Archive for July, 2011

The Space Shuttle Program: The impact it has had on everyday life

Posted on: July 29th, 2011 by NetEffect

Last week we watched as the space shuttle Atlantis took its last trip into space. This marks the end of the space shuttle program but if you look around your home or office you can see evidence of the impact the program has had on our lives. Thousands of technologies developed for the space shuttle program have been commercialized and applied in a variety of ways to improve our daily lives.

When I think about NASA technology, I used to imagine space ships, rockets, highly magnetic boots, and of course freeze-dried ice cream. After doing some research, I realize just how many technologies have found their way into commonly used things within my life. There is a NASA periodical called Spinoff that is committed to educating people about all the commercialized ways technologies from the space program are utilized.

Here are just a few surprising things that have been developed due to the NASA space shuttle program:

Athletic Shoes – Blow rubber molding is a process developed to make helmets for NASA. It is now used in many running shoes as companies can make hollow soles and fill them with a shock absorbing substance. One common shoe that utilizes this is the Nike Air.

DustBusters – NASA commissioned engineers at Black and Decker to develope a computer program that would allow an electric motor to perform well without using much power. Black and Decker brought it into our homes with the cordless power drill and the DustBuster.

Smoke Detectors – First created in 1970 for Skylab, America’s first space station, these devices have become so vital that legally they must be installed in newly built homes.

Space exploration has inspired many things throughout time. Through the desire to improve and create new technologies for this purpose, NASA inadvertently improved our everyday lives. I’m sure in years to come NASA will continue to commission or develop new technologies that will impact us. But as we say good-bye to the space shuttle program we can rest assured that it will forever live on in our everyday lives.

How to Make a Better Business Card

Posted on: July 27th, 2011 by NetEffect

Business cards are an essential and longstanding cornerstone of effective networking. The format is as standard as the medium, a small stock-paper card with basic contact information and, if you’re feeling saucy, a witty catch phrase. However, more and more creative thinkers are handing out extremely memorable business cards that toss out old networking conventions and replace them with unforgettable innovations. The very standard of what is and what is not a business card is changing. If you’re looking to improve your networking skills by creating a business card that will have people talking, consider a few of these creative techniques.

Add Texture

This is one of the most basic ways to make your business card more memorable. Adding texture to a card engages the sense of touch in a dynamic way, creating another layer of memory in the brain. It may sound silly, but if your business card has an intriguing texture, then the brain of the receiver will have one more thing to notice. Check out this great example.

Make Them Share-Worthy

Hand out a card that people will want to discuss with their friends or hang up on a wall at work. A simple and clever design on the back might just inspire others to show it to their coworkers. For example, take a look at this great mustache design on the back of a particularly fun business card. This sort of style will have people holding the card up to their face and, in turn, sharing it with others. Check it out here.

Make Them Digital

Who says a business card has to be a card? Why not go green and implement digital business cards by developing QR codes instead? QR codes are a popular trend among tech-savvy smart phone users. Demonstrating the ability to use this technology effectively will impress your audience, making your business card (and more importantly, your business) more memorable. Here are some tips on using QR codes.

Creating a business card is only limited by your imagination. Making your cards unique will make them more effective networking tools. For more tips and tricks on making business cards, make sure to read this article.

What to Consider About Virtual Teams

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by NetEffect

As technology develops, the definition of team is evolving. These days it is common to see people from different time zones and different countries collaborating as a team. An increasing number of companies are employing the organizational strategy of virtual teams, also known as geographically dispersed teams (GDT). You have probably heard the term but are not sure if it fits your business model.

A typical business misconception is that output is a result of being in close proximity to a manager or team. Companies are realizing that productivity is instead a result of the abilities and compatibility of team members and that performance can be measured by the quality of the results of the team. If a team consists of individuals that are motivated by personal career success and advancement, they are personally invested in the work they are doing. Individuals who are inspired by the desire to prevent being reprimanded are apt to have very little personal investment and will probably not push themselves. Virtual teams are often comprised of the former; because of this they can be powerhouses of efficiency and productivity.

