Browsing"Business Tips"

The Office Space Mentality

Jul 10, 2012 by     Comments Off on The Office Space Mentality    Posted under: Blog, Business Tips, Life

Office Space Fax Machine sceneUnless you worked for Google or Facebook straight out of college, chances are you’ve worked at a place at one time or another that was straight out of Office Space.

Annoying manager who doesn’t know how to manage people. Computer equipment, printers and fax machines that haven’t worked since the ’90s when the company purchased them. Co-workers who hate being chained to their little cubicles as much as you do.

But what people who compare their work environment to Office Space fail to point out is that Peter Gibbons, Michael Bolton and Samir Nagheenanajar did something about their brutal day jobs. Now I’m not recommending you go out and conspire to shave money off your company’s bottom line with the penny algorithm, but do something about your predicament other than bitch about it.

Go out and search for a better job. Talk to management about the lack of motivation and spirit and culture of the company. 

I was in the newspaper business as a reporter and editor for close to a  decade, and that was my biggest gripe with the industry. 

Too many of the folks at the top, in director and management positions, acting as if they were in the band on the Titanic — playing the same old song as the ship was going down. 

The reporters, who did most of the work and were the eyes and ears of the community and its dissatisfaction with the newspaper, complained to one another and even some of the desk editors, but few voiced their concerns at the top until it was too late. 

The newspaper was then left with folks who didn’t want to shake the boat in fear of being included in the next round of layoffs. So instead of looking out for the community, accepting new media and ramping up for the next form of watchdog journalism we expect from our local newspapers, the “higher ups” spent their time cutting everything underneath them in hopes of pulling the paper’s parent company out its hole.

Whether you’re in the newspaper industry, or the tech industry, never settle for status quo if you’re unhappy with your situation.

If you’re professional in how you deliver your concerns and are constructive with your criticism to management, or human resources, you will earn their respect … and, hopefully, help change the culture and mentality of your work place in the process.

 Photo: Office Space

Survey Gizmo Teaches us a Valuable Lesson

Apr 24, 2012 by     Comments Off on Survey Gizmo Teaches us a Valuable Lesson    Posted under: Blog, Business Tips

There was a pretty big story in the online marketing world that went surprisingly unnoticed this past weekend by many tech reporters and bloggers.

But if you are a member of Survey Gizmo, you probably noticed what happened.

SurveyGizmo.com, a site that we use from time to time for advanced surveys, went down over the weekend because the auto-billing on its credit card used to renew its domain failed.

According to CEO Christian Vanek: “Our domain registrar then expired our domain and immediately replaced it with an advertisement for their own website.  As far as we can tell there was no notification from the company that that this was going to happen.  They are normally a great registrar, so we assume this was a technical problem.”

While we applaud how Survey Gizmo handled the issue, getting in front of the screwup and being transparent with its customers, this should have never happened. Websites of this size should register their domain at least five years out, and there’s no excuse for having a site’s registration fail and auto-renew.

Even if it was because of a credit card that had been stolen and had been since canceled. That’s exactly why you register your domain years out, because credit card numbers and expiration dates change all the time whenever you get a new card or lose one.

Domain hiccups have happened to everyone in this business. Heck, I’ve lost some really good domains over the years, but for a company of that size, it’s inexcusable to not spend a couple hundred dollars on pushing your domain registration out a few more years … and there’s a takeaway here for all of us.

Log in to your registrar right now and renew your domain for at least another couple years before it becomes too late and you have to learn this lesson the hard way.

“This issue will not have an opportunity to resurface for a long time,” Vanek said in an email to users. “However, in ten years when our domain is up for renewal again, I can assure you that we will not have a repeat of this problem.”

PPC costs rising year over year, but by how much?

Apr 9, 2012 by     Comments Off on PPC costs rising year over year, but by how much?    Posted under: Blog, Business Tips
PPC Growth & Inflation

A look at why PPC costs are rising each year.

If you’ve run PPC (pay per click) ad campaigns for an extended period of time using a service like Google Adwords, you’ve probably noticed an increase in the average cost per click for many search ads over the past couple years.

Which brought up a great question by a colleague of mine recently: “How much do PPC (pay per click) costs typically increase year over year?”

Unfortunately, even the big search marketing outfits haven’t provided a real go-to source that addresses this topic. I think a big part of it is they don’t want to scare off clients by telling them they can expect to pay 8-12% more on their PPC campaigns if they want to continue to compete each year. Read more »

Word 2010 Review: Improving Collaboration and Navigation

Aug 26, 2010 by     Comments Off on Word 2010 Review: Improving Collaboration and Navigation    Posted under: Blog, Business Tips

When I first made the jump from Microsoft Word 97 to Word 2007, it was just that … a giant leap.

