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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple iOS 4.2 Software is Here, But What Does it Mean for You?

November 23, 2010 - BizPlanHelp.com - The day has finally come, iOS 4.2 is here!  For iPad owners this day has been much anticipated as it brings a much needed feature - Multitasking.  If you bought an Apple iPad prior to today, as I did,  multitasking was one of the most noticeable features missing.

What does multitasking bring to the iPad?  Finally, you can listen to your music and surf the web at the same time,  You want to read your email and listen to a Podcast at the same time?  No problem.  The new iOS 4.2 also brings folders to the iPad, which will allow you to organize you to declutter your home screen.  If you are app hungry like me, your home screen is really 4 to 5 home screen.  I am already picturing a one folder for games to rule over all those game apps.

For those that have an iPod Touch or iPhone, multitasking and folders is not new.  The Touch and iPhone got mutitasking over the summer with iOS 4, which was never made available for the iPad.  But there are other feature upgrades in iOS 4.2 that are for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch owners including AirPrint and AirPlay.  AirPrint is very useful by allowing you to print from your iPhone directly to a printer.  AirPlay, while not as useful as the other upgrades, allows you to stream your video and audio content to Apple TV or AirPlay enabled speakers.  Whereas not many people have Apple TV to take advantage of this feature, it does have a coolness factor.  Also, I see a pair of AirPlay speakers for my office in my future - Santa are you reading this?

For those non-Apple people, there is now even more reason to have Apple envy, but there is a bright side.  The imitators are on their way and they will copy these new features just like they have been following the road map laid by Apple over the last decade.  The tablet and phone software and hardware people are looking up at Apple, but Apple's view down on everyone else is not from the same height that it was 6 months ago.  Droid handsets are hitting the market en mass.  Dell, HP and Samsung have tablets that they are hoping compete with the iPad. For now the iPad is on the top of the market. 

Curious about what apps are on my iPad, go to What is on my iPad?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open Letter to Digg.com - Why Game Your Own Algorithm?

I am not a Digg power user and I have not used Digg continuously. I check out Digg from time-to-time and usually because I get directed there by a 3rd party to read an article. But with the recent changes to the “New” Digg, I actually signed up for an account (Profile: SMBStrategy) and have been gradually adding links to my web sites. I am also working with a client right now to include Digg in their social networking strategy. How I use Digg and will use it with clients is not greatly affected by the recent accusations, but it does make me think about ethics and the Internet and how the culture among Digg users expects openness.

Since I am not a power, I am coming to the game late, but this post by LtGenPanda called “Did Digg Game Its Own System?” is very compelling and the data speaks for itself. If not Digg, Someone is gaming the system. Also, if this was orchestrated by Digg, and I am not saying it was, I am sure there was a good reason. With all the unrest at Digg, there needs to be a shake up. There needs to be a better strategy that includes better revenue streams, but back to ethics and the culture.

The solution is that Digg should be open about the new strategy and don’t hide. Let’s call it what it is – ADVERTISING – and label it as advertising or sponsored listing or featured listing or Digg Digged this Article. At this point we have all been programmed to see advertising on most web sites and certainly on search engines, directories and other aggregators. Twitter has even slid in sponsored recommendations and labeled them as such.

Update: Since I originally wrote this post, Digg has apologized and clarified what that the fake users was just to test their algorithm. I am not going to get into it here, you can read about it at ReadWriteWeb or on the Digg Blog. Despite these moves my message is still the same - open communication and a new business model that includes paid sponsored listings, after all accepting these changes is better than no Digg...

Follow me on Digg: http://digg.com/SMBStrategy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why You Should Know What LongURL.org Is?

I found out about LongUrl.org while reviewing the web log files for a client. The site is a new site, so there was not a lot of traffic, so even though there were not a lot of visitors coming from the url, it stuck out. When I looked at log files from other sites, I saw the url as referrer in each site. I needed to investigate...

