Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Learn from Lifehacker; Connectivity and Blogging

Marshall K posted an interview with the editor of super-blog Lifehacker over at Net Squared. It's titled "On the care and feeding of a techno-garden: an interview with Lifehacker's Gina Trapani."

Here are some great quotes I think everyone need to glean from this interview. For a transcript of the whole thing, visit NetSquared.

Gina on constant connectivity
  • The other lesson that many for-profits haven't learned yet is to avoid drowning your employees in gadgets and tech - like Blackberries, laptops, and weekend email sessions - because constant connectivity and an interrupt-driven existence can really degrade people's morale and productivity levels.
Gina on building an audience
  • On the editorial side, to build an audience, you need to post often. We update Lifehacker 18 times a day (between 3 editors); for the first 9 months I was doing 12 posts a day on my own. That rate is insane for a blog that's not an entity in and of itself (as Lifehacker is), but definitely update every day, if not twice a day. Your posts don't have to be long and thoughtful - though some should be - just summarize and point to a news item of the moment that's related to your nonprofit's area of interest. You want to establish a constant conversation about particular themes, and show that you're an authority on those themes, able to discuss them intelligently on an ongoing basis.
Gina on freebies

Technically, take advantage of every single free resource out there on the web to reduce costs and technical issues. Use Creative Commons licensed or public domain images (we like http://everystockphoto.com). Host video at YouTube or the Internet Archive to avoid bandwidth costs. Odeo is perfect for podcasts. Use an open source CMS (like WordPress, or ask a hosting company like TypePad or WordPress.com to host your site for free in exchange for an ad.
Marshall K, you've done the blogosphere a favor with this incredible interview!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Art of Customer Service

Guy Kawasaki is an essential read for today's businessman or woman. Here is his take on the Art of Customer Service:

The Art of Customer Service: "
This blog entry is a response to a topic suggestion by Douglas Hanna. It covers the art of customer service, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

1. Start at the top. The CEO's attitude towards customer service is the primary determinant of the quality of service that a company delivers. If the CEO thinks that customers are a pain in the ass who always want something for nothing, that attitude will permeate the company, and service will be lousy. So if you are the CEO, get your act together. If you're not the CEO, either convince her to change her mind, quit, or learn to live with mediocrity--in that order.

2. Put the customer in control. The best kind of customer service happens when management enables employees to put the customer in control. This require two leaps of faith: first, that management trusts customers not take advantage of the situation; second, that management trust employees with this empowerment. If you can make these leaps, then the quality of your customer service will zoom; if not, the"...

Read his post!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

AdWords Referral Program Available for AdSense Publishers

Make some money with Google adwords.

AdWords Referral Program Available for AdSense Publishers: "Google has launched a new AdWords referral program for AdSense publishers where publishers can earn $20 when they refer a new advertiser to Google. While Google had a very limited referral program for AdWords last year, they launched a revamped program from within the AdSense control panel several weeks ago for a small list of select publisher countries before making it widely available to all publishers.

Proof the world has changed: Billboard to begin ranking ringtones

Billboard has announced plans to begin ranking ringtones.

The chart, dubbed Hot MasterTones, will be based on data compiled by Nielsen Mobile and represent the top 20 best-selling master ringtones for the week.

"This is really where the growth has been in ringtones," said Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's director of charts.

There is a whole new market here for advertisers and "jingle makers." Companies who don't consider bloggers, cell phone Net users, and the whole plethora of new web apps are missing the boat. It is more than an Internet presence but a presence of conversation about your product.

Never has buzz been more important in marketing and selling products.

As for ringtones, the article goes on to say:

The U.S. ringtone market is expected to exceed $600 million in sales this year, up from $500 million last year, according to BMI, a major performing rights organization that represents songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Billboard estimates global ringtone sales racked up $4.4 billion in 2005, up from $3.7 billion the previous year. Much of that growth was due to sales of master ringtones, according to the magazine.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

eBay adds RSS for search

It is essential for businesses offering dynamic content to have RSS feeds. Whether it is a blog or other information, to be found, one must be updated and served up via RSS. eBay has now joined in!
eBay adds RSS for search: "eBay started offering feeds for your searches last week. That's good. It'll help extend RSS even more. Plus it'll be nice for eBayers. It's just a shame they aren't using the proposed standard orange box, but instead the letters RSS in an orange rectangle.

But is RSS totally legit now or what? Rhetorical question, but I think this really is good news.


History for Sale

A German enigma machine is on sale at eBay. Current price: $13,000+ US dollars.

