Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't be a DWIM (Drive While Instant Messaging)

This is a short post, but I got the inspiration to do so as I was driving a few days ago. So I pulled my car over to the side of the road and sent this post to my Blog at Rockland Web Design. You'll notice that I said that I pulled my car over. And that is what I'd like to discuss with you today - how to stop Driving While Instant Messaging, or as I like to call it, "DWIM".

It's the biggest temptation since the advent of cellphones - DWIMming. I'm not sure if that's the way we should refer to the practice, but it seems to have a ring to it...just like the Simpson's foray into Webster's dictionary with the word 'meh'. I can envision a day when teens will be telling their friends "dude - you are such a DWIM." I mean, who wants
to be called that? It's almost like 'dweeb' but with an actual negative connotation to it that is rooted in reality. 

Um, maybe I'm going a little overboard. But I digress...  

I myself am a recovering DWIM, and I am quite ecstatic that our local government in Rockland County, NY is about to enact a law that bans the practice of driving while instant messaging.  Don't ask how this law will be enforced; I haven't the faintest idea. Maybe your local neighborhood officer will now ask you to whip out your mobile device, physically inspect it, and determine what time you sent your last text message, to whom, and how frequently you responded. By the way, the correct response to that request is - "Officer, you are not my girlfriend". Not that I have any experience with that situation. None at all.

According to a recent survey by observed that 47% of drivers 18-24 years old, and 27% of those from 25-34 have sent a text message, instant message or email while driving. So far, four states - New Jersey, Washington, Alaska and Minnesota - have enacted laws banning the practice.

I'd like you all to make the New Years commitment to stop the madness of Driving While Instant Messaging. Thusly, I've devised a simple 12-step program to help you to stop DWIMming. It is fashioned after the classical AA program --- after I wrote the above post from the side of the road, I finished it by going home and checking out Wikipedia's page on the 12-step program. From it, I believe we now have an anti-DWIM version of this well-known program. (Note: the original 12 steps are posted below in their original form to protect their creative integrity.)

So here it is - The 12 Step Program to Stop Being a DWIM:
  • Admit that you have a very, very bad habit of Driving while Instant Messaging ("Hello, my name is Tom...and I am a DWIM.")
  • Recognize that you do not have control over your mobile device anymore - it now has control over you
  • Give yourself over to a higher power and let go, man! (um, or woman)
  • Realize that people may actually wait more than 14 seconds for their message response from you
  • Be conscious of your tendency to reach for your mobile phone while driving
  • Notice any triggering thoughts, feelings or other stimuli that cause you to want to DWIM
  • Track your DWIMs...write down the daily, weekly and monthly running total somewhere (NOT while driving!) Focus on reducing your DWIMs each day, until you get to zero. Hopefully that will happen by later tonight...
  • Check your phone once before you put the car into drive, and once upon arriving at your destination
  • If you check at a traffic light while stopped, that is a grey zone, but realize you may be honked at by annoyed drivers and irritated skateboarders trying to cross the road
  • Turn off beeping/vibrating sounds your phone makes when you receive a message
  • If you must send a message, pull over to the side of the road and do it there. This is safer
  • Encourage other potential DWIMmers to also follow these steps, and make fun of them if they don't.
If all that is too much for you, try this: while you are driving this week, if you get the urge to whip out your phone and stare at the screen in the midst of oncoming traffic, remember this simple phrase: 

"I will not be a DWIM".  

Say it with me now:  

"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM".  

And remember to post your DWIM experiences on our Facebook "Don't be a DWIM" group --- so others learn from our experiences, and make the commitment to stop DWIMming. Look for me on FB, or simply do a search for "Don't be a DWIM - Driving While Instant Messaging is BAD."

Safe driving!

Tom Ossa 
Rockland Web Design 
Stony Point, NY
(845) 271 - 4488

P.S. Contrary to pop culture criticism, AA has helped countless people turn their lives around. Aside from the slightly humorous tone above, I thought it to be a good idea to post the original AA 12 steps program:

  • We admit we are powerless over our mobile devices—that our lives are becoming unmanageable.
  • We believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Changing Landscape of Business

I agree, ladies and gentlemen - it is lovely chart. Yet if you look at the fine print at the bottom of the graphic above, you'll notice that the numbers are fake. I wanted to point that out to you before we start so we collectively agree this is an overly optimistic chart. 

