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Archive for June, 2007

What’s up with RSS?

Posted by James M. Helms on June 30, 2007

If you are like me, tech challenged, then RSS kind of snuck up and just appeared one day. Recently I was frustrated with my lack of understanding so I decided to do a little snooping. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” which at face value is pretty ridiculous. If you have seen my website it may be apparent that I can barely script html and CSS, much less learn more acronyms. So, I want to cut to the chase and make it a little simpler for you and me both. After a couple hours of work I pretty much picked up the basics. I will write them down so if I forget I can come back and read about it in the future.

RSS feeds are a tool that we can use. If we compile the feeds in an aggregator the aggregator allows us to receive feed updates on a periodic basis. How does it work? I don’t have a clue; I guess it’s like magic. To make things simple lets just say that RSS allows content to magically appear in an aggregator. Matter of fact lets just call the aggregator a “feed reader” it just reads and displays the feeds that we tell it to. Feed readers are platforms like My Yahoo or Google Reader, the information from the feeds update occasionally without any action on our part. Where can we get feed readers? Just type “feed reader” into Google and there will be about a few million links to check out. After selecting the feed reader that is wanted just customize the page. From the aggregators that I have checked out they all have really simple directions to do so.

For the greater part of my time looking into RSS I was trying to set up an RSS subscription on my blog. If you have a blog and want to set up an RSS feed you can do so easily by going to FeedBurner which was recently purchased by Google. FeedBurner has a free basic service. There are options to buy souped up versions with analytics and extra features. My RSS was simple and free to set up on my blog. I also pasted icons to subscribe to my feed on my website using the “Chicklet Chooser” option.

I personally don’t have a feed reader unless you count the SplashCast slide show. It’s a great tool if you want to use it. I have just never found an application for it yet. I guess I am just more interested in doing other things right now. I suppose that I was blindsided by RSS because I don’t spend my time on the web making my life easier. I just use the web as a tool to learn how to do things myself…many times the hard way.

Posted in Aggregator, Feed reader, FeedBurner, Humor, RSS Feeds, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Where is the Web Taking Us?

Posted by James M. Helms on June 28, 2007

By now a great majority of internet users have heard the term Web 2.0. Some people even know what Web 2.0 is.
If you haven’t quite figured it out run your cursor over this link read it if you want to. Let’s not get caught up on terms, instead we should be determining how technology can help us now and in the future. To begin with, let’s take a look at a few examples of Web 2.0 in use today.

In order to understand what Web 2.0 is go back to the previous link and think about how Wikipedia functions. Users register and compile information on topics that they are experts in. Web 2.0 is a shift in how the internet is used; it is a platform that bridges the gap from an informational silo to a functional website. There are a lot of examples of web 2.0 on the internet. For instance go to the Nike ID website and design your own customized shoe. Or you can go to the Scion website and click on the link to design your own Scion.  There are many examples of Web 2.0 on the internet.

For about a year now we have heard the term Web 3.0 which seems to add to an ever growing muddle of terms. Basically at this stage the term is new enough that it is not fully realized. Though many people are agreeing that it is a first step in artificial intelligence. It will be interesting to see how things begin to pull together. While the web evolves this may be a good time to project ahead and try to determine what the significance will be.

It is apparent that information is valuable and if we have access to endless amounts of information we simply need to know what good information is. Growing up I often heard the term “there are many ways to skin a cat”. With endless amounts of information I guess we just need to know the best way before we even begin looking. I would be interested in hearing your ideas on the evolution of the web.

Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Commentary, Opportunity, Technology, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 | Leave a Comment »

YPOP Meeting at OnDeck

Posted by James M. Helms on June 27, 2007

For any of you that missed the YPOP event at OnDeck this evening I will give you a quick overview. The event began at 5:30pm and before 6:30pm well over 200 people had arrived. The atmosphere was light and festive, the weather perfect. I would have forgone other functions in the past had I realized the relaxed atmosphere. Some in attendance were there for networking, others to relax. I met a lot of great people, and reunited with some too.

Click here for the Young Professionals of Portland event page. There are monthly events and the growth is hardly containable. Mark Hutchinson, the current President of YPOP was in attendance and very optimistic of the new organization. Over the last year the growth rate has been outrageous. There are now well over 2300 local members. YPOP is fullfilling a need in the community and that is witnessed by the successful turnouts like I witnessed tonight.

