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September 12th, 2011

If you are thinking about posting those wild pictures from the office booze cruiseyou may want to think twice. In today's increasingly hyper-connected world, you never know how long those images will be online, who can see them, and where they may end up. It therefore becomes increasingly important to be smart about exactly what and how much you post online. After all, what you put up in cyberspace today may come back to haunt you later on.

There is no denying that the Internet (and especially online social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) has brought about great change in people's behaviormany of them for the better. These tools have allowed easier information sharing, greater collaboration, and the fostering of communities like never before. However, these tools also have a darker side, and if not used properly they can be a source of problems for you or your organization later on.

One problem is how these media can potentially misrepresent you or your organization. Online, the line between the personal and the professional can get blurry, and the moment you do something inappropriate, even during your personal or private time, whether right or wrong, it can affect how you are perceived. It's becoming more common to screen the personal profiles of job applicants or potential business partners, and an inappropriate picture or even a little tweet can leave a damaging mark on your reputation.

Engaging in inappropriate behavior even behind the cover of anonymity can also be problematic. Examples include commenting in blogs or forums where you obviously have a vested interest. There are countless stories of unscrupulous people or businesses that clearly mislead others by posting good reviews or endorsements about their business, product, or service, only to have their real identity discovered later on. If you must do this, it's better to be up front and honestand disclose any vested interest so you won't be judged poorly later on.

If you must express an opinion, weigh carefully how it relates to your work and your career. If you are identified with an organization, be clear about whether you have the authority to speak on its behalf. If you don't, state clearly that you are speaking on your own behalf by providing a disclaimer. This can come in handy later if your employer happens to see your posts online. An example disclaimer might be a statement similar to this: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent my employer's position or opinion.

Be sure to also respect the ideas, privacy, and property of others. You would not want to be called a plagiarist or a thief. Online etiquette requires that you provide references, links, or attributions to the ideas or material you use that are not yours. When in doubt, get permission first. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

These are simple guidelines for conducting yourself and your affairs online. To share your own experiences, ideas and thoughts, or just to provide feedback or suggestions, drop us a line we would love to hear from you!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
September 12th, 2011
Topic General Tech
February 23rd, 2010

formspringFor businesses of all types and size, managing data online is critical to the smooth operation of a website. However, incorporating data collection programs can be time consuming, especially if any of your data is “time bound” – meaning it’s only valid and useful during a specific period of time.

Here’s a solution. FormSpring provides free and paid website data collection services that eliminate the need for additional programming or the purchase of additional software.

If your website includes contact or event registration forms, surveys, and the like, FormSpring provides services ranging from a basic free option to more feature-intensive offerings with custom made forms based on your unique requirements. There’s no long-term registration contract, and you may cancel at any time. FormSpring also offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

It’s worth noting that the data is stored on FormSpring’s servers, so if you have special compliance requirements for privacy or security you might want to check to ensure you remain compliant.

Overall, FormSpring is a very useful website for companies or groups that need a hassle-free way to collect data through their website. Check out their free version of the plan or use the 30-day money back guarantee to explore whether FormSpring meets your data collection needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 8th, 2010

commoncraftFor many people, learning begins by understanding the basic principles that drive a certain concept. Whether in technology or science or society, the world is filled with so many complex and complicated subjects that affect our lives, but remain largely misunderstood by the general public.

This is where commoncraft.com comes in. Owned and maintained by husband and wife team Lee and Sachi LeFever from Seattle, Washington, the site’s goal is simple: to present complex concepts in a way that can be easily understood by anyone.

Presented in videos they call “__________ in Plain English”, the LeFevers illustrate seemingly intimidating subject matter with terms that are easy to grasp – layman’s language, if you will – “in plain English”. Their first video, “RSS in Plain English”, quickly became an internet hit. Now they offer several free videos that use simple analogies to aid in comprehension accompanied by equally simple visual aids and illustrations. Topics include concepts about the environment, finance, society, and technology.

