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A checklist and examples of good practice for 9 new features

It’s now around a month since Facebook business timelines were introduced. We explained the main marketing features here.

In this post I hope to give some guidance to help you review your site and to combine looking at some examples to learn from, plus showing what some are missing. So from top to bottom, I’ll mark what are potentially the most important.

1. Use the cover photo for promotions or to encourage opt-in? (Could be important)

Well, most new pages have a cover photo, mostly a visual that fits the brand, so a tick for this one. There are some interesting promotional ideas. Here’s one example where Firebox are using the photo more tactically for a promotion encouraging liking through an app.

The arrow pointing to the app to sign-up is reminiscent of the old gated Like pages. It may be pushing the terms-of-service, but who’s going to check… This is what Facebook say your cover photo can’t contain:

Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”

Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section

References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features

Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

So perhaps a safer option is the people picture since that’s what Facebook is all about:

2. Integrate your Website through a Link in About (some value)

Browsing different Facebook pages, this is surprisingly rare. To me it’s worthwhile as a call-to-action, above the fold, to browse a store or find out more, so I don’t see it does any harm?

3. Pin to the top left (Important)

Most, but not all are doing this – either for current promotions, or to encourage opt-in – through a gated Facebook App in the panel.

Here’s a nice example a Smart Insights expert member was telling me about. It’s marked by the flag, top left:

5. Create a magazine (Nice if you have the right assets)

One of the nice things about the timeline is that Facebook is that it’s like a magazine and despite Google’s recent efforts, far better than Google+ since it’s two column and supports spanning across them, these are our next two tips. As a print magazine publisher, chúng tôi are great at this.

6. Use full-width features

7. Use photo albums

We know from Pinterest and infographics how people love visuals. ASOS do a great job of keeping columns consistent and using photo albums.

8. Don’t forget events and questions

These are hidden away top left and I’ve seen few recently, perhaps because of the design, perhaps because you need a largish audience to make them work. We had a post from Marie Page on the value of online Facebook events if you’d like to know more.

9. Create milestones (minor)

This is a corporate comms type of thing, but can be fun too. Milestones can start from 1000AD if you can think of a company connection then! Some companies have also used them more recently to engage or show recent announcements.

A lot of companies start when they started using Facebook it seems, so it’s worth digging into those archived photos if you have an interesting story to tell.

I hope you find these ideas useful, here are the official Facebook Timeline Help notes.

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11 Twitter Bots That Will Make The Most Of Your Timeline

When you think about Twitter bots, the first thing that might come to mind is automated accounts spawned by shadowy agencies to cause disruption or spread misinformation across the network.

Enlist the help of a few good bots and you’ll find they can seriously enhance your Twitter experience, adding functions and features that are missing from the native app. All you need to do to summon them is mention the bot account handle in a tweet.

Take a screenshot with @pikaso_me

Sometimes you want a screenshot of a tweet—maybe to save the receipt forever or share it with others—and that’s where @pikaso_me comes in. Reply to any tweet with @pikaso_me screenshot this and you’ll get a nicely cropped and formatted screenshot. It’s free to use, but you can pay €9.99 (about $10) a month to remove the watermark.

[Related: Confused about Elon Musk’s Twitter bot tirade? Here’s a breakdown.]

Set reminders to go back to tweets with @RemindMe_OfThis

If you want a reminder to go back to a tweet at a later date, use @RemindMe_OfThis. Summon the bot by replying to the tweet in question with @RemindMe_OfThis and a time period—next month, in 4 days, tomorrow night, or a specific date. When the period has elapsed or the date has come, you’ll get a tweeted reminder. The bot is free, but you can offer a donation.

Colorize black and white images with @colorize_bot

If you’ve got a black and white image you need colorizing, tweet it to @colorize_bot. The bot uses a vast database of images, and artificial intelligence to add color to photos. The results can be hugely impressive. This bot is free to use, but you can send a donation to support its running costs.