Just think, what people gave their lives to break and steal is now being sold to the highest bidder over the Internet!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Power of Goals

Goal setting has always been very important to me. There was a study done a while back of achievement and it was "discovered" that those who graduated from a leading business school with written goals went on to accumulate a signficantly higher amount of net worth than those who didn't.

I've continued to teach my students about goal setting. This article is one of the best goal setting articles I've come across in a long time!

The Power of Goals: "I was not the most intelligent kid in school. I was not the smartest kid in class. I was not the best student ever. One thing I am sure of is I am the most ambitious person you can ever meet. As it turned out a few years after graduation I began to see the difference [...]"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Some great resources to read about Web 2.0

These three articles profile many of the services that I use including: bloglines and writely. Unfortunately, the top 25 on Business 2.0 doesn't include two of my new favorites: Airset (for calendaring and family management) and Odeo (for easy podcasting.) I also really like Talkr which takes my teaching blog and converts it to a podcast radio station for iPods.

Read these articles, they are important!

There are many new services that are free that are available including some great sales and marketing tools. (Read the Business 2.0 list, it does a great job of explaining the service in "newbie" terms.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Google Testifies about their Chinese censorship

This is an interesting read for those watching what Google is doing in China.

The hearing is being conducted because Google recently agreed to filter "objectionable" material on behalf of the Chinese government. This "objectionable" material includes of course, the most threatening religion to the realm, evangelical Christianity as well as all references to democracy. I believe that Google has abandoned American beliefs and has adopted a "Southpark" view of things:
Sometimes what's right isn't as important as what's profitable.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park, Prehistoric Ice Man, 1999
As we forget values, we lose our identity. As we lose our identity, we try to be everyone to everybody. As we try to be everyone to everybody we lose focus. As we lose focus, we lose profitability and someone else takes our place. Google didn't exist 8 years a go.

Food for thought!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How to add tags to your blog!

If you want to be "found" these days you need to be "tagged."

Growing up on a farm, we used to tag the cows with a little tag on their ear. It told us where the cow was from and ultimately that the cow belonged to us. You see, cows can be pretty dumb and they like to get out and mix in with other cows. Then you can't tell them apart!

To put it simply, the tags let us find the cows we were interested in -- ours!

Likewise, when you tag your post, people can easily find your blog information and you become a part of the "global web page" on your topic of interest.

For example, if you wanted to see Technorati's "global web page" on wiki education. (That's just one of my favorite tags.) So, you find the tags that are pertinent to your topic and you add them to your post.

The code is somewhat confusing, so here is how I simply add it to my blogger account. (I think there are other such plugins for wordpress and the other programs out there.)

1 - Use the firefox browser.

You can download it at http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/.
I personally use it because it is faster, easier, less prone to viruses and pop ups. I've been gradually installing it on my computers a school.

2 - Download the Greasemonkey plug in.

This is a little "helper program" that lets you install features that change the way Firefox works.
You can download it at https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=748&application=firefox.

Close all firefox windows and restart. You'll see a cute little monkey in the bottom right corner.

3 - Install the Script

Read this first!
Go to http://userscripts.org/scripts/source/2182.user.js
At the top of the screen I see the words:
"Greetings fellow traveler. This is a GreaseMonkey user script. Click install to start using it."

If that doesn't appear, you are may also go to Tools and click Install this script.

4. Start tagging!
Now, when you go into blogger, you'll see a new box called "Tags." That is where you use your tags. Just be consistent so people know where to go to find your stuff!

Also, don't use a million tags and make sure they are related to your topic or you will be making that awful canned lunchmeat -- SPAM out of your tags. That is a big no no and a good way to fall into blog oblivion!

5. Remember to ping!
Finally, remember that you still need to ping the appropriate sites. What is a ping? This is a signal you send to the blog search engines that you have updated your blog and have a new post for them to look at. Once they've looked at you, people can find you. THat is how technorati can show this post minutes after I do it!

There is a way for the script we just downloaded to do this! OK! When you click post you'll be taken to your post screen. You'll see a ping-o-matic button! Just click it and you've pinged!

I have been going to technorati and have an account and ping it manually. I've also tried ping-o-matic out today but am not sure how fast it will go. There are some other services that will also work.

The following hyperlinks will help you troubleshoot any problems.
I know there are a million ways to do this! I'm such a newbie! I thought it would be helpful to blog about it while I'm a newbie and before I forget how hard it is to figure some of this stuff out!

Please experts out there! If I made a mistake or there's something better to do please post it here! (Just don't make me look too much like a newbie!)

It's like my first podcast! It took me four hours to figure it out and set it up! After that it takes me less that 10 minutes!

