Monthly Archives: August 2008

Hurricane alerts at the Gustav Information Center

One of Hurricane Katrina’s most important lessons was the need for preparedness. Andy Carvin, Network Creator of the Gustav Information Center, has taken that lesson to heart.

Hurricane Gustav is the second major tropical storm of the 2008 season. Having already killed at least 85 in Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, it’s now poised to hit many of the same places most gravely impacted by Katrina.

That’s where the Gustav Information Center comes in. The network uses aggregators to feed in content from Twitter to provide the latest reports. Likewise, a Flickr feed on the left-hand side of the main page shows photos of people preparing for impact. If you never thought that responsible tagging could save lives, this network will prove you wrong.

You can find out how to volunteer online at the network’s forum here. Be a part of the solution! Demonstrate that we’ve learned from Katrina at the Gustav Information Center.

Learn how to wrap with the pros

Most cars are a standard, solid color, but that’s not the way it has to be. You can wrap your car with an advertisement, a work of art, or anything else you can think of. Wrappers in the know turn to Wrap Experts for all their car-wrapping information.

If you are still unclear on what, exactly, a wrapped car is, then be sure to watch the photo slideshow below. Members upload photos of their proudest creations, and discuss issues related to wrapping in the Forum. Conversations range from how to remove a wrap, to what to charge for putting one wrap on a Crown Victoria.

Whether you are a newbie to the wrap world and always wondered “how to they do that?” or a seasoned wrapping pro, Wrap Experts is the place to be!

Chat is Live in Beta for Labor Day Weekend

Early Friday morning, we released a new Chat feature for your networks that we described a few days ago here on the Ning Blog.

Screenshot of Chat on the Main Page

While we are spending the weekend stabilizing it and working out the kinks, you can add the new Chat feature directly to your network from your Features page. Once you drag it into your social network, you can choose to place it in the left, center, or right column of your Main Page. It will also have its own Chat tab in the main navigation.

When you add the Chat feature to your network’s right hand column, it will show up across the pages on your network. This is the same thing that happens today with any feature you add to your network’s right hand column. If you choose this option, then your members will automatically appear in the Chat feature’s Online list as they are signed in and navigating your network.

Online and Chatting

If you sign into a network and are on a page that has the Chat feature displayed on it, it will automatically show you as online. Over the weekend or early next week, we will be adding the ability to show yourself offline, which will remove you completely from the Chat’s Online list. If you choose to be Offline, you will not show up at all and Chat will remember your offline status until you sign out and sign back in or choose to show up as Online again.

A Few Other Details

  • As we’ve repeated early and often on Network Creators, we are rapidly addressing issues with Chat this weekend. It’s currently unstable and a bit buggy, which will continue to be the case throughout the weekend. If you aren’t comfortable participating in this beta period, no worries. Just check back on Tuesday when we will be in much better shape. These issues with the Chat feature will not otherwise have an impact on your network.
  • We launched with a set of smilies and emoticons. Next week, we’ll offer a quick tutorial on how to change or add your own custom set of smilies and emoticons.
  • We were not able to apply the fonts and colors of your network to the Chat module in this initial version. Our goal is to apply the theme fonts and colors of your network over the weekend. I’ll update this post on the final timing once we get more information.
  • There is not the ability to customize the CSS of the Chat module at this time.
  • You can hide the Chat module by clicking on the x in the upper right hand corner of the module. This will result in you displaying only the Main Chat tab.
  • We are evaluating reducing or eliminating the notification of people entering and exiting the Chat in the Chat thread. We totally recognize that this can get out of control, especially on large networks.
  • There is not the ability to moderate your Chat feature, delete individual chats, or block someone from inviting you to chat in this initial version. We plan on adding these in a future version.
  • Ahead of specific Chat moderation, when you ban someone from the network, it also bans them from Chat and removes any chats they have contributed. This is an interim solution.
  • If you invite someone to a private instant message and they decline your invitation, you will not get a notification in this initial release. We will address this shortly.

Again, we are working through issues this weekend, so if you see anything please drop us a note in the Ning Help Center. If you don’t hear back from us right away, do not fear. We are not ignoring you. We’re just focused on taking what is reported and rapidly releasing fixes.

Monday Update @ 12:00pm Pacific: We’ve made good progress this weekend on polishing Chat. Today our focus is on stabilizing and expanding the number of servers supporting Chat ahead of Tuesday. In terms of visible features, we removed the entry and exit notifications for Chat and are aiming to have Chat integrated with your network’s theme as well as the option to show yourself as “offline” but Tuesday night. We’ll keep you posted on details as we continue to make progress today. Thanks!

Finding fun for your Crazy Chicago Kids

No parent is immune from wondering “what can I do with my kid today?” In Chicago, the problem is magnified, as four months out of every year are sub-freezing, making a quick trip to the playground impossible. Luckily for Windy City parents, Crazy Kids Chicago provides a place for trading tips on excursions and activities, as well as a potential meeting spot for new playmates.