LongURL.org's message is "Avoid phishing, malware, and viruses by examining short URL's before visiting them." There service is simple - paste a shortened URL like the ones I create with Bit.ly for use on Twitter and click expand. The results are the destination page title, long URL, and if there are an redirects. When I pasted the shortened URL from my last blog post here were the results:

It is an extra step, but what do you really know about who you are following on Twitter beyond the 160 character bio? If you are not sure why not take the extra 30 seconds to check it before you click it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Follow me on Twitter @SMBStrategy

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Is The Future of eMail and Snail Mail

A few weeks ago I tweeted:
Are you ready to say goodbye to email and email marketing? - All Email is Spam http://bit.ly/cNTBqC #Baseline

The article referenced in the tweet is an article from Baseline Magazine by Samuel Greengard. The gist of the article is that Mr. Greengard has returned from vacation to an inbox with 3,600 emails. He questions the value of all the various newsletters and other emails and goes on a campaign to unsubscribe and delete.

We have probably all been to this point, in fact I do not travel anymore without access to email or else my first two days back in the office are just spent wrestling the inbox. There are a couple things that I try to do to keep my inbox manageable:
1. I have a folder system where all keeper emails go.
2. I have a folder labelled AAA where emails I am not sure about go. Once a week, I delete any email in this folder older than 60 days. If I have not needed the email in 60 days, I probably don't need it ever.
3. Finally, if you are not reading that great email newsletter that you subscribed to because you needed it every day, then unsubscribe.

With your email inbox managed, what about snail mail. The amount of junk mail I receive is crazy. I put my mail on hold for a week in August when I went on vacation and when I returned I had a bin waiting for me. Most of the contents of the bin was junk that was either shredded or went straight into the recycle bin. Half the mail was addressed to previous residents of my townhouse and why do I need 12 credit card applications from the same bank in a 7 day period? Check out this web page on what to do if you have the same problems with mail: http://www.obviously.com/junkmail/

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Follow me on Twitter @SMBStrategy

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Are Mobile Barcode Tags Ready for Primetime?

When I opened my Crutchfield catalog I new I was destined to write about mobile barcode tags. The subject has been coming up more and more lately. Then this afternoon I am listening to the No Agenda Podcast, where barcodes are mentioned, then I open up the Crutchfield catalog and bam, on page five a barcode.

Sorry about the quality but I snapped this with a Blackberry Storm and then increased the brightness. The good news is the quality is good enough for the App, which means you can take a picture of the screen to try it yourself.

I ended up loading the App on the site in the above image, http://gettag.mobi, which is a Microsoft App simply called Tag. I tried loading an App from the Blackberry App store, but the App that seemed to be the right one had a half star rating. I won't mention the App by name, but all 56 reviewers said it did not work. I did not even bother to try it, but wonder why is this App even in the store?

It took only a few minutes to download, install, and setup Tag. I then clicked the scan button in the App which took me to the built in camera App. I took the picture and was redirect back to the App, which took 10 seconds to process before opening the browser and directing it to the Crutchfield article.

There is definitely a cool factor with this technology and I can think of a lot of uses. In this sample I was directed to a static web page, but one could also be directed to audio or video. This opens up the options. Add a barcode to a piece of art at a park and someone can be directed to an audio file on the background on the artist. Include a barcode on a coupon that opens a mobile web page with directions. Definitely a cool factor but I question how many of your customers are using or will use vs. What it takes to setup.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Follow me on Twitter @SMBStrategy

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Optimizing Your Twitter Profile and Adding Your Twitter to Directories

Before spending time on directories review your profile. Most directories show your profile in search results and allow one to search on a profile. The same care should be taken when writing your Twitter profile as any web site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) exercise. A good correlation is comparing your Twitter profile to the meta description tag on a web site. Your profile should include your keywords but at the same time look like real English.

