4 Ways to Optimize Your iPad For Business
Mar. 25, 2012

4 Ways to Optimize Your iPad For BusinessAre you thinking about snapping up a new iPad? The post-PC lifestyle is especially intriguing for business owners who travel on a regular basis and want to travel lightly. It’s easy to forget that the tablet, for all of its shiny tech and workable native apps, is still a blank slate for business. Luckily, that can be solved with a few quick tips — and the right apps. Here’s a round-up of what you need to maximize your iPad’s capabilities and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your new workhorse.

Read entire article at Mashable.com
4 Ways Restaurants Should Use QR Codes
Mar. 12, 2012

restuarants qr codesDespite criticism, the QR code continues to be a major player in the evolution of mobile commerce.

But while many Fortune 500 advertisers may have embraced the QR code in their marketing efforts, the restaurant industry has proven a relatively late adopter of the technology.

When used to power speedier transactions and provide timely information, the QR code is a useful tool for restaurateurs seeking to augment the customer experience. On takeout menus, dine-in menus and real world advertising, the QR code has a purposeful place in the restaurant experience.

As any supporter of QR codes, near field communication (NFC) chips, or augmented reality will tell you, the key is the destination, not the mode of transportation. It doesn’t matter if information is delivered with zero friction, if the information itself isn’t wanted, it won’t pay off.

Are QR codes just a marketing fad, or can the mobile technology deliver real value for restaurants and consumers at the right place and at the right time? Here are four ways QR codes can be effectively leveraged in a restaurant environment to improving the overall dining experience.

Read the entire article on Mashable.com

Office for iPad, Why it makes sense
Feb. 27, 2012

office for iPadIf the rumors are to be believed, Microsoft is on the verge of releasing a version of Office for the iPad.

While an iOS version of Office may have seemed unthinkable a couple of years ago, it could be a key weapon in Microsoft’s fight against Google Docs, Google’s free cloud-based productivity software.

The Daily reported Tuesday that Microsoft is expected to launch Office for iPad in the coming weeks. Citing “sources”along with an image of the app’s home screen, the report says Microsoft will soon submit the app to Apple for inclusion in the App Store. An Android version is reportedly not in the works.

Having a version of Office for iPad would give users a way to stay within Microsoft’s walled garden when viewing documents on their favorite tablet. At the moment, Office users must opt for other methods to open their files on the iPad — with one of the most popular being Google Docs.

Why would users trade free (Google Docs) for functionality (Office)? Microsoft reportedly plans to give users the following reasons to switch:

First, the iPad version of Office is said to borrow elements from Microsoft’s touch-friendly Metro interface, currently on Windows Phone but due to spread throughout the platform on Windows 8. The overall look is said to be similar to the current OneNote iPad app released last year. That app is due for a makeover as well.

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What is ACTA? Why Should You Care?
Jan. 30, 2012

What is ACTA? Why Should You Care?The technology community came out in force against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) before those two bills were shelved last week. With them gone, we can expect tech experts and Internet users to step away from politics. The battle has been won, right? Wrong. There’s another fight heating up, and this time it’s global.

Meet the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA.

ACTA is an international treaty designed to protect intellectual property rights. The agreement was first created by the U.S. and Japan in 2006, and Australia, Canada, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea signed on last year. Whereas SOPA and PIPA were proposed bills in the U.S. House and Senate respectively, ACTA is a plurilateral treaty between the countries that sign on to the agreement.

SEE ALSO: 22 EU Countries Ratify ACTA | ACTA ‘Is More Dangerous Than SOPA’

One of ACTA’s primary goals is the prevention of copyright theft on the Internet. The treaty operates outside already existing international bodies, such as the United Nations (UN) or World Trade Organization (WTO). By signing on to the agreement, countries are agreeing to work with one another on issues of counterfeiting and copyright theft.

While SOPA and PIPA have been relegated to the dustbins of the U.S. Congress, ACTA is gaining life.

Read full article on Mashable.com

How 5 Tech Giants Are Giving Back to Education
Nov. 07, 2011

tech giants giving backFor many of us, technology makes life more manageable. We spend time communicating with a number of different people through multiple digital platforms — without even picking up a phone. We can shop and take college courses online. We have plenty of gadgets and gizmos.

But while consumer electronics are commonplace for many, we must remember that 68% of Americans don’t have a home Internet connection at all. Furthermore, 100 million people in the U.S. have been left in the afterglow of broadband advancement.

To make digital more accessible, and to enable people to stay competitive in the global economy, a number of tech and media companies are working to level the online playing field all around the world. Here are five of them.

Read More on Mashable.com

How to Deal With Email Overload
Oct. 16, 2011

People spend a lot of time on email — way too much for their own good and productivity. Email is a disruptive technology that can take you on a tangent you never intended, and eat up time faster than most other voluntary activities.

Email has addictive qualities. Most of us receive email that is unimportant, and yet we continue to check our inboxes incessantly.

To free you from email burden, try these simple techniques.

1. Optimize

To optimize email, you need less of it. Try using a service called Unsubscribe.com to get yourself removed from mailing lists, promotional emails, etc. It uses a Gmail plugin, or you can just forward emails to mail@unsubscribe.com.

Try aggregating. Sometimes you receive non-essential emails that are actually beneficial. Aggregating and unsubscribing will cut down on a lot of the incoming mail you receive to begin with. Services such as FriendFeed send a daily summary of social media activity. Dealery will send all the best daily deals, so you don’t need to individually subscribe to Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. For good measure, sign up for a Google Alert on yourself, as well as a news aggregator like The Daily Beast.

Next comes organization. I’m a huge fan of OtherInbox, which integrates with Gmail and automatically organizes your messages into folders like “Shopping” and “Business.” Imagine an inbox with 1,000 messages; after initiating OtherInbox, you can watch that inbox shrink to 14 emails — in one click. Furthermore, OtherInbox will learn from you, and therefore, get better over time. As an added benefit, OtherInbox has its own unsubscribe service. It will also automatically recognize tracking numbers in an email, then put the delivery date in your calendar alongside relevant shipment information.

Become a filtering ninja. Whether Gmail, Outlook or another service, most email systems allow for filtering. Any type of email you get with some regularity (and some you don’t) should have a filter assigned to it. Sometimes accounts forward emails with certain keywords to an assistant, or provide a specific automated response. Regardless, use filters often.

Answer questions ahead of time. Take away the need for people to email you in the first place. Try including an FAQ section on your website, for example. Answer those mundane, repetitive questions ahead of time. Or, try putting relevant information in your signature. I use UnityFax to get faxes by email. I like Virtual Post Mail to get postal mail in my email inbox.

Finally, use WiseStamp to generate nice little icons that link to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blog. I also like to include a link to Tungle in my signature, which gives people access to an appointment book synced with my calendar in real time. That way, I never have to waste time or emails setting up meetings.

Include a sentence in your email signature stating that you only check your email once a day, but if the matter is urgent, the sender can use AwayFind. This service creates an emergency contact page that routes messages to you by voice or text.

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Happy Birthday Google
Sep. 05, 2011

happy bday googleWhat were you up to 13 years ago? Maybe you were perfecting the ideal AIM screen name. Or you might have been surfing the “WestHollywood” neighborhood of GeoCities. Chances are, you had been using Yahoo! or AOL as your primary search engines. But Google’s debut on this day in 1998 would change the World Wide Web forever.

On September 4, 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin filed for incorporation as Google Inc. — they had received a $100,000 check from an investor made out to Google, Inc., and needed to incorporate that name so they could legally deposit the check.

Prior to the launch, Page and Brin met at Stanford in 1995, and soon decided to launch a search service called BackRub in January 1996. They soon reevaluated the name (and the creepy logo) in favor of Google, a play on the mathematical figure, “googol,” which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The name embodied their mission to create an infinite amount of web resources. And that they did.

Since then, Google has become a household name to billions of people worldwide. You’ll overhear senior citizens command their grandchildren to “google” the price of foot cream. You’ll witness toddlers punching the screen of the latest Android phone. And chances are, you’ve navigated the circles of Google+ (if not, let’s get you an invite already).

We’d like to guide you on a trip down Google lane, presenting the key products and acquisitions that were born in the first Google garage office, and innovated in the Googleplex. In the comments below, please share how Google has had an impact on your life, and join us in wishing Google a happy birthday!

