Webconsuls - Web Design, SEO, and SMO Specialists

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 The Year Twitter Rocketed into the Mainstream



Social Media has gone mainstream and one needs to look no further than Youtube, or Twitter to see that. With a budding new war in the middle east Israel has taken to these social media sites not just to get their message out but to also to take part in the conversation. The democratization of information is in full swing folks, if you are waiting for someone else to get your message out, WHO ARE YOU WAITING FOR? With tools like Blogger, Youtube and Twitter anyone can easily take part in the conversation.

In 2009 don't be shy, click the comment button, take part in the conversation, you will be glad you did.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is Second Life Where Social Media Meets the Future?

Second Life Strategies for Companies and Future Uses



Second Life is a virtual world built on line by the community members. 3-D models of spaces and characters (avatars) interact. There is even an active economy with its own currency.

Seems pretty far out there?

Dell, Nike, Starwood Hotels are some large corporations checking out Second Life. Experimentation with these virtual worlds is in its infancy.

Current applications which businesses have found helpful are:

Using the virtual space in Second Life to hold meetings and career fairs.

Create prototypes in Second Life and receive feedback on designs and plans.

Large scale planning projects such as city planning can be done in Second Life.

Second Life can even improve your health.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Dallas Taylor Drum Lesson #1 used for Guitar Hero World Tour



The next drum legend may be born on the drumkit in "Guitar Hero World Tour", Ella got one and I think Lisa and I having more fun playing it than anyone. In this "game" from Electronic Arts you get a drum kit, a guitar hero guitar and a microphone, and you must all match the timing and the notes on screen as they scroll past. For those of you with your own budding Hanna Montana's this is a great way to bring the whole family together for some rock and rolling good times! Not only can you play songs from Van Halen, Boston, Jimmy Hendrix and Steely Dan, you can also record your own tunes for later playback or even share them online with your friends. As for the McClure family drummer, Lisa is watching this clip from our friend, Crosby Stills and Nash drummer, Dallas Taylor showing us how to do a basic drum beat and paradiddles with drum lesson #1.

Did your family get Guitar Hero World Tour this holiday season? DO YOU ROCK?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Flight of the Conchords Second Season

The award-winning New Zealand comedy duo composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are back on HBO for their second season of Flight of the Conchords. These starving New Zealend artists will be back on HBO January 18, 2009, with the season premiere.

I could not wait until january 18th to see the New Episode, I am pretty sure that I will never have to turn the TV on to watch Flight of the Conchords. With media taking over the Internet and one's ability to see any of your favorite shows online, you can now watch what you want when you want.

This year Joost.com went live! You no longer need to download the beta browser to watch shows on Joost. Joost allowed me to see my favorite sitcom 22 days early. Besides sitcoms, you can watch music videos, live concerts, and documentaries whenever you want and it is commercial free.

<a href="http://www.joost.com/230n116/t/Flight-of-Conchords-Season-2-First-Episode">Flight of Conchords: Season 2 First Episode</a>

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why I send holiday greeting cards


Every year I take on the "joyous" task of composing a holiday letter and creating a photo greeting card. Why I send holiday greeting cards other than to say I have completed a project, is that it gives me a sense of continuity. I have been responsible for this family missive for at least 30 years; however, due to circumstances beyond my control there have been at least two years that I missed, namely 1999 and 2003.

In 1985 I started the tradition of including a holiday photo of our family. We stood in front of the Eastern Slope Inn in North Conway, NH, Aaron was not quite five and Dan was just a few months shy of two. And so over the years, we have tried to gather for one quick moment to capture the memory of our years together. As time went by, I created funny little messages, as opposed to just saying "Holiday Greetings". For example...the photo card you see here from 1989 ~ since we were gathered with the menagerie, my greeting said "Hogs and kisses two ewe!"

Our friends and relatives grew accustomed to this tradition and in the two years that I missed sending cards, we received phone calls, letters, and emails inquiring as to whether or not we were "OK". Even yesterday, when we received a card from some very dear friends, she wrote on the bottom of her card: "We're looking forward to your holiday news."

Can you feel the pressure put on me? I hope so.

Steve Hendrix of the Washington Post said it best this week: "To the average mother, the entire social construct hangs on a once-a-year exchange of cardboard with best friends from third grade, long-ago piano teachers and cousins so far out on the family tree that they might be another branch of primates all together. And all the better if the missive includes a recent photo of the offspring (bonus points for one taken at a ski resort) and a whitewashed summary of the year's family news."

I received a lot of bonus points over the years as we owned a Country Inn in a ski resort town, so capturing a snowy scene was usually easy, and I have been known for not "whitewashing" the family news.

This yearly event has gotten more expensive, I don't even want to discuss what it cost this year, with the cost of postage ($.15 per item in 1978 when Dennis and I married, and now $.42, which represents an increase of 180% over 30 years) and photo production rising as well. And I won't mention the physical hours it takes for this production, I figure at least 15-20 hours for the whole process. It will take me a while to give up on this tradition.

I know we have blogs, email, telephones, text messaging, YouTube videos and Google videos, but there is nothing like waiting for the postman to arrive during the month of December. I look forward to hearing from friends and families. I read their letters, become slightly insulted if the card only contains a signature. I love the photos and, yes, I save the photos. It is fun to look at them and see how everyone has grown up, out, old, gray, etc. Just this week a card came from our dear neighbors from North Conway. And in the beautiful photograph appeared Eric and Matt Phillips all grown up, this year's photo taken at Matt's wedding to Molly. We first met Eric and Matt in 1986...and we enjoyed the photo and their mom's letter.

