Volkswagen Parade

Posted in Eureka Springs AR, style with tags , , , , on August 29, 2010 by kregg

This year the Volkswagen parade was great. I am not sure of the number of cars but there were some real beauties in there. My wife and I were able to watch it from the upper side of the historic loop so we didn’t have to fight the crouds downtown. The video is in two parts and a little shaky as I was propping my arm up against a tree to shoot this.

With the trend of other events being neglected, mismanaged, or outright cancelled in Eureka Springs I am proud of Dave Heileman and the VW group for putting together a better show each year than the one before.

Here are the videos in two parts of the parade.

Here is the second part

Social Media Part 1

Posted in productivity, smartphones, social media, style, tech on May 16, 2010 by kregg

There are too many different combinations of social media tools to cover all of them with any real justice so I am going to use a specific client as an example and work through the steps of a business that wants to minimize advertizing costs by using social media. They have already made a start by creating facebook accounts and a fan site for their business. All of the workers were encouraged to use facebook and tell all their friends about the business. They had also created twitter accounts for their two locations but had no tweets posted. This is our starting point

The first step is to understand the media and how it can help you and the second is to form a step by step plan to grow your base of followers and readers. The plan we worked out for this client started week one with growing the twitter following. This meant searching for people that were talking about them already and either responding to them,  re-tweeting them if it was helpful or making the decision to follow them. It is important not to just follow everyone that mentions you anywhere. This can quickly become unmanageable.

It is also important not to come across as an add agency. You should be personable and interesting. Post a variety of tweets about a variety of things that relate to your business, industry and area. The client in the example is a hotel group so they have an interest in tweeting about things to do in the area to keep customers there longer.  Later on in the next step we plan to use twitter contests and trivia about the business and area to build more followers. First though we have to have more to offer them. That is where the next strategy comes in.

This first week of growing we are going to add a blog to the toolbox the business has.  They have an active marketing director and manager that are used to sending our e-mail blasts and sales copy on a regular basis. They also have a food and beverage director that has an interest in fine wine and has written a column for the local paper. Their spa also puts out regular mailings and specials.  If each of these departments can contribute a paragraph or two each week the blog can be active and keep readers coming back. The recommendation here is to put up each article separately instead of one big weekly post. For example if you post upcoming events on Monday, Spa specials on Wednesday, Wine information on Friday, and wedding news on the weekend you can track the number of hits and know exactly which articles are drawing the readers in.  When each post is put up a tweet could be sent out mentioning the content of the new post with a link.

Finally for this first stage making sure that all these elements have links to the other elements will keep the reader in the clients sphere of information longer.

In the next post we will talk a bit about linking and twitter etiquette.

See you soon

The fine arts of social media

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 15, 2010 by kregg

Everyone says the internet is making the world a smaller place. I think That with all the options like plurk, my space, facebook, wordpress, twitter,….and on and on, the world is still plenty large. The challenge is in propper integration. Too many small businesses out there try to rely on these media without understanding them. This week starts a series of blogs on successful integration of your online presence. We will start in the next article on creating a basic gameplan.

Five Free Programs Everyone Should Have!

Posted in antivirus, apple, AVG, Free, mac, macintosh, malwarebytes, media players, Open Office, productivity, security, style, tech, technology, videolan, VLC, zonealarm on March 17, 2010 by kregg

Five Free Programs Everyone Should Have

Security and functionality are issues everyone in the modern, computer- dominated world has to deal with. There are things you just can’t live without. Some people settle for “good enough” and just keep whatever antivirus program that came with their computer and expect Windows Wordpad to be good enough for writing to aunt Edna. While it is true that you get what you pay for, there are some quite good and functional pieces of software that are free.

Antivirus:

If you don’t have a GOOD antivirus and malware program you will be seeing me (or another computer tech in your area) very soon. Just the act of having an antivirus doesn’t mean you are safe. Just like doctors there are good ones and bad ones. The health of your computer depends on having a good one. It is a good idea to watch sites that review these programs yearly to see who is keeping up with the latest viruses. Also look into who owns the websites hosting the reviews. You may be unwittingly reading a paid ad for the company that arranged the review.  I recommend AVG antivirus by Grisoft. The free personal version can be found at http://www.free.avg.com.

Firewall:

A firewall has almost nothing to do with preventing viruses. People seem to think that if their firewall is compromised they will get a virus. It is actually worse than that. It’s all about hackers.  The firewall protects you against active threats and probes. That can mean an automated attack from what is called a bot, or it can be from a hacker’s direct attempts. The proper implementation of a firewall sets up a protective wall between your computer or network and the outside world. If you use a cable modem and it is attached to a router, this is your router’s job. If you attach your computer directly to a cable modem with no router you need a firewall. Zone Alarm is a great program that has a free version at http://www.zonealarm.com.

Anti-malware:

Fake alert popups and hijackers are often not viruses by definition. Once installed they may not actually be a virus or bring viruses in, but they can be much more destructive to your ability to use the computer and control it. These are in a category called malware. They often enter your computer by popping up a message that you  might think came from your computer and trick you into clicking on it. A regular scan with an antimalware program is your only defense against these. There are two candidates here. Malwarebytes can be found at www.malwarebytes.com, and super antispyware can be found at www.superantispyware.com. Both have excellent free versions.

