Thursday, June 28, 2007

Where to stay for the Microsoft MGX conference in Orlando?

Microsoft's Global Exchange Conference in Orlando is a highly anticipated event each year and this year the excitement level seems to be even higher in our office since a couple of my colleagues are planning to head over there. Besides the conference itself, where you can hope to meet some of the best minds in the business, the conference's location in Orlando is also a big attraction, since it's possible to tie in a vacation at the end of the conference and take in all the sights of the city. Places to stay in Orlando range from very high to extreme budget, but not all of them offer such a great mix of business professionalism and personal luxury than the International Plaza Resort and Spa in Orlando. With a Microsoft MGX Special Rate of $119 per night, the hotel is a great deal for Microsoft MGX Conference attendees as it is within walking distance to the convention center and has some really great amenities such as free wireless across the property as well as free transportation to all the theme parks in the area.

Orlando is one of the most sought after conference destinations for its amazing conference facility options as well as all that it offers beyond the conferences. There's no shortage of places to eat out, and the International Plaza is close to all the best restaurants as it is located on International Drive. If you're going to combine the conference with a family vacation, as my colleague is planning to do then the referral baby sitting services that the hotel provides is really going to come in handy. There's also a kids jungle gym at the hotel for the little ones to use up some of their endless energy!!

back from our trip

We got back from our trip to the north on Tuesday night. Our flight was delayed by over 3 hours and by the time we reached home it was past one in the morning. The continued hectic pace has left me exhausted and now I feel like I'm coming down with a viral, or rather have come down with it already. I have a ton of work to catch up with and I'm absolutely no mood to work at all. Just need some sleep and lots of hot liquids for my throat.

Friday, June 22, 2007

QooForums: revenue sharing forum

I'm always keen on finding out the latest social interaction and networking site. I found a site called, which is a revenue sharing forum, that shares the revenue generated by advertisements with its members. Members must have a Google Adsense account to participate in this system. The concept is brand new and people are just getting to hear about the site and sign up. Those who sign up early do have a definite advantage as they amount of money you earn depends on the number of threads you start, and by signing up early you will already be a step or two ahead of everyone else.

How it works is pretty simple. You need to register as a free member at, which will enable you to create new threads or topics of discussions, reply to other people's threads, set-up a buddy list and create an event calendar. To start earning money, you must have at least 50 posts in the forum, when your ad code will be added to all the threads you have started. How much you earn depends totally on how much you participate in the forum discussions. It's definitely something that is worth a try and I'm heading over there to become a member myself right now.

On connecting and working wirelessly

We're turning out to be quite a well networked family! Between the five of us (me, my hubby, my in laws and a cousin brother) we have 4 computers and laptops, all connected wirelessly. I'm using my wireless connection for the first time this past week (since I got this computer earlier this year) and it's been a real lifesaver. I've been able to do a lot of work, and do my work faster as well, since I'm working on my familiar system. I am so addicted to using tabs, that I just can't get into the rhythm of working without them. And since a lot of computers don't have IE7 or Firefox installed, using regular windows makes my work take much longer to complete.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Analyzing registration forms

Planning meetings and internal company events is a regular feature in our organization and we've recently started using an online event planner to plan and create these events as well as take care of the entire registration process. This is a part of work that no one was interested in doing and when we got a software to take care of it, everyone was thrilled. RegOnline is one of the leading event management software, that can be adapted to your specific use and its event registration script is one of the most used in the business.

The system is perfect for online registration for events and saves both time and money for an organization. It's new Reg-analytics Report provides details on all online registrations, down to how much time they spent filling the form, what referral source they came from, how many completed the registration and other such details. To make an event successful, one must know its drawbacks and having detail web-analytics is a great way to see where consumers hesitate and turn back from completing the form.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gen-X fueling retail drive

India's generation X shoppers are said to be the drivers of the retail boom in the country. According to a study titled ‘YouSoumerism-Youth in India: Opportunity Knocks’ conducted by Ernst & Young, it was estimated that over 50% of consumers in India are under 25 years of age and these are the consumer with both purchasing power and a unquenchable thirst for buying products. According to Ashok Rajgopal director (retail industry) for Ernst & Young said, “By targeting the youth population in India, retailers will be investing for the future as they will be able to influence and create loyalty from the start.” lifts numbers for Gap

Gap hasn't been getting too much good news lately, but this is definitely something to cheer about. Gap's lower priced brand Old Navy is it's most successful online channel and is listed at the #27 according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. recorded sales of $93 million, up from $73 million for the same period last year, an increase of 27.4%. Gap's other e-commerce sites, and also posted gains, albeit marginal ones.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SearchBoth: find stuff on Yahoo and Google at the same time

Have you tried out this search engine that lets you get results from both Yahoo and Google? It's called and I found it quite intriguing, so gave it a try this evening. You can specify what kind of results you are looking for, blogs, images, web, shopping etc and the results are display in the split screen, which expands when you move the mouse over. I use Google 99.9% of the time for my searches, and only go to Yahoo when I have exhaustively searched on Google and still not found what I was looking for, which rarely ends up happening. I would like to give this a try for a week or so, to see how relevant the results are now.

