TNPC News /blog Asking better questions Mon, 15 Sep 2014 01:34:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Quick Tip and a Time Sensitive… /blog/2013/10/09/quick-tip-and-a-time-sensitive/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=quick-tip-and-a-time-sensitive /blog/2013/10/09/quick-tip-and-a-time-sensitive/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 21:49:38 +0000 /blog/?p=344

Today a tip for shuffling through web pages that works with any browser. And a freebie too.

My wife visits a cooking site that has drawings for books and cookware. They have many giveaways going and you can only enter each one once a day. She was getting confused each day over which ones she had entered and which ones she hadn’t. So I showed her the following idea. After I explain it I’ll give you a few more ways to use it.

Here is the high level outline of the process:

  1. For each item on the list you want to enter right-click on the link and choose “Open in New Tab”.
  2. Repeat this for each item you are interested in.
  3. Go through each tab, enter, close the tab.
  4. When the tabs are closed you are done.

If this is something that uses the same pages each day go ahead and create a toolbar bookmark folder to put all the pages in. Then you can just right-click the folder and choose “Open All Bookmarks”. Makes really quick work out out of checking a set of pages each day.

I know that was very brief so I made a little video showing you how. It will be easier than typing it out. You can view that video here:

In the video I use a news site and show how I’ll read only the articles that interest me. Because the available articles is covered quickly I don’t get bogged down. I can also read the articles throughout the day as I get some free time.

Other times I will use the technique when reading a forum with the topics I want to respond to. This lets me spend extra time on the replies. Same with online email. Open the ones I want to respond to in a new tab.

And here is the freebie and it is only good today – October 9, 2013. It is a free Kindle book by William Wittmann. I have enjoyed all the books of his I have read. This one is called “Drawing the Sacred – communing with the sacred through drawing.” If that sounds interesting to you check it out. You don’t have to have a Kindle you can use Amazon’s free Cloud Reader:

http://amzn.to/1fjE6kp

Hope something here is useful to you.

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This is the other side… /blog/2013/09/12/this-is-the-other-side/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=this-is-the-other-side /blog/2013/09/12/this-is-the-other-side/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 21:34:04 +0000 /blog/?p=342

A few months ago I wrote about using technology to get better customer service.

Click here to read that article.

The basic idea was using Jing to let customer support see exactly what is happening to you. It really is helpful. Many of you let me know it had worked well for you. Jing is free. I actually use Jing’s big brother’s Camtasia and Snagit. Those aren’t free but have more powerful tools. I would use Jing until you started looking for certain features or need longer recordings.

Click here to read about Jing, Camtasia, and Snagit

Another cool use for a Jing video is to share an interesting web site or site review. By making a quick video I can share my thoughts easier than typing them in an email. So when I find an interesting website I’ll shoot a quick video showing what I am liking and where it is on the site. Then I share that. Sometimes I do it for my own review later. When I do this I bookmark the website and put (Jing) at the end of the bookmark name to remind me there is a video.

The flipside of getting better customer service is using Jing to help train others. I work pretty fast and have made shortcuts for myself for almost everything that I do more than once. Unfortunately my shortcuts aren’t always easy to pass on because they have “issues” and errors that popup, etc. That is ok since I know which errors can be ignored. But some get antsy when they see errors popping up all the time.

For most of the web based technical work – domains, hosting, blogs, email, etc. – I have been training my children. I began using Jing to make videos of what needed to be done. Over time this was amounting to a small library.

I was talking to my friend Leo Quinn. He had been doing the same thing and finally just bought the rights to a package of videos on all things website and Internet marketing. Now he just links to a video and tells them what he needs done. Very handy and fast. I immediately bought a set. They have been saving me a lot of time.

They were so helpful I asked him to work up something special if it could help you or someone you know. He said sure and put a low price on them but only for the next week.

Click here now to learn more

While I was writing this email a friend called from Abilene, TX. He asked me about setting up a website with an email list. He needed two. One for himself (entertainer) and one for his wife (hair salon). I sent him the link above and told him everything he needed to know is there. Then to call me back and we will talk about it. He called back an hour later telling me it was exactly what he needed.

So if you maintain a website, know someone who maintains a website, or know someone who is thinking of setting up a website. Give that link a look. It can save you a ton of time.

Here is the link again

Looking forward

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A Few Things /blog/2013/09/09/a-few-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-few-things /blog/2013/09/09/a-few-things/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 20:36:17 +0000 /blog/?p=335

Today I have just a few tidbits to share. They seem kind of random but this is what has caught my radar recently.

First I told you I would be in Dallas last week and it was an interesting conference. I was able to catch up with a friend from Hawaii who I hadn’t seen since 1985. And made a few new friends from Hawaii.

One the people I spoke with is an educator on the east coast. He shared with me that cost cutting measures had turned his classroom from 30 students to 300. We then had an interesting talk about the effective use of slides and different ways of keeping their attention.

