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Public Transportation Pedals Forward

My friend recently returned home from studying abroad in Europe and cannot stop raving about the obvious: the food, the beautiful scenery, the interesting people. But one other thing I keep hearing about is how impressed she was with the bike sharing system available in many of the countries she visited.

The program, available in places like Austria, Belgium, France, and Germany, allows you to rent and return bikes at different docking stations around participating towns. The advantages are that you don’t have to worry about the problems that come with ownership, such as theft, vandalism, and maintenance. My friend praised the ease and convenience of the system in the busy towns she visited. That got me wondering: why doesn’t something like this exist in San Francisco?

As if on cue, Mashable recently revealed that the Bay Area is among 4 areas in the U.S. that will see a bike sharing program in the near future.

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According to Mashable, the Bay Area Regional Bicycle Sharing Pilot Program is set to award a contract to a vendor this fall and will incorporate “RFID and cellular communications, GPS and mobile apps.” In addition, the docking stations will be completely solar powered and will require no construction to install. The system will collect data on how often the program is used, as well as where bikes are being rented and returned in order to better determine where more stations are needed.

In San Francisco, the main stations will be near CalTrain, the Transbay Bus Terminal, and BART stations. It should be interesting to see how often the bikes will be used and by whom.

Do you think you’ll be one of the first to try out the new program?

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Safety First

I’ve always thought that I’m pretty security-savvy on the web. I use unique passwords for each website where I have a login; I always log out before I leave the computer; and I never share my passwords, Social Security number, or bank account numbers via email.

Read more

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Taking Spam and Making Spam Musubi

My mom is not the most tech-savvy person, but she’s working on it. She and I had a “Teach Parents Tech” moment when my cousin Jake got engaged a few weeks ago. My aunt sent an email to my mom and the rest of their siblings to share the happy news. An entire week later, my mom forwarded the email to my brothers and me... talk about being the last ones to the party! I asked my mom for the reason behind the delay.

“I was on Maui when she sent it,” said my mom.

“But you get email on your iPhone.”

“Well, I don’t use my iPhone for email.”

“Why not?!”

“There’s just too much spam in there!”

Knowing that my mom was using an older email provider, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised to hear this. Apple Mail filters incoming spam on the iMac she uses at home, but it’s not as effective on her iPhone. It was time for a change.

Despite a 15-year relationship with her previous email provider (she signed up for it back when home internet usage was billed by the hour), my mom was pretty open to switching to a new email provider. I suggested that she switch to Gmail, which has a reputation for catching spam faster than you can say “musubi” (Disclosure: Google is a Cutline client, so of course I’d recommend Gmail). In less than 30 minutes, I completed the transition process, which involved:

  • Creating a new Gmail account.

  • Forwarding new messages from the old email provider to the new Gmail account (so she won’t miss anything important);

  • Importing messages and contacts from her old email account into her Gmail inbox (in case she wants to look up something from a couple of months ago);Creating a new mailbox for her Gmail account in Apple Mail;

  • Deleting the old email account from her iPhone and creating a new mailbox for the Gmail account; and
  • Explaining the new setup to my mom.

 And, it was all surprisingly easy!

The two-week progress report: Mom receives far less spam than before. She’s actually using her iPhone to read and (sometimes) reply to email. Since we’re still forwarding messages from her old — and slightly embarrassing — email account to the new one, she isn’t missing anything important.

Most importantly, we’ll never be the last ones to the party again.

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Hot Legs!

It’s official: “Toasted Legs Syndrome” is the newly coined medical term for the unusual skin discoloration that a handful of people have experienced after resting hot laptops on their legs for an extended time.

Next month, the medical journal Pediatrics will publish a report by Swiss researchers who found that prolonged exposure to heat from laptops and other devices can cause harmless but permanent skin discoloration. The news was recently covered by WebMD, Gizmodo, and CBS News.

My four-year-old MacBook Pro is on its last legs and gets incredibly hot after just a few minutes of use. For that reason, I typically use it at my desk, but I occasionally take it to the living room so I can surf the interwebs from the couch. From now on, rather than risk my health, I think I’ll just stick to my desk and use the iPad while on the couch. Or, I could spring for one of these sweet lap desks.

Watch the "Hot Legs" video here.

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Traveling on a Budget? Paddle Over to Kayak to See Where Your Money Can Take You

Summer’s quickly coming to an end! Have you taken a vacation yet? We’ve had a few Cutliners head out on cool trips to Africa, Las Vegas, and the wine country, but we also have friends who have enjoyed staycations right here in the Bay Area and even those who have embarked on “virtual vacations” via Google Earth (at home, of course, never at the office!). With workers busier than ever and the recession still crimping household vacation budgets, getting out of town can be tricky.

To help make end-of-summer vacation planning a little easier, travel website Kayak recently added its new Explore feature (linked from the “More” tab on Kayak’s homepage), which maps out where you can fly based on how much you are willing to spend on a plane ticket. For example, say I want to spend between $120 and $300 on my plane ticket, and I’ll be departing from San Francisco Intl. Airport (SFO). Kayak tells me that for that price range, I’m limited to about 20 destinations in the U.S., plus Cancun, Mexico. But if I slide the scale over to $600-$800, my options expand throughout the Americas over to western Europe and even a handful of destinations in Asia. The Explore feature bases its map data on ticket prices travelers have found through Kayak in the last 48 hours, and it also allows vacation planners to filter destinations by activities and weather. Click on a destination and you’ll see local hotel prices. The Explore feature is a really great tool for budget-conscious vacationers, or even people like me who daydream on their couches with Kayak’s iPad app in hand.