But what about the charts that we've been reading over the past three months? It probably looks something like this:

As usual, the truth exists somewhere in the middle. Let's begin...

Over the past two months, we have been inundated with every possible scenario involving the recent crash of the financial industry, and the subsequent ripple effects that have affected businesses worldwide as a result. Just last night I was speaking with a very wise gentleman - a retired attorney - who predicts that 2009 is going to be a very difficult year for most of us.

As we absorb more gloom and doom, as well as hope and optimism, we start to gather a clearer picture of what will really occur in the coming year, and how these occurrences will change the landscape of business. I think you would agree with me when I say that this knowledge will be vital in helping us to not only survive, but thrive in the economic downturn.

Below are five predictions that we have regarding the changing landscape of business, from the perspective of a bunch of web geeks. We hope that this will help you to set your sails properly during the coming storm (I would say the "perfect storm"; but if you recall, George Clooney didn't fare too well during that whole thing...and we'd like you to make it to the other side of the shore).

  1. The death of the corporate website - When I read this a few weeks ago, I started panicking and worrying that Rockland Web Design should start offering coffee and sandwiches as a side business. But the good news is that websites with social interactivity will thrive in the next 3 to 5 years. This means that you will hear less of "We pride ourselves in our outstanding customer service, and commitment to quality", and more objective reviews.
    - Reviews of products and services by consumers (Increasing customer service by company)
    - Testimonials from satisfied and unsatisfied clients (increasing company focus on quality)
    - Collaboration: clients will be encouraged to interact on websites, thereby making them more involved with the parent company and subtly encouraging their brand

    So I'm not worried anymore. 

  2. Networking: online and offline - At our last ProMetroNet event, we saw people networking that we hadn't seen in months, even years. The sudden seismic shift of the economic landscape has certainly lit a fire under the pants of business persons looking to find more business. Online, popular Social Networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook added new features that allow a more effective and efficient online experience. My new favorite is the PowerPoint tool, which allows your company to upload presentations to your LinkedIn profile using Google Documents (call me and I'll explain). My buddy Chris Keller from Liberty Tax was very jazzed when he saw this, and plans to upload a plethora of materials. So...are you doing any Social Networking these days? :-)

  3. The (further) rise of the mobile workforce - Having a cool laptop and an iPhone 3G is just the beginning. Imagine a world where your workforce is spread out over thousands of miles, and any one of your (trusted) employees can log into a central location and access data to get their work done, as well as use the programs that help them to work. Impossible? Not any more. Buzzwords such as web video conferencing, data centers, cloud computing and unified communications will translate into a new work experience like we have never experienced before. It will also change the landscape of offices and production facilities, as there will be less need for office workers to make the two-hour commute each day to New York City; rather, they can put little Johnny on the school bus, go for a jog, have breakfast and log into the company's intranet at 8:30 am. It also means that this new workforce will need to be more disciplined than ever to get their tasks done each day. This means NOT spending more than the necessary time allotted for Facebook and LinkedIN. 

  4. Security - For you IT people that are worried about where your company's data is going (did little Johnny accidentally bring the company financials to show and tell?), new security protocols will help to ensure sensitive information and programs are kept on lock down, unless properly "checked out" by an authorized user. This also means that the network will need to beef up external threat monitoring procedures - your Norton Antivirus program probably won't be cutting it anymore.

  5. Advertising changes - for the big one. We've been tracking the demise of the yellow pages for several years now. And while we won't see the print advertisement go away anytime soon, we will notice that companies such as ourselves to turn toward online advertising in droves. The reason can be summarized in two words: measurable results. Statistics software already allows company to track very detailed information such as user visits, most popular content on a website, keywords used to find a website, even the location of each visitor (not down to what part of the house they are checking you out from...that's too much - only narrowed down to city and state.

