EJM Designs Limited Blog

Friday, June 26, 2009

We All Need a Vacation

I appreciate all my lovely readers and only think it's fair to let you know I'll be out of town until July 6th. And while I'll remain partially connected, writing blog posts will probably not be part of my vacation daily routine.

I'll be back before you know it, posting on all things social media, web design, SEO, entrepreneurship, and tech.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Podcamp Ohio 2009: #pco09

This past weekend I attended Podcamp Ohio 2 (PodcampOhio Twitter)in Columbus, Ohio. And it was wonderful. (note: this post went up yesterday but disappeared *shakes fist at Blogger*)

Walking into the OSU Geology building set the tone for the whole day. Before the registration table was a large pad of paper propped up on a easel. Someone had hand-written in marker: "Our hashtag for the event is #pco09. Tweet when you arrive!" I'm sure they didn't even need to tell us. As of this writing, almost 800 tweets have gone out with that tag.

Building-wide wi-fi was free (thank goodness - my Pre was picking up nothing in that structure), everyone was hooked into their smartphones, and about half of us had laptops. There were six sessions throughout the day with seven+ talks for each session, so making choices was NOT an easy endeavor.

Yay Free Stuff!

Swag bag was great and contained the official program with descriptions of each talk that was registered before the deadline, trial software from TechSmith (and the sweetest highlighter/Post-it tag dual-purpose pen I've ever seen) and some very informative information about Columbus. And I'd be remiss to skip mentioning the toy racecar, plastic "LOVE" ring, and balloon.

ávitāe energy water was one of the sponsors and we had the simple joy of purified water and caffeine hydrating us for the day. Our delicious lunch was Qdoba. Yum.

Ummm...What's a Podcamp?

For those of you who have not attended or even heard of Podcamp, it was launched in Boston by Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn and is officially categorized as an unConference, meaning speakers aren't there so much to rule the room, droning with slides, as to facilitate a discussion with the understanding that there will be people in the room who know more about the topic than you do. And that's okay. Everyone's a rockstar and the rule of two feet applies: you don't feel you're getting out of it what you want to, get on your two feet and go somewhere else.

I did see a couple reticent posts in post about the content of Podcamp Ohio. It is NOT just about podcasting but the whole of new media. There were talks about social media in general, specific social networking sites, podcasting, podcasting equipment and software, branding, and even SEO. It basically spans anything internet and new media.

What Your Boss Already Knows About You

In the fourth session, I gave my talk with the above title. We discussed how businesses are using social media to screen both potential and current employees, how colleges are using social media to screen potential and current students, and what we can do overall to find a balance between privacy and "being out there."

It was a smaller group, but very engaged in the topic and their stories certainly increased my understanding of the extent that schools and businesses are going today to screen employees.

And while most of the goodness came out of the discussion and starting/ending the talk with www.cursebird.com on the screen (Twitter web use of API, live stream of any tweets that contain swear words with trending graphs), you are more than welcome to a PDF of the slides here.

My Path

I started with Daniel Johnson, Jr. in Session 1 talking about job hunting success stories, including his own. I joined John "Lumpy" Lemke in Session 2 for the Audacity Hands-On Workshop. After lunch I participated in a wonderfully-overcrowded room where Krista Neher was discussing building a strong brand and how it relates to new media. I had to sneak out of that one (it was running long) to get to my own talk but after What Your Boss... I was over to Twitter Tools for Business with Wendy Suto, which I cut short when I saw a live tweet from Daniel Johnson, Jr. that there was an impromptu with Amybeth Hale and Michael Loban about job searches and recruiting. I fired away at the SEO Lightning Session, with Bill Condo as the main speaker. Excellent info shared by all.


My primary take-away from the unConference (which I've already tweeted) is a dichotomy of "Hey, I'm doing okay for my business" and "Holy crap I've got a ton of work to do!" Part of that work is getting deeper in the keyword aspects of my social media and web marketing life. I preach the importance of it and practice it regularly, but I could be and strive to be better myself. Also, in the next 3 months, my goal is to be using videos and audio podcasts to spread my new media gospel and offer my web design and internet marketing expertise to a larger audience.

Conclusion is that it was like being at tech geek social media home. I loved it and cannot wait until next year. In fact, I'm looking at Cleveland's which is forthcoming with a spring 2010 date, as well as Pittsburgh's, taking place in October. And I think I may be talking again.

