Saturday, September 27, 2008
New Blogger's Toolbox
As I approach my first anniversary as a blogger, I can look back and marvel at the journey. I would have never gotten past my first dozen posts if it weren't for the seasoned bloggers who offered a tip, kind word or worthy example to emulate. So I decided I wanted to create a New Blogger's Toolbox, so others could enjoy that same support and inspiration.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this list. I have acknowledged everyone at the end of the list.
Here are the categories:
- Are chock full of practical tips
- Act as a living lab on how to write compelling blog posts
- Demonstrate how to build a community
- Teach marketing tools
- Are welcome wagons - bloggers who spotlight newbies
How to Build Community
EMoms at Home
Come Gather Round
Create Business Growth
Teach Marketing Tools
Drew's Marketing Minute
Duct Tape Marketing
David Meerman Scott
Small Business Marketing Mavericks
MP Daily Fix
Hee Haw Marketing
Note to CMO
Friday, September 26, 2008
It looks like this song will be about an obsolete product in the near future:
Is the rich-hued Kodachrome era fading to black?
By BEN DOBBIN –
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — It is an elaborately crafted photographic film, extolled for its sharpness, vivid colors and archival durability. Yet die-hard fan Alex Webb is convinced the digital age soon will take his Kodachrome away.
"Part of me feels like, boy, if only I'd been born 20 years earlier," says the 56-year-old photographer, whose work has appeared in National Geographic magazine. "I wish they would keep making it forever. I still have a lot of pictures to take in my life."
Only one commercial lab in the world, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., still develops Kodachrome, a once ubiquitous brand that has freeze-framed the world in rich but authentic hues since it was introduced in the Great Depression.
Eastman Kodak Co. now makes the slide and motion-picture film in just one 35mm format, and production runs — in which a master sheet nearly a mile long is cut up into more than 20,000 rolls — fall at least a year apart.
Kodak won't say when the last one occurred nor hint at Kodachrome's prospects. Kodachrome stocks currently on sale have a 2009 expiration date. If the machines aren't fired up again, the company might just sell out the remaining supplies, and that would be the end.
"It's a low-volume product; all volumes (of color film) are down," says spokesman Chris Veronda.
For decades, Kodachrome was the standard choice for professional color photography and avant-garde filmmaking. At its peak, a reverential Paul Simon crooned "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away" in 1973. It's the only film to have a state park named after it — photogenic Kodachrome Basin State Park in the red-rock canyons of southern Utah.
During its mass-market heyday in the 1960s and '70s, countless snapshooters put friendships in peril every time they hauled out a carousel projector and trays of slides to replay a family vacation.
But the landmark color-transparency created by Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes — "God and Man" in photo research circles — went into a tailspin a generation ago. It was eclipsed by video, easy-to-process color negative films and a tidal-wave preference for hand-sized prints.
Nowadays, Kodachrome is confined to a small global market of devotees who wouldn't settle for anything else. And before long, industry watchers say, Kodak might well stop serving that steadily shrinking niche as the 128-year-old photography pioneer bets its future on electronic imaging.
The digital revolution is undermining all varieties of film, even a storied one that garnered its share of spectacular images: the giant Hindenburg zeppelin dissolving in a red-orange fireball in 1936; Edmund Hillary's dreamy snapshot of his Sherpa climbing partner atop Everest in 1953; and, most iconic of all, Abraham Zapruder's 8-millimeter reel of President Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
Steve McCurry's portrait of an Afghan refugee girl with haunting gray-green eyes that landed on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 is considered one of the finest illustrations of the film's subtle rendering of light, contrast and color harmony.
"You just look at it and think, this is better than life," says McCurry, 58, who has relied heavily on Kodachrome for all but the last two years of a 33-year career.
John Larish, a consultant and writer on photography, marvels at its staying power. "I've got Kodachromes from the 1930s and the blue skies look as bright as they did in the 1930s," he says.
Collectors of airplane and train images value its unsurpassed fade resistance. Assorted dentists, plastic surgeons and ophthalmologists still rely on its clarity and unique palette, especially for multiyear studies.
"Different eye diseases can have different colors," says Thomas Link, an ophthalmic photographer at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic who shoots 10 to 15 rolls of Kodachrome a week to help doctors diagnose and treat illnesses. "Even now we will go back and look through images taken 30 years ago for research purposes."
If Kodachrome should vanish, "we'd either change to a different type of film or do it digitally," Link says, but long-term studies that hinge on image consistency might suffer.
Alarm bells have been ringing since Kodak exited the film-processing business in 1988. One by one, its Kodachrome home-movie and still-film formats have been discontinued, and only a 64-speed remains. (Film speed is a measure of its sensitivity to light; low-speed films require a longer exposure).
An even slower 25-speed version departed in 2002, an equally beloved 200-speed in 2006, a Super 8 movie stock in 2005 — all supplanted by standardized films far easier and cheaper to process.
Dwayne's, the Kodak subcontractor in Kansas that has had the market to itself since a Kodachrome lab in Tokyo closed in December, still processes tens of thousands of rolls annually but admits sales are sliding.
"If Kodak doesn't feel it's economical, they might stop making the film itself," says owner Grant Steinle. And "if film volumes become so small that we're unable to economically process it, then we might stop."
Unlike any other color film, Kodachrome is purely black and white when exposed. The three primary colors that mix to form the spectrum are added in three development steps rather than built into its micrometer-thin emulsion layers.
There's a high price for this: Dwayne's charges $8.45 per roll plus $9 for development. That's at least 50 percent more than color negative film, the kind that prints are made from.
As slide-film sales began to plummet in the 1980s, an already limited number of independent photofinishers willing to make use of Kodak's exacting color-diffusion development formulas fell away. Customers then evaporated when it became much harder to get Kodachrome processed quickly.
