Category Archives for The Online Life

The Age of the Female Consumer?

Female SymbolLast week I went to the Women2.0 Conference in San Francisco. The conference, geared towards female entrepreneurs, was one of the most inspiring events I’ve attended. Everyone I met was smart and accomplished. The highlight of the show was the pitch competition where startup founders pitched their businesses to a VC panel. The pitches weren’t for small little businesses – these were serious ideas looking for capital investment of 500K and up. Case in point, the winner, Angaza Design, is bringing pay as you go solar power to East Africa.

The day also had many speakers, including crowd favorite Lynda Weinman, founder of lynda.com. Fran Maier, who was a key player in the shaping of match.com gave a speech “Embracing the Female Consumer”. In many ways women have achieved parity or have surpassed men in their engagement with the internet. Women are the shoppers (no big surprise there) and spend 33% more time on Facebook than men. With our natural inclination to network, social media is a natural to entice more women online. Just look at the popularity of Pinterest.

The “she” economy is now reckoned to be 5 trillion dollars, so Fran’s call for companies to embrace the female consumer is not one to be ignored. For me however, this raised more questions that it answered. What should businesses be doing differently? If anything? Take this blog for example, I hadn’t realized this until now, but it’s mostly men that comment on this blog. I had never given this matter a second thought. Like many women in technology, I’m used to being surrounded by men. The Women 2.0 conference was the first technology oriented conference I had attended where my gender was in the majority. So much so that the hotel converted a few of the male restrooms for our use.

I had just accepted that the topics I blog on were of more interest than men. I’m not sure there is anything I can do to attract more women readers. And no I’m not going to change the colors of this blog to pink. But am I thinking too small here?

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Match.com Gets Social, Maybe a bit too much

match.comOnline dating sites. Despite their widespread use I still feel like there is a stigma attached to online dating, enough so that you don’t really want to admit in social conversations you have a profile on Match.com – let alone write a blog post on it. It feels like you are advertising to the world that you are desperate for a date. But, putting aside my misgivings and with low expectations, at the beginning of last summer I created a profile. Long story short I did not meet my current boyfriend through Match.com, but I really thought Match did a great job of enticing engagement on the site.

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DMCA Takedown Procedure for Stolen Content

No one like having their content stolen. It’s even worse when it ends up on low quality spammy sites that drag your backlink profile down into Penguin target territory. If the website in question is scraping a significant portion of your content, like entire articles verbatim, filing a DMCA takedown compliant with Google can be effective way to get it removed.

First, attempt to contact the site owner and tell him that stealing content violates The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and you will file a DMCA takedown with Google if the content is not removed. If you don’t get a response, then file the DMCA takedown request. If it is a Google properly, such as a blogspot blog it can get completely removed, otherwise it will be removed from Google’s index. For non Google properties, select the “web search” option.

Reporting spam, such as paid links and malware is a different procedure.

Uploading Photos from your Phone

On a recent trip to Europe I took over 200 pictures with my Android HTC Incredible cell phone in Germany, Istanbul (Turkey) and Prague (Czech Republic). The idea was to not only share snapshots as I travelled along, but also to create an online album to share with my friends when I got back. Here some tips on how to upload photos from your phone that I picked up. Note that this post tends to be Android specific.

Roman Cistern - Istanbul, Turkey

Roman Cistern - Istanbul, Turkey

The basics

You don’t have to have a smartphone to share pictures. Most cellphones today can take pictures and send them via SMS (the protocol used for text messaging). You usually have the option to send a “picture message” to an email address as well. You can do this with a smartphone as well. With Android, if you email the picture it appears to be coming from your gmail account.

As an aside,the Android OS is tightly integrated with your gmail account, for example sharing contacts … in some ways this makes life easier when you are emailing from your phone, but in other ways it junks up my phone with a lot of contacts I’ll never email again. This also can impact your uploads as I discovered.

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Connectivity while traveling – Update

I’m into the third week of traveling in Europe. As mentioned in my previous travel in Europe post I’m also working part-time while traveling. The first week I spent in Munich, including a visit to Oktoberfest and the second week in Istanbul, Turkey. Now I am visiting Prague, a beautiful city which I highly recommend.

Google in Czech

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Mixing work and travel in Europe

One of the main attractions of the work I do is that I can do it from anywhere. With a laptop and a cell phone and an internet connection I’m work ready and have worked from a variety of locations in California and Texas.

Ein Bier

Courtesy of K Mick – Flickr Creative Common License

Well now I’m taking it to the next level with a 3 week trip to Europe. Oktoberfest in Munich has been on my bucket list forever and now I finally get to experience it next week!

Other than the obvious problem of mixing work with pleasure, there are some challenges in working from Europe.

