Webconsuls - Web Design, SEO, and SMO Specialists

Friday, October 31, 2008

Your Sports Minute


This is that special time of year for sports fans where all of the major sports are playing at the same time, in addition to your very popular NCAA/college football. Until the Phillies cliched the World Series earlier this week, baseball was wrapping up while the NFL, NHL, and NBA all are active as well. Even Soccer, the MLS is in its playoff run.
Quick Notes-
NBA preview: Many analysts are predicting a finals rematch from last year, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. The stout western conference is no joke, where 50 wins is the bar to simply make the post-season.
NFL: The lone unbeaten team, the Tennessee Titans head the EPSN power rankings, followed by the NY Giants, Panthers, Steelers and Redskins in the top 5.
NHL: In hockey's early season poll, the top 5 teams as ranked by ESPN fall this way- 1. Sabres 2. Canadiens 3. Red Wings 4. Sharks 5. Rangers
Now over to Dallas with the weather.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tungsten vs Other Metals for Wedding Bands

I'm looking for a wedding band I would like on my finger for the rest of my life. In doing some research online and in B&M stores, I've come to realize that Tungsten is quite the trend.

I found the best thing for me was to do a side by side comparison with all the metals.

White Gold
White Gold:Stronger than platinum, wear better than platinum and gold, scratches easily, and half the price of platinum.


Platinum
Platinum: Expensive, better finish/color than White Gold, scratches very easily.
Titanium
Titanium: VERY light weight (light as aluminum), strong (lasts longer than white gold and platinum). Durable and will never lose its color. Hypo allergic (good to know if you are allergic to certain metals such as gold, white gold, or platinum). Cannot be re-sized.

Tungsten
Tungsten:
Very heavy metal. 4 to 5 times stronger than Titanium, cannot be re-sized Make sure to purchase a Cobalt Free Tungsten Carbide ring. Cobalt can react to your skin possibly causing your finger to turn green and the ring will form oxidation spots that cannot be removed or polished. Tungsten Carbide rings have a lifetime warranty; They cannot get scratched and will always look new. One way of knowing if it is a Tungsten Carbide is by looking for detailed carvings inside, if it has this then you might not want to buy it.

After having done all the research, I myself am leaning towards a Tungsten primarily because it always maintains a new scratch-free look.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Email: Are you a filer or a labeler?

To file or to label? That is the question.



I enjoy reading productivity and organization books and blogs. This does not mean I always take the advice, but I do have a curiosity about how other people get things done. We all experience different demands, there is no single solution for any of us. Productivity gurus and email management specialist recommend using labels and not a file based system. Files are cumbersome and often take more energy and effort to maintain, while labeling is efficient and does not impede work flow.

What I want to share with you is the change I have made within my gmail account. I was terribly resistant to this change because as my post title confesses ... I am a chronic filer. Filing is what I know. Even though I had gmail, a web-based solution, I was still using Outlook to sort and file email.

Trusting my email to a label based system using gmail's search function seemed scary but I am finding it to be far superior. I have shed my Outlook program and am working only within the gmail interface.

What I am finding is that the opportunity to file an email in two different categories is a great asset. How often have you wanted an email in more than one place as a reference or a reminder? Labels give me an opportunity to "file" in multiple reference positions. "To Dos" and "Projects" categories can collect reference emails and be available with a click of the label, using the underscore and other unique characters in your labels enables you to separate these items from other labels and keep them promenent in your label list.

I will be using the search function in my gmail, labels will replace folders and my inbox will be my sorting area. Here is a video which gave me the inspiration for my current system and I must share that I am really pleased with the change and only wish I had done it sooner.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Google Earth iPhone App Free Geocaching in Your Back Pocket



Google released its Google Earth browser for the iPhone and its FREE!!!

What is Google Earth? And if you are an iPhone Geocacher why do you want this is Free App? Watch the above video from Google to find out, In short, Google Earth for the iPhone is Google Maps in 3D, and with just a flip of a switch in the apps settings you can turn on the Latitude and Longitude of your location, very important information for us iPhone Geocaching folks!

With a quick trip to Geocaching.com to find the latitude and longitude of the caches you will be hunting for, make note of that info for later reference. Match up your location, with the location on your note and then start the drunken bee dance in search of your prize!

Google Earth for the iPhone provides most of the functionality of the full program but formatted to fit your iPhone. Pressing the "My Location" button in the lower left of the iPhone display and your perspective changes from one of viewing planet earth right down to seeing what car was parked in your driveway at the time the satellite photo was taken. Impressive, detailed sat shots and you have the option of viewing these as maps or the live terrain or a hybrid of both.

Search functions for Google Earth are also included. Search for addresses, specific businesses, landmarks in relation to where you are on earth. Those of you familiar with Google Earth will also love the addition of the Wikipedia and Panoramio layers.

Google Earth for iPhone, Yet another cool tool in the iPhone Geocachers Tool kit.

