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August 2011
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October 2011

September 2011

Are we dumb?

In the last two days I received the following emails, both warning me about restriction of my account due to irregular activity.

Future activity

The first one was from Barclay - yesterday 26.09.11

It stated: We detected irregular activity on your Barclays Check Card on 27 September, 2011

Wow, I want one of those, a bank card that already knows what I'll be spending my money on the next day.

How to detect a spoof email

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Today it was an email from Paypal:

Dear Customer,

You may have noticed that some limitations have been placed on your PayPal account. As a valued PayPal customer, we want to let you know what this means and how to resolve the situation.

And right at the bottom the very helpful tip:

How do I know this is not a Spoof email? Spoof or ‘phishing’ emails tend to have generic greetings such as "Dear PayPal member". Emails from PayPal will always address you by your first and last name.

Are we dumb?

I do know these phishing methods do get a result once in a while. But to be honest, everyone who falls "victim" do these scams I really can't feel pity for.

If you cross the street without paying attention you might get knocked down by a car, if you don't pay attention to all the warnings your bank etc bombards you with you might get robbed. Not your bank's fault, not the government's fault - your fault!

If you do fall for these tricks and scams, yes, then you are dumber than dumb. So stop complaining and start paying attention to what exactly you receive in your inbox.


Experiment - a manifest, with a twist

This week I've launched a new blog, a new experiment.

For a few months now I've been trying to put my thoughts and ideas (and in other words, grumbles) on the existing state of the economy on paper as a kind of "manifest": why these things seem to happen in deepening cycles and how/why there has to be another way in business, life, community and society. Like I said, a kind of manifest.
To cut a long story short: none of my trial versions passed muster in my own eyes. Too much to tell, explain, show a different way. I failed to put all of it into a comprehensive - and readable - paper.

It would come out as gobbledygook, and no one would have a clue what it was all about I'm trying to tell. I'd almost given up on the idea, because if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well - and I was not getting anywhere doing it even half decent.

Combining ideas

Then, two weeks ago, my "love for combining" brought the solution:

For many years I have this story in my head I always thought I would write down some day (when I'm old and retired?). The story is not another business novel like my first ever paperback publication (of which this blog is a spin-off): "The Kiss Business, the Keep It Simple Sweetheart principle in business".
No, this time it' going to be a different genre, one I've always been a great fan of, even since childhood: science fiction.

Why not combine the two? The outline of the SF story has been in my head for years now, but not (yet) set in stone, just the general gist of which characters and which adventures they would encounter. I don't know if you've ever written a book or long story, but my experience is that the story seems to develop itself further and firmer once you start the actual writing. And often the story takes a surprising turn through a specific - unplanned - sentence. It twists, turns, rolls around in the head and on paper.

Adding an extra "ingredient" in my SF story is therefore quite easy and a new idea was born. For years I have a title in my head: "Jumpers" - the actual story will explain why this title. I've now added a sub-title to it: Jumpers - a manifest.

Over the years I've learned that telling stories is one of best ways to explain a new concept, a new idea. Contrary to believe; words do sometimes tell more than a picture ;-)

The Experiment

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Writing a story, specially one with an extended purpose, is quite good fun. Side paths can be taken, flash backs used to introduce the history of various characters, two way discussions inserted to explain how and why the characters are worried, excited, doing the things they do etc. A very different method than just writing a "white-paper".

So, how about following this very process yourself? If, of course, you're at all interested in this. But if you are, you can follow the development of the story, the characters and the adventure on my brand new blog: Jumpers - a manifest, where draft chapter by draft chapter will be published (and edited if and when needed).

The first draft chapter went up yesterday, then I discovered I should have called it chapter 1.0, because a first twist already appeared and turned into chapter 1.1 (not published yet). I can't promise how regular the drafts will be published or how often an edited chapter will replace a draft.