Source: Mashable.com
Smart Design: Switch Plug Saves Power
Jun. 27, 2011

switch plugTake one look at this Switch Plug and you’ll immediately see its value. Plug it in while the switch is in its off position, and there’s less of a chance of sparks or shocks.

Once you plug it in, flip the switch and its LEDs light up, reminding you that there’s energy flowing through that plug, perhaps encouraging you to turn it off when not in use. Our only quibble: those LEDs better draw very little power, lest they defeat the Switch Plug’s energy-saving purpose.

Designer Gonglue Jiang, currently studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is onto something with this design concept. The idea could be especially useful if the technology were installed on those AC adapters that act like vampires, suck sucking power 24/7, even when you’re not using the device to which they’re attached.

This is not Jiang’s first encounter with plugs — he also created this colorful design he calls “Infinite USB,” giving you the ability to daisychain USB plugs, solving that problem of the reduced number of USB ports on many laptops:

Read Entire Story at Mashable.com

Mobile Payments Vs. Online Payments
Jun. 13, 2011

Why Mobile Payments Are the Safest Solution for Online TransactionsKolja Reiss is Managing Director for mopay Inc., one of the world leaders in mobile payments technology reaching more than 3.3 billion consumers in 80 countries.

In the past, the urge to anonymously surf the web has always had a somewhat negative connotation. Now, with new data and identity theft issues being revealed on an almost daily basis — Sony’s PSN outages being the latest — the idea of purchasing and paying online anonymously without providing any sensitive data is having an unsoiled renaissance.

Ecommerce has made its way into everyday life and established itself as a multibillion dollar industry. The comfort of shopping online while staying at home is unparalleled. But, of course, there is a downside. When purchasing something online, you have to provide data to complete the transaction. Normally this would be your name, address and credit card or bank account details. That’s fine and good so long as this data is only available to the respective merchant. But the Internet has taught one important lesson: Whenever there is data exchanged or stored, there is a chance for third parties to compromise it.

In order to prevent this from happening, consumers need to start employing payment solutions that enable them to quickly and easily make online purchases without requiring them to share copious amounts of confidential, identifying and financial data. The less personal information a consumer supplies, the less risk there is for the consumer to be affected by identity theft or fraudulent charges.

Read the entire article at Mashable.com

The Social Dimension of Adobe
Apr. 04, 2011

Adobe’s Online Marketing Suite Adobe’s Online Marketing Suite is rapidly becoming one of the most robust solutions available for Web professionals. Adobe last week introduced SocialAnalytics, a product within the Online Marketing Suite which enables marketers to monitor and measure social media.

The application aggregates relevant activity from social networks and online communities and correlates how the activity impacts key metrics and brand perception. Adobe’s SocialAnalytics augments the platform existing social measurement and optimization capabilities with Facebook measurement (insights on Facebook pages, fan demographics, likes/shares), viral video measurement and Twitter measurement. If that weren’t enough, marketers can also view app usage data in context with other social activity.

“The social Web is the largest focus group on the planet and marketers are striving to figure out how best to listen and participate,” said Brad Rencher, vice president and general manager, Omniture Business Unit, Adobe. “What marketers have been missing is a solution that helps them identify the most relevant voices and activities, tie social activity to brand and business impact and then take action to optimize that impact. Adobe SocialAnalytics can inform how a company participates on the social Web, removing guesswork and replacing it with strategies or experimentation built on insight.”

The product is currently in beta and general availability is expected in Q3 of 2011.

Source: Web Site Magazine
The Video Race: Whos Winning?
Mar. 28, 2011

The Video Race: Who’s Winning? Comscore today released data from its Video Metrix service showing that U.S. Internet users watched an average of 13.6 hours of online video content in February 2011, engaging in more than 5.0 billion viewing sessions.

As you might imagine, when it comes to the top online video properties by video content views, the usual suspects appear. Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in February with 141.1 million unique viewers. Microsoft Sites captured the #2 ranking (up from #7) with 48.8 million viewers, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 46.7 million viewers. Facebook.com came in fourth with nearly 46.7 million viewers, while VEVO ranked fifth with 45.9 million viewers. Google Sites had the highest number of viewing sessions with 1.8 billion, and average time spent per viewer at 262 minutes, or 4.4 hours.

For those struggling with video content, video advertising is coming on strong. In fact, Video ads accounted for 12.4 percent of all videos viewed and 1.2 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

According to Comscore, Americans viewed 3.8 billion video ads in February. Hulu generated the highest number of video ad impressions at more than 1.1 billion. Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 548.3 million ad views, followed by ADAP.TV (396 million) and SpotXchange Video Ad Network (343 million). Time spent watching videos ads totaled 1.7 billion minutes during the month, with Hulu delivering the highest duration of video ads at 454 million minutes. Video ads reached 42 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 30 times during the month. Hulu also delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 48 over the course of the month.

Source: Web Site Magazine

Secret to Pandoras Internet Radio Success
Mar. 21, 2011

The Secret to Pandora’s Unrivaled Internet Radio SuccessWhen Pandora unsealed her fabled box, she unleashed all the evils of the world. As I read through the recently unsealed Pandora IPO, I instead see a lot that is encouraging. Pandora has opened its “box” and served notice that online radio can and will be a meaningful and profitable business.

The monthly rankings from Ando Media show Pandora with an 11 month AAS (average active sessions — roughly equivalent to “AQH“) of 440,000, from which the company generated approximately $100 million in ad sales in 2010. Then, in December, Pandora’s numbers jumped to 642,614 in AAS. That’s an enormous uptick in one month, given Pandora’s previous average. The spike bodes well for its performance in 2011. If you do some quick math, you’ll see Pandora monetizing at a rate of about $225 annually per listener.

While this number is considerably lower than terrestrial radio’s (estimated to be approximately $400 per listener annually), it has grown dramatically in just this past year. Pandora is monetizing its audience at better than half the rate of terrestrial radio, even though Pandora is still in relative infancy. It’s able to do all this while serving just three ads per listener hour.

How is Pandora getting so much traction with just a fraction of the amount of terrestrial radio’s commercial content? Here are the three reasons why.

Read entire article

5 Ways Mobile Will Transform Commerce
Feb. 20, 2011

5 Ways Mobile Will Transform CommerceGiven everything your smartphone does for you now, from mapping the skies to tracking your rides and delivering your website analytics, isn’t it a bit surprising how difficult it is to buy stuff with it? Mobile commerce — like flying cars or domestic robots — is one of those promises that has long seemed just around the corner; a logical next step, but one that has receded into the future before us, like a financial mirage.

At the risk of getting fooled again, I think that’s about to change. Twitter lights up every time Apple hires an engineer with expertise in near field communication (NFC), the wireless technology that will most likely power wave-and-pay mobile systems, and Eric Schmidt showed off tap-and-pay capability in an Android phone at the Web 2.0 Summit last fall. The fastest growing smartphone platform seems determined to roll out payment capability soon, and BlackBerry and WebOS are not far behind.

So what? How will that change your life if, instead of reaching into your wallet or purse to whip out a credit card, you instead wave or tap your mobile? Here are a few thoughts on how this shift will change the way you shop.

Read the entire article on Mashable

Print iPhone photos using PostalPix
Jan. 31, 2011

postal pixQuick Pitch: PostalPix is an iPhone app that lets you order prints of your iPhone photos in a variety of formats.

Genius Idea: After Isaac and Christina Lay had a baby boy, the couple started snapping photos of their new bundle of joy with their iPhones. They soon realized there was no simple way to get those photos off their phones and into the hands of friends and family. Shortly thereafter, Isaac Lay co-founded PostalPix, a service for ordering prints of mobile photos.

PostalPix is as straightforward as it sounds. iPhone owners can use the app to order 4 x 6 and 8 x 10 prints and mouse pads of photos pulled from their phone’s library. It’s as simple as selecting print size, picking photos, specifying quantity and paying for the prints.

Prices appear to be reasonable — a pack of three 4″ x 6″ prints is $0.99, and a single 8″ x 10″ print is $3.47. App users can purchase their prints in-app via PayPal or credit card.

Source: Mashable
Wikipedia Celebrates 10 Years, will it survive
Jan. 17, 2011

Wikipedia Celebrates 10 Years, But Will It Survive Another Decade?Wikipedia is just the latest in a long line of encyclopedias. In fact, encyclopedias have been around in some form or another for 2,000 years. The oldest, Naturalis Historia, written by Pliny the Elder, is still in existence.