  • Timezones – Germany is nine hours ahead of California, so this means that my client meetings will need to be at night. Since I will need to meet with a couple of clients during the three weeks I will need to allocate “work” nights during the time I will be there.
  • Connectivity – One of the reasons I picked Europe is because it is a developed country and I should be able to find internet connectivity fairly easily in hotels and WIFI hotspots. I do need to be careful on what I send over unsecured WIFI and may need to invest in a USB broadband card. Similar to the card I have here, there are pay as you go plans in Europe. On my todo list is reconfiguring my mail on my phone and laptop to send over SSL as I have noticed that some of my mail providers block SMTP over unsecured WIFI. Hopefully using SSL will do the trick.
  • Power – Fortunately I won’t need an actual transformer as the laptop’s power is already transformed to a lower voltage, but I do need a adaptor plug. I picked one up at Radio Shack. My cell phone plugs into my laptop to recharge.
  • Phone – This was the most daunting part of planning the trip. At first glance it looked like I would either need to rent a phone when I arrived or try a service here that ships you a phone to take with you. Europe uses a different network (GSM) than the US (CDMA) and although AT&T and T-Mobile phones work on GSM, many of the travel blogs will tell you that Verizon phones won’t. This however is changing, my new Droid does have the capability to work on GSM. I called Verizon to set up a plan and get the magic incantation to activate GSM. The plan is not cheap, it’s $.99 a minute and $.50 to text. However I can receive texts for only $.05. Due to this I may still consider renting a phone, but at least I’ll have a phone that works there. The real killer is data roaming, that can run hundreds of dollars. I plan to keep that that turned off.
  • Phone meetings – At $.99 a minute, this is not a feasible option for hour long (or even half hour) client meetings. Enter Skype. I will be signing up for unlimited calling to US landlines and cell phones for $8 / month. Another alternative is MagicJack but this requires additional equipment to order from them.

I leave in 2 days, we will see how successful I am at mixing travel and work! Stay tuned.

5 Annoying Things Internet Marketers Say and Do

It’s always sad to find someone who appears to have something good to say, and then end up having to opt out of their email list. Often it’s due to the barrage of emails. But it’s also because of the annoying “tricks” they pull. Here’s my 5 annoying things Internet Marketers say and do

  • Emails that begin with “Real Quick” … and then point you to a 20 minute video to watch.
  • This is coming down real soon … overdoing the “scarcity emotional trigger” so much that is it pathetic, in email after email
  • This is very important, click on this link right now … giving you no context on what the topic is and why you should even care
  • This is why I do it .. It’s never for the money, but for the adorable picture perfect family
  • I’ve found the secret! … You found the ultimate secret to success last week too, what makes this one this week any better?

What’s annoying to you?

Yes, You Have to Manage TWO Passwords

No matter how much I emphasize how important it is to keep them safe, inevitably I get an email from a present or past client asking me to resend their passwords to them. Often it’s the hosting password that is forgotten as it is not used as often as the WordPress admin password (or some other CMS admin password). Since I’ve observed confusion on what each password is for, I decided to write this post.

Why Two Passwords?

Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Joomla or WordPress make it easier for non web designers to edit their websites, not only do users get easier to use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interfaces, but you are often skipping the step of having to upload your work from your local computer to server (using the dreaded FTP that seems to stymie a lot of people). So where does the two passwords come in?

  1. Password #1 is the password to your hosting account. Here is where you manage the billing for your account, setting up email accounts and other hosting features usually through a cPanel. Often you manage your domain from this account as well. Once your website is set up (eg. WordPress is installed and configured) this password is not needed very often, however it’s important to keep track of.
  2. Password #2 gives you access to your CMS (such as WordPress admin). If you want to add a page to your site or shuffle the order of your sidebar widgets, this is where you want to log in. Some people refer to a system like this as a “backend” as “I’m having trouble logging into my WordPress backend.”

Systems such as WordPress, can be thought of their own little eco-systems. The web server and hosting account doesn’t really know about your website, it just serves up files to browsers as they are requested.

Yes, You have to Keep Track of Your Passwords

And writing them down on scraps of paper is not a proper password management system. We all have passwords, we have to remember. I have hundreds. I don’t recommend using the browser to remember your password (when it asks whether to remember the password for a given site I say never). I use different browsers and computers and it’s not particularly secure. If you are looking for a password manager, I use Password Safe but RoboForm is really good too.

Use Secure Passwords

Many systems today have indicators telling you whether your password is weak or strong as you create one. Some enforce “strong” passwords, you have seen these I’m sure: eg: has to be at least eight characters, contain 1 digit, 1 uppercase character and 1 special characters. These restrictions are not there just to make your life miserable, there is a reason for them – the more you can adopt these guidelines for all your passwords the more secure you will be.

The death of internet marketing?

I’ve been doing some mass unsubscribes from the IM guru’s lists.  Too many hyped promotions, too many people cross promoting.  And the worst thing of all, it completely distracts me from getting real work done.    Seems like I’m not the only one.

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