Podcast Hunter Tracks Down the Web’s Best

June 28, 2012

Hats off to Katherine Boehret for spending all that time playing with new tech toys. I just don’t have that much time to play. I think it’s great that the Wall Street Journal pays her to play with tech toys. Check out what she’s discovered about the Stitcher app for podcasts.

I’m gonna try it out and see how well it works as a research and content creation tool.

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Video The Disruptor

June 28, 2012

Paul Riismandel makes the case for video’s potential as an education delivery system. Provided learning management systems are designed for open source standards, there won’t be any limit to educational possibilities. Check out his article at Streaming Media.

As publisher of Nutrition News, we’re planning our video strategy. Education is what we’ve always provided.  Engagement – Read, Share, Ask, Tell and Buy – has been the result. It’s exciting to imagine the ways we could animate our content and deliver it via video.

Maybe we should look for a few of those high school students who have the technical chops to help us create a health education series for them and buy them. That could be amazing and profitable for all.

Education’s Technology Dilemma

Schools and communities at large are being forced to do more with less and to collaborate more.  A special report from Information Week looks  at how two school districts, Kentucky’s Barren County School District and Oak Hills Local School District in Ohio, are using virtualization, wireless and cloud technologies to meet that challenge.


IT Pro Impact: HTML5

June 27, 2012

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IT Pro Impact: HTML5: Remember when Netscape proclaimed the operating system ­irrelevant? Had Microsoft not squashed the company by embedding Internet Explorer in Windows, that vision of the future may have already been realized. Still, better late than never.

These resource articles have a knack of showing up just when I’m about to embark on another crack at our website.  Thanks to Ben DuPont for making this resource available.

When to Switch

The evolution from static documents to the current rich multimedia Web to the future of Web apps that are indistinguishable from desktop applications is well under way. Marc Andreessen’s browser-as-platform vision is in sight, and HTML5 will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.

It wasn’t always so–many of us remember the days of browser vendors defining their own tags and sites sporting “best viewed with” banners. But now, key vendors, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera, actively participate in W3C groups. The goal: creating test suites and specifications that are freely available and may be implemented at no cost under the W3C royalty-free patent policy. This broad collaboration will help minimize differences among browsers. “When vendors rally around a specification that is supported by a comprehensive test suite, you’re more likely to get interoperability,” says Ian Jacobs, head of W3C marketing and communications.

Of course, the time it takes a spec to get to recommendation stage–the final stop before deployment–varies depending on participant support and technological complexity. Still, two Google W3C representatives–Ian Ellison-Taylor and Glenn Wilson–say the process, from specification to implementation, has been streamlined, with specs moving from API to recommendation in a matter of months.

So there’s plenty of optimism. But what does this all mean to enterprise IT? We’ll investigate. (S4810412)

Table of Contents

3    Executive Summary
4    When to Switch
4    Figure 1: Scope of Alternative Application Architecture Use
5    We’ve Heard This Song Before
5    Anatomy of a W3C Specification
6    HTML5 Features
6    Figure 2: Features Table
7    WebM vs. H.264
8    Figure 3: Factors Driving Use of Alternative Application Delivery
9    HTML5 Resources
10    Figure 4: Support of Mission-Critical ­Business Applications
11    SEO and Assistive Technology Ready
11    No Need to Wait
12    Browser as a Platform
14    Related Reports
15    Author’s Bio

About the Author

Fundamentals: Wireless Mesh NetworksBen DuPont is a software engineer. After nearly 10 years of developing software and systems in a corporate environment, he founded Nebland Software, an independent software consulting company.

You can reach him at ben@nebland.com.

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The Power Of Advertising At Point Of Decision

May 2, 2012

$500 CPMs?
by Steve Smith , Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It isn’t easy to impress sleep-deprived and constitutionally aloof college students with a cell phone. But I got a real rise out of a college class several years ago when I brought in the first Android phone as part of a gadget show-and-tell and showed them how ShopSavvy worked. I grabbed a Pepsi from a fellow in the front row and scanned its UPC code to bring up a polished page of details, including where nearby they could pick one up. “Whoa!” some of them said in teen parlance. They got it.