How do I know this? I looked it up on Wikipedia (Wikipedia), of course. Is it true? Possibly.

Ten years after its founding, it’s hard to imagine what life was like before Wikipedia. When I was growing up, our family had a dusty set of encyclopedias that were at least 10 years old, which is fine if you’re looking up dinosaurs, but not so good if you want to know, for instance, who the current president of the Congo is. But though the limitations of the old encyclopedias were obvious, they were authoritative in ways that Wikipedia is not.

Like most people, I’ll take the tradeoff. I have no desire to go back to the days of printed Funk & Wagnalls. If someone would have told me back in 2001 that, within a few years, there would be a comprehensive, free online encyclopedia, I wouldn’t have believed them. Why would someone do that? How?

Read Entire Article at Mashable.com
8 Tech Companies to Watch in 2011
Jan. 10, 2011

8 Tech Companies to Watch in 2011Grab your popcorn and Twizzlers, because 2011 is already shaping up to be an exciting year to watch startups and giants do battle for market share and big ideas. If you’re not sure which companies to look out for in the coming year, our writers and editors have submitted their expert picks below.

What do you think? Did we miss any promising tech companies (new or established) that you see making a big splash in 2011? We want — nay, demand — your forecasts in the comments below.

Read the Entire Article

Facebook as Important as Facetime
Nov. 29, 2010

Small Businesses: Facebook as Important as FacetimeUncertain at first, and still somewhat reluctant overall, small businesses are increasingly implementing social media into their marketing strategies. A recent survey conducted by Constant Contact revealed that 63 percent of nearly 1,500 small business owners cited Facebook as an important element of their activities during the fall, while more than 30 percent said the same about Twitter. Those numbers were up from 50.5 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively, when the survey was last conducted in March 2010.

The Fall 2010 survey also showed modest increases in more traditional small business marketing strategies such as email marketing, event marketing and online surveys, while direct mail, telephone conversations and in-person interactions all saw modest declines.

In fact, 62 percent of the respondents stated that a Facebook presence is now as important to their small businesses as face-to-face interactions with consumers.

While 2010 was a difficult year for small businesses, most respondents have high hopes for 2011. More than 50 percent of those surveyed have reduced their operating expenses in 2010: 39.7 percent have reduced their travel and entertainment budgets, and 39.4 percent have reduced their marketing expenditures. Nearly 75 percent expect their businesses to grow in the next year.

Source: Web Site Magazine

Malware Up, Spam Down
Nov. 22, 2010

mcafee securityIt seems every bit of good news received about Web security is tempered with some bad. 

McAfee unveiled its McAfee Threats Report for the Third Quarter (2010) today, which revealed that while spam levels decreased in volume this quarter (hitting a two year low) malware is soaring with an average of 60,000 new pieces of malware identified each day – quadrupling since 2007. 

“Our Q3 Threat report shows that cybercriminals are not only becoming more saavy, but attacks are becoming increasingly more severe,” said Mike Gallagher, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Global Threat Intelligence for McAfee. 

“Cybercriminals are doing their homework, and are aware of what’s popular, and what’s insecure. They are attacking mobile devices and social networking sites, so education about user activity online, as well as incorporating the proper security technologies are of utmost importance.”

One of the most sophisticated pieces of malware in Q3 was the Zeus botnet, the malware at the root of U.S. small businesses losing $70 million at the hands of Ukrainian cybercriminals. Recently, a Zeus botnet was unleashed that is aimed at mobile devices and designed to intercept SMS messages to validate transactions, putting at risk consumers bank accounts. McAfee also saw an increase in email campaigns attempting to deliver the Zeus botnet, under the disguise of organizations like eFAX, FedEx, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, United States Postal Service and Western Union.

Botnet activity also remained strong in Q3, the most popular of which, Cutwail, accounted for more than 50 percent of traffic in every country. Cutwail bots engaged in distributed denial-of-service attacks against more than 300 websites, including United States government departments such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and businesses websites such as Twitter and PayPal.

Source: Web Site Magazine

New Twitter Ads On The Way
Nov. 08, 2010

New Twitter Ads On The WayAfter months of speculation, Twitter has finally announced they will insert advertising in users' streams. Now, select users will see advertisements posed as a tweet as they appear in the stream itself, not as a promoted or sponsored tweet as is already seen on Twitter. In other words, these ads will be aligned closer with regular tweets, blending more into the Twitter experience.

No surprises here.

For now, ads will only be seen by users of Hootsuite, the popular third-party Twitter client. My guess here - and this is only a guess - is that Twitter hopes Hootsuite users are naturally more interactive that the average Twitter user; therefore creating an environment in which advertisements will perform well enough to provide early positive returns. Soon enough, however, everyone using Twitter will see the ads.

Two things will be interesting to watch as ads unfold on Twitter.

First, is how these ads perform. This, in light of a recent study by Sysomos of 1.2 billion tweets found that 71 percent of them get zero response.

Second, is how Twitter users react. Whenever "advertising" and "social media" are mentioned in the same sentence, it's usually followed by some discussion about users feeling "violated," revolting and leaving the site en masse. I doubt this will be the case. Mostly, because Twitter is loaded with marketers as it stands (not the type of people who are offended by well-placed ads) and also because Twitter is an Internet-savvy audience who are quite accustomed to online advertising.

Early advertisers are said to be Starbucks, Red Bull and, apparently, Box.net. Below you will see an example of a promoted tweet, found in our very own "Home Feed" from our Hootsuite account. It does not appear in our Twitter feed at Twitter.com.

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard
Nov. 03, 2010

Logitech Wireless Solar KeyboardTired of replacing or recharging the batteries in your wireless keyboard? Ditch the AAs and harness the power of the sun with the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard ($80). In addition to integrated solar panels and the ability to run for up to three months in total darkness, the Solar Keyboard features a 7.5mm-thick body, low-profile Incurve keys, an included Unifying receiver that works over 2.4 GHz with 128-bit AES encryption to connect with your computer, and a companion application to let you check battery levels without ever looking away from the screen.
Yahoo's New Flavor
Oct. 25, 2010

Yahoo New Email Facing increased competition from Gmail, Hotmail and social networks such as Facebook, Yahoo! is planning to revamp its Web-Based e-mail service. Internally code-named “Minty”, the new product is expected to arrive in the fall with a sleeker design, higher performance capabilities and better integration with social networking sites. Still the leading e-mail service in the U.S. with more users than Gmail and Hotmail combines, Yahoo! Mail saw its number drop from 107 million visitors in August 2009 to 97 million in August 2010. The outlook is worse overseas, where Yahoo! Mail users have fallen off by 7% while Gmail has grown 22% and Hotmail has grown by 3% in the past year.

Source: Web Site Magazine

Online Spending Up, Patience Down
Oct. 11, 2010

Online Spending Up, Patience Down Consumers are spending more time online shopping than ever before, and spending more money, too. That, according to a survey from Tealeaf Technology (an analytics provider) and conducted by Harris Interactive, of 2,104 U.S. consumers.

The survey found that consumers shop online an average of 3.4 times per month (up from 3.1 times per month in 2009) and that 16 percent of consumers shop online four or five times per month, up from 14 percent last year. What might be most impressive is that just 29 percent of consumers shop online once per month - last year 37 percent shopped online just once a month. Maybe this is three different ways to say the same thing, but the message is clear: online shopping continues to grow as consumers become more comfortable with the practice.

There's more good news: shoppers spend an average of $123.20 per transaction. That's up from $101.60 in 2009 - a 21 percent increase, even during a continued economic lull. Whether that means people are spending more money or just shifting their spend online, it doesn't really matter. As long as they are spending online.

One other important note from the study shows that, while spending more time and money online, consumers are becoming less willing to endure delays while shopping. Just 18 percent of consumers will try to complete a transaction again after a failed first attempt, down from 23 percent who said the same last year.

Source: Website Magazine
Facebook is the New Google
Sep. 13, 2010

facebook is the new googleMuch of the discussion throughout the Web industry this week has revolved around Thursday’s announcement of Google Instant, the revolutionary new feature that has many business owners wondering about the future of search engine marketing in particular and Internet advertising as a whole. There was some other news, however, that Google may have hoped you missed, as it shifts the marketing conversation from search to social – specifically, away from Google and directly on to Facebook.