Create enhanced screenshots with @poet_this

We’ve covered one screenshot tool above, but the brilliant @poet_this goes a bit further in terms of screenshot formatting. You can choose from four colored themes, change the shape of the screenshot, and hide the likes and retweets. You’ll need to tweet a specific command to get what you want, but instructions are easy to follow. The bot is free to use, but you can support the developer with a donation if you want.

Download videos from tweets with @SaveVidBot

The @SaveVidBot has a useful function on Twitter: Saving videos in tweets so you can keep them forever or share them somewhere else. Just reply to a tweet with a video by tagging @SaveVidBot, and you’ll get a download link to the footage in the standard MP4 format. This bot is free to use.

Find quoted tweets with @quotedreplies

Twitter’s built-in options for viewing quoted replies are a bit clunky, but @quotedreplies can help. Tag the account in any tweet, and the bot will give you a link that will redirect you to the Twitter page for all the matching quoted replies, which you can sort by popularity or in chronological order. This is also a bot that will cost you nothing to use.

Get screenshots of old websites with @wayback_exe

The @wayback_exe bot is a bit different from the others that we’ve mentioned so far because you don’t actually interact with it—you just follow the account and enjoy what it has to offer—screenshots of webpages from decades past, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. It’s hugely entertaining if you’re into your tech nostalgia.

See how much of the year has gone with @year_progress

This is another standalone bot that doesn’t require any interaction. Follow the @year_progress account on Twitter and you’ll get notifications with a new tweet every three to four days when another percent of the year has gone by. Use it as an encouragement to make the most of every day, or as a reminder of your own mortality—it’s completely up to you.

Turn tweets into quotes with @MakeitAQuote

If you’re wondering where those fancy graphics that show tweets as quotations come from, well, a fair few are courtesy of @MakeitAQuote. Simply follow the account and tag it in a reply to any tweet to get a graphic with the tweet text and profile picture combined. The service is free, but you can leave a donation if you want.

[Related: Not all Twitter bots are bad]

Studies Rank The Most Business

Studies show that location matters when you’re starting or running a small or midsize business.

Thumbtack took its annual survey of SMB owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and its results reflected unique disruptions.

Motley Fool analysts also rated the best states for SMBs based on tax climate, consumer spending, rate of new entrepreneurs, business survival rate, labor costs and climate change effects.

This article is for aspiring entrepreneurs, small and midsize business owners, and anyone else looking for the best state to set up shop.

If you have a new small or midsize business (SMB), several key factors can immediately impact its success. One of the most critical decisions a fledgling SMB owner can make is where to set up shop. Location matters – and studies show that location can determine how easily you can get your business off the ground.

We’ll explore the results of Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey, as well as a Motley Fool analysis of how critical factors can affect business success in different states.

Tip

No matter what state you operate in, make sure you’re familiar with federal and state labor laws and compliance requirements.

Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness survey

In its most recent Small Business Friendliness Survey, Thumbtack polled more than 3,600 SMB owners throughout the country to determine how easy or difficult it was for them to start and run a business in their home states and cities. Participants answered more than 40 questions on topics such as local tax codes, licensing regulations, and the ease of finding workers.

Since Thumbtack took this survey in 2023 amid pandemic challenges, the results differed significantly from its 2023 survey. In 2023, the economy was “in the midst of the longest economic expansionary period in U.S. history,” according to Andrew Heritage, lead economist for Thumbtack. As Heritage pointed out, “Business owners in 2023 were a year removed from one of the briefest yet most steep economic declines in modern history.”

Did You Know?

The best states for small business taxes include Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska. The worst states include New York, New Jersey and California.

Pandemic-related SMB challenges affected nearly every aspect of running a business in 2023. The Thumbtack survey reflects business owners’ frustration and desire for support, but also optimism.

“Our survey found the disruptions caused by COVID-19 posed challenges to small business owners, and small business owners are looking to local, state and the federal government to provide additional support,” Heritage said. “[Of the respondents,] 54% want state government to streamline regulatory and licensing requirements, 45% want the federal government to lower or simplify taxes, and 41% want their local government to make housing more affordable.”