    In a nutshell, businesses will be able to track their more popular products and services, and refine their marketing strategy based on the wealth of data - all for significantly less than the cost of a full page spread in the local newspaper.
For those of you that are still focused on the gloom and doom of the coming year, remember two things: 

First, whether you love him or hate him, our incoming President is the first Commander in Chief to fully embrace the power of the web - considering it was a major factor in his election. And while you won't see Mr. Obama in a one-on-one online conference anytime soon, I imagine that this full embrace of the web will encourage businesses to adopt technologies that help them to stay competitive in the coming years. 

Secondly, at the beginning of the industrial revolution many critics complained that our society will not survive the advent of machinery replacing humans for repetitive labor. Now, over 100 years later, we are going through a similar period of cutbacks. While economical workforce and business adjustments are necessary from time to time - don't just yet buy into the idea that our economy is wrecked beyond reproach and cannot recover. For every setback that does not mesh with your business model, find a way to embrace the advancement that has emerged in its place. Nothing is set in stone right now, including our business plans. Stay fast and flexible, and your company will thrive.

I will get off my soapbox now.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Case for Using Social Networking

Quick Points:
  1. Social Networking is here to stay
  2. You as a business owner should embrace the concept
  3. Remember that Google's idea of search marketing was considered silly 10 years ago
  4. The business landscape is changing - Yahoo is researching how to reach social networks
  5. Below are 5 essential activities to conduct on either Facebook, LinkedIN, or Twitter
For the past three or four months, I have heard rumblings and gripes from many of my colleagues, expressing their frustration with Social Networking, on venues such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN. Many have trouble embracing its business purpose, others consider it a waste of valuable business time, and some feel that it is a fad that will go away soon.

As a web designer for the past 10 years, I have seen many fads come and go ("that was so 15 minutes ago" was a term that was specifically created due to the advent of fly by night web trends), such as, flashing banner ads, and Flash games that drop more cookies on your PC than Santa on Christmas Eve. I can assure the skeptics two things: first - social networking is here to stay, and second - those that embrace the concept sooner rather than later will profit from the commitment. To understand why, let's rewind about 10 years to another nifty concept - search advertising.

Google rapidly rose to power despite critical opinion that there is no way to monetize search. 10 years later its advertising delivery system AdWords is still a force to be reckoned with, as Fortune 500's are aggressively making the switch to online advertising, both on Google and its vast partner networks. Just this past year, Proctor and Gamble, one of the most corporate-traditional cultures in the world agreed to an employee exchange program, which helped both Google and P&G profit from each other. The point is that even traditional companies are jumping on a bandwagon that the tech world has foreseen many moons ago.

This morning I was reading an article in Advertising Age, which discusses a study being conducted by Yahoo and several Social Networking startups. The theory is that consumers can be targeted much more effectively by relationships, rather than demographics. So if you are talking with Judy more often than Bill, it is much more likely that you will have similar tastes as Judy does.

What this means for you is that when you study your friends' likes and dislikes on Social Networking sites, you can better understand what they collectively need, and deliver those needs. It is the ultimate open research tool. Further, it is a direct way to develop good relationships with your client base online (as a supplement to in person relationships...not a replacement). As I often quote from Chase Bank, "the right relationship is everything"...a phrase which bears greater merit during our recent financial travails. It behooves you as a business to embrace social networking, so that when new methods of monetizing the concept emerge, you'll be ready to roll.

As I wrote a few weeks back on this blog, the best way to get started is to create profiles at Facebook and LinkedIN. The only initial cost is time, which unfortunately can be sucked from your day quite rapidly if you do not set proper controls and discipline to use the tools effectively. I recommend about 15 minutes a day to start - simply by logging on once a day and updating your status. If you can squeeze in the time, recognize that no man (or woman) is an island, and add a few friends that you know also have profiles. They will also help you during your learning curve.

Here are the top five activities I recommend during your power 15 minutes each day of Social Networking:
  1. Update your status at least once a day
  2. Add interesting content to your profile that people will read (blog)
  3. Add friends that you can relate to on both a professional and personal basis
  4. Take some time to read other people's profiles, and comment on their statuses
  5. Introduce friends of yours to other friends that have similar interests
Try it out for a week. I assure you that you will enjoy it, but also consider how Social Networking can help your clients, and your business in the future.