For my part I shared most of what I shared with you in my last email. If you missed that it is on the blog:

Click here to read Thoughts on Presentation

A couple of days ago I was reading John Mauldin’s assessment of the future of Pension Funds. It wasn’t pretty. He called the letter Unrealistic Expectations. At the end he sums up his conclusions and relates them to the changes coming at The Federal Reserve. The letter is a bit long but if you have any interest in either pensions or the changes coming to Fed it is worth a read.

Click here now to read the PDF of Unrealistic Expectations

Finally there is another free “Fest”. This time it is the Releasing Fest. Sign up and hear the sessions for free. I think you will be glad you did. I’ve been through this course myself and it is a simple concept with big results. Release anger, get rid of pain, and finally enjoy peace are some of what you’ll learn. It actually started today but you can still sign up for free.

Click here now to find out about the Releasing Fest

Here is a really short video about Releasing:

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Some Thoughts on Presentations /blog/2013/08/29/some-thoughts-on-presentations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=some-thoughts-on-presentations /blog/2013/08/29/some-thoughts-on-presentations/#comments Thu, 29 Aug 2013 23:50:26 +0000 /blog/?p=331

It’s fun. My bargain laminator arrived and the kids are already putting it through the paces. Looks like it will serve us just fine.

Wanted to share a few thoughts on why I like using lamininated sheets instead of Power Point presentations or folders of information when I am one on one or talking to a small group..

Before I do that let me share a pet peeve of mine. I’m sure you have been in a presentation where the presenter just read the slides. When I have been in meetings where this happens I usually raise my hand and ask the presenter if they are just going to read the slides. If the answer is yes I give them my email address and ask them to email it to me to review. Then I leave until they send it. I can read and digest that presentation in a fraction of the time it takes them to read it to me. Further I will retain more of the information as my mind wanders less. A short follow up meeting to plug any loose ends and we have both saved a bunch of time.

Do you get odd reactions when you do something like that? Of course. But it doesn’t take long for people to catch on and learn that you are trying to understand the information and not just trying to skip out on a meeting. In my case it is actually both!

There is a funny example of how PowerPoint style presentations can negatively impact a messages delivery. It called “The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation” and you can see it here:

http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/

When I have to speak with people I like to have visuals that support what I am talking about. Much of the time I just draw them as I go. But for more complex ideas or ideas I share often I make a nice sheet and laminate it.

The laminate actually makes the information seem a little more important. And I only have one on the table at any given time. Helps keep it focused. No way to get ahead of what I’m sharing with you.

You can be more interactional with the laminated sheet, touching it, positioning it, and even draw on it with an erasable marker. I use a small coin to hold the place we are talking about at any given moment.

If you bring a laptop or tablet and run your presentation on that it allows people to bring their ingrained habits of dealing with information on screen. With the hard copy it is much more personal and you are all staring at a screen but rather interacting with each other. Best of all I never have technical difficulties

When I present to a large group I use the same visuals but project them. The main difference between this and a PowerPoint presentation is there are far fewer slides and we explore each in depth rather than read.

Those are few quick ideas on why I prefer paper over electronic presentations. Share your thoughts below.

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What I have been up to… /blog/2013/08/16/what-i-have-been-up-to/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-i-have-been-up-to /blog/2013/08/16/what-i-have-been-up-to/#comments Fri, 16 Aug 2013 18:25:37 +0000 /blog/?p=329

It’s time consuming. Trying to integrate new things with old things.

The past few weeks I have been doing a lot of hands on client work and ran into some programming snags. The specific issue was a need to collect credit cards where we had only used PayPal in the past. One of the clients was out of the country which complicated some things.

Stick with me even if you don’t see a need to collect credit cards. I’ll share some useful tools I found that may help you down the line. All free.

If you run a business on line or off you have doubtless looked at this. But even if you don’t have a business there are solutions that may be useful to you. Example. This weekend our homeschool group is having their annual registration ice cream social. In the past people paid with checks or cash. This year I suggested one of the solutions below as an additional measure. We have already collected the registration of 1/3 of the membership via an online form.

I’ll discuss what I recommend to people beginning a business and how you can use the tools for non-business use as well.

So what services would I recommend? First out of the gate is PayPal. Most everyone has an account and it is easy to get started accepting money. This works great if your customers are buying on line. You can use PayPal to directly accept Credit Cards but it involves a monthly fee and some setup. For an event like I mentioned above that is a bit much to get up and going.

Next is Square. Square is interesting and fast to setup. They mail you a little card swiper that you plug in to your smart phone or tablet. You swipe the card and the card owner signs for the charge on your screen. Square then emails the receipt immediately. The money shows up a short while later in your bank. Very convenient. Fees are reasonable. No monthly charge or commitment.

Square recently began allowing you to accept phone orders or card not present. You type in the numbers and the receipt is still emailed out. I believe the fees are slightly higher but still reasonable. Last I checked you are limited to $2,000/week of card not present transactions.

One downside to Square is you cannot tie it to on line forms or shopping carts. It is strictly card present and phone in. But it works fantastic for occasional use. Club sign-ups, rummage sales, sporting league sign-ups, summer camp deposits, etc. With no monthly obligation you can have it ready to go when you need it. I first used Square at the swap meet for my hobby. A friend and I split a table and we had some higher end items. Having Square with us let us seal the deal on some of the pricier items without worrying about hitting the bank with checks and all that.