There’s reason to hope that pandemic-induced challenges will dissipate. “Fundamentally, the public health crisis caused by COVID-19 is the cause of current economic disruptions,” Heritage said. “Once resolved, challenges such as the labor shortage, inflation and supply chain disruptions should ease.”

There are signs that the business climate is bouncing back. The Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics show that entrepreneurship is at an all-time high.

Though Thumbtack’s survey respondents faced significant disruptions, they are also optimistic: 87% of respondents believe there’s enough economic opportunity in their communities to succeed, up 11% from the previous survey. They are so optimistic, in fact, that 42% are making plans to invest in their business in the first quarter of 2023.

Did You Know?

Your industry and product may determine how favorable a particular area is for your business. For example, a fishing charter company could be a successful business in Florida, while a music production company should consider starting out in Nashville.

The Motley Fool’s state rankings

While the Thumbtack survey asked small business owners their opinions on their states’ and communities’ friendliness, The Motley Fool’s analysis approached the question differently.

Analysts looked at several studies by government entities and nonprofit organizations to give each state a score based on six factors: tax climate, consumer spending, rate of new entrepreneurs, business survival rate, labor costs and the effect of climate change.

The Motley Fool came up with the following ranking of the top 10 states for small businesses.

Montana: Montana has an excellent rate of new entrepreneurs, a good business survival rate, relatively low labor costs and negligible climate change effects. However, consumer spending is low.

South Dakota: South Dakota has a favorable tax climate, relatively low labor costs, strong business survival rates and low climate change effects. However, there aren’t many new entrepreneurs, and consumer spending is low.

Florida: Florida has an excellent new entrepreneurship rate and good tax climate, but its business survival rate is mediocre, and the state shows increased risk from climate change.

Texas: Texas reports a high rate of new entrepreneurs, a good business survival rate and low risk from climate disasters. However, there are high taxes and somewhat high labor costs.

Idaho: Idaho is not at much risk from climate change, and its consumer spending, rate of new business formation, survival rate and labor costs are all reasonably good. A high tax burden – with combined state and local taxes clocking in at more than 9% – is one of the downsides.

Utah: Utah scored a perfect 10 in consumer spending and a 9.49 on effects of climate change. Tax climate and business survival rate are middling, but the rate of new entrepreneurs and labor costs are fairly low.

Arizona: While Arizona has minimal effects from climate change and a relatively high rate of business openings, its tax rate and business survival rates are on the low side.

Oregon: Oregon doesn’t have a lot of new businesses opening, but those that do open have a good chance of surviving. These businesses are not as vulnerable to climate change, and labor costs are in the middle. The biggest drawback here is high taxes, which exceed 10% for state and local combined.

Wyoming: Wyoming got a perfect score on taxes, with no corporate or personal income tax, and a sales tax of only 5.34%. It doesn’t suffer much from climate change problems. However, its consumer spending and business survival rate are abysmally low.

Nevada: Nevada has plenty of new businesses opening, but a below-average survival rate. Its businesses are reasonably protected from climate change, and its consumer spending is on the low side. There is no corporate or individual income tax, but sales tax is somewhat high at 8.23%.

Did You Know?

The states with the fastest-growing small businesses include Mississippi, Nebraska, Maine and Texas.

Overall findings

Both analyses agree that Florida and Texas are favorable environments for business creation. If you are thinking about opening a new business and need a location, take these factors into account and consider which are most important to you. For example, if you are self-employed and opening a sole proprietorship or consultancy, labor costs may not be crucial.

When choosing where to open a business, also consider where you’d like to live and prepare for retirement.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

6 Of The Most Useful Linux Commands For New Users

Making the switch to Linux can be a little intimidating. A new operating system? Different Desktop? Everything that you have known in computing has changed? Although the switch may seem scary at times, it can be more productive and quite rewarding. Learning new things is your first step.

What is terminal?