Here is what the search results on Twellow look like for my Twitter account - @SMBStrategy. The description is the bio from my twitter account and it includes my full company name, web address, as well as some of my keywords like new jersey, management consulting, and small business.

Most of these directories are pulling data from Twitter so chances are you are already in a directory. My own Twitter account as well as those of my clients were in the directories I tried. In the case of Twellow, it only takes a few minutes to claim your Twitter account and be able to edit the profile. The stress is that some of these directories including Twellow require you to submit your Twitter user/password.

Once you have signed up for a directory there are options to update your profile to improve how your Twitter shows up in search results. Some options include a long profile and adding categories. Just like your Twitter profile, you should treat this as an SEO exercise. What are your most important keywords and is it possible to link back to your site using these keywords. In the long profile for Twellow, I linked back to my site using the management consulting keywords. For WeFollow I choose tags that included my keywords like managementconsulting and businessplan.

For more information on Twitter directories you can view the list i setup in Twitter @SMBStrategy/twitter-directories. Also check out the article "5 Most Popular Twitter Directories That Will Grow Your Personal Brand". The article includes links to the directories and their registration pages.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 02, 2010

Should You Include Foursquare as Part of Your Social Network Marketing

From local small businesses to global corporations, more companies are turning to social networks as a way to get their message heard. I have been working with clients over the last couple years to navigate setting up LinkedIn or including Twitter and Facebook in marketing strategies. Now I am working on tying foursquare into a marketing program for a client.

What is foursquare? Well it is a location based social networking site that allows users to sign in at places that are included in their database like the nearby Starbucks or local pizza place. When a user signs in at a location they get points toward virtual awards and has the option to "Shout", which is sending out a short message to their friends. Where the service gets interesting from a business stand point is a location owner can push info to a user that signs in. For example the local pizza shop can offer a free soda when someone signs in. If this short description is confusing or you want more background on foursquare check out this article that I tweeted about a couple days ago "Whats Foursquare All About? Simple Guide From A Power User July"

Getting started with foursquare is simple and it is free for businesses - just go to www.foursquare.com and sign up. If your location is already indexed it can be claimed, if not setting up a new location is easy. It does take a couple days to confirm a location but during that time you can learn the ropes and start planning how to include foursquare in your marketing plan.

Foursquare is a nice marketing fit for anyone running a retail outlet whether it is a restaurant, corner store, clothing retailer, book store or a bar. You can push promotions to those checking in and see reports showing key metrics including who is checking in and when. You can also integrate foursquare into your Twitter and Facebook accounts to insure you are delivering a uniform marketing message. According to the foursquare blog they hit 1.8 million users in June, so if you are a retailer or restauranteur, you should start using foursquare now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 30, 2010

Finally Blogging Directly From an iPad

After playing with some work arounds and trying to find a solid free app that works with Blogger, I have given up. I forked over the $2.99 on the Apple App store for BlogPress. I choose it because it seemed to come up the most when I searched for iPad blog apps on Google and it works with other social media like Twitter and Facebook.

I am writing this post with BlogPress and I have the Twitter option turned on so when I post this entry will go to Blogger and Facebook. I am not using the Facebook option because it looks like it will post to my profile and I would like to post to a page.

Take a look at BlogPress iPhone version:

Or iPad version.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is Twitter the Apple iPhone and iPad Killer App

I have 30 days under my belt with the Apple iPad and find that the go to app is Twitter. I have been a casual user of Twitter and have even helped clients include Twitter in their marketing programs. I have Twitter on my Blackberry but find it slow and only useful for reading tweets, but the iPhone app that I loaded is packaged nice and easy to use. Even though it does not take advantage of the bigger iPad screen, I hit the 2x button and it looks OK.

The best feature of the app is the ability to setup multiple accounts without having to sign in and sign out to change accounts. You can also move lists and people you are following from one account to another. Managing multiple accounts is important to me because at any given time I am managing the bizplanhelp Twitter @SMBStrategy as well as a personal account and accounts that I administer for clients.