New data from comScore has revealed that time spent on Facebook in the U.S. during the month of August surpassed the time spent on Google sites for the first time in history. That includes all of Google’s properties – as in YouTube, Gmail, Google Buzz, the whole lot of them. This adds to the momentum sparked by a similar report from Hitwise back in March, when Facebook became the most visited site in the U.S. for the first time in its short but meteoric history.

Of course these are significant milestones for any company, but what do they mean for the future of the industry? Will looking for content on search engines be overtaken by the sharing of content on social networks? Or, according to the statistics, has that happened already?

Because of these milestones and Facebook’s growing base of more than 500 million active users, it may be time to take another look at how your business is utilizing the social network. We will review some of the different ways that companies can leverage the enormous popularity of Facebook – and also be on the lookout for the feature article 500 Million Ways to Earn from Facebook in the upcoming November issue of Website Magazine.

Facebook Pages
If your business doesn’t have a presence on the site yet, drop everything you’re doing and go set up a Facebook Page. If you already have a Facebook Page for your business, perhaps you could be getting a little more out of it. Some of the basic rules of thumb include the following:

•    Set goals for your Facebook page and monitor your progress
•    Make your page interesting and informative, and update it as often as you can
•    Promote your Facebook page on your business website and elsewhere; add a Find us on Facebook button wherever you can
•    Reward your Facebook Fans with discounts and special promotions
•    Create a Facebook user group that will be of interest/useful to your audience
•    Join other Facebook user groups that pertain to your industry or niche
•    Take advantage of Facebook’s tools; track your success with Facebook analytics

Facebook Places
Facebook unveiled its location-based check-in service last month with the announcement of Places, an enormous word-of-mouth marketing opportunity for businesses and brands. Businesses can add a Facebook Place to their Facebook Page, or the two can be combined. The result of either option is getting your company’s address, map, phone number and other data in front of Facebook’s massive user network and giving them a way to share the information with friends.

Facebook Places is also built directly into the advertising platform, and registered businesses can target their ads with very specific information such as location. Ads can be bought on a pay-per-click basis, and more information is below.

Facebook Ads
Facebook will generate about half of the projected $1.68 billion spent on U.S. advertising on social networks this year, and some companies are said to be spending about $20,000 per day advertising on the site. If you are yet doing so for your own business, it might be worth investigating. Below are some tips to help you get started:

•    Be as specific as possible with your keywords and demographic selections
•    Use compelling images, titles and copy in your ads
•    Make your ads as interactive and engaging as you can
•    Frequently update and refresh the images and copy for better results
•    Be vigilant about testing your ads and monitoring the results
•    Bid high to get your ads approved faster by Facebook
•    Start with CPC ads if you have a very small budget, otherwise CPM is the better bet
•    Use Facebook Ads Manager, which can be downloaded and installed on Firefox

Whether it is through a paid advertising campaign or some basic social media marketing, using Facebook’s incredible platform to help grow your business should by now be a strategy used in some capacity by every Web professional.

Source: Web Site Magazine

iTunes Costs Apple $1 Billion to Run
Sep. 10, 2010

iTunes Costs Apple $1 Billion to Run Between movies and TV episodes, books and music, and apps of all prices, Apple is swimming in profits from iTunes. But how much does it take for Apple to maintain that store?

According to app developer and industry analysis site Asymco, the operating budget for iTunes is reaching critical mass. "Operations has increased from ~$30 million a month in 2009 to $75 million/month today," reports Asymco. "If this burn rate is maintained (even though it’s increasing) the operating budget for iTunes is nearing $1 billion/year."

Keep in mind, Apple boasts more than 160 million users around the globe. At Apple's recent music press conference, Steve Jobs explained that around 450 million TV episodes have been downloaded, along with 100 million movies, 35 million books, and close to 12 billion songs across 23 countries. What's more, users are downloading some 17 million apps per day, and that number is growing. Asymco estimates that if this rate continues apps will outsell music downloads by the end of the year.

Fortunately for Apple, whiles those sales might be weighing down on iTunes operational costs, their more than making up in revenue from the $1 billion burden on servers. However, such high costs for a download store may provide some clues into why Apple has hesitated to switch to the cloud. A streaming service might be just too expensive to maintain.

Source: Fast Company

PayPal May Have a Big Solution
Aug. 16, 2010

PayPal May Have a Big Solution for Micropayments The micropayments space – while filled with promise for online businesses and consumers alike – has thus far generated more discussion than results. Friday’s announcement that PayPal intends to launch its own small-transaction payment product by the end of 2010 may change that very quickly.

Already, it is a crowded and competitive arena. Numerous companies are developing solutions for making online transactions for small amounts of money a more viable option for merchants and shoppers. As it is today, most online businesses don’t generate enough profits from such sales to expose themselves to transaction fees from third-party payment systems. Consumers, while increasingly warming to small-scale Internet purchases, are still somewhat reluctant to go through the required steps for items of $10 or less.

But with these low-ticket items becoming an increasingly important part of our online retail economy, the potential for micropayments is anything but small. A number of startups such as Flattr have developed innovative approaches, and Web leaders such as Google, Facebook and Visa have experimented with variations of their own. But, to date, no one has found a solution that completely satisfies both retailer and shopper.

While no specifics are yet known about the new product in development, PayPal vice president Scott Thompson says the company's goal is to make micropayments as seamless as possible for the buyer and the seller. If such a visible presence in the payments industry can find a solution for which others are still searching, micropayments could start to change the economy of the Web at an accelerated rate.

Source: Website Magazine

Flipboard Shows Us the Future of Content
Jul. 26, 2010

Flipboard Shows Us the Future of Content A new iPad app was released this week that might indicate a seismic, revolutionary shift in how users perceive and consume content, as well as offer a true silver bullet for a troubled media industry scrambling for ways to generate revenue.

The Flipboard iPad app aggregates all of your chosen social media environments and displays that content in a slick, easy-to-use "personal magazine." Every time the app is launched, your magazine will show articles, images, links and videos that your friends - and presumably you - find interesting. As said in the video demonstration below, "It always has content you care about."

This is the future of content – personalized, engaging and valuable to consumers. It’s not to be taken lightly and will soon go far beyond social media.

Watch the short video below then continue reading as we examine why this is so important to the Web industry.

Read the entire article at Website Magazine
Google Tags Now Available for Local Biz
Jun. 28, 2010

google iconGoogle officially rolled out its Google Tags product last week and it's one of the most significant (and meaningful) changes to the local search advertising landscape in a very long time. 

"Tags" are simply yellow "markers" that allow business owners to promote certain aspects of their businesses. For example, a flower shop could use a tag to showcase a website link to specials or a restaurant could use a tag to feature a link to daily menu specials. Take a look at the results page for a search for "plumber 60618" at the end of this post.

To use Google Tags, a Google Places accuont needs to be created and business information completed and claimed. Once the listing is validated, tags can be activated on the dashboard. Tags are currently available in all 50 U.S. states.

Keep in mind that Tags do not affect the rank of search results. They do however add more information to a listing and help it stand out when it appears in natural search results. The cost of this added exposure? That's the best part. Tags are budget friendly - for a flat $25 monthly fee.

google tags

Learn more about how Google can help your business and our social networking services

Source: Web Site Magazine

10 Things to Know About PC Power Management
Jun. 21, 2010

10 Things to Know About PC Power ManagementWhen it comes to fast ways to make a big dent in both your greenhouse gas emissions as well as your energy bill, PC power management is one of the easiest actions your company can make. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most overlooked practices: Forrester recently released a study that found only 13 percent of companies have implemented organization wide power management.

PC power management at its most simple level is activating and managing the sleep settings on your fleet of desktops, laptops and monitors (some power management tools can also be used on other electronics, but for simplicity's sake we'll focus solely on computers).

If your firm hasn't yet started a PC power management project, or if you have and haven't yet seen big savings, then the following 10 tips, in no particular order, will get you on the right track.

1. Screen savers are not power management. Simply setting all your PCs to go to a screen saver overnight won't save you any energy, and may in fact use even more energy than a computer that's simply left on.

2. PC power management can save you big money. Most power management software firms predict $20 to $60 in savings per computer per year from reduced energy use. When you're talking about a large enterprise, that can add up very quickly. AT&T, for example, launched a PC power management project in 2008 that will save the company more than $13 million a year from installing 1E's NightWatchman software on 310,000 computers.