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Networking Do's and Dont's - Some anecdotes

Ok, so on November 13th we had our networking event at the Black Bear Saloon. (Blatant promotion: All went very well, and we hit our usual crowd of about 35-40 people. From the feedback I got so far, almost everyone enjoyed it.

However I cannot emphasize enough that there are certain things that one can do to increase the effectiveness of networking. A lot of it has to do with taking the time to get to know someone before shoving a business card down their throat. I see this all too often in networking circles, and while it might garner short term gains, it serves as the antithesis of networking's primary purpose - do develop long-term relationships. In order to do this, one must remove from brain the idea of networking being...gasp...a numbers game.

Moreover, let's face it - in the current economic climate, many are trying to get the word out there in as efficient a manner as possible. Unfortunately, efficiency and effectiveness don't always go together. Stephen Covey writes in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about how a person in the woods was sawing down a tree, and when someone pointed out to him that he would probably be able to get the tree cut quicker if he sharpened his blade, the man said that he didn't have time for that sort of thing. So I ask you, people who think of networking as a "numbers game"...and I say this with love...if you took the time to get to know us before telling us more about your products or services, do you think you might have receive a more robust response?

Once we as networkers all come to terms with that cold-cock to the brain, it makes life a lot easier when dealing with people. Certainly we need to employ the energy, enthusiasm and hard work to put ourselves in front of suitable potential clients, to get to know them better, and to let them know (in a polite manner) how cool we and our life's work happens to be. BUT, we must always remember that most of our lives don't play out like the New York Stock Exchange, nor does it make it any more enjoyable to conduct oneself in such a manner.

Here are a few quick anecdotes regarding good networking.

My Stepfather Jim Hudick (R.I.P.) from American Management Association was the perfect example of how humans should relate to each other. He was kind, considerate, and most of all took a genuine interest in other people. The funny thing was...he was also kind of quiet. You had to ask questions to learn more about him, but each time you walked away from Jim, you got a really good feeling inside - that he was genuinely interested in you. At his funeral, you should have seen the out pour of emotion for this very fine man, who spent much of his life caring about other human beings.

Vincent Blehl from Green T just gave me a call, and he brought up an excellent point; while you are speaking with people, make mental notes of who in your current circle might be good contacts for him or her. In that way you are an instant service to the person, and although you may not reap the rewards immediately, you can be sure they will appreciate it and perhaps reciprocate in the future. Multiply that by the number of people you meet, and you have built a network of people who want to get to know you better...and are more likely to do business with you.

Kevin Kearsey of Montvale Mortgage saved me last night. While I was doing my 60-second infomercial at the ProMetroNet event, I suddenly paused in a manner worse than when former NY Attorney General Jeannine Pirro announced her run for Senate (“does anyone have page 10?”). Kevin subsequently used a few moments of his own presentation last night to do a quick rescue, endorsing me and letting the audience know that Rockland Web Design is working on his company's new website. Very classy move, Kevin; thank you.

There are so many more points that can be made here, but you're busy. Go back to work - but remember that networking should not just be about you. Remember the other person to whom you speak. If you see eyes roll over or attention wander as you are talking, ask a few questions of the other persons that help you to get to know them better, and don't make it about your product or service. Maybe it should be about the Jets game, or that lovely purse that someone is wearing, or something that makes it more enjoyable to speak with you, and remember you.

And to the number-crunching networkers out there...if you are reading this and think I am trying to offend, please don't feel that way. As a matter of fact I really am trying to help. I truly hope to talk with you again at the next meeting - and here's an icebreaker for you - my favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. What's yours? :-)

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

P.S. Check out some additional resources:

The Art of Networking - A Tutorial
What Makes Business Networking So Important
Small Businesses Turning to Social Networking

Also, feel free to comment on this article below.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Caring for Clients...Online.

Hi, everyone. This week's blog is listed below. Here are some key advice points for those of you on the go:

Key Points:
  1. Our work online isn't just to help ourselves, it is to help others.
  2. Refer others while e-mailing people
  3. Use websites like Facebook and LinkedIN to keep in touch with, and help your network of friends, family and business associates
  4. Use your website as an advice forum to give others knowledge
  5. Send e-cards or SendOutCards to people that are in need of consolation
  6. Link your website to others...they will reciprocate.
  7. These are only a few of the things we can do - but the point is to care for those we interact with online.
Caring for Clients...Online.