If you missed Ohio's, check one of those out. If you're half as much into technology and new media and the internet as I am, you will not be disappointed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tech Gadget Thursday: Man Wall

DVICE posted about this multimedia monster of a man-wall:

Man Wall

I agree that it is a wonderful bit of overload. It's just not my flavor. Let's see if we can fix that.

Man Geek Wall

Much better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spend an Hour, Save Your Week: Why You Need a Blog Publishing Plan

Much like a home, a blog has to consider three things: expectation, expectation, and expectation.

The first expectation is from everyone: if you're not blogging at least 3 times a week, you're not holding enough variance and value, not keeping up your part of the bargain. Sure, not everyone will visit your blog every day, but when they do, you don't want them disappointed because your last post was 2 weeks ago. There exists a blogger/reader relationship of trust and if that trust is broken or there is not enough to build that trust on, people go away.

If the first expectation is frequency, then the second pertains directly to your readers and revolves around consistency. So you've made the commitment to blog three times a week. Squeezing those three posts in right before dinner on Friday evening doesn't cut it. Pace yourself, use theme days to garner more interest, give readers something to look forward to. You'll get more readers for it.

The third expectation is for yourself. I'm sure that some people love flying by the seat of their pants, improv-ing their way through the day. For some folks, it's the breath of life. For most of us, that is the touch of death. You don't want to wake up having to worry about what you should blog about, whether it's timely enough or if it's too personal or if you'll even have time. You need a plan to keep yourself happy as much as you need one to keep your readers happy.

The Plan

I am going to suggest the plan I am taking up (okay, so it's as of this week) and continuing with as far as I can see in the future for this blog.

First, answer the expectations to others:
  • Frequency: I will be blogging 4-6 days a week.
  • Consistancy: I will blog 4-5 times a week M-F with the occasional Saturday or Sunday post as time allows. Meaning: if you check this blog at 7pm EST 5 days a week, you will find a new post 80% of the time. For themes? We'll start tomorrow with Tech Gadget Thursday.

Secondly, we need to address the personal plan. For this blog, I will be reserving one hour every Monday (after lunch) to plan my week. I enter my blog editing interface on one tab, create 4-5 titles and save them. If I'm feeling particularly inspired - or have nothing to do - I can put future dates on the posts, fill them all out, and sit back the rest of the week (on blogging) while the posts populate the blog.

In order for this to work, I'm dedicating 30 minutes after lunch every day to blogging, whether that's producing a post, commenting on, or following other blogs.

FYI, tomorrow is Tech Gadget Thursday and Friday will be best practices on Twitter, and constructing a Tweet Plan.

So how do you plan? Do you plan? Do you think you should? How long do you think I'll stick to this one? Comments always welcome.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The "You had me at..." Void in Advertising

If you haven't seen this Alamo commercial yet, please take the few seconds and have a look:

When a film comes out that is as accepted and popular as Jerry Maguire, certain iconic quotables such as "Show me the money!" or "You had me at 'Hello'" invariably emerge. The given cycle of popular culture deems that just before that quote becomes commonplace and known by "everybody," it is allowed a post-modern referential boost that comes with mentions and then parodies in other forms of media. After that, references are only really appropriate if done to be purposely trite, melodramatic, or absurd. Some years after that, a vintage use can come into play such as "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?" or "Knowing is half the battle."

So what do we make of a commercial that makes a reference to a movie that came out 12 years ago? The parody lifespan functionally passed 7 or 8 years ago. It's not being done it an absurd or reference and it's way too early for vintage. (Even if you accept the acceleration of media, vintage requires use of the original quote.)

Obviously it annoys me, but I've seen comments lauding the hilarity of the commercial. I guess either way, it's good advertising. I'm talking about it, aren't I?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Bet You Think This Song is About You...

As many of you already know, facebook finally went with vanity URLs. That means that as opposed to linking with and attempting to remember http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1234567890, you can now do something simple. For example, my new URL is http://www.facebook.com/eric.marschall.

First, if you haven't done this yet, it's quite easy to do. When you log in to facebook for the first time, there is a gray box at the top that prompts you to claim your URL. Click the link. It gives you some suggestions and the "more" option that opens a text field so you can choose your own.

