’d known about this sooner. Chicago is a five-hour drive from me and one of my favorite cities. Sadly, I now have meetings all day instead. However, if any of you are available and close to Chicago, this event sounds like a blast.

Events, news, apps, and more – just let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net or via Twitter or Pownce.

by Michelle Lentz 

One thing I love about readers is that you talk to me. You’re not afraid to post comments or links. So I have a question for you – Would you pay for Twitter? Apparently the thought is being tossed around, although it’s worth mentioning it hasn’t come from the folks actually working at Twitter. It’s come from many of the power users.

Newmedia Jim had a thought-provoking post on this, all stirred up by Jason Calacanis. I posted a comment over on Jim’s blog, but then I started thinking a little more about this and I want to amend and elaborate.

My first instinct is no, I won’t pay for Twitter. After all, I don’t pay for Pownce, Jaiku, FriendFeed, or any of the other countless social networks I find myself a part of. Then I remember, I pay a small fee to Typepad every month to host my blogs and their images. I pay $25 to Flickr each year to upload as many photos as my heart desires. Why wouldn’t I pay for Twitter?

So my revised answer is sure, I’ll pay a yearly fee to Twitter if it goes that way. But I would see it as something similar to Flickr – $24.95/year for added benefits. I have no quibble with that. Make it easy to group tweet or send direct messages to multiple people, alphabetize my followers list, and more features. Possibly put a limit on how many messages per month a standard account can tweet. Twitter Pro and Twitter Standard would work, assuming the Twitter Pro account isn’t ungodly expensive.

As Jim points out in his blog, $60 is currently what it takes to fill up a gas tank. I can only imagine the gas prices in larger citiies – in Cincinnati we crossed the $4/gallon mark this weekend. I have better things to do with my money than pay Twitter. But I hold that if I can pay Flickr $25/year, I can pay it to Twitter as well.  

Do I think this is coming? No, not yet, so I’m not overly concerned. But I found it an interesting question.

Contact me with new media, apps, news, and more at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net or via

 by Michelle Lentz

Personally, I always like a corporate excuse to get myself to Las Vegas. The 2008 BlogWorld Conference and New Media Expo will take place Sept 20-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Attached to the main conference is an “Executive and Entrepreneur” preconference beginning Sept 19.

BlogWorld promotes itself as “an industry-wide trade show, conference, and media event dedicated to promoting the dynamic industry of blogging and new media. BlogWorld features the largest blogging conference in the world including more than 50 seminars, panel discussions and keynotes from iconic personalities on the leading-edge of online technology and internet-savvy business.”

Last year, at the inaugural conference, there were more than 60 sessions with over 100 speakers, including Mark Cuban, Leo Laporte, and Jeremy Wright. Keynotes for 2008 haven’t been announced yet, but with such a large audience, chances are there will be some big names from social media. Concurrent sessions will give the audience a chance to choose from high-end experienced topics to those of interest to people just getting started in blogging.

The Executive and Entrepreneur preconference focus on corporate blogging and the use of new media in business environments. This preconference will offer topics for those looking for how a blog might help their business to bloggers already involved with corporate topics.

Registration is already open for this event, which only costs $200 before June 20, $300 by Aug 22, and $400 thereafter.

If you have tech news, apps, or gadgets that you want to hear about, let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net or via

by Michelle Lentz

Remember back when Google scooped up JotSpot? Well, a few months ago, JotSpot (now called Google Sites), was launched as part of Google Apps for Your Domain, which I”ll just call GAFYD. 

I use GAFYD with my and blogs. It allows me to have email with my URLs, which I could do anyway. The catch is that I can have that email through GMail, which I really like. The GMail spam filter is excellent and I love the archiving and threaded conversations. GAFYD is sort of a pain to set up – I had to modify DNS settings, CNAME settings, and the like, but it’s do-able in an evening. In exchange, I get GMail with my own URL, personalized iGoogle start page, personalized Google Docs, Google Sites, and more. I really only use the Google Docs and the GMail.

Last month I had poked around in Google Sites. Previously this was only available through GAFYD, but today, it was opened up to everyone. Google Sites is simply an online site creation tool that is amazingly simple to use. It helps those with little to no HTML skills create a nifty web site that is also part social network. The social networking aspects of the site are built in, and more Wiki than Facebook. Google thinks these sites are perfect for small groups or clubs, even using a Ski Club as their example. Without a purchased domain, your URL reads something like this:

There are still a few little kinks to work out, but this is a nice feature, for free, allowing more people to acquire a web presence with little effort.

This Google video explains it all:

22 May


by Michelle Lentz 

This is not a silly play on words by me; instead, it’s a play on words by the folks involved with MIT FreeCulture, a student organization at MIT. I stumbled across YouTomb by accident today and while it’s not an app, it is a rather fascinating look at YouTube and the items it has removed.

YouTomb lists videos removed from YouTube for copyright complaint. You can’t view the videos – they’re gone – but you can see a screen capture, who requested the removal, and how long it was posted before it was removed, which is the really interesting part.

YouTomb continually monitors the most popular videos on YouTube for copyright-related takedowns. Any information available in the metadata is retained, including who issued the complaint and how long the video
was up before takedown. The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm. 

It’s interesting to see that some clips stay live between 100-500 days before they’re caught and removed.

MIT Freeculture became interested in the copyright infringement issue after YouTube anounced that it uses an automated filtering technology to search for near-matches on copyrighted material. The automated process can result in perfectly innocent videos being removed. Although based on the amount of concert footage I’ve seen on YouTube, it also misses a lot of things.

You know, I never realized there were so many clips from the WWE and from Full House posted on YouTube. Who knew?

YouTomb exists to educate others on fair use and copyright issues, as well as serve as a watchdog organization. It’s an interesting look at copyright and YouTube, and definitely worth exploring a little.

Let me know if there are any apps, gadgets, or if there’s news you want to here more about. Reach me at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net or via