As everyone does, I keyed in my name to see which site had the more relevant results and was surprised to see that Yahoo had more relevant searches, although they missed out on one major entry; my LinkedIn page. Google got that right but messed up lower down on the page with some other entries. On Yahoo, of the first 21 results, 20 were mine. Google didn't fare quite as well, or rather didn't place as much importance on my name.

Hmmm, I think maybe my dependence on Google is not such a good thing after all!!

Our Dubai plan

Our plan for Dubai is getting firmer and our paperwork is currently underway. My first trip to Dubai was last month, although my hubby has been traveling there a couple of times a month since last September. I simply loved the energy and excitement of Dubai. It's people are warm, friendly and very welcoming. Overall, it's going to be a great place to stay.

We're still looking for an apartment as yet, and hope to finalize something on our next trip there, in early July or so. There is a severe shortage of accommodation in Dubai, although there are thousands of new buildings coming up, there seem to be more people moving there to occupy them as well.

Here's a pic that I took driving down Sheikh Zayed Road, which is one of the major east-west roads in the city.

Dubai-<span class=

Monday, June 18, 2007

Distance learning systems

As much as I love traveling, I'm getting quite tired of traveling for work, which has literally taken all the fun out of it. With the kind of communication systems, we have these days, it just makes more sense to employ technology to cut down on travel costs and the exhaustion that comes with it. Video conferencing is one of the simplest ways to communicate for business, and it's as good as meeting your clients or business colleagues in person. LifeSize is one of the companies that specializes in making such equipment for business communication, health care, public sector companies and also for Distance Learning programs. Their high definition video communication systems can be tailored for medium to large groups with their LifeSize Room system and for small to medium groups the LifeSize Team is the perfect equipment. The rise of distance learning systems has been happening for the past 5-6 years, and it is equipment such as this which is bringing in more students.

Apple Store likely to open in India

According to the buzz in the market place, Reliance Retail is negotiating to bring the first Apple Store to India. Apple Stores are located only in five other countries, besides the US. The company has only 160 stores in the US. Reliance Retail declined to comment on the matter and Apple denied that it would be opening stores in India as yet and that talks with Reliance were at an early stage.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Switch stuff

Social networking and trading sites are all the rage these days and here is an interesting addition. It's called and its all about trading DVDs, audio CDs, games and books. Signing up is free at SwitchPlanet which is currently in beta testing phase. Once you are a member, you can set your profile and list items that you are interested in trading and that's pretty much it. You can also get advice from friends and forum members on what to trade and how to trade goods.

Since there is no cost associated either with being a member or for the products, members don't have any ulterior motive such as money to push products. How it works is that all members are given internal currency called Switchbucs that are used to make trades. There's lots of great information all about how the system works on the FAQ page. All in all it seems like a good concept. I am yet to try it out since most of the Switches are located in the US only and am looking for anyone who already has, to give me how they found using it. We have tons of DVDs and CDs that we should trade with new stuff, rather than just holding on to them and not watching them. The above post was a sponsored review.

Old tech quotes but still applicable

Some interesting quotes on technology that I found on Most of these quotes are quite dated, but still hold true today. I especially like the last one which is by Frank Lloyd Wright, about the overuse of the "push button finger". We're at a much stage now than when he fist said that. Interesting!!

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke

“If we are on a path of getting nowhere fast, technology is allowing us to get nowhere faster and faster.”
-John Renesch

"Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards."
-Aldous Huxley

"If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger."
-Frank Lloyd Wright

Memory requirements

I use an IBM Think Pad for work, which is a small, compact and easy to use laptop. So far, there is plenty of space for all my data but if I ever need to supplement it, I can get the exact kind of IBM memory if I were ever to run short. A lot of work I do doesn't need to remain in my computer memory for ever and once a project is complete and approved, I can completely erase all of it from the memory. So, the memory required keeps fluctuating up and down but so far hasn't gotten even close of running short.

The downside of cheap products

Everyone wants a discount price, but there are lots of drawbacks to buying cheaper prices as well. Products that are often found at discount chain stores and dollar stores have been known to often contain hazardous materials. A toothpaste at Dollar General packaged as Colgate was found to have a chemical that is found in anti-freeze, toys made in China have been found to have lead in the paint and so on. It's not just a question of fake designer handbags and glasses any more, these are products that actually harm the purchasers. According to the Homeland Security Department, in 2006 alone 14,000 goods worth $155 million were seized by agents, an increase of 83%.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gadgets at the grocery store to make your shopping trip quicker

Grocery stores have always been quite forward thinking when it comes to using technology that will improve customer service and experience. Giant Food Stores recently introduced a system where customers could use a handheld device that could scan their grocery items and bag them in the carts itself. According to Craig Warden, a Giant rep., customers need only to scan a bar code to bring their order up, pay and leave. It's as simple as that. Some of their stores also have Shopping Solution kiosks where customers can get maps of the store to help them find hard to locate items.

How to deal with the cold weather

In the house we are in right now, we don't really need any heating since we get lots of winter sun that makes the rooms nice and toasty, but when I lived in Kansas City, just after graduating from college, my apt used to get really cold in the winters. And, I'm not someone who can take the cold too well inside the house. I need to feel warm and cozy indoors.

