Webconsuls - Web Design, SEO, and SMO Specialists

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Freshly Hatched Hummingbirds in Palm Desert Make Vimeo Staff Picks

A big congratulations to Linda McClure for making the Vimeo Staff Picks.

After watching the nest for a couple weeks, hummingbird incubation ranges from 16-18 days, two tiny hummingbirds were hatched. Look carefully to find the recently evacuated egg shell in the nest.


Eggs Hatched Today - Baby Hummingbirds from Linda McClure on Vimeo.

For more perspective on the size of these very tiny birds and even tinier offspring. Here is some footage of the mother preparing her nest.


Hummingbird in a nest from Linda McClure on Vimeo.

Monday, March 30, 2009

RT @Mashable Retweet App Free Today for iPhone



RT @Mashable Retweet App Free Today for iPhone

What is retweeting?

It is when you share a tweet from another tweep.

What is so cool about the Retweet iPhone app?

IT IS FREE TODAY!

What can you use the Retweet iPhone app for?

It is a great way to see what is hot right now because it shows you what is being retweeted the most, and you can Retweet any cool tweets you find right from the app!

HAPPY RETWEETING!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

WANTED: 2 PHISH Tickets, The GORGE

At noon Friday, March 27, 2009, Ticketmaster started selling Phish concert tickets for their August 7 and 8 performances at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. I am told this Amphitheatre holds 20,000 guests. However, I was on Ticketmaster at the appointed time and I was not able to buy tickets to this event. It was sold out within seconds. WANTED: 2 PHISH Tickets, The GORGE, August 7 and /or 8, 2009!

The tickets I am trying to buy have a face value of $49.50 each. So for a two people to enjoy a two day concert, the total ticket price should be $198. Current bids on EBay are up to $700! And if you really want to be shocked, go to eBay's latest auction venue StubHub. Do a search for Phish George WA. Unbelievable. So much for technology. Keep in mind Phish cautions all fans as follows: "We urge you not to purchase tickets through brokers or "scalpers." These tickets may be counterfeit in which case you will not only be overcharged but will also likely be denied entry into the show."

You should know the tickets I am trying purchase are for my oldest son, Aaron. Aaron has been a Phish fan for more years than I know and this week he asked if I would try to purchase tickets for him using my Ticketmaster account. The plan was Aaron would be on one computer, I would be on another and two or three of Aaron's friends (in other states) would try from their computers. At the appointed time we were all ready...and 5-10 minutes later we all received Ticketmaster's equivalent to the blue screen of death: "Sorry, no exact matches were found, but other tickets may still be available."

The annoying thing about this screen message is that Ticketmaster seems to want to deliver a hopeful message. They give you about 4-5 reasons why your purchase attempt may have failed, encouraging you to try again.

Today is Saturday and it occurs to me that life may have been a lot easier when technology didn't provide false hope. So I will share two photos with you. Aaron listening to some tunes circa 1982 and Aaron showing off his first fish (Phish) 1984, Nome, Alaska.




In the meantime, let me know what you think about buying tickets through Ticketmaster. And, if by chance, you were lucky and got Phish tickets through Ticketmaster and find you can't use them...leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Google to Expand TV Ad Service to Online Video

If you are into a new trend of watching TV online, you can expect commercials in the near future.  Google is looking to expand its TV ad brokering to online sites such as YouTube.  Google has been running test advertising programs for TV ads for months and hopes to creative an avenue for advertisers looking for traditional and online outlets.

It seems this will only effect the bigger businesses from the advertising standpoint.  The ability and desire to create and market TV commercials, even if only online is less feasible for most middle and smaller sized budgets.  From the consumer standpoint- more commercials where previously there hadn't been.  So who wins here?  Google and (Google would argue), the larger advertiser.

Here is the article as reported by the Wall Street Journal: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090327/tc_afp/usitmediatelevisionadvertisinginternetgoogleyoutube
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Blackboard Learn Apple iPhone Application - FREE

Most Universities use Blackboard to allow students to access their course information from any computer. It allows students to check their grades, message students and professors, download material for the class, view your grades, and stay involved with online forums for a particular class.

Blackboard announced this morning the release of a free application, Blackboard Learn, for the iPhone and iPod touch which allows students to access their accounts on the go. Students can now receive updates and alerts on grades, assignments, tests and other information when they are not at their desk.