Ektachrome — another line of Kodak slide films — and similar products from Fuji, Konica and Agfa were well within the capabilities of all processors and took over the market as they improved in quality.
McCurry, who shot the "Afghan Girl" picture with Kodachrome, is turning to digital cameras as the technology gap closes.
"I like to shoot in extremely low light, inside of a home, a mosque, a covered bazaar," he says. "To stop movement, it's just absolutely impossible to do that with Kodachrome or with practically any film."
Yet aficionados like Webb remain bewitched by Kodachrome's "vibrant but not oversaturated colors."
"It has an emotional punchiness that really always seemed right for me," especially in tropical urban locales he gravitates to in the Caribbean and in "mucky light" near dawn or dusk. Digital boasts "remarkable clarity," he says, but "it's almost too clear and doesn't seem to have depth and texture the way film does."
Webb was "incredibly distressed" when Kodachrome 200, his all-time favorite, bit the dust in November 2006. He stockpiled 600 rolls and is using up the last 150 to complete a photography book on Cuba this fall.
"It seems kind of appropriate because Cuba is a world of the '50s on some level," Webb says. "It has existed in a bubble outside the world of globalization now for 50 years, and Kodachrome goes hand-in-hand."
Posted: 21 Sep 2008 09:50 PM CDT
Kate grandpa’s is fond of repeating the mantra he and his fellow sailors repeated while serving aboard the USS Indiana during World War II. “Never discuss politics or religion.” And he always adds, “So what does that leave to talk about? Girls, of course.”
Gramp’s advice is certainly appropriate if you’re going to be trapped on a ship with the same guys for months on end. And it’s a rule of good etiquette for dinner parties and other occasions when polite decorum should prevail.
But otherwise, politics should be debated, vigorously and often. Men in every age debated politics- from the Grecian Assembly to the Roman Forum, from the salons of France to the mutual improvement societies of colonial America. Being able to reasonably discuss the political issues of the day was considered a vital and essential part of being a well-rounded, well-educated, man. Indeed, one of the express purposes of education during this time was to equip men to be able to hold their own in the political forum.
These days rousing, yet respectful political debate is practically non-existent. The new media, far from presenting balanced, in-depth coverage of the important, meaty issues of the day, spend their time constantly regurgitating manufactured scandals and fanning the flames of personality contests. Debates between men in person, and especially on the internet quickly devolve into indignant shouting matches, where personal insults are substituted for rational arguments.
That’s not to say that our manly forebearers were the paragons of respectful debating. They too would often let their passions get away from them and unleash oratorical hell on their opponent. For example, during his days as a young state assemblyman in New York, Teddy Roosevelt would frequently lose his cool during debates on the Assembly floor. He’d call his opponents “cold blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid, old psalm singing Indianapolis politicians” or “oily-Gammon, churchgoing specimens,” or simply “classical ignoramuses.”
Young Roosevelt quickly became the laughing stock of the Assembly and of the state newspapers with his outbursts. After bitterly insulting a senior assemblyman, Roosevelt was rebuked severely, and tearfully apologized for his unbecoming behavior. He soon learned to control his temper and direct his passion towards more constructive debate as opposed to petty insults.
Unlike men from the past, today’s men are unapologetic about their undisciplined, discourteous political rants. Men need to learn how to bring back vigorous, yet civil political discourse. Here are a few suggestions on how we can.
Disagreement in politics does not a pinhead make.
When it comes to debating politics, men then often create the following faulty syllogism:
- I’m a very intelligent man and I believe X.
- This other guy believes Y.
- Therefore this other guy is a complete moron.
This is what essentially lies at the heart of nasty political discourse. And it’s surely a tempting conclusion to make. But take a step back. Does your “opponent” show other signs of being a feeble-minded moron? Did he graduate from college? Does he have a good job? Does he seem able to function as a normal adult? You know, dress himself, feed himself, and refrain from drooling? Probably so. He’s probably not an imbecile. He just feels differently than you do. He was raised in a home by parents with certain beliefs. He’s had life experiences that are divergent from yours. His faith or lack thereof has shaped him in ways that yours hasn’t. Now, once you have established that your friend is not a pinhead, you can begin to have a polite debate.
Try your darndest to see the other side
When you passionately believe in something, it can seem nearly impossible to even conceive how another person doesn’t see things the same way you do. But since we’ve established that having a divergent political belief does not a pinhead make, you should be duly curious about why your friend feels the way he does.
Dispense with the the how and why questions. Questions like, “How could you possibly believe that?” and “Why can’t you see how wrong you are?” won’t get you anywhere. Instead, pose “what” questions. “What makes you feel that way?” “What has led you to come to that conclusion?” Be earnestly and sincerely interested in what the person has to say. Do not ask these questions as way to dig up material to pounce on and attack. Take the time to really understand their sides of the issues.
Consume media that presents news from both sides. Why has political debate become so polarized and rancor-filled? Look no father then the current state of the media. Instead of modeling the art of healthy debate, news shows are political theater, filled with talking heads shouting over each other and licking their lips over the chance to cut someone down.
It’s also no secret that various media outlets give the news with their particular political slant. If all you consume is media from one particular source, a source that affirms and flatters your already preconceived beliefs, then you’re never going to be able to see the other side and will end up just another schmo contributing to the untimely death of respectful political debate.
Let’s face it: we all love to see our guy sticking it to the other guy. We love to see the commentators rip into the hypocrisy and inadequacies of the other party. It makes us feel good about ourselves and flatters our world view. But it’s dangerously narrow-minded. Men back in the day didn’t just read tracts and attend speeches of people with whom they agreed. They eagerly consumed what their opponents had to say as well. You must make an effort to read, listen, and watch news that may make your blood pressure soar, but will leave you better informed and ready to make fair assessments. If you’re a devoted Bill Maher fan, tune into Rush every now again. If you usually only read the National Review, spend some quality time with Mother Jones as well.