Next months meeting is scheduled for July 31st at Jax (rooftop). I would suggest that you reserve a space on your calendar for the event. Silicon Forest is alive and well, you have not seen the end of Portland Oregon.

Posted in Events, Networking, Opportunity, Oregon, Portland, Professionals, YPOP | Leave a Comment »

Video, Images, Podcasts, Documents, All in one…

Posted by James M. Helms on June 25, 2007

I have been checking out the media player called SplashCast. This player “enables anyone to create streaming media ‘channels’ that combine video, music, photos, narration, text and RSS feeds.” I by no means am an expert on the technology behind SplashCast but from my very limited perspective I have to say that it is pretty cool. The technology is an aggregator of media and it allows you to display all of the media on one simple interface.

I have just compiled a few pictures and uploaded them Click Here to view the SplashCast interface on my site. The process is very easy and user friendly. If I wanted to add a podcast, video, or document I could have. Likewise you are able to subscribe to other feeds. Each feed is viewable from a drop down menu on the face of the player.

I am interested in hearing what you think about SplashCast. I know that it has been around for awhile but it isn’t getting as much attention as it should. Why is that?

Posted in Music, Photos, RSS Feeds, Technology, Video | Leave a Comment »

What Day Is It and What Day Is It Supposed To Be?

Posted by James M. Helms on June 24, 2007

Every day has run into one long series of events. I am numb to any form of existent life beyond my present reality. I wake up each day with crumbs from a late night snack imprinted into the side of my face and a little white dog trying to get at the last of them. I wonder why I only have one shoe on and how I could sleep with the text book under my lower back. Where the hell am I, and what does my phone calendar tell me to do next?, I wonder. A strange woman is sleeping next to me that I slowly remember to be my wife, how long has it been since I seen her last…does she remember me? I stumble out of the bedroom and find two kids looking at me as if they know me, “Good morning Daddy”, they say. “Oh shit, did I miss my class?” I ask, the boy giggles and the little girl, with her hand on her hip, says “Daddy, that is a bad woed, and I am going to tell mom”. “Go ahead and tell her” I say, “you women are all the same, nothing but attitude and mouth, what is a ‘woed’ anyway?” “Daddy! quit teasin on my ‘Aws'” she quickly retorts. I rack my mind trying to determine what day it is, is this Wednesday or a Thursday? Then it dawns on me “Seth, why are you not at school? “Daddy, its Saturday, I don’t have school on Saturday” Oh shoot, I somehow forgot about school on Friday, where have I been?

Posted in Commentary, Humor | Leave a Comment »

Eighty Nine Divided by One Hundred Equals One

Posted by James M. Helms on June 24, 2007

“Would you like fries with that?” he asked in broken English. “Yes I will take the meal” I answered. “Will that be all?” he inquired again. Faltering, I had assumed that my message had been received and that assumptions would indicate that there was only one of me and if I had wanted something else I would have said so. Yet this ploy, if it is a ploy, caused me to second guess my original intentions of eating a lighter meal. I had intended to eat a minimal amount of food loaded with fat, cholesterol, and other bad stuff in an amount that would set well with my subconscious. “Yes…oh wait no, I will have an apple pie too” I answered, completely broken of my will to prolong life an extra month. In apparent miscommunication he verified “Okay, and two apple pies”. “No, only one” I clarified. “Sir, it’s the same, one apple pie is 89 cents; you get two apple pies for a dollar” he informed me. Once again, I had a life prolonging dilemma. How many other times have I been faced with these life altering decisions? I wondered. Resolute to only die two months sooner instead of three, I held firm. “I will take one apple pie” I said, while concurrently explaining my decision with three “flumpy” pats on my slightly distended stomach. Proud of my fortitude I subconsciously patted myself on the back, “what a good choice” I thought. Believing the issue settled I was soon to be proved wrong. In an apparent need to explain the situation my ever so kind cashier clarified his perspective. “Okay, one apple pie, I was just trying to save you some money” this being said while ever so slightly rolling his eyes at my utter stupidity.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a Comment »

The Evolution of Video

Posted by James M. Helms on June 24, 2007

As technology continues to advance there is a growing demand for video as a tool for conveying information. Previously downloading a video took a lot of time. Now the technology has started to catch up to demand and platforms are utilizing the technology more and more. The increasing use of video as a method for conveying information is leveling the playing field for large and small businesses.