My friend, Sarah who lived nearby had rented an apt in a newly constructed building and she had underfloor heating, which was simply the most incredible way to heat an area. I was so thrilled with it that I decided that I would install this kind of system when I built my own home. Well, that is yet to happen, but hopefully one day i will manage to do so, if one lives in a cold country, that is!!

The underfloor heating that she had got was from a company called WarmFloors that used a thin carbon film underneath the wooden or laminate flooring that would emanate heat evenly throughout the house. With Underfloor Heating there are no unsightly radiators taking up space along the walls and not hot or cold spots either. If your home is insulated well, this is the most effective way to heat a home.

Enjoying the views!

We've had some really lovely weather here in Delhi all day and I am thoroughly enjoying being away from the humidity of Bombay, although the monsoons are said to arrive in the city today or tomorrow. Since we're on the 10th floor the view is really great and there is no other building to be seen except for a red roofed hotel at Surajkund from the bedroom windows, only the rocky landscape and kikar trees that is typical of the suburbs. Here are a couple of pics that I took this afternoon. I hadn't rained then, so they are a bit hazy.

roads meeting

Surajkund view from balcony

Surajkund, Delhi

On office furniture

When I started working from home, I continued to use my regular desk and chair rather than getting some office furniture, which I thought would take up too much space in the room. The new kind of office furniture includes stuff that is tailored for people working at home, especially for women who don't want too bland a space to work in. That's the kind of furniture I like to have, nothing that screams 'boring office' but something that inspires my creativity and writing.

Got my wireless connection going

I got my wireless going yesterday (well, the engineer from the ISP actually got it started!!) and so I'm all set with keeping up with my work, even though I'm in Delhi with my in-laws. I love coming to stay here, since it's such a total relaxation without any worry or housework to do, yes I know I'm one of the lucky few to have so much freedom!! So, I can devote all my time to working or relaxing with my family. Surprisingly, the weather is pretty good here as well, much nicer than Bombay when I left, although it'll get better there as well as soon as the rains arrive. Anyway, back to what I started out with, my wireless is working and I'm glad to have caught up with my work!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Working while traveling

I love to write about technology and communications and how easy it has become to combine the two and especially how much more freedom one has by their combination. I'm currently on a partial break of sorts and in Delhi for a while, but since I had pending assignments, I am continuing with my work as usual. That is definitely one of the perks of working on one's own, well downside too, since your work invariably comes with you, but the freedom and flexibility you get is more than worth it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can a website optimization firm build your brand?

The answer is a definte YES!

A website optimization firm can not only build your brand but also ensure that your brand has lasting power, since they only use methods that will also work for the long term. (TBS) is a company that has developed its own method of web 2.0 marketing that has already got 95% of its clients a top ten organic ranking in less than 90 days.

With its Corporate Blog Marketing, TBS uses a combination of search engine optimization (SEO), keyword optimization and other internet marketing strategies to more website traffic and make a company or a brand rank high in all the major search engines, including Google and Yahoo. It's no longer enough just to have a website, it is vital to target it towards the right customers so that both traffic and sales increases. A company could be selling the best quality products for the lowest possible prices, but unless potential customers can find you, it's of no use really. This is exactly what a website optimization firm can change.

My traveling day

I had a hectic day today, but not at work, since I spent all morning packing and closing up the apartment, getting the plants put outside, informing the newspaper and milk deliver boys not to deliver stuff etc. I then spent most of the afternoon traveling or waiting at the airport for my delayed flight. I wonder when I'll be able to travel on a flight that is not delayed, as I'm invariably getting delayed each time I fly, and not just now, its been happening for the past 12 years. Something in my stars maybe!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Website names that use numbers instead of letters

All consumers are becoming accustomed to using mobiles and this use is being extended to other areas of their lives besides just communication. The mobile has made the use of number more common in company names and sites. Internet Retailer writes about the Internet and the cell phone colliding as technology becomes more social and information based. With the use of cell phones to accessing information on the web, sites are increasingly selecting names that can be easily typed into cell phone keypads. Read the full article here.

Laugh of the day!

Link Popularity vs. PageRank vs. Yoda

Time for some golf

Well, I've been taking about playing some golf and now I will be able to go back to my home course and play a couple of rounds while I'm there over the weekend. It's been ages since I last played there, but I still have the layout of the course in my head and the spots that get me into trouble each time. My father got a great Ping Golf set some time back and it'll be nice to give it a go. Since I left, there have been a number of new courses that have opened up in the city and its suburbs, but this one is still considered the best.