Click here to open iTunes and download the Free Google Earth iPhone Geocaching App.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You Tube and Social Media Marketing

You Tube and social media marketing go hand and hand on the internet today. This week I made a You Tube video for the Seaward Inn in Rockport, MA. The video has jazz music performed by The Barbara & Al Boudreau Jazz Trio and has pictures of Seaward Inn's property. It gives viewers an idea of what they will enjoy when they stay at the Inn. Not only will you witness the beautiful views at the Seaward Inn, but every Sunday during their season the Inn has "Sunday Mornings Live" which features various well respected local musicians.

After the video was uploaded, Seaward Inn received a subscription notice from another Jazz musician in New England. When people subscribe to your videos a link back is automatically placed on their You Tube profile page. Every link someone sets up that goes to your videos and your website helps in a number of ways. Not only will more people be able to find your video and in turn your website, but also, subscriptions will help increase your overall presence on the web. On top of having your video on You Tube and Google Video, you can also embed your You Tube video right into your website; now you have three major points of contact from the beginning. The more one way links a website or something web related has, the more Google favors your website.

Social media marketing with mediums like You Tube and Google Video are great ways to share with the world who you are and what you are about. Every day more and more people use You Tube to search for new media which makes You Tube a great platform for social marketing. If you are a Webconsuls' client, and a video is something that would interest you for your website, be sure to let us know.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Seaward Inn of Rockport, MA looks forward to turning 65!

Seaward Inn view of the Atlantic Ocean
Have you ever been to Rockport, MA? I have not, even though I lived in New England for 12 years. Amazing, isn't it? For 12 years I lived in New Hampshire, but my life as an innkeeper didn't allow for much leisure time to visit all of the beautiful spots that New England has to offer. But this summer I was able to get to know Rockport, MA and more particularly The Seaward Inn because innkeeper, Nancy Cameron-Gilsey (a Certified Social Worker!), requested that I help her update her website. You see Nancy has been a Webconsuls' client since November 2000; in fact The Seaward Inn is one of our oldest clients, both literally and figuratively. On May 7, 2009, The Seaward Inn will open for their 65th Season! This being Saturday morning I invite you to learn a little more about The Seaward and Rockport, MA.

It was 1945, well before Nancy's birth, when Nancy's parents first purchased the large home situated on five acres in Rockport, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. World War II had ended and Roger and Anne Cameron opened their home to summer guests. Rockport is a small town about 25 miles north of Boston and it sits on the tip of the Cape Ann Peninsula. Rockport is picturesque; in fact, Walt Disney Productions has listed Rockport Harbor as one of the ten most scenic places in the United States. Rockport is just a short drive from Gloucester, MA, which you will remember from the movie and book, The Perfect Storm (2000). And, yes, the cast and crew stayed at The Seaward during the filming of this fabulous movie. But I digress...back to the website update.

Nancy's site is not large, about 15 pages. It was designed many years ago, prior to Webconsuls being retained to do the search engine optimization(SEO) for the site. The site update started with a simple inquiry from Nancy about how to incorporate new photos and how to upgrade the information found on her "Area Attractions" page. I told Nancy I would review the site and then my research began in earnest. Since I love history, I found myself reading everything I could find about Rockport, Dogtown, Motif #1, and then I had long conversations with Nancy about all the famous guests that she and her family have welcomed to the inn. It was all so interesting.
As the weeks progressed, Nancy and I stayed in touch. She sent me the new photos, shared the history of the inn, and introduced me to her long time employee...Rose Marie Leal. Then one day Nancy and Rose told me about their latest adventure at The Seaward...their "Sunday Morning Live" series. Their Sunday Buffet by the Sea features live musical entertainment and it is open to the public. With this bit of information Rose and I went into high gear and a video was born, with the help of our Support Technician, Dan. You can enjoy the video here featuring images of The Seaward and the music of The Barbara & Al Boudreau Jazz Trio.



I look forward to visiting The Seaward Inn, touring Rockport, meeting Nancy and Rose in person. I am glad I had the chance to work on this project with them; it was a labor of love for them and became one for me. Having been an innkeeper and knowing what this life is like, I know that every decision you make is for your guests and Nancy and Rose work very hard to make every visitor feel welcomed. So, if you have never been to Rockport, why not put it on your short list? Remember, The Seaward is only open from May through October every year.
Tomorrow The Seaward Inn will close out their 2008 season, winter will come and go, and just as sure as the daffodils and crocus will bloom next spring, Nancy will be ready to welcome guests for their 65th season. I am sure her parents would be very proud.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smart Positioning- Google AdWords

Google AdWords has in a beta test a bidding tool called Smart Positioning. The function of this tool aims to place your ad in the most cost-effective position each time it's displayed. Here are Google's words in how it works.

How Smart Positioning works.

Here's an overview of what happens when your campaign is opted in to Smart Positioning:
1. Smart Positioning calculates incremental CPC's to evaluate the effects on cost and click through rate that would be associated with a higher position for your ad.
2. Once our system determines the incremental CPC for putting your ad in a higher position, it compares the incremental CPC to your maximum CPC bid.
3. Your ad is placed in the highest position possible, as long as both the actual CPC for that position and the incremental CPC are less than your maximum CPC bid.

So essentially, this Google AdWords tool attempts to give its advertisers the best position given recent click data and the bid landscape. It then actually changes the max CPC in the account to reflect the bid it deems most 'efficient'.