3. Installing a power management system can be free. Although it sounds too good to be true, there are a number of rebate programs available -- mostly through utility companies -- that will earn you a set amount of money for each PC you install power management software on. A good example is Pacific Gas & Electric's $15 rebate per computer, an amount that essentially offsets the initial cost of the purchase, and means an ROI of zero days. More information about PG&E's rebate is in this PDF brochure, and you can also search on the Department of Energy's DSIRE database for utility programs. A summary of links is here: http://tinyurl.com/GreenBiz-Power-Mgmt-Rebates.

4. PC power management starts saving money right away. In addition to being a zero-cost endeavor, power management also has immediate impacts. Companies can install most systems in a matter of hours, and you'll see reductions right away in your energy use.

5. There are many different vendors, but the tools are all similar. The Energy Star website lists 18 different PC power management solutions, and there are many more on the market than that. While it can be overwhelming to try and make a decision, there's a simple fact to remember. "At the core capability, they all do the same thing," according to Marc Brungardt, the executive vice president of operations at Promisec. "These companies didn’t invent the opportunity, it is an inherent part of the computer operating system." There are of course differentiations between all of these systems, but you can't go wrong with almost any solution. Let the savings drive your decision by asking your local utility which programs it will give you refunds for implementing.

6. PC power management is a "set it and forget it" project. Regardless of which software tool you choose, your IT department can install it in a matter of hours, and once it's up and running, it can generally be maintained with minimal added work. Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing at Verdiem, said that when his company surveyed its user base last year, 90 percent said they spend less than 10 hours a month on maintenance and troubleshooting, and that 77 percent spent less than five hours a month.

7. Power management works without disturbing end users. In fact, employees are often the worst thing that can happen to PC power management programs. IT departments need to upgrade, patch and maintain the computer fleet during off hours to reduce disruptions to productivity. In this case, eco-conscious workers that turn their computers off when they leave actually make that job harder. But that's not a worry for most companies: The majority of workers will not only leave their machines on all the time, many will often disable any energy-saving settings installed on indivdidual computers to avoid perceived inconveniences. Power management software with smart policies implemented make energy saving invisible.

8. Start small, then move big. Although it's easy to launch a power management program across an entire global enterprise, starting with small steps will make for many fewer stumbling blocks down the line. Nick Milne-Home, the president of 1E, explained that “Companies often don't know where and how to start in order to create the ideal power policy and find a baseline to measure savings against. The most common mistake IT managers make when implementing PC power management is failing to first properly determine the baseline through a pilot implementation." Milne-Home went on to say that measuring the behaviors of a representative sample of users that makes up 5-10 percent of the organization and setting organization-wide policies that are best for that group will serve both users' needs and the business objectives.

9. Executive support is critical to successful PC power management. There are a number of hurdles to widespread, successful adoption of power management, but they're largely organizational and political in nature. Strong support and encouragement from the C-Suite can create the right budgetary priorities for the up-front investment for power management software, and can spur the behavior change among employees needed to ensure its success.

10. You can do it yourself, but there's a catch. Every operating system comes with energy management tools pre-installed -- although only recently have they been shipped with those controls activated. IT departments can perform some of the same functions as power management software using GPOs and scripts, and Promisec's Brungardt says "I would suggest that if a company isn’t going to adopt a commercial solution, they should absolutely do what they can, because it is better than nothing." Be that as it may, going it alone is a far from comprehensive solution -- different power management programs come bundled with other tools, ranging from sophisticated greenhouse gas reporting tools to IT security features. In addition to more time-intensive management needs, DIY power management is vulnerable to employees who want to disable those features, adding up to a less cost-effective and more frustrating project. "Some of our best customers are the ones that tried to do it themselves," Verdiem's Goodwin said with a laugh.

Has your company installed power management systems? Do you have success stories or cautionary tales? Post them in the comments below, or send us a note with your experiences.

Chomp! Pac-Man turns 30!
May. 21, 2010

pac man turns 30(CNN) -- A rotund, voracious figure follows a trail through a maze. As he rounds a corner, he is confronted by ghostlike monsters attempting to wipe him out. He turns and flees, but soon discovers an additional source of power that briefly turns him from hunted into hunter.

This simple premise gave birth to Pac-Man, the most successful coin-operated video game in history.

The pop-culture sensation, released in Japan 30 years ago this week, created millions of glazed-eye addicts and spawned more than 400 products, including a cartoon, a breakfast cereal and a hit song.

Many credit Pac-Man, an iconic symbol of the '80s, with expanding video gaming to a wider audience.

"Pac-Man's debut represents one of the earliest attempts to introduce casual gaming to a field that was already dominated by shooters and high-energy arcade experiences," said Scott Steinberg, head of video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global.

"The original arcade cabinet was able to strike the perfect balance between challenge and fun without sacrificing depth or scope."

Read entire article on CNN.com

Play Pac Man on Google


Online Video the Best Form of Advertising
May. 10, 2010

Online Video the Best Form of Advertising, Say AgenciesVideo is the fastest-growing online advertising format with estimates of about a 40-percent growth rate through 2010. And the marketers that have taken part in its growth are resoundingly satisfied, according to a recent study from video ad network BrightRoll.

More than 50 percent of the agency executives who participated in the study indicated that online video was the most effective form of advertising, and 83 percent said they were getting more value for their video advertising spend in early 2010 than the previous year. A whopping 94 percent revealed plans for spending more on online video ad campaigns this year than in 2009.

Another sign of video advertising’s maturation in 2010 is the more than 60 percent of respondents that said behavioral targeting increased the performance of their campaigns. The targeting capabilities of video ads were cited as the biggest concern among agency execs in 2009. The biggest concern revealed in this year’s study was maintaining credibility with video ads, with executives saying that videos that start automatically were the biggest detractor.

Source: Web Site Magazine

The State of Twitter: U.S. Awareness Far Exceeds
May. 03, 2010

The State of Twitter:  U.S. Awareness Far Exceeds UseThe State of Twitter: U.S. Awareness Far Exceeds Use

A new report from Edison Research called Twitter Usage in America: 2010 makes at least one thing abundantly clear — people in the U.S. know about Twitter. What is less clear, and far more significant to marketers, not to mention the future course of Twitter, is do they know what to do with it?

Edison’s findings show that Americans’ awareness of Twitter has exploded from 5 percent in 2008 to 87 percent in 2010, launching it into the same stratosphere as Facebook (88%) in terms of awareness in the U.S. In fact, a larger percentage of Americans above the age of 12 know about Twitter than have access to the Internet (85%).

The other side of the coin is that despite the nationwide recognition, the percentage of the population that actively uses Twitter is 7 percent, approximately 17 million users. Again, in comparison, 41 percent of Americans currently have a profile page on Facebook.

It seems that most Americans are still unsure about how to best utilize Twitter or if they have a need for it at all, but the study also reveals that the majority of those who do use it (51%) follow specific companies, brands and products. Edison also determined that nearly two-thirds of active Twitter users access social networking sites via their mobile phones.

Other findings from the Edison Research Twitter Usage in America report include:
•    Twitter users are three times more likely to follow brands and companies on Twitter than on other social sites
•    47 percent of Twitter users post status updates
•    70 percent of those users post updates to other social sites as well
•    39 percent of Twitter users own three or more computers
•    25 percent of the Twitter population is African American

Source: Web Site Magazine

America's Riskiest Online Cities
Apr. 19, 2010

America'a Riskiest Online CitiesNorton released a report in March 2010, revealing those cities most succeptible to cyber-crime - which cost americans more than $560 million in 2009. Few things sidetrack e-commerce like cyber crime threats. This is a good reminder for e-commerce professionals (especially in the cities below) to ensure consumers that their information is secure - through privacy policies, security badges and a full description of all measures you take - including data encryption - to protect sensitive information.

1. Seattle, WA
2. Boston, MA
3. Washington, DC
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Raleigh, NC
6. Atlanta, GA
7. Minneapolis, MN
8. Denver, CO
9. Austin, TX
10. Portland, OR

Source: Web Site Magazine

Twitter Rolls Out Ad Program
Apr. 15, 2010

Twitter Rolls Out Ad Program Twitter has unveiled its much-anticipated monetization plan, an advertising program it is calling Promoted Tweets. The ads are rolling out in Twitter search results pages, appearing when users search for keywords that marketers have bought to link to their ads.