I remember using Blackboard at Cal-State Long Beach before I graduated and found it very useful. It was actually mandatory in most of my classes that we use it in order to receive classroom material such as the syllabus or assignments. I look back and can only imagine how much this iPhone application would have helped me. With the growing community of iPhone users, this FREE application will help student's achieve academic success.



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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Google Improves Search Results Overnight

Major changes affecting SEO have taken place OVERNIGHT in Google's ever changing, ever improving algorithm. Straight from Google:
We are constantly looking for ways to get you to the web page you want as quickly as possible. Even if you don't notice all of our changes, rest assured we're hard at work making sure you have the highest quality search experience possible.
Semantic Technology vs Information Technology
Semantic Technology, forecasted to be the future of search, is built on contextual relationship and meaning. Traditionally computers were limited to very mathematical relationships. Context and meaning were relegated to only human activity, something computers were not equipped or built to provide. Evolving semantic technology redefines the type of intelligence which can be utilized. Computer programs have evolved from one on one preprogrammed predefined relationships to functions based on intuitive concepts and abstract relationships.

This is a profound change for SEO. Semantics is the study of meaning. Semantic Technology enables the computer to make cognitive jumps between related words based on context. Semantic based search will draw in words based on context not just content.
Starting today, we're deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search, and one of its first applications lets us offer you even more useful related searches (the terms found at the bottom, and sometimes at the top, of the search results page).
Longer Snipets for Searches of Three of More Words
When you search for a phrase in Google you will notice that the words you queried are bolded in the results. The small description found with each search result is referred to as the snipet. When you put a short search in the query box, a search of one to three words, there is plenty of opportunity to display those highlighted terms within a two line snipet.
For searches of more than three words a snipets will now be occasionally expanded to three lines to allow for the highlighting of more terms from the query.
  • Remember that your average searcher on the internet has gained in sophistication and that longer multiple word searches have become standard practice.
  • Snippets are what searchers use to choose which links from the search results will most likely solve their problem or answer their question. An extra line of snippet is more opportunity to provide quality information about your site.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Search the Real Meat of iPhone 3.0 Beta OS



Search the Real Meat of iPhone 3.0 Beta OS

Last Tuesday Apple released the SDK (software developer kit) for the soon to be released iPhone 3.0 OS. Developers (like us here at Webconsuls) were able to also install the 3.0 beta so that we can test our apps.

Advance preview of 100 new features.
For iPhone owners, it just keeps getting better. When iPhone OS 3.0 arrives this summer, it will introduce over 100 new features, including the ability to:

Search your iPhone
Cut, copy, and paste
Send photos, contacts, audio files, and location via MMS*
Read and compose email and text messages in landscape

While everyone has been clamoring for cut and paste since the release of the iPhone I am much more impressed with the search function added. The beta OS is still buggy, and seems to drain battery life faster than 2.2.1 did.

Coming this summer! iPhone 3.0

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lights on Broadway Were Dimmed Twice This Week

The lights on Broadway were dimmed twice this week to honor and remember two award winning actors, Ron Silver and Natasha Richardson. Don't jump to conclusions...I didn't know either Ron Silver or Natasha Richardson, but their work touched our lives and now sadly their untimely deaths do as well.

Live theatre is just that...live and filled with the unexpected. The actor that becomes ill, the lights that don't work, the sound system that fails, every production is just slightly different and that is the magic that is ours to keep when the lights go down and places are called.

My theatre experience, albeit limited, has always been from the production side of the house, serving on boards for summer stock theatre or for California State University Long Beach's Cal Rep. But this experience taught me that you just never know who you may one day see on Broadway. From 1992 through 1997 I watched young actors travel to New Hampshire to spend the summer months performing for the Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company(MWVTC). And as the years went by it was wonderful to watch some of these actors eventually act on Broadway...Steven Rosen (Spamalot), Ken Kantor (Guys and Dolls, Forum...and still today in Phantom of the Opera) Scott Davidson (Hairspray), Angela DeCicco (Les Miserables), Matthew Aibel (Candide).

Cabaret 1998 Broadway Revival Poster
In August 1998 we traveled to New York city for a memorial service for Dennis' Aunt Beatie (Beatrice Helfand Cantor). While we were in the city Aaron and Dan asked if we could get tickets to see one of their favorite musicals, Cabaret. (Dennis played the role of Max, owner of the Kit Kat Club in MWVTC's 1995 production of Cabaret.) The revival of Cabaret had opened on Broadway to rave reviews in early 1998 starring Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles. Sadly we could not get tickets as the show was temporarily closed on July 21, 1998, when a temporary elevator tower across the street from the venue had collapsed causing the production to be shut down. As I said, the unexpected is part of the "magic of live theatre!" Aaron and Dan were disappointed, but we did purchase a copy of the Cabaret production poster...and this week I stood in our home and stared at this poster remembering Natasha Richardson...in her Tony Award winning role as Sally Bowles. The Sally Bowles we didn't get to see on Broadway, because of the unexpected!