They will warn you, but allow me to as well: Once you do this, once you claim your URL, that URL will be forever tied to that account. You cannot change it. So please, choose wisely. I'm sure Facebook is already dealing with thousands of emails with text to the effect of: "I meant to put HuttFace as a Star Wars fan, but...." Choose carefully. Take your time.

Second, if you haven't done this yet - Do it now!

It's not every day a land grab comes up like this. This is Branding 101 for your name and your business. This is search engine results oriented. Reports were that 500,000 names were snagged in the first 30 minutes. Go get yours now.

And after you do, check out this Wired post about some of those that must have proud mothers. Although it looks like facebook nixed www.facebook.com/haywood.jablome, and it doesn't include one I spotted and found rather clever: www.facebook.com/default.aspx

For those of you wondering about your facebook Pages (extension or promotional pages, as I have for EJM Designs Limited), if you have under 1000 fans, vanity URLs will be available for those pages in 2 weeks.

So how'd you fair? Did you get your URL? Are you waiting? Has someone squatted on it? Do you really just not care all that much? Comments want to hear from you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Palm Pre and Me: Networking Fail

Because in the land of milk and honey all is not milk and honey. That is: with the Palm Pre.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still blown away by what it can and does do. For instance, I get a hell of a lot more done in clearing emails on the run, blogging (coming soon from me through the phone), and once you get the hang of the zoom gestures, fully-rendering web pages are a breath of fresh air.

But this morning I woke up and tried to check my AccuWeather app as the rumblin' was a-comin' from the west and the phone stalled out. When I jumped on my email to do some early brush-clearing, it told me "The network is not available. Please enable networking in order to continue. Activate Wi-Fi?" Wait - what? Shouldn't the Sprint Network be rocking out?

Later I made phone calls without issue, but the "network" would still not respond to my desire to check my facebook or Gmail. I just figured it was down for a time and went through the rest of my morning.

Once I got settled into my work after some AMA and some networking with a good friend, I tried again. No dice. "Well," I thought, "The internet is not working on my phone. Perhaps I should just click the 'Help' function on the interface."

Palm Pre fail
Apparently a search of help for the internets is an Auto-FAIL because the base Help product ...requires an internet connection.

(apologies for the fuzzy image - despite my Pre early adoption, my digital camera is still an older 2.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot. That is officially 0.9 megapixels LESS than the phone I took a picture of

UPDATE NOTE: Thanks to @FlipTheOrg for the following tip: "Take screenshots of your Pre by pressing orange+sym+p at the same time, then check photo album." Hawt.)

So still perplexed, I went through the [enter any cell phone provider name here] hoops. I called the store I bought it at. They didn't have tech repair people. I called the people at the tech-repair-capable store. They didn't have the tools to troubleshoot over the phone. So I called the national tech assistance line.

While I was on hold to speak with the HelpDesk CSR, the message announced something and I just about smacked my own forehead - on purpose - into the corner of my desk: "If you have not yet turned off your device and turned it back on...." Damn.

Condensed: I did that and my internets worked fine.

I'm not sure if it's my tenacity and practice of sometimes searching thousands of lines of code for a misplaced period, comma, or curvy bracket, but every once in a while I hit myself in the head because when I run into a computer or phone problem I can't get right away, my brain (or caffeine) turns on the "Solve!" center before the Procedural System is booted to say "Hey, um, did you reboot?"

I'm very good at what I do, but sometimes it's nice - and humbling - to be reminded that you are human. I certainly am.

Joining the Cincinnati AMA

Cincinnati AMA Logo

A couple weeks ago I joined the Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association. It wasn't an easy decision in that joining any organization that requires a monetary commitment requires a great deal of research to make sure the investment is worth it.

By "worth it," I do not mean just making connections that might open some leads and eventually web design or SEO contracts. For me, I was looking for a new networking opportunity that would allow me to meet many people in the Cincinnati area. I want to meet other professionals who are running their own business. I would like to see active groups and enriching experiences. And I want to be a resource to others, to be able to give even before receiving.

After my research into the AMA and the swell of testimonials both online and in person of how "worth it" the AMA is, joining was the easiest decision I've made. It appears that the resources are there and it will become everything I want to make it.

I'll write more about the results after getting involved and attending a handful of events.

Remember that networking in that old-fashioned way of "in person" can be the most rewarding and a smile and a handshake can make your day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Palm Pre - Story and Magnificence

Yes. I have it. And it's sweet.