Promoted Tweets allows marketers the opportunity to keep their messages from getting lost in the flow of real-time conversation on Twitter. Advertisers participating in the first phase of the program include Starbucks, Best Buy, Red Bull, Bravo, Sony Pictures and Virgin America, and they are being charged on a cost-per-thousand basis to start the program.

Eventually, Twitter COO Costolo said, Promoted Tweets will be included in regular tweet streams, depending on their relevance to users. Twitter will measure each ad's “resonance” based on how users react to the messages, and will remove any post that does not achieve a certain resonance score. Advertisers will not have to pay for posts that no longer appear as Promoted Tweets.

Source: Web Site Magazine
Looking for Press Coverage? Get Social
Apr. 12, 2010

social networking for  pressA new survey from PRWeek and PR Newswire shows that more journalists are using social networks and blogs for story sources. In 2009, 25 percent of journalists used a company blog for sources, and 24 percent used social networks (such as Twitter and Facebook). In 2009, those numbers jumped to 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

"Journalists are doing more with less," said Sarah Skerkik, VP of distribution services at PR Newswire. "They seem to be acting more aggressively about finding their stories, digging a bit deeper for story angles."

But it's not just broadcasting news, dropping links and providing content on company blogs that is gaining the attention of journalists. What might be even more important is the opportunity for good old-fashioned relationship building - the ever-important virtual rolodex that is and has always been the most important tool for any journalist. According to the survey, 43 percent of journalists have been pitched through social media, up from 31 percent in 2009.

Contact us to learn more about how Social Networking can assist your business
Changes to YouTube Video Descriptions
Apr. 05, 2010

Changes to YouTube Video DescriptionsYouTube's recent changes on viewing pages are designed for a more pleasant viewing experience (less clutter) and to keep users on the site longer. One of the ways the site has been streamlined, and clutter removed is by folding the video description into an expandable box. In other words, the descriptions are smaller than they used to be, unless a viewer clicks to expand and read more. However, the description is also in a much better place, right below the video instead of at the top right of the page.

With this highly-visible position and reduced text field, it becomes important for video publishers to optimize video descriptions for YouTube. It appears that descriptions have been reduced to about 140 characters. When you include two default areas of the description - the clickable channel name and date of the video - the description gets even smaller, often under 100 characters. As such, publishers need to get the most important information in the beginning of the description - including a link back to your website (or another appropriate page) and any other mission-critical information.

Source: Web Site Magazine
15 Interesting facts about Google
Apr. 01, 2010

15 facts about google1.    The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn’t know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. In fact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
2.    Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked ‘Whats up?’ to which they replied “We are waiting for the rest of it”. To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.
3.    One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the “Did you mean…” feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.
4.    The infamous “I feel lucky” is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
5.    Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn’t look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.
6.    Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren’t told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.
7.    Google has the largest network of translators in the world
8.    They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the ‘Advanced Preferences’.
9.    They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.
10.    The name ‘Google’ was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for ‘Googol’
11.    Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.
12.    They listen to feedback actively. Emailing Google isn’t emailing a blackhole.
13.    Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.
14.    This wasn’t a technical talk so no information regarding any infrastructure was presented however they did note that they have a mantra of aiming to give back each page with in 500ms, rendered.
15.    Quote: Give Users What They Want When They Want It

100 Million Users Access Facebook via Mobile
Feb. 15, 2010

facebook mobile usersA recent entry on Facebook's official blog states that more than 100 million people are "actively using Facebook from their mobile devices every month." This figure is growing fast, and it's not just limited to those entering via a Facebook app on the iPhone and AT&T. From the blog post: "This usage happens on almost every carrier in the world and comes less than six months after we announced 65 million people on Facebook Mobile."

Contributing to the uptick in mobile users are the Facebook mobile apps available across a variety of carriers and mobile devices, enhanced Facebook mobile-ready Web pages (m.facebook.com, for example) and the ability for users to post to Facebook via SMS (including Facebook's new link-shrinking capability with FB.ME). Should Facebook start providing analytics to users with their URL-shortening service, you might see even more mobile activity.

For businesses, this news puts even greater importance on marketing within the world's largest social network. Mobile is a tricky proposition. But if you can merge mobile with social - and with Facebook, you can - you have a win-win situation. You gain access to the social sphere, as well as mobile users. Consider this when updating Facebook Pages for your business.

To target the Facebook mobile user, keep updates relatively brief and include mobile-friendly calls-to-action, such as brief blog posts, links to maps, and links to specific, mobile-friendly Web pages. Want users to call your business? Link to an offer on a landing page with a highly visible phone number. Many devices will automatically enable click-to-call. Brick and mortar businesses have a great opportunity here to drive foot traffic by providing instant coupons through Facebook updates, for example.

Source: Web Site Magazine
Apple Announces iPad - Highs and Lows
Feb. 01, 2010

apple ipadSteve Jobs repeatedly talked about the iPad as a "third category of products" (between smartphones and computers) throughout his presentation of the new Apple tablet, iPad. He talked about netbooks, saying, "the problem is that netbooks aren't better than anything!"

Essentially, Jobs argues that netbooks bring nothing new to the table.

That might be true, but neither does the iPad. Essentially, the iPad is a really big iPod Touch. It measures .5 inches thick, has a 9.7 inch display and weighs in at 1.5 pounds.

Like everything Apple, the user interface is slick, seamless and fluid. During the demonstration, the e-reader (dubbed iBooks, of course) looks like a step way above the Kindle - books are in color and videos can play right inside the book pages. Same goes for newspapers. That was demonstrated by viewing The New York Times - an interesting choice, as NYT announced they will start to charge for content. Coincidence?

Considerable time during the presentation was spent on an some unlikely flagship apps - iWork. All of the standard features were present with document creation, spreadsheets, data import, etc. Impressively, each iWork app is priced at just $9.99. That's nice, if you want to work in the insulated world of iWork. Of course, you could always navigate over to Google Docs instead.

Video, of course, is second-to-none on the iPad, as is the gaming experience.

iPhone apps will run on the iPad (or at least most of them) but there will also be standalone iPad apps - a potential boon to developers, who can now get started with a SDK for the iPad.

Data plans start at $14.99 for 250 MB per month or $29.99 for unlimited data, with no contracts. And, all 3G models are unlocked.

Pricing. Many people are going to get really excited that the iPad is available for just $499. However, that's a version with WiFi only, and just 16GB of storage. To get 3G (and what's the point of this thing without a fast connection), you're looking at a minimum of $629. Want to treat this thing like a working computer and not just a browsing device? You'll need more storage ... 64GB for $829. A full price breakdown can be found below.

The iPad is a beautiful, intuitive, convenient way to surf the Web. What's more, the iPad naturally will have some amazing apps. iPhone apps will run on the iPad (or at least, most of them) but there will also be standalone iPad apps - a potential boon to developers, who can now get started with a SDK for the iPad. But the integration (or lack thereof) of all these killer apps might also be the iPad's biggest downfall.

Astoundingly, there was no mention of multitasking with apps and browsing with the iPad - one of the biggest complaints users have with the iPhone. Does this mean I can't stream music while reading the morning New York Times that I just paid for?

No Flash. Just like another iPhone shortcoming, the iPad has problems with Flash.

AT&T. Yep, the iPad is tied to AT&T - yet another iPhone shortcoming. It's one thing to drop a phone call or not be able to get the latest sports scores while traveling. What happens when you're trying to get some real work done and you lose your connection? The whole beautiful interface is next to useless until AT&T bulks up their 3G coverage.

There's no camera. Wouldn't it be nice to iChat with your friend in Itasca about the iBook you just read on your new iPad?

There's no denying that this device is cool. But "magical" as Jobs suggests? In the end, it looks like the iPad is really just a large iPod Touch - look no further than the price as your first clue. But it does have a bigger keyboard. Which is nice.

Source: Website Magazine

Has Twitter peaked?
Jan. 26, 2010

has twitter peaked?(CNN) -- It was the upstart rock star of the Internet in early 2009, roaring out of relative obscurity to become one of the most exposed -- some would say overexposed -- services on the Web.

But since the middle of last year, the number of Twitter users has flatlined.

Compete, a Web analytics firm, says the microblogging site's number of visitors hasn't changed much since June and that its roughly 22 million visitors in December was about 770,000 fewer than its highest number, which was in August.

Multiple other analysts paint the same picture, raising the question: Has Twitter peaked?