The specific service I began using last week and setting up for my out of country client was Stripe. Stripe is a credit card processor with reasonable fees and no monthly minimum. Stripe deposits the money in your bank account seven days after the sale.

Unlike Square you integrate Stripe with on line services. It does assume you have some programming know how. Luckily I do. But I sunk a full day into trying to make it work for me. A full frustrating day.

That is when I stumbled on JotForm. JotForm lets you build contact forms, surveys, order forms, and just about any type of form you need. It also knows how to connect to Stripe, PayPal, and a few other payment systems. I had a functioning form accepting credit card payments through Stripe up and running in about ten minutes. The volume of form submissions we do required me upgrading to a paid account. A whopping $9.99/month. Versus the day of time spent putting something together it was a bargain.

So far I am very happy with the JotForm/Stripe combination. We still accept PayPal directly through our shopping cart. A full 10% of our sales have gone through Stripe and that represents a 10% increase so it was worth the time. Just wish I had stumbled on JotForm earlier.

So to summarize. If you run a business and want to accept credit cards but don’t currently you can start easily with little obligation by using either Square or Stripe or both. Use Square if you do sales face to face or over the phone. Use PayPal and Stripe if you do business on line. If you use Stripe use JotForm to get up and running quickly.

If you don’t run a business but want to accept credit/debit cards for convenience with club sign-ups, swap meets, etc. use the same logic. Use Square for face to face or phone transactions. For a club you could easily setup a JotForm tied to Stripe and get a head start on collecting the money.

Here are links to the services I mentioned. All are free to get started and only PayPal and JotForm have paid options.

PayPal:
http://www.PayPal.com

Square:
https://squareup.com/

Stripe:
https://stripe.com/

JotForm:
http://www.jotform.com/

Hope something is useful to you here.

~ Dan

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Why is the Internet so slow?… /blog/2013/07/17/why-is-the-internet-so-slow/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-is-the-internet-so-slow /blog/2013/07/17/why-is-the-internet-so-slow/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 19:53:06 +0000 /blog/?p=324

It’s slow. Our Internet connection here has begun to crawl and drop out frequently. It has gotten so bad that we are looking at a new provider.

Our current provider is Clear Wireless. I like the concept and I like the no contract. I don’t like how it begins crawling like a snail from 10:30 PM and 1 AM every single day. If only a couple of people in the house are using it at one time things are ok. Not sure the kids understand how much data they are using at any given moment. With two computers, a TV, iPad, and a few smart phones and you can eat up a lot of data.

I suspect the router may be going bad but don’t think that would trip off every night at 10:30. We can almost set our clocks by it!

So I am currently investigating my limited options. Before Clear I used AT&T U-Verse. I dropped it because it was just too expensive and I wanted to wean myself off AT&T. Prior to U-Verse, it was DSL through AT&T and prior to that an ISDN line also through AT&T.

Why AT&T? It was the only option at the time for phone and DSL was tied to phone service. AT&T also used to be the only cell phone carrier that received service inside my house! But I have given them far too much money over the years and have had to call them at least once a month about something. That typically takes at least an hour and involves people with no authority to do much more than read from the screen.

Does this happen to you? You call support and the first thing they want you to do is reboot your computer. It has nothing to do with my computer if three computers in the house are experiencing the same connection issue. I usually sit and answer a few emails or read a little while my computer “reboots”. Then they move to having me reboot the routers and such. Of course we have done this before calling but I do it again just in case. Then they tell me there is a problem just outside Houston, TX. That is more than five hours away by car and our routes don’t generally go through Houston. In other words, just ride it out.

Funny story! I used to be the Internet department for a company of 2,000 employees. This was in the very early days of the World Wide Web. People were still figuring out what the WWW encompassed. One day I get a call from one of the executive secretaries. She tells me Yahoo is down. Yahoo, of course, was the Google of the time. I checked and it wasn’t responding, but other sites were fine. Then she asked me how long till I can have it back up. Started to say there is nothing I can do about Yahoo when I realized she thought I controlled it. I said give me an hour. She called me back 45 minutes later thanking me for my quick attention to the issue. My version of the “reboot your computer” line.

My options at this point are cable and satellite. I will probably go with the cable service due to price. I haven’t used cable service in the past and one option is Charter. I don’t need television or phone service – just Internet.

A friend asked me why I live in an area with such limited options. The answer of course is that connecting to the Internet was not an issue when we moved here. Computers weren’t that widespread. Cellphones weren’t on the market yet. The only option for phone service was Southwestern Bell which later became AT&T. My first cellphone service was Cingular which later became AT&T.

Part of this research is looking at different options for my father who lives in an area with virtually no choices except satellite and cell data. Cell data plans are generally cost prohibitive but he uses less than 2 GB per month even with tethering. So the satellite may be an option for him. The data limits would inhibit me too much relative to the cost. Not the case for him. He is able to get Exede satellite service.

I’ll keep you posted and let you know how it goes.

Do you have experience with cable or satellite Internet providers? Specifically Charter or Exede? If so share them below.

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