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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Innovative Digital Signage Helps Boost Sales

With the banking crisis of 2009 still sending shockwaves around many world markets, the drive for innovation, sustainability and business streamlining is on. Many businesses have already paid the price for not adhering to this, as markets become more competitive more and more organisations fold altogether.
However, the ones that have survived through this have learned some valuable lessons in what to do in order to survive. Technology has been a big part of this, from new renewable energy sources and materials to save on bills, to digital advertising and marketing. One market within this that has seen a good year on year increase since 2009 is that of digital signage. What began as simply illuminated signs spelled out with incandescent bulbs in Victorian times has now become a multi million pound high tech industry that enters more and more parts of our lives. In the past decade there have been great leaps in digital signage, alongside advances in technology. Here are some of the more innovative products currently available to help you push your products:

- Camvine Coda
Camvine is a UK based signage company specialising in wireless systems for businesses. Their main product is a clever program and system that allows content to be displayed on a whole range of monitors and changed through a drag and drop GUI. You can control either all of set groups of screens, and input all kinds of media from streaming video, webcams, stocks and shares information, pre programmed videos and audio. It’s a great and very flexible systems that allows a massive range of options, and can connect to almost anything.

- Janus Displays LED Interactive
Janus Displays are a US based manufacturer of point of sale displays, and have recently launched a new model that has some great features. Firstly it has a built in Kinect camera so that games and interactive promotions can be built in. This camera can track the movements of people stood nearby so they can interact with the advertisement, giving them a much fuller experience. The camera can also tell what colour the background of the advertisement is, and change the LED lighting to suit. A very clever bit of kit.

- Magnetic 3D
With recent renewed interest in 3D technology, the method of delivery is now being looked at in more detail. Many systems still rely on having to wear glasses, but this has come a long way from the red and blue paper specs you used to have. Today, clear glasses are used, but systems developed by Magnetic 3D for point of sale no longer need them. The use of clever lenticular lenses create an illusion of depth without the need for any glasses, but it’s not quite as effective as proper 3D. It is, however, still under development and will no doubt make an excellent and engaging signage option.

Jessie works for Reflex.co.uk, specialists in audio visual systems and digital signage. She is self confessed audio and technology geek and a keen blogger, and can often be found surrounded by her gadget collection.

 

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Chicken Farming – Another Industry Too Big to Fail?

After the banks received their bailout the running joke around every town in the U.S. was – Where is my bailout?

Apparently the USDA was listening to chicken farmers’ cries in the tune of a one-time purchase of $40 million worth of chicken meat to be distributed throughout school programs, soup kitchens, food banks and other organizations.

This is nothing out of the ordinary as the USDA makes regular bids to stabilize food markets. What is alarming is the fact that this comes on the backside of a similar $30 million purchase on chicken last year, and a staggering $42 million dollar purchase on these very products in 2008.

One could argue that the chicken producers in this country are having a hard time learning the economics of their products. Product production is up 4 percent in the first half of 2011 while consumers are beginning to cut back on demand. This creates an obvious problem and results in an industry surplus.

Unfortunately for organizations like the National Chicken Council, these problems are not always avoidable. The recession may be to blame for some of the curbed demand. Consumers tend to change their eating habits in direct relation to economic slowdown. On the other hand, chicken prices are plummeting down from last year and the industry has yet to experience the uptick in demand.

With increasing production costs and an expected drop roughly 5% in an annual $45 billion indsutry, chicken farmers are getting pushed up against a wall.

So what will be the result of this latest government assistance? Only time will tell.. What is likely good for producers in terms of stabilizing prices, may result in higher prices at your local food store. Supply decrease = Price increase. Nevertheless, chicken is cheap right now and is likely to stay cheap for a while. For the frugal household, this may remain appealing just long enough to help bring back a distressed market.

What is sure is that our nation’s food banks and schools will be doling out plenty of chicken products in the second half of this year. Which is a good thing considering we don’t want to know what $40 million of raw chicken meat looks like. More importantly, it’s nothing like the bailout of our banks and other major corporations.. any mistakes or mis-judgments aside, people will eat this product whether it be in their homes or through what are already over stressed food banks.

