Great Gadgets: Aluratek 2-Port VGA Video Splitter

Published on Nov 30, 2009   //  Gadgets

Aluratek 2-Port VGA Video Splitter

Ever wanted to output your computer’s display onto two separate screens? There are a variety of ways to do this, but one of the simplest may be with something like the Aluratek 2-Port VGA Video Splitter. This plugs into the VGA output on your laptop or desktop, splitting the signal into two separate outputs.

This way, the single VGA port on your computer can send its video signal to two displays. This can be great for sales presentations, board meetings, or even in a retail setting where you want to have an ongoing presentation shown on two televisions or LCD monitors. The inexpensive price point is certainly an attractive feature as well.

Do you need to connect to more than two computers? It is possible to purchase several of these splitter adapters and link them together in a daisy chain configuration. The Aluratek VGA video splitter will work with VGA, SVGA, and Multi-Sync monitors. It’s too bad that it does not do DVI, but VGA is acceptable for many applications.

Find the Aluratek 2-Port VGA Video Splitter on Amazon.ca for $31.77.

WordPress Development: WordPress 2.9 Beta 1

Published on Nov 29, 2009   //  Development

WordPress Development

Over the last few months, development of WordPress version 2.9 has been in full swing. The major features that have been added are: basic image editing; easier video embedding; post, page and comment trash can; plugin update notification and compatibility notification in WordPress’ core upgrader and various developer and bug fixes. Along with the major changes, the smaller features and changes in 2.9 are listed here. Development is starting to come to a close, and help is needed to begin testing WordPress 2.9 beta 1.

If you’re interested in testing out beta 1 of WordPress 2.9, you can download it here (zip). You can also run the latest development version via subversion. Remember that this is pre-production software, and bugs are likely present. It is not recommended that you run this in a production environment, use a development environment instead. However, if you do decide to run the beta on your production blog, be sure to backup your blog’s files and database beforehand (as a precaution).

After testing the beta out, you can report any problems on the wp-testers mailing list. If you spot a reproducable bug, you can report it to WordPress’ ticket-management system: Trac (you can sign in using your WordPress.org account). Happy testing, the WordPress community appreciates it.

In the Sphere: Black Friday Edition

Published on Nov 27, 2009   //  In the Sphere

If you are reading this post from the United States, one of two things must be true. Either you have decided to opt out of the Black Friday mayhem or you have already endured it this morning and now you’re finding your reprieve back home. Whatever the case, I congratulate you and reward you with some good blog reading. Enjoy!

Jeff Kee is very much a fan of his Apple products, but he’s not afraid to take an objective viewpoint on the company’s business practices. He dissects Apple’s official position statement against the FCC. The maker of the iPhone tends to block any app, like Google Voice, that may bite into the revenue of Apple (and AT&T).

Shelly Tucker is just as interested in herself as you may be in yourself. There is certainly value in introspection, so perhaps you should try defining yourself with Wordle. This fun tool helps to describe who you are with a word cloud, not unlike the tag clouds you see on blogs.

Debbie Dragon recently contributed an article to Consumerism Commentary. In it, she works on the arithmetic to determine whether a college degree is worth the investment. College graduates tend to earn more money, but they also typically graduate with debt and they sacrifice up to five years of income while in school.

John Biehler knows as well as anyone that a picture is worth a thousand words. As such, one of his most recent posts is a collection of random photos that he has taken. The fisheye shots of the dogs are positively adorable, but there is a certain former captain who steals the show.

Deb Ng received an email from one of her readers. The reader works as a freelance writer online and her friend works at a trade publication. They entered a competition to see who could earn more in 2009 and the reader earned $52,000. The friend? $37,000. The friend says that the places where the reader works are “not good for writers.” What do you think?

Marketing 101: Products in Lieu of Payment

Published on Nov 26, 2009   //  Marketing Tips

We would all like to have the advertising budgets of Apple and Coca-Cola, but that’s obviously not the case for the vast majority of us. That does not mean that you are out of luck when it comes to opportunities to promote your business. It just means that you have to be a little more creative.

More specifically, you may have some cash flow issues when you first start out with your small business and, as such, you may not have the funds available to devote to advertising. How can you overcome this shortage without having to take out a massive business loan? Have you considered bartering and exchange as a possibility?

Say, for example, that you are starting a new local eatery and you want to get the word out in the community. What you could do is print out a series of inexpensive flyers and have them distributed to businesses in the area. In exchange for allowing your flyer to be pasted to their storefront windows, you can provide the employees there with X number of meals, food, or drink. This is far less expensive than buying the advertising directly.

Taking a more social media-minded approach, you could ask to get a number of bloggers and other local news outlets to try out your new restaurant. In exchange for providing them with a free meal, they can do a write-up on your eatery and help to promote the kinds of cuisine that you have to offer.

Be creative. Offering products or services in lieu of cash payments can be a great way to squeeze more out of your marketing budget.

WordPress Wednesday: Additional Image Sizes

Published on Nov 25, 2009   //  WordPress

Normally, when you go to upload a new picture on your blog, you are given four primary insertion options. In addition to the areas for selecting the alignment, alt text, and link information, you can also select the size of the image that you would like to insert in your blog post. These sizes can be adjusted from within the WordPress control panel.

There are four sizes by default: thumbnail, medium, large, and full size. For the most part, you should be able to find the size that you need based on these four options and your ability to customize their respective dimensions from the dashboard. But what if you want more? That’s where the Additional Image Sizes plug-in comes into play.

As you can imagine, this WordPress plug-in lets you define additional image sizes that can be removed and added at will. The user interface is meant to be quite simple and straightforward, so if you already know how to embed new images in your blog posts, you should have no trouble understanding this added functionality.

For more information and to download the Additional Image Sizes plugin, head over to WalterVos.com.

Business 101: The Strength of Small Business

Published on Nov 24, 2009   //  Business Topics

Proprietors of smaller businesses may assume that they will never be able to compete against the larger corporations. We hear news all the time about the Walmart effect and how mom-and-pop shops always suffer when a Walmart moves into town. They assume that these smaller businesses cannot fight against the lower prices offered by the “big boys.”

While it may be true that these smaller stores cannot offer the same kind of pricing advantage as their larger, multinational counterparts, small businesses can still compete in other ways. In fact, it’s almost a little ironic that Sir Richard Branson, one of the richest men in the world, still takes on a small business mentality for the various arms of his corporation. Virgin Airlines, for example, is much smaller than British Airlines.

How has he been able to achieve the level of “small business” success that he has? Branson says that you must “use the strengths of being small” to fight off the intruding big business. Smaller businesses usually offer a more personal approach, because they tend to value each individual customer more. Depending on the side of the business, they may even know each individual customer by name. This more personal level of customer service can be a huge advantage, as can the greater loyalty that employees may have for their smaller employers.

Further still, small businesses tend to be more nimble. In order for any major changes to occur at a larger corporation, they must fight through all sorts of bureaucratic red tape, executive meetings, and widespread deployment. A smaller company can make bigger changes more quickly, simply because of its smaller scale.

Just because your company is smaller does not mean that you cannot achieve Branson-level success. You just have to use your strengths to your advantage.

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