small business owner's advices

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5 Common Small Business Legal Mistakes to Watch Out For

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You’re an entrepreneur, not a lawyer. Still, you’ll need to take care that you’re doing everything by the book when it comes to your business, or you could risk hefty penalty fees, or potentially even jail time for the worst offenses. Here are five common legal mistakes to avoid.

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5 Ways to Market to Parents of Young Children

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Parents of young children — moms, in particular — tend to be a big draw card for marketers. And no wonder: According to surveys, mothers control 80 percent of all household spending. As a small business owner, hooking parents on your product can mean the difference between success and failure. Here’s how to cater to the mom-and-dad market.

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Facts and Fiction About the -Walmart Effect-

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You’ve just gotten wind that a huge super-center like Walmart is popping up in your neck of the woods. Do the mega-retailer’s huge inventory and dramatically low prices mean that you and other small business owners in your region are doomed to fail? Take a look at some of the facts and fictions surrounding the “Walmart effect” to see how your business might fare in the coming months and years.

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Make Your Next Vacation a Volunteer Vacation

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VolunTourism, or combining travel with volunteering, is becoming a popular way to -give back- while on a personal or business trip. Whether you-re inspired to save manatees in Florida, rebuild homes in New Orleans, or clean up our nation-s parks, you-ll find plenty of resources to plan your volunteer travel opportunities here in the U. S. or abroad.

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Got Questions About Your Website? Ask the Experts at Intuit!

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Think your website could be doing more for your business? Or just wondering how to get started with a website? Intuit’s WebAdvisor team helps customers with these questions all the time over the phone. But instead of keeping these conversations to ourselves, we’re inviting everyone to join a live Q&A session on Twitter where others can hear what’s being said and hopefully benefit from the discussion.

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College Grads: Don-t Get a Job, Start a Business!

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This year’s graduating college class has the highest student-loan burden ever. Eager graduates will enter a world where inflation is at a two and a half year high and in many industries there are around five candidates for every job opening. What’s a newly minted college grad to do?

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4 Tips for Improving Your Home Office Environment

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For many home-based businesses, the office might be a corner of the bedroom, a stool at the kitchen counter, or a spot on the couch. Workplace strategy? Efficiency? Ha! You’re just happy not to be shelling out four bucks a gallon for gas.

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Hispanic-Owned Small Businesses Grow in Number and Influence

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Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has dedicated a National Small Business Week in honor of the myriad contributions made by small businesses to the economic strength and stability of America. This year, as a grateful nation once again pays homage to small business, the U. S. Small Business Administration is making a special effort to recognize the tremendous positive impact that Hispanic-owned small businesses continue to make across the nation.

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Why You Should Conduct Website Usability Testing

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After many painstaking months of hard work and coding, you-ve finally got a website that-s functional, attractive-looking, and perfect. Or so you think. After launching, you expected a flood of new product orders, but you-re let down when users exit your website after a few clicks. Website analytics tell you where users depart your website, but it won-t tell you why. There-s one way to find that out: Usability testing.

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Are SEO Services Worth It For Small Businesses?

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For millions of small businesses in the U. S. striving to gain invaluable exposure online, the allure of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is understandably intoxicating. The mere thought of having one-s business and brand float to the top of Google-s search results is enticing enough to make plenty of small business owners write big checks to the SEO gurus who promise big results.

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The Pros and Cons of iPads and Other Tablets for Small Businesses

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Tablet computers are the talk of the virtual town, but are they right for your business? Plenty of your fellow owners seem to think so: A recent Business Journals survey found that nine percent of small and midsize businesses were using iPads around the office less than a year after it launched. So how do you know if the iPad or another tablet — the options are growing — is worth the price tag? It will ultimately come down to your business and whether or not you can prove a real return on the investment: Tablets aren-t cheap. That-s easier said than done, because some of the basic advantages of tablets can also prove to be downsides. Here are at three pros of using tablets in your organization that are just as likely to be cons.

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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Honor the Military on Memorial Day

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Memorial Day (May 30 this year) may be a traditional time for barbecues, family get-togethers, and, for most (though probably not you), a day off from work. But don’t forget the true meaning of the holiday: commemorating the lives of U. S. soldiers who have died in military service. If you run a small business, Memorial Day also offers a great opportunity to honor military members through a variety of methods. Here are a few ideas.

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Microsoft Office Professional 2007. Office desktop productivity suite with editions for all business sizes

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By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Thursday, February 22, 2007; :500pm EST

The new 2007 version of Microsoft Office is heralded by Microsoft as being a large leap forward in usability and collaborative capabilities. With this version's interface enhancements and other great new features it may very well live up to those claims; so lets take a trip through Office 2007 to find out...

Microsoft Office this time around comes in a multitude of different packages to suite a variety of needs and budgets; including everything from the Office Ultimate edition that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook with Business Contacts Manager, Accounting Express, Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Groove, OneNote; down to the more simple Office Basic edition that ships with Word, Excel and Outlook; with a variety of versions in-between. Many would most likely consider the Office Professional edition the "sweet spot" for price and features, and any components that are not included can be purchased individually. Sadly, Expression Web (formerly FrontPage) is no longer available as part of any Office edition and must now be purchased separately.

Once you figure out how to open the nifty new "keep-sake" style box and insert the installation DVD, you're almost done believe it or not. Installation isn't more than a couple clicks to complete - especially if you are happy with a "typical installation". We are glad that most Microsoft applications now ask all the questions they need at the beginning of installation, rather than throughout, saving you from having to stand by waiting throughout the install process. Once installed you can then individually access all of the individual office applications as per previous versions.

Office Professional includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook with Business Contacts Manager, Publisher, Access and Accounting Express, in this review we'll focus on Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. One of the key new features found in many of the new Office applications, but not all, is the new "Ribbon" interface. Essentially it is a departure from the time tested tradition of using drop down menus, sub menus and tool bars to interface with application features. The ribbon is a bar along the top length of the application that replaces all that with an incredibly intuitive tab / button combination that showcases all the most readily used features in large easy to understand combinations of icons and text labels. There is only a very brief learning curve while you reacquaint yourself to where all the features have been relocated, but the reward for your time is well worth it. Once you get into the ribbon style mode of working with the application, you will never want to go back to regular drop downs and toolbars. You almost instantly become more productive, no joke. Especially with what was once the time consuming task of formatting and stylizing your documents, PowerPoint slides or spreadsheets. Everything feels as though it's in such close reach, like it knows what you want and has it waiting there on the ribbon for you. The centralization of all the open, close, print type functionality into the Office logo was also a nice touch. The only disappointment was that not all applications were converted to this new interface such as Publisher, or were only partly converted such as Outlook.