Anthony is a freelance writer most notable for his work with Ketchum MFG CO. – A leading manufactuer of poultry leg bands and other animal tags.

 

OK, All You Internet Marketers Out There…

Here is your chance to show off.  I need a cool URL for a Chiropractor in Florida that wants to start a help line where his patients can call in for free advice on natural healing and dietary supplements.  Aside from “talktoarealdoc.com”  do you have any suggestions?

 

Blackle: Is it really the First Green Search Engine and why

There is a new website called Blackle, which has the ambitious goal of becoming a new type of green search engine. It has been specifically designed with the eco-conscious web surfers in mind. This author set about to investigate whether the design and the claims made about its eco-design are in fact true.

It should be noted that this website serves as gateway for Google searches and comes with a completely different look. The designers have reversed the Google color scheme so that result pages are shown in colored text with a black back drop. They say that this is done in order to decrease the energy utilization of computer monitors.

It seems that the idea behind this eco-friendly search engine came from a claim that if Google changed its design to black, then it would save a huge amount of power and energy.

However it is important to note that the savings made are likely to come from older monitors, such as the CRT monitors, which many people have now upgraded from. With an older cathode ray tube monitor, you will certainly make energy savings with a black background, but as many consumers now use thin screen, energy efficient monitors, the savings are likely to be much smaller.

These days it is common to find LCD monitors on the desks of most offices and in the homes of a majority of people. As such, the savings are going to be much less. It has actually been discovered that the computer monitor’s use of color can only minimally affect the change in the energy output. In fact, there was a consulting firm that ran a test and found that loading Google Blackle on a CRT monitor and a LCD monitor made very little difference.

David Korn, principal at Cadmus who ran the test uncovered data showing that the screen color just didn’t really matter when it came to the cosumption of energy caused by the color of the LCD monitor.  As such, this shows that the difference is so small that it is almost hard to trace. In fact, the only major changes that they saw from the test occured when they made changes to the monitor’s contrast and brightness settings.

As you can see from the data above, it seems that the idea of creating an eco-friendly search engine needs to be re-thought. It is still a possibility but we will need to wait a little longer.

Pat Lindle is a business owner and an environmentalist.  Pat makes Blackle the default search engine for all computers in his metal deck / steel deck business to ensure that his company is as environmentally conscious as possible, at all times.

 

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Why Personalised Wine Labels are a Great Idea for Businesses

Businesses need to be inventive, original and creative when it comes to promoting themselves. In today’s highly competitive international marketplace, this is the only way to ensure your company makes an impression on a potential client and encourages them to visit your company website or consider your services for future projects. Increasingly companies are personalising the gifts they give and see personalised wine labels as an effective way to make an impact, catch attention and remain in your client’s mind.

Given that wine has such a broad appeal, the opportunities for taking advantage of this new trend are numerous. Here are a few suggestions:

Personalise the wine labels for a function you are hosting.

Serving your guests with wine from personalised labels indicates an impressive attention to detail and a willingness to go that extra bit further. This will leave your guests feeling that you have made a special effort and put thought into making them feel welcome and entertained.

Personalise wine bottles that you intend to give as presents.

When businesses feel they have especially loyal customers, they often like to show their appreciation through a gift, particularly at Christmas time. By presenting a client with a bottle of wine that has a personalised label, your company’s gift will make a greater impact and your customer will be reminded of your thoughtful treatment of them as they enjoy the wine, even if it is months later.

Personalise the wine labels at a corporate-sponsored event.

Your company has found a cause or event it would like to sponsor and has invested money in it to help promote the business. How can you make sure your logo and name stand out among other sponsors? By providing the wine with labels that have been personalised with your company logo, your business will have a more effective impact on attendees than if you are simply listed on flyers or banners that line the entrance.

Gifts that are personalised for employees who are retiring.

Personalised wine bottles can also be one-off presents. Choosing a special wine and designing a label that includes the names of closest colleagues can be a thoughtful retirement present that will mean much more than more traditional impersonal gifts. It provides a stylish and elegant way to combine the signatures of a greeting card with the present itself and can be chosen according to the particular tastes of the retiring employee.

