There’s been a lot of hullabaloo about Vine — Twitter’s new “Instagram” for video app – since it was released last week (as a matter of fact, Apple removed it from the Editor’s Choice area on the App Store this morning). Most of the chatter is revolving around Vine’s purported porn problem. However, there’s a bigger transformation potential with Vine: how-to videos or “performance support” types of videos for teaching, showing and demonstrating how to do something (clean, and not dirty, we hope). Simply browse the #howto hashtag to see a ton of demonstration vids. Just this morning, I’m browsing vids that show me how to “make steak tartare” or how to “solve the Rubik’s cube” in 6 seconds or less.

If Vine can overcome the typical human need to share ”what shouldn’t be shared” socially, it could be a powerful app for sharing knowledge (the non-porn type)… ;)

You may be asking what is Vine?

I’ve worked at home on and off for most of my career, though for the past five years, I’d been in an office. Now, I have a job enables me to work from home when I’m not on the road, and I am re-discovering some pitfalls. You know the big one: laziness.

I mean, really– how easy is it to not shower, not brush your teeth, and to eat cereal right out of the container when you literally won’t see anyone for hours?

Yeah, can’t do that. For one, I’m not productive. And for two, that reminds me a little too much of some of my darker days after I got laid off this past summer.

Being the gadget geek I am, I’ve turned to several apps to help me reinforce some good habits.

Moves: Moves is an app that tracks your movements and creates a “storyline” of where you’ve been.  It uses GPS and the gyrometer in your iPhone to track distance without having a second gadget. It tracks steps, running, cycling, walking– anywhere where you’re moving (but not cars; I guess they’ve programmed it to realize that humans can’t run 65 mph).  Today, I’ve really only walked around my apartment, but it also reminds me that movement is probably a good thing– and drives me to go out and walk in my urban neighborhood.

Lift:  Lift allows you to check into pre-created habits.  You can create habits like “Floss” or “Exercise”  or “Make the Bed” (a big one for me). You can search popular habits to see what other people are working on (and to remind you what you might work on– “drink more water” was a good one for me) and are also organized by categories like productivity, mindfulness and fitness.  You can check on your friends’ activity, and support them with “props”.  It’s like crowdsourced responsibility.

GymPact: Put your money where your mouth is, or something like that.  GymPact makes you pay cold, hard cash every time you don’t go to the gym.  Make a pact with yourself (mine is currently 3x/week), check in when you go to the gym or go for a run, and earn money.  I found the checkins can be kind of buggy, but their customer service very quickly will credit you a gym visit that you missed because of their app.  Users get paid by those who don’t go to the gym. I’ve earned, like, $7 so far– which doesn’t cut into my personal training budget, but hey, it’s better than paying $25 for not going.  Ouch.  If you want to join, they have a “get $5 when you sign up” promotion.  Hey, I’ve never been paid to exercise, have you?

SparkPeople is something I’ve been using for years on and off– probably since 2006.  They are a local-to-me company that is the largest fitness site on the web, and happens to have a great app.  You can track calories, weight, measurements and exercise and it’s all free.  The reporting features is pretty good on the app and even better on the website.  Plus, if you have a Fitbit or other tracking device, you can sync it with SparkPeople’s tracking.

Many of us accept friend requests from people we don’t know on social networks for different reasons. We may want to grow our network, connect to influencers, or simply find new people to share with. However, you may want to be a bit more careful who you accept those friend requests from. Especially if you owe money.

It seems like those pesky debt collectors have turned to friending people on social networks to publicly shame them into paying their bills. So if you get a friend request from a complete stranger that also happens to be a hottie in a bikini, be sure to second guess the request.

Federal regulators are weighing new restrictions on how debt collectors can use social networks as they work to impose federal oversight over the debt collection industry for the first time. Read more about this at Bloomberg.

A new feature popped up on my Facebook Messenger for iPhone app today. I can now call people, over either wifi or cellular, from the Messenger app.

According to The Verge, this feature started rolling out to US  that the feature began rolling out to US users today, and requires no update through the App Store.  All those rumors about Facebook developing a phone didn’t come true, but they did apparently add calling to their app.

To make the call, open your Messenger app on your iPhone. Select the person you wish to call and then click the small “i” in the top-right of the screen. The resulting dialog gives you an option for a free call – but only if the person is listed as available and online. There is no voice mail in Facebook, you know.

Phone Free from Facebook

As The Verge points out, “It’s also a huge step for Facebook — which with a single feature emerges as one of the largest communities of VoIP users in the world.”

This option is so far only available in the US and to iPhone users, not Android, although that is hopefully coming soon.

A year ago I killed off my Netflix subscription in favor of on-demand through cable, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It’s worked pretty well for me, but now I may have to reconsider.

Netflix just inked a deal with Warner Bros for exclusive online rights to several shows, including RevolutionPolitical Animals, Longmire, 666 Park Avenue, the new Kevin Bacon thriller The Following, and older shows Chuck, Fringe, and The West Wing, and “potential future shows”.

Netflix also announced in December a deal with Disney that includes Disney classics and new Disney live-action and animated features, covering Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Disneynature.

During the recent election, I marathon-watched all the seasons of The West Wing on Amazon Prime, so this deal may hit Amazon in some key spots.  When Netflix lost their Starz deal last February, then followed that with some inane business moves, I pretty much wrote them off. These two new deals are definitely making me pay attention again.

While Netflix is once again becoming a player, the online content area is now becoming a battlefield. Yesterday HBO secured a 10-year deal with Universal to exclusively carry their content for TV, online and mobile platforms. The deal is actually a renewal, but the expiration date wasn’t until 2016. Basically this keeps the content off of Netflix and scores a win for a pay-cable station.

Additionally, Amazon has recently signed a deal with A&E to up their Amazon Prime content.

Are you watching online content? Is it in addition to cable or supplementing? I admit I don’t have a fancy cable package because Comcast’s Xfinity online service gives me access to shows, such as those on TNT, for which I don’t have a cable subscription. Additionally, Hulu lets me watch most (not CBS) of my favorite shows whenever and wherever I want, although there does seem to be a certain selection only accessible from my computer and not a mobile or other device. Finally, I’m using Amazon Prime to catch up, commercial free, on shows like Downton Abbey, The West Wing, Stargate SG-1, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Each online service provides something different for me but all of them can be accessed from my networked Blu-Ray player, my Tivo, or my Apple TV.