Another winning new feature is the real time nature of all the style related functions. Want to change the look of fonts, tables, paragraphs, headers, and so on? Simply use the intuitive ribbon style options to change them in real time! Older applications require a "trial and error" approach of changing, seeing what happens, changing again until it's right. The new Office changes them while your mouse hovers over the style change, giving you instant feedback. Once you've used it for more than a few times, you find yourself in other applications waiting for things to change in your document in real time, and then it dawns on you that you aren't using Office. Truly a sign of its usefulness, and its need to be a part of all future applications.

Outside of these major new features, each application individually has had it's share of new features and updates. Microsoft Word sports a new art rendering engine making it easier to add spiffy diagrams to your documents; building blocks lets you quickly assemble documents by tapping into a library of existing document snippets you may have already created to expedite document creation times; directly export to XPS or PDF document format; a new open XML format that provides strong security measures and reduced file size; easy publishing to a blog directly from within Word; and a document cleaning tool that ensure there is no unwanted comments, hidden text or other such things. I must say that Word made best use of the new ribbon feature, making things such as writing proposals infinitely easier to prepare - with a very real lowered cost of production time. With formatting being so much easier to apply and use, documents look a lot better, you can make a pro document, on a budget timeline. One thing we wouldn't make a habit of doing in Word 2007, is to produce web pages. Its save to web page option results in web pages with horrifically bloated HTML code - we were hoping this well known issue would have been resolved in the 2007 release. To illustrate the point... when saving a page with "Hello, world", it produced 48 lines of HTML in "Web Page Filtered" mode; and a whopping 445 lines of code in standard "Web Page" mode, all for a page with 2 words in it.

The export to PDF document format, on the other hand, was most definitely a welcomed addition being such the popular format that it is. Removing the need for the clumsy, bug ridden and generally lethargic Adobe PDF plug-in is an excellent move. The Office PDF plug-in exports equally well rendered documents; in a fraction of the time; and you aren't having to sit through a shuffle of flashing documents and rendering windows... just a simple status bar at the bottom of the page, well done Microsoft.

Excel has also gone through some much needed improvement in the style department; all of the great styling functionality in Word has been applied to Excel giving the ability to finally produce attractive looking spreadsheets if there is such a thing. Only minor styling could realistically be applied to spreadsheets in previous versions; but with 2007 you're creating great looking spreadsheets in minutes. Other new features include large spreadsheet sizes up to a whopping million rows and 16,000 columns; multi-core processing support; all new chart rendering engine for more polished reports; a new PivotTables view; have more control of your spreadsheets and versioning, with the ability to distribute it with SharePoint 3 and improved file damage recovery and reduced file size in new XML format.

With the new PowerPoint, again it takes full advantage of the new ribbon interface and real time style applying. It's the perfect type of application for such an interface, slicing slide design times down to a much more desirable time. The new SmartArt engine has also been employed into PowerPoint making the addition of customizable diagrams a snap. The new Slide Library service lets you store individual slides for use in later presentations to cut down on unnecessary redevelopment time. Other features include PDF and XPS file format exporting; document themes let you make style changes throughout your document easily and new security measures to ensure presentations are unalterable once distributed.

Outlook, while at first would appear to be very familiar to anyone who has used Outlook 2003 day in and day out for the past few years, does have some nice touch ups done throughout. A better integrated search engine makes finding old mail and calendar events easier than ever before. A new panel on the right displays upcoming events, and other pertinent information. The new Outlook gives you a better ability to mark and color code events, tasks and emails for easier future referral. The email composing window uses the ribbon feature improving email composition times and making it easier to design richly formatted emails; the addition of the Business Contacts Manager is a nice lite CRM add-on to Outlook that enables a nice assortment of customer relations functionality without having to invest in a major CRM system.

Overall, there were a hand full of truly impressive updates to the application suite on the whole, and a number of nifty tweaks, features and improvements that really help the overall productivity a typical user will experience. Once you have used Office 2007 for a while, it really does have a sense of living up to Microsoft's claim of improved usability and collaboration. The applications run smoothly, with no apparent shortcomings, bugs or inconsistencies between applications. Would a user of Office 2003 benefit from an upgrade to 2007? While the answer would be yes in terms of productivity gains, the overall cost to deploy the upgrade to a business would certainly need to be determined on a case by case basis. Any companies still relying on an Office version prior to 2003 would be highly recommended to upgrade, while 2003 users would really need to review the features and make a determination based on what would be useful for their particular needs.

So what are the system requirements for all of this new found productivity? A minimum 500MHz processor, 256MB memory, 2GB hard drive space, 1024x768 screen resolution, Windows XP with Service Pack 2. Depending on the actual functionality you will be using, the requirements may be more. I believe reality would dictate a significantly higher specification, with a more modern processor, memory and hard drive configuration to actually take advantage of the productivity gains. While our test machine (a Windows Vista based Pentium 4 with 3.6GHz processor, 3GB memory and SATA 160GB hard drive) ran the applications fluently, the performance was slightly less enthusiastic with 1GB. Overall, most machines purchased within the last year or two should be sufficient for typical Office 2007 usage. Microsoft Office Professional, and other editions are available now from all major electronics online and traditional retailers. Current retail pricing for the Professional edition is $499.00 USD, with some retailers providing great purchase incentives such as free software, memory sticks and other such things depending on the retailer.

PROS - Excellent new usability features that actually improve productivity such as excellent ribbon interface; better real time style selection system makes producing professional looking documents and presentations a snap; great PDF exporting implementation for quick PDF saving; a generally cleaned up, uniform set of applications that work seamlessly with one another.

CONS - Bloated HTML of Word produced web pages; dropped inclusion of HTML editing tool (Expression Web or SharePoint Designer) from packaged applications.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/

 

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Food Writer Cooks Up Success At Local Farmers- Markets

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Amelia Saltsman had been writing about food for over 20 years when she penned and self-published the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook in 2007. She hoped it would sell well, but couldn’t have imagined the scope of the reception her book has since received.