In many businesses, virtual teams are not feasible, as certain tasks demand physical interaction to accomplish. However, many businesses where this is practical are embracing this reorganization of teams. If you are considering virtual teams as a strategy, here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Advantages

  • Recruitment based on expertise not proximity
  • Team members can work during the times when they function most efficiently
  • Teams consist of members that are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or cost
  • Reduced overhead, because there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are reduced as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better examine the team’s performance as there are less social pressures

Disadvantages

  • Less social interaction, which may be a demotivator for some people
  • Loss of trust between team members if there is not guarantee that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity could possibly be stifled, as the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the amount of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind

Virtual teams make use of a variety of technology to interface. These include email, audio and video conferencing, and file sharing programs. Below is a list of a few programs that can be beneficial to virtual teams.

  • Go to meetings – a relatively inexpensive method to have remote meetings
  • Yammer – a private social network for businesses that allows quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars

If you would like more information on virtual teams in action, look at the articles below: 
http://www.theanywhereoffice.com/mobile-work/telework-viritual-teams-midmarket-companies.htm
http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/19/virtual-teams-meetings-leadership-managing-cooperation.html
http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-effective-tools-for-managing-a-virtual-team

Another tech bubble

Posted on: July 20th, 2011 by NetEffect

Are we in the midst of a 1990s-style tech bubble? Some analysts think so.

Try this: Check out Google News and key in a search for ‘tech bubble.’ You’ll obtain a lot of results. Fresh results.

But let’s pause for second. What, exactly, is a tech bubble? Here’s Investopedia’s definition:

Tech Bubble – a pronounced and unsustainable market rise related to increased speculation in technology stocks. A tech bubble is highlighted by rapid share price growth and high valuations determined by standard metrics like price/earnings ratio or price/sales.”

Hmmm. Are we able to find proof of conjecture and inflated valuations?

Scanning the recent headlines, we now have stories of acquisitions and IPOs (and impending IPOs) for a variety of hot domains, including LinkedIn.com, Pandora.com, Groupon.com, Zynga.com, and Twitter.com. And there are at least eleven billion reports and blog posts about Facebook’s eventual IPO.

If we’re in a tech bubble, it certainly has a social-media flavor!

So. Of these hot companies, how many are profitable? (This helps us gauge whether their valuations are inflated.)

  • LinkedIn – Earned $12 million in 2010 (its first year of profitability).
  • Pandora – Not profitable.
  • Groupon – Same story.
  • Twitter – A little!
  • Zynga – Way profitable! With a 35% profit margin in 2010.
  • Facebook – Quite profitable. With a respectable 25% profit margin in 2010.

Of course, simply because a few of these businesses aren’t very profitable doesn’t mean they’re not brimming with profit potential. Look at Amazon.com. Launched in 1995, the company didn’t make money until 2004! But last year the company’s net gain was well over $1 billion and it is now threatening Walmart’s retail dominance.

In other words, a lack of profits today does not a bubble make (necessarily).

And as Mashable columnist Jolie O’Dell notes, today’s tech climate is much different than those heady days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when you had hundreds of startups with half-baked ideas and flimsy business plans getting insane opening day valuations. In 1999, the peak of dot-com mania, there were 308 IPOs. This year, by contrast, there have been 25, and several of them have been mature businesses with healthy revenue (e.g. LinkedIn).

O’Dell notes another key difference between now and then: Internet usage. Back in the 1990s, relatively few people were online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project, Internet adoption has just about doubled among adults since 1999. Today 77 percent of American adults are online. Among teens, the number is over 90 percent.

In the dot-com era, investors swooned for companies that didn’t have any users. The users weren’t even there. Today is different. Examine Twitter. Sure, it has battled to turn a profit, but at least it has a large, influential and growing customer base. You couldn’t say the same for Pets.com, one of the biggest flops of the dot-com era.