Visit SpottySpoon.com and create your own personalised wine label for weddings, corporate gifts and every other occasion.

 

The Wonders of “Outsourced” Technical Support – From a Customers View

Authors note:  My one regret is that they have conveniently omitted a clock next to the entries, as would normally best practices for any company that truly wanted to monitor customer service.  This transaction took 47 minutes.

My actual chat with PeoplePc Tech Support:

Please wait for a site operator to respond. Your feedback is important to us! Please complete our Exit Survey by clicking on the Grey Close Button at the end of your LiveChat.
‘Shirley’ says: Thank you for contacting PeoplePC LiveChat, how may I help you today?
customer@peoplepc.com: you are telling me that my password is incorrect, but it’s the same one I’ve used for 15 years
Shirley: It is quite unfortunate that one of our best customers has to face such difficulty. Let me get this clarified for you.
customer@peoplepc.com: I was trying to send out a newsletter today, did I piss the system off?
Shirley: Please give me the last four digits of your Debit Card or a Credit Card (CC).
customer@peoplepc.com: 2607
Shirley: Thank you for the verification.
Shirley: I see that some fraud was detected on your account due to which our fraud department changed your password to prevent you.
Shirley: This is why you are not able to login.
Shirley: Let me guide you what needs to be done now.
Shirley: 1st, we will need to reset your password.
Shirley: 2nd, please do not use your old password ever.
Shirley: 3rd, when you make a new password now do not share it with any one. Please make a strong password for example: combination of letters and numbers in such a way that no one good guess it. Example: Ab45Cd
Shirley: 4th, please scan your computer for viruses.
Shirley: Thus, before we proceed with the change password option, Nowadays we receive lot of calls where a customer’s computer is affected by hackers or viruses and they end up having to spend a lot of money to get it fixed.
Shirley: Thus, may I know, is your computer protected from viruses, spyware, and other Internet threats?
customer@peoplepc.com: AVG
customer@peoplepc.com: I’m fine, I just need the password
Shirley: Great. How old is your avg though if I may know?
customer@peoplepc.com: and how many emails can I send without arrising the ire of your “fraud department?”
Shirley: due to security reasons, we will not be able to provide the original password of your email address via Live Chat.
Shirley: Instead I can reset the password and give it to you on this chat window.
Shirley: Then, you can then change it through My Account online.
Shirley: Once I do this, you will receive an email that your password has been viewed.
Shirley: Is that fine with you?
customer@peoplepc.com: fine, but and how many emails can I send without arrising the ire of your “fraud department?”
Shirley: This is not due to sending more email messages.
customer@peoplepc.com: then it is a very timely “coinsidence.”
Shirley: May be.
customer@peoplepc.com: and can you answer my question?
Shirley: Yes.
Shirley: Please give me five minutes.
customer@peoplepc.com: take your time
Shirley: Thank you.
customer@peoplepc.com: hard to find a supervisor at this time of night?
Shirley: Thank you for your patience.
Shirley: I apologize for the delay.
Shirley: I am yet researching on your issue.
Shirley: There is no specified limit, but it is best if you send an email to just a few receivers at a time.
customer@peoplepc.com: that is inconvenient with a mail list of 2700
customer@peoplepc.com: please see if you can find a number
Shirley: Okay. I would suggest you to send an email to as minimum recipients as you can.
Shirley: You can divide your address book into groups.
Shirley: Like school.
Shirley: College
Shirley: friends
Shirley: Official
Shirley: Then accordingly send an email.
customer@peoplepc.com: that is not a number. Say, my “minimum” is in one catagory, “newsletter” and my list is 2700. Can I use 2700 for a minimum ?
Shirley: No.
Shirley: Minimum would mean 10 to 50 receipts only.
customer@peoplepc.com: so your “fraud” department wants me to send 2700 emails in groups of 50?
Shirley: Again, there is no specific number or requirement.
Shirley: The smaller the list the better the results.
customer@peoplepc.com: well then whats wrong with 200?
Shirley: You can sure try 200 as well.
customer@peoplepc.com: I dont like the word “try” it has connotations of my haveing to reset my password again and again if i exceed your arbitrary number
Shirley: Okay.
customer@peoplepc.com: surely you must have some sort of written guidelines for your “fraud” department to follow?
Shirley: Let me check.
customer@peoplepc.com: thank you
Shirley: Please be on hold for five minutes.
customer@peoplepc.com: i was
Shirley: Yes, Please be on hold for another five minutes,
Shirley: Thank you for your patience.
Shirley: I would need some more time.
Shirley: I apologize for the delay. Please be on hold for another five minutes.
Shirley: Thank you for your patience.
Shirley: Please click on the link given below.
Shirley:http://www.earthlink.net/about/policies/use/bulkmail/
Shirley: Please fill in the form with your requirement to send bulk email messages.
customer@peoplepc.com: is PeoplePC owned by earhlink now?
customer@peoplepc.com: Anyhow, your form is filled out. Can I please have my password now?
Shirley: Yes. EarthLink is our parent company now.