So this Saturday morning I dedicate this post to those unexpected life events that somehow touch each of us. I thank Ron Silver and Natasha Richardson for sharing their lives and talent. I will remember Ron Silver as the crazy neighbor who lived downstairs from Rhoda from 1976-1978 or as Bruno Gianelli in West Wing and I will remember Natasha Richardson in Nell, The Parent Trap, Cabaret and Maid in Manhattan.

The lights go down, places are called and life happens all around us, including the unexpected magic and sadness. Enjoy listening to Liza Minnelli as she performs Maybe This Time from CABARET. Your thoughts?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Yahoo Ad Scheduling


Yahoo Search Marketing, the Pay Per Click (PPC) division of Yahoo! Inc has been historically behind the 8-ball, or more specifically behind Google AdWords for the last 3 to 5 years of PPC advertising.

Yahoo's argument was, we were the 1st on the scene and Google has since leap-frogged us by taking our model and improving upon it- an argument with some validity.  But now 5 years down the road, Yahoo is still playing catch-up.  This is even after the famous 'Panama' launch that was to solve everything.  Not to be confused with your favorite South American canal, or a Van Halen song.


Well Yahoo has taken a small step in the right direction by now including a full ad scheduling feature.  Previous to this upgrade, Yahoo's scheduling was all of, start date- end date.  Now, like Google, the PPC advertising can be scheduled to the hour, every hour of every day of the week.


For example, I want to push my Ad's in the morning only, Monday, Wednesday and Friday but have evenings only on the weekend.  You can customize and specify exactly to the 1/4 hour when your ads will run and when the won't.  The trick now is deciphering when and when not to run your ads.


Do you feel like you want to utilize this type of tool, targeting only parts of the week where you see your best results?  Let us help- Webconsuls.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pain of Post Inguinal Hernia Surgery

I recently had a Hernia Surgery 2 weeks ago and found it to be a very painful experience. I went in the operating room with no fear (thinking the Vicodin would take care of me after the surgery). Sad to say, the Vicodin worked but not as effectively as I had imagined.

I went in on March 4th, 2009 at 8AM and came out by 11AM. I was feeling great thinking everything was fine 'n' dandy but as I got off the bed to change out of the hospital gown into my clothes I fell next to the bed. The anesthesia was still in my system and my left leg was numb (they forgot to mention this to me). After waiting an hour, I was able to change in to my clothes and leave the hospital. They had given me a pain pump which had a pipe going in to my skin near my abdominal area to provide numbing medicine in the incision area.

Came home got the rest I needed and later that evening I started taking my prescription pain reliever medicine, Vicodin. 10PM as I slowly walked to the bathroom like an ape with my hunched back and legs spread open I fell again. This was supposedly the anesthesia leaving my system and mixing Vicodin causing my blood pressure to drop dramatically. Lucky for me my sister is a nurse and was nearby to help and give me salt water and Gatorade to bring it back up a little. Then at 12AM, my second attempt to go to the bathroom ended up the same way with me laying beside the toilette wanting to vomit but no energy to do so and when something did come out, it was just water since I had not ate all day.

After that first day, the next four or five days were probably the most painful days of my life (thus far). Very painful to move or walk at all and sleeping was an obstacle of its own. Was only allowed to sleep on my back (couldn't turn even if I wanted to because of the pain). Vicodin would keep me constipated and drowsy and didn't feel like it was easing the pain until I stopped taking it and realized how bad the pain got without it.

After struggling the first few days, I was told by my Doctor's office I had to force myself to walk (even if it hurt) otherwise I would not heal fast. Keeping in mind that I am getting married on April 11th, 2009 I had to speed up this healing process. So I walked around the house back and forward after the few days as much as I could and the fifth day, it was time for me to remove my pain pump. I can't believe they expect a patient to do this himself at home. It was a five inch catheter (pipe/tube) that went inside me which I had to pull out on my own. As I mentioned earlier, lucky for me my sister was a nurse or I would be freaking out.