But it’s still hard to say with certainty whether today’s eagerness is rational or irrational. Again, return to Google News. You’ll see good arguments on both sides

When to Turn Your Tech Off

Posted on: July 19th, 2011 by NetEffect

We are living in an age of connectivity. Regardless of where we go or what we do, being connected is only the press of a button away. If someone needs to transfer information to us, they only have to choose by which device to do so. We can be called, chatted, emailed, texted and even Skyped. This change in communication has proven beneficial in many respects, though in lots of ways excessive communication can be negative. What does it mean to live in a world of almost constant connectivity? Read on for a several of the pros and cons of always being available.

The Pros

  • Being connected means improved safety. No mater what emergency you face; contacting the appropriate help is no longer a serious concern.
    Through increased technology, cell phone range is greater than ever.
    Car accidents and unforeseen accidents and illnesses even in remote locations can be quickly relayed to emergency help services.
  • Staying in contact is now as easy as clicking a button. Ask any soldier deployed over seas and they’ll tell you that staying in touch with their families is now easier than ever. Sending a message takes only a second thanks to highly advanced Internet connections and international bandwidth.
  • Technology has made telecommuting an accessible reality. Thanks to cloud computing, operating from home is easy and practical. This allows workers on maternity or sick leave to maintain a valuable level of productivity.

The Cons

  • Being connected means being always available. True, it is nice to be in touch with those you love, but we all need some privacy. We all have days when we need a little time alone and being constantly connected makes that time more and more difficult to find.
  • Always being connected encourages over-working. While telecommuting helps redefine your workspace, it also blurs the line between private and professional life. It’s important to know when to disconnect, so having your entire office available on a laptop can make that choice a challenging one.
  • Being connected can cause us to detach from those around us. Staying in touch with people who are miles away can cause us to neglect those close to us. We may be communicating with our friends overseas, but we might also be forgetting our friends in the very same room.

Digital communication is simply a new way for us to communicate. However, it’s important to remember moderation when deciding how connected we allow our lives to become. Connectivity is not fundamentally good or bad; instead its merit is dependent on how you utilize it.

For more information on connectivity, as well as an interesting look at unplugging yourself from technology, take a look at this article. 

The Truth About QR Codes

Posted on: July 18th, 2011 by NetEffect

Have you noticed those strange black, square-shaped symbols popping up all over the place lately? They’re called QR codes, and they’re a highly sophisticated version of the common grocery store barcode. Originally created in Japan to help keep track of car parts, the QR code is quickly becoming a universally recognized interactive advertising tool.

What is a QR code?

    QR (short for quick response) codes are complex matrices that are readable by scanners and, more specifically, smartphone cameras. Because these codes are so intricate, they can hold an incredibly massive amount of information.  This makes them practical tools for business since they can transmit so much information at once.

    When you scan a QR code with your smartphone, for example, the information transferred to your phone activates the web-enabled data stored in the code. Think of it as a step up from the common barcode. A barcode works by scanning the code and accessing a computer network to gather product data. QR codes work in the same way, except by using the Internet as their database rather than a simple computer networks. This makes QR codes multidimensional and capable of holding much larger amounts of information.

How are QR codes used in Business?

    Making a QR code couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is enter the data you would like to make accessible and click “generate.” There are several great QR generators online; most of them are free to use. If you’d like to try a QR generator, consider the Kaywa generator.

    Once the QR code is generated, make sure to use it effectively. Putting the code on resumes, business cards, posters, flyers and even billboards is a great way to get information out there.

Why it works

    A QR code is a fun and interesting way to get information to an audience. Because using a QR code is enjoyable, it gives additional value to the information transmitted. Understanding this makes using QR codes for interactive advertising easy. Though these codes are new to America, they have been successful tools for over a decade in Japan.  If you are looking for a creative way to get information on the market, consider using a QR code.

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