Here you can enjoy my 2008 Holiday Greeting Photo...a few minutes in time.

Daniel, Judy, Dennis, and Aaron ~ 2008 Tucson

Friday, December 26, 2008

If Everyone is Feeling a Recession, Why Is Amazon.com having a record Holiday Season?

This holiday season the 'recession' we are all hearing about and probably feeling too made this year's retail sales fall as expected- except for Amazon who recorded a record year in sales. How could this be? The Washington Times is reporting that holiday sales was the worst this year in 40 years. This is major!

Amazon's shares went up about 4% due to record traffic and sales. The online retailer rose 17% from a year ago. But how could this be during a recession when just about everyone else is dropping prices and making deals to lure in customers and still are having a tough time.

The online avenue of reaching customers is as efficient as ever not only in online sales, but in reaching who and what you are looking for effectively. The ability to search and buy online is not affected by weather and 'deals' are made and changed instantly. Service-based businesses similarly have the same controls and lack of limitations. Searching who provides a service well, closest to my house can be done without making phone calls or burning gas.

In this tough time, businesses need an extra push to get themselves that extra exposure. Webconsuls has customized solutions for every business model. We pride ourselves in adapting our methods to your goals. Contact us and start up a relationship that will build your business online, where clearly Amazon has proved is the place to succeed even in this tough market.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays From Webconsuls



With my in my PJ's and she in her robe, we watched Santa circle the globe!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

The Webconsuls Family

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Search Engine Marketing Newsletter Winter 2008

Borrowing from a Ray Barone quote in an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond": "I think I know one thing that can make this year all better...editing. When all is said and done we will only remember the good stuff. I think you're gonna remember about 2008 what you want to remember." And so today Webconsuls wants to wish all of our clients a healthy and joyous holiday season and take a few minutes to remind you about some of the "good stuff" that our clients and we have enjoyed this year. We hope you will enjoy the memories...

Client side...


UCLA Division of Interventional Neuroradilogy is featured on NBC Nightly News
On November 28, 2008, NBC Nightly News aired a segment that featured Dr. Gary Duckwiler as he discussed the new scan technology available to target aneurysms, allowing doctors to find the problems and fix them before they cause major problems. If you visit their site you can watch the NBC video.

Visions Adolescent Treatment Center featured on the Today Show
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor for NBC News, talked with Matt Laurer on December 11, 2008, regarding "Teens Abusing Prescription Drugs". This segment featured Visions Teen Adolescent Treatment Center, their Medical Director Dr. David Lewis and three Visions' clients who are in recovery from prescription drug abuse. While the statistics on this problem are alarming, the segment offers valuable advice for parents and teens. You can view the video here.

Lodge at Moosehead Lake receives Four Star Diamond Award
In July 2008, Linda and Dennis Bortis, Lodge at Moosehead Lake innkeepers, were notified by the Automobile Club of America that once again their beautiful inn has been designated with the Four Star Diamond Award. According to AAA: "The 1,915 AAA Four Diamond Award winners include 1,159 lodgings and 756 restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Only 3.2 percent of the 60,000 AAA Diamond rated lodgings and restaurants received the prestigious designation." This is the 14th year that the Lodge at Moosehead Lake has received this award and we offer our congratulations to Linda and Dennis.

Lou Ursone, Executive Director of Curtain Call, Inc, Awarded Fellowship
This past January "the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) announced that Lou Ursone has been awarded the Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellowship for 2008, in recognition of his outstanding arts management abilities as executive director of Curtain Call, Inc., a community theater in Stamford. The annual Mahaffey Fellowship of $2,500 acknowledges the important role administrators play in Connecticut’s arts industry and is to be used for professional development activities. The fellowship is named in honor of Elizabeth Mahaffey, who contributed significantly to the development of arts administrators in the state during her 23-year career with the Commission." Congratulations to Lou.

Leah Di Bernardo, chef and owner of Delyte's Catering, featured in Press Enterprise Cooking Video Delyte's Catering is located in the beautiful wine country of California's Temecula Valley. Leah is an active member of "Slow Food" Nation and is the president of the Slow Food Temecula Valley. So it is not surprising that the Press Enterprise invited Leah to be featured on one of their cooking videos, "Chef Leah Di Bernardo cooks Chicken Cacciatore on Chinese black rice."

And just in case you have not heard of the "Slow Food" movement, you can read Time Magazine's Article, "Can Slow Food Feed the World?" to learn more.

Olive Crest, Homes and Services for Abused Children, Gets $1 Million Grant to Finish Coachella Center December 8, 2008, The Desert Sun reported that our client, Olive Crest, received long awaited funds to complete their Coachella Valley Children's Center. This is good news for the children and for Olive Crest, an organization that has since 1973 provided loving care for over 40,000 children and families.

The good news stories continue: Seaward Inn will open for their 65th Season this coming spring; Susan Slaughter, FACHE, Director of Business Development at Pine Grove Behavioral Health Services, recently became a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the nation’s leading professional society for healthcare leaders and Pine Grove and Forrest General hosted a ceremony at the Pine Grove campus this past October to celebrate an inspiring project. Officials unveiled The Paul McMullan Circle of Healing Plaza and sculpture as a part of the Pine Grove Spiritual Grounds project, representing the organizations’ promise to positively affect lives; The Whalewalk Inn & Spa was featured in the August 2008 Travel and Leisure's article about "The Best of Cape Cod"; and Cottonwood de Tucson received a mention in Showtime's popular television series Weeds!