customer@peoplepc.com: congratulations, I guess
Shirley: Sure.
Shirley: Thank you.
Shirley: step6243 is your new password.
Shirley: Your password changed successfully!
Shirley: This change will take 20 minutes for it to take effect.
Shirley: Though we can try it right now, to test.
customer@peoplepc.com: Thank you. Have a pleasant evening
Shirley: Please use this password to log into My Account and from there you will be able to reset your password.  You can reach My Account from the following link.
Shirley: http://myaccount.peoplepc.com
Shirley: Please use just the first part of your email address as the member name. (All in lower case). Do not type @peoplepc.com For example: if abc@peoplepc.com is your email address. Use only abc as your member name. Then, type in your password. (The password that I gave you.) Then, Click on Sign in.
Shirley: After logging into My Account – In the Profiles area, click the your email address that you would like to change the password for.
Shirley: In the Primary Profile area, click Edit next to the password.
Shirley: In the Old Password field, type the password which has just been given to you.
Shirley: In the New Password field, type your new PeoplePC password. In the Retype New Password field, type your new password.
Shirley: Click the Change Password button.
Shirley: Let me know once done.
Shirley: Also, once done. Since we have gone ahead and reset the password on the account, and you would be then resetting the password again at your end via My Account, I would suggest that you also use the new password for your email program and connection.
Shirley: 
Shirley:  Do you want me to go ahead and provide you with the directions to change the password for the email program and connection software?
customer@peoplepc.com: please
Shirley: Please reset your password first by following the steps givven above.
customer@peoplepc.com: so I get to reset my servers, and my iPhone?
Shirley: Yes.
customer@peoplepc.com: I cant get to your server with this chat window open.
customer@peoplepc.com: Chrome wont open another tab
Shirley: You can click on the Minus sign at the top right of this window to minimize this window.
Shirley: You can always click on the chat window at the bottom of the screen when you need to read the chat.
Shirley: Please open another window.
customer@peoplepc.com: again, Chrome wont open another window. It just toggles this one back and forth
Shirley: Please use Internet Explorer.
customer@peoplepc.com: kk
Shirley: Okay.
customer@peoplepc.com: I think were good. According to your form, it WAS the number of emails I sent (400) that caused your “fraud” department to suspend my account. When you change companies and enforce a new set of restrictions, it would be nice to inform your customers.
Shirley: We always send an email alert for each and every change.
Shirley: Which email program do you use in order to send and receive email messages?
Shirley: Is it Web Mail or Outlook Express or Windows Mail?
customer@peoplepc.com: Outlook
customer@peoplepc.com: and if you sent a notice, it must have gotten trapped in my spam filter. Ironic.
Shirley: May I know the version of your Microsoft Outlook that you are using?
Shirley: Is it Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 or is it Outlook Express?
Shirley: If you are not sure, open your Outlook.
Shirley: Click on Help > About. Let me know the version for the same.
customer@peoplepc.com: why?
customer@peoplepc.com: its 2007
Shirley: So, that I can help you changer your password there.
Shirley: Okay.
customer@peoplepc.com: i got it covered. Thanks
Shirley: Great. Make sure you use your new password the next time you connect.
Shirley: Do you use the peoplepc software ( blue smiley face icon ) to get connected to the  Internet ?
customer@peoplepc.com: I’ve already changed it. No, I set up the POP and SMTP servers on my Outlook and connect through that.
Shirley: Okay.
Shirley: Connect better with PeoplePC dial-up software. Our Smart Dialer technology automatically chooses the best local dial-up access number for you each time you go online. You can download the Software fromhttps://myaccount.peoplepc.com .Login to Myaccount then click on my Downloads on the left hand side and then download the Dial up Connection software. I will also mail you the CD of the Software on your Mailing Address, which you will receive in two to five business days. May I have the Mailing Address?
customer@peoplepc.com: God how retro. I have a T1
Shirley: Okay. I understand.
Shirley: 7th is your bill cycle date of every month. You were last charged on 08/08/11 for $12.95.
Shirley: PeoplePC will occasionally need to send important administrative emails to you about your service.  Do you have a specific contact email address you would like us to use when sending these messages?
customer@peoplepc.com: No thanks. Were good. Bye now!
Shirley: You are welcome.
Shirley: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?
customer@peoplepc.com: No thanks. Were good. Bye now!
Shirley: I was indeed glad to get this opportunity to help you.
Shirley: You’re welcome and thank you for using PeoplePC LiveChat. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again. It was a pleasure assisting a friendly customer like you.
Shirley: Thank you for your understanding and patience. Have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye.
Shirley: Please click on ‘X’ button on top of the chat window to end this chat session.