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Business Trip Tips: 5 Ways to Make Air Travel a Little Greener

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“Business travel is bouncing back,” the Associated Press declared earlier this year, reporting that U. S. companies are expected to spend 5 percent more on travel in 2011 than they did in 2010 — or an estimated $239 billion. At the same time, most enterprises are asking employees to be frugal (the average cost per trip forecast in the first quarter was $538), and, increasingly, to opt for the greenest options available.

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Understanding Affiliate Programs

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By Sharon Housley

Wednesday, November 10, 2004; 6:15pm EST

Affiliate programs are commonly misunderstood, in order to understand affiliate programs lets start with terminology. For clarification purposes, an affiliate is defined as any "referrer" or website that promotes a product in an effort to earn revenue. A merchant is defined as someone who owns a product and is sharing revenues with an affiliate based on the affiliate's performance. Affiliate programs can drive targeted traffic to your website.

There are 3 basic affiliate programs, though only the first two are commonly used.

Pay Per Click - this is when an affiliate is compensated for sending traffic to the merchant. (AdSense is an example of PPC affiliate program)

Pay Per Sale - this is when the affiliate is compensated by the merchant if the referral generates a sale or purchase.

Pay Per Lead - this is when the merchant agrees to pay for a qualified (or sometimes unqualified lead), which is very uncommon because it is subjective and up to the merchant.

Affiliate websites tend to provide information, entertainment, and content services to their customers. The online merchants sell products, goods and services online. These are programs permitting affiliates to earn money based on the visitors to your site who click through to another's website. Some pay a token amount for the click through and others provide a percentage of sales when a visitor "clicks through" to your site and buys a product or service on the other party's site. This could represent a value added service to your visitors.

Affiliate programs allow you to pay and track incentives from other websites that send web surfers, leads or paying customers to your website. Commissions based on purchases made by traffic sent from the referring website can be paid. Besides a commission, an affiliate can receive a flat fee, or other incentives for all valid transactions it refers that generate a sale or lead.

Be careful that the affiliate's web page is not cluttered with banner ads that may crowd out your link, or that be annoying to customers. Affiliate programs enable affiliates to leverage their traffic and customer base in order to profit from e-commerce while merchants benefit from increased exposure and sales.

Commonly traffic to merchant sites is measured and affiliates can clearly see conversion rates. Meaning, they track the percentage of people they are referring, and how much of it results in earned revenue. If the affiliate finds a very low conversion, they will find a better way to monetize that traffic, quite possibly with a competing merchant product.

In order to be a successful affiliate, the affiliate site needs to either have tons of traffic or target a specific audience, frequently one untapped by the merchant. It has been my experience, the closer the affiliate site content resembles the merchant products, the higher the likelihood of a good conversion rate.

Once you are committed to the idea of affiliates, the next step is to determine the kind of tracking system you are going to use. Sales can be tracked by HTML code, which is placed in a shopping cart or on the 'order confirmation'/'thank you' page, and cookies, which are created after the customers click on a banner ad. Cookie killers have been a problem for the affiliate industry. Software vendors have an advantage over other merchants in that new technologies allow software developers to better control compensation. Vendors can 'wrap' their software insuring that their affiliates are compensated for referrals, even if the customer downloads a trial version prior to purchasing. Buy now buttons in the software have affiliate ids imbedded in the download. Combined tracking systems have more success than those that rely on a single tracking technology.

In order to develop a successful affiliate network, merchants must realize that affiliates spend ad dollars on site, and product promotion. If the affiliate is not compensated fairly they will not remain in the merchants network. The bottom line is that affiliate relationships are partnerships, when both sides feel the situation is fair and equitable the relationship will be a success.

About the Author

Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www. notepage. net a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at http://www. feedforall. com, http://www. softwaremarketingresource. com and http://www. small-business-software. net

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The Internet is Great for Home Business

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By Craig Osenbaugh

Wednesday, March 02, 2005; 2:00pm EST

Home business and work at home opportunities have always been around and always will be. While there are many scams designed only to take your hard earned money there are also many legitimate home business opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to earn extra money working at home.

The problem has always been that it is difficult to get funding for a home business and if you do not have the necessary funds for initial inventory, equipment, marketing and promotion it can be almost impossible to get your business off the ground. The Internet has changed all of that.

The Internet is great for home business because it provides the opportunity for the individual to get started in a real business from home with very little up front costs. The Internet has made it possible

for home business to compete on a global scale with much larger companies.

Armed with nothing but a website and a product or service to sell an individual sitting at home at a computer can do business all over the world and appear to be a large established business. The Internet has leveled the playing field in the new e-commerce marketplace.

Here are some reasons as to why the Internet has become so popular for starting a home business.

1. Ease of use and affordability of a website. A website can be obtained for around $20.00 per month and most of the web hosting companies offer software applications for easy website development. You can do a search online for web hosting providers and you will find many low costs options.

2. Home business entrepreneurs do not have any overhead. The Internet home business does not have the expenses often associated with a traditional brick and mortar business. Most people who start an Internet businesses already have a computer and access to the Internet.

3. Inventory is usually not needed. Dropshipping is very common among Internet retail businesses. This means that the seller does not have to invest in inventory up front. Products are not ordered until they are sold and then they are sent directly from the distributor to the customer.

4. Pay for Performance Advertising and Promotion programs. Per per click marketing programs are great for home business because you don?t pay unless someone is clicking through to visit your website. Some of the good pay per click companies include Google AdWords? and Overture?.

The Internet has opened the door for home business and work at home opportunities. There are many good opportunities to make money online with a variety of businesses. Anyone interested in starting a home business on the Internet should carefully evaluate the business idea or opportunity before jumping in head first. Once you find the right opportunity go for it and work hard and you may be well on your way to a successful home business.

About the Author

Craig Osenbaugh is a home business entrepreneur, webmaster, author and proud member of the PIPS community: http://www. GotPips. com

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Substantial Income from Affiliate Programs

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By Michel Richer

Wednesday, October 27, 2004; 2:00pm EST

Affiliate Program are the easiest way to make a substantial income on the internet.

Affiliate Program have exploded on the internet. Thousand of people join them every day. Amazon. com is probably the best example of such phenomenal success.

If the affiliate program is so popular and so widely available and booming like mushroom...Why do most affiliate have a hard time making $100 per month?

And some have never receive a check? It's probably because they are not effective in their marketing campaign or doing noting at all.

But some affiliates are making big bucks. They are the one with an income of ($100,000 and over per year). There is also a big majority who still make a good income (around $10 000 to $75 000 a year).

Of course the vast majority of affiliate will never make that much money. They fail miserably.

So what is wrong with them?

THEY DON'T SET GOALS

Most people fail at anything because most people don't have a clear vision of where they are heading. They don't take the time to learn and experiment. They give up too easily.

Yes, it feels "unproductive" to prepare and set up a system... But it's how the successful succeed.

The solution? Planning and learning.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT AFFILIATE PROGRAM

Choosing the best companies is an art in itself. Choose affiliate program that are already successful and well established like SFI. Choose the one that offer good training and good marketing aids.

Successful affiliates select the best companies. They use new ideas and creativity to attract customers. They never give up.

DEVELOP A GOOD WEBSITE

Lot's of people don't know how to design a website. Or don't have the money to hire a webmaster. Even the ones who can design a website. They design poor content or poor design. Produce low value gateway pages. They use free web hosting. They don't master the search engine.

The solution? Take what you know, what you love, and turn it into a Theme-Based Content Site. Attract highly targeted, interested customers, provide solid value through content, then refer them to your affiliated merchants.

DRIVING TRAFFIC

Having lot's of traffic to your website is a big challenge. But it is essential to be successful. Or at least to make a reasonable amount of money.

You have to make your site "search engine friendly". You need content for the search engine to spider your website.

You need to know how your webpage is index and how well it is ranked on the SE to better perform.

Use every marketing method to drive traffic.

PPC Campaign

Linking Strategy

Writing Articles

Ezine Publishing

Newsletter

Banner Advertising

Viral Marketing (EBooks, Freeware etc.)

Offline as well. (Business Cards, Flyers, Radio Spots etc.)

CONCLUSION

Affiliate Program are great. You can really make a substantial income at almost no cost. This is the simplest way to start a business. You can really succeed if you keep learning and experimenting.

You can TEST-DRIVE our Affiliate Program at NO COST!

Try It NOW! http://www. ezinfocenter. com/297607.7/FREE

About the Author

Michel Richer is the Business Manager and Webmaster of http://www. hombyz. com/. He is dedicated to helping you succeed on the Internet. With over 10 years experience in internet business and a solid reputation in the industry. You can take a look at his website at: http://www. hombyz. com/ for Your Home Business Success!!! Copyright © Michel Richer.

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Copycats! How Cheap Knockoffs Nearly Sank One Small Business

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The II Sisters (pronounced -Two Sisters-) is a tableware small business run by sisters Simmin and Sudi Taleghani in the heart of Half Moon Bay. They are well known for their custom-made, colorful decorations that are high quality and trend-setting within the gift industry. Although you might have seen their latest line of products, Red Pomegranate, at various retailers, it hasn’t always been what their business was about. In fact, the II Sisters are the embodiment of a lifelong adventure and learning, filled with sweat, tears, and the joy of entrepreneurship.

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Web Site Design Changes That Kill

. Posted in small business owner's advices

By Larisa Thomason

Monday, August 2, 2004; 4:00pm EST

Some Web site changes are great for promotion - in the long term. But those same changes may also have an immediate negative effect on promotion. Understand the impact before you update your site and avoid these changes that kill!

Domain Name Change

Imagine if one day you decided to change your personal name to something completely different. At the same moment, your phone number, street, and email addresses all change too. Your friends and family would have quite a hard time getting in touch with you.

That's what happens when you change your site's domain name. The inbound links from other site, search engines and directories, and bookmarks will be broken. Search engines and directories may remove your site from their indices. Your customers may just assume you aren't in business anymore and click away to the competition.

Even so, sometimes the change is worth the risk if:

    You're still using the free Web address provided by your ISP. That decreases the perceived credibility and trustworthiness of your site.

    Your domain name has been banned by search engines for spamming. Always check the WayBack machine before you purchase a name.

    There are legal problems associated with the name. Maybe you've inadvertently infringed on someone else's copyright or your name has a bad connotation due to unrelated business or political events.

Control the damage with a server redirect that automatically sends visitors and spiders to the new site. Then expect to spend some time educating your audience and reassuring them that nothing has changed but your name.

Directory Structure Reorganization

Search engine algorithms consider a page's location within a Web site when ranking that page. In general, pages closer to the top of the site hierarchy are considered to be more relevant and therefore rank higher.

Remember that when you first begin designing a site. But don't assume that you should immediately move pages to different folders or to the top level of your domain because you want to increase the page's search engine rank.

Consider what could happen:

    Broken backlinks: Links to your site from other Web sites (backlinks) are an important promotional tool. Always check your backlinks before moving pages.

    Increased coding errors: Whenever you move a page within the directory structure, make sure you aren't creating broken links on your own site! Always use HTML Toolbox to quickly search for broken internal links.

    Slow search engine spiders: Unless you're using some sort of paid inclusion program, it may be weeks or months before your site gets reindexed. In the meantime, the links already indexed will appear to be broken when searchers click on them.

Aiming For The Cutting Edge

You don't have to immediately make changes just because there's a new version of Flash, Java, or other interactive media plug-in. Visitors are notoriously slow to upgrade and exceedingly reluctant to download and install new software.

Even if you conscientiously update your browsers and plug-ins as soon as the new versions are available, be sure to test your designs in older versions.

Forgetting Old Browsers

Those same visitors who stubbornly refuse to install the latest Flash plug-in may have a good reason: they're using old computers and/or old browsers that don't support the latest technology.

Sure, browsers are free, but computers aren't. Some people hang on to dinosaurs like Netscape 4.7 because their old machines run it better than Netscape 7.

Study your server logs to learn what browsers and browser versions your visitors are using. Then decide what percentage (if any) you're willing to ignore. Browser Photo can help you determine what effect changes have on visitors. It shows you actual screen shots of your Web page in 16 different browser, browser versions, and operating system combinations.

Moving To A New Host

If you're using a virtual hosting account, moving to a new Web host means more than just writing checks to a new company. It means your site will have a whole new IP address.