Concede a point where appropriate
Unless your friend really is an obtuse Neanderthal, he’ll probably say a few things that you actually agree with. A badger of a man will let these things pass by without a word, believing that to concede any point is to show weakness. An intelligent and secure man is able to say, “Yeah, that’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that.” Even if you don’t agree with something, at least pepper your discourse with the occasional “I understand why you feel that way.” And “I can see that.”
Find common ground
Even if you and your friend are on opposite ends of the spectrum-he sleeps with O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior under his pillow and you have a signed photo of Keith Olbermann on your wall, there will always be a couple of things you can agree on. Even if its banal generalities like “Washington is broken,” you can agree on that and then civilly present your varying perspectives on how it should be fixed.
Don’t use inflammatory language
The man who is insecure with the simple, bare validity of his argument will be tempted to resort to inflammatory language and insults.” “McCain is a philandering, lying, corpse of a man!” “Obama is a pointy-headed, liberal, elitist and a terrorist to boot!” Such language only produces rancor and will quickly steer the debate into a pointless shouting match. Present you points in a calm, well-reasoned manner.
Stick to the facts
Only bring to the table those facts which have been thoroughly vetted as true. Information culled from emails forwarded to you by Aunt Gertie, articles from the National Enquirer, and stories from a pirated radio broadcast you listened to at 4 in the morning do not count. How you and your friend interpret the facts will of course vary, but you must at least be debating accurate information as opposed to rumors and slander that no one can really prove or argue against.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
First, Pull your pants UP!
I know there are several extremely talent photographers in the Fort Wayne Blog World, and then there's the rest of us.
Kim Komando's tip of the day for today is for the rest of us:
Photographing the moon
I need help taking pictures of the moon. I have a digital SLR, a 300mm zoom lens and a cable release. The photos don't turn out right. The moon is either too faint or a blazing ball of light. Do I need to filter the light? Any help would be appreciated.
The moon is a fascinating subject for photography. Man has been gazing at the moon forever.
I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the moon is a tricky subject to shoot. The good news is you already have all the tools you need. You just need the right technique to get great lunar photos.
Your exposure times are going to vary. A tripod will cut out any blurriness from shaking. The cable release will also help with that. Pushing buttons with your finger shakes the camera.
The high-powered 300mm zoom lens is the right choice. To our eyes, the moon looks bigger than it really is. Photograph it with a regular lens, and it will be fairly small. Zooming in also helps pick up more of the surface details.
Getting these photos right will take experimentation and practice. The camera settings used aren't exact. Slight variations can create different effects. The phase of the moon, weather and ambient light are also factors.
Shooting the moon
Start by learning to shoot the moon by itself. Now, the sky is dark. So, you need to capture the most light possible, correct? No. The moon is a lot brighter than you think. The settings are a little counterintuitive.
We'll start with your ISO settings. The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor is to light. Remember, the moon is bright. In this case, too high a setting creates noisy photos. Start with as ISO setting of no more than 100.
A wide aperture will allow more light in. But a wide aperture here will result in overexposure. You'll get that blazing ball of light you mentioned. And you won't see any of the moon's surface details.
The standard daytime aperture setting is f/16. As a rule of thumb, lunar photography often uses f/11. That's much narrower than regular nighttime photography. Now, I've seen wider settings recommended, like f/5. Experiment for the best results.
Shutter speed is also a consideration. This controls the photo's exposure. Photos of the moon are often taken at 1/250th of a second. But again, experiment to get your desired effect. A faster exposure equals more detail but a darker picture. And vice versa.
So, set up your camera, zoom in and start snapping photos. Keep a log of your settings to find your camera's sweet spot.
Shoot more than the moon
You've seen photos of cityscapes with a full moon in the background. They're stunning pictures. And you can take your own. But things get a little trickier.
Say you want a beautifully lit city with the moon rising above. Capturing both at the same time is impossible. There are a number of issues that make it so.
The setting for photographing a lit city and the moon are different. The moon is much brighter than any city light. Get a clear photo of the city, and the moon is overexposed.
Also, the moon can play tricks on your eyes. Its apparent size will change depending on your distance to other objects. Getting the perfect shot of both is difficult.
So, how do you do it? Double exposure. You'll essentially combine two photos. This is easy on a standard SLR. Take one photo and don't advance the film. Then, take a second photo on that frame.
Digital SLRs don't have film. Some have a double exposure setting. I'll explain how to shoot a double exposure in camera. But yours may not have this setting. I'll explain what to do then, as well.
First, I'll assume you have the setting. To photograph a well-lit city, use a standard lens. If you have only the one lens, I assume it offers a range. Shoot at 35-40mm. Experiment with the settings.
Leave the ISO at no more than 100. Use aperture settings around f/3 to f/4. And try exposure times between 30 seconds and one minute. A tripod is required.
When taking the photo, do not have the moon in the frame. But do leave an area in the sky not blocked by buildings. This void is where the moon will go.
Next, take a photo of the moon against a black sky. Don't have buildings or other light sources in the frame. Use the 300mm zoom lens and camera setting from before. Remember where the moon's position was in your first exposure. Position the moon there for this exposure.
Now, you have a clear shot of the city and moon together. It looks real, even though you took the photos separately.
But what if you don't have a double exposure setting? Then simply take the two photos separately. When you get home, combine them using photo-editing software. You'll actually have more control over the final photo this way.
More photography tips:
- • For more nighttime fun, try photographing fireworks
• Why not get paid for taking great photos?
• Need a digital SLR? I can help you pick the right one
You can get tips like these in your email too by subscribing free of charge, there is a link on the right side of this page for Kim Komando, whose radio show is heard Sunday afternoons on WOWO.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
When my son took off for a few months in Iceland, we knew our cell phone package was not going to cover calls back and forth. So Josh suggested Skype.com and now several members of our family have the ability to call, chat, even see each other via webcams.