Pain felt worse after that was removed since there was no more numbing medicine being applied. After the first week had passed, I was able to walk more and became more tolerant to pain. It has been two weeks now and I'm feeling much better. I still have my sterry strips over the incision area and waiting for them to come off. They did not use any stitches to close the open area so I'm waiting to see what it will look like once these fall off (suppose to take two weeks so any day now).

So if you are ever have to get a Hernia Surgery then take my advice, WALK! Build that pain tolerance and walk as much as you can, it really does help heal faster.

Have you had a Hernia Surgery before? What was your experience like?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding the Equipment to Exercise

I am lucky. I live in Southern California near the beach. I have a pool at my home. My golf club has a fitness center. So the weather is good almost all of the time, I have great exercise equipment convenient to me.

Right now I am using an elliptical cross trainer for 30 minutes and then weight machines for 15 minutes, trying to vary the weights from legs one day to arms the next. I am just starting with the weight routine and am sure I will be adjusting it.

I understand that everyone is not so fortunate. Weather is bad, fitness clubs are expensive, money is tight, maybe you are travelling much of the time.

There is something you can try, star jumps or burpees. As always, check with your doctor before you start.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patricks Day

You will find below my recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage as done in a crockpot. This year the task will be going to my sister-in-law, Susan. The crockpot has already been dropped off at her house.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours

Ingredients:
8 carrots cut into chunks
2 large onions, chopped
2-3 lb. corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
12 oz. can beer (non alcoholic is fine)
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
8 wedges cabbage

Preparation:
Using a  4-6 quart crockpot.
  • Add carrots and onions.
  • Rinse corned beef under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Place in crockpot and sprinkle with contents of seasoning mix.
  • Pour beer over brisket and spread mustard on brisket.
  • In small bowl mix brown sugar with water and pour over brisket.
Cover crockpot and cook on low setting for 11-12 hours.

Remove corned beef from crockpot and cover with foil to keep warm. Add cabbage wedges to vegetables and liquid in crockpot. Cover crockpot and cook on high for additional 30-40 minutes or until cabbage is crisp tender.

To serve:

  • slice beef across grain in thin slices
  • remove vegetables from slow cooker with slotted spoon and serve with beef.
  • serve cooking juices over the food. (don't forget the "juice" or certain family members will be quite upset)

Remember the mustard and horseradish on the side for those who need a little more ZING!

Serves 8 hungry people or more. Enjoy!
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Photosynth Comes To The iPhone With iSynth



Photosynth Comes To The iPhone With iSynth

I think that Photosynthing is one of the best new ways yet to explore a "space and time" via the internet, and now you can get there via your iPhone or your iPod touch with the new free iTunes app iSynth

This from the maker of the app,

If you've never experienced Photosynth, you're missing out! Photosynth is a revolutionary new technology that creates seamless three-dimensional worlds from nothing but photographs. Visit Photosynth.com to upload your own photos and create virtual tours of your house, office or anywhere you can bring a camera! And if you don't feel like snapping away yourself, there are already thousands upon thousands of "synths", covering all of the world's most beautiful and interesting places, freely available for your browsing pleasure. iSynth puts them all right in your pocket.

Visit Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, or take a trip to Disney World. Study Michelangelo's "David" or the Jefferson Memorial in breathtaking 3D you could only beat by being there. Relive the inauguration of Barack Obama through CNN's 600 photo mega-synth, "The Moment", which captures the historic event from every angle. With iSynth, you can do all of these things while you wait for the bus!

To check out more of our Photosynths click here,

To have your location Synthed please contact us.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Layoff Announcement via Email

This past Monday, March 9, 2009, one of my former employers sent a company wide layoff announcement via email. Sadly some of my friends were impacted by this layoff. Given the state of the US economy we have all grown accustom to layoff news. It is happening everywhere, touching every industry; however, prior to this week Mercury Insurance Services, LLC, founded in 1962, had never resorted to layoffs. I could ask a lot of questions about this business decision, most of which are not answered in their press release. The one question that weighs on my mind is why did they choose to communicate this business decision via email?

Perhaps companies feel this is accepted email etiquette. For some companies, maybe. But you need to know that prior to mid 2002 90% of Mercury employees did not even have personal computers, they worked with dumb green terminals. That's right,no email, no word processing software, no internet access...they spent eight hours a day in their cubicles connecting to a mainframe to perform and produce their work product - underwriting policies or adjusting claims. In 2001 I was named the project manager to bring Mercury employees into the 21st century. One of the biggest project battles was convincing senior management that the employees should have and use email. I won the battle and this week I learned that senior management used email to announce a company wide layoff. What a difference seven years can make!