In the past people obtained their news from T.V. or radio. The cost of broadcasting over the airwaves was prohibitive for small business. That is not the case anymore. Businesses of any size can reach a huge potential customer base at a fraction of the cost.

Advances in technology also allow for video to be used in ways that before were not cost effective. What are some other uses of video that you can you think of?

Posted in Video | Leave a Comment »

The Value of Web Analytics

Posted by James M. Helms on June 23, 2007

If you have been around the web for any length of time odds are you have heard the term “Website Analytics”. I know that many people hear such words and shudder. After all, the internet should be a fun experience right? I whole heartedly agree that the Internet should be fun.

The truth is that setting up website analytics on a website is simple. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fun, but it is fun to see what people seem to spend more time reading, or what they are have an interest in.

There are a lot of free programs available for analytics. I suggest that you go to del.icio.us and do a search for “web analytics” and see what users are linking to. I personally use Google Analytics it was easy to set up and the reports are well laid out.

How does it work? After signing up with a web analytics program you simply paste JavaScript into your source code. The program then monitors activity as it comes to your site. You sign in through their interface and point and click.

Some of the best uses of website analytics are determining what is working for you and what is not. If you spend 80% of your time working on a section of your site that only 2% of people spend their time you then know about it. If 90% of the visits to your site bounce right back out you at least know that you may need to make changes. But at least you will know that what you are doing is not working. There are many more uses of course. If you are interested in a certain aspect of Internet marketing let me know by sending an email to james@jmhelms.com or leave a comment.

If you benefited from this blog I would love to hear from you. If you didn’t like this blog I would love to hear why, leave a comment! Do you have something to add? leave a comment, we can all benefit from your perspective.

Posted in Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Great Resources for Marketing Your Business

Posted by James M. Helms on June 23, 2007

Recently I had an opportunity to attend a series called “Your Go-To-Market Strategy”, an Executive Series through Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. The quality of the series is perhaps the best that I have seen. Like many people I have had the benefit of taking several classes around marketing. Through the classroom environment I learned the basics and had a chance to apply some of the principles. The Executive Series through OEN is a perfect bridge between class learning and practical application.

Yesterday at the series a guy by the name of Jeff Williams from eROI presented a brief overview of Guerrilla Marketing. Specifically he covered simple, cheap, cost effective ways to market yourself, or your business on the internet. Some of the points that he made were:

• The value of having a website cannot be understated. You need to have a place to send potential customers.
• The point of a website is to get leads, or potential consumers of your product or service.
• Blogs, podcasts and user uploaded video are all easy ways to sell your business. The idea is to build a community.
• All marketing efforts should be to drive users to your site. Yet your site should not be about “you”. The point is providing value, resources to the end user, In exchange for potential business.

There was a great deal of information and advice offered to the attendees. This of course is just a very brief overview of the value that eROI provided at the series. If you are looking for resources about marketing there are a ton of resources at their site.

Posted in Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Natural Creativity

Posted by James M. Helms on June 22, 2007

I think all too often we are taught to live by a pre-defined model. Some of you may have heard “stay within the lines, the lines are your friend”. This of course is a great life lesson when it comes to driving yet it should not be applied to every facet of our life. Creative thinking and skills are so valuable, I wish that I had been encouraged more to develop mine.

Watching my eight year old son diligently learn how to write his first webpage is very rewarding. He doesn’t want to learn web design so that he can conform to the strict rules of “xhtml1-strict.dtd”. He is wanting to learn because he can see that I am learning. He can see that it is a creative outlet and he wants to display his thoughts, art and interests to the world. I am really impressed, he is my inspiration as I watch him work tirelessly editing his own wrapper in Microsoft Paint and experimenting with colors.

I have pasted a quote from Plutarch on my website that says “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled”. To me, this quote says it all. My son is a brilliant kid that only needs to be encouraged in his creativity. The result of which will strengthen him.

In my current situation I have an idea and it is daunting. Yet I realize that with a little creativity even the most enormous undertaking is possible. I am challenged to overcome obstacles that stand in my way and I need creativity to make it happen. Natural creativity is many times hindered by strict models. Though models have their proper application, they can hinder us just as much as help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »