On Mobility & Digital Convergence

The idea of convergence took quite a bit longer to reach the masses than initially thought to. While being talked about for over two decades, the ability to combine voice, video, data, text, and money into applications has only recently come to full fruition and accessibility for the masses.


The idea of convergence is a very important for the mobile individual because it allows for a variety of tasks and activities to be accomplished using a single device. The days of hundreds of peripheral devices littering backpacks and cluttering workspaces is being left in the dust as devices are becoming more and more capable of handling a larger array of tasks.


While devices are able to encompass carrying out more and more tasks, the all-in-one device has eluded product developers for a number of reasons. In order to increase mobility and decrease size, devices of the past have had to sacrifice processor power and battery life as there was simply no room in the case for large batteries. With the increasingly small profiles of the ever-powerful processors being turned out for mobile devices these days, the steps toward the all-in-one device are turning into leaps and bounds. Batteries are keeping pace with processors in terms of becoming increasingly small-profiled while boosting their power and efficiency and has been one of the main reasons for the cases of smartphones and tablets being able to be almost impossibly slimmed down.


    As batteries and processors continue to slim down, screens have also played a large role in the shape of mobile devices. Early screens were small and mostly consisted of black pixels on green backlighting. Keyboards took up a lot of room on the device as a way for users to interact and navigate through the device. These days, screens have become larger, and on most devices, are touch-enabled and include the keyboard functionality. The larger screen (touch-enabled) allows the user to interact in a more fluid way with the device. Along with touchscreens, haptic feedback can be enabled and is by default on many devices as a way to let the user know that there was a successful selection of a button, whether it be number or letter. This turns the flat screen into a more effective keyboard for the user and allows for a better user experience in general.

Samsung Galaxy S III (circa 2012)Nokia 2110 (circa 1996)
   

Mobile convergence has come a long ways from the early days of the mobile device. Instead of the pathetic SMS send/receive and huge external antenna; Instead of the old cell phone with the only amenity being the Global Positioning System; Instead of the camera phones, which only have access to e-mail and 2G internet; Instead of tablets with a stylus as the only means of input, we have phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, with a large 4.8 inch, Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen and 720x1280 display, an 8MP camera, 4G built-in data access speeds, and a super sleek 10+ hour talk-time Li-Ion battery, predictive text, etc…


    As you can see from the above specs, mobile convergence has come a dramatic distance in only a couple of decades. As the release of the iPhone 5 has come about and as Samsung, Apple, and many other mobile device manufacturers innovate and push limits of what their devices will do, it will be very interesting to see how long it will be until the truly all-in-one device comes about for mobile users.

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine MarketingInternet marketing has exploded in the past 5-10 years because of a few different factors. Online social networks, blogs, forums, knowledge bases, and emails have all done their part to attract increasing amounts of internet traversers to the web. Sheer numbers, however, are not good enough for businesses to convert page views into sales unless the visitors to their sites are somehow filtered and qualified. This is where Search Engine Marketing saves the day.

Search Engine Marketing , or SEM, has been exploding in the past few years as it helps accomplish part of the filtering process in order to get qualified leads to the right area on the web. To put it plainly, SEM helps businesses attract visitors that are interested in the products or services that they offer.

Let’s go local for a moment. Think of a mom and pop, brick and mortar store. Let’s say it’s a pizzas joint. They aren’t going to be incredibly interested in reaching consumers that are outside of their community because most, if not all, of their business is going to be local consumers. One might think that in order to go local, you must have to do direct mailings and place ads in newspapers, and while all that may work, it can be very expensive and you’re not guaranteed that you’re reaching your target market. There are more free options that can be used online that do a better job of targeting locally on the internet. Google and Yelp are two of these alternatives/supplements for attracting local business.

According to Andrew Goodman, Search Manager and Advisor to American Express Open, “Google Places is key; It feeds into search result pages, map listings, etc. Local review sites such as Yelp are also critically important. Claim and enhance your listing and ask happy customers to write reviews.” As an avid user of both Google and Yelp, I can attest to the fact that the businesses I find the quickest, with the most relevant content information, and the best customer reviews are the businesses that I will tend to trust and patronize.

Aside from using internet-driven local marketing solutions such as Google Places and Yelp, which are free, there is a paid service that helps your business to attain qualified visits and higher conversion rates than mass-media and direct-marketing alone. This service is called Google Adwords, and many businesses are finding value in it.

Essentially what Google Adwords is, is a way that you can bid on keywords that your business will be searchable by. Usually, these keywords are shared by more than one company so that when a visitor searches and uses one of these keywords, a random and cyclic selection of one of the companies who has paid for that keyword will appear at the top of the search listings. According to Internet Marketing: Integrating Online and Offline Strategies by Mary Lou Roberts, 84% of Americans have used search engines, and 32% of those said that they “couldn’t live without them.” With numbers like that, the odds of your company showing up at the top of Google’s search listings is in jeopardy, and user’s aren’t very likely to peruse beyond the second and third pages of Google listings.