Webconsuls' side...


Working with and for our clients over that past year has been both fulfilling and challenging for Webconsuls' team. We strive to keep you abreast of new SEO and SMO ideas, teaching many of you about the efficacy of blogging about your business and even committing to post to our own blog on a daily basis. We hope you will take a few minutes to read our blog regularly, as we are sure you will find good tips and stories. We worked with many of you in redesigning your websites and we updated our website homepage to include a rotating "thumbnail" of new site designs. This rotation serves to give new exposure for many of you.

Some members of our team reached milestones in their own lives... Malik Moosa completed his BS Degree in Business Administration at California State University Long Beach in Spring 2008. His major course of study was Information Systems, E-Commerce Track. Malik began assisting Webconsuls in early 2006, by updating current web-sites and designing new sites for Webconsuls’ clients. Malik’s skill set includes, Macro-media Dreamweaver, Swish MAX, Advance HTML, DHTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Actionscript, MySQL Database, Adobe – Photoshop CS2, PageMaker 6, Illustrator 8, Premiere, and Acrobat. Malik also became engaged and plans an April 2009 wedding.

Keith Hansen our Pay Per Click specialist announced this month that he and his wife are expecting their first baby in April 2009. In the meantime, Keith continues to work closely with many of our clients guiding them through the every changing world of pay-per-click.

Looking ahead


2009 promises to be an interesting year for all of us. We look forward to working with you and we welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. We would love to hear from you when you have exciting and interesting news about your business. We will include this news in our Webconsuls' blog.

Happy Holidays,
Dick, Dennis and Judy

Social Shopping E-commerce and Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Polyvore is an example of social shopping. Think paperdolls for your computer. It is free and easy to sign up. Software loads easily and quickly and enables you to begin to gather images to create collages (mashups to the uninitiated). Here is a brief tour.



Polyvore's social community focuses on fashion and interior design. Active Polyvore members range from design students, small boutique owners, professional stylists and the general shopping public.

Sets (or mashups or styleboards) can then be shared by embedding them into your blog with an embed code, shared via Facebook application or email.


HollyDay Party by xxhoLLy1089xxx

Some holiday "out of the box" sharing from Webconsuls, LLC.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Price of Happiness, Does Happiness Have A Price?



It is the holiday season and that begs the question, Can happiness be bought? Does fine wine bring happiness? A pair of bluejeans? How about a truffle or coffee that has been thru a small jungle creature?

For me happiness comes from creation, and seeing things used in new and exciting ways.

Watch this short TED talk and be thankful you are not a Kopi Luwak rustler.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

NBC's Today Program featured Visions Teen




On Thursday November 11th, NBC's Today Program featured Visions Teen. The program was about teens using prescription drugs and becoming addicted. Within minutes of the program airing our client Visions Teen Adolescent Treatment was able to post this video to their blog. Not only was this helpful information for the blog readers but the traffic to their website during the following week increased dramatically.

This is an example of how important it is for you to update your website or blog with videos and news articles about your business.

If you need assistance in adding videos to your blog or website please contact Webconsuls.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

craigslist.org and Holiday Shopping

There are only five full days left to shop for Christmas and tomorrow at sundown the first candle of Hanukkah will be lit. In an effort to assist all of my shopping readers, I thought I might suggest to you to think about finding that really special gift on your local craigslist.org site. Yes, I said craigslist.org and Holiday Shopping in the same breath.

I will admit I am not a great shopper and I have for years, and I do mean years, tried to avoid malls and other small shopping venues. It is not that I don't want to remember people that I love, but I find shopping exhausting. Over 30 years ago I started using catalogs for holiday shopping and when the Internet began to allow us to shop all over the world in real time, well, let's just say it made my life easier. Keep in mind for many years I lived in very rural areas and did not have access to the large retailers, so I depended on the Sears' Catalog and J. C. Penney Catalog.

Now back to cragslist.org. My past experience with craigslist.org was in helping a good friend furnish his home office by using craigslist. It was about 18 months ago that my friend and I had tried to find good sturdy office furniture, etc, but the usual suspects were really only selling reconstructed fiberboard. So I said to him, "Let's search on craigslist." We did and what do you know, we found good quality, barely used furniture from a company in Orange County California which was closing down. Within in a few days the home office was complete for about $500, retail valued at about $1700.

You might get the impression that I have had a Craigslist account since its inception. That is not true, in fact, it was only two weeks ago that I set up my account. Why? Like any other "member", I had something of value that I didn't need and I wanted to sell; however, I had not been successful in selling this item in any of the old fashion ways. On December 6th I decided to try selling this item with Craigslist. I set up my account and what do you know, by the next morning I had received an email from "Chris." This was exciting...I answered the email and then I received the dreaded strange reply that looked "just plain nuts." I went back on Craigslist and read the "scams help page." I soon realized this "Chris" was up to no good and I decided to follow Craig's #1 rule: "DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on craigslist."

