Digital era – Things every brick and mortar business needs to do

I’m amazed every time I do a Google search for some local business and don’t find a website.  Sometimes they have a Facebook page, and sometimes they have barebones information on Yelp, but that’s not enough.  Even when I do find a company’s website, it’s pretty rare that it’s populated with enough of the right information.

Brick and mortar businesses may not think they need a web presence – but the internet is changing more and more of our culture, and they can’t afford to ignore these things:

1. At least a basic WordPress site with:
  • Address
  • Map
  • Phone number
  • Menu/Products – avoid a PDF if you can help it
  • About us – short paragraph
  • Hours

2. Facebook page

3. Google Analytics account set up to gather info about visitors

4. Yelp info up to date

5. Respond to negative reviews on Yelp

This post has some good tips on doing this properly: How companies should respond to negative reviews

6. Company profile on Google Maps

7. If you’re a service company – list your services on Thumbtack.com

Many of these things can be done by someone with very little web savvy.  With a few hours of web design/development help, you can make your mark online and get a leg up on any competition in the area.

Kynetx

I’ve been playing around with a new web tool called Kynetx. Some people I worked with down in Utah are pretty heavily involved so I couldn’t help but try it out. Rather than generating content in a standard load-this-website format, Kynetx apps sit on top of existing websites, many of which the developer may not own or control (Google Docs, Twitter, Amazon, etc.).

Kynetx apps can add a layer on top of the site to provide additional details and views. They can also manipulate the DOM structure of the site to provide extra details. Imagine adding geolocation info to search results, integrating twitter results where they wouldn’t otherwise be available or doing custom filtering on the output.

The coolest thing about Kynetx is that it goes beyond Javascript tweaks by running in the cloud and providing dynamic lookup. This gives it incredible power from a mashup and API-driven perspective since it can tie in parts of a distinct platform like Twitter with search results, location-based context, etc. from anywhere.

They are quickly building up a collection of pretty useful apps that are all available to try out – and developer accounts are free!

Kynetx

Typing Upside-down

¡ʎɐqǝ uo pɹɐoqʎǝʞ ɐ ʎnq ı ǝɯıʇ ƃuı…ɟ ʇsɐן ǝɥʇ sı sıɥʇ

It’s stupid but cute.  In the extended alphabet sets of, there is a vast selection of letters.  Among these are those that can be used to model normal english characters upside-down.  This site has a script for converting text and a key of each character’s representation.

How to type upside down text and letters in HTML


GMail Search Tips and Keywords

This comes from Techflock.  There are a bunch of tricks available in gmail for finding certain types of messages such as unread, those from a specific user, date, label, or those accompanied by attachments.

Enjoy!
There are a few keywords that you can use in the search box at the top of the page

from:
to:
subject:
label:
after:
before:
in:
is:
has:

For the above, you could provide the following options as below

from:

from: {email address}
from: {name}

to:

to : {email address}
to : {name}

subject:

subject: {subject}

after:

after: {date in any known format} – For example : March 25, 10/10/2006, etc

before:

before: {date in any known format} – For example : March 25, 10/10/2006, etc

in:

in: inbox (Searches Inbox)
in: chat (Searches Chat)
in: drafts (Searches Drafts)
in: spam (Searches spam)
in: trash (Searches Trash)
in: anywhere (Searches All the Mail including Trash & Spam)
is:

is: starred (Searches Starred Mail)
is: sent (Searches Sent Mail)
is:read (Searches Read Mail)
is:unread (Searches Unread Mail)

has:

has:attachment (Checks for mail with Attachment)

label:

label: {label_name} (Checks in mail with Label name)

Other general options include

{search_keyword} and – {search_keyword} which means search for {search_keyword} or doesn’t have {search_keyword} in your mail
Example:

Find all mail which was addressed to techflock before 19th Dec 2006 and After 1st November 2006 and has networking but not basic in the mail with IMP as label

Your search query would be

before:2006/12/19 after:2006/11/01 to:techflock label:IMP in:anywhere networking -basic

Bungee Connect – Platform as a Service

 

The age of Web 2.0 has been dominating more clearly with every successfully integrated web app out there. Facebook apps dominate hours of time in the lives of people from all walks of life. The iPhone’s webapp integration is familiar to way more people than it should be, and high-speed internet has steadily grown in accessibility allowing more and more powerful web projects that are more application than web site.