Now that I've reduced my Name This Local Website to a weekly, instead of nightly feature; I decided to do a nightly video feature.
Last night we even did one featuring Fort Wayne. Tonight, I'm posting a story from ComputerWorld.com:
A decade ago, it was a clever novelty: a webcam pointed at an office water cooler. The first one is still online, at www.coolercam.com, broadcasting a fresh picture every 10 seconds.
But in the succeeding decade, webcams have grown from a techie novelty to a way of life for some people -- some of whom have evidently overdosed on them.
As for the cooler camera, "Way back then, it got a lot of hits, but the counter has not gone up hugely in the last couple of years," said Ryan Wilson, manager at Interactive Market Systems, the water cooler's home. Located in Sandy, Utah, the firm provides statistical analysis for marketers. "There used to be a Web ring of cooler cams, but that has all gone away," he said.
Fredrik Nilsson, North American manager at Swedish webcam vendor Axis Communications, isn't surprised. "It was fun to make a live image of a water cooler in 1996, but it is not very impressive today -- you need a real application," he said.
Nilsson noted that there are actually two kinds of digital cameras used to put video or stop-motion pictures on the Web. Consumer-grade cameras that attach to a computer via a USB port are typically referred to as webcams. Cameras with integrated intelligence that can attach directly to the Internet are called network cameras.
Webcams can sell for as little as $20, while network cameras can be had for less than $200. Most (like the cooler cam) are used to make snapshots every few seconds rather than full-motion video.
Quality has improved steadily since the devices appeared in 1996, Nilsson noted. Most webcams can generate 30 frames per second when there's available bandwidth. Average resolutions are between VGA (about 300,000 pixels) and 2 megapixels.
"As recently as three years ago, you never saw anything higher than VGA," he noted. "As for color quality, I would say that the cameras have been close to true color for the last two years now." Light sensitivity is good enough that it hardly matters in most settings, and night vision is available for about $500, he added.
The most significant trend among network cameras has been the rise of large markets for the cameras among construction contractors, departments of transportation and departments of tourism, noted Brian Cury, head of EarthCam Inc., a network camera vendor in Hackensack, N.J.
The construction contractors want cameras to document the progress of the construction of a particular building, with the images accessible via the Internet to all the stakeholders of that building, Cury said. Transportation officials like them for traffic management, security and to document daily operations. Tourism officials, of course, want to broadcast scenery, Cury said.
Among IT departments, the main use appears to be server room surveillance. The camera usually has a fixed view across the top of the server racks, but sometimes there is a pan, tilt and zoom control. (In that case, the camera is typically getting input from multiple people across the Web, triggering apparently random motion -- but that may actually enhance security.) Since there is usually nothing in view that an intruder could slip into his or her pocket, the cameras are apparently there to show that the rooms are not currently on fire.
In the consumer webcam market, Logitech International SA is the apparent market leader, claiming to have sold about 40 million units worldwide. Most are used for person-to-person video communications rather than to broadcast pictures or video over the Web, said Andrew Heymann, director of product marketing at Logitech.
In fact, the dominant usage trend is that older users have migrated from video chatting to full video calling, said Heymann. Video with text chatting was the norm five years ago, and the webcam mostly let the user see, in a small window, whoever he or she was text-chatting with. The user multitasked video with typing, he explained.
Full-screen video calling
"Now they do full-screen video calling, with no typing, although video chatting remains popular with younger users," Heymann said. With a high-end webcam (costing about $100) and a dual-core PC with Skype telecommunications software at both ends of a broadband connection, it's possible to have full-screen 30-frames-per-second video calling, he said. Services other than Skype produce lower resolution, he added.
In terms of hardware, the major trend in consumer webcams is that nearly all consumer laptops reaching the market today have a built-in webcam, said Stephen Baker, an analyst at The NPD Group Inc., a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y. "Putting them in the small space available at the top of the display solves the problem of how to get the user on camera," he said. Webcams are also showing up in business laptops, but in the absence of a video "killer app," the complications involved with using them on corporate networks will slow their adoption, Baker indicated.
Inside or outside the office, the webcam trend that gets the most attention has always been lifecasting, where the user puts cameras in his or her living and work spaces to document whatever happens there, mundane or otherwise. The best-known pioneer was JenniCam.com, started by a co-ed who began broadcasting in April 1996. She gained enough notoriety to be a guest on a number of TV talk shows, but she unplugged the system at the end of 2003 and now appears to have an unlisted phone number.
Since then, the proliferation of wireless connectivity has allowed lifecasters to bring cameras with them and record all their activities, 24 hours per day. The best-known pioneer was probably Justin Kan, who began broadcasting his life via a hat-mounted webcam in March 2007, again gaining enough notoriety to end up on TV talk shows. He stopped broadcasting on Oct. 3, 2007, but opened his site to anyone else who wanted to lifecast.
The site is now a venture-backed start-up hosting a number of niche channels, including other lifecasters, explained its CEO, Michael Seibel. Many of the lifecast channels include live video with a chat screen. Often, the video screen shows the top of the broadcaster's head, as he or she leans over the keyboard to respond to text messages.
Why lifecast? "Part of it is narcissism, proclaiming that I am interesting enough that you should watch me," said network engineer Dennis Judd, explaining why he has had a webcam in his office for eight years now. "But my site is a way for me to socialize in a way that I don't have time or energy to support otherwise -- I can't be a friend to all the people who are coming to my site from all over the world. One reason for having a webcam is to keep the content fresh and dynamic, so there will be something new to look at." He originally had the webcam at his AT&T office until it was suggested he lacked permission. It's now in his home office.
Other lifecasting office workers in the computer field describe the same arc experienced by CoolerCam and JenniCam, moving from novelty to notoriety to obscurity. For instance, the star of "The Nerdman Show" has had as many as 15 cameras following his life since 1997. These used to include cameras in his home. Nowadays, he asked that his name not be used.