Another nice feature is built in browsing. One can click a link within a tweet and go to the site without leaving Twitter. Once done reading just click the "Tweet" button at the top left corner of the screen to return to the tweet. Because the browser is built in I can go back and forth from a Tweet to the Internet almost instantaneously, which is nice since iPad does not yet support multitasking.

One thing I would like to see changed is a button for the hash or pound symbol "#". For those not familiar with Twitter using the pound symbol, referee to as has tag in Twitter lingo, is used to categorize a tweet. On the standard iPad/iPhone keyboard that is located 2 clicks in to get to the special keys, so I am recommending a button on "New Tweet" screen. All in the convenience of the iPad tied with the ease of use of Twitter makes for an addictive combination.

Get the Twitter App by Twitter, Inc.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life With the Apple iPad Day 5

It looks like I made the write choice on holding off on buying a word processor app for the iPad. In the June 2010 issue of PC World titled iPad vs. Everything Else the sidebar is titled Does the iWork Suite Work? Not Yet. The Not Yet part of the title sums it up - read the article at PCWorld.

Remote Access App
iRdesktop is a remote desktop app. I was able to setup a remote connection to a windows 2003 network in minutes by simply copying the settings from a windows vista laptop. This is an iPhone app so it does not take full advantage of the iPad screen and the scrolling can take a little getting used to. I was able to view applications, edit and save with no problems bring up the keyboard. I was not able to edit a server once setup even though there is an edit button. This is a free app and I will use until I find one that is more iPad friendly. Get iRdesktop by Thinstuff s.r.o. now.

The Big App Show - is created by Adam Curry. Yes, the former MTV VJ from back when the M stood for music. If you did not know, Adam has been at the forefront of digital media for years and has set up a digital media network company - Mevio. At Mevio you can download video and audio shows, but I digress, back to App Show. Here is how an article from The USA Today described the app:
On The Big App Show, Curry delivers breezy two- to four-minute features on "really cool" apps. He plays with the app on an iPhone so users can see how it works, rather than forcing them to stare at static screenshots.

Get the Big App Show from Zulu Apps LLC. now!

One of the Apps highlighted on the Big App Show is Talking Carl. Carl is a red animated creature that can best be described in a PC way as Elmo's cousin that takes the short bus to school. You talk to Carl and he repeats back in a high pitched mocking voice. You can also get reactions from Carl by poking, pinching, and tickling. I have recommending this app to a bunch of people with kids and every kid has enjoyed. Get Talking Carl by Awyse

iPDF Reader - I receive a lot of PDF files. This app allows you to open a PDF file directly from an email. I can simply email the app to my iPad and open. I have loaded the free version but there is also a delux version and iPhone version. If I am going to review the PDF file many times I add the pdf to iBook. By adding the PDF file to iBook it shows in the PDF section of the iBook library and treats the PDF like a book, which means you can add bookmarks and use the thumbnails at the bottom of the screento quickly go to a page. Get iBooks by Apple Inc. and iPDF Reader Free by Fubii.com

I continue to find more ways to entertain with the iPad, but also have made some progress on the business side. Remote access on the ipad is easy and the iPad is great for viewing PDF files. In fact, large PDF files are easier to navigate on an iPad than on a PC. I created this post in Evernote and so far have not needed a word processor app. I am able to move back and forth between browser and Evernote to put together this post, but not having multitasking is cumbersome. Looking forward to the fall update. I also hope the update fixes the wifi issues. I can't believe that I have to keep entering a wifi key.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life With the Apple iPad Day 3 & 4 - The Weekend

It's Saturday and I decide to postpone my previous return to blogging subject and instead blog this series on the iPad. I decide to write the blog on the iPad. I could use Evernote, but decide to go with google docs instead. I have been using google docs exclusively with one of my clients, so being able to use on iPad would be another set towed labeling the iPad legit for business. I open safari and login to google docs and see the familiar screen. I open a new doc and hit a dead end. I can't pull up the keyboard. To make a long story short one can view but not create and edit. And there does not seem to be an app for that... At least as I write this.