I hate to always be the cynic, but with my history in working with one of the major search engines, I know that 'helpful' tools may or may not be as helpful as they are described, but they always work in the favor of the search engine.

Here are some things that make me question the tool and therefore whether I will use it or not in the long run.
1. Since my bids can be changed without my specific knowledge, I am dissuaded.
2. Because Google is providing this 'help' to multiple advertisers in competition with each other on the same keyword, I can see a problem developing; either the tool won't be very effective or certain advertisers will be favored and/or others hurt.
3. Google only provides help in ways that increase revenue as I stated earlier, so I cannot see this costing me less, but quite the opposite.

In conclusion of this early evaluation of a new bidding tool, albeit before it is in wide use, I prefer a bid to position model where I am paying the least possible for a particular position and I have real expectations on my cost and display position. When things can be open ended, Google can take advantage of the account without having to defend their actions. I know what their defense would be when you finally reach a customer service rep- 'in the terms and conditions it clearly states we can raise your bids'.

I am out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is The first Android-powered Phone An iPhone Killer



Watch this short Youtube vid on an overview of the use of Google products on the world's first Android-powered phone, the T-mobile G1. Is it the iPhone killer?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brightkite Application for iPhone Released


Brightkite for the iPhone from Brightkite on Vimeo.

Brightkite, a location based social network, now has it's own iPhone application. One of the unique features of Brightkite as a social network is that it organizes its members according to where they are geographically. After experimenting with the new iPhone application I anticipate there will be an upsurge in Brightkite activity as the application makes this social network not only easy to use but very appropriate to the iPhone's features. Application will require the iPhone 2.1 software.

I have found as a general rule that I prefer the iPhone application interfaces for social networks to their online equivalents. It seems to me that when designers have to flesh an application down to fit on the iPhone improvements and ease of use tend to follow. I will surely be checking in more as the "checking in" procedure is really sleek with the iPhone's GPS built in.

Take a picture and geo-locate it. Find where your friends are nearby. Take a look at Brightkite, it is especially fun when you are traveling as you can search for restaurant reviews and local attractions. It is a great place to ask for restaurant and lodging suggestions and there tends to be a trend among users to photograph and post their meals when dining out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Qik Live Video Streaming Coming Soon to the iPhone App Store



Qik iPhone app coming soon to iTunes App store!

Kevin Rose, of Digg fame, demos the new Qik.com app for unjailbroken iPhones. For those of us who did not want the chance of having an iBrick you will no longer have to jailbreak your iPhone to install this new Qik app once released. Did you watch the above video? Excited yet?

What does Qik on the iPhone do?

The Qik iPhone app Streams video to the Qik.com site,
The Qik iPhone app notes the location of the video,
Chat with the folks watching the live stream at Qik.com from your iPhone.

The iPhone 3G the Swiss Army Knife of SmartPhones, just keeps getting better and better.

Sign up for free and follow me on Qik http://qik.com/DarinRMcClure

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.

"In the early 1880's Mark Twain learned to ride one of the old high-wheel bicycles of that period. He wrote an account of his experience, but did not offer it for publication. The form of bicycle he rode long ago became antiquated, but in the humor of his pleasantry is a quality which does not grow old."

It is amazing how far mankind can go if they have a little motivation and a vehicle to transport. The bicycle is one of those vehicles that has been an instrument used by people to get from point A to point B; not only transportation, but, theoretically a good time - if used properly! A lot has changed since Mark Twain was struggling with bicycles and the German language. Although, I am not sure mankind has evolved with the bicycle.

I have been riding a bicycle since my childhood; it started off slow but once I got the hang of it I could ride a bike as easy as walking. There are a lot of different styles of bikes, some complex and some very simple; the simple bicycles in theory are not too dissimilar from the bicycles Mark Twain fumbled around on. Mark Twain would probably be surprised to find out that in today's world the simpler the bike, the more "hip" the bicycle and bicyclist. When I say simple, I mean a frame and two wheels; that's it, no brakes of any kind and no extra gears, people are using their feet as their only form of stopping power.

With all mankind's achievements, all the safety devices we've created to help protect us against the experiences that some people had to learn the hard way; there are actually people who take the brakes off their existing bike or they build a bike with out brakes. How this can be considered "hip" and not borderline insanity, I do not know. I had the opportunity to ask one of these Hipsters why he doesn't have brakes and he responded, "I don't need them!" This individual was a college student and I could not help but wonder how he made it this far in life.

The other day I was on the Tuesday Tucson Night Ride, where anywhere from 100 to 300 people gather together to ride around the city. Probably 1/3, if not more, of the riders had bicycles with no brakes; and if riding alone with out any brakes isn't safe, try riding in a large group at night where a large fraction of people think that brakes are unnecessary and uncool. Furthermore, I watched first hand what happens when the group had to stop quickly and people without breaks went into desperate-measure-mode. There was a female rider who just couldn't quite make it, believe it or not, and crashed! I rest my case!

I myself am an adrenaline junkie, one who lives for the thrill and have been hurt many times chasing after a rush. However, I try and stay within the limits of reason, if there is a safety device that seems logical I use it. In summation people are crazy thinking it is "hip" to be unsafe; if there is a safety device (i.e., brakes, seat-belts, and harnesses) use them!