Bungee Connect aims to provide a powerful portal to the design of highly integrated and exciting applications on the web. Now, I’ve just recently started an internship with the company Bungee Lab so I’m somewhat biased. That bias comes, however, in the form only of one who has had the opportunity to really see what this is all about.

The builder requires no downloaded software, relying on a browser-based interface. Developers can build AJAX-driven applications without the complicated and unpleasant detail management of the low-level message-passing involved.

In my opinion, however, the biggest feature offered by this development environment is its focus on integration with existing web services. Bungee Connect provides interfaces for handling the low-level communication between a Bungee app and other information sources on the web. This allows developers to automate the integrate of information like Google Calendar events, local weather details, RSS feeds or Facebook friend details without sorting through the nasty details of coding these connections by hand.

This is an entirely new way of approaching web design that opens doors to powerful applications. The novelty comes with a relatively steep learning curve, but the Bungee Connect team is committed to helping developers overcome difficulties along the way. Anyone is welcome to register and try out the service and I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity. The internet is an exciting place to be these days.

Bungee Connect

Evolution and the Robot that Lies

In an effort to create a model of evolutionary processes researchers at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland have turned to robots. The robots were placed in an “environment” with a “food” and a “poison” station. Robots were given two minutes to find the food resource while successfully avoiding the poison. Robots that failed this task were removed from the population while robots that succeeded had their programming merged with other successful robots to create new programming routines.

In under 500 generations the robots evolved a method of communication using lights. Lights often signaled that the food resource had been found, but in trials where the robots were set to compete with each other (where only the top performers of a subset of the population were allowed to mate their programming with another robot and continue into the next generation) some of the robots developed an ability to trick the others by using the light signals to tell the others that the poison was food instead. Even more surprising, the robots were less likely to practice deception when communicating with robots that had programming more similar to their own, effectively contributing to the survival of kin.

More on this at:
The Biological Research Information Center

Mozilla Prism: Webrunner with A Little Extra Juice

Well I’m a bit slow on this one, but I finally noticed that mozilla labs has been working on the project previously known as Webrunner. For those who don’t know, Webrunner was a ‘browser’ of sorts that allows a web application (gmail, google reader, meebo, etc.) to be run as if it were a desktop application. More here (Read: Mozilla WebRunner 0.7).

Prism makes strides to simplify the process of harnessing this web application -> desktop application capability. Once installed, opening Prism prompts for a web url and options to create Desktop, Quick Launch, or Start Menu icons. This new version also gives the users options allowing them to display a location bar, status messages, and navigation keys, should they so desire.

Mozilla Labs: Prism

Is anything safe? What online image are you giving?

Lifehacker features a pretty interesting list of ways to find information about anyone online. Anything from employment info, to social network connections, to press mentions, to phone numbers and addresses for an individual could be turned up with a quick search of these sites.

I see this as a good chance to check out my online image and to screen what others can see about me. Employers and contacts do check these kind of things to get a feel for what has done or what he or she is like. This is definitely something to take a look at.

  • Pipl – personal sites, social networks, press releases, et.
  • Zabasearch – phone numbers, addresses (often both unlisted and listed)
  • Wink – Many social networking sites, including Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and Xanga
  • Zoominfo – employment history and job titles
  • Facebook – there are so many people on facebook.  This one goes without saying
  • Who is this Person Firefox Extension – brings up people search engines from the right-click menu within firefox when clicking on a person’s name
  • Google search tricks:

* Enclose the first and last name of the person you’re searching for in quotes when you enter it into the search box (like “John Smith”).
* Include other relevant words, like the person’s profession, employer, location, or screen name, too (like banker or Austin, Texas.)
* If the person you’re searching for is likely to appear on a particular web site–like a school–search only that site using the site:URL operator (like site:ucla.edu “John Smith”).
* To look up people by face, search for them on Google Images to get a quick visual–especially useful for people with common names, or to determine the gender of a name you never heard before.

Lifehacker: How to Track Anyone Down Online