Keeping tab of communications

We live in a connected world today. We're connected by telephone, mobile phone, internet, pda and so on, and sometimes it still doesn't seem enough. For a large company, just telephone and internet billings can run into thousands each month and its essential to go in for a telecom audit to ensure that your company is not overcharging and that you are making the most of your telecom requirements and connections.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Workshop to create customized cars for boys

Workshops are increasingly becoming popular with kids these days. Springwise reports that while earlier it was the Build-A-Bear workshop which was mostly targeted at girls and now its time for boys with Ridemakerz, a workshop that helps kids create their own truck. Kids make all the choices, right from selecting the chassis, body style, paint, sound effects etc. Once the pieces are assembled together, they can customize even further with decals, grills etc. Each car that is created at the workshop is given a certificate and a personalized licence number.
Ridemakerz was founded with financial investment from Build-A-Bear, which is also sharing infrastructure, marketing data and back-office support with its four-wheeled sibling. “Our partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop allows us to fire on all cylinders from the very start,” says Ridemakerz’ CEO Larry Andreini. Currently, The Ridemakerz Customizing Shop in Myrtle Beach and four outlets to be opened this year are company owned and operated, not franchised.

Checked out Google Street View yet?

Google's Street View is raising all sorts of questions, regarding invasion of privacy to accuracy and others as well. It seems that people like nothing better than bashing a company at times! The privacy issue is the main problem that people are having with the company since if you live on a road that has been mapped by them, then you might just see yourself in one of the maps. So sunbathers have been seen, as have some sneak peeks into people's apartments etc. Google says that the view is exactly as it would be if someone were walking or driving by themselves, the only difference is that now this view is available for the entire world to see.

Add calender listings with one click

Did you know that you could add events and listings in just one click to your Google Calender? In it's most recent release, Google unveiled its Google Calender Gallery that lets users import events that they want to add to their calenders in just one click, making it so much easier to manage a calender. Google calls it the "next best thing to a personal concierge", but I am yet to try it out in full and see its usability. The listings on Google's Calender Gallery are from sources such as Atlantic Records, Cordless Recordings, Disney, Eventful, Orbitz, the NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and many more. Read more about it on the Google Blog here.
Anybody, even those who do not use Google Calendar, can view Google Calendar Gallery listings for free, Google noted. "You can browse different categories of calendars to see which ones are the most popular, or you can search in the search box for the topics that most interest you," the company said. "You'll see video, images and detailed descriptions right in the listings so you can preview the events or shows with one click."

Making contact

There are lots of new ways to get in touch with potential clients and customers, and this method is the one that is likely to see the most productive results. iContact is a tool that makes it easy for organizations to create and publish email newsletters, blogs, surveys etc and track them as well. It is the only email marketing service that combines tracking all forms of social networking under one platform. The service starts at just $9.95 a month and is extremely simple to set up.

With more than 11,000 customers and 85,000 users, the company has hit upon the right idea at just the right time, since most companies are trying out email marketing and finding it to be quite productive. By making it easier or businesses to manage online communications in a single web application, iContact Email Marketing Software offers a lot for very little. To see how it works, check out the video at their site. Even though their current clients include some of biggest names in the industry, such as Nissan, Bank of America and Ford, this software will be perfect for smaller firms as well. The flexibility that it offers allows organizations to fine tune it to focus on their specific markets, with is what email marketing is all about.

Online ad spending increases

Online ad spending closed in on $5 billion for the first time. This year itself ad spending increased by 26% from last year's $3.8 billion to reach $4.9 billion. In a report by The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, ad spending is likely to carry on its upward spending trend as marketers are getting more comfortable with the concept of interactive advertising.
Paid search is "currently the key driver of U.S. online advertising as a whole," and in turn Google dominates that sector because it attracts more users and monetizes each user's clicks better than its rivals, eMarketer Senior Analyst David Hallerman told the E-Commerce Times. eMarketer recently estimated that more than 40 percent of total Internet ad spending is tied to search marketing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Online visitor traffic

Wal-Mart received a 33% increase in number of online visitors, with unique visitors increasing by from 16.2 million to 21.6 million. Traffic at Orbitz increased by 36% from 11.3 million to 15.4 million. The top ranked online retailer continued to be eBay with 61.8 unique visitors in April, an increase of 16% from 53.5 million recorded for the same time last year.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Small business phone systems

For any business, being able to communicate with its offices as well as clients is the most essential part of setting up an office. As technology is improving, systems like VoIP are able to save a lot of money and time for businesses. VOIP Small Business Phone Systems are one of the most popular ways to improve connectivity between offices and save time and money. The system provided by Xpander Communications is especially for small businesses as the system requires very limited cost and maintenance. All offices can have free 4 digit dialing system between all branches, satellite and home offices. The benefits for all small businesses are really stacked towards installing a VoIP system.

Long term effects of learning

Thanks to the rising interest in Online Universities, the entire concept of higher education is changing. While a lot of people go in for specialization as soon as they finish high school, I think it is better to do a generalized course in college and then go in for specialty courses for graduate school, which will enable you to get a much deeper and wider understanding of not only your specialty, but also of all other subjects. This is an essential part of being 'well-educated' that a lot of people overlook in their hurry to start earning money. While this process is longer, the results will last a much longer time as well, so it is important to see the long term result rather than the present. Getting a degree from an online university, while you are working also makes your education more practical, as you will get to actually use what you're learning in the classroom to the test. It actually is the best way to get an education.