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why be a poll worker?

Pima County I Voted Early Badge
"Poll workers are a crucial element of the election process. You can buy new machines, you can educate voters, but really the poll workers are the bridge between the polling place and the voter."...Doug Chapin, Director of electionline.org

You remember the 2000 presidential election, don't you? One of my clearest memories of that day and the days and weeks that followed were the complaints by some voters that the poll workers were not helpful, were too old, and were not able to follow the various rules set down by the local registrars of voters. That was the year I made a promise to myself to become involved as a poll worker. I thought back to my youth when my mother served during every election as a poll worker in San Diego county and I said to myself why not continue the tradition. Why leave this burdensome task to only the retired senior citizens? Since 2000 I have tried to work every election in Orange County California and this year I will serve as a pollworker in Pima County Arizona.

Do you know how many Americans are needed to work the polls in any given general election year? It is about 2 million (with the average age of 72)or about 1% of total number of registered voters. When you go to vote you usually are expecting two basic needs to be met: (1) you want the polls to open on time and (2) you want the process to be expedient. But did you ever wonder what goes into meeting these basic needs?

Well, the truth is the parameters vary from state to state, but here are a few basics:
*Each poll worker must be a registered voter in the county they intend to work.
*Each poll-worker must attend a training class, usually about two hours.
*Each poll-worker is expected to study the instruction and reference manual(in Pima County, Arizona, this manual is 43 pages)
*Each poll-worker might be expected to assist in setting up the polling place the evening preceding the election
*Each poll-worker is expected to report to the polls one hour prior to the polls opening. (in Pima County, Arizona, the polls open at 6:00AM)
*Each poll-worker is expected to remain through the 7:00PM closing and to assist in preparing the ballots for shipment to the Registrar's Office, which can take until 8:30PM. And in Pima County the poll-worker is not to leave the polls for any reason, not even to get something to eat!!!
*Each poll-worker must follow strict guidelines regarding attire (cannot wear anything political in nature)
*Each trained poll-worker is expected to show up, unfortunately it has been reported that 2 out of three 3 trained workers in New York fail to show up on Election Day!
*In Pima County Arizona, each poll-worker will be paid $140 for the 15-17 hours they work!

All of the above aside, the pollworkers are expected to be able to sufficiently answer fairly complicated questions regarding people's right to vote. If voters arrive at the wrong poll, the pollworker must assist them to find their correct poll, and the list goes on.

I write this today; not just because it is Saturday, but I am hopeful that maybe it will inspire you to think about working the polls. It will give you a whole new perspective on what goes on behind the scenes to insure that we all can exercise our right to vote. See you at the polls...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chinese Democracy- The Guns N Roses Long Awaited Record To Be Released

Regardless if you are rock n roll enthusiast like me or not, you have probably heard at least once over the last 15 years that the infamous Axl Rose's (solo) Guns N Roses album is in the making, and then coming out, and then not. This has been what fans have been hearing for years and years- namely the its NOT coming out part. As a side note, I have marked it a solo Guns N Roses record out of sarcasm because the revolving lineup for the band has changed multiple times since the original memebers left Axl in the mid-90s. Effectively this is an Axl solo record, meaning no Slash, Duff, Izzy etc.
Rumored to be a Best Buy exclusive, bestbuy.com has a release date, picture and track listing for the record. This is as close as we can get to it actually happening people. It is like the 2nd coming, which in reality is sad if you are a fan or this band or just a fan of rock n roll because there is no way that the music itself can live upto the 11 year hype. But that will not stop me from persuing this record because that is what is great about music- its infinite possibilites.

Anyway, here's to good music and the potential of greatness:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Help Improve Your Web Site Performance

Some people hire a company to build and promote their web site. Others get involved and help promote the site. The latter usually has more success on the Internet.

Here are six things you can do:
  1. Get articles published on the Internet. Articles give you credibility. Well designed links to your site embedded in the article improve your rankings and traffic.

  2. Maintain a blog. Blogs are easy ways for you to provide up to date information about your product or service or any other topic. Blogs are indexed rapidly by search engines. Again links to your site should improve rankings and traffic.

  3. Add a video. Some are starting to use YouTube as a search engine, see this Webconsuls Blog Post. Relatively inexpensive equipment makes this easy to do today.

  4. Market off line. Advertise your web site address as much as you can. Your site is probably more current and more complete than much of your print advertising, so encourage your print readers to go the site.

  5. Do cross marketing. Do you have suppliers, customers, neighboring business or others with you can promote their site and they promote yours? If so, add some content to your site and get them to add some promoting yours. You both might benefit.

  6. Check your website for proper spellings, content and phrases. The need for correct spelling and up to date content should be obvious. You should check your site for key word phrases in the content and work with your SEO company to promote those long tail phrases.

Webconsuls
has professionals who can work with you on all of the above.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

YouTube is a Search Engine

YouTube Video Search Engine
I may be stating the obvious here, but I don't think so. YouTube is not just a video sharing website as described in Wikipedia. YouTube is a video search engine built with Web 2.0 social functions.