Palm Pre
Palm Pre

Saturday morning, June 6th, we awoke at 6:30. Plan was to hit the Sprint store at 8, my wife, daughter, and her friend would have breakfast, and as soon as I got the phone we'd head off to Kings Island where I would twitch and fidget between roller coaster rides to poke at my new, delicious piece of technology. I'd called 2 weeks prior and the guy at the Sprint store said they weren't expecting a ton of people, saying that the phone-call interest when the Instinct came out was much more intense and there were less than 10 people at the door when they opened.

What can happen in two weeks? We showed up at the Hyde Park Sprint store at 8:05 and there were over 10 people in front of the store. Damn! I ran up while my wife, daughter, and her friend casually headed to The Hitching Post for breakfast. I got my "golden ticket," a printed sheet with plan details on it and a hand-written "18" in the upper right corner.

The first thing I found out was that they actually opened at 8am. The woman next to me asked "If you didn't know they opened at 8, how did you get here on time?" "I was coming 2 hours early," I replied. The second was that after two more people appeared and received their papers, person #3 was put on a list; I was 18/20. Whew!

With 20 people in line, 5 CSR's in store and 20-30 minutes to set up and check out customers, it wasn't too bad. We walked into the store about 10am, my wife picked out a new Blackberry so she could be a little more connected, and I went for the package deal of the fancy Pre case, (tiny) Bluetooth earpiece, car charger, and the Touchstone - a beautiful charger that looks like a giant, slightly slanted, grey Rollo with a cord you plug into the wall. You place the Pre's back against this device and magnets lock it in place. And it charges. Without wires. At an angle that allows you to watch videos or movies. Hawt.

With the Hella Everything Plan, we get the unlimited texts, unlimited data (read: internet), Sprint TV, and GPS. I hit the Google Maps program inside Kings Island. It kindly asked me if it was okay to use my GPS to locate me (which I may switch to auto), and placed the blinking blue beacon squarely in the park - not just the park, but roughly about where I was in the park.

...is a set of ear buds, a fuzzy pocket to keep the scratches off your river stone phone, and a charger for the micro USB interface. The other end of the micro is a USB, so they also include a wall socket to USB adapter. Gorsh! Ain't never seen onnathem before.

The Feel
My first thought when I held it was "it's really smaller than I thought." But after playing with it, I realized that any bigger and it would be a bit unruly. The slide up to reveal the keypad is smooth, almost effortless, but I can't imagine it happening by accident. Having come from a wider, thicker, keyboard-always-there Palm Treo 700w, the only thing I have to get used to is that I only need the keyboard popped out when I need to type. Everything else is touch. Which leads us to...

The Touch & Gestures
This rocks into the OS, so for the OS let's just say that I'm SO DAMN GLAD to be away from Windows Mobile. This is sleek and tight and quick to load.

The touchscreen is amazing. A day and a half (or half a day if you don't count Kings Island) and I've got the basics down as far as how hard to tap, push when you drag, etc. The OS is run on a card system, meaning that you open a program, tap the ONE key (how hot!?), and it reverts to a card, meaning it is a running program but reduced in size so you can open other programs, reduce them to cards, and switch between them.

The Gestures rolls into the types of movements on the screen. At the bottom of the screen, there is a "gesture area" where a swift wipe right to left from the button is "back" whether on browser or in app where original screen drops to reduced-sized card. Tapping and cursor movement is simple and the coolest is the two-finger-pull-apart/squeeze for zoom/expand - comes in super-handy on Google Maps.

The Audio
I've made a couple calls both with and without the Bluetooth headset and sound is great. I loaded the free Pandora app, signed in, and after a brief load, Billy Pilgrim appeared on my Math and Physics Club station and rocked out on the included ear buds as hard as he ever did on my laptop.

After 30 seconds, my phone goes to sleep. When I click the I/O button, it requires me to slide the lock icon up to unlock the interface. No more butt calling for me.

Picture mail! The Palm Treo 700w, for as advanced as it was, was unable to send images with text messages, or receive them. I would get a link, forcing me into my web access. I'm guessing that was a ploy to use data minutes. Now no longer.

The nice thing about the improved keypad is the "@" button is not a shift choice, along with the "." and the "," making web addresses and emails much more efficient to enter. It also has a new, gummy-rubbery polymer over the keys, so the tips of your fingers/nails will never slip, adding a great deal of precision and ridding us Palm users of a great deal of frustration (or just me).