Dismal sales at Sharper Image

Sharper Image is not doing too well lately. The retailer posted 27% lower total sales for May as compared to last year, from $32.9 million to $24.1 million. Internet sales reduced by 40% as compared to last year, from $5.2 million to $3.2 million. Internet Retailer ranked Sharper Image at the #87 position in its Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide last year, which has now fallen to #122.

Fun weekend break: Branson, Missouri

When I was in college and working in Kansas City, one of our most frequent weekend trips was to Branson Missouri, which was just a few hours away and always had something going on. I grew up in the hills and loved the hilly terrain of Branson, along with the music shows and great eating joints. For anyone who loves country music and barbeque, Branson is a real fun place.

Weekend movies

When it comes to relaxation on the weekends, there is really nothing more appealing to us these days than to rent a couple of great movies and sit back to some uninterrupted movie sessions especially if one has some home theater seating arrangement. Weekend traffic is so bad that one just ends up wasting time going out and it makes more sense to go out during the week and relax at home on the weekends. So, that's for part of this weekend.

Weekend rest unlikely

It's the weekend and we've got a busy one planned, which actually started last night. The past few months, there just hasn't been enough time to really sit back and relax at all, and it's getting to be time for a nice long break, away from here, and definitely away from any computer and internet connection. That's the only way I will be able to relax, cos as long as there is a computer nearby, I end up working.

Being involved in the community

A master's degree student from Capella University has been awarded the 2006 FBI Director's Community Leadership Award. Tammy Alexander is currently enrolled in education with an emphasis on enrollment management at capella university. She is also the director for information assurance and cybersecurity training at Fountainhead College of Technology at Knoxville, TN. The award is given in recognition of her achievements and involvement in community crime prevention. Capella is one of the leading online universities and offers graduate programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology. Bachelor's degree programs are offered for the fields of business and information technology.

How do your customers decide to buy or not

Keyword searches and store location information were the most important tools that online customers used which played a role in whether they would revisit the site. According to a study by J.C. Williams, it was found that online shoppers look for the most basic of tools to improve their shopping experience. The store locator page is one of the most important pages on a site and retailers must pay more attention to it. An interesting find was that if retailers make their product sound gift-able or have a gift suggestions and guidance tool, consumers are more likely to purchase an item there. Discussion boards, blogs and social media tools are good additions to make an interactive experience for consumers as well.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Don't fool around with spyware

I've been getting hit by lots of spyware and spam emails lately. Not really sure how it started but then one never really knows since these days one has to give an email address in so many places. It's just such a drain on time and money to keep up with these things, but once your computer is attacked, pretty much all hell breaks loose. I've been using a reputable anti-virus and spyware blocker, but somehow just before it expired this whole spyware and spam thing started. It was almost as if they were sending me a message, that I'd better renew my contract or this is just a taste of what I would have to put up with. Oh well, I got so cheesed off with them, that I signed up for a different service and a better one to boot!

The fact of the matter is that if you use a computer, you must have the very best spyware installed, and the very best according to all the experts is Webroot's Spy Sweeper. This system is the best in spyware detection, blocking as well as removal of spyware programs. Their Smart Shields block system blocks everything that seems suspicious and finds and destroys malicious spyware that hides in PC systems. If I had installed a Spy Sweeper earlier, I would not have faced the problems as I did in cleaning up all my files and folders.

Lately, a lot of the spyware systems come from file sharing programs or swapping music or photos, but Spy Sweeper is able to catch them too. Best of all, the Spy Sweeper system is the choice of magazine's such as PC Magazine, PC World, and SmartComputing, all the best resources for information on computers and the Internet. I have certainly learned my lesson and will never take something like this for granted again.

Netflix introduces new plan to watch movies online

Consumers have loved Netflix right from the word go and the company has responded by always innovating to keep ahead of the curve. The company has 6.8 million members who can rent any of their 80,000 titles. With 1.6 million DVDs shipped every single day, Netflix is easily the best loved home movie rental service. The next level for the company is to incorporate computer based movies and TV shows into their inventory as well. Netflix's Instant Movie program (see their FAQ page for more details) that has just been introduced allows members to click on a tab and watch movies on their PC itself.

According to CEO Reed Hastings, the company’s aims to offer something new—and easy to its customers. “We’ve done a real-time streaming interface to make an effective, lightweight experience, not a big downloading thing,” he says. After leading the way in online DVD rentals, Netflix and other e-retailers are faced with similar tasks. “The big challenge is how to invent this new world,” he added.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 get personalized assistance from Google for its AdWords campaign had a lackluster holiday season even after it spent 20% more buying keywords with Google, but conversions just didn't happen, even though traffic increased. After the company complained to industry analysts about the dismal results of its AdWords campaign, Google offered to help fine-tune its keywords as well as to optimize pages and is letting the company participate in its beta testing of a new paid search initiative that gives greater control to retailers to test out various combinations of headlines, promo copy, images etc.

Ask revamps its site undertook a major revamping of its operations as it tries to remain as a major player in the search engine space that is dominated by Google and Yahoo. The new upgrade is called Ask3D where users can now select from different skins for their personal search page. The company is sure that with this upgrade, users will see more focused results and spend less time going through unwanted sites. At present, accounts for only 5% of online searches in the US, significantly lower than even MSN' 10%, Yahoo's 27% and Google's 50% of the market share.