YouTube has a search function and YouTube is being searched by people to find entertainment as well as information. How you title, tag and list your video helps you place for different search terms. YouTube's Web 2.0 functions make it natural and easy to share your video with your social sites and the star rating encourages quick feedback from viewers.

As a searcher I have actually started to go directly to YouTube to find information. I have found this very helpful in the "how to" department. A query for just "how to" on YouTube returns millions of results. The number and variety of "how to's" will amaze you. I especially like the list of related videos offered up with each result allowing me to browse related topics I may not have thought to search on.

Just looking at the search numbers at YouTube will convince you of the wide variety of viewers turning to YouTube as people once turned solely to web search. If you haven't tried YouTube as a search engine I would highly recommend bookmarking this one or entering it as the home page for one of your internet browsers so it is ready to go when you are ready to search.

YouTube is definitely where the conversation is taking place. If you weren't around for the CNN-YouTube Presidential Debates take a look at this Wikipedia article on how YouTube was used to collect questions for the candidates in the CNN televised debates.

Take a look at YouTube for "how to's" related to your niche or specialty. Are there places to become part of the conversation. Do you have a "how to" to add or comment on?

Monday, October 13, 2008

iPhone Geocaching Good Clean Fun For Your Entire Family

iPhone Geocaching Profile for Darin R McClure

Happy Columbus Day, Get outside and find something!

iPhone Geocaching the outdoor treasure-hunting game in which we participants use the GPS receiver built into our 3G iPhones to hide and seek geocaches. There is a hidden world all around us, with treasure, trinkets, coins and bugs to find.

Step #1 Visit the iTunes app store and grab Groundspeaks New iPhone Geocaching Application,

Step #2 Head over to Groundspeaks website, Geocaching.com and sign up for a free account,
( not required to use the app, but join up to keep track of your finds, and meet folks)

Step #3 Crank up your iPhone Geocaching App, and find a cache! don't let the Muggles catch you!

Step #4 Take a shot of the area & the cache contents with your iPhone, making sure not to give away the location of the hide.

Step #5 Go back to Geocaching.com and log your visit & share your photos, and if you found or did not find the cache.

With hundreds of thousands of caches hidden around the world you are sure to find one nearby. Being that you always have your iPhone with you, next when you find yourself with some extra time on your hands instead of plopping down in from of the television, take your family on a hunt for treasure.

iPhone Geocaching, Where you are the search engine.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Useless Words with Meaningful Definitions

"The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions."

I have spent my whole life thinking I had an understanding of the English language, thinking that I knew the definitions of many complex words. These words, when used, elevated me to a higher plane; a level of intellect that placed me in the upper echelon. Reading many great books and successfully completing difficult classes made me believe that I had no use for a dictionary; I believed that when I looked at certain words, even foreign words, their meaning would transfer into my brain via osmosis. I'm finding this is not the case, words I thought I knew the meaning of I did not actually know.

In school teachers and professors stressed over and over the importance of understanding a word's definition. It's one thing to be able to use a word, but it is a whole other matter to grasp its true meaning. In addition to knowing a definition, one needs to be able to use the word in its proper context. I am by no means implying that I have never made the effort to look up a word's meaning; rather, I have sought the definition to many words, but taking the time to rigorously incorporate the words into my vocabulary did not happen as a matter of course.

I have been able to assess a word's meaning contextually rather easily with most books I have read. Recently I had a wake up call while reading Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground" and "The Brothers Karamazov". As reading these classic works of literature I decided to try something new for a change; I made a decision to look up on dict.org every word that I came across that I did not fully understand. I have been taking the time, no matter how protracted to strive and advance the limits of my vocabulary. The hope is that I will be able to use these new words and the words that I already knew the meaning of more successfully; I have the desire for a more concise vocabulary.

I am in no way enjoying this experience! Although, I feel it's both necessary and desired in my quest to get my point across better. This task, I'm finding, is long overdue; I feel as though my head has been a cloud, that this mission is grounding me back to earth. Now, useless words have meaningful definitions to me. Every thing and every word in its right place, to call every thing by its right name.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do you need a pair of Google's Goggles?

Do goggles really enhance your vision?
Yesterday my associate posted about Google Goggles. He explained how to enable the tool. I actually prepared my thoughts for this post on Thursday and then Keith beat me to it, but since it is Saturday morning, I thought I would weigh in on this subject anyway.

Wednesday evening I was up late and to tell the truth I don't know if I learned of Google's Goggles on a television ad or on a cable news story. Based on this admission I probably need a pair of Google's Goggles. Here is the scoop: Google operates what they refer to as Gmail labs. Google has a number of techies that come up with interesting ideas and if the idea has some merit they throw it out there for their Gmail customers to "try out" in a Beta version. According to Goggles' developer, Jon Perlow, "When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you are really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you are in the right state of mind?"

OK, we have probably all sent out emails late at night when we are tired, overworked, enraged about life, but at the same time we have probably all been recipients of these types of emails. These late night communications provide interesting entertainment, not to mention insight into our emailing buddies.

