Showcase Saturday: Cold Water

Published on Jul 31, 2010   //  Showcase Saturday

Do you have a WordPress blog that isn’t updated all that often? Perhaps you use WordPress as a content management system for your portfolio site, for example, and it makes more sense to highlight single items than it does to provide a reverse chronological listing of blog posts.

If that happens to be the case, you might want to try the Cold Water theme that was recently released. This theme has a minimalist design, featuring a small space for the blog title and a strip across the top for the main navigation. Below this is a single content area that is designed as a content slider. By taking this approach, the entire site can load without vertical scrolling on the part of the user.

Below the content area are three sidebars that can be customized to suit your needs. At default, they are used to access the archives (by month), view the full calendar, provide a search bar, and provide a brief “about” area. You can add and remove content from these areas as you see fit.

Point your browser over to lauriliimatt.com for a preview image of the Cold Water theme, as well as the free download link.

In The Sphere: Whistler, Wasters, and Fluff

Published on Jul 30, 2010   //  In the Sphere

What did the blogosphere have to offer this week? Let’s find out!

Tyler Ingram reminds us that Whistler isn’t just for winter sports. He went up recently for some summer sightseeing and there was certainly a lot to see. From the impressive mounds of snow that remain unmelted to the juvenile black bear beneath the chair lifts, the Vancouver area resort town is well worth a visit.

Chris Bibey realizes that working from home has its benefits, but it also has its pitfalls. That’s why he outlines some of the time wasters that you’ll want to avoid. Are you taking too many breaks or checking your email too often? That time could be better spent in a more productive manner!

Michael Collins has a thing or two to say about the difference between fluff and interesting content. Just about anyone can have a blog these days, so how do you avoid filling your site with fluff? Develop a passion for many topics.

Matt Mullenweg is widely acknowledged as quite the successful online entrepreneur, having been recognized as one of PC World’s top 50 people on the web. He also knows why intelligent people fail. It’s not for a lack of smarts, certainly, so what is the one major factor that’s missing in their lives?

RT Cunningham shows us how societies are changing all around the world. In the Philippines, for instance, dogs are now mostly used as pets. However, as recently as the 1990s, having dogs as food was quite the common delicacy. There’s still an underground market for it, but that is shrinking rapidly.

Marketing 101: Relevance to Your Product

Published on Jul 29, 2010   //  Marketing Tips

One thing that I’ve learned from my years of television watching experience is that the actual content of a commercial doesn’t really have to do anything to the product or brand being promoted. In fact, it seems that some of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time are not at all relevant to their respective brands.

Consider some of the examples. From Budweiser, we were introduced to the Budweiser frogs, which later expanded into the Budweiser chameleons and the Budweiser weasel. These animals really have nothing to do with the beer, but we are constantly reminded of the brand.

Similarly, the E-Trade babies probably don’t have all that much to do with the stock trading market. However, they do hold a little more relevance that the Budweiser animals because the assumption is that the babies are meant to represent the relative ease of use for trading stocks on E-Trade. But where does that leave, say, the Geico gecko?

In the end, it is ultimately much more important to build up a strong brand presence than it is to market a specific product or service. When your company name becomes synonymous with a certain type of product or service, it’s no longer necessary to focus so much on the specifics.

WordPress Wednesday: Foursquare Map

Published on Jul 28, 2010   //  WordPress

Social media and social networking are as popular as ever. People are updating their Facebook statuses, sending out pictures through Twitter, and connecting with fellow professionals on LinkedIn. They’re also sharing their locations and favorite places with Foursquare, so how can you best integrate that network onto your blog?

One way to do it is with the recently released Foursquare Map WordPress plug-in. After installing and configuring this plug-in, you can place a widget in your blog’s sidebar that displays your most recent Foursquare check-in. This not only provides the name of the place, but an actual map to the location as well.

This way, people can stay on top of your Foursquare activities without actually having to go to the Foursquare website or using a compatible client of some kind. The plug-in was built using the Foursquare and Google Maps APIs, so you can expect “blistering fast speeds” for the map loading on your site.

Head over to DigitalCortex.net for more information and to download the Foursquare Maps plug-in for your WordPress blog.

Business 101: A Downtown Address

Published on Jul 27, 2010   //  Business Topics

Generally, all companies want to increase their brand presence in the marketplace. They do this with advertising, Twitter accounts, and marketing campaigns. They also want their brands to be perceived as trustworthy and legitimate. They do this with professional logos, professional web domains, and professional press releases. One other way they do this is with choice of address.

For better or for worse, there is a certain extra air of legitimacy when it comes to businesses that come with a downtown mailing address. This offers the perception of being for real and being reasonably profitable. If a company can afford to have an office in a downtown highrise, they must be doing something right, right? Well no, not necessarily, but that the perception that many people may have, even if it is not a conscious perception.

So, what does this mean for smaller businesses and sole proprietorships where downtown rent simply is not possible? Well, it is possible to look into co-working spaces in your area. The Network Hub, for instance, is a great Vancouver example that not only offers coworking office space, but it also has a mail service. This way, you can say that your company is “located” at a “suite” in the Network Hub’s downtown Vancouver address.

Contrast this to an address that would place your company in the middle of a highly residential suburban neighborhood, an area where you might live and work if you happen to work from home. That gives away some personal information and it may confuse some clients when they are attempting to send something to your “business” address in the ‘burbs.

Great Gadgets: India’s $35 Tablet Computer

Published on Jul 26, 2010   //  Gadgets

Have you been eyeing one of those hot new Apple iPads but you’re having a hard time justifying the asking price? Perhaps you see the incredible potential for such a device in the classroom, but it just doesn’t seem cost-effective? Leave it up to some engineering marvels in India to “solve” this problem with an upcoming touchscreen tablet computer.

The kicker is that this portable device is set to cost just $35. The prototype is shown here and the aim is to use the tablet computer with students, going into full production some time next year. As you can imagine, the specs aren’t quite up to snuff with the Apple version. There is a touchscreen, to be sure, but there is no hard drive or other internal storage; everything is done through the memory card reader.

Using Linux as its operating system, the cheap tablet from India will be able to handle basic tasks like word processing, web browsing, and even video conferencing. There’s even consideration of a version with solar panels, allowing the device to be used in rural areas where access to electricity is more challenging.

Learn a little more about this remarkably affordable tablet computer via the AP article on Yahoo News. There’s word that the government of India may even subsidize the product to bring the effective retail price down to just twenty bucks!

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