Does Your Company Need a Blog?

It seems as if no matter what the industry, every company has a blog—leaving you wondering if your stand-alone web page is enough. Does your small business also need a blog? Here we explore some of the companies that are doing great things with their blogs, and the benefits they are reaping in return.

How others are profiting from blogs (and you can too)

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1. Bike Bandit: The Bike Bandit blog identifies as “The web’s largest source for power sports parts, accessories, gear and tires,” boasting an inventory of over 8 million products. They support a presence on every major social media site and actively keep up with and share industry news. They excel at getting customers to engage with their brand and refer to their blog as a community. Customers have come to recognize this “community” as a place to share experiences, “talk shop,” and keep the conversation going about all things motorcycle-related.

Takeaway: A blog can be used to inviting customers to feel like they’re a part of your business. Like chairs and newspapers in an old-time barbershop, a company blog can become a place to gather and swap stories. For the right clientele, that approach is golden.

2. Culinary Connection: This company helps aspiring chefs get the training they need without breaking the bank in high tuition fees. The Culinary Connection program doesn’t use a traditional classroom model, rather they place students in working kitchens for apprenticeships with professional chefs. Because of their interactive atmosphere, they support their business with a blog that discusses all things cooking and food. From sharing recipes to discussing techniques, they support themselves as an authority in the cooking industry and keep their clients returning for new information . No big sales pitches, just relevant content.

Takeaway: Your blog should stay consistent with your primary topic, and should focus on quality. You don’t need to push sales with your blog, rather, use it to attract potential clients and maintain existing ones.

3. Get Found First: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is big business, and Get Found First is one of the best at helping companies leverage their ad spend to bring in revenue. These guys know the value of content marketing, using well-informed articles, videos, infographics, and other media to attract the selected audience. Their company blog is called the “Knowledge Center,” and they keep their look and content fresh and valuable. Their focus is on continued education across topics someone involved with PPC would appreciate.

Takeaway: Make your blog visually appealing and use it as a space to educate your customers and shed light on emerging industry trends.

Tips on blogging for business

  • Don’t publish junk. If your editorial calendar calls for a post twice per day, and you’re not ready with a well-written article, don’t throw in something just to make the schedule. Make every piece of content count, and continuously strive for quality.
  • Do post regularly. A general rule of thumb is to create a new post at least twice per week. Find what is right for your industry and be consistent.
  • Do include a call to action. Have a call-to-action on your blog and in every post. Never leave the reader with nowhere to go, wondering how to do business with you, or where to go from there.

Mindfulness – A New Path To Treat Addiction

Addiction is said to be the scourge of the modern generation, with more and more (and increasingly young) men and women becoming trapped in a cycle of substance and alcohol abuse, that encourages them to engage in behaviors which are dangerous and life threatening.

Man is essentially the same as he ever was. The world around us has changed immeasurably since we took our first hesitant steps as a species – but our hardware, our brains are still the same. It is trying to cope with a modern world, but has never really evolved from the time in which all we had to worry about was gathering food, and running away from danger. Now we’re faced with so many problem, so much choice and so much stress that we often turn to things to help calm ourselves or quell the rising anxiety we feel.

 

PET brain scans show chemical differences in t...

PET brain scans show chemical differences in the brain between addicts and non-addicts. The normal images in the bottom row come from non-addicts; the abnormal images in the top row come from patients with addiction disorders. These PET brain scans show that that addicts have fewer than average dopamine receptors in their brains, so that weaker dopamine signals are sent between cells. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might reach for a drink if you’ve had a stressful day at work, but, if you’re someone who is predisposed to addiction, find that after a certain amount of time, that one drink is not enough and that more is required to get the same feeling. The same goes for illicit substances. Your brain gets into a pattern called a “habit loop” and this, to overcome addiction, needs to be broken.

 

For years, treatments like 12 Step Programs or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy were the gold standard for things like this, with good  results. But nowadays psychologists and doctors want other options to be available to their patients and one tried and tested model that shows promise is Mindfulness.

As an emerging treatment for addiction, this is proven and has shown itself to be a very effective method of helping patients with addiction. It works by actively making the patient think about every step of the craving, the ingestion and the aftermath of taking a substance/smoking or drinking and helps them to try to reprogram the brain to recognize it as something unpleasant which will give them no pleasure at all.