Why do people send emails late at night or in the wee hours of the morning? Certainly it is not always a case of too many drinks as some commentators have stated. My experience is that many people do tend to work late at night. It is the quietest time with children safely in bed, co-workers hopefully not chatting incessantly, the pets not running wild, and the phone is quiet. When I worked as a business analyst and project manager for Mercury Insurance Services, we were expected to work from home after-hours. Yes, we were paid for 40 hours, but were told in no uncertain terms that if we had a deliverable deadline we must work at home. Most nights I would arrive home from the office around 6:00PM, dutifully make the family dinner, clean up the kitchen, throw a load of laundry in the washing machine, and then quietly go into my home office and fire-up the laptop. It was not unusual for me to work until 1:00am or even 2:00am writing technical documents. Very often I would email these documents to my fellow team members in the middle of the night. Why? Well, emailing the document gave me a sense of completing a task, as well as a feeling of starting the next work day 5 hours later with a cleaner slate. But imagine my shock when after sending the late night email many of my co-workers would respond immediately with an email that usually contained this phrase: "You're still up, too?" As a by-product, this practice allowed us the opportunity to document the number of hours we were really spending on a project! Just for the record, this project began in January 2003 and was to be completed in three years. It is now October 2008 and the project is still going strong. So much for project management.

While Google's Goggles is very clever, doesn't it really imply that we are not mature enough to reasonably manage our email etiquette? People's entire careers and companies have imploded because of email records. So why aren't we more careful about the content of our emails? Who the heck knows, but here is rule I try to follow. Years ago I reported directly to the president of a bank, Willard (Bill) Bromage. Our means of communicating with peers, subordinates and superiors was to write a memo. One day I handed him a copy of a memo I proposed to send to the struggling IT department. He read the memo and advised: "Save this document for three days. Keep it here on your desk. In three days re-read your document. If, at that time, you still feel committed to your written word, then by all means mail it."

Good advice, don't you think? The difference between Bill Bromage's advice and Google's Jon Perlow's "math test" is that Bill wanted you to consider the content of your communication, Perlow is assuming that if you can solve in 45 seconds three or four simple math equations (and I do mean simple) then you must be of sound enough mind to communicate in wee hours of the morning. In fact, Jon Perlow states in the Gmail "settings" for Google Goggles: "Google strives to make the world's information useful. Mail you send late night on the weekends may be useful but you may regret it the next morning. Solve some simple math problems and you're good to go. Otherwise, get a good night's sleep and try again in the morning. After enabling this feature, you can adjust the schedule in the "General" settings page." Interestingly Bromage had a three day rule, while Perlow has a three math problem solving rule.

A word of caution: try never to ASSUME. Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gmail Goggles, Protecting You From Yourself

Gmail Goggles, Protecting You From Yourself
If you have ever found yourself under the influence of your choice poison, which led your writing and sending a poorly thought out email, consider the new email tool Gmail Goggles. This email setting in Gmail makes you answer 4 math questions before you are able to send any email, between the hours you set for self restriction. The ultimate hope being you can't do math intoxicated and therefore are unable to compose any email until the following day when cooler heads prevail.

So how do you enable Google Goggles? When logged into your Gmail account, access the "labs" option in the Settings page. Once you have enabled the goggles feature, you can then access the parameters of the tool in the 'general settings' page within that same Settings tab.
The parameters available to this tool are comical- you have a 1 to 5 meter you set for yourself on how difficult the math is for the questions that need be answered correctly before any mail can be sent. Additionally, there is a basic scheduling feature that allows you to set when the goggles apply to your email, and furthermore when you feel you may be inebriated enough to need 3rd party intervention.

But of course, if you can still do middle school to early high-school math when intoxicated, this won't do much for you in being an obstacle.

We here at Webconsuls have been using a tool we think is better than Gmail Goggles-- we call it self control; like Gmail Goggles, it's free of charge. But I still like this tool because math is fun.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Customer Service

Web design is about Customer ServiceOne aspect to running successfully any business is customer service. While I suppose it is possible to succeed with superior performance alone, a la Jerry Seinfield's 'Soup Nazi', ignoring your customer needs and concerns will generally lead to failure. At Webconsuls, LLC we try to be both responsive to our customers and to exceed their performance expectation.

Here is personal example that illustrates my point.

I am renting out a townhouse, which is vacant. As part of the rental process I needed to have the locks rekeyed and also needed the stove replaced. I purchased a stove at an appliance store with a good reputation and fair prices. Salesman explained things well. Delivery was scheduled for Saturday morning between 9 and 11 am. I then went to a locksmith. He was nice enough but spoke with a European accent. I could barely understand him. I was able to schedule him between 9 and 10 the same Saturday.
Great.

Saturday morning rolls around and I went to the vacant townhouse, book in hand to keep me company. At 9 the locksmith called and said he will be late, between 10 and 11. No problem. The locksmith came at 10 and did his job. No word from the appliance company. At 11:15 I called, they then told me it will be between 12 and 1. At 1:15 I called, they said that they guy was just finishing up a job and would be there in 30 minutes.

When I questioned as to why no one ever called me with a new time I am told that the installer "Does not use his cell phone." I asked why he has a cell phone and does not use it. They don't know.

At 2 I called and they said he will be there between 3 and 4. I said I have to leave and will leave the empty house unlocked. They said no problem.