So I was just reading a great article in Success Magazine from Mr. Televangelist himself, Joel Osteen. While sometimes he migrates into cheesyland, I do have to say that nine times out of ten he has really good, sound advice that we as individuals, friends, family members and of course business owners can use in the ongoings of our daily lives. As a matter of fact I went to see him once at Madison Square Garden, and I have to say he really reaches out to people on a very good-hearted level. In short, he cares.

The Success Magazine article - click here to read an excerpt - was from my friend Leah Rosen of In it, Joel discusses the "energy" that we send out to people ultimately comes back to us. Some things that stuck out in the article to me:
  • A teacher that worked for a tough inner city school lent one of her most troubled students $100 so that he could pay off his loan from a street gang. The stipulation: he had to pay it back at his graduation. The young man in turn worked hard and indeed made it to graduation, citing his teacher's faith in him as a prime motivator.
  • A young boy fell down a steep slope and started yelling for help. Every time he yelled "help", he heard another voice yelling back to him "help". He started insulting the voice as a coward for not rescuing him, and the voice responded back in kind. Later when his Dad ultimately found and rescued him, the boy found that the voice was only his own echo...but also a metaphor for life - what we send out comes back to us.
  • Rule: "You never bring out the best in someone by criticizing, condemning, or verbally beating down a person. You bring out the best by love. You bring out the best by showing people you care."
  • The final sentence of the article "If you make someone else's day, God will make yours."
The relevance to what we do online is simple. Every time we log onto our e-mail, someone else's website, Facebook, LinkedIN, ProMetroNet or other places where we interact with our business community, friends and family, we can be focusing on more than just trying to get more bang for the buck. Sure, we all need to survive by pulling in our daily bread, but at the same time we can be finding opportunities to assist people with the knowledge that we have as business owners to better other people's lives.

Several business owner friends of mine that just started a blog at the same time asked me what they should write about. I suggested they write about things that they are passionate about in their industry. Upon further reflection, I realize that I was only partially correct. The truth is we should be writing about the things that will help other people to live better lives. And like the advice in the article I mentioned, what you put out there will ultimately come back in kind.

Some tangible steps for taking care of your clients online:
  1. Whenever you are reading through your e-mails, keep in mind the other trusted associates in your network that could possibly help solve some of your client's problems. I recently referred a client with a business plan question to my good friend Mark Cohen of PerformanceStream. While I may have been able to help the person myself, I realized that I couldn't do it as well as Mark ultimately did. The client was thankful, and so was Mark.
  2. If you are on Facebook or LinkedIN, take interest in the stories of your friends network, and reach out to them with geniuine commentary when they are happy, sad or need help. I like the Guiliani rule: "Weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory." This means that when someone needs consolation, you should be one of the consolers.
  3. On your website, run an advice forum that allows people to ask questions of you or your business. You can accomplish this with a simple contact form, and update your website from time to time with your answers to those questions.
  4. When someone is having a difficult time, consider sending them an e-card, or a SendOutCard. In addition to your consistent marketing efforts (you are marketing, right? :-) it is an added way of telling someone that you care about them. By the way, while we all need to prioritize our most monetarily lucrative clients to get the job done, that is no excuse to neglect those that are just starting out or struggling in their businesses. As a matter of fact they need your help the most. Thusly, devote time to also helping those in the middle, or even the bottom of your list. A very wise carpenter once said "The least shall be first". (paraphrased, of course)
  5. Link your website to those in your network whom you trust. The more links that go to a person's website, the more likely their rankings will rise significantly in major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Also create links to articles from your friends that blog.
While all of this prompts most to respond who the heck has time to do all this, I say YOU. Every success guru out there, including Joel Osteen has said that if we focus time on the most important things, they will get done. (As a matter of fact I just got an e-mail reminding me that God isn't just about Sunday mass - for which I am terribily guilty.) But what I'm trying to say is that if we are taking the time and energy to impart our online wisdom to others that need it the most (even if they can't give us anything back right now), we will ultimately see a significant return in the web-based components of our business.

