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A new edition of our top-selling Twitter tutorial

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Twitter tutorial book - Twitter In 30 Minutes, 3rd EditionFor the first time in its short history, In 30 Minutes® guides is releasing a third edition of a book. It’s titled Twitter In 30 Minutes (3rd Edition): How to connect with interesting people, write great tweets, and find information that’s relevant to you. The first edition of the Twitter tutorial was only published in 2013, while the second edition was released in 2014, with thousands of copies (including the paperback edition and ebook formats such as the Kindle and Apple iBooks) having been sold to date.

So why are we publishing a third edition in three years? The short answer: Twitter frequently changes its interface—and does so more often than any other software technology that we cover. We also found a slew of new examples to use in the book. This post will describe what’s new in the third edition of Twitter In 30 Minutes.

First, here is a list of some of the changes that Twitter has incorporated since the last edition of the book was released:

  • New Twitter account onboarding processes for Web and mobile
  • Twitter timeline changes that show some tweets out of order
  • More Twitter ads
  • Favorites replaced by Likes
  • Addition of Moments on the Twitter toolbar (similar to the old “Discover” tab)
  • Tweaks to the toolbar (for instance, new icons, and moving things around)
  • Nested retweets and the decline of “RT”
  • New search results view
  • Updated user interfaces for the Twitter app on Android and iOS

Adding “likes”, the changes to retweets, and the new mobile interfaces significantly impact the Twitter user experience, and are featured prominently in the text and screenshots of the third edition of Twitter In 30 Minutes. Other changes don’t really add much to the Twitter experience, and aren’t really covered in detail.

Take Moments. It’s obviously a pet project of Twitter’s returned CEO, Jack Dorsey. Yet it’s a failure on several levels. I tried it in the first week and was greeted by celebrity news and cat videos. Twitter has a lot of data about me and my interests, and that’s the best its algorithms could do? Moments is also very similar to Discover, which was a bit of a flop in its own time. Why bring it back? My guess is @Jack wants Twitter to be a better environment for news and algorithmically curated content, kind of like Facebook and LinkedIn are positioning themselves to be. But people already have several ways to keep abreast of what’s happening, namely their Twitter feeds and the trending topics list.

Besides the changes to the Twitter UI, the new edition of our Twitter book also updated many examples. They range from ordinary users to celebrities, as well as small businesses, media accounts, a famous politician, and even a cat:

Sockington the cat Twitter

Many of the examples are practical—retweets, attaching photos, how to use hashtags, etc.—while others show what’s possible or interesting (trust me, @Sockington is consistently funny, and is worth following!)

As for practical “how-to-do X” Twitter tutorials, here is a short list of some of the topics that are covered:

  • Registration basics (Web and Twitter app)
  • The Twitter icons explained
  • Home timeline vs. personal timeline
  • How to customize your profile
  • Following other users
  • How to find local accounts
  • Accounts to avoid
  • Tips for writing great tweets
  • Controversial and angry tweets
  • How to delete tweets
  • Retweets and hashtags
  • Hashtag no-nos
  • Going viral
  • Shortcut keys

As the book is designed to be read in about 30 minutes, the total length is just over 16,000 words (compared to 50,000 words for a short novel). It’s written in an easy-to-understand style, with lots of screenshots (you can see a sample chapter on our blog for the Twitter book). The reader reviews for the first two editions were consistently strong, and I expect the same will be true for the new edition. Learn more about the latest edition of our Twitter tutorial on the official website, or check out the paperback and Kindle editions directly. We also have a PDF edition.

Lastly, I wanted to thank the Twitter users who agreed to our request to use their profiles in the book, including @jkrums, @sockington, @oprah, @momogoose, @RobertFischer, @Jus_Tish, @marty_walsh, @UniversalHub, @jnannapolis, @RICHi, and @estherschindler.