I hit the app store but I am not ready to commit to buy a word processor app. Instead I am writing in the iPad built in Mail app, which allows me to then email to myself to use my laptop to post. I have some other options that I will try:
1. Notes - preloaded in iPad and can email directly from a note. Even has spell check.
2. Evernote - I am already using this app on my iPad, laptop, and blackberry. The advantage is that notes are sync'd through Internet so I can start blog post on one device, finish on another, and post from a third.
3. Blogger - write my posts directly in blogger. The problem is I cannot scroll in the edit window in blogger. So if the post is more than 2 paragraphs, I cannot write or even edit after pasting into Blogger.

After getting the first blog post in order, I am back to the app store and here is what I get into:
Airport Info Lite - this app gives one info about airport amenities and surrounding area including parking, car rental, restaurants, hotels, gas, etc. I load the lite version and start looking up some clients in the travel industry. Find the app useful but find a bug - if try to press a push pin on map to get info, sometimes app closes. Get Airport Info Lite by UnitConvertr

Solitare by MobilityWare - this was a mistake as I found myself playing over and over. In fact I just went to the app to look up the publisher and had to play a game. Free though. Get Solitaire‌‌‌‌‌ by MobilityWare

Brick breaker - another waist of time game. This one looks like an iPhone app that has just been blown up to fit iPad, so graphics could be better, but you can't argue with the price - free. Get HD Brick Breaker Free by Storybird

Stumble upon - another great time killer, but it is the weekend. Load up your profile and this app randomly recommends web sites that match your profile. You have the option to give site thumbs up or down to improve your profile. Get StumbleUpon App

Made one step back with google docs, but after starting this post in email app I actually finish it in Evernote. So, I made one step forward and one step back. One thing I would like to see in the next version of the iPad OS is arrow keys on the keyboard. When editing text I found myself clicking multiple times to get curser in right place. It would be easier if I could get the curser close then use arrows to position the curser.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Life With the Apple iPad Day 2

It is day 2 and I can already see big problems with the iPad - I'm addicted!!! I wake up and check the weather on the Internet using safari, then check the news using the USA today app. I have to go to work and like everyone else in New Jersey want to get my work done and get out early to beat traffic. I leave the iPad charging in the kitchen and head to work. Out of sight, out of mind…

The work day is not totally iPad free. I find myself a few times on the iPad site as well as Googling apps. Once the kids are a sleep, first order of business is loading non-iTunes video. I buy my first app - yxplayer. With this app you still sync through iTunes, but the yzplayer App is added to the File Sharing Section a the bottom of the Apps tab on iTunes. In the File Sharing section one selects yxplayer, browses for the videos, and click sync. Once you have sync'd, open the yxplayer app on the iPad and start watching. The videos I load are SD quality but still look good. The only problem is the aspect ratio is messed up and the videos are all square instead of their native 4:3. I will have to do some leg work on this. On Saturday Morning, my daughter could care less about the aspect ratio as she watches Blue’s Clues.Get yxplayer from MobileSoft

Now it is time for the social networking Apps. I load both Twitter and Facebook. I start using Twitter and I am able to sign in and view immediately. I even send a tweet. You can follow me on twitter @SMBStrategy. Facebook is a little different story but I think it is operator error. I only dabble in Facebook and find the web site to be a little quirky. The same quirks seem to be present in the iPad App also. When you see the Facebook buttons on BizPlanHelp, you will know I have gained a higher level of comfort. Get the Twitter by Twitter, Inc. App and the Facebook by Facebook App.

