Showcase Saturday: Bright Sky

Published on Jan 30, 2010   //  Showcase Saturday

Do you like the light and airy feel of Twitter? Do you want to give the same kind of atmosphere to your personal or professional blog? One of the newer themes to hit the Internet recently is called Bright Sky and it’s clear that it was inspired by a tweeting bird.

By and large, the color scheme for bright sky is comprised of white and light blue, giving you the sense that you are hanging out in the clouds. The header image elicits the same kind of reaction as the Twitter homepage, but hopefully without that ever-present fail whale making an appearance.

Further to its Twitter inspiration is the inclusion of widgets for showing your most recent tweets. Alternatively, you can use that same space as a “lifestream” on your blog, displaying not only Twitter updates, but also the updates you post through Facebook, Flickr, and other online communities. Substantial integration has been included for advertising as well.

You can see the live demo of Bright Sky on KreativeThemes.com. More information and the download link can be found there too.

In the Sphere: More from the Net

Published on Jan 29, 2010   //  In the Sphere

Well, we’ve made it to the end of another work week, so it’s time to treat ourselves to some of the best from the blogosphere. Enjoy!

Free Money Finance has uncovered an interesting piece on how different age groups view their careers. Baby boomers tend to define themselves based on their job choices, but busters see work as an irritant and a necessary evil. Do these guidelines fit with your viewpoint?

Scott Young knows that there is a time to have fun and a time to be serious, but did you know that there is such a thing as the serious pursuit of fun? As it turns out, if you want to have a whole lot of fun, sometimes you have to put in the serious effort to get everything properly organized and ready to go.

Darren Barefoot, along with everyone else remotely interested in technology, heard about a little Steve Jobs announcement on Wednesday morning. As nice a device as it may be, Darren has a hard time finding the purpose of the iPad tablet. If the iPad is a hammer, where is the nail?

Hummingbird604, who you may know better as Raul Pacheco, recently made his way over to Glowbal Grill in Yaletown for a delicious lunch. If you go to this classy bistro before the end of the month, they’ll give you 50% off your lunch bill! The Dot Com Pho crew indulged in some Australian Wagyu steak there earlier this month too and they were thoroughly impressed.

Jay Piddy continues with the theme of food, but takes on a completely different spin. Check out the fantastic photo he took of the Crab Man at Pike Place Market. It doesn’t get much more random than an older gentleman, wearing a military uniform, posing with a live crab in his hand.

Marketing 101: Using Promotional T-Shirts

Published on Jan 28, 2010   //  Marketing Tips

A great marketing strategy is to distribute free promotional t-shirts to your customers and partners, as well as through any networking events or trade shows that your company may attend. The recipients feel like they are getting a free gift and you are effectively hiring a number of walking billboards.

That sounds like the ideal situation, but there is one major hurdle that you must first overcome. Convincing people to take a free shirt is not the problem; it’s convincing them to wear that shirt on a regular basis. After all, that shirt isn’t doing much advertising if it spends its lifetime in the back of a closet or in the bottom of a drawer.

In this way, it pays to spend some time with a creative team to decide on the t-shirt’s design. A shirt that has nothing but the company logo emblazoned across the chest will likely not be worn by too many people. The shirt from MarketLeverage, for example, has “I’m blogging this” written on it. That’s unique. In like manner, a shirt from OCZ Technology says that “SSD killed the HDD star” with some great graphics to boot.

It’s important to keep branding in mind, but too much branding can turn someone off from wearing your shirt in the first place. You want your company name or logo on there somewhere, but it doesn’t have to be the primary focus of the shirt.

WordPress Wednesday: WordPress Mobile Edition

Published on Jan 27, 2010   //  WordPress

More and more people are using their cell phones and smartphones to access the Internet these days. They’re watching YouTube videos, posting to their Twitter accounts, and keeping up with their RSS feeds. Is your blog properly equipped for the smaller screen?

One of the more useful plug-ins that you may want is called WordPress Mobile Edition. This plug-in serves two purposes. First, it detects the browser being used to access your website. Second, if it detects a mobile browser, it displays your blog using a mobile-friendly theme with minimal graphics and a simplified layout.

The idea is that WordPress Mobile Edition can provide a mobile-friendly interface for your blog “with progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers.” This should work not only for the iPhone, but also for BlackBerry devices, Nokia smartphones, and the like.

Go to Crowdfavorite.com for more information. The download link is located about halfway down that page.

Business 101: Convenience and Service Fees

Published on Jan 26, 2010   //  Business Topics

Over the weekend, Darren Barefoot wrote a blog post about the silly service fees being charged by Cinemark. When you choose to buy and print your movie tickets at home, they charge a $1.00 service fee per ticket above and beyond the cost of the ticket itself.

As Darren mentions, this makes very little sense from a business standpoint. By having your customers print their tickets at home, you reduce the labour cost involved with hiring more ticket sellers on location and you save some money related to the ink and paper needed to print these tickets. Fewer lineups, more convenience, and everyone is happier all around.

Yes, I understand that there must have been some initial costs involved in setting up the online payment system, but by charging the additional $1 fee, you are actually discouraging customers from using it. That defeats its purpose. Similarly, Ticketmaster charges you a fee if you print the ticket at home, but no additional fee if you have the ticket mailed to you or if you pick it up from a local Ticketmaster outlet.

One of the comments posted on Darren’s blog explains that the online ticket sales service is likely outsourced to a third-party, which charges Cinemark a fee for each ticket sold through the service. Rather than absorb this cost, Cinemark passes the charge onto the consumer. This may very well be true, but I agree with Darren in that it is not a smart business practice.

What do you think? If you were Cinemark, would you provide the “print at home” service for free or would you charge the $1 fee?

Great Gadgets: Kandle eBook Reader Light

Published on Jan 25, 2010   //  Gadgets

Great Gadgets: Kandle eBook Reader Light

One of the major selling points for these new e-book reader devices is that they consume very little power and can last for days on end without having to be charged. That’s because they only use power to change what’s on the e-ink display and not to keep it there.

However, this also means that e-book readers typically do not have backlit displays, just like the paper books and magazines that they are meant to replace. This is fine on a nice sunny day, but what about some evening reading? You need an outside light source and that’s where the creatively named Kandle can fit the bill. That’s a great name, don’t you think?

The Kandle is a simple clip-on light that will work not only with the Amazon Kindle, but also with just about any other e-book reader device. It folds down when not in use and it makes use of cool LED lighting when it is in use.

You can find the Kandle currently on sale on Amazon.com for $25. The regular price is $40, so if you want to save $15, you’ll want to act quickly.

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