A new In 30 Minutes book about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S

By | Blog, News

I’m pleased to announce the release of iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 Minutes: The unofficial guide to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, including basic setup, easy iOS tweaks, and time-saving tips. This is a special book for i30 Media, as I will describe in the following blog post.

First things first: It’s safe to say that the four devices that make up the iPhone 6 family (and iOS 9) are the most innovative iPhone models since the iPhone 4/4S. With the new phones, Apple has moved beyond Steve Jobs’ emphasis on small and simple that defined all previous generations of the iPhone. The new phones have large screens and enable some advanced technical and UI features, such as 3D Touch and “Live Photos” in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models as well as a more sophisticated Apple Wallet experience. Here’s a chart comparing the basic features of the iPhone 6 family:

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S comparison chart specs

However, with the additional features comes additional complexity—and that’s where iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 Minutes comes in. The learning curve for people coming from Android or older iPhone models can be steep. For people who have never used an iPhone (or owned an older model), features such as Dictation, Maps, Touch ID, 3D Touch, Apple Wallet, and various camera modes are not readily apparent unless someone sits down and explains how they work.

That’s precisely what I have set out to do in this book about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Using the classic In 30 Minutes style (friendly, brief, lots of examples), I cover basic setup and then move on to hardware, touch screen gestures, Siri, and core apps such as Camera, Mail, and Maps. Topics that are particularly tricky (I’m looking at you, iCloud and Photos app!) get extra attention. I also warn people away from settings that can negatively impact the iPhone experience, such as Wi-Fi Assist. There are more topics listed here.

What’s special about this title, beyond the cool product it’s about? For one, it’s the first new hardware-specific book published by i30 Media in two years. However, I have to admit that iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 Minutes spends quite a bit of time on iOS, apps, and other software/network settings. In other words, it’s not purely about hardware.

iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 MinutesSecond, iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 Minutes is also the first new title that sports the new In 30 Minutes design. This new look has been in the works since the beginning of the year, so it’s a real relief to finally see it in the hands of readers!

Please go to the iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S In 30 Minutes website if you are interested in learning more about the book or reading some tips and sample chapters. We are offering a 25% discount to people who download the PDF version, but we also offer a paperback edition and ebooks for the Kindle, iPad/iPhone, Nook, and other devices that have e-reader software for the ePub format.

The iPhone 6S aggravates missing photo archive features in iCloud

By | Blog, News

Apple recently announced the latest iPhone model, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S+. I have closely followed the news, not only because I have written about Apple for years, but also because I am preparing a new book, titled iPhone 6 & 6S In 30 Minutes which covers all iPhone 6 models running iOS 9.

A lot of the media attention around the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus has concerned the powerful new cameras, the ability to shoot 4K video, and Live Photos. These look like amazing features, but as others have pointed out, they come with a high price: They will quickly use up the iPhone’s storage (particularly the 16GB model). I will take this observation a step further: The powerful iPhone 6S camera aggravates a huge design flaw in Apple’s iCloud service — the inability to archive photos and videos on iCloud Photo Library.

iphone6s icloud photo library archive photos backupLet me explain. If you have activated iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S, All Photos will show thumbnails of all digital photos and videos created on the iPhone that have not been deleted. It also includes thumbnails of photos from any other device connected to the same iCloud account and synced to iCloud Photo Library.

When you delete a photo or video taken on your iPhone, it is also removed from iCloud Photo Library. It is not archived. This is true even if you have a paid iCloud account with tons of online storage. This is a major problem for anyone who takes lots of photos and videos, and then needs to delete them from the phone to make room for more — once you delete them from the phone, they are gone for good!