"Maybe Twitter was a victim of its own success," said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at comScore, another company that tracks traffic on Internet sites. "It grew so quickly that it isn't meeting its own expectations."

But the company and some analysts say that this leveling of popularity shouldn't be viewed as a failure, because the people who use Twitter are using it more than ever.

ComScore's usage numbers for Twitter are similar to Compete's. They show the site peak with about 21.2 million visitors in July 2009 and dip to 19.9 million in December. By contrast, during the same period Facebook grew from about 250 million users to more than 350 million.

Lipsman suggests Twitter's recent stagnant numbers look anemic largely because its growth in early 2009 was so astronomical.

Read the entire CNN article

Web's Most Popular Coupon Sites
Jan. 21, 2010

Web's Most Popular Coupon SitesWant to reach consumers in the growing online coupon market? Below are five of the Web’s most popular online coupons sites (although there are several more), ranked in order of unique monthly website traffic, according to Compete.com data as of December, 2009.

Coupons.com (14.6 million): Far and away the most visited coupon website. In 2009, $300 million worth of coupons were printed and that number is expected to triple by the end of next year.

RetailMeNot.com (9.9 million): From modest beginnings, RetailMeNot has nearly doubled in usage since late 2008.

CouponCabin.com (3.4 million): CouponCabin features discounts available online, printable coupons and localized offerings. They also (along with Coupons.com) offer an iPhone app for even greater exposure for merchants.

FatWallet.com (2.1 million): One of the industry’s pioneers, FatWallet.com started in 1999 and includes more than 800 merchants.

DealCatcher.com (1.3 million): While not the largest coupon site out there, DealCatcher does a good job highlighting techoriented and consumer products, along with a recently released grocery section.

Source: Website Magazine, February 2010
BlackBerry Still Dominates Smartphone Market
Jan. 11, 2010

blackberry stormA recent report by ComScore shows that, while the iPhone gets all the press, BlackBerry remains the smartphone leader. December data shows that BlackBerry commands 40 percent market share, compared to iPhone's 25 percent. And that number does not appear that it will change in the near future. In a survey, ComScore found that shoppers of smartphones will be purchasing more BlackBerrys (51 percent) than iPhones (20 percent). At the bottom of the pack is T-Mobile's MyTouch (5 percent), Palm Pre (2 percent) and Palm Centro (1 percent).

For Web professionals, this is something worth noting. iPhones are slick, but the raw numbers show that the "pedestrian" BlackBerry is much more widely used. This has plenty to do with the number of businesses and employees using BlackBerrys. That means when planning your mobile strategy for 2010, don't get hung up on the iPhone. Make sure your mobile marketing is aimed across all available mobile devices and that your campaigns will render on every screen, not just the iPhone. For example, perhaps a big-budget app for the iPhone can wait, instead focusing on mobile campaigns like SMS coupons or something as simple as email geared toward reading on a mobile device. After all, the smartphone (and BlackBerry's dominance) is still centered around communication and connectivity.

The coming release of Google's phone should make these numbers even more interesting later in 2010. ComScore reports that 17 percent of consumers plan to buy an Android-supported smartphone in the next three months. With the abundance of devices capable of running Android, this is furtner proof that the iPhone should not be the sole, or even majority focus of mobile marketing.

In light of all of this is a very interesting bit of information for mobile Web developers. iPhone users and Android users interact with mobile media at a  stronger clip (94 and 92 percent, respectively) than average smartphone users, including BlackBerry (80 percent).

This is going to be a big year for mobile. Keep an eye out for data like this to ensure you are aiming at the largest possible target.

Source: Website Magazine

Benefits of In-Site Search
Jan. 04, 2010

18 visions design search featureConsider this: There are nearly 80 million active websites, according to Netcraft in October of 2009. Of those, you can expect at least a portion to have "in-site" search systems. While the number may pale in comparison to the amount of queries performed on the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo & Bing), it still represents a genuine opportunity to get your brand in front of customers searching for products and services.

Contact us to learn more about adding a search feature to your web site or blog.

Source: Website Magazine
Grandma has no computer? Still send her e-mail
Nov. 30, 2009

send email with no email, sunnygramA mailbox containing real mail with real family pictures is about as rare these days as a day without e-mail. But for those who don't use e-mail -- like many of our non-wired grandparents -- there's now a service that sends family news and digital pictures from your e-mail account to someone's snail mailbox for $9.95 a month.

Sunnygram offers one free month trial, so my uncle and I tried it out with my e-mail-free grandmother. It was simple: I just wrote an e-mail to her, attached some photos and hit "send."

Sunnygram collects all of the e-mails addressed to her and mails out a weekly, cheery compilation of our messages (large font is an option) with embedded pictures. She could have responded to us through a Sunnygram prepaid letter (which would be scanned and e-mailed to us) or a toll-free number (the audio file then would be e-mailed to us), but she found that it was easier to call us on the phone directly, as usual.

For more information visit www.sunnygram.com

Source: USA Weekend
Introducing the future and it's Litl
Nov. 16, 2009

Litl Web BookDon't dare call it a netbook. The Litl ($700), the first "webbook" from Boston-based Litl, is a mix between a netbook and a photo frame on steroids. It packs standard netbook hardware — a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, HDMI output, 1GB of RAM, 2GB of flash memory, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, a webcam, mic, and speakers — but moves beyond the typical mini-laptop paradigm with a customized OS and a unique design that allows the 12.1-inch screen to be rotated past 180 degrees, letting it stand on its own like an easel, displaying content such as a Facebook feed, photos from Flickr or Shutterfly, Weather Channel forecasts, and more.

To learn more about the Litl visit www.litl.com
iGo Green Power Tower
Oct. 20, 2009

igo green power towerLooking for a reliable surge protector that automatically cuts power when devices are in standby, check out the iGo Green Power Tower. It's sleek, energy-saving power management system with integrated iGo Green™ Technology automatically reduces wasted standby power. Plug in your computer and other devices to save power without the hassle of unplugging your devices.

iGo Green Technology automatically powers down outlets when not in use and powers back up again when devices need power – reducing standby power by up to 85%. Features 4 fixed and 4 rotating outlets to accommodate all sizes and shapes of wall plugs.

Learn more at www.igo.com 
Save Ink and Money using Inkgard
Sep. 24, 2009

inkgard save ink and moneyInkgard is an easy software download that allows you to dramatically reduce printer ink or toner consumption while maintaining high-resolution quality.Control how much ink is used and save money with every print! Inkgard works in the background. Whenever something is printed, the Inkgard Control Agent automatically intercepts the print file and processes output to match your savings selections:

    * Optimize print output for any inkjet or laser printer
    * Convert print files to PDF documents
    * Convert print files to ink and toner saving image files

Setup your default savings for all your printing or choose your output options every time you print.
To learn more about inkgard visit www.inkgard.com
Read tweets in Outlook
Sep. 21, 2009

twinbox softwareIf you are a Microsoft ® Outlook ® user, you probably have it open all the time. Now you can have a fully-featured, powerful Twitter client at your fingertips without having to open any other applications. TwInbox seamlessly integrates Twitter into Outlook. It is a perfect Twitter client for any Outlook user, from a Twitter newbie to a business professional.

To learn more about TwInbox visit www.techhit.com/TwInbox/twitter_plugin_outlook.html

Learn more about 18 Visions Design Social Networking services
Cars Gone Wireless
Apr. 09, 2009

Cars Gone WirelessAutomakers and tech companies are adding a growing array of information and entertainment extras such as Web access in vehicle.

Ford is getting its geek on. Like other automakers, the U.S. carmaker has long outfitted cars with CD players, satellite radios, and navigation systems. But now, Ford also boasts Web access.

Starting in March, Ford began offering Web access through an optional, $1,195 in-dash PC to buyers of some of its trucks, including the F-150 pickup. Aimed at small business owners such as contractors, the PC lets users surf the Web using the Opera browser on Sprint Nextel's wireless network. "There's a need for productivity, a need for connectivity," says Ed Pleet, a product manager at Ford.

Other automakers, wireless service providers, and a host of companies hope to tap into that same need, equipping vehicles with a broadening array of high-tech services, such as Internet access and TV services. "One could see countless opportunities when you put Internet in the vehicle," Pleet says. Read More

Google Earth 5.0
Feb. 11, 2009

For those of you who have not experienced Google Earth, the latest release 5.0 is simply amazing.If you've ever wondered how your neighborhood has changed throughout time, Google Earth now gives you access to the past. With a simple click, check out suburban sprawl, melting ice caps, coastal erosion, and more.

