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Archive for SOBCon


Essential Tools Featuring Terry Starbucker

Posted by: Char | Comments (0)

In December 2006, a conversation with Liz Strauss inspired me to start a series on the Essential Tools of web professionals. Liz Strauss is the co-founder of the blogging conference SOBCon which is coming up the first weekend in May. I went to the conference last year and I am still reaping the benefits of the relationships established and formed. Today’s Essential Tools feature will spotlight Terry Starbucker, another co-founder of SOBCon.

Terry Starbucker is a service company executive with nearly 28 years in the business world. He writes about leadership and personal development on his blog, “Ramblings From a Glass Half Full“.

And now over to Terry:

This is a guest post I never thought I’d write. I come from a not-too-distant past of #2 pencils, 12-column pads and a 10-key calculator. That was the extent of my tools when I graduated college 28 years ago (I know, not too impressive). Plus, I’ve slowly and grudgingly adapted to the web tools of the early 21st Century, only going forward when pushed by my younger and more savvy friends.

But somehow, some way, I’ve managed to integrate myself into this landscape with a blog, a Twitter account, and a little annual Social Media conference called SOBCon.

Let’s just say that I’m a “lucky lagger”. And in the process, I’ve learned that the biggest, most important tool of them all remains something very, very analog – face to face contact.

What all these modern tools represent to me are new means to communicate, and yes, they are marvelous. They have opened up so many doors for me. However, if one is to fully leverage these tools, there has to be a human behind the picture or avatar.

I don’t believe I would have made the online strides that I have without taking that leap of faith with Liz Strauss in 2007 and starting SOBCon. That was the place where I could physically meet many of the people I had met through the web, forge deeper and more meaningful relationships, and get those “pushes” that I needed to try newer online tools.

I’m not advocating that everyone who reads this should start a conference, but making the effort to meet at least some of the people you are meeting online can pay some marvelous dividends, and I’m living proof of that.

Now that I’ve mentioned my important analog tool, here are my favorite digital ones:

  1. Thesis on WordPress – This is my blogging platform, and I’m very happy with it. I probably don’t even use half of the features that I could (remember that slowly part above?)
  2. Tweetdeck – I am a very active Tweeter, and this application helps me keep up with all those 140 character bursts in a very sensibly organized way.
  3. Blackberry – My constant companion. A multi-faceted friend that delivers my mail, makes old-style phone calls, puts the internet in my pocket, and allows me to Tweet from just about any place on the face of the earth (much to the chagrin of my wife)
  4. Skype – Just last week I started using this service, and it took me all of five minutes of crystal clear across the Atlantic conversation to wonder why it took me so long to download it.
  5. Foursquare – My new toy. I’m trying to be the mayor of my local Starbucks, even though for the life of me I can’t figure out why I really need to be.

Thanks Charlene for this opportunity to prove myself wrong, from a Half Full Lucky Lagger.

And thanks to you, Terry, for being part of this series. You can also follow Terry on Twitter (he’s @starbucker), where he loves to play virtual disk jockey and share his love of music, and on Facebook.

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

Categories : Essential Tools
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One of the things I like best about my Essential Tools series, is getting to know the web pros I feature just a little better. This is definitely the case with this week’s star, WordPress Multi-User (WPMU) expert and designer Andrea Rennick of From our behind the scenes exchanges, I decided that Andrea and I could be long lost sisters – with our geek tendencies, super Mommy powers, and deficient domestic goddess genes. In all seriousness, I am so glad to be able to feature such talented individuals with such amazing web skills!

And now to Andrea in her own words:

Since I work from home as a freelance WordPress MU developer, I have a home office set up in a spare bedroom. My office mate is my husband Ron. He’s pretty essential, as we work together and he does the heavy coding. It’s also nice to bounce around ideas with someone else who does the same work as I do. Often, WordPress devs don’t get much of a chance to do that.

Some tech tools I use:

  • Debian Linux on my desktop: Yes, it’s uber-geeky, but the real up side is since I do so much work on server running the same OS, it makes it super easy to develop and test locally then just send along the finished work as if it were server to server. The case has lights and a clear side too, so it looks cool.
  • Tweetdeck: it’s the work at home office cooler! I also use to to check in with one of our daughters who is away at college. I’m a bit of a twitter-holic, it’s always open and I switch back and forth while waiting for page loads. Good thing I’m a fast typer. I have a couple of columns devoted to searches on WordPress MU and buddyPress, just in case I see someone who needs help.
  • OpenOffice: aside from docs, it has a built-in “publish to PDF”.
  • Gimp: the Photoshop-like graphic editor. No, it’s not quite Photoshop, but for most of what I need to do, it’s perfect.
  • Linky: this is a Firefox extension and the sole reason I can answer forum posts so quickly. Just highlight a bunch of links on the page, right click, select the “Open in tabs” option and off you go – multiple tabs opening at once. Three clicks instead of dozens.

Some soft tools:

  • A really good chair. I sit at my desk for a large portion of the day. the best advice I read was “For a startup, buy $100 desks and $700 chairs”. It’s totally worth it. That being said, I have a really good desk too – a big L-shaped one arranged just how I like it.
  • Notebooks. Lots of ‘em: you know the big 3 subject coiled-wire bound notebooks? I use those for everything. I write down every single thing I need to remember. I jot down notes from client calls, I write up to-do lists, I write down things I’m working on and great ideas. When I fill one, I file it and move on to the next. As long as it is all in my notebook, I can find it. For me, the act of writing things down helps me to remember it more. I try to section things out, but I usually wind up just flipping to a new page for a new day, or a new client call. Everything work-related is in my book.
  • Black extra fine ink pens. There’s three on my desk right now.
  • Since I work from home and live out in the country, I have a surprising lack of other work-related tech tools. I can barely use my cell phone and usually forget it when I go out.

When I’m not on the internet, blogging about WordPress MU at, I play a mild-mannered homeschooling mom of four. Ron and I also have a consultancy at We recently dipped our toes into BuddyPress themes and run and

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. Next week will feature SOBCon conference co-founder Terry Starbucker (also known from his Ramblings from a Glass Half Full blog) .  If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

Categories : Essential Tools
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