"It was originally done as a marketing concept, and I didn't want to be the subject, but no one else wanted to do it," he said, explaining that his company sells outdoor network cameras. "It was easier when Google ads entered the picture and brought in some money, which went into my pocket because it's my site. But then I got married and had two children, and it was hard to explain to them why they should not run around certain areas in their underwear." He's now down to one camera, in his office.
For the jack-n-diane.com site of e-commerce executive John R. Harding in Hillsborough, N.J., "It's morphed from a way for the family to look at our kids, to a method of home surveillance -- it's had a full lifespan." Now, it's mostly pointed at his front yard, he noted.
"The novelty among viewers has worn off on both sides of the ocean, but we still get comments from people who live in areas where there is no snow, since they're surprised to see it here," said Harding. "Sometimes I worry about security, but if someone wanted to find me, there are multiple ways to do it, and the webcam adds little to that," he noted.
Meanwhile, CoolerCam.com has had more than 1.3 million visitors since February 1997. "It's a novelty item," Ryan said. "We tell our customers about it, and they want to check it out and have us stand in front of it. It helps build rapport. There's no reason to take it down. The camera just sits there without any need for maintenance. We were the first cooler cam, and we may be the last."
Take a look
Disregarding adult sites, publicly accessible webcams and network cameras seem to fall into five major genres. Here are some random examples. (Note that cameras are intermittently offline, and to view them, you are sometimes asked to download software such as Java, Windows Media Player and Flash.)
These include mountain ranges, fishing piers, city centers, the North Pole, the South Pole and oddities, including a street bench in Poland.
ConstructionThese cameras document the progress of building projects.
Since they're stationary, bird nests are popular, especially in Europe, as are zoo exhibits.
For whatever reason, webcams that focus on cats far outnumber those that focus on dogs.
Yes, people still have them in their houses, such as these two in Minnesota.
Rather than the office itself, many show the reception area or the server room.
- Reception area (Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles in Anchorage)
- A server room
If you were considering focusing a webcam on an aging cheese wheel, a large potted cactus, a mussel or department store mannequins being re-introduced into the wild, you're too late. But don't be discouraged.
Nearly 8 years ago when I met my wife, I had a computer in my house with dial-up internet.
She did not.
Yet we met via an online dating service.
Now everyone in our family has a computer and yet I sometimes wonder if the difference between the Haves and the Have-nots will be the internet.
I know there are homeless people in Fort Wayne and other cities that have no place except the "shelter" to sleep, but they have cell phones.
Perhaps with cellphones and their ability to connect to the internet, it will bridge the gap. Another way is the library:
Libraries bridge the divide between those who have access to information and those who do not by providing free and equal access to information to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Two-Thirds of Americans Have a Library Card
September 22, 2008 - September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and two thirds (68%) of Americans currently own a library card. According to the results of a new nationwide Harris Poll of 2,710 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 11 and 17, 2008 by Harris Interactive.
Review the entire poll results.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It was nearly a week ago that I wiped out 5 years of stuff that I'd been transferring from one computer to another, by accidentally reformatting my hard drive. Actually, the computer was supposed to have made back ups before it did the dirty work, but nope.
Yesterday I presented a list of 270 online office helpers, which prompted a couple of questions/comments.
So, here's a couple of tips. And I am all for tips that save money so everything I'm about to tell you about is under 20 bucks.
First of all I urge people to back stuff up on-line. A year ago there where services that would give you 1gb, or up to 5 gb of free online storage space. Well, I found a place where I can back up 50gb at no cost and that's what I have done. AdDrive.com is my new favorite place to store back ups with no cost.
I urge anyone that is using any outside company to check on a regular basis, such as weekly to ensure that the company is still around. We do not know what will occur in the future with the economy and the health of any company, big or small.
My son has an external hard drive that he uses with his laptop. I have considered that option a couple of times, but for me, that would cost money which I don't want to spend and then there is the problem of having your back up and your computer in the same place, perhaps even the same carrying case and what happens if that case gets stolen, lost, or damaged? You are still up the creek without a paddle.
I have been able to restore many if not most if the important lost items because of the way I have been moving certain aspects of my work to online services. This includes email and bookmarks.
Instead of using the bookmarks, or favorites feature on my browser, I use Delicious.com
When I set up my current laptop in January, I set up my email account for the radio stations I work for, to send a BCC to a Gmail account every time I sent an email from that account. There are 1400 emails stored in that account from the past 9 months. (I also have my old computer which has emails stored from the previous 5 years that I can move back into this computer.)
Speaking of Gmail, Google, the company that hosts Gmail, continues to expand their suite of services and there are numerous ways to move your office to the virtual world by signing up for an account (or two or three). Go to Google Apps and get started. The only cost you may incur is to set up a domain name, which they will help you do for as little as 10 bucks a year.
Zoho is another company that I have worked with and they continue to expand their services, most of which are free.
Click here for links to Zoho and other services.
The reason I was able to recover after a few days, even without having a complete back up plan in place, was because I already was doing a lot of my work using online services, and a lot of what I needed that were radio station related are stored on the servers we have at the stations, which we back up regularly.
One concern about storing stuff on line is security. My friends, we live in an era of high security and no security simultaneously. So, don't store bank accounts, passwords and other extremely valuable info where someone can hack into it. My parents had a safety deposit box at their bank as a place to store certain documents. You can still make back ups on cds and dvds, encrypt them and store them somewhere safe.
Good luck and may you learn from some of my mistakes and some of my tips.
Monday, September 22, 2008
One way of recovering from those types of disasters is back up everything.
Another is to do more on-line instead of off-line. I discovered the following list of 270 web programs, which I'll eventually go through and check out each site. Enjoy:
Last August we featured a post with more than 230 online apps for running your business. Since there are hundreds of new apps coming on the market every year, we figured it was time for an update. This year we came up with more than 270 additional apps. Some are completely new since last year, others might have been overlooked, and still others made significant improvements that gained them a spot on the list.