Before you can begin learning the ins and outs of Linux, you will need to understand what terminal is. The terminal is Linux’s version of the command prompt or powershell. Linux, which was originally created as a command-line operating system, added a graphical interface for ease of use because of its growing popularity The Linux operating system, in its most productive form, uses terminal.

Terminal commands are unlike most applications you may be familiar with. They are unlikely to spawn a new window, as the results are executed immediately within the terminal application. Terminal commands may also have additional options, which are called “switches.” Switches are used to add functionality to the requested command line operation. Below you will find 5 of the “must know” commands when switching to Linux.

1. “man” command

The man command is going to be the most useful of commands for users new to Linux or terminal. Man is short for “manual,” which is the term for a Linux help document. Every terminal command has a man page, even the “man” command.

If you know the name of the Linux command, function or file you are interested in, simply type man command name and hit Enter. Below represents what running the above command results would be.

2. “ls” command

The ls command is a great tool to see what directories or files reside in your current location or throughout the file system. It is installed in Linux distributions by default, as it is part of the GNU core utilities package. To use this command is as simple as typing ls in your terminal window. This will show you the results of your current working directory.

To show files and directories, size, modified date / time, owner and permissions:

To sort files in current working directory by size:

To list directory information for a directory that is not the current working directory:

3. “cd” command

The cd command is another useful command and is used to change from the current working directory. The below examples will show the functionality of the “cd” command.

To change to a subdirectory:

To change to a subdirectory multiple directories away from the current location:

To change the directory to the home directory of the user:

4. “ifconfig” command

This Linux command may look a little odd if you have worked a long time using Windows operating systems. “ifconfig” is very similar to the Windows version of the command “ipconfig.” This command is not installed by default in all Linux distros. In order to obtain this functionality, the user can install the package by running sudo apt get install net-tools from the terminal (if you are using Debian-based distro). Once installed, using this command will provide the user with the current IP-addressing information for your device.

To view network settings of a specific interface:

To disable a network interface:

To enable a network interface:

5. “find” command

When attempting to find a file by a specific name or extension in Linux, it is best to use the find command. Some of the examples below can be very useful for new user learning to navigate within the Linux terminal.

To search for a file with the filename:

To search for all the “png” files in “/home/Desktop” and its subdirectories:

6. “clear” command

When your terminal is filled up with text, the best way to clear it is with the clear command. This clears the screen in your view and allows you to start again with just the prompt. In some cases you can also use Ctrl + l, which will perform the same task.

clear

In conclusion, we covered the most useful commands that a beginner should know. In addition to these, there are many more commands which you can run in a Linux terminalas well as some commands you should never run. Learning these commands won’t make you want to quit your day job and become a tech guru, but it may make your transition to Linux that much easier.

Josh Grimes

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Making The Grade: Does Repairability Of Mac Laptops Matter?

Repairability of Apple laptops is something that has evolved in recent years. Whenever a new product is released, there are a few websites that will do a teardown and discuss how it’s made. iFixit, a popular website for repair guides and parts, even publishes a repairability guide for laptops and smartphones. Is this something business/education customers still care about? How repairable are Apple’s laptops? That is what I want to look at this week.

When I first got into managing Apple products, I took the Apple Certified Macintosh Technician class. After passing the exam, I was granted access to Apple’s Global Service Exchange (GSX). This website keeps track of repairs of devices. If you’ve taken your laptop in for a screen replacement to an Apple Store or an authorized Apple repair center, it would be documented in this database. During that period, we were using the 13″ white MacBook . This model was released in 2006 with the transition to Intel, and it remained on the market until 2012. I purchased quite a few of them in 2009. We used them until 2012. During that time, I replaced a lot of hard drives. The hard drives in this computer were the old style (pre-SSD or flash storage). They were just bound to failure due to the way spinning drives worked. If you’ve never seen the inside of a hard drive while it’s running, watch this video:

After I saw this video for the first time, I was surprised hard drives even worked on laptops to begin with.

Outside of replacing at least 25% of the hard drives in our deployment, I didn’t have much else fail. The hard drive was an easy swap as well. I could buy a $40 replacement from Amazon, clone the failing drive to it, and swap it out in about ten minutes. Here’s a short video showing how it worked in the 2009 MacBook Pro. It was a similar process in the MacBook.