The videos are completely free and do not require registration to view. Videos are kept short and sweet, cutting to the heart of the matter so that the broken down concepts are easily retained. You’ll hear no fancy words or technical jargon; everything is presented in an easy but no-nonsense manner.

Common Craft can make a custom learning video for you for a fee, which you can discuss with them. Try giving their free videos a whirl and you’ll soon find out that some subjects aren’t as complicated as you might think.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
October 15th, 2009

Every time I move house I realise how much “stuff” I have. You know, it’s the stuff that lives in boxes in the closet, and under the bed, and in the garage. Stuff I just shift from one location to the next even though it has no immediate purpose. Yet I don’t want to throw it out.

But in this decade, more than ever before, the stuff we accumulate and carry around with us extends beyond physical possessions and in to the realms of the digital world. From music and video to bills and tax records, the amount of digital data we store is growing exponentially.

This applies just us much in our work lives and our businesses. Think about the last time you changed jobs, or even just bought a new computer. Even though you may have a company server and tend to store most formal work related data there, I’m willing to bet you still had a bunch of other “stuff” on your computer that was copied off separately. Stuff that you don’t use much, but can’t be without.

>>Read the rest of this post on Small Business Daily.

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Topic Articles
May 31st, 2009

It’s All in the ‘How’

article_how_to_websiteHave you ever wondered how to fix a leaking pipe or a broken light? Or how to check your car’s coolant or radiator fluid? How about maintaining a lawn, or tying a Windsor, or cooking a tasty meal for you or your kids in less than 30 minutes?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in self-help sites such as eHow and WikiHow. These sites are databases of how-to articles presented in a clear, concise, and simple manner that anyone can easily understand.

Unlike other guides that drown you (albeit unintentionally) in so much technical jargon that you end up completely lost, these sites make it a point to keep things uncomplicated – it’s all about helping you get something done right, and done fast. You can always learn the mechanics of why or how it works after you’ve gotten it done. Here, results are the primary consideration.

Both websites offer a variety of subjects to browse through. If you’re looking for a specific topic, simply enter the inquiry in the search box. Certain topics even have video tutorials and/or illustrated guides that make the learning process even easier. However, if you don’t have anything particular in mind, then you can browse through topics that are classified by category. Navigation is intuitive and user-friendly.

Another good thing about these websites is that the information is absolutely free – you don’t even have to register an account to gain access to them. And with WikiHow, if you feel like sharing a bit of your own knowledge, you can contribute your own how-to articles and become part of the WikiHow community. eHow also accepts entries that, depending on how you play your cards, can even help you earn a bit of extra money (there’s an eHow article to help you get started).

So the next time you find yourself in a spot with anything from a stubborn stain to treating a bee sting, try visiting these sites since they just might have the simple and straightforward solution you’re looking for.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 29th, 2009

In a down turn, large businesses slash staff which often leads to poorer customer service – for the small business owner it’s easier than ever to win over these disgruntled customers and increase your market share.

It’s a massive advantage to be a small business in this current economic climate. Small businesses are generally more flexible, agile and much quicker to change or adapt than their bigger competitors. That’s why I’m telling my clients that there’s no better time than now to seriously consider some changes to their business that will quickly enhance customer experience.

With the ubiquitous technologies available to all levels of business these days, think about the systems you could quickly integrate to win and keep new customers. Think about how you currently interact with customers and what improvements you could make. Think outside the box.

Maybe I’ll go in to more details on these areas individually in later posts, but to keep you thinking:

Customer information: A spreadsheet or the database within you financial package just doesn’t cut it when you want to precisely track client activities and communications. Can’t afford a CRM package? Think again. Zoho offers a hosted online CRM package FREE for 3 users. Microsoft offers their comprehensive Dynamics CRM product as a hosted service at an affordable monthly price.

Customer enquiries: Many customers choose to email enquiries and expect a fast response. If you’re on the road and without access to your PC and email for hours then you will lose customers. You need to get mobile! Receiving email on your mobile is very simple in most cases and allows you to provide the fast response customers expect. Do you have Small Business Server 2003/2008 already? If so, you already have the ability to natively receive email on Windows Mobile devices, iPhone 3G and many other new phones and PDAs that support Exchange ActiveSync.