- Accounting, Billing, Invoicing, Estimating & Contracts
Invoice Journal - Free invoicing program.
endeve - Issue invoices, manage clients and check revenues all in one place.
ContractPal - Take your contracts and forms paperless and have them completed, validated, signed and processed online.
Citrus - An online billing website that allows your customers to view, download and pay their invoices by credit card or direct debit.
Zapproved - Create and send proposals, manage the approval process and reach agreements without any hassle.
Mumboe - Online contract and business agreement management app.
FinanciFY - Easy to use online financial management tools for small businesses and individuals.
Zoho Invoice - Manage invoices and payments, format invoices and quotes, set up recurring invoices, and more, with free and paid plans.
GoToBilling - An online app that manages invoices and payments, marketing, customer relationship management and more.
NetBooks - Marketing, sales, inventory and financial control in one place.
Shoeboxed - Online tracking and organizing of your receipts.
FreeAgent Central - Accounting and money management app for freelancers.
CurdBee - An online billing application that integrates with payments through PayPal or Google Checkout.
Clarity Accounting - Online accounting for small businesses and professionals with multi-user support.
Calendars & Scheduling
SuperSaaS - This is online scheduling software that allows you to accept appointments booked directly on your website.
BookingPad - An online bookings system that can be integrated into any website.
clickbook - A free online booking and scheduling program.
eXpireTrack - Track and plan for the date that products are to expire.
When is Good - Find out the best time for everyone to meet without the hassle.
Shiftboard - Online scheduling for businesses to coordinate worker schedules.
ScheduleOnce - Scheduling engine to get everyone who needs to meet together at one time.
TimeBridge - See the availability of everyone you need to meet with.
Charts, Diagrams, and Whiteboards
Wisdomap - A simple mind mapping application.
Best4C - An online charting and diagramming tool.
Scriblink - A simple, free online whiteboard.
Gliffy - Online diagramming and charting software.
Mapul - Online mind mapping that allows you to create organic looking mind maps.
WiseMapping - Free mind mapping software that allows you to publish and share your mind maps.
Collaboration & Workgroups
blogtronix - An enterprise social platform that includes blogs, wikis, documents and social media so that users in large and small organizations can collaborate and build communities inside and outside their company.
WorkflowPerfect - A Web-based business process tool that facilitates collaboration.
ClientSpot - A project collaboration and time tracking software specifically for virtual assistants and other freelancers.
Planzone - Secure and private collaborative project workspace to share files, manage tasks, and communicate with others.
Nuospace - On demand collaboration software that provides online document management, allows you to edit pages in your browser, and offers tools to engage your colleagues.
DeskAway - An online project collaboration app aimed at small businesses and teams that organizes, manages and tracks your online work.
Mentat - A free project-sharing service accessible from a browser of supported devices (including BlackBerry).
Easy Projects .NET - Project collaboration software that offers both a downloadable option and a hosted version.
Clearspace - An online collaboration suite that includes documents, blogs, discussions, projects, and more.
Twiddla - An online conference tool that allows you to mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or brainstorm on a blank canvas.
Sosius - Online workspace that includes a contact & group manager, custom workspace, file management, calendar, blog, discussions, chat, and more.
CollectiveX - Create free group sites for collaboration and networking.
BrightIdeasLab - An online home for all your brilliant ideas that also offers collaborative brainstorming space.
Ximdesk - Collaboration and social networking platform for enterprise.
Status - A Twitter-like app for keeping your work group connected.
GroupSwim - Social collaboration and community tools to bring your employees, customers, and partners together.
Kindling - Idea management and collaboration tool that lets you vote on ideas.
Conferences, Presentations & Meetings
KinetiCast - Create online presentations, deliver them, and then track who’s watching.
Gretastudio - Create on-demand presentations for your company’s products, record training and e-learning materials, or other types of presentations that require audio or video content.
280Slides - A free online presentation software that allows you to import existing documents, download to PowerPoint, publish to the Web and more.
vcasmo - Presentation software for business presentations, academic teaching, seminars, conferences, sales pitching, live events and more.
slideboom - Allows you to share PowerPoint presentations live online.
Empressr - A visual storytelling and presentation application.
Zoho Show - Create embeddable presentations online, present from a remote location, or share and collaborate on presentations.
slidelive - Present Microsoft PowerPoint presentations live online with this browser-based meeting solution.
ReadyTalk - Online Web meeting and audio conferencing solutions.
Persony - Inexpensive Web conferencing service.
GoToMeeting - Online meeting and conferencing software.
buzz2biz - A free online meeting platform.
MyCommittee - Online tracking of meeting agendas and minutes.
GroupLoop - Web-based committee organizing software.
Crowdsourcing, Networking & Community
OctopusCity - Build your online business network, keep in touch with people through mini-feeds, messaging and free teleconferencing, and save time by keeping one universal address book system.
LittleEngine - A community of small businesses and their patrons that are committed to buying locally and supporting local businesses.
Advisor Garage - A social network that connects entrepreneurs who need advice with advisors on just about any business-related topic.
Cambrian House - A free crowdsourcing app.
Socialcast - Private online communities of all sizes to help organize enterprise communication that allows employees to decide how to find and use information while reducing email clutter and unproductive communications.
CEOWorld.biz - Global networking for managers, entrepreneurs, and senior execs.
cmypitch.com - Online networking for entrepreneurs, investors and service providers that helps connect people who can help each other succeed.
Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service & Contact Management
TagTicket - This hosted helpdesk software is great for managing customer problems as well as in-house issues. There’s nothing to install, and it allows you to manage, track and share your emails and files with other staff.