Apple support forums are filled with iPhone owners who want to clear some space on their phones, but still save copies of the photos and videos (see Can I use iCloud to store photos I want to delete from my iPhone 5s?). There is no solution on the forums, and when I contacted Apple support the only suggestion they had was to optimize storage on the iPhone, as described on this page:

If you turn on Optimize (device) Storage, iCloud Photo Library will automatically manage the size of your library on your device, so you can make the most of your device’s storage and access more photos than ever. All of your original, full-resolution photos and videos are stored in iCloud while device-size versions are kept on your device. You can download the original photos and videos over Wi-Fi or cellular when you need them. If you turn on Download Originals, iCloud Photo Library will keep your original, full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud and on your device. Download Originals is the default setting for iOS devices with the free 5 GB storage plan and for all Mac devices.

Optimize Storage is an iCloud band-aid that doesn’t scale. This option takes all of the high-resolution photos and videos — even the ones you created just last week — and places them on iCloud’s servers. It leads to other problems. Namely, if you tap a thumbnail to download a high-resolution photo or video from iCloud onto your iPhone, the photo or video may take a long time to load -— or may not load at all — depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi or carrier connection. I found this out the hard way when trying to show a two-minute HD video of a recent vacation experience on my iPhone 6 to visiting family members over a standard home Wi-Fi setup. It was taking too long to load, so I was forced to abandon the attempt.

What if you don’t use iCloud Photo Library, and opt for plain-jane iCloud photo storage? In this case, you will revert to the old Camera Roll view, which consists of photos and videos created by the iPhone’s camera and still stored on the device. Eventually they will have to be deleted and/or manually backed up to a desktop computer.

As you can imagine, things will only get worse for owners of the iPhone 6S and 6S+, who will be taking higher-resolution photos and videos. Until Apple’s iCloud group figures out a solution to the problem for all iPhone owners, the best alternative is Dropbox’s Camera Uploads feature, which automatically uploads and backs up all photos and videos taken on your smartphone to a dedicated folder on the user’s Dropbox account. Even if you delete a photo or video on the iPhone, you will still have a copy on Dropbox as long as a Dropbox sync has taken place and there is enough space on the account (free accounts have a limited amount of storage). I have covered this in the latest edition of Dropbox In 30 Minutes for anyone who is interested. Google Drive recently began offering a similar feature, but I have not tried it yet. It boggles the mind why Apple has yet to introduce such a feature for iCloud — Dropbox Camera Uploads was introduced in 2011, so it’s not like it’s a new concept.

Have you had the same photo and video backup problem using iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S? How have you dealt with the problem?

Action plans for virtual offices

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There are manyVirtual Office Action Plans people who would like to start working virtually, but can’t. Why not? Perhaps they work for a company that doesn’t encourage remote work. Or, if they’re considering striking out on their own, they’ve never freelanced before or started their own business.

Today, publisher i30 Media is releasing Virtual Office Action Plans, a supplemental report to The Successful Virtual Office In 30 Minutes: Best practices, tools, and setup tips for your home office, coworking space, or mobile office. The new supplement can help employees, freelancers, entrepreneurs and businesses make the transition to virtual offices and telecommuting. The advice is particularly pertinent to current office workers who are considering telecommuting or starting a business — it’s a huge leap, and the default questions for many employees is “can I really do this?” followed by “what will my manager say?”

Action plans for managers

Speaking of managers, there is also a section of Virtual Office Action Plans devoted to managers who may have doubts about starting a program for telecommuters. Author Melanie Pinola writes:

“If you can’t trust your employees to get the job done without you looking over their shoulders or micromanaging their time, you’ve probably hired the wrong people and have got a bigger problem than figuring out how to transition to remote work.

Your ideal remote work candidates are self-motivated, take ownership of their work, are flexible and adaptive, and have excellent communication skills (especially writing skills, since that’s the main mode of communication when everyone’s in a different town). These are qualities you might already look for in any employee, on- or off-site, but even more critical to seek out in this scenario.”

You can find out more information about the supplement here.

The IN 30 MINUTES Starter Library

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Did you know IN 30 MINUTES Guides has its own newsletter? Released once every 4-8 weeks, the newsletter contains announcements of new guides as well as links to some of our most popular blog posts, videos, and other resources. As of today, anyone signing up for the newsletter will be able to download the In 30 Minutes Starter Library for free! It includes PDF copies of Personal Finance for Beginners In 30 Minutes, vols. 1 & 2, and one of our cheat sheets.