Let's briefly review the most important steps involved in requesting a Web page from your server:

    A visitor either enters your domain name in the browser address bar or clicks on a link in a search engine or other Web site.

    The browser asks the Domain Name Server (DNS) for the IP address that matches "BubbasFineWines. com" (or whatever your domain name is).

    The DNS supplies the IP to the browser.

    The browser locates the server with the matching IP address and requests the page and its associated images and other files.

    The visitor sees the page displayed on their screen.

Now the key in this process is the IP address. Once you move your site to another server, it will have a different IP address. Generally, it takes take several days for all the domain name servers to update. During that transition period, some visitors may get "file not found" error messages and assume your site is no longer functioning. Even worse, a search engine spider could crawl by the old IP address, get the same error, and delete your site from the search index! You could wait weeks or even months for the spider to revisit and reindex your site at the new IP address.

Always keep your site up and running at the old Web host for a month or so when you change hosts. The extra money involved in paying double hosting charges for a month is well worth it. Especially when you consider that the alternative is disappearing from the search engines for an extended period!

Changing Image And File Names

You get a promotion boost when your file, image, and directory names contain your targeted keywords, but the best time to consider those names is before you post your site, not after. The issues to consider here are much the same as with a site reorganization:

    Broken backlinks: When you change the name of a page, all the links pointing to that page (both inside and outside your site) will be broken until someone updates them to link to the new page name.

    Broken image links: Many search engines now include an image search. If you're relying on that search aspect to sell your professional photographs, then a file name change will cause a disruption.

    Coding errors on your pages: Always use HTML Toolbox to test your pages for broken HREFs and image links. It's easy to forget to update text links tucked inside page content or a small image that's used throughout the site.

Refer to the Page Primer feature of Search Engine Power Pack for more hints and help with search engine optimization. Page Primer scans your page and alerts you to design and coding techniques that could help or hurt search engine promotion. It analyzes the keywords density of your pages and advises if you've used your targeted keywords too often or not often enough. The full suite of Power Pack tools will guide you through the search engine optimization process from your source code to page content to the submission process.

You'll avoid the changes that kill. Instead, Power Pack will help you make change that sell your Web site to search engines and human visitors.

Source of Article The author of this article is Larisa Thomason, Senior Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc. NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking, search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For more information visit http://www. netmechanic. com/.

 

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Corporate Philanthropy for Small Businesses: How to Get Started Doing Good

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Lots of big companies are known for their big wallets: McDonald’s uses some of its profits from burgers and fries to fund more than 270 Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provide free housing to families with children in the hospital. And last year, Wal-Mart pledged to donate a whopping $2 billion over a five-year period to hunger relief charities. But you don’t need to be a multinational corporation to make a difference — and boost your brand name — through corporate philanthropy. Here’s how small businesses can get involved in corporate giving.

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Product Reviews. Browse through our continually expanding collection of in-depth product reviews. We take our reviews beyond just reciting press releases, we actually use the products!

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Small Business Software

Product Developer Dreamweaver CS5 Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 Adobe CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 Corel Creative Suite 3 Web Premium Adobe Expression Web Microsoft CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 Corel Office Professional 2007 Microsoft Norton Antivirus 2006 Symantec Creative Suite Premium 2 Adobe Norton Antivirus 2005 Symantec Corel Graphics Suite 12 Corel FrontPage 2003 Microsoft CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11 Corel Norton Antivirus 2004 Symantec Acid Pro 3 Sonic Foundry Hubz 2.0 Digi-Net Groopz 2.0 Digi-Net Office System Professional 2003 Microsoft Group Mail Pro 3.4 Infacta pcAnywhere 10.5 Symantec DigiChat 4.0 Enterprise Server Digi-Net Visio Professional 2002 Microsoft Text Aloud MP3 NextUp

Hardware and Electronics

Product Manufacturer HD Pro Webcam C910 Logitech G42-224CA 14" Notebook HP Maestro 4350 GPS Magellan QuickCam Pro 9000 Logitech iPod Shuffle 512mb Apple Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth Microsoft Satellite A70 Notebook Toshiba Inspiron 1150 Notebook Dell Axim X3i Handheld Dell Z-2200 2.1 Speakers Logitech PowerShot A80 Digital Camera Canon QuickCam Pro 4000 Logitech Soul MP3 / WMA Player AVC ACS45.2 PowerCube Altec Lansing PowerShot A20 Digital Camera Canon

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Twitter Use Surging: Should Your Business Jump in?

. Posted in small business owner's advices

Believe it or not, -Weinergate- isn-t the Twitter trend your business should be following of late. The real news comes from the Pew Research Center, which recently refreshed its data on Twitter usage in the U. S. Its latest report says 13 percent of online Americans now use the social site, a significant leap from 8 percent in November 2010.

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Magellan Maestro 4350. Personal navigation device with MP3 support, FM transmitter, Bluetooth hands-free and traffic service features

. Posted in small business owner's advices

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Wednesday, October 7, 2009; 1:00pm EST

These days it would seem every other car on the road is sporting a windshield mount GPS device of some type or other. With their stunningly low prices, continual innovation in new features and a lackluster price point for factory option GPS dash units - the uptake in these marvelous devices is unsurprising. We decided to take the new Magellan Maestro 4320 GPS unit for a spin. The 4350 is a well equipped contender in a fairly saturated market of major players with a plethora of model options.

The unit itself is quite slim, with the screen a majority of the frontage, while the back is occupied by a speaker. The mounting bracket attaches and removes easily from the unit and wraps around the back, connecting to the upper and lower edges of the chassis. The black gloss finished front is attractive, but prone to smudges, dust and scratches. The back features a somewhat dated looking grey plastic. The overall feeling of the device is solid, well constructed and durable with exception to the gloss finish.

Installation and setup of the unit are no-brainers, pop the unit into a highly flexible mounting arm; plug into your power outlet; answer a few questions and you’re ready. What we liked right away was the slick interface design. Configuration screens, menus, icons, the map screen itself were all stylishly rendered with modern colors, gradients and textures unlike the cartoon-like Garmin and rather dated and inconsistent appearance of the TomTom. Getting around the interface is a snap too... its feature rich but makes the accessibility of these features and commonly performed tasks easy. Specifying addresses, point of interest, intersections or city centers gave us no grief whatsoever. Route calculation times for local trips were almost instantaneous; long haul trip calculation times were quite acceptable.