As I was driving, around 3:30, the appliance people called to tell me that they could not install the stove without damaging the tile floor. I needed to reschedule as they would not damage the floor without the owner approving. (Of course if they had come when the promised I would been there and could have approved.) I rescheduled for the next Wednesday between 9 and 11. On Monday I got a handyman to remove the old stove (he did have to damage the floor but he can fix it easily after the new stove is installed.)

On Wednesday I went back to the vacant townhouse to await the new stove. No one showed in the morning. I called at 11:15 and they told me 1. At 1:15 I called and they told 2. They finally came at 2:30.

I will never buy from that appliance store again. Their selection, prices, and workmanship might be great, but they have lost me as a customer. My tenant plans to buy a refrigerator, washer, and dryer in a couple of months. I will steer him away from the store.

If I ever need a locksmith, though I know where to go.

Canon CanoScan LiDE 100

If have pictures from back in the days before digital camera's came about, this scanner will be useful.

If you have printed material that needs to be compiled in to a PDF file, this scanner will be useful.

Released around 8/31/08 New Canon CanoScan LiDe 100 Flatbed scanner for $60, great product for a great price. I recently purchased the Canon CanoScan LiDE 100, a scanner with 2400 x 4800dpi, USB 2.0, compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Macs. Weighing at 3.5 lbs, dimensions 14.6" x 9.9" x 1.6" makes it very easy to take from one place to another without worrying about the weight or size
Canon CanoScan LiDe 100 - Marketing with WebconsulsInstantly scan your photos to use on your website to display personal family and/or friends photos or better yet, put up pictures of your business, from your staff to your facility. Have Webconsuls setup an image gallery for you in FLASH or HTML.

Purchase one today and start marketing your photos on your website.
Frys Electronics, Newegg.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Favorite "Mommy Blogger"

On our recent excursion to Las Vegas for Blog World Expo I sat in on an interesting panel discussion on "Mommy Bloggers". There are blogs of all persuasions but the mommy blogger niche is really a category unto itself. The "Mommy Blogger" phenomenon has been grabbing the attention of marketers for quite some time as Moms are generally the holders of the purse strings in most households.

Listening to the discussion and reflecting on my blog reading habits I started to think about what I like to find in blogs, what keeps me coming back and what we can aspire to as we try to develop our blogs.

Here is one of my favorite "Mommy Bloggers" and why her blog(s) keep me coming back for more.

Lela Davidson

I originally was introduced to Lela's writing on Hub Pages. Her hubs, individually written articles, ranged from household hints, parenting tips, vacation spots for families, holiday celebrations and harder issues such as drug abuse and creationism in public school cirriculum.
  • Lela's profile is engaging and natural. When I read "about Lela" I can imagine her in her world. This is how Lela introduces herself to her readers:
I am a Mother. I cook, clean, wipe noses, push Benadryl, check for nits, help with homework, and iron tiny polo shirts. I used to have a real job with a degree framed on my office wall, but I gave it up for this glamour. I also write, hang out with my husband, and drink wine with my friends on the driveway. I believe parenting is the hardest job in the world as well as the most natural thing we do. I screw up. Daily. And I banish guilt relentlessly. I believe it's your moral responsibility to find the thing that makes you lose track of time, the thing that empties all the racing thoughts from your head and leaves you deaf to the oven timer so you forget about the cookies until the smoke finds you. Writing is my thing. Here's to hoping you find yours and go do it.
  • Many of her posts are simple "how to's and lists."
How to Know if Your Kids Are Huffing
Top Five Midwest Family Vacation Destinations

  • She is always very timely. She has already begun posts in preparation for Halloween.

  • Lela keeps you involved in the process. Recently Lela has been working on a novel. She keeps her readers abreast of her progress and her plan. Novel in Six Months Plan

  • Lela writes regularly.
All these elements keep me coming back, but of course I subscribe to Lela's RSS Feed so I don't miss a post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Park Semper Fi, San Clemente California Photosynth



Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem - President Ronald Reagan

Those words can be found in the Photosynth I made of "Park Semper Fi" near my home in San Clemente California. If you want You can zoom thru the images to find the quote. Using a Nikon D60 I took 253 shots from all angles of the small park in the center of our "Little Spanish Village by the Sea". Zooming in an out of point cloud (hit P on your keyboard) gives you the feel of being there in this 3D space generated with those 2D images. ( scroll mouse to zoom in and out ) The next step turning these point clouds into a wire frame models and then skinning those frames with the photos that generated them. Full photorealistic 3D worlds easily built buy anyone with a decent digital camera. If the above synth does not work for you, (sorry Windows IE and FF only) the rest of you, ( My Mac and Ubuntu friends ) please watch this youtube video demonstrating my favorite shiny new toy.

For those of you that can view the above synth, thank a Marine.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Saturday Evening Post Blog

Before there was radio, and television, and computers people used weekly literature to connect with the world at large. From August 4, 1821 to February 8, 1969, The Saturday Evening Post was what people looked to for: current events articles, editorials, human interest pieces, humor, illustrations, a letter column, and poetry; readers were even encouraged to write articles for the Post. People would sit around their homes on Saturday evening to read the Post, they would discuss the articles and what was taking place in the world with friends and neighbors. Norman Rockwell became a main cover illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post; he would illustrate certain events or activities of the American Family in a beautiful way.

