Friday, August 31, 2007

vCards...

I am republishing the code [originally posted in Q's Wire-- vCard]-- here for a php vCard tool I developed a couple of weeks ago:
<?php
header("Content-type: text/plain");
header("Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=qisoftware.vcf");
echo "BEGIN:VCARD"."\r\n";
echo "VERSION:2.1"."\r\n";
echo "TEL;PREF;WORK;VOICE;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:301.233.7899"."\r\n";
echo "TEL;WORK;FAX;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:"."\r\n";
echo "FN:QiSoftware"."\r\n";
echo "ADR;WORK;POSTAL;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:;8630-M Guilford Rd #276;Columbia;MD;21046;United States"."\r\n";
echo "EMAIL;INTERNET:qisoftware@gmail.com"."\r\n";
echo "URL;WORK:http://www.qisoftware.com/"."\r\n";
echo "TITLE:Regina Thomas"."\r\n";
echo "ORG:QiSoftware"."\r\n";
echo "END:VCARD"."\r\n";
?>


I think vCards are a great idea and wonder why more are not using them. See the Q's Wire post for installation instructions.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Building a Better Brochure

Monday, I spent most of the afternoon creating a hard copy brochure for a potential web hosting client. Something I had been planning to do, centralize the location of my template resources for demonstration purposes. This took up most of the afternoon.

Then it was off to put the letter/brochure together. I used Microsoft Word but could have used Publisher. The graphics would have been easier to handle with Publisher-- however I was not unhappy with the results. I also created new mailing labels for the combined QiSoftware <> Hosting-Q services. Looks something like this:

Some may think I have too much time on my hands. Perhaps I do. How often am I going to have a client request a brochure via regular mail? Create mailing labels? It was fun-- and easy. Well, there was a slight glitch in getting the mailing labels to align in the color ink-jet printer.

The Internet has made it so easy to put together online brochures for business. These days, I am not sure about costs for flyers, mailers, etc., but I appreciate the low cost of online marketing -- which allows me to showcase my tools and services in a widely seen market.

If you do not yet have an online presence for your business-- I can attest to the fact it is well worth the expenditure. How many clients are going to ask me for hard copy again? Not sure-- but the package I sent also provided links to my online marketing material.

If you would like to get started with online promotions for your business-- see Hosting-Q.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Other businesses I would like to blog about

Often small business owners are unsure what to blog about or do not have the time to blog about their daily operations.

I have given some thought to businesses I would love to blog about. One, a Bed & Breakfast operation. Why? The cozy, romantic nature of the business. You have couples or singles getting away from their busy lives for a quiet weekend. You meet different and interesting people. Of course you would have to be careful not to offend guests by providing too much information about their visits, but the daily operations could be very interesting.

Dining, mishaps, fun, funny, and of course discussion of guests perhaps out of the actual visit timeframe. A causal business observance with regard to visitors could also attract new visitors.

I could come up with any number of posts for a business like this?

Excluding your business, what other business do you think you could blog about?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ReviewMe...

I submitted this blog and Q's Wire... to ReviewMe in May 2007. Q's Wire... has an odd status with ReviewMe. It appears to be listed-- yet there are no rankings nor dollar figures. It is also not in the MarketPlace. I have had one or two requests for a Q's Wire... review however, I declined both. When I asked ReviewMe why the odd status, I did not get a direct response.

You can get a review for $40.00 on this blog-- I think this is a great deal, at this time. The claim, my Alexa ranking is low. Hmmm...

It seems, only a few can find Q's Wire... on ReviewMe. Odd-- it is the most popular area on the QiSoftware site and almost daily I get requests for link placement on WiredPages. WiredPages is one of the least popular according to my stats.

A major Credit Card recently okayed ads for all areas of QiSoftware with the exception of one. Q's Wire... was accepted. I have not put up the ads, because 1) I did not ask to have them okayed and 2) it is not clear to me they will actually benefit me. So much of this looks like it benefits someone else. I must not be doing as badly as Alexa claims. I am baffled.