Just from a logical point of view, if we are putting more information our there for people to benefit from, search engines, social networking groups, web browsers, blog readers and e-mail recipients will start to pay more attention to us. That's not a bad return for the 15 minutes* a day we're spending helping others, is it?

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

* 15 minutes, minimum people!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Google and Flash - Friends Forever?

Just in case you missed the news on Tuesday, Adobe, Google and Yahoo announced that Flash files will have the ability to be higher ranked in search engines, due to a new technology that will aid search engine results. Rockland Web Design is very happy to hear this news.

So why does this matter to you?

To fully explain, let's talk about how Google and Yahoo work for a moment. When you go to one of these search engines and type in...say "Sneakers", the search engine will find websites that are:
  • Popular (Lots of other websites link to them)
  • Have lots of content
  • Are closely related to the search that the visitor seeks
There's a lot of other factors, but we'll stick with these for a moment. Those of you who know the whole copy and paste routine can relate to this next question...think about how easy it is to highlight text, and place it in memory to move somewhere else. When this happens, the computer remembers the text and waits for further instructions.

However it is much more difficult to copy...say just a small part of a picture, or worse yet - an animation. Translate this over to Google / Yahoo, and you realize that it is very difficult to "rank" an animation - which is one of the strengths of using Flash. How can you rank the usefulness of a picture of a moving sneaker over that of a web page that says "We sell moving sneakers"?

Long story short, now Google and Yahoo will be able to rank animated Flash files, based on the content that they bring up on the screen. So if Nike, for example created a Flash animation of running sneakers (I know I'm wearing this analogy out), that might now sit right next to the text of running sneakers, rather than be buried on page 10 of the rankings.

So why do you care? Remember the jump from radio to television back in the stone age? This announcement can very well do the same thing for the evolution of the Internet, as you will not need to read through tons and tons of text to find what you want. More companies, including Rockland Web Design, will be charged with the task of creating animated and interactive Internet content. It will further increase the likeliness of the Internet's use as both an entertaining and informative medium for people to increase their knowledge about any subject under the sun.

Thomas Ossa
Rockland Web Design
62 East Main Street
Stony Point, NY 10980
(845) 271 - 4488

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New iPhone: Positives and Negatives

In September of 2007, during a networking meeting with the group ProMetroNet, a good friend of mine walked in with her newest toy - the first generation iPhone. After refraining from salivation, I composed myself and made it a mission to quickly purchase what was in my opinion one of the game-changing tech toys of the millennium, thus far.

I was right. Not only was the device fun and easy to use, I found it to have extraordinary benefits for Rockland Web Design. First, it was an instant attention-getter. I remember one Chamber of Commerce meeting where I admitted to a colleague that I forgot to bring my business cards, and then whipped out my phone to take down his contact info. He, and several others crowded around me and...salivated. Second, it has functionalities such as IMAP e-mail that make it very easy to run a Web Design business from anywhere. Third, the web apps that can be downloaded onto the phone, such as blogging tools, invoicing programs, and of course the Yankees scorecard make it more than a phone...rather it is a mini computer.

This Monday, the media was abuzz with the announcement of Apple's newest popularity tool: The 3G version of the iPhone. Critics and fans quickly lined up to comment on the benefits and detriments of the updated all-in-one device. Here is a quick scorecard of the new iPhone's positives and negatives:

  • 3G - Simply put, you can go online faster, download e-mail faster, and access data...faster.
  • GPS - An upgrade from Google Maps, now you can track yourself moving from Arkansas to Kansas, or the kitchen to the living room.
  • Microsoft Exchange Support - Enterprise level service for corporate employees that are considering making the switch from Blackberry to cool.
  • Display of more types of attachments, such as PowerPoint presentations. Imagine running a seminar from your phone.
  • Lower price points: $199 for 8 gigs (black only), and $299 for 16 gigs (white / black).
  • The plastic back - Probably the worst change, the burnished silver back of the phone is being changed to a hard plastic shell. I think it cheapens the look of the phone, and makes it more susceptible to scratches.
  • No video conferencing...yet - Rockland Web Design has been waiting for a video conferencing tool, which was rumored to be coming on this edition of iPhone. We'll have to wait a bit longer.
  • No video recording...yet - Another big disadvantage of the iPhone, but one day it will be corrected.
Overall, I am pleased with the new offering, but will likely wait until early August to make the jump, just in case there are any glitches that need to be fixed. That being said, I expect to be very satisfied with the new 3G iPhone.