I am happy to report that yesterday I received a call from a gentleman in Tucson who wanted to see my item. He came to our home, previewed the item, and said he might be back in touch. At 2:00PM, he called back and asked if we could meet with him to have the item inspected by an expert. 3:00PM we met at a local mall, the item was inspected and given the "green light" and the transaction was completed!! The gentleman was happy as he had found the perfect holiday gift for his girlfriend and I was happy as I no longer had this item that had been gathering dust, but instead put money in my bank account.

Before I close off this morning I want to mention that while Craigslist can help you find housing, employees, jobs, furniture, etc, you can indeed also make interesting connections. After all, the origins of craigslist are based in Craig Newmark simply trying to provide a way for his friends to stay in touch about community events. You can read an interesting article from Business Week about its inception. Craig is often referred to as a "Community Organizer." You remember this term from the 2008 Election. Yes, he has helped to organize many communities and when you sell or buy using Craigslist you can play that old game "six degrees of separation." Take my transaction: I have lived in Tucson for only nine months. I really know very few people here. But when we met my buyer we sat down for a cup of coffee while we wrote out the receipt. Dennis asked the gentleman what he does for a living. To this he replied that he is an artist. We said we only know one artist in Tucson. He asked the name of the artist. We told him and don't you know the artist we know is one of his best friends and I might add this artist is our oldest son's landlord. Guess how our oldest son found his duplex to rent? You got it...Craigslist!

SMO, Social Media, Social Networks...think craigslist.org. Happy Holiday shopping.


Friday, December 19, 2008

10 Best Selling Cars of 2008

In a year where the price of gas at one point topped $4 per gallon, you might be surprised at the top selling cars in the US this year. The usual suspects from Honda and Toyota are on the list, Camry, Civic, Accord and Corolla are numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6 respectively. According to Forbes, the top 2 selling cars where pickup trucks- homemade by Chevrolet and Ford.

The Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado series were 1 and 2 in that order. An interesting argument the article makes is that when gas prices were so high, consumers buy what they need not what they want, and what is useful to Americans seems to be pickup trucks. This point does seem to be supported that no SUV's made the list.

If you bought a car on the list or better yet, if you want to recommend one that didn't make the cut, sales-wise- let us know. What is important to you in buying a car in today's climate?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What colors to use on a website


How do you decide on what colors to use for your website?

This is the question you start with when designing a website and could determine how the website will look based on your decision. Webconsuls has recently designed Affirmations website which gives a soothing yet bright feeling. Located in Scottsdale, AZ the website's colors catch the user's eyes and yet still hold the peace of mind that it is a recovery center. The colors were easier to play with given that the company logo is a simple yellow logo which gives me room to play with a wide range of colors.

To give you an idea of how to relate a theme of the website with the company it belongs to, let's take a look at some of the sites Webconsuls has designed. Hardhat Presentations has a blueprint in the background since it is a construction business. La Fuente Restaurant gives off a feeling of an authentic Mexican restaurant. Click here to see a partial listing of the sites designed by Webconsuls.

Websites should give the feeling of the company when entering a site. Two things that always help a designer is the logo which is initially the first thing we look at when designing a website and the pictures provided. What you write about your company and the pictures you chose to present your company are what the people see. Therefore, having a professional photographer take photos of your business/facility and your staff is a great investment.

The simple the logo, the more flexibility a designer has to work with. The more complex the logo, the less options you may have depending on the color scheme you are going for.

Websites such as Colors on the Web and ColorScheme are great tools to help you decide on color contrasts that are appealing and catch your eye.

How does your site look?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Never Be Too Sure Of Yourself or How To Lose A Fortune

Bill Miller is a legendary mutual fund manager. Or, should I say, was a legend.

As this story in the Wall Street Journal reveals Miller certainly was a legend.

Miller managed the Legg Mason Value Trust Fund. From 1991 to 2005 the fund beat the broad averages every year. No other mutual fund manager can claim a streak like that.

Miller is a "contrarian." He found stocks that he thought had value where others did not. He was usually a step or two ahead of the market. If you had invested $10,000 in his fund in 1991, then in second quarter of 2007 it was worth almost $109,000. A similar investment in the S & P 500 would have been worth less than $64,000. In the 4th Quarter of 2008, the $109,000 had fallen to less than $43,000 while the S & P 500 investment had fallen to just under $40,000.

Miller failed to beat the averages in 2006 when he missed energy stocks. In 2007 he bought stocks of home builders and lost. He thought that other investors were too pessimistic regarding the housing and credit markets and began buying Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual and others.
He thought that financials had bottomed in the end of 2007 and began buying more. On Friday March 14th 2008 he bought Bear Stearns at $30/share and boosted of the "bargain" purchase of a stock that had been over $150. Over the weekend the weekend Bear Stearns collapsed and it was taken over for $2 per share. And this is a guy who was a Wall Street legend and who beat the aver

I would suppose that almost everyone investor is down this year. (Maybe you rent your home, have no investment real estate, and keep your money under your mattress, then you may not be down but I would not call you an investor.) If you did better than the most and lost less than the averages, congratulations. But don't think you will do that forever. As Miller showed, even the best can go wrong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dog-friendly dog training with Ian Dunbar



From the 2007 Entertainment Gathering Conference Ian Dunbar, dog trainer, animal behaviorist and veterinarian, suggests we approach training from the point of view of the dog. This compassionate approach builds love and trust. These "interaction skills", as Ian Dunbar calls them can be applied to not only our relationships with our pets but all of our relationships.