Generally technology is wonderful for the work environment, but have we technically progressed to the point that it is considered acceptable to deliver life altering news via a cold email? Let's remember that this startling news negatively impacted those who were not laid off, as well as those who were. 

Today I dedicate this blog post to all Mercury employees, those who were fired and those who were retained. In September 2004, when I resigned from Mercury I sent a good-bye letter to those whom I had worked with over my almost seven year tenure. And because I had managed many company wide projects this letter went to many employees. In that letter I shared the following thoughts, which ironically are still pertinent today:

---As I leave you, I tried to think of the best advice I could offer you as individuals and as a group. It came to me that what I have always tried to impart to you is to question each request as if your life depended on it. Do not be afraid to stand your ground for the betterment of your work ethic and the company. In other words, do the right thing. A few years ago, I saw a movie, "The Winslow Boy", and in the closing scene a defense attorney states: "I wept today because right had been done." When questioned by the defendant's sister, "Not justice?" to this the attorney replied, "No, not justice. Right. Easy to do 'justice'. Very hard to do 'right'."

In these difficult times, can we all just try to do right?

Good night and good luck!


March 10, 2009 5:14 PM EDT

In a Form 8-K, Mercury General Corp. (NYSE: MCY) announced that on March 9, 2009, the Company took action to eliminate approximately 360 employee positions or 7% of the Company's workforce in an ongoing effort to improve its cost structure. The Company expects to record a charge, in the first quarter of 2009, of approximately $8 million for severance and other employee termination costs in connection with the reduction in workforce, all of which will result in future cash expenditures. The total annualized pre-tax cost savings that are expected to result from the employee reductions is estimated to be approximately $22 million.March 10, 2009 5:14 PM EDT

Friday, March 13, 2009

Music From the South By SouthWest Festival



SXSW 2009 on BitTorrent: 6 GB of Free Music

The annual festival held in Austin Texas, March 18-22, is known for is combination of both up-and-coming artists as well as those well-know acts. 'There are three torrents for the 23rd SXSW edition which contain a record breaking 1267 MP3s', found over at TorrentFreak

If you are a music fan of any kind, you will find something here and for free no one can complain. Even previous editions are still available if you were interested in previous years; again all for free.

Check the vid from last years SxSW & If you have already downloaded this stuff or as you go through it, I'd love to hear suggestions and promotions of music from the festival.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The new iPod shuffle with VoiceOver



The New iPod shuffle seems to be smaller and has a sleek look to it.Quite thin in size and can holdup to 4GB of songs (up to 1000 songs). Like the previous shuffle, it does not have a display on it and comes with a clip. This shuffle comes with additional features which the previous version did not have...

Now you can have your iPod shuffle talk to you as you listen to your song. It has the capability to tell you the name of the artist and the song name by the push of a button by a new feature called VoiceOver. It also tells you the name of the playlist since this iPod lets you have multiple playlists for your songs.

One of the negative features I find is the location of the control buttons. The play, pause, next/previous buttons are location on the wire of the earplugs which means you have to use Apple's earplugs in order to use this iPod. Everything is controled from there except the on and off switch which is on the shuffle itself. Apple did say they would provide an adapter for 3rd Party headphones so lets see what that looks like.

Overall I'm not a big fan of the shuffle since I would like to see the song I am listening to rather than hear a VoiceOver tell me about it so that I can shuffle through them. Seems to have a very sleek look to it and is tiny compared to the previous version.

What do you think of the new iPod shuffle?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weight Loss, Exercise and Smoking.

By now I hope you have started an exercise program and are eating less. If not, get started.

Actually I did not exercise at the gym last week. I had a cold and felt the it was a good idea not to push myself. The first two days working out were tough, we will see how it goes tomorrow.

While exercise and weight loss are probably very very good for most people, the best thing that some can do for their health is to stop smoking. And if you don't smoke, don't start.

I started smoking in college and continued for a few years. The impending birth of my first child was the motivating factor that got me to stop. It was not easy but I did it. I really can not give you many tips on how to stop. I know how tough it is.

Last year my regular barber died of lung cancer. He had smoked for many years but quite about 20 years ago. He was a great guy who really loved his family. I am sure he would have loved to see his grandchildren grow up. His attitude was amazing and he worked as long and as much as he could but lung cancer is a very tough way to go.