Find ways like this to automate! Don't be afraid of it, do it!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rules for blogging

What a great article! I'm posting this for posterity and for my future blogging classes. Amanda LaBonar writes an excellent article for the Marquette Tribune, Personal Responsibility needed when blogging.

It is an excellent article. I picked it up from Anne Davis (no relation) at the anne.teachesme blog. Anne, in true teacher form creates an excellent synopsis of the article.

  • Freedom of speech comes with personal responsibility.
  • Everything you post represents you.
  • I don't post anything I wouldn't be comfortable with anyone, from my parents to potential employers, viewing.
  • We complain about free speech being taken away, but we are giving away our privacy without a second thought.
  • I'm not bowing to the administration or running scared that something I might post will get me more then a slap on the wrist. I'm being realistic. These posts reflect you, and you never know who is looking at them.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Amazon CEO confirms that small towns can achieve success through technology

No suprise here --- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos delivered the keynote this week to a group of entreprenuers in North Dakota says:

"It's getting easier and easier to do amazing things from wherever you happen to be in the world," Bezos said at a press conference. "You can physically be anywhere as you do it, and you can affect the entire world with what you build...."

"This single individual [Shawn Fanning of Napster] completely changed something," Bezos said. "That's the kind of thing people can do anywhere. They can do it in Seattle, they can do it in North Dakota."
This is an important economic development point for small town America: being technologically savvy is essential. Economic Development organizations like the Economic Development and Technology Ventures (EDTV) at Georgia Tech offer programs like TechSmart to help small towns get up to par in technology.

As I often tell my students, when dealing with technology they and I often "don't know what we don't know." It is essential to constantly inquire and to never ever assume that you "know it all." We must continually benchmark and press forward in technology to ensure that we have communities that will foster the creation of Napsters and Amazons in the garages in our small towns.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Elements of Innovation - Guy Kawasaki Style


Here is a cool article by a Guy Kawasaki -- a columnist for Forbes and venture capitalist. He's been blogging for a very short time and has many page views. (uh over 150,000).

I think he has some good points but it boils to "thinking outside of the box." However, that old term is precisely that -- old.

He elevates true innovation to be even more important than quality. "Don't worry, be crappy," he says. I would argue that there is a balance to keep. To be an innovator you must be perceived as a quality provider in order to attract the early adopters. However, early adopters know that there are inevitably "glitches." As long as "glitches" don't turn into "gulches" that keep the product from behaving in its intended manner. Vaporware doesn't help anyone.

He brings back that good old target marketing we learned in business school. Emphasizes persistence. My favorite thought of his has to be this:

Think digital, act analog. Thinking digital means that companies should use all the digital tools at its disposal--computers, web sites, instruments, whatever--to create great products. But companies should act analog--that is, they must remember that the purpose of innovation is not cool products and cool technologies but happy people. Happy people is a decidedly analog goal.

True innovation is exciting. It is done by can do thinkers. It is done by people who are willing to take a risk.

Innovation is as difficult to predict as when you will fall in love or when you will get over an illness. Like love or illness, however, you can foster an environment conducive to innovation. Just as you can foster an environment where you're likely to fall in love or likely to get well.

I'm adding Guy's blog to my bloglines account. I'm very impressed. His article is shock therapy for those who are afraid to innovate although it shouldn't be taken too literally.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Optimus Keyboard - best of CES

I fell in love with it!

Every once in a while an innovation (or in this potential innovation) comes along that will change everything! We've been talking about LCD technology becoming so inexpensive that it will appear everywhere. Here is a very useful way to use it.

The Optimus keyboard available February 2006 (?) is going to be a great tool for graphic designers and folks alike. Imagine a keyboard that is "smart." When you change the font in Microsoft Word, the keys change to look like that font.

Big deal! Yes! What if your font is wingdings? What if you are multi or trilingual -- it changes to spanish or Russian characters as you change the font! What if you are a graphic designer? What if you are mathmetician and you need the correct symbol?

This is an incredible innovation that will inevitably create many knockoffs -- everyone is going to want one of these keyboards. I have to wonder if the input jack on the computer is going to have to change as the keyboard becomes more of a two way communicator.

It also is supposed to have ability to have buttons with a graphic that look like the icon assigned to that button. Special -- go on the Internet button or a button that takes you to your e-mail or favorite website. You won't have to remember which does which, the icon will be on the button!

Curious as to what the market response will be -- I showed this to my computer science students and explained the concept. These 10th graders saw the vision and wanted it now -- they said that $600 would be a little much but at $200 they would ask for it for Christmas!

One said - "This keyboard would the the iPod of next Christmas if it was priced correctly, we could see our emoticons on the keyboard. We'd have to have it because it would help us communicate much more easily with our friends on mySpace and in e-mail."