Built-in YouTube, MP3, Sprint TV, and 8Gb of storage make this hugely more functional as a multimedia timekiller than my previous phone.

The Peeves
I use my phone as a secondary alarm clock almost every day. After updating to the 1.0.2 webOS system, I got that functionality. Unfortunately, if the alarms are turned on, every time the phone goes to sleep, the alarms appear at the bottom of the screen and must be minimized. For now I guess I have to turn them off until before bed.

I added one of my Gmail accounts and suddenly every email address I've sent an email to in the last...forever is now unnamed and included in my contacts list. I like being able to access Gmail but it would be nice to be able to NOT synch. Lots of deletes to deal with now.

The Promise
I promise I will not wear my Bluetooth earpiece when entering stores or engaging in real-world interactions. Those people irritate me. I will not be that guy/girl.

I've still many, many things to explore including the Sprint turn-by-turn GPS program, built-in facebook app, and NASCAR - really, there's a NASCAR app, but I won't be using it. Either way, many more updates from me on the tech front as I learn all the bits and pieces of this wonderful new phone.

I'm sure I missed some parts of what makes this good/bad - please hit me in the comments if you have any specific questions and I'll comment back to let you know.

Yay Palm! Good show!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Avatar Rebranding and Facial Recognition

Up until yesterday, my Twitter, blogging, and LinkedIn profile avatar looked like this:

EJM Designs Limited Social Logo, Past

And that's fine enough. It's conducive to my logo, works towards branding in that vein, and is distinctive.

Unfortunately, whenever you are building a brand, while a solid, staid logo or logo-related avatar may be appropriate, when you're talking about the service industry, you're talking about a provider/client relationship. And that is built on trust. And you can't have trust in a digital, "small world" market if you don't have your face out there.

I'm as traditional as I can be when it comes to business relationships on the interwebs. LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook are wonderful tools, but I prefer a smile and a handshake and view social networks as tools to be used to get to that point on the local and regional level. But because that can't always happen with a client in Florida as efficiently as it can in the Tri-State area, a face - that is: the face of the person who is posting/tweeting/potentially selling to you - is hugely important. And I finally got on the boat.

In order to maintain the work I've already done to build a blog and Twitter following, I didn't want anyone to freak out or pause more than 3 seconds when looking at my avatar (except, of course, to admire such a face), so I did something more transitional as opposed to a complete revamp:

EJM Designs Limited Social Logo, Present

And this is not just important in my instance, in my avatar. This should be a consideration for every person working on branding and working on social media on two levels:

A Face Is Important
If you are selling a service or product or ...anything, then you need to put yourself out there as a token of trust, give people the literal face of your business. If a smile and a handshake cannot work right now for a Miami-Cincinnati relationship, working with a face and a phone call can be very beneficial.

Transition is Important
I never wanted to transition from a logo-esque avatar to just my face. That would be confusing and disrupt the basic branding I'd already accomplished with Twitter followers (now quickly nearing 500) being able to identify the "big e" as something valuable. I added my image for the "face" aspect of social media, but maintained the logo bit in the upper right corner.

Never make a sudden break when you are dealing with branding or avatars. If it is a switch from one pic of you to another, then you're probably fine. But if you've been dealing with something non-headshot and want to switch, know that you should transition with grace and preserve your identity.

So are there any other stories out there, any other people who needed to switch avatars or felt the (necessary) need to put a face out there?

Love, thoughts, and suggestions always accepted in the comments.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm Speaking at Ohio Podcamp 2

You may have noticed my badge on the right:

I'm speaking at PodCamp Ohio, June 20, 2009

I'm speaking at Podcamp on June 20th. Title of the talk is "What Your Boss Already Knows About You"

"You're Fired!" Social media is becoming a common tool in hiring, firing, and advancement, in business and education. How things are changing and how to protect yourself.

Click the icon above to check it out and register.

It will be great.

I'm Blogging

(H/T @dougmcsorley RT @gregfinn)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Google Calendar Integration

EJM Designs Limited Google Calendar

I recently added a calendar page to the EJM Designs Limited website that allows people to track some of the "in person" events I attend. I used Google Calendar to embed the piece. (I'll have a DIY post on this in the future.)

From a social marketing angle, is this something you, as a reader, find interesting? Useful? Are there better ideas or implementations that you've seen or used?