To sign up for the newsletter, enter your name and email address below (this information will not be shared or sold):

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After confirming your registration, you’ll be sent a link to access the starter library.

 

A new user guide for the new Google Drive and Google Docs

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Google Docs for dummies

This week, our top-selling guide received a facelift and a major content update. Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes (2nd Edition) is now available for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Android devices, along with PDF and paperback versions (ISBN: 9781939924315). We hired a professional book designer to handle the layout for the new edition, but even more importantly, I made some critical updates to the contents of the book, which had become out of sync with new features and improvements to Google’s software interfaces. The post below describes the history of my Google Drive book, and the project to create a second edition.

The first edition of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes was released in 2012 and sold thousands of copies. Readers loved the quick learning concept, and the fact that it covered not just Google Drive and Google Docs, but the other programs in the suite — Google Sheets (the spreadsheet program, akin to Microsoft Excel), Google Slides (a presentation tool like PowerPoint), Google Forms, and Google Drawings, as well as collaboration and other features. I have been a heavy user of Docs and Sheets for more than five years, and was happy to share my expertise with readers.

Google Drive New Button  Last summer I noticed that some of the features of Drive and Docs had changed. For instance, the Create button in Drive was replaced with a New button, the search interface within Drive changed, and the home icons in Docs, Sheets, and Slides started taking me to new index pages for each of the programs (before they had taken users back to the Drive home screen). Some of my readers also began to notice the shift. Google announced it was transitioning to a New Drive and Docs experience, and clearly the guide needed to be updated.

I immediately started rewriting the book, going through every single example and exercise to see what had changed. For the browser/Chromebook versions, the biggest changes were in Drive as well as the new Docs, Sheets, and Slides home screens. However, when I gave the mobile apps a workout, I saw that the changes had been even more pronounced. It is now possible to download and operate the apps independently. This means if users only use one app (say, the Google Docs app for iOS) that’s all they need to download. Before, the Drive app was required, even if you only used the Docs functionality.

Rewriting lasted through the fall, and then the editing and design process began. It was a tough slog, maybe tougher than any title I’ve ever done, but the result looks great. The interior features much sharper, high-resolution images (up to 300ppi) and a much improved layout. There is a new cover, as well as a slew of how-to videos I released through YouTube and will shortly be adding to the official Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes website. The Google Drive guide is now available through Amazon, iBooks, B&N/Nook, Google Play, and Gumroad, and will soon be available via Ingram’s extensive book catalog. I am also distributing it through some speciality marketplaces, including O’Reilly.

Finally, I have set up some special offers for educators who are interested in providing Google Docs for students, teachers, and staff. Since the first edition of the book was launched in 2012, I have sold hundreds of books and ebooks to individual teachers, schools, and school districts. Last year, I created an educational license for Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes which provides an unlimited number of digital copies of the guide to staff, faculty, and students for each participating school (in PDF, .epub, and .mobi formats). The license has enjoyed sales as far afield as Singapore. I also have created an educational license subscription as well as bulk orders of paperbacks with a heavy educational discount.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve created an About page for Google Drive and Docs in 30 Minutes (2nd Edition). It includes a summary, as well as an excerpt from the introduction.

Is it possible to learn Excel in just 30 minutes? What readers say about our newest guide

By | Blog, Featured, News

Today I am pleased to announce the second edition of Excel Basics In 30 Minutes. Yes, it’s possible to quickly pick up the basics, and to that end the new guide concentrates on the features and skills which I believe will most benefit new users. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide, and I am not making any guarantees that readers will be able to take over their companies’ accounting departments, but 30 minutes after starting, readers will hopefully have learned some core spreadsheet skills … and even a trick or two!