You can subscribe to receive an email alert when new material has been published and by all means: leave your comments, thoughts in the comment box of the new blog.

I'm sure I'll be having a great time - and once in a while a bad time - writing my "manifest" with a twist. Come and join the adventures of my characters. I promise there will be some radical business ideas strewn in for good measure!


Shall I Clarify-it for you?

When words are not enough to explain a problem or a bug in a software program screenshots normally will help to clarify the problem and speed up the interaction between user and support desk.

I often use(d) ScreenSteps Desktop for these matters

ScreenSteps Desktop

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One of my favourite programs to write documentation, manuals, blog posts and instructions with. Very simple to add screenshots or other images and a multiple way to export the document (or whole manual) to Word, PDF, Blogs, Websites, ScreenSteps Life etc.

But using ScreenSteps Desktop for the one-off documents to explain a problem is now a thing of the past. No longer do I need to have a separate "manual" in the program where they add (uneccesarry) to the number of files in my Library.

From the makers of all things ScreenSteps: Clarify-it

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A product name that does exactly what it says on the tin: it clarifies your (one-off) communications.

It works partly in the same way as SSD, but with some specific differences: no instant saving to your library (you can opt to save the document though) and what I quite like about this (can I call it like that) "spin-of" is it has nestled itself in the task bar

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always "at the ready" to quickly take a screenshot - which then automagically opens the program - add a tittle and some - if needed - further details, click share and off it goes as online document to be viewed by the support desk of the company I need to explain the problem to.

Clarify-it or Dropbox

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You can upload it to your (free) account of Clarify-it (which also works with ScreenSteps Desktop) and/or to Dropbox.

Automagically the link to the page (hidden for google spiders and bots) on Clarify-it.com is copied to your clipboard and all you have to do is create an email to the support desk you need help from, paste the link and let them sort out the problem.

I don't even have to save the document, it's online and when the problem is solved I don't need it any longer so why would I add extra files to my pc?

Example:

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Here's the actual link.

And presto, hardly half an hour later:

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In need of clear as crystal and speedy one-off communications? Just Clarify-it

(Beta download now available for both Mac and PC)


Connecting with your clients via conference calls

sponsored article - PowWowNow

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Image courtesy of Randy Kashka

Meetings with clients in the conference room are difficult enough to manage, but meetings in a virtual conference room are another matter entirely. Too many conferences go to waste through miscommunication and timewasting, so it is extremely important for every business of every size to make the most of the time it has in a conference call with a client.

Time is money in today’s frantic business world, so connecting with your clients as early and for as long as possible is vital. You should have a focused plan in place before the call to ensure that not a second is wasted. Set your own goals but understand what you think they will want out of it and tailor your approach to that. Understanding your clients’ needs is obviously a standard business practice, but it is especially important in conference calls when you are not sat face to face. The last thing you want to do is waste their time.

Sticking to your own goals during the conference is paramount, since it’s your business you want to give precedence to first and foremost. In this respect, it’s good to adopt an assertive tone on the phone, but not so much so that it undermines the client you might risk losing them. Remember, assertively portraying a message over the phone is not the same as doing it in person because they can’t see your facial expressions.

Teleconferencing presents slightly different challenges to face-to-face meetings, so it is a potential minefield for anybody who overlooks them. We like to think that people are always courteous on the phone but the unfortunate truth is that being in a separate room altogether means that participants can easily find distractions. If a client is distracted, it would suggest that either your approach is wrong or that they’re not worth the business effort. If things start going awry, though, consider your own approach first. Are you being too assertive or too demanding? Are you giving them a reason to stay in business with you or is it becoming one-sided?

It is obviously good practice not to eat, shuffle papers or type on a keyboard during a conference call. Any unnecessary and annoying background noise will irritate clients and potentially drive them away. In the long run, conference calls could be beneficial to your relationship because it minimises the need for excessive travel, but this all depends on your etiquette and overall approach in the actual calls themselves.