This kind of app now is commonplace and has spun off into a number of variations from both first-party retailers and third-party shopping app providers. But we still are only beginning to understand how mobile works in the aisle. The power of bringing the cloud of data and resources down to the point of sale and the point of need is monstrously powerful. This is not only tapping into a time and place, but that mood of consumption that can go in several directions. The consumer might indeed be poached by a rival retailer, as Amazon has ventured to do of late. But the in-store shopping app can also help drive a person toward the item they already are viewing on that retailer’s shelf.

Despite the reputation of shopping apps as poaching devices that turn retail stores into showrooms for online buys, the opposite may also be true, says Jim Barkow, co-founder of Longboard Media, which runs advertising into the ShopSavvy app. “Often the mobile app can reinforce the decision of buying in the store. The price differential to online may be nominal and may push in-store sales.” While obviously some real research needs to be done on this question, it seems reasonable that an app can convince the typical shopper that he or she is not going to find a better deal online — or at least not find enough of a deal to matter.

What we do know about mobile use in retail is that it taps into consumers at the height of a very energetic decision process. “The interactions are off the charts,” says Longboard’s other co-founder Scott Engler. Longboard serves ads into retail Web sites for Overstock.com, NewEgg and RadioShack. But the difference between people in shopping mode on their desktop and actually in-store is phenomenal, as Engler and Barkow observe. Since starting to feed ads into ShopSavvy they have seen users escalate their activity to referencing 30 products a month. Between 15 and 17 million people are using the app across the available platforms. The company also partners with Spotzot to drive ads into its deals engine that drives other shopping apps.

“Believe it or not, month after month, the most-scanned products are milk and other consumer packaged goods,” says Barkow. People are doing price checks and local availability checks. “Mobile mostly is out of the office and out-of-home,” says Barkow. “It is always localized and almost always in an actual store.”

Getting advertising, whether competitive product offers or general branding messages, at that point of heightened consumer awareness is proving extremely valuable. “CPMs are north of $500 for ShopSavvy,” says Engler. “We are getting 30%-plus click-through rates.”

Alexander Muse, co-founder of ShopSavvy, confirms the CPMs and the levels of interactivity. He tells me that on non-targeted ads, they may see CTRs down around 10% to 30%. “When we target based on product and location, they climb to over 30%,” he says.

It seems plausible that at least for now, people will follow even irrelevant ads when in shopping mode. When I played with the latest version of ShopSavvy, for instance, a scan of a Halls cough drop package rendered a handsome page with a moving image of the product, links to prices and availability — but also a prominent link to an HP products page. PC printers and cough drops? Well, here still is the novelty factor of in-app advertising, and the share of voice here is singular. But one has to wonder how much being in the throes of shopping mode also just makes us receptive to marketing messages — no matter how irrelevant.

Muse confirms that when the advertising becomes category-specific and well-targeted, the price of entry is considerable.  “Our average CPM is $500,” he claims. “We sell them as $.50 targeted exposures.”

Barkow says that retailers and brands can leverage this level of interactivity and shopping energy in many ways beyond mere advertising. He believes targeted content will be the future of in-store shopping app promotions. “If someone is doing a price check, we can use mobile not just to push an ad unit, but to push more content. They need reviews and more detailed specs. We should be able to use mobile distribution to push more content at the point of purchase.”

Which is another way of saying what some of us have been saying about this platform from the beginning. Mobile is marketing’s big chance to get beyond advertising. This is where your brand moves off the centuries-old stage of being the annoying carnival barker we tolerate because he gives away tickets to the show. Now the marketer gets a chance to come off the stage and be a real part of the audience, enhance and enrich their experience and become a partner/companion — not just a shill.

Getting into the store aisle shouldn’t just be an opportunity to poach and pitch. That is a message with a very short shelf life. There is greater value to be added than that.