Enjoy this 15 minutes talk from Ian Dunbar. I viewed this episode the last Sunday and it has been on my mind affecting my actions ever since. I hope you enjoy this presentation as much as I did.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Library of Human Imagination, Jay Walker's Amazing Space



Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com and a speaker at TED, shares some the artifacts from his "Library of Human Imagination" and makes some predictions about our future. I for one would would love to be able to explore this incredible space created by Jay. Check out the full story about Jay Walkers Library of Human Imagination in Wired. What do you think was the most amazing thing you learned in 2008? Mind sharing with us?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flip Cameras and iPhones

It was between 40 and 45 degrees yesterday up on Mt. Lemmon, Arizona; the wind felt like it was blowing 50 mph and it did not seem like we could find any cover. My friend Ryan and I went up there to do some bouldering for the day. When the conditions are this bad it is hard to stay focused on the goal of finishing a boulder problem; you can't feel your hands or your feet for that matter, and these extremities are pretty crucial for climbing rock.

The first problems Ryan and I worked on were completely exposed from every angle! As our hands gripped the rock we could feel and almost hear our fingers cracking. Bouldering in this environment can be rather discouraging after a while, but, you keep truckin' on because the idea of finishing a problem far out weighs the pain your feeling. On the outside, climbing in these conditions, it all looks crazy; although, on the inside, you feel as if you were born to climb and there is nothing that can stop you.



We ended up taking a break for a little while, which gave us time to eat and figure out where we should scout for new challenges (problems) to climb. As the sun was setting, we were hiking down a mountain stream when we came upon our next challenge! We were losing light quickly but we pushed on, what we found were two giant boulders that had been pushed up next to each other by the elements. Our challenge was the inside of the cave made by these boulders. Right as the sun was almost completely gone, Ryan got it! All my photos were taken with my iPhone and the video was shot with my Flip camera.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yammer | To Yammer or Not

Webconsuls' SMO team works hard to keep our clients and us up to date on all of the latest "gadgets" that seem to offer some benefit either for our website marketing or general business tools. I will admit that I am not always the first one to try out or sign up for the latest and greatest, but I do try to glean from my co-workers their reviews of these new tools. So today I want to talk about Yammer. To Yammer or not to Yammer, that is the question.

I first learned about Yammer on November 5, 2008. I received an email from Lisa inviting me to join the Webconsuls.com network. This email arrived at 7:53AM, then at 8:56AM I received an additional invitation from Malik Moosa. On November 5 I had a very good reason for not responding to these invitations, as I was flying from Tucson to Albany, NY, and the laptop was not accessible for most of the day. Five weeks went by. I was busy with many client's projects and I waited to see if any other team member would invite me to join webconsuls.com yammer network.

December 8, 2008, the wait was over. I received another invitation from Dick Fay. Now this impressed me. Dick is not only my co-worker he is also one of my business partners, and I decided that Dick's invitation offered some validity to yammer.com. So, I signed up!

It was easy to do, I followed the steps and what do you know there I was part of the TEAM. On the home page you can easily see "posts" or "updates" from your team or group members. But what startled me was that, aside from the automatic post showing that Dick Fay had joined the "network", all other updates were from Darin, our SMO director. Hmmmm! What does this mean? Where were Lisa's updates and Malik's updates? I didn't understand.

If, as the Yammer.com "about us" page says: "Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: 'What are you working on?' As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced."; then why is only Darin posting updates? And for that matter, is anyone listening?

I am reminded of a winter day in 1989, when I was the co-owner and innkeeper of Cranmore Mountain Lodge. Our chef at the time was a colorful fellow named John Littlefield. (Picture Ignatius J. Reilly, the main character in the Pulitzer Prize winning fiction novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.) John was a superb chef, but let's just say he had some idiosyncrasies and someday when I write my expose about innkeeping I will devote an entire chapter to John.

But back to my story. I was in the laundry room with my youngest son Daniel
Aaron & Dan 1989
(he had just turned five years old). The laundry room had a doorway to the country kitchen and John was in the kitchen busying himself and talking. Daniel watched John for a few minutes and then turned to me and in a soft voice inquired: "Momma, who is John talking to?" To which I responded: "He is talking to himself." Daniel considered my answer and then in turn responded: "But who is listening?" I didn't have an answer, except a knowing smile.

Now almost 20 years later, I find myself asking the same question when it comes to all of the new-age technology. I know that people read blogs, I know that the Internet and SMO can be very powerful on so many levels. But I also know that I can write this blog every Saturday and I don't really have any idea who is listening. So should I Yammer?

I would like to invite all of my readers to learn more about yammer.com, but at the same time I worry about even the name of "yammer." According to Websters', yammer means to utter repeated cries of distress or sorrow, to utter consistent complaints, to talk persistently or volubly and often loudly. So why would Yammer.com founders choose such a name? I don't know.

What I do know is that I am going to give it a try, but I am going to use it strictly for business questions. I am going to try to solicit input from my team members about business questions regarding SEO, SMO, web design, etc. I will let you know how this works out. In the meantime, here is a video that gives you a pretty good overview of YAMMER. And if you are looking for a good read, try A Confederacy of Dunces, you will laugh yourself silly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Backing Up Songs From Your Ipod Onto Your Hard Drive

How to back up songs from your ipod to your computerRecently my 30GB Video Ipod started giving me trouble. The sound into my headphones was reduced to 'mono', coming through only the left earbud. I then contacted Apple and figured out the ipod was beyond repair- and yes I tried multiple pairs of headphones, which is not the issue.