Touch screen sensitivity was excellent, requiring only the lightest touch, but not to the point of becoming counter-productive. Screen glare from sun was sometimes an issue, but generally not overwhelming. The screen is sufficiently matt to help reduce the best it can, the unavoidable fact that direct sunlight will wash out any display you throw at it. And unlike the gloss frontage of the device, the screen seems to combat finger prints and smudges very well. Battery life, through an internal non-user serviceable battery that can be charged by wall adapter, car charger or USB (all of which is thankfully included) lasts roughly 3 hours per charge. Our experience would agree with this statistic, give or take some time, even with route guidance, MP3 music, FM transmitter and Bluetooth connectivity all being used.

With our destination set, we were on our way to put this puppy to the test. Overall, we were extremely satisfied with how clear the visual road renderings, arrows indicating turn points, current street information and particularly how amazingly well lane assistance was executed. Lane assistance on the Maestro 4350 really took the guess work out of which lane to be in, when faced with sometimes incredibly complex highway interchanges, ramps and entry / exit systems. It leaves the less than stellar “picture method” the competition uses in the dust. Route recalculations when you go off track were immediate and generally very good with getting you back on track. The text to speech is very clear, with only the very rare occasion where street names are garbled or incorrectly pronounced. Audio directions are concise and well timed giving you plenty of instructions that make turns and road changes simple to navigate.

The actual GPS tracking was generally very good. Initial satellite signal acquisition was quick, when coming (for example) from an underground location it relatively quickly picks the signal back up; if turning the unit back on above ground the satellite pickup is literally instant. While most trips you will find an amazing level of accuracy; the occasional trip would make it seem the GPS was having an ‘off day’ being disoriented, unsure of which direction the car was traveling, and a very noticeable deviation between the point the satellite thinks you are and the actual location. Complex road ways or areas which did not have typical road patterns at times complicated the routing unnecessarily, but this was rare. Map coverage includes the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The points of interest database features a wealth of restaurant, gas station, service station, parking lot, stadium and other such data that is incredibly handy. The ability to see service station stops during long highway drives at the click of a button in real time is very useful. The AAA and Magellan point of interest data is richly detailed and well implemented. It even offers the ability to directly call through Bluetooth the phone number of the point of interest straight from the POI details screen. Traffic information is fed in by a subscription based service that you must join and pay for monthly, which provides real time traffic data to the unit that helps in routing detours around heavy traffic. Competitors such as TomTom offer this for free; we would have liked to see Magellan match this. Unless you use the integrated FM traffic antennae plug that is integrated to the power cable, it unattractively hangs on your dash. We would have preferred a different method to this design.

In addition to the obvious navigation capabilities of the GPS unit, it also sports some heavy weight features that really make this unit a comprehensive device. Bluetooth wireless connectivity allows you to use the Maestro 4350 as a hands free device for your mobile phone, so you can talk hands free, use a built in address book for quick dialing, and even enter and receive text messages through the device. In practice however, the Bluetooth implementation was very unreliable. Our Samsung Jack II test phone had difficulties connecting and paring with the Maestro; often had problems auto connecting afterwards; and many times simply refused to connect. When connected, calls were generally clear for both parties, and the on-screen display and controls were thoughtfully designed. Text message support was almost non-existent for many phone models, which is a shame because it looks to be well implemented interface wise. Mobile phone compatibility is limited to a chart of pre-tested phone models, phones outside of this scope are a gamble. Even when tested there was a complicated matrix of features of what the various phones were or were not capable of. Unfortunately the unit most likely suffers from the limitations and non-uniformity of the Bluetooth technology and how the various mobile phone brands implement it into their various models.

A built-in media player adds entertainment for your trips with a built in audio player and video player. The built-in SD slot lets you play files directly off your SD cards which is incredibly handy. The unit is compatible with up to 2GB cards; its lack of 4GB card support and problems with high speed cards are a disappointment. The audio player features support for MP3 and Windows Media audio files. The player is well constructed, allowing for play lists, a clear player controls screen and ability for tracks to be played in the background while in map view. Music file support can sometimes be sporadic, with some files playing perfectly while others unable to load - with nothing in particular seemingly to be the cause. The video player is completely hopeless, and was certainly an afterthought. Video file format support is almost non-existent and we were unable to successfully get any videos working (and from the sounds of it on the discussion forums online, we are not alone).

What makes the Bluetooth phone support and MP3 support great is its built-in FM transmitter feature, which is sorely missed on many other GPS units on the market. Beautifully implemented, you choose the station and the audio from the unit comes through clearly from the FM radio in your car. Playing music, listening to directions and using your phone is just so much infinitely better when you can hear and control it all through your car’s speaker rather than the under whelming built-in speaker GPS units typically include. Some people, depending on the area they are in and car model, may need to play around with finding the right channels for best reception. While we had an almost flawless experience with it, others comment on the web that they have had problems. Again, like Bluetooth, this issue is really a result of the inconsistent quality of FM radio technology itself.

The Maestro 4350 also features armfuls of small but useful features...Audible and or visual speed warnings, which worked well in the USA but were absent on Canadian roads. A button to quick access custom locations presets and an SOS current position data feature are located at the top left. Easy access to phone and music functions is available through prominent buttons along the bottom of the interface. Automatic day and night modes make night driving with the unit very comfortable as it renders map screens and screen brightness settings less conspicuously in the dark. Based on satellite time data and map data where tunnels are located, it switches modes automatically. 3D building renderings are shown in major cities that in many cases were surprisingly well detailed and had a perfect blend of adding visual appeal and usefulness while still keeping the maps clear and unencumbered. Updates of the unit’s firmware and operating system are both highly recommended and easily performed through software that checks the Internet for the latest updates and a USB cable to your computer.

Our praise for the Maestro 3250 is high, however we do have some gripes - some big, some small. Our biggest problem with the unit is its unreliability and inconsistent stability. To put it into perspective... the unit crashed before we could even get out of the parking lot of the store we purchased the unit from. It didn’t end there. We found that there would be occasions (although rare) where the unit simply freezes or crashes, requiring a complete hard reboot of the unit. These events do not seem to be tied to any particular cause, but rather random in nature. Additionally there are very frequent shudders in performance, causing very brief lockups in the order of a half second to second. During these hiccups, map renderings halt and more annoyingly MP3 playback is interrupted. This most typically happens when driving slowly or stopped in areas partially obstructing satellite line of sight such as downtown and urban areas. It is annoying particularly when trying to listen to music and audio books. Again, we recommend the firmware updates as this helps to lessen the reliability problems – we hope further advances are made with future updates.