Patients are actively encouraged to “feel” the sensations that a craving gives them, and to work on noticing how they react when they do not give in to the craving – from their they can work on kicking their habit and using other methods of meditation and relaxation to help them cope.

For more info on this topic, see  Is Mindfulness an Emerging Treatment for Addiction?

Free Microsoft Operating System Upgrades?

 

A BT Internet payphone loading Windows XP Embe...

A BT Internet payphone loading Windows XP Embedded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week or two ago, there was a good article entitled The case for making Windows (upgrades) free at case. Actually, this would have helped some of my friends. They have been running XP on their home computers. One didn’t want to spend the one hundred and fifty dollars Windows wanted. What alternative did they have? I ended up installing the Linux Ubuntu system with long-term support. Ubuntu also jumped from 12.04 to 14 and some decimal. The upgrade worded well with all the existing hardware. The best benefit was saving a hundred and fifty dollars.

Another friend was running XP on their home computer. I ran the Windows upgrade adviser and there was some hardware upgrades they needed to apply. I recommended that they go visit a friend of mine, who specializes in computer repair. The reason is that they would have the recommended hardware upgrades.

Then there is Apple. I think Apple does a good job of offering free upgrades. This is something Microsoft should look at and emulate. The only concern I have with Apple products is that the Apple centers are few and far between. For me to get instruction, buy an Apple computer and/or get it repaired, I would have to drive a half hour to visit a center. For Microsoft products, there are different ma and pa repair shop for fixing problems nearby. There are also Microsoft embedded computers for sale at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon, etc.

Probably in a year or two, I’ll either be forced to upgrade from Windows 7 or buy new machines with the latest operating system. Or I could take a twenty-minute drive and see what Apple has to offer. Or I could get a machine running a long-term support version of Ubuntu. If I took the Apple route, I’ll probably also take the Ubuntu route on another machine. Perhaps that is my solution to Windows and operating system upgrade payments.

One point the article made is this: “More importantly, though, Microsoft doesn’t need to charge for Windows upgrades. Technology changes over time. Hardware crashes and dies. There will be customers who will cling to their 10-year old hardware, but many will still buy new PCs to replace broken hardware, get a faster processor, or take advantage of the latest USB or Wi-Fi standards.”

Ten years? Why not? After all, you can run a car that long and use high quality, after market parts. And if the car needs a new engine, it’s easier to drop in a manufactured on than buy a new car.

Then there’s another article entitled 3 Reasons Microsoft Should Make Windows 10 Free. What are the three reason? According to the article, they are:

  • “People really didn’t like Windows 8 “
  • “Everyone thought the Start menu was going to be a Win 8 update”
  • “Microsoft needs to do the right thing”

And what was the wrong thing it did? According to the article, “Microsoft released an OS that was hard-to-use on non-touch devices that took away features its customers liked. It then ran a full-tilt marketing plan to coerce users to switch – including dropping support for Windows XP.”

All I can ask is this: Will we ever see the day of free Microsoft operating system upgrades? In the meantime, check out The geekiest tech jokes on the internet

A Trio of Tips That Will Help You to Successfully Market Your App

You did your research, read plenty of articles and infographics, and spent hours carefully crafting your very first app. Now it’s time to think about doing whatever you can to make sure people find it and use it. About 90 percent of people who download an app will use it for only about six months, according to Trademob. In order to help keep your app customers active and continue to use your app, as well as to attract new users, it’s vital to focus on marketing techniques and tactics.

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Harness the Power of Social Media

If you don’t already have accounts on all the social media websites, now is the time to create them. As a major bonus, using sites like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about your app is completely free. Once you have your pages set up on all the sites including Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, promote your application at least a few times a week on each site to help get the word out about what the app is and how it can benefit people. Encourage people to “like” or follow your posts by offering a discount on your app to those who do so. In addition to using social media to advertise your app, you can also connect with other groups and people that will help to boost your knowledge of app marketing and development.

