Monthly Archives: September 2010

CurrySimple: A Quick Fix for Thai Food Fanatics

Curry Simple 1

It’s Thai food day at Ning! Yum. Nearly everyone digs deep into the Pad Thai when we get it delivered to the office, but it’s not a style of food the home cook can easily tackle with authentic flair.

If you’re a Thai food fan but don’t always have time to whip up a bowl of coconut soup or green chili sauce, you should definitely head over to CurrySimple. It’s a Ning Network where you can interact with other Thai food fanatics, browse a growing library of recipes, get some pointers from a few cooking videos, or simply pick up a package of their restaurant quality sauce and make doing it yourself a little easier.

More than just a place for foodies to gather, CurrySimple is a great example of how to use Ning as business and build a community around a product. For example, each month CurrySimple gives away a package of their tasty products to an active member of the community. The more a member interacts and contributes content, the higher their chance of winning.

The network is also linked heavily with other social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, making it simple for them to spread the word about their brand and get people involved everywhere.

Ready for your own Thai food day? Stop by CurrySimple and spice things up.

Fortune Shines on Ning

We got a great write-up yesterday by Fortune magazine’s Senior Editor-at-Large Adam Lashnisky. Adam covers the high-tech world for Fortune and other news outlets. He’s a long-time Silicon Valley journalist. (You may have heard his voice piping from a radio via his many appearances on NPR’s Marketplace.) Since he has well over a decade of experience covering the high-tech West Coast beat, it’s an honor to have him cover Ning.

Adam sat down with our CEO, Jason Rosenthal, for a person-to-person interview. The video interview is split into two parts:

There’s a bit more in the full transcript of the video interview if you’re at all curious about the details of our dramatic (and successful!) change of direction as a business.

If you’re interested in reading smart articles about where the start-up world meets the larger business world, considering following @adamlashinsky on Twitter.

The New File Manager: Upload Files and Make a Splash with a Custom Main Page

Today, we’re launching a very exciting new feature that I know a lot of Network Creators are going to be thrilled with: a File Manager. This will enable you to both manage files on your Ning Network and customize your members’ experience. Available for Ning Pro accounts, it will allow you to — among other things — create an impressive “splash” page your members will see before visiting your network.
I wanted to spend a few minutes today letting you know how you can get started with the File Manager, as well as give you some examples of how you might want to use this new feature. If you’re a Pro user, you’ll find the File Manager on your My Network page. Simply select Content and choose the File Manager from your left-hand navigation area.

FileManager

Add and store files

Need to add a file to your network? You can do this from the “Add files from your computer” section. Depending on the needs of your network, this could be HTML pages, image files, additional resource files like CSS, JavaScript — or just about anything else. Once a file is successfully uploaded, it will receive a permanent link. Click on “Copy Link” to view the permanent link. If you ever need to remove a file, you can simply delete it by choosing the “X” icon.

Add HTML Pages and the files that support them

If you’ve ever wanted to add full-fledged HTML Pages — without having to host the supporting files somewhere else — you now can. By adding custom HTML Pages in this way, you can provide sharp-looking, consistent content to your network, while still allowing your members to view navigational elements, footer links, etc. Here’s how it’s done:

    1. Upload all of the resource files you’ll need for the HTML Page.
    2. Reference the permanent URLs (that are assigned to the files you’ve uploaded) for these resources in your HTML Page.
    3. Upload your final HTML Page.

Add your own custom Main Page

You can customize the member experience by offering your members a different Main Page when they navigate to your network. Setting it up is very easy. Click on the radio button next to the HTML page you would like your members to see. Anyone who visits your Ning Network will see this specific HTML page instead of the default Main Page. You can make this selection for HTML files only. To change this back to your default Main Page, simply choose the radio button for the default Main Page file.

Custom Links

Want to give an HTML Page you’ve upload a custom URL? Click on the “Customize Link” for any HTML file. In the dialog box that shows up, enter a custom link of your choice and click Save. [Note that this option is only available for HTML files.]

Both you as a Pro Network Creator and your Administrators have access to this new feature. We hope you like this new functionality and will find it invaluable in enhancing and managing your Ning Network!

Flood Relief in Pakistan: How You Can Help

Music for Relief

There’s not a lot you can do to quickly solve big problems. They often require little solutions — lots of them.

Such is the case with the recent floods in Pakistan. Massive monsoons have led to floods that are covering one-fifth of Pakistan, land that regularly hosts about 10 million people. That’s a lot of people. By most accounts, these are the worst floods in 80 years. That’s a long time. All that extra water leads to a whole lot less clean, drinkable, uncontaminated H2O — which leads to disease and death. It’s a big disaster, no doubt about it.

