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Archive for February, 2009

PostHeaderIcon The Future of Your Browser

A few years back I heard of some people that where attempting to turn your web browser into a second operating system on your computer. Basically, all of your programs would be opened through your browser. Your files could be easily stored and line and retrieved from anywhere. Additionally, it was the perfect collaborative environment.

Google Docs is probably the best implementation of an online office suite I’ve seen (please don’t shoot me if you have your own favorite.) But there are several others out there. But I ran across something last night that gets me excited on one hand and really scared on the other.

You see, computers have come a long way over the last 3 decades. What was once the domain of high-end, specially designed PC can now be done on any PC and inside of a browser window to boot. One of the reasons for this rapid increase in computing power has nothing to do with business, and everything to do with entertainment.

Computer games are the number one force pushing for faster and more powerful computers. So, it would make sense that it would be only a short while till computer games followed the office into the browser window.

Ok, ok, you got me. Games have been available in browsers for a long time. Popcap and other casual games have long been available via the web. But when was the last time you saw a First Person Shooter aimed at the hardcore gamer in your web browser?

Id Software is bringing back one of its flagship franchises. Quake 3 was originally released at the turn of the century. It is one of the most popular “Arena Shooters” of all time. It is now available in your browers. Any browser. On any computer. For free.

This new service is called Quake Live and can be accessed at just be ready for a bit of a wait.

So why does this scare me? I tried to give it a test run last night. It was prime time, and there was a wait to get onto there servers. There was around 2500 people in from on me. I ended up just going to bed and thought I’d give it a try later.

Turns out, I left my browser window open. When I came back to the computer at 10 a.m. this morning, the browser window had timed out and I hit “Reload” thinking I’d download the files and try it later. I couldn’t believe it: There were now 35,000 people in front of me. During the work day. Either a lot of people took the day off, or they found a new office time waster.

Yet another site for the office IT guy/gal to block from the corporate network.

PostHeaderIcon Create…Creative…Creativity?

So when was the last time you really created something new? Yesterday? Last week? Last year? It is easy to fall into a slump and just go on with things how they are. After all, it is comfortable. Change is hard. And creativity can feel like something from the deep dark past of your childhood.

Well, Scott Ginsberg has done it again. This post at HELLO My name is BLOG! really struck me as important:

17 Ways to Out-Create Your Competition

I really is important to bring some new and fresh to the world. It keeps your current customer interested, and maybe someone that passed on your services in the past will give them a go this time around. Don’t feel comfortable with a lot of change at one time? Start small and work from there.

Now where did I put that construction paper and glue….

PostHeaderIcon What can I get for $3?

Over the years, and a little more of late, we have heard a few clients say “But I can get it for $3 from a VA in India.” We’ve always smiled, and explained our level of service, and then moved on to clients with more realistic expectations.

Kimberly Alderman over at Lawyer On! has done a terrific job of summing up her experience with VA’s based out of India. She also talks briefly about similar experiences with “VA’s” in the United States.

Check out the article here:

Mamtha and Me: My foray into Indian outsourcing

PostHeaderIcon Tax Update: 1099-B Deadline

In the past the deadline for investors to receive their 1099-B’s was January 31. Beginning this year the deadline is now February 15. However, the 15th falls on a Sunday, and the 16th is a federal holiday. So be looking in your mailbox on Tuesday the 17th for those tax documents.

For more information check out:

For Many Investors, Year-End Forms to Arrive Later

PostHeaderIcon How Can Companies That Rely on Technology Consistently Not Pay for It?

Over the last 20 years, businesses in every sector have become increasingly dependent on technology. At first it was the fax machine. Then came word processing. As technology has grown more complex each and every company has come to rely upon it more and more. So why are they afraid to put in the money to keep that technology going?

David Lane looks at this topic more in depth at:

How Can Companies That Rely on Technology Consistently Not Pay for It?

I have seen this happen myself: server closets without adequate ventilation. Phone systems held together with duct tape and paperclips. When I asked about it I was always told the issues where due to “budget constraints”. I am always amazed that people will risk their entire business for just a few thousand dollars.