Overall, we were truly impressed with the execution, functionality and overall presentation of the Maestro 4350. It’s a great companion to have along for both your day-to-day local travels, and your long haul out of town trips. It offers solid navigation; in-depth point of interest information; on the road entertainment; hands free calling and a wealth of other features for a particularly attractive price point. We would like to see improvement in the reliability of the device. The device is somewhat a victim of the technologies it depends on such as Bluetooth, a Windows CE underpinning and FM transmission of audio. But we also believe some the stability issues are avoidable through proper quality control. We would recommend this unit to anyone looking for a device with more than just standard GPS navigation capabilities, but a complete range of convenience features and capabilities.

The unit is available at electronics retailers across North America with a recommended retail price of $299.99 USD (discounts are often available through retailer sales). Has a standard one year warranty, with a refurbished unit as replacement for defective devices.

Pros

• Packed with features at attractive price point

• Beautiful and consistent interface design

• Comprehensive AAA and Magellan point of interest data

• Excellent lane assist implementation

• Responsive touch screen

• 3D buildings rendering a nice touch

• Attention to detail in its functionality

• Clear text to speech in most situations

• MP3 better than the typical ‘tact on feel’ of other units

• Solid FM transmitter with easy setup

• Clear and easy to understand navigation both on screen and audibly

• Surprisingly accommodating customer support

• Comes with everything such as protective wallet and variety of chargers

Cons

• Inconsistent reliability and stability, occasional crashes and freezes

• Bluetooth wishy-washy and lacks broad and reliable compatibility

• Have to pay for traffic subscription unlike competition

• Supports only up to 2GB low speed SD cards

• Unsightly traffic cable that hangs on dash unless inserted into device

• Woeful video player file format support

• Occasional indirect routing issues in complex road traffic areas, although rare

Notes

• 30 day free map upgrade policy

• Update to latest firmware version for additional features and performance

• One year warranty but only for refurbished replacement unit

• Three month trial period of traffic service available

• Uses upgradable NAVTEQ maps

• This model has essentially been superseded by the 4700 series.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

 

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Managing Across the Generational Divide: Dealing with Younger Workers

. Posted in small business owner's advices

If your employees are part of a younger generation, you may find that they have a different outlook on life than you do. More than previous generations, Gen Y workers are demanding flexibility, creativity, and autonomy in the workplace — which many hiring managers are saying is seen as a sense of entitlement. However, if you take the time to understand the unique needs of Millennial workers, you’ll likely find that it’s easy to help them feel comfortable with your workplace environment, and all of your employees will appreciate the added workplace benefits. Here are a few tips to help you relate to younger workers.

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How You Can Help Suss Out Green Opportunities for Small Businesses

. Posted in small business owner's advices

Identifying green opportunities that not only support people and the planet but also help small businesses turn a profit can be a challenging endeavor — yet it’s one that Green America has been committed to for nearly 30 years. Since 1982, the nonprofit organization has worked to tap the nation’s economic power (i. e., the strength of businesses, consumers, investors, and the marketplace) to enable and encourage an environmentally sustainable society.

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Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910. 10-megapixel 1080p high definition premium webcam

. Posted in small business owner's advices

By Jon Deragon, Visca

Thursday, January 05, 2011; 8:30pm EST

Logitech has revealed the all-new C910 HD webcam, its entry in the next generation of premium high-definition webcams featuring full 1080p video capturing. Up until now 720p was about as good as you were going to expect from webcams, and even that usually came with fairly lack-luster performance and compromises. This latest generation promises a lot - 1080p resolution, better overall clarity, higher refresh, improved auto-focus and better microphone quality. Let's see how it lives up to the claims.

The device it's self is attractively styled, featuring a bold looking front design of two microphone pickups edged with blue activity indicators on either side of the rectangular center area containing the camera sensor. The webcam clamps to the top of typical monitors with relative ease, although to get it "just right" will have you tinkering around with it a bit. But once it is in place, it is stable and there to stay. Overall build quality is solid and of seemingly good quality materials, as we have come to expect from Logitech. Our major complaint is the insufficient length of the included USB cable. In a typical monitor on top of desk and computer case below setup, the cord just barely managed to stretch from the top of the monitor to the USB port – another foot or two would allow for much less restrictive webcam placement.

Setup software thankfully allows for a basic installation of only the necessities to get the webcam running, or the full complement of software that is included such as special effects software and other more "entertaining" items. Installation takes literally seconds and you are ready to use all the latest instant messenger clients almost instantly.

While the sensor is capable of picking up 1080p for local video capture to your hard drive, video chat sessions on instant messaging clients such as Skype are limited to 720p. Unless you have Internet bandwidth to burn, this limitation is only going to upset a very select few users. This implies that the webcam is optimal for use as a blog video camera at 1080p in addition to just regular video chat. Pictures can also be taken, with a (software enhanced 10-megapixel resolution) which works well for quick face shots for avator icons, etc.

The video quality has made a notable improvement over previous generations of webcams we have tested. Clarity is sharp and well defined; color rendering is good, if not a bit under-saturated as what is typically characteristic of webcam sensors; motion blur in medium to low light conditions has also been greatly improved over last generation webcams, although still present in very low light situations. There were no detectable defective pixels or other abnormalities in the sensor, which can sometimes be annoyingly present in lower quality webcams. Auto-focus is immensely better, taking a fraction of the time the previous models took to focus, and a major drop in the number of instances where the auto-focus became "lost" or unable to determine the focal point. In general the C910 does well in automatically adapting to its environment for optimal video quality, and the drivers have a smorgasbord of manual settings for tweaking video output if need be.