Don’t believe me? Then listen to what real readers have to say. There is already one review of the second edition from a Goodreads member. She said:

Nice guide to learning how to use Excel for most basic functions. As someone who only uses Excel occasionally, I found the tutorials to be easy to follow. Additionally the visual aids (images of what your screen should look like) were beneficial. It is an easy book to reference if you are having an issue with a particular Excel task.

This is a major update, not only because it covers the most recent versions of Excel (e.g., Excel 2013, Excel for Office 365, Excel Online, and Excel for Mac) but also because In 30 Minutes guides has commissioned a new interior design template. I think you’ll agree Rick Soldin has done a fantastic job. Starting with this guide, all In 30 Minutes books and ebooks will feature sharper images and a high-quality layout that’s easier to read, for the print version as well as the ebook:

Excel Basics in 30 Minutes iPad sample

In addition, for those users who don’t want to invest in an Office 365 subscription or a $100+ Office 2013 software package to learn how to use Excel, Excel Basics In 30 Minutes (2nd Edition) includes instructions for Google Sheets, Google’s free online spreadsheet program. Readers of the first edition who only wanted to dip their fingers into spreadsheets appreciated these extra sections, which make it possible to learn the basics of Excel without having to own a copy of Excel.

What else did readers like about the first edition? Here are some review excerpts gathered from Amazon and Goodreads:

Thomas:

It’s like a “Cliffnotes” book for Excel 101. It actually did take me 30 minutes to get through this – I may have had an edge because I use Excel at work so a complete newbie may need more time. But still, after 30 minutes you’ll know a good amount. To be efficient like that is a big plus to the author.

Robin:

I have been out of the office environment for several years and now starting to use Excel again. This has been a great refresher course.

Another Thomas:

An excellent little guide. For those that already know their way around Excel, it’ll be a good refresher course. For those that don’t, it’s a clear, easy-to-follow handbook of time-saving and stress-avoiding skills in Excel. Definitely plan on passing it around the office. Best of all, it covers both Excel and Google Drive’s spreadsheet system. Given how many workplaces, groups, and individuals are migrating to Google’s cloud-based system, it was a welcome addition.

Chad:

One thing I particularly liked about “Excel Basics in 30 minutes” is that it covers BOTH the MS Excel basics and the Google version basics. Explaining anything this intricate in 30 minutes is a challenge. (Can it be read in 30 minutes? Yes, I could do it, but I am not a typical user, I did not need to stop and practice the examples.) I was impressed that the book does go into some of the “meat” of Excel while still being a book that someone with NO previous exposure to a spreadsheet can grasp.

The chapters cover the following topics:

  • The basics: cells, functions, and formulas
  • Excel Ninja Skill #1: AutoFill
  • More basic Excel skills: percentages, pasting, and rows
  • Excel Ninja Skill #2: Charts
  • Sorting and filtering
  • Printing, PDFs, and import/export features

Excel Basics In 30 Minutes, 2nd EditionThe ebook version of Excel Basics In 30 Minutes (2nd edition) is available for the Kindle, iPad, Android devices, and the Nook. The black-and-white paperback edition can be ordered via Amazon or requested at libraries and bookstores — the ISBN is 978–1–939924–30–8. There is also a full-color PDF, which can be printed out or read on a screen.

Announcing Twitter In 30 Minutes, 2nd edition

By | Blog, Featured, News

Twitter guideI’m pleased to announce the 2nd edition of our popular Twitter user guide, Twitter In 30 Minutes: How to connect with interesting people, write great tweets, and find information that’s relevant to you. Released this week, it’s available in several different formats, including ebook (Kindle, iOS/iPad, and Google Play), paperback, and PDF versions. As part of the launch promotion, I am giving away 10 free electronic editions (more on that below) and I will also talk a little bit about the guide itself, including what’s new and why I wrote a second edition of the guide, considering the first edition was released less than a year ago! Read More

Announcing jQuery Plugin Development In 30 Minutes

By | Blog, News

We’ve just launched a new title in the In 30 Minutes family of quick-start guides. It’s a book about jQuery plugin development, the first In 30 Minutes title on a programming topic.