Figure out the Price

Although it’s natural to want to get as much financial bang for the buck from each app download as possible, try not to price yourself right out of the app ballpark. Understandably, the apps that tend to be downloaded the most are the free or super low-priced ones, so try to price yours as low as you can. One way to make sure you are getting some revenue from all of your hard work is to create a “freemium” app that is free to download and then offers in-app purchase options, or you could also offer a subscription service for people to use the app in an ongoing way. If you decide to offer at least part of your app’s features on a subscription basis, Chargify offers an outstanding subscription management services that will help handle and manage the billing process and let you focus your time and efforts on marketing.

Create a Clever but Searchable Name

Choosing a great name for your app is an important part of your marketing plan. You can have the best and most useful app on the planet, but if no one can find it based on its name, all of your hard work will be for naught. For example, try to come up with a name that is catchy, but also has a word that ties into what the app is about. When you submit the iOS app, you will also need to create an extended name as well as a short tagline. This should include certain keywords that help to make it very clear what your app does, and allows people who are searching for an app just like yours to find it.

Windows and free software

 

Windows mobile

Windows mobile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back, I wrote about my problems with Ubuntu and Windows. It was entitled Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine. Now I was left with a choice – either run Windows or Ubuntu by itself. So I opted to run just Windows, as it was already installed.

Now I’m not anti- Windows, anti-Linux nor Anti-Apple. It’s just with Mac stuff, I don’t have any experience with it. But for now, I will stick with Windows and a paid security suite. I feel that the paid security versions are a bit above the free ones. I recommend the site Filehippo and installing their update checker.

But most folks need a word processor and Excel sheet solution. They also need a solution to read Word documents – in Excel and Word. For a viewer, I recommend installing the Kingsoft office suite. It associates itself with all the Microsoft office suite document types. But for real work, you can’t beat Libre Office. The license agreement of Open Office allows Libre Office to include any features Open Office creates – but not the other way around.

For zip files, I use Peazip. It’s an active project and constantly being worked on. I also believe it uses some elements of 7-Zip.

VLC media player for playing sound and video files. Audacity is used as a sound editor and recorder. Both are great tools.

Skype is still my preferred communication tool – even though it is owned by Microsoft. It’s free and you know it won’t have conflicts with any Windows supported operating system. If I was looking for an alternative, then I would choose Google Hangouts.

For browsers, I prefer Firefox and Google Chrome. But I also have Opera installed, should I ever need it. I do believe that internet Explorer is a good browser. I just prefer the open source versions and the developed extensions.

I really need to plug Malwarebytes as a good scan tool. Each week, I do a quick scan with both my paid security suite and Malwarebytes. Of course, I don’t run them at the same time. I think that between the two tools, they can detect any problem that comes your way. And if you send any email attachments to the Virus Total scanner, it should ensure you are clean.

For a mail client, nothing can be Thunderbird. You can configure all your email accounts with it and handle your mail with one tool.

Then there’s the Java Run time Environment. While there are open source alternatives, I still go with the one from Oracle. Sure, it’s not open source. But you have a big company behind it and it’s very stable and often being developed.

Anything else? Sure. If you run a Mac, then I would also install File Hippo update checker and get software from their site. Why pay either Microsoft or Apple for software, when you can get either a free and/or open source alternative?

The Grief Recovery Hanbook Review

 

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 4, 2014, will be the one year anniversary of my mom Lucille’s death. There is a similarity between the death and hospital stay, of my mom and Joan Rivers. Both were diagnosed with cardiac arrest, both were in a coma for a week and both moved out of intensive care – after a week. Now the cause for Joan Rivers was something related to the outpatient procedure. For my mom, the cause was acute stomach bleeding. I’m not sure why both cases had only a week in intensive care. Perhaps it was something to do with insurance. In my mom’s case, I did insist on the MRI results, that would show potential brain damage.

According to the medical doctor on ABC News, you have a four to six-minute window, after cardiac arrest sets in.  Otherwise  brain damage would occur.  Which makes me wonder if local police departments are trained in these matters.  When I called for my mom, they sent both an ambulance and a local police officer.  The officer first came up to check the situation.  Then when the paramedics asked what medicines she was taken, I mentioned just over the counter remedies.  The police officer on duty asked me to see the medicines – which I showed him.  Both examples were ticking away precious seconds, in the four to six-minute window.  I’m sure the outpatient clinic for Joan Rivers was better trained in these matters.  Perhaps both Joan Rivers daughter and myself should check legal options?