Others said -- "This is just the way that computers are going to have to be. No one will want a regular keyboard anymore if it works."

My student's response shocked even me! I hope this keyboard works as they say it does -- it will truly be an innovation that is wanted by anyone who has a computer.

I found so many bloggers who want this, its ridiculous!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Plant the seeds of profit

Zig Ziglar explains this concept in his book See You at the Top. Thoughts are like planting corn in a garden. When you plant corn in your garden – you get corn, not potatoes. Whatever you plant will eventually come up. In this way, when you plan negative thoughts in your mind, negative reactions and attitudes will be your harvest. Also, when you plant corn, one seed produces hundreds of new kernels. Between planting and harvest there is a tremendous increase in the number of corn kernels.

What types of thoughts are you planting? What words are you planting in the minds of others? Encouragement? Positive outlook on the future of your company? Pessimism? Hopelessness?

We all have an innate desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Give them something bigger to be a part of.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Customer service?

It is so difficult to get to talk to a human now when you need customer service. There is a "cheat sheet" posted on the Internet on how to reach a human from various companies. Sadly, I need to print it out.

Ahhh! THe advantages of a small town. I like to do business in my small town. This is not just because I'm a chamber member or a local citizen. It is because that when I'm in a crunch, I'll have someone to call on.

I have a perfect example. Over Christmas our big freezer went out at "The Shed" which is our family gathering place. Complete with all of the fixings for the holidays! On the Friday at lunchtime before Christmas!

Only in a small town would we see what happened next. We called and a repairman came out that afternoon. We have friends in the rent all business who helped us to get a freezer there within one hour! He wasn't at work so I called his wife at home -- she helped! Christmas was saved!

I saved some money and bought our school firewall from an online company that I adore and provides great customer service. We went back to school on Monday as teachers and I discovered that lightning had hit the firewall and modem. The modem is serviced locally by the city. Two men came in through the pouring rain and replaced the modem. It is Thursday and my firewall is still waiting. It is in transit and I have a shipment number but its just that it is still in transit. I have 350 students and 35 faculty waiting with bated breath for someone out of town to help. You see, no one worked on Monday and I had no one to call. They are great companies but I had no one to call.

Doing business locally is about just that...having someone to call. Having someone to help you when times are tough. I love to pench a penny but I pay a little more locally and when I'm in real trouble I have friends as well as vendors. I like to do the same for my customers. They know I will not leave them when the chips are down.

Think about local business when you think about the best customer service. You don't need a cheat sheet to find your friends!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Leadership is listening!

Each new year I work with my ninth grade classes on goal setting, planning, and character building. This is an opportune time because at the beginning of the ninth grade -- they think they know it all. They don't know what they don't know! At the middle of the year, they've gotten their grades and most of them have gotten the rude awakening that this is where it begins to count! They realize they want to make better grades and they are willing to change -- to listen!

Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well, that is what so much of us do. We want new results but we don't want to change. It doesn't happen! Kids want better grades but they don't get organized, they don't write down their assignments, they don't study. We must teach them those skills.

I have a grandmother who I adore. She is truly a woman who has made much of her life after growing up with nothing in the depression. I am forever changed due to her presence. One of the most complimentary things that all people have said about her is how she listened. When you talked to my grandmother, she would attend to you with a rapt, engaged expression of 100% listening. She watched your body language and she saw everything! She listened and heard!

I want to be more like her. My new year's resolution is unlike that of many, I think. I am resolved to become a rapt, engaged listener. It is so important. I feel that I do it so poorly.

I have picked up a life changing book that I love called The ServantBORDER=0: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter. In this book, the mentor Simeon is talking to a man who has been sent on sabattical by his wife and work for an inability to get along with people. He seemingly has everything but has some habits that cause problems with others.

Simeon tells John, the executive on Sabbatical:

"When you cut people off in midsentence like that, John, it sends some bad messages. Number one, by cutting me off you obviously have not been listening to me very well if you've already formulated your response in your head; two, you do not value me or my opinion because you refuse to take the time to hear me out; and finally, you must believe that what you've got to say is much more important that what I've got to say. John, these are disrespectful messages you just can't afford to send as the leader."

"But that's not the way I feel, Simeon," I [John] objected. "I have a great deal of respect for you."

"Your feelings of respect must be aligned with your actions of respect, John."

That is my question for you -- do you listen to your students? Do you interrupt them? There is one other think I love from the book, it is the definition of leadership.

"The key to leadership is accomplishing the tasks at hand while building relationships." (p 41)

I love it! It also has a great discussion on whether you lead through power or authority. I'll save that for another day!