An effective point of sale system

The most essential piece of equipment for a retailer is a good POS system and inventory control system. With one system it will be easy to keep track of sales and inventory at all retail locations. The POS system that I have seen the most of is MerchantOS, which is a system that anyone can master and does not require any special technical knowledge. With just a computer and an Internet connection, a retailer can set up the MerchantOS system and not have to worry about data backups or updating software.

Since MerchantOS is a web based pos software, it can be accessed from any location. It is the easiest point of sale system to install and drastically reduces costs on IT, computer hardware and maintenance. Using such a system, retailers will have the latest figures of sales and inventory, which they can use to better manage the merchandise as well as customers. Retailers across the world rely on the MerchantOS and it has come to be known for its reliability. Using this system even for a short while, a retailer will be able to notice a difference in overall improvements and efficiency in store operations. The above post was a sponsored review.

Wikipedia rocks!

What's the first place you look for information online? I usually go to Wikipedia, since there is information on pretty much everything there and it's all so well linked together. With 1.78 million articles, Wikipedia is one of the largest sources of information online. Alexa ranks Wikipedia as the 8th most visited site. Wikipedia articles must not sound like ads and should only contain the facts and be in a neutral tone. For a small or medium business, Wikipedia can become a great resource for finding information as well as a good source for business.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Heading to South Boston?

When we lived in Providence, we used to visit Boston quite a lot and often we spent our time checking out the local real estate. The city of Boston has a great variety of real estate to offer something for everyone, but like most people we were looking for something with a bit of both. One wants the charming look of an older building but definitely requires all the modern amenities and resources of new construction. There are some really great south boston real estate options available with the Seaport Realty Group. With over 50 years of combined experience, the company had lots of really nice houses and apartments available. South Boston is one of the most dynamic areas of the city, with great sense of community and taking the best of the big city life as well as smaller community living.

eCampus provides free shipping on buy-backs

Online retailer of textbooks, eCampus has an offer for free UPS shipping for all books in its book-buy-back orders. With this system, books will be received by eCampus in just three days instead of 2-3 weeks that it earlier used to take with the US Postal Service. Students who are selling books to are able to print prepaid labels for UPS shipping along with tracking numbers. It's buy-back system has seen a growth of 40% in sales since it started in 2006.

Writing on tech stuff

Technology seems to have taken a backburner on this blog, since I've been writing about everything other than tech stuff. Well, I will be updated this section, but I am bringing in a wider range to the blog, so the topics are a bit more varied than they were before.

To live in Baltimore

One city that I've always wanted to live in is Baltimore. Everything about the city appeals to me, from it history, to its proximity to big cities such as Washington DC, Philadelphia and NYC as well as lots of places in the country for weekend breaks to get a whiff of a country life. There are lots of great museums and art galleries in the city, it is a center for education and learning. While browsing a bit on the city, I found a site on Baltimore Real Estate that offered apartment homes in an area called Cockeysville, which is located just a bit north of Baltimore City. It's the kind of place that appeals to both the budget and the senses. With features such as an Olympic sized pool, valet trash service, on-site fitness facility, tennis courts and a gymnasium, it seems like a really great place to live.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Longer weekends and longer work hours

The weekend came and went by in a blur it seems. And the next one seems all to far away. There are lots of people who are opting to take longer working hours and work only 4 days a week. The long three day weekend would be quite incredible, I think. It is easily possible if you work from home, except that the line between working and not working at home is very, very blurry most times. I have a generally set routine for working, but usually end up working an extra couple of hours after dinner every night.

Preparing for a weekend workshop

Weekend workshops are a great favorite in our company. They are not really 'work' as such, since all employees get a free stay at a retreat and spend only about 4 hours taking part in a team building workshop. Initially, we used to take our own equipment for these workshops, since most employees are pretty computer savvy, but after a couple of serious glitches, the company decided to outsource this job to the professionals. So now, we have a company who takes care of all our laptop rentals so we can just show up and have fun, and yes do a bit of work too!!

Companies that provide business equipment are really booming, especially the good ones, like Innovative Rental which has firmly established itself as a leader in laptop rentals. Since we have a lot of designers they prefer using MacBook Pro rentals, while the accounts and other department folk go for Tablet PC rentals. So, everyone is happy and the workshop ends up being a success!

Number of broadband users rising rapidly

It is estimated that 69 million US Internet users will be using a broadband connection by the end of the year, an increase of 12.6% from last years figure of 61.3 million. By 2011, this figure is expected to reach 115 million. Broadband is quickly being accepted as the medium of choice when it comes to Internet connections. According to a report by In-Stat, a business and technology research firm, 51% of broadband subscribers use cable modem and 44% use a DSL line.

The rise in the number of broadband users has been seen across the world as well, with 65 million new broadband users signing up in the past year. By 2011, the number of broadband users across the world is likely to reach 567 million, as compared to 285 million that it is today.
“The principal market driver for the adoption of broadband service is pretty straightforward: people want to access the Internet with a higher-speed connection,” Paxton says. “Beyond this basic desire, the emergence of online applications such as viewing video clips or TV programming, downloading music files, and even playing online games are fueling end-user demand for fatter pipes.”