And yet, financial support for these victims has lagged behind recent, high-profile relief efforts aimed at victims of earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Whatever the reason for this slow response, it’s clear that this crisis won’t be solved by a few big humanitarian organizations or a handful of committed nations. While the U.S. government kicked off the effort with $200 million in aid, it’s going to take a lot of smaller initiatives to get the level of response up to where it needs to be.

These smaller efforts are starting to add up. The Canadian government is impressively matching its citizens’ donations. (A fabulous idea that the U.S. should adopt!) Iran has reportedly delivered 500 tons of supplies. Everyday people are starting their own grassroots aid groups. Everyone’s helping, even Pakistan’s bitter rival India. But there’s a lot more that needs doing.

We wanted to take a few minutes out of our day to salute a group that is doing its part. Music for Relief, a grassroots effort led by musicians, music industry professionals, and dedicated fans is collecting donations with the goal of reaching and serving 560,000 survivors. They’ve made great progress already, but they still need one very important person to participate. You.

Consider making a small donation. Or, pass the word along to other people and ask them to do a little bit, too.


More about Pakistan on Ning Networks:

5 Shocking Facts About The Pakistan Floods on Nerd Fighters.

How Can Overseas Pakistanis Help in Post-Floods Reconstruction? on PakAlumni Worldwide.

Disastrous Flood in Pakistan – Dropping of the Indo-Australian Plate? on Earth Changes and the Pole Shift.

Climate of the World Is Changing on the Earth Day Network.


Seesmic Desktop and Ning Network Extensions

seesmic_logo

We’re happy to announce that Ning Networks are now supported in the all-new Seesmic Desktop 2 product. If you’re not familiar with Seesmic Desktop, it’s an application that allows you to follow activity across multiple social networking services and post status updates from one easy-to-use location. In addition to keeping your finger on the pulse of your Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz accounts, you and your members will now be able to monitor activity on one or more of your Ning Networks. Even better, your members can post status updates to your Ning Networks at the same time they post to other services. This is a great way to increase your member engagement.

Seesmic is the first launch partner for our new “Ning Network Extensions” program. These extensions allow external applications to interact with Ning Network content, and provide additional functionality for Network Creators and their members. Stay tuned, as we’ll be adding more partners in the coming months.

More About Seesmic Desktop:

Which networks can use it, and how is it activated?
The integration is available to all Ning Plus and Ning Pro networks. If a Network Creator would like to enable the functionality, they can simply activate Seesmic support via the new “Network Extensions” area of their “My Network” page. They can then instruct their members to install Seesmic Desktop 2 and add the Ning plug-in.

What type of operating system is required?
Seesmic Desktop 2 is available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

What network activity is displayed in Seesmic Desktop?
The first version of the Ning plug-in will keep members updated every minute for the following activity items on your network (with more items to come in future versions):

  • Status updates
  • New photos
  • Comments on photos
  • New blog posts
  • Comments on blog posts
  • New members
  • Comments on member profiles

The plug-in also respects each network’s Latest Activity settings. For example, if a Network Creator has chosen not to display status updates in their Main Page Latest Activity feed, status updates will not appear in the Seesmic stream.

Can multiple Ning Networks be added? What about private networks?
Yes and yes. Seesmic Desktop is a great way to easily follow activity across multiple Ning Networks (including private networks).

Can status messages be posted via Seesmic Desktop?
Absolutely. Not only can status updates be posted to a single Ning Network, but members can easily post a new status message across multiple Ning Networks at once (as well as to other services like Twitter and Facebook).

Coming soon: Full text emails!

Following discussions and comments on Ning Networks today isn’t as easy as it could be. When another member comments on your content — or something you’ve already commented on — you receive an email notification.

The notification is pretty simple. It just alerts you to the comment and provides you a link to click through to view the comment. It looks something like this:

notext

Later this week, that’s going to change. Instead of having to visit your Ning Networks to keep up with discussions and comments, you’ll be able to view the content right within your email. Email notifications will include the text added by your members. So that same reply above might, instead, look something like this:

fulltext

Of course, it’s your Ning Network, so we don’t want to automatically make this change for you. After all, making it easier for your members to keep up with discussions and comments via email might actually decrease the number of actual visits to your Ning Network.

It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your Ning Network, so when this release goes out, your emails will remain just as they are today. While some email notifications already include full text (like network broadcast messages), if you want to display 200 characters of text or full text in comment and new content emails, you’ll need to enable that for your members.

To do so, you’ll head over to your new “Email” settings page in your Dashboard. Then, simply choose how much text you want in your Ning Network’s email notifications:

Email

This feature will only be available to Ning Plus and Ning Pro subscribers. Ning Mini will continue to have the same email settings they have today. For more information, check out our FAQ.