RightNow - RightNow is an on-demand customer relationship management program that integrates sales, service, marketing, feedback and voice functions.
sfa finity - This CRM software offers all the regular features, plus account-centric, contact-centric and opportunity-centric perspectives, allowing you to view information the way you prefer.
Stazzle - Stazzle is a basic CRM that allows you to track information from birthdays and anniversaries to favorite ball teams and restaurants. It also allows you to track who referred which client and why.
HelpSpot - This help desk software allows support staff to easily manage requests from multiple sources in addition to providing powerful self-help functionality.
CRMdesk - This help desk software allows you to automate your online customer support.
insidesales.com - InsideSales.com provides a lead management CRM suite that incorporates an auto-dialer and allows coordination between multiple departments dealing with a single customer.
bConnections - This is a simple, easy to use CRM system that allows you to shorten your sales cycle, provide better customer service, make informed decisions, and increase your sales.
salesboom - This is a CRM and back office solution that’s user friendly and provides seamless integration.
SalesJunction - SalesJunction is a highly customizable but easy to use contact management system that’s very affordable.
Bizroof CRM - A free, Web-based contact management program.
Bizzvo - Bizzvo offers contact management, email marketing and invoicing solutions.
BatchBook - BatchBook is a small business CRM that manages contacts, communications, and to-do lists, and offers list and report functionality (including creating things like mailing labels and email lists).
ClairMail - ClairMail provides account management, mobile payments, customer service, and more, all on your mobile phone.
Appature CRM - A marketing-focused customer relationship management program.
Helperoo - A simple email support system geared toward small teams.
Mzinga - A full set of comprehensive social media and enterprise learning solutions that address talent development, enable support staff to communicate and collaborate with customers and partners, and helps your marketing team increase brand visibility, demand for products and services, and more.
Oprius - A contact management software designed for independent sales people.
b2b CRM - A Web-based CRM that manages contacts, activities, and your sales pipeline, and integrates with Outlook and Word.
helpdeskpilot - Help desk software that includes email integration, a knowledge base and more.
Tactile CRM - A cost-effective CRM that tracks sales, deals, emails and customer contacts.
Nuebbo - Online contact and virtual business card management.
Simple Sales Tracking - An online sales tracking app that offers free and paid plans.
Soocial - A simple contact management app and address book.
Database, File Storage & Information Management
ThinkFree Docs - Online document sharing.
.docstoc - An online repository of free documents you can download, or upload your own documents to share.
Thinkfree - Online access to files, collaboration space for your team, and the ability to edit documents and post to blogs with a Web-based editor.
ProofHQ - Online management and review of designs, artwork and documents.
Xythos - Online document management and storage.
NomaDesk - Online virtual file server with offline continuity.
Middlepost Docs - An online document manager that also allows you to sign docs.
AirSet - Online document management and sharing.
Ping82 - Control, manage and track your email using tools made to improve communication between people working together on a project.
eMail Manager - A Web-based email management solution for high volume email environments.
IFM Campaign Manager - A Web-based email list management and marketing tool.
Xpenser - Record your expenses with email, SMS, Twitter, IM, and more.
Synergymail - Online email marketing app that includes campaign tracking.
EmailBrain - Email newsletter management app.
Employee Management, Payroll & Human Resources
Zapoint - Zapoint is a Web 2.0 enterprise talent management platform with integrated performance management, skills mapping, organization mapping, recruiting and succession planning.
Halogen Software - Halogen offers talent management and employee performance solutions.
SuccessFactors - An on-demand talent and performance management platform that gets everyone in your company working together by aligning goals.
Cornerstone OnDemand - This is an on-demand talent management suite.
Litmos - Create, deliver and manage online training.
Akken - Staffing and recruiting management software that includes email, CRM, accounting, human resources, and more.
TalentMaze - A marketplace for employers to find top recruiters to find the best employees for their businesses.
Rejose - Applicant tracking system that’s simple, efficient and cost effective.
Catch the Best - Online resume and applicant tracking solution.
Feefo - Feefo is an independent customer feedback system that is transparent and comprehensive (and doesn’t allow business owners to edit customer feedback).
RivalMap - An online app that helps you monitor and share market news, maintain knowledge of your industry and competitors, and discuss information.
ConceptShare - Share media with colleagues and have them leave feedback, reply to comments, approve artwork, and markup on visuals.
Backboard - An online feedback tool that allows users to markup documents (including images, text and websites).
Marketing & Publicity
Prospect Insight - This is a Web marketing automation suite that provides information to your sales team on where to spend its time in order to maximize your return on investment.
HubSpot - HubSpot is an Internet marketing suite that integrates with your website to track your online marketing efforts.
iKarma - A reputation management service that allows you to compare customer comments, display testimonials, get customer referrals and manage your word-of-mouth.
Survelio.com - An online survey service.
formatpixel - Create your own online magazines, catalogs, brochures and more.
Traceworks - Online marketing software that helps you set goals, plan, execute and optimize your marketing activities.
ReputationHQ - Online reputation management app that searches for your desired information across millions of websites.
WordJot - Business blog hosting platform.
Anthillz - Professional relationship and reputation management.
BrandDoozie - A DIY online marketing material creation suite that helps you create professional-looking business cards, brochures, logos, and more.
Shoutlet - Distribute and track viral marketing campaigns across social media outlets.
Money Making & eCommerce Solutions
Scrobbld - PayPal and eBay order management app that keeps all your transactions in one place.
gOffice - They offer Web Word Wizard, a true online word processor.
PDFHammer.com - An online, free PDF editor that allows you to merge/combine files, rearrange, reorder and delete pages, lock your PDFs and more.
Organization & Management
MagSuite - An open source marketing automation, sales force automation, accounting, service automation and inventory control system.
Process Maker - Organize your company’s work flow and eliminate paperwork.
Alfresco - Open source enterprise content management that offers collaboration, record management, knowledge management and more.
SyncWizard - Synchronize your contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and more with your portable devices.
analysis-one - Online tool to help you monitor your financial and non-financial business performance.