Reliance Retail’s first hypermarket coming in July

Reliance Retail is always in the news it seems, this time as Bijou Kurien, President and Chief Executive of Lifestyle Reliance announced that the company's first hypermarket will be opeing by July. The store will be called Reliance Mart, and the first one will open in Bangalore, covering 180,000 sq ft of space with sections for food, consumer durables, apparel and footwear all available at discount prices. A second hypermarket will open in Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

@List: a user friendly online directory

Marketing a brand or a company on the web just got easier as there is a new Online directory that works on a local and nationwide basis to list companies so that consumers are able to make an informed decision. Say, you're an artist looking for a museums and art galleries in Maine, so you can send them information about submitting your work for an upcoming show. @List makes it the simplest thing in the world to find out their addresses and phone numbers for you. Locating a plumber in your local area is also just a simple. Finding quality technicians and service people is one of the hardest things to do if you are new to the area, but a service like @List makes it quite simple indeed.

Monday, June 04, 2007

How much do you spend on music per month?

According to a study by Greenfield Online, 41% of Internet users currently download music from the internet, with the majority of those who download music being in the 25-44 age bracket and over 10% over the age of 55. The online research firm conducted its study on over 1,000, 18+ Internet users in the US. It was found that 58% of respondents spent less than $10 a month on music and 24% spend between $11-20 per month, on online as well as offline purchases of music.

second thoughts?

Well, I signed up for TheNewsRoom mighty fast, but still not sure to fine tune what I embed so that it doesn't take up so much place on my page. I'm also not all that keen on the huge ad of theirs in the footer. That is something that is a definite put off, and I wonder if they have that in all their news items or not. Need to go back and do some research and reading up at their site...

Multi-brand retail may get FDI approval in July

The government is reportedly interested in easing restrictions on multi-brand retail for sectors such as electronics, apparel, gems and jewelry and sports goods, which are all sectors where opposition is likely to be minimal. A new set of guidelines are likely to be announced in July. According to a government official, “The government is not in a position to take tough political decisions at the moment. Only those areas could be considered for opening up, where there is a big support group and where opposition wouldn’t be intense. Such areas are very few.”

Meade MySky's interactive astronomy

On my last trip to the hills, I remember enjoying the night sky like never before. Since there is little lighting in the remote areas, one is able to see the stars and satellites much better than in the cities. Our hosts were themselves interested in astronomy and gladly pointed out the major stars and formations in the sky. While it was possible to see quite clearly with the naked eye, with telescopes the images were unbelievable and quite breathtaking. They had recently purchased a Meade MySky telescope which could pick out more than 30,000 objects in the sky, including nebulas, galaxies and planets. To have something like this in your own home is simply incredible and its quite addictive. The Meade MySky is so much more than a telescope and is actually a personal video planetarium. It is interactive and simple to use, all you have to do is to point it at an object in the sky and it will give you all the information about it.

Retail institutes to cater to 2.2 million jobs

The retail industry's shortage of trained manpower, has led to the opening of lots of institutes that are catering to training manpower for the industry. IN the last few years alone these institutes have increased from 6 to 50. The retail manpower-training sector is in itself worth Rs 1,250 crore and will grow at more than 50% annually, making it a lucrative byproduct of the retail industry. The maximum number of people are required for front end jobs, which jobs are increasing by 100% per annum. Industry sources have calculated that there will be 2.2 million retail jobs by 2011, with 80% of these being front-end jobs.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Manipal Group to enter healthcare retail

One of the leading healthcare companies, Manipal Group announced that it would be launching its own retail outlets. The new outlets will function under the Cure & Care brand. The first outlets will open in Bangalore and Ahmedabad. A total of 10 outlets have been planned till March 2008. The company will be going into this venture on it's own, even though it had earlier discussed plans of a tie up with the Future Group.

Combining relaxation and vacations

What is your favorite relaxation? Mine is a combination of reading, traveling, being with family and definitely no computer or internet. The majority of people prefer to go on vacation for relaxation, but often they turn out to be just as hectic, so one comes back exhausted. But what about a Kissimmee vacation? Would a vacation there be as tiring as well, since one can just visit all the theme parks and be a kid again.

Best Buy and Vivek likely to tie up

Best Buy, one of the most successful electronic retail chains in the US, is holding talks with Vivek Ltd, who is India's largest consumer durable retail chain, for a possible partnership for the Indian market. A deal between the two companies is said to be for technical and sourcing services only. Several Best Buy executives visited India recently to understand how the market works here and also to meet executives at electronic companies such as LG, Samsung and Sony.

Could NC be the perfect place for a home?

I've always loved the sound of wind and water; I find them to be very soothing and relaxing and the best method of relaxing for me would be to find a place by the water. How about a nc waterfront property, where you can find peace and serenity and get rejuvenated? North Carolina has some really nice options of places to live, with beautiful sights, quick access to all the major cities on the East Coast and lots of activities in the local area.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Progress: quotes

Some great quotes on progress to chew on over the weekend!! I especially love the quote by George Barnard Shaw. It is direct, it is strong, and it is completely true. Progress would never have happened unless people had questioned, demanded and created their own ways of doing things. That is the basis of all progress.

