In the Sphere: Luck, Linux, and Location

Published on Apr 30, 2010   //  In the Sphere

It’s time for another eclectic collection of blog posts. Have a great weekend.

Deb Ng takes a moment to remind us of the difference between luck and hard work. Remember that overnight success can be attributed to luck, but long-lasting success can be much better attributed to hard work over the long haul. You can’t control luck, but you can control your work ethic.

Chris Bibey offers a never-ending wealth of information for beginning and veteran freelancers alike. To further aid in the online community, Chris now has an open call for questions. If you want to know anything about the freelance business, now is the time to ask Chris for some free guidance.

RT Cunningham gets just as frustrated with Windows products as the next person, but he’s not moving to a Mac like how so many other people are doing. Instead, he encourages the migration to Linux instead. The best part is that it’s free!

Miss 604 is one of the best hyper-local bloggers in Vancouver, but she can stretch out for a few hours outside of town too. In fact, now that the Olympics are over, she can tell you about the top five things to do in Whistler in 2010. Have you ridden the peak-to-peak tram yet? Partaken in the fine dining that Whistler has to offer?

Bob Buskirk stays on the bleeding edge of the social media scene, so he’s asking why you’re not on Foursquare yet. Facebook and Twitter can be fun, but he’s saying that Foursquare can offer a lot more value beyond those more mainstream social networks. What do you think?

Marketing 101: Changing Product Names

Published on Apr 29, 2010   //  Marketing Tips

One of the key goals to any marketing effort is to get the general public to know and love your brand. You want them to be familiar with your product name so that when they go into a retailer (or wherever they would make the purchase), they can ask for your product by name. This is much better than if a customer goes in to ask for “that doohickey” by “some company.”

This is why I find it quite confusing why Dreamworks Animation and Paramount Pictures would take the strategy that they have for the fourth entry in the Shrek movie franchise. When the announcement was first made for this sequel, the movie was referred to as Shrek Goes Fourth. That’s already a clever pun, but apparently it wasn’t good enough.

At some point during the development cycle, they decided to change the name of the movie to Shrek Forever After. That’s still a pun and it’s debatable whether it is more or less clever, but it seemed like that movie title was going to stick. It appeared on a lot of marketing material and it seemed to be the title going forward.

However, the title was once again changed recently. In some circles, people still call it Shrek Forever After, but it seems that all the new promotional material is referring to the movie as Shrek: The Final Chapter. Some other material calls it Shrek: The Final Chapter in 3D.

With this many name changes, the Shrek movie probably won’t lose much steam, since the Shrek franchise is already very well established, but can you imagine if this was a new product or a new franchise altogether? The branding is a nightmare! Unless you have a very good reason to change it, it’s probably in your best interest to choose a “good” name and stick with it.

WordPress Wednesday: TwitPic-It

Published on Apr 28, 2010   //  WordPress

Are you looking for yet another way to connect your blog with your social networking endeavors? We’ve already seen a variety of plugins that can automatically syndicate your blog’s content to your Twitter account, but TwitPic-It takes this just a step further.

Using this free WordPress plugin, you can have your image uploads automatically sent to TwitPic for sharing with your Twitter followers. Normally, when you upload images to your Media Library on your WordPress blog, either for posts or pages, that content remains on your site alone. This plugin pushes those same pictures into the social media sphere immediately.

Before you get concerned about breaking embargos or leaking information that you’d rather not have public just yet, be aware that the TwitPic-It WordPress plugin comes with a checkbox in the WordPress media uploader. This way, you can skip the uploading of the image to TwitPic should you so choose. You can also track the TwitPic uploads from the TwitPic-It settings page.

Head to the WordPress Plugin Directory to get a TwitPic-It description, as well as several screenshots and that all-important download link.

Business 101: Quandary of Broken Street Dates

Published on Apr 27, 2010   //  Business Topics

When it comes to official product launches, many companies want to control the official “street date” of their products. Also known as ship dates or launch dates, these street dates define when the product can go on sale to the general public. This is very common with books, music, movies, video games, and the like, as well as electronics and other items.

The quandary is that some retailers can sometimes choose to “break” street date, selling or shipping the product ahead of schedule. For instance, Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul by John Chow and Michael Kwan has an official ship date of May 1, but some Amazon customers have reported that their preorders have already been fulfilled and they have the book in hand. Similarly, some video game stores started selling Super Street Fighter IV last week, ahead of today’s official release date.

For the retailer, breaking street date could represent a slight increase in sales, because customers are motivated to get the product ahead of schedule. They’ll shop with that retailer rather than the guy down the street who is waiting for the official release date. On the flip side, should this retailer “get caught” with breaking the street date, the supplier or creator of the product may dish out a punishment of some kind. That’s a major risk, because the supplier may choose to no longer supply that retailer with any products at all.

On the flip side, this kind of reprimand can ultimately work against the supplier. You want to have the product available in as many venues as possible. Punishing a retailer for breaking street date by taking away the product can take away from potential sales. It becomes a double-edged sword. Punish and you’re punished too. Don’t punish and the retailer will continue to break the rules.

What are your thoughts on retailers who break street date? Simply a part of the business or a completely unacceptable business practice?

Great Gadgets: Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro

Published on Apr 26, 2010   //  Gadgets

Cell phones can be a very fickle business, since their innovation and development can be rapidly accelerated due to new announcements from competitors. The original Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 was made by HTC and powered by Windows Mobile, but that changed with the more recent release of the XPERIA X10. That phone gets Google Android.

Perhaps the XPERIA X10 is still too big for your tastes or you’d prefer to have a hardware QWERTY keyboard too? That’s where the newer Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro. Announced in February and set for release in Q2 2010, the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro is the smaller cousin of the X10, but it still boasts much the same kind of functionality, including the Android operating system. You’ll also notice the slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which is smaller than the one on the X1.

In terms of other features, the smaller 2.55-inch touchscreen display features just a 240 x 320 (QVGA) resolution. It also has a scratch-resistant surface, accelerometer, Timescape user interface, microSD expansion, 3G connectivity, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 5-megapixel camera, geotagging, and a Qualcommo MSM7227 600MHz processor.

Nothing has been confirmed at this point, but the rumor is that Rogers Wireless in Canada could start selling the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro smartphone this June. If you don’t want the keyboard and opt for a thinner profile, the XPERIA X10 Mini may also be sold at the same time. Rumor points toward $50 for the X10 Mini and $70 for the X10 Mini Pro with a new qualifying contract.

BlueFur Customer of the Week: LENAGRAFIKA

Published on Apr 25, 2010   //  BlueFur Customer of the Week

BlueFur is home to many fantastic people and it plays host to many different websites. BlueFur customers come from all walks of life and take on all sorts of professions, including the more creative ones. That’s exactly the case with Magdalena Zbiec of LENAGRAFIKA. She’s a graphic artist with an increasingly impressive portfolio.

According to her profile page, Magadalena (or “Lena” for short) is currently studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She is fascinated by how other people approach visual communication, which is what drew her to her current area of interest and expertise.

Her graphic artistry is quite varied and robust. It can be as simple as the Flying Pencil business card or it can be as dramatic as the series of flyers dedicated to British pop music. She has designed CD covers too. If you want to get some graphics or artwork completed by Ms. Zbiec, hit up her contact page to get started with your project.

If you are a BlueFur customer and would like to be featured in a future blog post, send an email to blogfeature@bluefur.com with your name, website, and a brief description of what you’d like to see highlighted.

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