If you have comments about the new iPhone, please write them on this page.

Monday, June 2, 2008

PDFs with Video! And Much, Much More!

I just read a story that almost made me cry tears of joy. I hope you will feel the same.

Adobe has just announced it will soon offer users the ability to add video to pdf files!

According to the story, just released at 12:31 pm Monday, Adobe will be updating its Acrobat software with Flash functionality, greater collaboration tools, and a new web-based word-processing suite that stands above both Google and Microsoft online docs.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

I would imagine some of you out there in web-world are thinking to yourselves, "So what?", or "How does this affect me and my company?" Let me explain some advantages, from the beginning to end of your business process:
  1. Potential clients will be increasingly impressed with your sales, recruitment, or educational presentations. They will be much, much more interesting and interactive.
  2. Your existing customer base can offer more feedback based upon the documents you send them, so that you may refine your business model to reach the next level.
  3. Your team will be able to share ideas with each other much easier, using online web meetings, comments and document sharing.
  4. After a project is completed, clients can respond to your company with both regular text based, and video-based testimonials.
I can't say I'm surprised that this development has occurred, but I can certainly attest to my happiness at this moment in time. The business community has been in dire need for better tools to get their message out effectively and efficiently, and I believe this is a great step in the right direction by a highly reputable company.

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

E- Newsletters: A Business MUST!

By Thomas Ossa
Rockland Web Design
May 28, 2008

There are plenty of reasons to not create a newsletter for your clients on a consistent basis. I hear plenty of excuses: "I don't have the time", "It takes too long to compose", "My customers will get annoyed", "I don't have a good list", etc. etc.

While I readily admit that many of the above concerns are valid points, the negatives in this case most certainly do not outweigh the positives. I can think of no other targeted message that can legitimately reach a mass number of people in a short span of time for the price. In other words, taking 1 hour to compose and send a newsletter to your clients once a week, bi-weekly, or even once a month is quite a valuable practice. In order for it to be effective, however, it needs to be done right.

Here are some tips for reaching your client base in a more effective way through newsletters:
  • Have a message, not a sales pitch: When you send out a correspondence, make sure your intent is not solely to sell. Your job is to educate. Rewards come later as a result, but they are quite beneficial.
  • Keep it short and sweet: If you are spending more than a half hour composing, editing and sending your newsletter, you've lost half your audience. Ask yourself this question as you write: "Is anyone really going to read this much?" Keep asking until you reach the answer "no", and then wrap it up. Use bullet points, like I am. They are much easier to read.
  • Don't oversend or undersend: There is no set standard for newsletter frequency. Each client list is different and unique, and each writer needs to feel out what is an acceptable and useful rate. A good rule of thumb is "no more than once a week, no less than once a month."
  • Get permission and feedback: Probably the most overlooked aspect of newsletters is finding out what your clients want to hear about. If they are interested in skin care products, and you are sending them tips on auto repair, you might see your client base shrink over time. A good opening newsletter would be "Welcome...what do you want to hear about?"
  • Create a call to action: Simply put, a call to action is an incentive for your readers to do something. It could be answering a survey, singing up for an event, or purchasing a product. While you don't want to sell stuff in the body of the newsletter, you certainly want to offer something that might be of value to the client. So add a little incentive, offer or otherwise, to generate interactivity between you and your people.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

5 Reasons to Watch Google during the Recession

There are many benefits to having one company in charge of all that is good online, and that one company is the juggernaut known as Google. While advantages are evident, there are obvious detriments that should also be considered as the public and private sectors increasingly favor Google and its wealth of valuable services.

Rockland Web Design has been monitoring the success of the search giant since their inception, and notes that there are some great reasons for businesses to embrace Google, especially in the apparent recession that exists today, but it will be interesting to note what position the company will be in as we emerge from the recession.