Post your response to the public Mobile Insider blog.

See what others are saying on the Mobile Insider blog.

Steve Smith is the editor of Mobile Marketing Daily at Mediapost where he covers all aspects of the mobile landscape and writes the daily MoBlog and regular Mobile Insider columns. He also programs the OMMA Mobile/Display/Data and Behavioral series of shows and the Mobile Insider Summits. A recovering academic who taught media studies at Brown and University of Virginia, he spent the last decade as a digital media critic for numerous publications and as consultant. He also writes for Media Industry Newsletter and eContent magazine. Contact him here.


12 Mobile Apps to Help Boost Productivity

May 1, 2012

 

 

I couldn’t resist sharing these. I’m interested in several to test drive.

PR and communications practitioners are no longer solely trading tips on their favorite computer programs or gadgets. Mobile applications are fast becoming the go-to choice for busy professionals looking to be more effective and efficient at their jobs.

A survey on social CRM and mobile capabilities by Nucleus Research , earlier this month, reveals productivity increases 14.6 percent on average when using mobile apps and 11.8 percent with social CRM. Mobile apps won’t necessarily minimize your workload; however, adding them to your mobile toolbox (beyond supplementing email) can help make integration with existing technology and services a whole lot easier. Thus, helping you stay competitive and relevant.

Applications for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone

  • SpeedTest.Net: Android and iPhone fans (sorry Blackberry) can optimize their smart phone and/or network through real-time download and upload graphs that measure connection speeds.
  • Morning Coffee: Every savvy professional needs to stay in the know. Start your day off right with your alarm, news, RSS feed, and more, all in one app.
  • Dropbox: Maintaining file integrity can be a daunting task. Cloud technology at its finest, Dropbox automatically accesses, saves, syncs, and shares your files on the go via the app installed on all of your native devices.
  • EasySign Mobile: Digitally sign Word docs, PDFs, JPEGS, and more without having to print or scan paper documents.
  • HopStop: Never get lost or stuck while commuting again. Named one of “25 Essential Android Apps for Travelers” and a “Top 10 Mobile App for Travel” by Travel Magazine, HopStop helps you find door-to-door transit, walking, biking, taxi, and hourly car rental directions in over 100 cities.
  • Neat Call: Use this app to streamline meetings from scheduling times to actual communication, including: conference calls, web meetings, video conferences, and chat rooms all in one place.


Android Only

  • AndroZip File Manager: If you’re an Android user, you probably know how hard it is to receive and organize large files and documents on your phone. With this app, open encrypted and compressed files and archive and modify existing documents.
  • Google Goggles: Text search is so 2010. Currently in beta, this app let’s you search the web using pictures rather than struggle to come up with keywords and phrases.


Blackberry Only

  • Blackberry Messenger: This instant messaging app for Blackberry smart phone users allows you to socialize over other Blackberry applications, connect with your favorite music collection, communicate in real time, and build your network. For those of you who have changed devices, but still have friends on the Blackberry network, a beta version is in the works.
  • Battery Boost Ultimate: Save your battery and optimize its usage on your Blackberry to enhance performance.


iPhone Only

  • Engage121: For Engage121 (BurrellesLuce Social Media Monitoring) subscribers, this app lets you monitor your community’s conversation and respond in real-time without being tied to a desk.
  • Notability: Enhance your note taking experience with handwriting integration, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organization. Then sync with Dropbox.

BottomLine: No matter your productivity needs, interests, or preferred mobile device, there are hundreds of apps that can help you work more efficiently. BurrellesLuce WorkFlow also helps you work smarter by providing all of your media planning, monitoring, and measurement services in one convenient and easy-to-use tool that you can access online or via the mobile web. So whether your coverage appears in print, online, or broadcast – BurrellesLuce monitors all of the media that matters most to you, including proprietary, copyright-compliant sources no other service provides.