Now this brings me to a great book entitled The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith Paperback by John W. James (Author), Russell Friedman. After my mom’s death, I had help offers from local hospice grief counselors and the local police department social workers. But instead I worked with local church and retirement home grief recovery groups, in the area. This helped me out a bit. Unfortunately, this book came to my attention just now.

I came across the book from their online grief seminar. I ordered the book through the local library and checked out the reviews on Amazon. It has an average rating of five out of five stars, from about two hundred reviewers. One point the book made is that total recovery might take from two to three years. While I might feel grief after the one year anniversary, most of my grief probably worked itself out within a year. It’s still too soon to tell.

I do like that the book has you create grief timeliness for major events. It also has one of the authors sharing their own grief story, as well as stories from other participants. I can’t comment on their grief groups, as I haven’t attended one. But if you work with hospice grief counselors and groups, as well as church sponsored grief groups, it can probably be a good addition.

The book is a short one – perhaps too short. But it had good things to say. A church my mom and I used to attend, sent me the series Journeying through Grief by Dr.Kenneth C. Haugk.  The four volume free series is about the size of the Grief Recovery Handbook.   Now Grief Recovery is a secular program. There’s another series called Grief Share, which is a faith-based program. But I honestly feel you need both a secular and a faith-based approach – to get a proper balance

In the end, you have to do the work – to work through the grief. I remember my senior year in high school. In a literature class, we had to read The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Back then, they had a comic series called Classics Illustrated and Cliff Notes. I brought and read both, hoping to avoid the reading assignment. But I got hooked by the comic book version and book outline series. It prompted me to read the original book. But I did give the comic book and Cliff Notes to others to use. It turned out you really had to read the book, to answer the test questions. The teacher was smart. There was no short cur. You also have to do the exercises in the grief book – to work through the grief.

Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine

 

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit ...

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric on Budapest, Hungary Español: Fotografía del Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric en Budapest, Hungría (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a laptop running both Windows and Ubuntu. It’s referred to as a dual boot. For Ubuntu, I was running 12.04 LTS. There was an offer to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. It sounds reasonable. Now I do back up my machines to an external drive each week. This way, if there were a problem, I could revert back to a previous version.

 

I did install 14.04 LTS, which took about six hours or so. When it finally completed, I got this error message: “Upgraded to 14.04 reboot fail.” Fortunately, I’ve learned to search Google for error messages and see what tech forums teach me. In this case, the discussion at Ubuntu Forum There was one answer and involved interrupting the Ubuntu boot process. Then you had to use a tool called the Grub manager and change all read to read/write occurrences.

Guess what? That worked! But then problems occurred when I permanently changed all occurrences from read to read/write, in the configuration file. There was no occurrence of read in the temp configuration file. I had to change this in the permanent configuration file, which is not recommended.

To make a long story short, this worked for Ubuntu. I could bring up 14.04 LTS with no problem. The problem was one the windows side. For one thing, the time and date display was showing midnight, for the next day. Windows couldn’t find Java on the machine. There was also a few other problems.

Anyway, I thought I would see if Windows could be fixed. If so, I would abandon Ubuntu and run just Windows. After all, I do run mostly freeware or open source on Windows – except for a paid security suite. Otherwise, I use tools like Pea Zip, Libre Office, and VLC video player.

The biggest issue was the Java run-time environment. I first tried to install the sixty four bit version and it took several minutes. Windows couldn’t find the run-time environment, even after the install completed. So I thought I would reboot and try to install the 32 bit version. I tried this twice. For some reason, it worked on the second install. I don’t’ know why. Perhaps Windows takes a few reboots, in order to accomplish this.

I think the root issue was that Ubuntu didn’t configure the upgrade for those who used the Ubuntu Windows installer on 12.04 LTS. Sorry, Ubuntu. I do like your product. But now Windows has made it harder to duel boot with Linux systems. For now, I will run Windows and a paid security suite solution. But I will use the same open source products you find on Linux, as long as they are popular, supported and have a Windows version.

I really can’t say why Java was such a problem. But if someone has a cheap computer with Ubuntu as the sole operating system, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my home network. After all, I might want to open file attachments that are questionable, in a secure sandbox. But only after every anti-virus tool at Virus Total, flags everything as sound.

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