As a result I figured I needed a new mp3 player but I had a large percentage of songs on my ipod that are not in my library. Therefore, I figured my next steps had to be to backup all my ipod contents, again in order to not lose a significant amount of music.

Ipod Copy Expert is the tool I used to perform this task of allowing me to backup my data; kind of a reverse Itunes Library. In my own example this allowed me to then put my entire library of songs onto a new or in my case, my wife's ipod. Many people who like this tool just want a backup of their data to cover a lost/stolen or broken ipod, etc.

There is a $20 charge to use the full version of this software, but that is the price of recovering just 20 songs; so for me this was a no brainer. The interface itself acts like your Itunes library and is very simply to operate.
Go try out the free version (below) and reply/comment with what you think and with what your experience was.

http://www.ipod-computer.com/iPod-Transfer

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beta label removed from Google Chrome

Google Chrome official release
Today was the 15th release by Google and within 100 days of its initial launch. Google announced this morning the first release of Google Chrome without the beta label attached to it.

We've been talking about Google Chrome since September and most of you already know what an amazingly fast browser it is. With the first release without the beta label, Google has improved the stability and performance of plug-ins (video performance in specific) which had issues in the beta version. When doing a benchmark test on V8 JavaScript engine, it runs 1.5 times faster on V8 benchmark. Google claims this will get even faster.

Google Chrome's bookmark feature is now even friendlier. Some users had problems in the beta release which have now been resolved. Now you can organize your bookmarks and import/export from different browsers.

Most users that use Mozilla Firefox also utilize the plug-ins feature. Hopefully in the next few days, Google will come out with extensions to integrate with Google Chrome.

What are your thoughts? Which browser would you say has the most potential?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hunger in Eastern Massachusetts And How You Can Help



Hunger in Eastern Massachusetts And How You Can Help

Hunger is a silent epidemic. Each year, more than 320,000 people seek food assistance in eastern Massachusetts alone. They are the most vulnerable among us: children and seniors. They are people we know: our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. They live in each and every one of our communities, and are quietly seeking help from the more than 600 member hunger-relief agencies in the nine counties and 190 cities and towns of eastern Massachusetts that receive food from The Greater Boston Food Bank.


Lisa was checking in to Twitter this morning and saw a post that intrigued her from Connie Reece, about how Tyson foods was donating 100 pounds of food for every comment to this post. This time of year a comment is not to much to ask for please do your part, comment, feed the hungry and prove that tweeting and blogging about a subject is more than a bunch of people talking about what they had for lunch or where they can spot their cars on google maps.

Go Comment, it will make you feel good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tasks from Google Labs

How does Google know?

Google is reading my emailGoogle is always adding and developing the services it offers for free. Sometimes I joke they are reading my emails. One day I may mention, "Gee, I would like folders for that ..." and a couple weeks later, or a couple days in some cases my feature appears. Call it selective attention, hundredth monkey effect or just the natural development of software.

As I made my transition from using Outlook to only Gmail and Gmail for your domain I bemoaned the loss of adding a task and attaching the referenced email. Loved that. Needed that.

The latest addition to Google Labs is Tasks. Now located below your "Contacts" link on the left margin. This from Google:

We put your tasks in the same kind of window as chats, so they're visible while you're scanning your inbox, reading mail, or searching (and in Settings, too!). Just pop your list out into a new window to use Tasks outside of Gmail.

To enable Tasks, go to Settings, click the Labs tab (or just click here if you're signed in). Select "Enable" next to "Tasks" and then click "Save Changes" at the bottom. Then, after Gmail refreshes, on the left under the "Contacts" link, you'll see a "Tasks" link. Just click it to get started.
Tasks will allow you to create a 'to do' list right within Gmail.

Tasks can be generated straight from an email.
  1. Open your email, decide you need to add this task, from the "More Actions" drop down menu now you may select "Add to Tasks". The email will be added to your Task list with the subject line listed in your queue of things to do.
  2. If you have your shortcuts enabled in Labs you can do this with Control + t, also:
Tasks can be prioritized.
Tasks allows you to break down a project into manageable steps.
The Task window can pop-out and become a whole new window.

So while Google is possibly listening (and when aren't they) here is my wish list for Tasks:

1. An iPhone application to see and use my Tasks list on the go
2. Ability to combine Tasks lists from other gmail accounts into one master list
3. Add due dates for Tasks to Google Calendar

What do you want Tasks to do next?

Monday, December 8, 2008

You May Say I'm A Dreamer, But I'm Not the Only One...



Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

1980, I was a high school student in the OC before that was cool, I was not a sporto, I was not a band geek, I was not a thespian, but I knew people in all of those clicks and could move freely between them. The 80s was not a time of great music with few exceptions. We were raised in a house with everything from Brubeck to the Beatles being played on vinal via the Hi-Fi. We have always loved new tunes when they came out from out favorite artists. John Lennon had taken a hiatus to raise his second son, and the world was without his gift for many years when Double Fantisy came out. I can remember slow Sundays on the patio, rib eye steaks on the grill, John and Yoko on the turntable. That year summer ended and winter came, and with it the senseless killing of one of the most popular composers of all time.

It't now almost 30 years later and Imagine still kinda chokes me up.