Today one of my best friends from college is having two lobes removed from his right lung. He started smoking in high school and continued until a few years ago, so he probably smoked for 40 to 45 years. The doctors have told him that ten years ago the diagnosis would have been fatal. Now they hope that they can get it all. I have no idea how the operation turned out.

While it is hard to stop smoking, it also takes effort to get started. So if don't smoke now, t here is no reason ever start.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Social Media Advertising: Don't Underestimate Your Customer

The Nielsen report came out this month and the focus was on social networking's rapid rise throughout the world. Social networks are growing and new behavior patterns are emerging. Cultural resistance to participating in social networks is waning and their influence is growing on a monthly scale.

People once less likely to be public are posting to social forums and flocking to social networks. This change is taking place across the globe. Two observations that struck me from the Neilson Report which can be immediately applied to websites, blogs, and social network accounts are:

SOCIAL MEDIA IS CHANGING THE RULES FOR ADVERTISERS
Consumers have a deep distrust for advertising. Social Media offers a transparency and a candor that has created trust. Along with this trust is also a promise that you will not be invaded. Advertising efforts which are not "value adding" or part of the conversation are an intrusion in these social networks and advertisers must learn to play by the rules or risk having their message rejected.

The Nielsen report on Social Networking's New Global Footprint mirror's blogging advice.
  • Add value through interaction and consultation
  • Be authentic and transparent
  • Advertising must be a conversation rather than a push model
  • Don't advertise, communicate and participate in the community
DON'T ASSUME SOCIAL MEDIA IS FOR THE KIDS
The numbers are changing and the demographic of the social networks is not necessarily who you would think. Facebook's greatest demographic shift has been the increase in users between the ages of 35-49. The standing presumption was that social networks were predominantly populated by teenagers and young adults.

Facebook's Growth in Global Audience Numbers By Age Range

Monday, March 9, 2009

Twitter A Rapidly Evolving Tech Meme



How Twitter's spectacular growth is being driven by unexpected uses

Serendipity the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.

What is Twitter? Is it a status update? Is it a Social Network? Or is it a search engine akin to the Minority Report? I guess you could say it is all of these things and more, but you will not get "Twitter" unless you use it.

A meme (pronounced /mi:m/ - like theme) is a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices; such units or elements transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for mimic. Memes act as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures.

Ok Great Darin, now we know what a meme is, and we have heard about twitter on tv, but seriously, how do you use it?

1) If I find a good link, movie, app, picture I tweet it.
2) If I need help on a project that I am not an expert in, I tweet it,
3) If I want to find out more on a current event (Like TED or SXSW) I search and follow those that are live "onsite"
4) If I am at a current event, and I want to keep track of old friends like http://twitter.com/Roebot, or find new like minded folks, I set up a feed of the twitter search in reader,
5) If I want to know what the hive mind is buzzing about, I check out http://twitter.com/trendingtopics

These are just a few of the ways that I am using Twitter, I hope they give you a reason to play with this "Tool / Meme" so that you can find some serendipitous uses for it that you can share back with us.

Do You Follow Me?
http://twitter.com/DarinRMcClure
I hope you do.

If you would like to check out more of our blog posts on Twitter Click Here

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Following Twitter Posts Can Be Exhausting

It is Saturday, March 7, 2009, and I have a lot of work to do. And because I have so much to do this will be a very short blog post. I am sure you are relieved. This morning when I thought about what to write about, it occurred to me I could remind you that tonight most of you will have to remember to move your clocks forward one hour. Thankfully, living in Arizona I can scratch this task off of my list as most of Arizona does not participate in daylight saving time. Yeah! I won't be losing an hour of sleep tonight, unless I decide to read every-one's Twitter posts or tweets. Following Twitter posts can be exhausting and for the most part a waste of time.

Do I have a Twitter account? Yes. Why? Because one of my team members "hinted" it would be a good idea. Have I ever tweeted? No! Why? Because I don't have time and I am sure my 20 Twitter "followers" (notice Twitter calls them "followers", not "friends" like on facebook) could care less about what I am doing or thinking at any given moment.

So today I will just offer an observation: Twitter has been around since 2006. But, of late, it seems that one cannot just watch the news on TV or follow a news website for headlines, you must also follow the Twitter account for the newscasters. In 140 characters we are suppose to understand the essence of the tweet. Great! So let's see: you have the television on and you better be watching the television while sitting at your PC or with your laptop in your lap or with your Blackberry or iPhone in your hand. God forbid you would miss an important "tweet".