PostHeaderIcon Using your Blog

Do you have a blog? Are you using it to bring in sales? Well Scott Ginsberg has a great post on 6 ways to use your blog to close sales. But here is the catch:

Keep in mind that none of these six blogging practices will work unless you’ve already taken preparatory action.

That means you need to actually HAVE a blog.
That means you need to be WRITING, every day.
That means you need to POST on your blog, every day.
That means you need to attract decent TRAFFIC to your blog.
That means you need to gather TESTIMONIALS from your customers fans.
That means you need to earn your readers’ TRUST through (consistently) practical and helpful content.”

So, if you are on board of all of that, head over to HELLO, my name is BLOG!

PostHeaderIcon How secure is Firefox?

If you’re like us, you switched to Firefox for a lot of reasons. However, security was probably the biggest and most commonly cited reason for switching to FF from IE. But just how secure is it really? Are we better off now than we were with IE or Netscape?

Test Center: How Secure is Firefox? (InfoWorld)

There is a lot of good stuff in that article. What do you think?

PostHeaderIcon Why Sony sinks and Nintendo continues to swim.

No big surprise here. Sometimes I often wonder why Sony and Microsoft even bother with the console market. I know they both have divisions that make games, but it is not their primary business.

Once upon a time a man would buy a razor and then spend almost nothing on cheap blades. The razor manufacturers never made a lot of money. Then one day a company realized “Hey! Lets give the razor away and make our money on the blades!” This thought revolutionized not only the razor industry, but many others as well.

Nintendo has learned from this lesson. Most Wii games come from Nintendo itself. Xbox and PS games mostly come from other developers. Sure, these developers pay Microsoft and Sony to be allowed to develop for the platform but MS and Sony take huge losses on the hardware, and reap little reward from the software.

Nintendo gives the razor away and sells the blades. MS and Sony charge an arm and a leg for the razor, still take a loss on it, then let others make money selling the blades.

Is there any wonder Sony and Microsoft both have been quoted as saying that consoles are a dead end industry? Both parties want to get out by 2012 unless there is a major change.

I say “Go Nintendo, Go!”

For more information, take a look at:

Sony, Nintendo give dim forecast

As for Nintendo cutting its profit forecast, that is just a smart move. Will make them look all that much better at the end of the next quarter.

PostHeaderIcon IRS Opening Expanded IRS e-File Program

On January 16th opened a new expanded IRS e-file program for 2008 federal tax returns. In 2008 the average return was $2,429 and nearly 27 million people prepared and filed their own return electronically. This represented an over 19% increase from 2007.

An even larger surge is expected this year. People want their tax returns handled quickly and efficiently. The new system is designed to work with the many commercial tax software products that are available. Many of which, for the first time, will not be charging additional fees to file electronically.

For more information check out:

IRS ready to open the gate for 2009 e-filing with new features

PostHeaderIcon Truth in Advertising

Many times companies use celebrities to get extra attention for their products or services. Even in politics and endorsement from a well known political star can mean the difference between a victory and an “also ran”. But it is important to remember that the transference of clout doesn’t just run one way. Michael Jordan found this out the hard way.

Michael Jordan has consistently been one of the most sought after and well paid celebrities for endorsements. Shoes, Gatorade, and McDonalds made Jordan not only a star on the court but also a star of the television screen. In each case, Jordans image made millions of dollars for his customers. Air Jordan graced the feet of children around the world. Gatorade “quenched the thirsts” of athletes globally. And McDonalds? McDonalds took a bite out of Jordans reputation that never quite healed.

Customers and critics of the McDonalds commercials couldn’t quite understand the connection between the super athlete and the calorie rich foods he was selling on the TV. Nobody really believed that after the big game Jordan sat down to a Big Mac with a Super Size order of fries.

As always, McDonalds survived the critics. Jordan’s reputation, however, took a severe beating. Even over a decade later Jordan’s actions off the court are getting more attention than anyting he ever did while playing the game.

So pick your branding, your advertising, and your other messages carefully. Does everything match up or is your Jordan eating a Big Mac?

For a (snarky) look at Michael Jordans history take a look at Slate’s:

Citizen Jordan