What is a jQuery plugin? It’s a piece of reusable computer code used to build web pages. Plugins are based on jQuery, a widely used library of JavaScript code that is used on more than 50% of websites. To illustrate, here’s an example of a simple “Paint” utility, written by the author:

jQuery plugin example

Experienced developers know that well-written jQuery plugins can reduce bugs, increase efficiency, improve collaboration, and save time. While jQuery Plugin Development in 30 Minutes is intended for people who already have some experience with JavaScript and jQuery, most of the concepts in the guide will not require any advanced knowledge.

The author of jQuery Plugin Development In 30 Minutes is Robert Duchnik, an experienced full-stack web developer. While this is Rob’s first book, he has been writing about jQuery plugins and giving advice on Websanova for some time. The jQuery plugin example posted above is actually published on Websanova, where anyone can play with it and look at the underlying code.

When I first saw Rob’s manuscript earlier this year, I knew that he was going to be a good fit. In the introduction to the guide, he wrote:

I wanted this guide to be as short and concise as possible, and provide only the information needed to start building plugins. Why give long-winded write-ups about every concept? My intention is to avoid the fluff and filler that make up 80% of most programming books, and just get straight to the point.

Getting straight to the point is exactly what In 30 Minutes guides are all about. Rob gets it. Using clear language and lots of code snippets, he shows how to build plugins in a straightforward, lets-get-things-done manner. Topics include:

  • Creating a plugin
  • Prototyping
  • Generate, Init, and Destroy
  • Handling events
  • Plugin options
  • Setters and Getters
  • Styling, CSS, and themes
  • Callbacks
  • Browser and mobile support
  • File organization and versioning
  • Boilerplate

jQuery plugin development bookThere are more than a dozen sections in all. Rob has included lots of code snippets in the book, which can also be referenced online.

jQuery Plugin Development In 30 Minutes is available right now in various formats, including Kindle, paperback, PDF, and Google Play.

Announcing a new In 30 Minutes guide for Windows 8

By | Blog, News

Windows 8 guideI’m pleased to announce the release of the latest In 30 Minutes title, a Windows 8 guide titled Windows 8 Basics In 30 Minutes. The author is Tim Fisher, an About.com expert who specializes in PC support. Tim’s Windows expertise goes back more than 20 years, and covers every Windows operating system since Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

The new OS is not your father’s Windows. Windows 8 is the first version of the Windows franchise that’s built for touch-screen devices, and it’s also the first version that’s tightly integrated with an app store. What does this mean for users? Certainly, a different perspective on how to get things done. Tim has really risen to the task, and presents a great set of step-by-step instructions on the following topics:

  • Personalization
  • Updating to Windows 8.1
  • OneDrive basics
  • Changing the tiles on the Windows 8 Start Screen
  • How to use the Charms Bar
  • Configuring Gmail, Outlook, and other email accounts
  • Adding and removing apps
  • Setting up notifications
  • Windows 8 and wifi
  • Printers and Windows 8
  • Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

When Windows 8 was first launched, Microsoft got a lot of flack for eliminating popular Windows elements such as the Start Button. The 8.1 update brought back some of the old elements, and Tim walks readers through activation and configuration in a section called “How to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7.”

But perhaps the best part of the book, and the one that sets it apart from other Windows 8 guides, is Tim’s Great Big List of Best Apps for Windows 8. This is where experience and domain knowledge leads to a superior product, as Tim was able to build a list of top-notch apps that users can download from the Microsoft app store. He covers every category from Games to Government, and everything in between. Shopping? Check. Photo apps? absolutely. News? Yep. Social? He’s got you covered.

To learn more about Windows 8 Basics In 30 Minutes, check out the table of contents or download the guide. It’s available in paperback and PDF, as well as Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Android editions.