Now most politicians are tweeting. Hmmm...I am amazed they have time to tweet, given our current state of affairs. Priorities!

I have one final thought before I get to work for our clients and prepare the paperwork for my personal income tax return: Have you ever looked up the meaning of "twitter"? As a noun the #1 definition for the word "twitter" is "a trembling agitation." By the way, an agitator is "one who stirs up public feeling on controversial issues". Imagine if Twitter's inventors chose to call Twitter "agitator"? Twitter sounds so much more innocuous, we tend to think of that cute little beloved "Tweety Bird". So, today, twitter away or tweet with your followers...I have work to do.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Google AdWords' New 'Search-Based Keyword Tool'

Google has created another AdWords tool for finding keywords to put in a PPC account, creating more competition, bidders, which therefore raises the price in addition to other factors.  This time the tool proposes that it finds relevant keywords by 'matching (keywords) to specific pages of your website with your ad and search share'.  To translate, it is trying to provide keywords not currently in the account that are best for the account as determined by looking at the whole picture- website, ads and budget.

Of course past PPC blogs on 'helpful' tools created by the big search engine giants have made my tone a bit cynical.  These tools are created at best based off user demand, but always tailored to and quietly aimed at revenue.  This is not to say that there isn't utility and useful qualities of a tool like this one, but it is important to read between the lines.

I used the tool for the first time on a current account I manage, and found some keywords I didn't currently use; but nothing major or shocking.  Having said that, that is the way it should be.  This should be a comment that I am doing my job as a Pay Per Click administrator.  On the other hand, this tool may be helpful for business owners who are attempting to run the marketing themselves and have to balance the business with the marketing.

The tool can be found in the Campaign Management tab, 'tools' sub-tab left-hand column.  Use of the tool is simple- put the web address in the search field and in another box type the essence of the topic to be explored.  The parameters included in the results are keyword suggestions, monthly searches, competition as a bar graph, suggested bid and ad share.

Use this tool in addition to the Keyword Tool, but in both beware of general and expensive keywords that will not return a positive ROI.

Do you need help with Google AdWords or any PPC tools like this one?  Let us know at Webconsuls.com.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Create your own Unique Ringtone with Audiko

Create your own Unique Ringtone with Audiko, using their cut and share technology. Not only can you make ringtones from your own music, but you can extract music directly from YouTube videos. If you are like me and you think that paying to make a ringtone from a song you have already paid for through iTunes is not that great, then Audiko.net is your solution! Audiko has very simple user-friendly instructions for creating your own ringtones. Audiko will create your ringtone in the iPhone accepted format; all you need to do is drag the file into the Ringtones folder of iTunes and upload it to your iPhone.

Just see for Yourself:
Whiskey-Change-survival-of-the-fittest.m4r

February was no better

Well the free fall for the stock market continued in February. Lets take a look. The Dow Jones fell a whooping 11.7% and was down 19.5% for the first two months.

Lets look at our portfolios.
First the portfolio of 10 stocks from the Fortune Magazine article.

Name Symbol Feb Close Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Altria Group, Inc. MO 15.44 65.74 1001.31 1015.0256 13.7156 1.37%
Annaly Capital Management, Inc. NLY 13.9 62.38 1000 867.082 -132.918 -13.29%
Dell Inc. DELL 8.53 96.68 1000 824.6804 -175.3196 -17.53%
Devon Energy Corporation DVN 43.67 15.07 1000 658.1069 -341.8931 -34.19%
Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. DO 62.64 16.8 1000 1052.352 52.352 5.24%
Fluor Corporation (NEW) FLR 33.25 22.06 1000 733.495 -266.505 -26.65%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 50 16.55 1000 827.5 -172.5 -17.25%
Medco Health Solutions Inc. MHS 40.58 23.62 1000.71 958.4996 -42.2104 -4.22%
Pfizer Inc. PFE 12.31 55.9 1000 688.129 -311.871 -31.19%
Potash Corp./Saskatchewan (USA) POT 83.97 13.52 1000 1135.2744 135.2744 13.53%
Cash
-2.02

-2.02





10002.02 8758.1249 -1241.8751 -12.42%

So we were off 12.4% for the year.