During that period, Apple laptops were much more modular regarding part repair. A lot of various parts were separated from the main logic board. From a repair standpoint, this meant that more things could be swapped out without replacing a $400-$500 part on a $999 laptop.

As we moved to deploying MacBook Airs in 2012 (and to this day), Apple laptops became much more integrated. There are now fewer things that can be repaired apart from replacing the logic board. Is this a negative thing? I know some would argue yes, but my counterpoint would be it’s been a good thing overall. I ordered 100 MacBook Airs in 2012. I deployed another 75 in 2024. In my entire time managing MacBook Airs, I’ve had to replace one flash memory module. I’ve had one display go bad. I would argue that as repairability has gotten more difficult, dependability (sans the keyboard of the current MacBook Pros), has gone way up.

One thing that has changed is how I manage repairs. Like I mentioned earlier, I have the ACMT certification where I can order parts directly from Apple. With the current laptops, I’ve found that I can send products off to Apple’s depot repair center and have any repairs (even accidental damage) done for less than I can order the parts myself. The downside to doing this is that I have to wait a few days to get the machines back, but I just keep a few spare laptops on the shelf to give to the users while their laptop is being repaired.

In summary, Apple’s laptop line has become a lot harder and more costly to repair in recent years. On the flip side, I’ve seen my need to repair machines go way down. In my experience, Apple’s laptop hardware (sans the current MacBook Pro keyboards) have become as reliable as iPad hardware. Unless you cause accidental damage, you are likely going to have a functioning laptop for many years.

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The Most Amazing Science Images Of The Week, March 26

A well-rounded lineup of amazing imagery for you guys this week: there’s an elephant with a phone and a monkey with a cold (animal requirements: fulfilled). There’s a shot of the space shuttle in space, and one of the SpaceX capsule on the ground (space requirements: fulfilled). There are perfumed 3-D printed shoes and ultraviolet pictures of faraway galaxies and many more. Go look! With your eyes!

The Cygnus Loop Nebula

Looking like a ghostly jellyfish, this ultraviolet shot of the Cygnus Loop Nebula was taken by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer.

Seed Photomicroscopy

At the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, there’s a massive seed bank as a way to ensure against the total extinction of as many types of plants as possible. There’s a new short film about it–it’s pretty amazing. Take a look here.

Shuttle Island

This shot is so great! Look at the shuttle, it looks like that island. [Chet-Apichet via Gizmodo]

Dear Leader

Apple CEO Tim Cook went to visit Apple’s manufacturing plants in China. Many photographs were taken, and many words have been written.

Eating the Book

This great cookbook/meal is a lasagna with the recipe for lasagna printed right on it! Then you eat it! Where can I get some lasagna does anyone know? [via PSFK]

Slurry From Above

Firefighters drop a whole bunch of neon slurry on a wildfire in Colorado. For more awesome photojournalism like this, head over to American Photo.

Van Gocean

We looooove this video of swirling ocean surface movements. Just the thing to relax you at the end of the week. Read more here.

Monkey Allergies

This monkey (a 19-year-old Japanese macaque) has seasonal allergies! As Associate Editor Paul noted, “his face is all red.”

Smelly Printed Shoes

Aside from the already pretty-cool ability to print a pair of shoes at will, these are even more interesting because they’ve been “impregnated” with scents. No clinical smell of plastics–these are perfumed. Read more here.

Elephant-Sized Phone

Look, we didn’t particularly care for the Samsung Galaxy Note. We found its massive 5.3-inch screen hard to use, its stylus ineffective, its performance sluggish. We are not convinced bigger is better. (We might be in the minority there, since the Note has sold about five million units already, making it a legitimate hit.) But it does have one very happy customer: an elephant. See the video here.

Astronaut, Dragon

SpaceX is getting awfully close to its first demonstration flight. Pictured is NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, performing a crew equipment interface test. Read more here.

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