By the way, I routinely decline review offers for this blog, too. I think this blog is a good deal at this time and do not want to be taken advantage of. There is often a fine line between trying to show someone what I can actually provide in the way of hits versus being taken advantage of.


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Personal News [Thoof] --


I am reviewing a new [online since June of this year] Personalized News service -- Thoof. I imagine that sounds like a "british" tuff. As a matter of fact, when I read over the short bios for each founder, I noted many appear to be from the United Kingdom (UK).

So what is Thoof?
Thoof is a user generated news and information service that learns about what you are interested in and delivers news that you care about.

-- Thoof Site FAQ - What is Thoof?


Sign up was a breeze-- enter your email address, get the confirmation link, use it, set the password and username when prompted [prompted separately], voilá you are done. The sign up process was so efficient I would recommend this to other services requiring a registration process. I am tired of filling out long online registration forms. Aren't you?

Okay, so how does it work?

Above, illustration of the navigation menu for the site. Easy and no submenus. The menu for the most part is self-explanatory with one clarification-- the "recent activity" menu item refers to stories submitted and not the user's activity. User's activity is reported via the "history" menu item.

Below-- example of a page assist-note you can opt to close. In this example, the history page is shown and provides the list of articles I reviewed.


As you can see, my first read from the site's article samplings-- "A 50 year old's advice for those in their 20s" from Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten. I chose this article because of the Washington Post tag...

The premise on which the site "learns" your favorite topics?
By tagging stories and the topics that interest you-- the service is able to direct you to those articles. The difference between other services that deliver articles to users-- Thoof offers a more personal selection of topics for each user.

There was one small glitch. The site claims that even though one can submit an article anonymously-- the article cannot be reviewed by anyone until the submitter signs up or in. This appears to be inaccurate-- but maybe there is a secret door for site managers who submit that allowed me to review one of their anonymous articles. One other little thing-- adult articles are accepted however there was no age query with sign up.

So do you still have questions about Thoof-- see here Thoof FAQs?

I think this is a pretty interesting idea for a news service and I will keep tabs to see where it goes.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Small Business Blogging-- Gather Article

Article submitted to Gather.com, discussing requirements and benefits of starting your own business blog.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Spokeo.com

There are a myriad of tools coming out or already available, that attempt to combine social networkers friends' information and doings into a central location for an aggregate reading experience. Think of it like a single conference call with your friends providing a data dump about their online activities. The difference, it's read and not heard and you get to keep up [even if you are busy]-- without too much fuss.

What is the information gathered? The information is the summarized online activities of friends. For example, if a friend posts an image to an online gallery, that information will be provided. Other summary information available-- RSS feeds, blog and video postings.

How is the information gathered? The premise by which this data retrieval process will be allowed-- your friend is in your social network [MySpace or LiveJournal to name two examples] and their information automatically read or you can supply the friend's network profile url directly to the interface. There could be glitches with the retrieval process in that not all social network services may have signed on to these external data collecting interfaces.


One organization providing this aggregate tracking functionality for subscribers, Spokeo.

Spokeo is the brainchild of three students from Stanford. It gathers data from about twenty different social networks and the registration process is super quick and easy.


I experienced one or two snafus, while test driving this application. When I attempted to load my "MySpace" friends network-- I received an error message. I supplied the username and password to attempt this access. I tried about 4 times, each time failing. I most also admit, I am not an online social networker and therefore not a member of any of the other services listed. The problem could have been because of recent changes to MySpace.

I know why LinkedIn is not on the service list [not a social network]-- but I am curious about services like MyBlogLog, and whether or not plans to include them will be forthcoming. I am a member of both of these networks.

The other issue that I found a little confusing-- the demonstration network that is presented upon accessing the main page is also shown once you are registered and signed in. I know why this was done-- to show the type of information that will be provided about "your" friends once you have added them. The concept of aggregated data from many online social network services, displayed in a central location, is new. New innovations, especially in the fast changing online environment [the Internet] are often missed or misunderstood. A demonstration or example is often worth a thousand words.

I think this application has exciting possibilities. Keeping up with friends, family, work and other activities is increasingly being done, online. Finding new ways to save time-- while getting needed information, is something I think most of us will welcome.


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