Phone & Voicemail
Vontoo - Vontoo provides automated voice messaging on demand.
Task Lists, Planning & Project Management
PlanPlus Online - An online calendar, time management, project management, and contact management suite from FranklinCovey.
Wrike - Practical project management software that allows you to create tasks from emails.
Comindwork - Project management, knowledge management, and collaboration software.
Teamness - Organize project data and share it online with customers or colleagues.
Teamwork Project Manager - Online project management that includes custom views and quick access tabs.
ProjectPipe.com - Project management for small-to-midsized teams.
Planix - Consistently and accurately estimate resources, scheduling and costs of software development projects.
Pelotronics - Project organization and collaboration app.
Task2Gather - Free online task and project management.
Gtdagenda.com - An online planner for Getting Things Done.
Undone - An online to-do list manager and project management app.
Qcron - Project management and time tracking app.
Joint Contact - Project collaboration and management tool.
Viewpath - Manage projects and events online.
5pm - An online project management tool with a customizable interface, an interactive timeline, time reports, email integration and more.
Flempo - An online to-do list with the ability to assign tasks and keep track of progress, collect tasks from other systems (using the Flempo API), and more.
TaskAnyone - Assign tasks to anyone via email, and TaskAnyone will follow up until they follow through.
ProjectOffice.net - Online project management that includes issue tracking, expense tracking, and knowledge management.
Lighthouse - Simple issue tracking and project management.
Jumpchart - Online website planning app.
LiquidPlanner - Team management, task management and project scheduling all in one online app.
eloops - Online project management software that includes a calendar, data backup and social networking software.
XPLive - Project management app that focuses on individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Goplan - Simple online project management.
TargetProcess - Project management software that features real-time progress tracking, communications features, and more.
Staction - Group project management and communication app.
LessProjects - Project management from the people who created LessAccounting.
Jumptree - Project management that updates you by email, manages accountability and more.
Project2Manage - Free hosted project management that includes milestones, to-do lists, and more.
Mingle - Project management and team collaboration app.
Time Management & Tracking
Office Timesheets - Web-based time and expense tracking that’s easy to use and available anywhere.
Tick - A time tracking app for the service industry.
TSheets - Simple online time and labor tracking for small business.
Tempo - Simple time tracking with reporting features.
LiveTimer - Online time tracking service with reporting features, iPhone/iPod Touch interface, and more.
Paymo - Time tracking that includes online invoices and expense tracking.
Time59 - Online time and expense tracking and invoicing.
Paybackable - Online expense tracking that includes mileage expense calculations and expense reporting.
motismo - Online time tracking for creative professionals.
Virtual Office Platforms
ConcourseSuite - This open source online suite of programs offers customer relationship management as well as online presence management, team collaboration, and customer service.
OpenGoo - An open source Web office with text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, task lists, email, calendars, contacts and more.
VersoChat - An all-in-one solution for Web analytics, chatting with online visitors, live Web statistics and more.
LeadLander - Allows you to see exactly which companies are visiting your website to investigate your products.
LEADSExplorer - LeadsExplorer allows you to capture what companies your website visitors are coming from so that you can turn them into leads.
Sharedbase - An online tool to manage your members-only website and your membership database.
SmoothStart - Create online landing pages for generating, managing and tracking new leads.
Practice Fusion - This is a free online electronic medical records software.
Buildium - An online property management program for property managers and associations.
TopSchool, Inc. - A Student Lifestyle Management system for schools.
Body-Quest.net - This is a business management solution for personal trainers that allows you to track your clients’ progress.
TenantWIZ - A property management program for vacation homes that works whether you own a single property or a large hotel or condo operation.
booktoeat - booktoeat allows restaurants to accept online reservations and bookings.
ClubReady - ClubReady is a fitness club management service that helps increase revenues and dramatically improve client and employee satisfaction.
ServiceBeacon - ServiceBeacon provides a Web-based car dealership marketing application for both new and used car dealerships in addition to their consumer services.
openSIS - An open source student information system that tracks student demographics, contact information, scheduling, gradebooks, report cards, transcripts, health records, attendance, cafeteria management, state reporting, and more.
RdEXpress - An online restaurant booking system for single unit restaurant operators that also includes a CRM and marketing system.
Plaid - On-demand ministry management software that organizes contact lists, tracks visitors, sends emails to targeted contacts, prints attendance sheets, and more.
Scriggle-it - An online fan management and music marketing solution for bands and musicians.
DonorDrive - Constituent, donation and event management software for non-profits. Includes reporting and exporting capability, e-mail marketing, message forums, and more.
RealProEdge.com - An email tool specifically for real estate agents.
fourthbook.com - An easy to use online church management software.
Massage manEdger - An online suite of tools for massage therapists that includes a website with online booking, electronic client files, streamlined daily accounting and more.
rezgo - An online booking software for travel tours and activities.
Planning Center Online - A church worship services planning app.
Creative Manager Pro - Online ad agency management software.
Rentomatic - Simplified property management app that includes an online rent-payment system.
Tuggle - Online ministry management suite that includes communication and event management tools.
CollabTrak - Project management specifically for Web designers.
N2uitive - An online insurance claims interview management software.
Propertyware - Online property management software that organizes property and lease information, records income and expenses, lists vacancies, and more.
RentYield - A property management tool for landlords and real estate investors that allows you to stay on top of your rental income and track performance of your properties.
Shockfolio - An online portfolio site for actors, musicians and photographers.
Weefolio - A free online portfolio creator.
Streetfolio - Property management app that manages cashflow, insurance, mortgages, and more.
RB-Apps - RB-Apps provides customized, DIY business mini-applications based on the RB-Apps Platform.
lumifi - Use lumifi if you need to compile research and collaboration from multiple sources, discover information you might otherwise miss, and assemble that research into a well stated case.