We Miss You John...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Over the Rainbow, Australia and the magic of music

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dennis and I went to see the new Baz Luhrmann film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Having read many reviews of this film, some great and some mixed, I figured we might as well venture out on Black Friday and see this epic film. What better way to spend two and three-quarter hours when a movie includes wonderful scenery of Australia, World War II history, an expose of the "stolen generation", not to mention I could enjoy watching Hugh Jackman (People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2008) and Dennis could similarly enjoy watching the beautiful and talented Nicole Kidman. As we purchased our tickets, I noticed the theatre was giving away free Australia movie posters. What a treat! Not exactly like receiving a movie "program book" that I frequently received back in the 60's and 70's. Yes, I said "program book."
These were souvenir books, some over 30 pages in length, that were part of your ticket price, typically produced for those major films like Dr. Zhivago (1965) and Hawaii (1966). And, yes, I still have some of these treasures, and remember that these movies often included an "intermission!" But, back to Australia...it is 1939.

There is much to say about this movie and I really hope you will see it for yourself. What struck me the most is how Luhrmann managed to weave the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, into his storytelling. And of course, there is the beautiful Oz song, "Over the Rainbow". As I watched Australia I thought to myself, what is it about "Over the Rainbow" that somehow reaches your inner soul and magically soothes you. We all know that Australia is not the first movie that has incorporated "Over the Rainbow", as I can name at least six other films, and it undoubtedly won't be the last...so still the question remains. Why do people love the song "Over the Rainbow"?

Consider the following: "Over the Rainbow" was written in 1939; lyrics by Edgar Yipsel(Yip)Harburg; music by Harold Arlen; original performing artist was Judy Garland; won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (1939) and was voted by the American Film Institute as the Best Movie Song of all time. According to SongFacts.com, Yip Harburg's "lyrics have a political significance. Harburg was expressing hope for America under President Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" program, which was designed to get America out of the Great Depression in the early '30s." Hmmmm...

I suppose you are wondering what my blog post about Over the Rainbow, Australia and the magic of music has to do with Webconsuls' primary services, SEO and SMO. Well, here is the connection. A few months ago, one of our clients, Whiteside Manor, Riverside, CA, asked us to create a video for their website. We had wonderful photos, but we needed just the right music. Dan contacted his friend, Paul Meredith, and asked Paul to record a version of "Over the Rainbow." You can view the finished product here:


So today:
1. Let me know your thoughts about "Over the Rainbow" and Australia.
2. See if you can name one or more of the other movie soundtracks which include "Over the Rainbow".
3. Let me know if you need Webconsuls to produce a video for your website

....'Somewhere over the rainbow... skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.'

Dare to dream...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pay Per Click Landing Pages

In pay per click marketing, in most cases I find myself defining the typical internet user/searcher/customer in very specific terms. I must assume that the potential customer is looking only for the particular item/service searched-- nothing more nothing less. Therefore, specific landing pages corresponding to that search term are a must, while sending a searcher to your homepage is not optimal.

To quote the linked article, "The first and most important objective of the landing page is to convince the visitor that they've come to the right place." In my opinion this must be done, clearly, simply, and above the 'fold' or without making the searcher scroll. The Szetela article uses the metaphor of going to a Sears department store. When you know the specific item you are looking to purchase, you can go directly to it by parking and entering the store in the door leading to that particular department. You then find, purchase and leave the store creating as efficient and seemless an experience as possible.

If the searcher then stays to browse or comes back later for similar items, it is all gravy. But the conservative, strict approach assumes this is not the case and in my experience, it is not. Secure the immediate sale- any other objectives cannot be campaigned for with statistical confidence.

The browser or the type of person who enjoys shopping and spending time do so is not the person we are concerned with as previous topics have covered. In short, the browsing shopper will either find the product regardless of what 'department door' they arrive in or aren't looking to buy in the 1st place. They are simply browsing.

Please read the article for another point of view and as always- share your experiences, tips and tricks by replying and helping out the rest of the viewership.

http://searchenginewatch.com/3631984

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Google Friend Connect SMO for your site!



Google Friend Connect allows more visitors to engage in your website. Best part is, it doesn't require any programming. The user can join your website using their existing Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID and they can invite friends to join your site as well.









So what can a user do once they join your website through Google Friend Connect?

First, you can add the member gadget which displays member display pictures and allows them to spread the link to join your website.





The Wall gadget which works similarly to Facebook's wall application or a blog post where users can post comments or links to videos on your site.








Another great feature is the Review/Rate gadget which is self explanitory. Allows users to rate the page or a section of a page and post a comment on the rating and get user feedback.








Once you have placed the gadgets on your site, you can then login to Google Friend Connect and view stats on how many members have joined over time. This is a completely new service offered by Google and more gadgets are being developed.

Sign up now and spread the word. Google Friend Connect

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Intrepid Ibex? Click here to get your Free Ubuntu CD's



We got our FREE Ubuntu 8.10 disks in the mail!

Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others' and is also a free operating system that you can use to breath new life into an old computer, host your enterprise or just get your feet wet in the land of *nix. Click here to order your free Ubuntu CD now.

This version of Ubuntu 8.10 is code named Intrepid Ibex. Do not be afraid to try it. Take the Ubuntu CD you get in the mail and boot your computer from it for a test drive!

Got Ubuntu? Everything you need comes on one CD, providing a complete working environment. Additional software is available online directly thru a pull down menu.

Above, Check out this old interview with Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu Foundation.

Ubuntu, an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. The Ubuntu distribution brings this spirit of Ubuntu to the software world. Give it a try, Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What is a Kindle and Would it Make a Good Gift?