My next vacation? Well, the Maldives aren’t within my budget, so I’m thinking Kauai...

 

 

Bon voyage!

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It’s Heere!

We're back with YouTube Friday. Here are our favorite videos of the month.

I have to go with Old Spice's social media marketing campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa. It's a really cool campaign that's actually targeted towards women who buy bath products for their boyfriends and husbands. My man already uses Old Spice, but if he didn't, these commercials and tweets would persuade me to buy it for him! -- Paige

I think we can all agree that this guy is extremely talented. -- Michael

These are cutest bunnies in the world! -- Liz

SF residents felt the ground shaking the other day when a little earthquake hit near Daly City. With earthquakes on the mind, I revisited what happened when the ‘89 earthquake hit by watching this 45-minute story by National Geographic.-- Morgan

Lady Gaga and glee club, two of my favorite things in the world -- Shannon

We’ll be back with YouTube Friday in August. Until then, happy viewing!

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Just Like Borrowing a Cup of Sugar From Your Neighbor

Although I don’t necessarily need an 8’ x 24’ portable flat face soccer goal at the moment, thanks to NeighborhoodGoods.net I know that there is one available for my borrowing pleasure if I ever need one... as well as 371 other items within 50 miles from my house. The site, which connects you with neighbors who are willing to lend out anything from lawn mowers to shoes, integrates social networking as well as Google Maps to make for an easy and personalized borrowing experience that’s close to home.

The goal is to allow you to save money on something you might need only once by borrowing instead of buying; you receive confirmation emails revealing how much you would have spent on an item that you instead borrowed for free. As far as trusting people with returning your personal goods? The site uses a rating system, similar to Ebay, so you are aware of any dishonest borrowers. You also have the advantage of completing the transaction in person.

In addition to getting the awesome feeling of doing a good deed as a lender, you might also get to know a great neighbor in the process. Check out NPR’s article on NeighborhoodGoods.net for more information. You can also take a look at this video.

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Cutline at Mashable’s Summer Tour SF

Mashable’s Summer Tour invaded San Francisco last week and a few of us Cutliners were able to head over and enjoy the evening. We snacked on delicious apps and listened to the Mashable team introduce themselves to a room full of bloggers, developers and overall social media enthusiasts.

Needless to say, there was mingling, networking and even a Pete Cashmore sighting. We’re looking forward to enjoying this event annually. A big thanks to the folks at Mashable for organizing a fun evening!

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What do cubes, rubber ducks, and 100 dollar bills have in common?

Last week we had a friendly little competition here at Cutline... a cube decorating contest. The final judging was on Friday afternoon and much to the chagrin of all involved, everybody won something. Sure, there were rubber ducks and paper guitars and massage pillows in the prize pool but nobody walked away empty-handed. Well, this Friday they will. Because now the real competition and smack talking starts. Beginning today, several Cutliners will be participating in the Facebook Fan Favorite competition to see who can get the most votes (in the form of new fans, likes and comments) for the time they took to jazz up their cubes. The winner of the Fan Favorite competition can buy their own rubber ducks when they become one with a Benjamin. And then perhaps the lucky duck will buy us all drinks. Who's your favorite? Head over to our Facebook fan page to cast your vote! Voting ends at 12:01 pm PST on Friday, July 23.

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Happy Social Media Day – A Glimpse Into One Girl’s Social Media Journey

Loyal Cutline Speaks readers, have you heard? Today, June 30, 2010, has been declared the first annual Social Media Day by Mashable's founder, Pete Cashmore. To honor the occasion, social media enthusiasts across the globe are gathering to celebrate and discuss all things social media. To give you all an idea of the scope, there are more than 600 meetups in 93 countries today! 

According to Mashable's official blog post on the topic, there are a lot of creative events planned from panels, to charity fundraisers and even sporting tournaments. Mashable is hoping people use today to celebrate the changes in media that have empowered us to stay connected to information in real time, the tools that have enabled us to communicate from miles apart, and the platforms that have given a voice to the voiceless. 

While I am unable to attend the event here in San Francisco, I'm taking a little time today to look back at my own social media journey and reflect on how it has evolved over the years.

Back in 2004, I began a love / hate relationship with Myspace. I use the term "love" because the social network allowed me to stay in contact with friends while away at college. More importantly, I use the term "hate" because this was my first experience in balancing social media with real life (exams, studying and living on my own for the first time). Needless to say, Myspace fizzled out of my life, but it is true what they say: you never forget your first love.

As I entered the Facebook stage of my social media journey around 2006, I was able to balance my life online with my offline priorities. The concept has stayed with me to this day and so has my Facebook account. We're in it for the long haul.

Entering the work force pushes one to reevaluate their social media presence. For me, a career in public relations widened my horizons to consider and join both LinkedIn and Twitter.  LinkedIn has enabled me to stay connected to former and current colleagues, network with business associates and maintain a "living" resume of sorts. With Twitter, I've been able to not only "listen" to my favorite journalists and celebrities, but I can interact with reporters and get my micro news updates throughout the day.

That takes us to present day. My social media palate is more mature, you could say I am open to experiment and try to new social networks at this stage. Currently, I am experimenting with Swipely, a really cool social shopping site (and Cutline client). At this rate, I may end up joining Audioo, a site that allows members to share personal voicemail messages...unlikely, but I'll never say never at this point!

How are you celebrating Social Media Day? When June 30 rolls around next year, how many new sites do you think you'll have joined? Let us know!