While the microphone is often a secondary factor when consumers are purchasing a webcam, it most likely gets used more than the camera itself as it is used not just for video chat, but all calling activity (such as Skype phone calls) and therefore greatly influences the overall acceptability of your daily communications. The stereo microphones of the C910 did an incredible job of curtailing background noises, reducing echo and overall doing a very commendable job making voices clear and with good dynamic range. Rooms with terrible echo problems and the sound of computer fans and outside street noise were mitigated to a very tolerable level in the audio output. It made regular use of instant messenger based voice chat a comfortable daily experience.

While the price is on the high end at $99.00 USD, you are also getting a high end webcam that delivers performance well beyond the price of the webcams in lower price brackets – in other words its worth those extra $10 or $20 to just get what you really want.

Logitech has built another category leading webcam yet again with the C910. There is lots to love with this feature rich and beautifully crafted webcam. If you are serious about getting a webcam that makes day to day video and audio chat pleasurable, the C910 should be at the top of your list.

The Logitech HD C910 is available now from all major electronics retailers, it retails for $99.00 USD, comes with a generous 2 year limited hardware warranty. System requirements include Windows XP and up (32 or 64-bit) or Mac OS X 10.5 or higher; 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM (we'd recommend more) and 200 MB free HDD space. The retail package includes the webcam, USB cord, manual and installation CD.

PROS

• Attractively designed and quality construction

• Strong video performance

• Microphone with good range and noise reduction

• Basic driver installation option to avoid all the "extras"

CONS

• Incredibly short USB cable.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca, specailists in web site design, development and marketing for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

 

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Do You Need an Executive Assistant?

. Posted in small business owner's advices

Your business is growing, and it’s getting harder and harder to juggle all the balls you’ve got in the air every day. Between following up on new leads and dealing with customer service issues, paying bills, booking travel, and everything else you need to deal with, it’s tough to prioritize your most important job: taking your business to the next level. So, is it time to hire an executive assistant to take the burden of day-to-day operations off your own shoulders? Here are some signs that you need help.

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CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11. Complete graphics editing and designing application suite

. Posted in small business owner's advices

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Tuesday, November 24, 2003; 11:00am EST

Corel has long stood for quality graphics software. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11 is the latest version of their popular suite of creativity tools. Version 11 continues a long tradition of product refinement and improvement to keep it in the top ranks of its market segment.

For people unfamiliar with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, it combines a number of powerful applications including CorelDRAW their artistic drawing and design program, Corel PHOTO-PAINT their digital image editing tool that is perfectly up to the job of high end web graphics development; Corel RAVE 2, the latest version of their vector based animation tool. Also inclusive of the package are hundreds (in excess of 900) great fonts to expand on that dismal collection included with your base operating system library; and an expansive collection of clip arts, royalty free stock photos and utilities to help you out such as duplex printing; font management; image tracer; texture designer / editor; and much more.

In this review we will focus primarily on the PHOTO-PAINT component of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11 as a majority of our readers will be more focused on the web design functionality of the suite. The product is a snap to install, and of the 4 included CD-ROM's, one is for the applications. We recommend installing any service packs available.

Load time on our text box (Dell Dimension XPS; Pentium 4 3GHz; 1GB memory; SATA hard drive; Windows XP Pro) was excellent for such a large program. Upon loading, the interface is immediately friendly - icons are easy to read, there is a large default workspace and the dropdown menus also use icons to illustrate functions of filters, effects and tools. It definitely doesn't stop there, you can then customize it to your exact liking, brining in tabbing dockers, adding multiple pallets, adding and removing tools and choosing what status bars are or aren't along the bottom. You can even make the floating dockers transparent for when the workspace starts to get cluttered with various images. It is quite simply an excellent "working environment" that is well suited to both novices and people that spend the better part of their day working on graphics.

Once you dive a bit further, you will be very pleased by the number of editing tools, drawing tools, effects (over 100) and image manipulations tools you have at your disposal, all with a low learning curve and intuitive execution. All of them make it a one-stop-shop for photo retouching and editing or designing of web graphics. You can also run batches to cut down on the time taken to do changes to large volumes of graphics like resizing, compression and more. Tools such as the Drop Down Shadow tool and the Interactive Object Transparency Tool are incredibly easy to use to produce excellent effects. We did note however that certain combinations of factors caused some of the effects tools and text editing tool to "crash" the program. Generally it is a stable program, but there are the occasional bugs that crop up. When this occurs, its built in crash management functionality allows you to quit, save your work and quit or continue working.

The ability to edit the palette is for the most part well executed allowing you to import from a wide range of popular preset palettes such as Trumatch and Pantone. Or create your own palette from scratch selecting the colours you want, even grabbing here and there from other palettes. Colour Management makes it incredibly easy to adjust the colour palette for screen, print or web optimization. Version 11 adds red eye removal, symbols support and image slicing and roll over effect tools. The new and improved cut / paste / copy tool changes colour of unselected area rather than sometimes distracting dotted lines outlining the selected area. It does take a bit of getting used to the selecting and deselecting with the new method compared to prior versions.

We believe the environment in Corel PHOTO-PAINT and for that matter all the applications in the suite, have a better, faster, learning curve than its primary competition Adobe Photoshop 7, and we found many of the tools shared between the two products, easier to use and equally robust in Corel's offering. The consistent use of real time interactivity in all of CorelDRAW Graphic Suite's tools and effects incredibly convenient.

Software and hardware requirements are well inline with what is on offer and both the Windows and Mac are contained in the same retail box: Windows users require Windows 98 and above; Pentium II 200MHz processor or greater; 128MB of memory; 200MB drive space. The program produced blistering performance on our test box. Mac users require Mac OS 10.1 and above; a Power Mac G3 or above; 128MB of memory and 250MB drive space.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11 has a recommended retail price of $799CAD, an upgrade price of $299CAD and a very reasonably priced full academic version is also available from authorized academic and school stores. Users of Corel Graphics Suite 10 should consider the upgrade, although there are few major changes, there are many refinements, better file browsing and saving, and significantly improved program stability. Users of Version 9 and below are highly recommended to upgrade. First time buyers of such a graphics package will be wondering whether to buy Corel's or Adobe's offering. When you combine the lower cost, friendlier interface, and better learning curve of Corel, it would be the recommended choice for a majority of users.

PROS - Interface; customizability of working environment; previewing of all effects, filters, tools and compression; palette customizability; dockers flexibility; low system requirements; competitive price.

CONS - Bugs related to some editing, effects and text tools; better text pathway tools would be nice.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/

 

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