"The world is so fast that there are days when the person who says it can't be done is interrupted by the person who is doing it."

"Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be."
-Kahlil Gibran, "A Handful of Sand on the Shore"

"All progress occurs because people dare to be different."
-Harry Millner

"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."
-George Bernard Shaw

Getting emergency funds

I keep hearing a lot about online payday loans on the internet and although I have never taken one, it seems like a decent way to tide over a financially tough time. Since most banks don't bother giving short term loans, when a consumer really needs some emergency funds till they get their next paycheck, an online payday loan seem to be the best option. A lot of the people who use payday loans are those who work minimum wage jobs or retired people who sometimes are not able to manage from one paycheck to the next. This service is a boon to those who are not qualified to apply elsewhere, but are able to get them here.

No time for reading?

With the amount of time I spend blogging, I haven't had any spare time at all for anything else. Thankfully, I did manage to finish both the books I was reading last weekend and am now looking for what to read next. No need to go to the bookstore or library, I still have plenty of books pending...everything from fiction to non-fiction to historical to biographical to romance. Our love for buying books ensures that we always have lots of books at hand all the time. I need to keep track of all the books we keep buying, it would be nice to have a total figure of all the books we own.

So many contest sites...

Have you noticed just how many sweepstakes and contest sites there are all of a sudden on the Internet? Just in the past few months, there have been a lot of them opening up and giving away some pretty incredible prizes, including cruise vacations to the Caribbean, plasma TVs and much more. They all operate on different variables but have caught the attention of bloggers who are signing up themselves and getting others to sign up as well. Since all of them are free, you're not losing anything at all by joining, only increasing your chances to win!

Get serious about trading

Thinking about investing in stock options? Head to PowerOptions which makes available all the data that you require, including educational material and a toll-free number to call for support. Their SmartSearch technology is reportedly the best options trading software in the market and is not available anywhere else. The system is the only web based data provider that offers investors a way to find, compare and analyse stock options, and identifies which option trades will get the highest returns. There are thousands of stocks to go through, but with this software, you will be able to automatically sort, filter and analyze stocks and options that will suit your goals.

Save your email from spam

I've started getting a lot of spam lately on one of my email ids. I don't know how my email address got into their hands, but I definitely made it worse, by opening one of the mails and triggering a silent and automatic signal to the spammer that my email was active. Boy oh boy, did the floodgates open or what? My mistake was that I had not checked off that I wanted Yahoo to block all HTML images, which is how they get that silent signal. So by opening that first mail, I unintentionally ending up inviting the spammer to send me more spam.

Thankfully, I wised up quickly on this issue and made sure I had it checked off on my other email accounts as well. I have blocked about 65 email ids and domain names and now the number of spam I get has reduced to about 2-3 a day. And today I read in Yahoo that one of the world's most prolific spammers has been arrested and that everyone across the world will see a reduction in the amount of spam they get. Three cheers to that!!

AOL to block email images from unknown senders

AOL announced that it would be blocking images from unknown senders in an effort to cut down on spam. This however will block images in retailers promotional e-mails as well, so retailers will need to concentrate more on their text rather than images as they are currently doing. Other email service companies like Google and Yahoo already block images from unknown senders so this change is not likely to affect retailers strategies too much.

The power of mailing lists

Everyone knows that mailing lists are a major source of business these days. One of the leading companies in mailing lists is California based Martin Worldwide which has made a name for itself with its innovative mailing lists to clients across the world. The company has recently launched a new product called ResponseCom, which combines US Response and US Consumer databases to create a multi-dimensional database using over 100 demographic and psychographic variables. Mailing Lists created by Martin Worldwide have been proved to show positive results. The company has created this system by tracking and compiling data for several decades and combining it into a single database. Clients who have used this new system have already experienced higher response rates, profitability and greater and newer business opportunities.

BookSurge ropes in major publishers for its print-on-demand service's subsidiary BookSurge has brought in several major publishers such as HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford University Press, Pearson, Springer and many more, to use its print-on-demand service to create backlist, out-of-print, large print as well as current books from With this service publishers will not have to carry inventory for those titles, and customers can receive their books in the usual delivery times. According to David Symonds, general manager at BookSurge, "The print-on-demand service is ideal for publishers who want to bring back out-of-print or backlist titles as well as maintain in-stock availability of midlist and frontlist titles."

Weather predicting

I wonder when we will get really efficient weather forecasting equipment in this city. The rains arrived last night but the weather bureau had not predicted them, well they have had a general prediction for the past 7 days as in 'chance of showers possible' which is not really the same thing. With Doppler radar it is possible to predict unpredictable monsoon clouds, if not as early as other clouds, but it still is possible to predict where and when it will rain. While the monsoon usually arrives by the middle of June, this year it is expected a week early and last night we had our first pre-monsoon showers. The city is of course not prepared for them, roads are still dug up, some waiting to be paved again, including the one outside our apartment complex. How they will manage to complete it now, I have no idea, if they even will bother with it or not.