As time went on, the post lost its popularity and people started looking other places for their information. Newer magazines and the advent of T.V. made the Post less popular, the Post had to cut costs and started using photographs as opposed to illustrations. Today the Post is still published six times a year by Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society (a non-profit), because The Saturday Evening Post descended from The Pennsylvania Gazette, founded in 1728 by Benjamin Franklin.

I had the privilege of going to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. On display were many Rockwell paintings that were featured on The Saturday Evening Post's cover, art of a bygone era where life was painted and encapsulated in time. Norman Rockwell's art was a staple of the Post up until 1963.

Today, Weblogs have taken the role of the Saturday Evening Post; readers and the writers share the same role for spreading information to the masses. The public follow blogs much the same way they followed The Post, blogs today are the conversation pieces. Blogs may not have the same artistic appeal that the Post had, but blogs travel along the same lines with regard to started discussions. I am not sure that it is a coincidence that when we publish something on a blog it is called a post. Blogs allow the reader to be the writer, and the writer to be the reader in the blogosphere.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Web 2.0 Tags and Labels: Life at 59 with Tagless Labels

It is Saturday morning and tomorrow I will turn 59. I was hopeful that at this age I wouldn't still need to be concerned about tags and labels, but hey I still do laundry at least once per week and in this day and age I find myself discussing the pros and cons of labeling or tagging blog posts. Let's talk about clothes first: What is it about the tag or label in the neckline of a shirt or top that is so annoying? I ask this question, because as a woman I can categorically state I have never removed a tag from a piece of my clothing. But I can also attest that my significant other hates tags in the neckline of his clothing and he has on occasion twisted himself into the shape of a pretzel to attempt removing the tag while he is wearing the garment! tagless shirt,the old fashioned way
He claims it is scratching his neck and driving him crazy. I maintain that this is learned behavior from childhood when his mother tried to make him comfortable and dutifully removed all tags. You should know that when my children were little I never removed a tag from the neckline of their shirts, pajamas or the like. It was a sociological test I was running in my own little world. The truth is I really don't care if my spouse removes these tags, unless, of course, the tag includes the laundry instructions.

modern tagless label shirt
Can't tell you how many golf shirts have been ruined because they needed cold water as opposed to warm, or they should be hung to dry! Clothes manufacturers came to our rescue about 2002 and invented the tagless label. Accordingly, Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y., market research firm stated in 2005: ''Tags are a very emotional issue." Is he kidding me? Illness, death, bankruptcy, divorce, crime, war and the like are emotional issues, not TAGS!

My blog commitment has been to make you laugh and to offer you something useful, so today I am including a PDF that you can print and hang by your laundry machines. It is a Guide to Home Laundering and Dry-cleaning Symbols. The reason you may need this is twofold: 1) You may find that when you launder your clothes, someone has removed not only the neckline tag with laundering instructions, but they may have removed the additional tag sometimes found elsewhere on the clothing. 2) You may discover that the laundry instructions are written in size 2 font and in universal code. Take a look at these instructions; you may be amazed at how often you have misinterpreted a symbol.

Now for a short discussion about Web 2.0 Tags and Labels: I will make this short and sweet. You can read a lot about labels / tags, as they relate to blog posts. I will only offer you my very simple observation. Tags and labels have always been important in our day to day life, even before we had the world wide web. Think of it this way. The tag/label is an identifier, it guides the reader to more information about the subject matter within your historical blog posts and it perhaps provides just a bit of information that will make your life easier in the case of Web 2.0 allowing your blog to be found by more people. If you really want to understand this in greater detail, contact Webconsuls' Social Marketing guru...Darin McClure, because I have to go do the laundry!

P.S. I know I took 599 words to enlighten you today. Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Highlights of VP Debates



If you missed last nights VP debates between Govenor Palin and Senator Biden, here is a video summary. For myself, keeping in mind my low expectations after the presidential debate, I was pleasantly surprised with the part I saw. Maybe it is because these opponents are a little looser than the presidential candidates were, but to be positive I thought there was less 'speaking over the allotted time and repeating what had already been said', over and over again.

Either way, the 'winner' of the debate varies depending on who you ask, but if you didn't catch the debates, feel free to use this video and stay informed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

T-Mobile Goes 3G

T-Mobile 3G
T-Mobile has quite a few things up their sleeves right now.
First off, T-Mobile finally unleashes their 3G Network. It was available for testing purposes in New York but now will be available in the major cities in U.S.

Click here to see T-Mobile's 3G Coverage Map

Let's get a quick breakdown of the most commonly used networks by your provider:
note: Kbps stands for Kilobytes per second.

Edge: Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (or Enhanced Data GSM Environment)
Edge Speed: Ideally 200 Kbps, realisticly its closer to 90 Kbps

GPRS: General Packet Radio Service (an upgrade from GSM network). This is 2.5G that gives the speed between 30Kbps - 50Kbps

UMTS: Universal Mobile Telephone Service. This is the 3G Service provided by T-Mobile and ATT. This service is aimed to provide up to 2Mbps but in the real world, you'll see 300Kpbs - 400Kbps (which is still an amazing speed compared to Edge or GPRS).