Below are 5 reasons to watch Google during the recession. They're not all bad, but there are some concerns:

1. Philosophy: Most people know Google's stated mission to "organize the world's information. On the way, Google's internal directive is, in my opinion, a great way to stay on the right track in order to meet that objective: "Don't be Evil". Apparently this is the company's way of stating that ethics and morals still hold true in our society. While I applaud this effort, I believe that in order for Google to remain faithful to this effort, the general public, as well as shareholders should monitor the company to ensure that top management creates policies that further embrace the "Don't be Evil" philosophy.

2. Ownership: Google is scarily purchasing everything that is vulnerable on the online landscape. A perfect example occurred 5 minutes ago, when I contacted what I thought was the number for a mobile web development company, and recieved a message that I reached a phone number for Google. How many more companies will be assimilated?

3. New applications: Google's home page is just the beginning of it's online world. Take a moment and click on "more". In there you will find Google earth, docs, research, hundreds of applications that make business and personal life more streamlined. Most cost nothing, just the favor of displaying tasteful advertising. More on that in a minute. But one particular application I'd like to mention: the Google Apps suite allows companies to collaborate through e-mail, run an Intranet, share documents and much more! Check it out at

4. Terms of Use: a while ago I sat down and read some of the terms of use for Google Apps. While it is a great suite, my concern is a little clause that states that google can essentially assume control of a domain, and make it their own. While the statement was somewhat vague and likely unenforcible, I would hate to think that one day the only way to get a website up and running is to go is to contact one almighty company.

5. Staying Power: Finally, the fact that Google has maintained a great degree of resilience during both the recession scare and the threat of a Yahoo / Microsoft merger speaks volumes to its staying power. I believe that this is a result of its multi-faceted strategy of creating more and more web applications in the interest of further its core competency...effective search advertising.

In short, buy the stock, use the services, and keep both eyes on Google for the foreseeable future.

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(914) 584 - 6882
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mobile Website: Marketing Techniques

Studies show that the mobile website industry is about to gain significant momentum in 2008. If you plan on adding such a feature to your current web presence, you may be in for a boost in visits!

Example: Mr. 30-something executive sees your business card in StarBucks, is interested in your product or service, and quickly whips out his mobile phone to check out your site. This is in stark contrast to the individual who sees your business card, saves it in the pocket or purse for future reference, goes home, turns on the PC and remembers to go online to visit your website. It's simply a matter of giving potential customers the ability to instantly access information!

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows has some great keyboard shortcuts to use while you're working on your computer. Some of them are pretty likely have heard of the [ctrl] + [c] to copy, and then [ctrl and [v] to paste.

But how about [windows icon] + [d] to minimize all opened windows, and quickly return to your desktop?

Try it right now as you read this. You should see this document disappear to the bottom of the screen and your desktop background appear. Now hit [windows icon] [d] again, and you should return to this screen.

Some more shortcuts:

Press To
CTRL+C Copy.
CTRL+V Paste.
CTRL+Z Undo.
DELETE Delete.
Delete selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin.
CTRL+A Select all.
ALT+ENTER View properties for the selected item.
ALT+F4 Close the active item, or quit the active program.
ALT+Enter Displays the properties of the selected object.
ALT+SPACEBAR Opens the shortcut menu for the active window.
ALT+TAB Switch between open items.
ALT+SPACEBAR Display the System menu for the active window.
CTRL+ESC Display the Start menu.
F5 Refresh the active window.
BACKSPACE View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer.
ESC Cancel the current task.

Finally, one of my favorites involves this: When you are viewing all of the contents of a folder, type the first few letters of the file or folder you are seeking. Windows will use these letters to quickly get you to the folder you need. A variation of this method involves using Google desktop, which we will discuss in future newsletters.

For more shortcuts, simply go to your Start menu, click help and support, and type in "keyboard shortcuts" in the search box. There are literally hundreds of shortcut variations, but I suggest that you only learn the most essential. If you are successfully able to use keyboard shortcuts in place of your most commonly performed functions, I guarantee an increase in speed and efficency while you are using your PC.