Our low risk portfolio performed better, or less awful.
Name Symbol Feb Close Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Schwab Total Stock Market Index Inv SWTIX 13.17 181.52 2800 2390.618 -409.382 -14.62%
Schwab International Index Inv SWINX 10.5 90.43 1200 949.515 -250.485 -20.87%
Schwab Total Bond Market SWLBX 8.65 670.77 6000 5802.161 -197.84 -3.30%
Cash



0





10000 9142.294 -857.706 -8.58%


It is no surprise that the medium risk portfolio did worse:
Name Symbol Change Feb Close Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index VBMFX -0.02 10.01 390.79 4000 3911.808 -88.1921 -2.4
Vanguard Total Intl Stock Index VGTSX -0.06 8.65 167.6 1800 1449.74 -350.26 -20.02
Vanguard Total Stock Mkt Idx VTSMX -0.38 18.29 195.43 4200 3574.415 -625.585 -16.66
Cash




0






10000 8935.963 -1064.04 -10.64%

but still beat the averages and beat the Fortune Portfolio.

Lastly the very simple rebalance portfolio
Name Symbol Feb Close Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
iShares S&P 500 Index (ETF) IVV 74.21 57.75 5217.45 4285.628 -931.823 -17.86%
Cash
4782.55
4782.55 4782.55 0 0.00%


0
10000 9068.178 -931.823 -9.32%

which we rebalance to

Name Symbol Shares Mkt value
iShares S&P 500 Index (ETF) IVV 61.10 4534.09
Cash
4534.09 4534.09



9068.18

For the year it is down 10.32%

Not a good start to the year.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Importance of CSS compared to tables


Technology changes very often and same goes with the standards of web design. Traditionally, a website would have the foundation of the template built off of tables where as now, we have changed that to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) driven div tags.

What's CSS? CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is a simple mechanism for adding style to web documents. These styles implement the look and formatting of a website. Div tags allow us to link styles to CSS which can benefit your website more than you know.

How does CSS benefit you?
- Great for SEO. Improve website speed. The speed will be noticed by search engines that crawl to your. It's simply a difference of milliseconds which is a big deal for crawlers. Loading time can change from .25 seconds for tables compared to .1 for CSS-based layout.


- Easy to maintain. Global site wide changes for the look and feel. Changing the fonts, colors, borders, and navigation can all be done from one location rather than each page individually. This saves time and money to eliminate the tedious process. This also gives your website a visual consistency throughout your website such as the same header, font size/color, etc.


- Cross-browser compatibility. Having your website be W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) compliant makes your website friendly to different browsers. If some of your clients use Mozilla Firefox and others IE (Internet Explorer) or Google Chrome, a website that is W3C compliant will display the same all browsers.
How does your website look?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Labels Are the New Folders in Gmail

Labels are the answer to Gmail's folder conundrum. Enabling the following lab functions in Gmail further expands the power of the label.

There are items on the Gmail POWER USER list of Gmail lab functions which I enabled in my own account to help manange email using labels. While the some of these items are self explanatory there are others that didn't jump out at me as something I needed. Here are two that can become great tools to managing your email if you choose to use them.
  • Right-side Labels: With labels on the right-side you are able to view labels and email in boxes without scrolling.
  • Hide Unread Counts: This allows me to see how many unread messages reside with a label. For example if I have used the tag @call or _Call and there are 3 unread messages it gives me a constant reminder of what needs to be done. Make sure you keep your emails marked as unread for an accurate count.
These features enabled in Gmail can be applied to various organizational systems.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Use Gmail Labs Features And Become a Gmail Power User



We love gmail here at Webconsuls and I wanted to give you my tips today on how to use Gmail labs to become a Gmail POWER USER!

Step 1, Login to you gmail account and click Settings > Labs,

Enable,

Offline
Tasks
Quicklinks
Superstars
Pictures in chat
Signature Tweaks
Right-side chat
Right-side labels
Hide Unread Counts
Advanced IMAP Controls
Canned Responses
Default "Reply to all"
Quote selected text
Navebar drag and drop
Mail Goggles
Forgotten Attachment Detector
Vacation Time!
Custom Label Colors
Mark as Read Button
Go to label
Multiple Inboxes
Create a Document
Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat
Send & Archive
Location in Signature
Title Tweaks
Google Calendar gadget
Google Docs gadget
Add any gadget by URL

and click save changes.

If you have not done so already you should also install Google Gears to enable many of these functionalities.

I also recommend you use Google Chrome as it works faster than lightning with all of these google apps.

Got your own tip to share? Or Questions how to use mine? Let us know