In addition to many standard features like groups and events, the network has some added some great custom features. For example, if you are a mom who isn’t really sure what to do, there’s an “Ask Mom” option, where you can send in an email to a Chicago mom. A similar feature exists for Chicago dads. The Crazy Kids Chicago administrators promise to research your question and get back to you with a speedy response. If you just want recommendation on the best toys, books and excursion spots, the network has those, too!

If the idea of yet another trip to the Museum of Science and Industry or Wrigley Field is making you want to scream, check out Crazy Kids Chicago for a wealth of new ideas!

Home for Health Informatics professionals

Health Informatics is a social network for health professionals and students. This network is perfect for anyone with an interest keeping up with the latest news in health, diet and nutrition. Curious about the health conferences held by only the most knowledgeable in the field?  Learn about national health issues and improve your lifestyle today.

Every year, HINZ holds their annual conference to discuss the latest news, trends and findings regarding health facts and issues. This may be your ticket to a happier and healthier you!

Even better, the Medicine 2.0 Congress holds video conferences over the Web, via 2.0 applications. No need to even leave your home. So come check out Health Informatics!

Tourism, the green way

Between air-travel, eating out for each meal and needing to hop in a cab to get from point A to point B, vacationing isn’t always as sustainable as it could be. Greening Tourism is a growing network for travel professionals, academics, students and tourists of all types to work together to make the tourism industry a more sustainable one.

Taking a “green” vacation doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult after looking at the impressive array of photos. From visits to epic mountains to peaceful lakes, green tourism not only looks like it might be good for the planet, but good for the vacationer as well! If you aren’t sure what green tourism is all about, make sure to read up on some of the basics on the Pages section.

Whether you are a seasoned travel pro, or just learning about ways tourism can be more environmentally friendly, you’ll want to take a trip to Greening Tourism!

Recording in the British Isles

London Recording attracts UK professionals in the music industry. Members here are always engaged in cool projects. Network Creator Pinna, for example, stays busy with recordings ranging from Jewish choirs to folktronica.

A true musician sports wild facial hair — that’s why there’s the Beard Watch, a closely monitored forum thread in which embers post — and boast — about their growth. And although the network’s got plenty to offer to grizzled veterans, it’s also a great resource for aspiring professionals. One member hoping to make it as a sound engineer asked for some advice, and got plenty in the form of suggested reading and useful equipment.

London Recording is an indispensible resource for recording artists across the UK!

Coming Soon: Simplified Main & Profile Pages

Our next release after the Tab Manager will introduce the New Message Center on your network, a streamlined Ningbar, and iPhone support. This release is now slated for either September 11th or 12th Friday, Sep. 26 at 6 p.m. Pacific..

As part of this release, we’re also making a number of subtle changes to the layout and design of your network’s Main Page as well as your members’ Profile Pages. These changes are important to support OpenSocial applications at the end of September as well as to streamline the different modules across your network generally for a better overall experience.

Here’s what the new simplified Profile Page will look like. You can click on any of these screenshots to see a full screen version:

New Profile Page Design

Continue reading

Are You Game?

“Gaming” in Nevada has usually referred to varietals of poker, blackjack, slot machines, craps and all-you-can-eat buffets.  However, Vegas Gamers is actually a place uniting Las Vegas-area fans of role-playing games, collecting cards, board and video games (think Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering).

Die-hard gamers make it a point to attend a slew of events and face-offs like October Game Day and this years much anticipated NeonCon 2008.  The network’s 170 members also connect with like-minded enthusiasts and learn about new games by checking out an array of groups.

Members post pictures of their latest conquests, such as Doug Daulton‘s “wicked” game of WiCoU, Shane at NeonCon2007 and Jeremy grabbing a shot of his gaming buddies Liam and OberonVegas Gamers also write blogs on their profiles detailing what they’ve been up to in the gaming world.  Sincitybrant gives readers a glimpse of his awesomely awesome gaming room.  On the flip, Miragel writes about her excitement for a blog feature on the network.

As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Er, on Vegas Gamers that is.

Ignite your life at FoodSpark

With such an overwhelming wealth of health and diet information out in the market today, who can be expected to come out of the informational black hole with any idea of what’s up or down?  Studies conflict with each other every few weeks and what was definitely healthy one minute ends up having a claim of negative effect the next.  This is where FoodSpark comes in.

FoodSpark is “for those who are passionate and curious about nutrition” and knowledge is the the weapon of choice.  Join a network of people who are trying their best to find the right information about nutrition to improve health and life quality.  Members here discuss everything from raising your child as a vegetarian to diets that help Thyroid balance.  You can find groups for homeopathy and links to other great nutrition sites.  Over all this network is a good looking, but more importantly, useful resource where members can gather to give and receive advice and share their own experiences.

Trying to be healthy and live a better life isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish. Often the road is paved with obstacles and trials along the way, and what works for one person might not be the right thing for you.  With trial and error, some tested knowledge, and a strong network of people who are looking to achieve a similar goal you’ve got the ingredients to ignite the spark in your life at FoodSpark.