Media player:

Windows and Mac both come with media players that do a good job. Quite often , however, you will find codecs that need to be downloaded and different programs that are needed for other formats than the standard ones your built-in programs will play. The solution to this is the VLC Media Player found at www.videolan.org/vlc/. It is a very powerful program that is small and doesn’t take up all your attention with interface. It does a good job of just presenting the media to you.

Productivity:

For those of you in a college situation and on a budge,t this is probably the most important of the sections for your pocket book. All versions of Microsoft Office for windows and mac will set you back a pretty penny, even with student discounts. There is an open source and free option that will produce files in Microsoft Office format, is that is the office suite known as OpenOffice. OpenOffice is available at www.openoffice.org. I have heard from the occasional college professor that they don’t like OpenOffice because it isn’t exactly the same as the Microsoft product but when presented with documents created by OpenOffice these same professors couldn’t tell which documents were Microsoft and which ones weren’t. The OpenOffice suite gives you alternatives to Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint.

Choosing the right smartphone

Posted in apple, mac, macintosh, phones, smartphones, style, tech, technology on March 17, 2010 by kregg

How to Choose a Smart Phone

 

Choosing a smart phone today is like choosing a good pair of shoes. There are lots of considerations like style, functionality, fit, durability, expected lifespan and personality. Style and personality are closely related but you can share the same style with hundreds of people and accessorize to achieve your own personality.

I used several Palm PDAs until I moved to the Blackberry World Edition. I had not used a camera phone and decided it wasn’t as much of an issue for me as the expandability of the World Edition if I traveled to a country with a different phone network protocol. The World Edition would let me keep the same phone in this event. I could keep all my personal notes, contacts and apps and not have to change phones for travel. This aside, there are many things the Blackberry World Edition does not do. I chose to live without them.

I won’t get into reviews of phones here because if you are a fan,  for example,  of the iPhone, I am not going to change your mind just because where I live AT&T offers very little coverage. I like the iTouch so if the iPhone worked here as well as a Verizon phone I would probably get one. If you like the iPhone you will love the Droid. My wife uses it and I am tremendously impressed. It offers the same easy interface that the iPhone does without Apple’s proprietary control of apps so there is much more you can do with it.

Functionality, fit and durability matter. You should decide what you need a phone to do and make a minimum functionality list. Fit is important if you have a unique circumstance. For example, my choice of the World Edition based on travel flexibility goes to the fit of the product. Durability and expected lifespan are different issues. Durability can be addressed with protective cases and methods of use. Expected lifespan has to do with how long will it be before you are likely to want to upgrade to a better phone. You might be able to keep upgrading the software and apps on your existing choice. Once you have addressed your minimum set of requirements, look at your budget and see how much farther than the minimum can you afford. Do all this research before you talk to a salesman. Face it, how many times have you heard a salesman say “You don’t need to spend that much?”

The right tools for the job

Posted in apple, linux, mac, macintosh, tech, technology on February 10, 2010 by kregg

Mac vs PC vs Linux! The lineup of a lifetime. Last man standing smackdown!

That might be the title if I were reviewing Operating Systems or OS. I was asked just the other day which OS I preferred. Actually I was asked by a person that wasn’t aware that the difference was OS. They were Mac users who had no idea that a computer was a computer for the most part. To them the difference between Mac and PC was analogous to the difference between a Chevy truck and a UFO from the Pleiades.  I explained that I used to be a Mac user myself but had changed about when Mac OS7 was getting old because PCs passed them at that point in the capability to process graphics. I am a practical person who wants to use the right tool for the job. I am not opposed to Mac at all but in the modern world I can get a PC or a Mac that will do the same things and the PC will cost $500.00 and the Mac will cost $2500.00. It is tempting at this point to call the Mac a Yuppie luxury and a status symbol but then I realize that although I am very careful as an engineer and keep all my systems running without crashes and virus free, The majority of the basic users I know can’t. Mac at least gives you that. If you aren’t tech-educated then the Mac may just be for you. They surf the same web at the same speeds and spit out the same graphics as a much cheaper PC but if you can’t manage to not download that malware by clicking OK every time you see it maybe Mac is good for you.

Linux on the other hand is the best of both worlds for the techie. With Linux you can guarantee at least as good a virus protection as with Mac and it NEVER crashes. I mean NEVER! I have been able to crash it through my ability to do something stupid but I have also seen a version of Linux run a server for 5 years with (zero) 0 downtime. I mean that. ZERO! The only drawback is that you really do have to know how to configure and use it. Otherwise it would be the number one computer system out there.

Hard financial times

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by kregg

Seems these days everywhere you turn people are talking about the hard times, the lack of jobs and the rush to move to better job markets. I am sure with all the people that are working in the tech industry with just a degree and mid level skills there is some problem to discuss. With provable experience, however, there should be no end of work for the computer tech. With hard times falling on businesses there is less and less new installation and more need to support legacy systems. Those of us that have been in the industry for more than just a few years are seeing service and support jobs open up all over. People are trying to keep all their old systems running longer and for the experienced tech that is gold.

I have started leaving my phone off when I need an actual day off. With the backlog of work that happens rarely. It seems that these times are separating those with real skills from those with just a piece of paper saying they had a class. I am not knocking a degree. As a matter of fact I think that the right degree is a shining example of your motivation and skill. That is why I am an alumni of Western Governer’s University where real certifiable skills are the benchmark for your grade.