About BurrellesLuce

Taking control of every stage of your media planning, monitoring, and reporting needs is simple and effective with BurrellesLuce. Our comprehensive suite of affordable services is fully integrated in one convenient and easy-to-use portal, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™. Incorporate and review your traditional print, broadcast, online and social media results in one report. Research and engage journalists and bloggers, and intelligently plan future campaigns. Build and manage social media communities. WorkFlow gives you everything you need to start organizing and managing your media relations and public relations results.

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Tools To Engage Customers Online

April 17, 2012

From Inc. Magazine

These new tools offer innovative ways to engage people who visit your site, and keep them coming back.


         Illustration by   Iker Ayestaran

Today’s Editor’s Picks

A lot of business owners are focused on interacting with customers on social networks. But how about your plain old company website? These new tools offer innovative ways to engage people who visit your site—and to keep them coming back.

Launchrock

Best For: Building Buzz

Looking to generate some prelaunch excitement? This service helps you create a Coming Soon page for your website. After creating an account on LaunchRock.com, select a background design or upload your own, then add information about your business. A box will appear on the homepage encouraging people to sign up to receive e-mails with company news and earn incentives for spreading the word via e-mail or on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and other websites. Go to your LaunchRock dashboard to track a variety of information, including daily sign-ups and page views.

Cost: Free

Intercom

Best For: A personal touch

When people register on your website, Intercom adds their information to an online database, along with information culled from social networks and other websites. You can sign on to your Intercom dashboard to view user profiles and see when they signed up and the last time they visited. Then, you can compose messages for specific people and the notes will pop up automatically the next time they come to the site. On your dashboard, you can see a list of open replies and respond to them. Intercom rates the strength of your relationships based on how often you interact with visitors.

Cost: Free during beta testing

Punchtab

Best For: Rewarding loyalty

PunchTab’s loyalty program lets you reward people for coming to your website every day, making comments, and sharing your content on social networks. After you set up the program using a wizard, visitors can click on a Rewards ribbon on your homepage and log in to earn points, which they can redeem for gift cards in a PunchTab catalog on your site. You can use PunchTab’s standard rewards guidelines—for instance, the service recommends doling out 100 points for each visit—or create your own. Log on to PunchTab.com to check out user profiles and leaderboards.

Cost: Free for a standard program with up to 10,000 users

Olark

Best For: Chatting

This service makes it easy to add a Web chat function to your site. After pasting in a line of code, go to your Olark account to choose a design and size for the chat box, stipulate where it should appear, and link it to an instant-messaging program. You can also customize a welcome message and offline notification. When customers click on the box, a message opens in your IM program, where the chat takes place. You can view transcripts on Olark.com and export them to customer relationship management programs, including Salesforce.

Cost: Starting at $17 a month for one user


For Backup, You’ve Got a Friend, Family or Cloud

April 17, 2012

This review by Katherine Boehret in the Wall Street Journal came at just the right time.  I have my regular backups all over hard drives in the office. Nice except if the office disappears. I think this is worth some peace of mind and it looks like an easy solution.

Nothing elicits such a strong case of technology guilt as asking other people if they back up their computers. Eyes dart toward the ground. Excuses are made. The subject is quickly changed.

As many people know or quickly find out, backing up a computer can be a painfully slow process. This week, I tested a computer-backup system that requires minimal effort and works in the background to automatically back up files: CrashPlan. This appropriately named program is made by Code 42 Software, a Minneapolis-based company.

CrashPlan is a new software program that takes the hassle out of backing up your computer’s precious hard drive. WSJ’s Katherine Boehret says there’s a range of ways – and a range of prices – to make it happen.

CrashPlan works with all types of operating systems and lets users back up to remote servers in the cloud and/or other computers or hard drives, like another PC they own or one belonging to a good friend or family member (as long as they give permission). The system also sets no restrictions on file size.

