May 16th, 2013
Learning is a discipline we all need to continue pursuing. Time and money have prevented many people from seeking ongoing quality education. But today, some of the finest learning is now available to everyone with an internet connection and a computer. For free.
MIT (http://ocw NULL.mit NULL.edu/index NULL.htm) offers a very robust set of courses. From cognitive sciences to nuclear engineering, they have you covered. Some background in your chosen field of study will be needed to understand the material. They also offer courses in more than just English.
Annenberg Learner (http://www NULL.learner NULL.org/) provides courses for teachers in the arts, foreign language, literature, science, and other traditional areas of study that are part of the average high school curriculum.
Harvard (http://www NULL.extension NULL.harvard NULL.edu/open-learning-initiative) offers a small set of courses, but each course has a full set of MP3, video, and PDF resources. As you might expect, several of the courses are very intellectually oriented.
Open Culture (http://www NULL.openculture NULL.com/freeonlinecourses) links to a very extensive set of resources for you to explore. Icelandic language and automotive design are just the tip of the iceberg.
April 25th, 2013
More and more websites are being viewed using mobile devices. eDigital Research reported that, “84% of smartphone owners have used their devices to browse websites.” That report (http://www NULL.edigitalresearch NULL.com/news/item/nid/243999809) was created almost a year ago, and so that number is only going up.
Not every website is ready for mobile devices. Many tablets will render websites OK, but not all phones do. Most smart phone browsers automatically detect that you’re visiting the site from a smartphone and will automatically adjust what you see. But not all websites have the capability to work with smart phones.
Here are two examples of websites that have not thought through their mobile strategy.
Squarespace (http://www NULL.squarespace NULL.com/), ironically, is a company that allows you to create your own website. The sites are nice, but the company’s site totally does not work on smart phones.
Aer Lingus (http://www NULL.aerlingus NULL.com/) is an airline that is based in Dublin, Ireland. Forcing the user to download an app or click through to a mobile site is not good.
Frontier Airlines (http://www NULL.flyfrontier NULL.com/) does a much better job. It’s not pretty, but on the landing page, you can very easily get what you need.
This post is not intended for embarrassing Squarespace and Aer Lingus but rather to show that even big companies can make mistakes in this area.
So what do you do?
1. First, load up your business website on a smartphone. Play around and see how it performs. Borrow a friend’s iPhone or Android phone to see how it works on both platforms.
2. If you haven’t got a business site yet, there’s good news. Free sites you can create through WordPress (http://wordpress NULL.com/) and Google’s Blogger (http://blogger NULL.com/) have built-in adaptability to smartphones. Their free sites have limited capabilities, but you may be able to do what you need with what they offer. If the free sites you can create there won’t do all you need, contact me. I can get you going with a good mobile-friendly site.
April 8th, 2013
I love car magazines. Automobile (http://www NULL.automobilemag NULL.com/) is one of the best. Each month, there’s a column about car design. The writer is a veteran car designer. His opinions are informed by vast experience. But I stopped reading his column a few years ago. His negative and know-it-all tone just got too annoying. Very few cars got his stamp of approval. He has to pick on the minor details of gloriously beautiful cars.
When you are writing as yourself (and not as a company) show that you do not know everything. Even if you are writing as a company, convey the attitude of being open to input. Be positive. Your readers will be much more open to hearing – and enjoying – what you have to say. Even when you are writing a negative review, say a few positive things.
If you are explaining something, be aware that not everyone knows all about your topic. Refer them to resources that will help beginners.
March 11th, 2013
There’s one thing you can do to be more productive in the time you must spend on getting all your work, school and general responsibilities done: Take a break.
The best breaks are a full day long. Leave your normal environment. Do something totally different than what you normally do. Be physical – if you stretch your body, that will help your mind too.
If you can’t take a whole day, take two evenings off. But just get a rest.
February 7th, 2013
I was on the phone with a potential client. We talked for a while and she asked me for my website’s login and password information, so that her coding expert people could assess my abilities. I gave them to her and then asked why she wanted to hire me, if she had coding expert people that she already used.
There was a long pause and the line. went. dead.
I immediately ran to a computer to change my password, and that’s when I woke up.
So be careful who you give your passwords to!
By the way, if you’re thinking of hiring me, I can give you a list of actual human clients who have used me for jobs and who can vouch for my honesty. Contact me.
January 18th, 2013
Say thanks. With a note.
During the first week of January, I received a thank you note in the mail from my local hardware store. The owner and his wife actually took the time to sign the note by hand. The next time I visited the store, I took the time to thank the owner for thanking me. That little note was another reminder of why that store is so awesome. Real people make real connections with their customers. Staff members are not afraid to take 10 minutes to explain how to fix something, using a dollar plumbing part. But that attention pays off. Later, I’m not afraid to spend a lot more than one dollar there, as opposed to at one of the big box retailers.
Today, take the time to write a note by hand, and put it in the mail. Your customer will notice. A hand-written and addressed note will stand out amongst the flood of junk mail.