 

But Shirley, whatever happened to: Your feedback is important to us! Please complete our Exit Survey by clicking on the Grey Close Button at the end of your LiveChat?

By the way, I changed the password back to my old one  (which she told me never to use again) rather than changing all the other instruments I use it on.  It works fine.

 

 

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Electric Bikes Set To Continue Growth

With the economic downturn still affecting many markets, new ones are springing up all over the place due to different demands. Some markets that were thriving only a few years ago have now all but disappeared, but as many have been created in their place. For example newer, lightweight and more efficient vehicles are now in demand all over the world, as rising energy prices cause running costs to skyrocket.
As the demand for more efficient petrol and diesel cars grows, the variety of energy sources also grows. The general realisation that fossil fuels cannot support us seems to have sunk in, and investment in alternative fuels has never been higher. Electric cell technology is slowly becoming better and better, and can now make a viable alternative to petrol, as can hydrogen fuel cells. The Tesla was the first commercially successful electric car to be released in mid 2008, but had several problems including a huge weight in the front and an unreliable range. However, there still needs to be an introduction of refuelling infrastructure before the technology can be rolled out on any large scale. Efforts are being made in both Europe and America to add these fuelling options to standard petrol stations, but this has a long way to go. Despite all of this, consumer demand for electric bikes has been rising at an average annual demand of around 9%. This began around 2009 and is predicted to continue to 2016 and beyond.

Another big step towards mass market electric motorbikes was taken recently with the partnership between lithium ion battery producer Ener1 and Lightning Motorcycles. Lightning motorcycles are currently produce the fastest electric production motorbike, clocked recently at 178mph, and are looking to widen their product range. The partnership between them and Ener1, leaders in LiON battery technology will enable the company to diversify into a range of electric super bikes, scooters and even some bicycles, and provide them with a whole range of lightweight energy solutions for them to work with.

With both companies leaders in their respective fields, this is a very promising partnership for motorbike and electric vehicle enthusiasts, and the environment. The hope is that they will be able to bring to market a range of vehicles that will act as a truly viable alternative to petrol powered bikes. With new battery technology holding more charge and being able to recharge quicker, we surely aren’t that far away for electric vehicles being the norm.

Jim is a freelance writer working for Action Motorcycles, Travelworld RV and MCN. He loves all kinds of vehicles, and splits his spare time between several motorbike and restoring his old motorhome.

 
 
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