Collaborating with customers on proposals, specifications etc: Old way – you go to customer and present, wait a few days, customer responds with issues, wait a few days, you go back to customer and present, wait a few days, customer comes to you with changes….yuk. New way – online collaboration and meeting tools allow you and the customer to work on documents together, track changes and versions and generally work smarter together. Heard of Windows Sharepoint Services? It’s free and provides some of this functionality. Want the solution but can’t afford the infrastructure to run it? Check out Microsoft’s newly released Business Productivity Online Suite.

Seriously quick and low cost (or cost free!) ways to improve your customer experience through technology.

Topic Articles
July 1st, 2007

Someone asked me an interesting question over the weekend: “How do these massive web sites like Facebook, MySpace and You Tube stay afloat? Where do they make their money?” Considering You Tube was, last year, purchased for over US$2B – and at face value it’s a company that doesn’t appear to actually sell anything – it’s something that many people have probably pondered. The answer of course is advertising. Revenue generated by online advertising, and ultimately profits, is what these companies survive on. Whilst You Tube is a free online video sharing service, the company itself is in the business of selling advertising space. ONLINE advertising space, I should point out.

And the business of online advertising is a great one to be in more so now than ever before. In Australia, online advertising sales have already eclipsed the dollars spent on cinema and outdoor. If the growth continues at the current rate it won’t be long before radio and magazine advertising is also surpassed. Take in to account the recent studies showing people spend more time online than watching TV and it’s no wonder big companies are shifting their advertising dollars.

Online advertising is no longer pie-in-the-sky type of stuff. Google (you’ve heard of them, right?) very recently announced an annual turnover of US$1.58 billion. Virtually 100% of this was generated from online advertising – adverts that appear on search results pages, or third party websites displaying adverts that have been “outsourced” by Google. On these revenues, they closed out a tidy net profit of US$381 million. That’s almost $400 million profit by selling online advertising space – proof enough for me that online is a powerful advertising medium (and online advertising can be a powerful business plan!).

So that’s how these websites make money. Traditional advertising mediums are up against it when you consider You Tube has recently ticked over 70 million registered users. As an advertiser, being able to reach a global audience of 70 million is fairly appealing, I would imagine.

The Internet bubble may have burst 7 years ago, but it’s definitely inflated again – this time encased by a thicker skin – and with a lot more than hot air to fill it up. Finally the Internet is old enough to have a history, and history teaches us the greatest lessons of all.

Topic Articles
June 14th, 2007

I am a staunch believer that all businesses should have their own domain name to seriously be considered by potential clients as being worthy of doing business with. I find it hard to believe that some professional businesses in 2007 still have email addresses like company@ispname.com.au (for example, a company called QRS Corp and that use Bigpond as their ISP publish their email address as being qrscorp@bigpond.com). There was a time where I could excuse some businesses that didn’t rely on email at all, such as tradesman for example, but now my opinion is that a plumber or electrician should have a professional looking online presence.

Today I came across a classic one: I needed to email a lawyer that I’ve been doing some business with, so I found his card and to my amazement his email address is (name changed for privacy reasons!) psmith@hotmail.com! I can only speak for myself, but a lawyer using a hotmail address doesn’t instill me with confidence – in fact it gives me an immediate feeling that something’s dodgy. Now, I know for a fact that this guys is legitimate lawyer and works out of a nice office in the inner suburbs of a big city, but what’s having an email address at hotmail doing for him in terms of attracting business – probably very little.

Domain names are so cheap these days, along with email and web hosting, and so it makes no sense to me to let your business drag behind in the wake of technology by denying it a domain name. There’s a whole new generation of buyers in the market place compared to only a few years ago, and they don’t use the phone to do business or make enquiries; they use websites and email. You will simply be ignored if you don’t appear to have a professional online presence.

Topic Articles