Dive beneath the surface of the ocean! In the new ocean layer, you can plunge all the way to the floor of the sea, view exclusive content from partners like BBC and National Geographic, and explore 3D shipwrecks like the Titanic. Track and share your paths with others

Take placemarks a step further and record a free-form tour in Google Earth. Simply turn on the touring feature, press record, and see the world. You can even add a soundtrack or narration to personalize the journey.

To learn more about Google Earth please watch the video

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Dell Takes a Bite at Big Green Apple Claim
Jan. 28, 2009

dell and apple green computersApple’s new ads for the world’s “greenest family of notebooks” had all the appeal that comes with a Mac ad–minimalism, background music and a sleek, shiny electronic item. But not everyone was buying it.

On December 19, 2008, Bob Pearson (Vice President of Communities and Conversations at Dell) posted an entry on the Direct2Dell blog titled “The Real Meaning of Being Green” and it bit into the Apple ad with statements about the importance of making green changes instead of just claiming things. While some readers took the post as a desperate attempt by Dell to try and sully Apple’s claims, others wondered about the truth to the topic and whether Apple was all talk. Since Mac versus PC has long been a favorite argument for computer-lovers everywhere, techies everywhere jumped at the chance to enter the ring once again.

The reality is that the claim Apple has made is a hard one to prove; while they’ve removed mercury from their displays and are making MacBooks with recyclable aluminum casings and recyclable glass screens, there are many more components to what really constitutes a green laptop. Like whether the computer contains brominated flame retardents (BFRs) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)–and the MacBooks do, although in reduced quantities. Of course, a huge element of a green laptop happens at the company. Carbon sensitive operations help, as do thorough and consumer-focused take-back programs for recycling old computers, and while these may be areas where Apple is working on improvement, it would be tough to prove them as the industry leader (Dell achieved carbon neutrality in 2008, although it was met with skepticism).

Perhaps the most disconcerting part of Apple’s big green claim is that independent eco-focused review scores don’t seem to add up. Climate Counts has given Apple its lowest rating and Greenpeace placed them in 13th place (out of 18) in its 2008 Greener Guide to Electronics, and although Greenpeace was pleased with Apple’s recent announcement of eco-activity, they stated the action was a little short of what would make Apple an industry leader (Greenpeace was also less than thrilled by a promise to be BFR- and PVC-free by the end of 2008 that went unfulfilled).

Before you start thinking of Mac as a rotten Apple, however, you should know that if you analyze just the physical laptop itself, the MacBooks may be the greenest notebooks available. But with other computer companies, including Dell, putting the environment as a bigger priority, it may not be that way for long–even now Dell is researching the use of recycled plastic for its notebooks.

Source: Greenzer.com

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What Obama Win Means for Green IT
Nov. 10, 2008

barack obama green itBarack Obama's election may give Green IT one of the biggest boosts it has received yet, not just in visibility, but in green of another kind --- cold, hard cash. Obama has pledged to spend $150 billion over five years in green technology, and you can be sure some of that will make its way towards greener IT.

Obama hasn't specifically targeted Green IT in his energy plan, but if you look at the plan closely, it's clear that Green IT will be part of it. One important part is to update the efficiency standards for appliances. Don't be surprised if at least some computing equipment needs to meet those standards.

The plan also calls for making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030, and improving new building efficiency by 50% and existing building efficiency by 25% over the next decade. Data centers contribute to substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions. A McKinsey report warns, for example, that by the year 2020, IT and related technologies will emit 1.54 metric gigatons, which is 3 percent of all emissions. So expect data centers to get help going green.

Another key goal of the Obama plan: Invest in a smart grid "using smart metering, distributed storage, and other advanced technologies." There's only one way to do that --- by investing in computing technologies. Many of the technologies developed for the Smart Grid will also see a use in Green IT.

Source: Greener Computing

Google Enters Browser Wars
Sep. 03, 2008

For some time, Google denied persistent Internet rumors that it would try to take on Microsoft with a competing Web browser.

googleThen two years ago, Google (GOOG) executives started having second thoughts. “We read all those rumors with amusement,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin on Tuesday. “Then we started thinking about it and realized it wasn’t such a bad idea.”

On Tuesday, Google introduced the previously denied Google Chrome browser at a news conference.Google, which has worked closely with Mozilla on the development and promotion of the Firefox browser, decided it would be better to create its own browser than to dictate its demands to another company, Brin says. So engineers went to work creating a browser “from the ground up.”

Chrome will compete with Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSFT) and Apple’s (AAPL) Safari for browser market share. Google’s move into the browser wars is a “much bigger deal than it seems on the surface” because we spend so much time online, says Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. “This is the operating system of the future,” he says. “Google wants you to start and end your day on Google.”

Now, Google makes its money primarily from search advertising — those little text ads that appear next to search results — and has been trying to diversify into other areas of advertising, notably Web display and video ads, and traditional media such as radio and TV as well.

In search, Google had a 61.9% market share in July, according to researcher ComScore Media Metrix — up from 61.5% in June, while Microsoft fell to 8.9% in July, from 9.1% in June.

But Google’s attempts to broaden online beyond search with such tools as free word processing and spreadsheet programs, “haven’t taken off,” Munster says. He thinks Google needs the browser to truly be competitive with Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser, with 75% market share.

Still, IE is not a moneymaker for the software giant. Instead, Microsoft relies on its browser to draw users to its other services.

With its search market share trending down now, “Microsoft could lose even more market share if Google’s browser takes off,” Munster says. “And if Google’s Apps finally start to take off, the holy grail of Microsoft’s business” — the Office suite, which includes Word, Outlook and Excel — “could take a real hit.”

Google, which in the past has attracted the wrath of privacy advocates for seeming to track a user’s every move online, might again raise the hackles of some privacy advocates with its new browser. With Chrome, daily and hourly searches are tracked and noted in big type.

Google Vice President Sundar Pichai says Google’s info tracking isn’t any different from other browsers — just more pronounced because Google wants to bring more “transparency” to the process.

For those who don’t want to be tracked, Google offers a new way of surfing, one it calls “Incognito.” Google’s Chrome can be found at www.google.com/chrome and is available in 100 countries and in 43 languages.

In an unrelated move Tuesday, Google updated its popular Picasa photo editing and sharing application to include a new state-of-the-art photo-recognition feature.

Pictures get uploaded to Picasa Web Albums, where faces are then identified and cataloged.


18 Visions Design's new home: ADVP

 18 Visions Design, LLC has been around for some time and had the great privilege of providing several businesses with environmentally conscientious solutions via web site development, multimedia, internet marketing, graphic design and sustainable printing.  Our goal is to always provide the best possible service to you and to ensure that your business has a competitive edge.   

We want to inform you that Jason Feaga, former head of 18 Visions Design, has recently taken an outstanding permanent position with a local hospital, but don't worry. Jason has left you all in good hands, selling 18 Visions Designs to the crème de la crème of the Maryland web design industry, Adventure Web Productions.

For over 15 years, Adventure Web has been in business and has  received the highest possible rating by the Better Business Bureau, an A+! AWP has also won multiple awards, such as the “Excellence in E-Business”, “Top 100 Best Run Companies in Maryland”, and the “Circle of Excellence” award.  Moreover, the Baltimore Business Journal has rated Adventure Web as one of the “Top 10 Best Companies to Work for in Maryland” and that’s a feat many companies strive for.

With an extensive local staff, AWP is equipped to provide you with wonderful customer service and assistance. Furthermore, Adventure Web Productions provides the latest products and services available to help effectively build and market a robust web presence. It’s also important to note that their search engine marketing programs are unrivaled.

Many of Maryland’s most recognized names in business know about AWP’s sharp  reputation and have been dedicated clients for multiple years.  If you take the time to review the results they have obtained from their clients in your industry, you will realize that teaming up with them is a win-win situation.

 In short, AWP is an acclaimed company  with remarkable talent that produces results not excuses for hundreds of clients representing every possible industry. Remember, 18 Visions Design is in strong and able hands. So check out Adventure Web Productions website at: www.advp.com

For professional full-service Internet development, hosting, and web marketing needs, contact 18 Visions Designs, LLC, a subsidiary of Adventure Web productions, by calling (410)-788-7007 or by clicking here today! Let us know what you think about our brand new website!

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