Going a decade between software updates is as dumb as it sounds, but when you’re used to a solid word processor like Word 97, you tend to stick with what you know.

Word 2007 changed all that. XML file formats and a revamped interface drove me crazy for the first couple weeks (months?), but after time (and a few patches that made ’07 files compatible with older versions of Word), I became a fan.

Luckily for Word 2007 users, upgrading to 2010 won’t be such a leap. After testing out the beta version of Word 2010, it appears to be a solid upgrade that allows users to better collaborate and work in an online workspace, along with the formatting and graphic improvements you’ve come to expect with new versions of Word.

Word 2010 is scheduled to be released with Microsoft Office 2010 around midyear. In the meantime, you can download a beta version of Office 2010.

A look at what stood out about the latest version of Word in my eyes:

Real-time collaboration

As a writer, the real-time collaboration will probably be my favorite feature – one I wish Microsoft would have implemented years ago when I was a roaming reporter who spent weeks on end working remotely.

In Word 2010, you can use SkyDrive to save your document to the web and make it available from any computer or share it with colleagues. All you need is a Windows Live account and to share your document to docs.live.net, which can be done by going to File –> Share –> Save to SkyDrive.

Once shared, you can see if someone’s actively working on the document online, review edits that have been made, make suggestions and access all of your co-worker’s contact information if further discussion is needed.

Co-authoring will also be available in Office 2010’s PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, which gives collaborators an alternative to Google Docs.

This is big for writers, editors, anyone who is working remotely on a project and wants to go over edits with another colleague, such as an editor or publisher.

Word 2010 allows you to work within the “cloud,” which is a sketchy idea for some but useful for writers like me who work on multiple machines and often collaborate with other editors or writers.

Pulling documents from a cloud will save me a lot of hassle, so I don’t have to email myself at home or when one PC isn’t recognizing my dinged-up flash drive.

And as long as you back up often, work smart, and keep your documents secure, working in a cloud shouldn’t be any more of an issue than working on a website hosted on somebody else’s server.

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Find what you’re looking for

Another issue with the older versions of Word was search functionality.

Ctrl-F can only take you so far in this day and age. Word 2010’s navigation pane and find/search experience continues to evolve.

The new nav/sidebar – which essentially combines the features of the docu map, thumbnails, outline view and find – allows users to reorganize documents by dragging and dropping rather than copying and pasting actual pages of content (which can be a pain due to Word’s auto formatting).

Jumping around via the sidebar is becoming the standard, think PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat, so it’s nice that Word is keeping up with the competition.

From the sidebar/nav, you can follow what pages are actively being edited by co-authors and remain aware of edits via the co-author indicator.

Incremental search makes searching more efficient, and the search-summary highlights are more helpful when working in large documents. This is useful when working within wordy whitepapers or for tech writers working in manuals they’re unfamiliar with, editing manuscripts, etc.

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Graphic improvements

Word 2010 also brings on all the graphic improvements you’ve come to expect with new versions of word.

Improvements include new Smart Art graphics, artistic effects, photo editing, easy screenshot insertion, paste previews, reflection/shading/glowing

effects to your text.

I was more than content with the new graphics enhancements in Word 2007, but I’m sure these will come in handy and help improve the presentation of charts, images and photos within Word docs.

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Screenshots, however, have been a big sticking point with the community, which is why Microsoft streamlined the process of capturing screenshots in Word 2010. You could always just hit “Print Screen” and paste/Ctrl-V it into your 2007 Word .doc, but going the Insert –> Screenshot route in Word 2010 is a more user-friendly experience.

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What else I like about Word 2010

Printing improvements: Print preview/print screens have been combined and are much more user friendly.

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Get rid of Works: Microsoft has announced Microsoft Works will be replaced on bundled PC packages by a lightweight version of Word (a lightweight version of Excel will also be included) in Office Starter 2010. Still waiting to hear more details about what features will be included in this version of office, but I’m glad they’re moving away from Works.

Conclusion

All in all, I think Word 2010, like most of the products in Microsoft Office 2010, will be a solid upgrade with an emphasis on online collaboration.

I think the biggest question for the consumer will be just what features will be available online, and how much the complete Office Professional 2010 suite will set them back.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced it will offer an Office 2010 Tech Guarantee Program by the end of the March, which will allow users who purchased Office 2007 to get a free copy of the equivalent version of Office 2010.

That’s a good start. Now that beta testing is wrapping up, and the development of Office 2010 is nearing completion, we should be getting more details about pricing and release dates shortly.

In the meantime, if you’re considering upgrading to Microsoft Office 2010, give the beta version a spin and see if you like what they’ll have to offer later this year.

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