Kindle What Is It?

What is a Kindle?
A Kindle is an portable reading device which connects to the internet. The Kindle can download books, blogs, magazines and newspapers wirelessly.

I enjoy playing with new devices and having worked with DAISY books, a digital format created for accessibility purposes, I was very curious about this product from Amazon. The following is a list of pros and cons from my user experience. It is not an exhaustive list but one from my direct experience with the device.

What the Kindle Excels at:
  • The Kindle is great if you like to burn through lots of paperback books and general reading material. Paperback novels, books with very few illustration and not too much organizational formatting are ideal for this device.
  • The Kindle is the ideal device to use for casual reading while traveling. When I do occasionally travel I never know what book I am going to want to read. A Kindle enables you to have over 200 titles and only one 10.3 ounce device to carry.
  • Kindle books are generally cheaper than their traditional version. Best Sellers and New Releases are $9.99 unless marked otherwise. Currently 105 of the 112 New York Times Best Sellers are available on Kindle.
  • The Kindle is very immediate. You can download a novel from the online store in seconds and be reading. Finish the book you brought, visit the Kindle store right from your device and pick a new read. Amazon was not being foolish when they enabled this device with full time internet access.
  • Want to take a peak at a book. One of my favorite treats with the Kindle is being able to download the first chapter of any Kindle version for free. You have a sample of the book to try before you buy.
  • Kindle books are saved and could be made available if you ever accidentally erased or lost your Kindle.
  • The Kindle is a wireless internet device with no monthly fee. You can access your email, your social networks and browse the internet all from your Kindle.
  • You can subscribe to newpapers, magazines, and blogs and have them delivered to your Kindle.
  • A built in dictionary looks up words with a push of a button. I love this feature and wish I had it when I read the book "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy.
  • The Kindle is also a full encycolpedia. Access to Wikipedia.org, your online encyclopedia, comes with your Kindle.
  • An easy to read screen which excels in the elements, especially bright sun and wind.The Kindle's screen is "electronic paper" and does not glow like a computer monitor. The screen of a Kindle is more like the etch-a-sketch of the my childhood. The "digital ink" is magnetic. The electronic ink is easy on the eyes and reads well even in direct sunlight. Reading the humongous and unweily New York Times in a slight breeze is much easier on the Kindle.
  • The text size is adjustable.
Drawback that I found

Sharing
The downside is that if you are accustomed to sharing your paperbacks with other readers you can't really lend or trade your Kindle books as you would a dogeared paperback.

Diagrams
The Kindle is not great for books which contain diagrams. I read a lot of "how to" books. The most recent book I purchased was on photography. I would never even considered buying the Kindle version as the color photographs and illustrations would not be shown full size or in color. Computer instruction and technical books don't render well for the same reason.

A book in the hand ...
When I start a book I read all the front material, the table of contents, all the back material, then I start the book. A Kindle book will display all the same material but it just never feels as easily contained as a book in your hands. Call me old fashioned but I do find comfort in that tangable property of books.

Availability
Not everything has a Kindle version at the moment. There are more than 190,000 titles. You should be able to find something.

Can Kindles replace books?

Kindles and electronic devices can create digital copies of the text in books. Where the representation of the straight text is all you need the Kindle serves its function well. Will it replace books? Not in my lifetime and not for me.

There are the books that you carry around from childhood. I lost my original copy of my beloved book "Happy Horsemanship". A copy of my favorite book on the Kindle would be a poor substitute. There are the books you have given to you by your parents. My copy of "Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson", the inside cover contains my Mother's handwriting "to Lisa, Love Mom and Dad, Christmas 1984" or "My Dog Skip" given to me by a friend and past student are not only stories but mementos. Another favorite and useful book never far from my desk "Reader's Digest Family Word Finder", a thesaurus of sorts, but one that is actually intuitive and immediate to use. I have turned to this resource for help since junior high school. Paging through this reference that I have had for so many years, even the breaks in the binding serve as bookmarks to pages I have referenced repeatedly. Kindles can't do that.

On the other hand ... I can't access my email with my copy of Emily Dickinson.

There are books you will keep forever. There are books you want to touch and pour over. There are books you want to just consume with one read. The Kindle is for the later.

In my opinion and experience the ideal Kindle candidate is one of two people, a traveling bookworm who frequents the best seller section and devours newspapers and/or the gadget infatuated individual who will thrive on squeezing every functionality they can out of an internet device that happens to also read books.

Will you buy a kindle for a gift ... well not right now because they are currently sold out. There are Kindles available for resale on ebay, but some of those are asking for as much as twice the retail prices. OUCH!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday What Is It?

HAPPY CYBER MONDAY! 

Hope you all had a safe trip to Grams house and a Healthy Happy Thanksgiving. Did you find all the best deals on Black Friday? Because Today, Monday December 1st, is the first day back to work after Black Friday. All across America wallets are opened and credit cards are being removed. Current estimates say that 56% of workers with internet access, 70+ million people, will spend more time today shopping online than working.

CyberMonday was born.

Do you need something for your Kindle?  Today sites like Amazon will offer deep discounts and see Cyber Monday traffic increases up to 26%.

So if you missed your new LCD or PLASMA deal on Friday you get a second chance today!

Looking for more Cyber Monday Deals? Don't forget to check out CyberMonday.com

Now to find that perfect gift for Lisa McClure...