On Day 2 I also download an App called Free Books. It contains a bunch of older works that are no longer governed by copyright laws, which means all the classics I should have read in school, but because I was an Electrical Engineer, I didn’t. I download the works of Edgar Allen Poe and start reading. I prefer Stephen King, but for the price you can’t beat Poe. Get the Free Books by Spreadsong, Inc.

So far I still have not justified the iPad for business use, but it is the beginning of the weekend and with 160 hours of video on my Tivo that I can now watch on the iPad, business can wait until Monday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life with an Apple iPad – Day 1

I have been using an iPad 16GB WiFi/3G since Thursday – doing the math on my fingers that is 5 days. To put this in real world terms, that is the amount of time for the Chia Homer on my desk to grow almost 2 inches. I have made some strides figuring out how to use the iPad for work, but I find myself going down rabbit holes as I download different apps. Take note, I turned to the dark side, Windows PC’s, about 15 years ago and since then the only two Apple items that I used are 2 iPods and the Safari browser for Windows. If I was a Mac user I might be more familiar with the Apple products and figuring everything else might be easier.

Day 1 – Thursday Night
I unpack the iPad in 30 seconds – packaging is good, but not the same coolness of the first generation iPod. BTW – I still use the first generation iPod. Turned it on and had to hook up to PC and sync with iTunes before I could use. This would have been annoying if I was not already a iPod and iTunes user. The registration and setup took under 5 minutes. I then picked some podcasts, music, TV shows, and photos to sync to iPad and 10 minutes later was ready to start playing. I could not sync a TV show from my Tivo – bummer, but I will get back to this.

Start by hitting the video icon and play an episode of Bones. I am blown away by the video quality and sound through the speakers. Move on to the iPod button and start up a Podcast. While Podcast is playing I hit the home button and the Podcast stops. I had heard about this issue, but don’t fret, later this year Apple says there will be an update that allows Multitasking.

I then hit the Mail button and try to setup email with my Gmail account and get an error. Operator error on my part, I have not setup wifi. I put in the network key and the wifi is connected in under a minute. I go back to the email and I am viewing my Gmail in less than a minute. I am a little disappointed at how limited the features are in the built in email app, so in the future I will have to look through the app store to find something better.

Setup iBooks and am greeted with a free copy of Winnie the Pooh. I hate Winnie the Pooh, but I move on. Grab a sample of the Idiots Guide to Getting Things Done to see how the books look. Then I run across the iPad User Guide, which is Free. I recommend grabbing this as a reference, but it does not help me with my Tivo show issue. Get iBooks by Apple Inc.

With mail setup and the manual at my finger tips, I spend the next few hours surfing the Internet on the iPad for info on apps and then going to app store and setting up the apps:

1. Evernote – I have this App on my Blackberry Storm and Laptop. It is great for making To-Do lists and they sync through the Internet so you can see the latest list on each device. The only problem I have with the iPad version is that I can change the font to cross out to show I have finished an item on a list. Get Evernote Now

2. USA Today – I only read this paper when I get it free at a Hotel on the road, but I download app and I am surprised at the quality of the app. App has same for sections as paper and one you get used to the quirky navigation find it easy to use and have used it every day since. Get USA TODAY Now.

3. ABC Player – want to see how streaming video looks, so I download this App, but I am disappointed at the shows available – the prime season is over. I watch an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live and once again I am impressed by video quality and sound through speakers. Get ABC Player Now

It is now 11PM and time for me to shut down for the day. What I got out of my intro to the iPad:
1. It is easy to use and addictive.
2. Having to move files through iTunes is cumbersome
3. Already looking forward to multitasking
4. From a work standpoint I can view my to-do lists through Evernote and send email with my Gmail account
5. Video quality is great and audio quality of onboard speaker is surprisingly clear.
6. My thumbs are already sore from typing - need to get keyboard, but not sure about doc because who wants to site at a desk...

I will post Day 2 soon. First I have to migrate this blog since Blogger stopped supporting FTP.