On a typical home Internet connection, the backup process to a CrashPlan remote server could take several days or even weeks for a first-time backup. (After that, backups are much faster and happen unnoticed.) The first-time backup for one of my laptops with about 46 gigabytes of data had been running almost continuously for three days when I filed this column on Tuesday. After the initial backup, regular backups won’t take nearly as long. CrashPlan has a mobile app that works on Apple‘s AAPL +5.10% iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Android and Windows Phone 7, allowing remote access to backed-up files.

The free version of CrashPlan enables a daily backup to other computers and hard drives but not to Code 42’s remote servers. The subscription-based CrashPlan+ will back up to the remote servers as well as other computers or hard drives. It can back up as often as once a minute and lets users choose what data to back up where.

Code 42 SoftwareCrashPlan’s straightforward user interface clearly shows what your data are doing and where they are being stored.

CrashPlan+ comes in three payment plans, each with its own tiered rates—from a month-to-month option to a four-year subscription. For each of the three plans, the four-year subscription is the least expensive at $70, or about $1.50 a month per computer for up to 10 gigabytes of data; $140 or $3 monthly per computer for unlimited storage; and $288 or $6 monthly for up to 10 computers and unlimited storage. The company offers a free 30-day trial.

I got started by downloading the software to my MacBook, creating an account and starting the initial backup. A scan of my data took a few minutes before the actual backup began. Using my Verizon DSL connection over Wi-Fi, the estimates of how long it would take changed dramatically by the second. I saw estimates of as much as 17.5 days and as little as 6.6 hours.

Katherine Boehret tests CrashPlan, a computer-backup system that requires minimal effort and works in the background to automatically back up files.

I also downloaded CrashPlan onto my office Windows PC, which has a fast, hard-wired Ethernet connection. I logged into my account and opted to back up a folder of photos that was roughly 16 gigabytes. The estimate for this backup was a little over one day, though I didn’t adjust CrashPlan settings to get the fastest transfer on this PC. In a simple menu, I could opt to back up the Windows PC to my MacBook as well as to remote servers—or just to the MacBook alone. On my MacBook, I made sure to adjust the settings to get the fastest speed possible for my giant backup.

Code 42 CEO Matthew Dornquast said the worst-case scenario speeds are initially displayed, but that these adjust down as time goes on. In my experience, the initial estimates didn’t change much.

CrashPlan backs up your newest files first on the assumption those mean the most to you, and it encrypts all files, so file names can’t be read on remote servers or backup computers. I liked CrashPlan’s straightforward user interface because it clearly showed me what my data were doing and where it was being stored. A section labeled “Destinations” let me choose where data was backed up and options included “CrashPlan Central” (remote servers), “Friend,” “Another Computer” or “Folder.” A section labeled “Files” showed exactly what was being stored; in my case, this meant 285,930 files. An “Inbound” section showed any computers that were using my computer for backup.

Code 42 SoftwareA CrashPlan mobile app is available on a Windows Phone 7, iPhone and Android phone.

In settings, users can opt to be emailed or even sent direct messages via Twitter that tell them the latest backup status. This is helpful if you’re only backing up to, say, one other PC in your house and that PC fails to back up.

In addition to over-the-air backups, CrashPlan users with a lot of data, very little patience or both may want to try an alternate option. For $125 (including shipping both ways) and a monthly fee for remote storage, the company will send a one-terabyte hard drive that can be loaded with data and mailed back. Once that huge block of data is initially stored on remote servers, regular backups won’t take nearly as long.

To get data back, a “Restore to Your Door” feature will send you a hard drive filled with your data so you can load it onto a new computer. This also costs $125 (with shipping both ways) and the monthly cost of remote storage.

Compared with competitors, CrashPlan fares well. For example, CrashPlan doesn’t limit upload or download speeds, while Carbonite limits upload speeds for large amounts of data after a certain amount has been backed up, further slowing the process. Mozy supports external drives, but this backup is deleted if the drive is disconnected or turned off for more than 30 days. CrashPlan keeps the backup indefinitely, waiting for the drive to be reconnected.

—See a video with Katherine Boehret on CrashPlan at WSJ.com/PersonalTech. Email katie.boehret@wsj.com.