Google Adwords

As Andrew Goodman points out in his tips for buying sponsored listings(adwords), Don’t bid more than you can afford for a keyword, ask your customers what search terms they would use, use descriptive phrases, not single words, and vary keywords, rankings and ad phrasing to see which works better. Utilize these four tactics when selecting keywords for your campaign. The most important thing to remember is to not overstretch yourself financially to achieve one keyword and then rely on that keyword to bring you all of your business. This is an unrealistic thought process and I’d liken it to investment planning. Diversify your stocks, well, diversify your keywords as well. The more opportunities that you have to be found via searchable keywords, the better your chances are of benefitting from the overall adwords campaign. Food for thought when running your first or next campaign.

Using Search Engine Marketing through a combination of local business listing sites, such as Google Places and Yelp, and by selecting and running a strategic Google Adwords campaign, your local business can quickly benefit from more qualified online traffic, which will lead to more customers in your store and more revenue for your business. In the end, the business is all about numerous happy customers because happy customers means money in the bank, and let’s face it, that’s the end goal of all businesses.

Search Engine Marketing is a great avenue to explore further and I hope that this blog post will help you in your pursuit of qualified visitors and more happy customers. Feel free to peruse other great blog posts and articles on the matter as this was a simple introduction, but be sure to check back next week when I explore SEM’s sibling, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and we will explore how Search Engine Optimization supplements SEM and helps your site rank higher in the search engines.


References

Goodman, Andrew (2011).  Search Engine Marketing 101

Gifts & Decorative Accessories. Vol. 112 Issue 2, p20

Roberts, Mary Lou (2007). The Growing Impact of Search Engines.

Internet Marketing, 174, 7-2

Everything Social

Social Media is EverywhereIf you’ve touched a computer in the last 5 years, chances are pretty well that you were using it for social purposes. Try and keep track of how many times per day you have accessed Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any of the slew of other social networks.

Social networking sites make our lives easier, from keeping in touch with friends and family to receiving breaking news much faster than any TV station could deliver it. While you are busy catching up with friends or current events, marketing professionals are tirelessly working on ways to reach you with the products and services they are peddling.

The potential reach of the network that is created by daisy-chaining you and your friends and their friends’ accounts together is a potential cash cow for a marketing campaign to be able to penetrate. Think about it: you click on and share a product through Facebook. This shows up on all your friends timelines. If even 1 of your friends ends up liking or sharing that same post, then all of their friends see that in their timelines.

Now imagine if more than one person each time shares that, the multiplicity can get outrageous! Marketing companies are very excited about this because as you share and like their products, you’ve just helped them reach another X amount of potential customers. You are doing the legwork that these companies once had to do on their own, and you’re not even on their payroll! Check out this infographic showing social media marketing campaign statistics.

That’s just on Facebook, the same can be applied to Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus among others…

As time goes on and people become increasingly attached to their devices (and their social networks) this marketing trend will continue to grow. High technology and smaller devices with better computing capabilities are going to all but eliminate connectivity issues. Not to mention the advent of Google Fiber if it picks up speed.

So remember, share and share alike and think about how you’re effectively mass-marketing next time you surf your social channels.

The problem with forums… YOU?

If you’ve ever been in a crunch-time tech troubleshooting situation (or any situation in which you’ve required the knowledge of others), you’ve probably used a forum to help you find the information you need.

The problem that I’ve often found with forums is the countless

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Dream CPU build… Step 3

So far, I’ve listed all the components and installed the power supply in my case. Now comes the fun part… the mother board and CPU install

Here’s the motherboard, it’s an Intel BOXDX58SO2 Socket LGA 1366

Intel Motherboard

As you can see, I’ve laid the Intel i7 CPU into the motherboard and just to the right of that, the 2x4GB of RAM have been inserted into the 1st RAM channel. (I will insert more in the near future as needed)

The last component to be installed onto the mother board is the video card. I will do this right after I install the motherboard into the case.

Motherboard installed in the case

Motherboard installed in case

Now I’ll install the Video card

Video Card installed

Next post I will cover installing the cooling system (involving some serious modification), the Hard Drive, and the peripheral devices.

Dream CPU build… Step 2

Alright, every component has received adequate attention and is now ready to be assembled. I figure I may as well introduce them all so you have an idea of what’s exactly being put together here:

Case: NZXT Tempest ATX Mid-Tower

Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W

Mother Board: Intel BOXDX58SO2 Socket LGA 1366

RAM: Kingston HyperX Genesis 8GB (2 x 4GB)

Processor: Intel Core i7-960 3.20 GHz (Soon to be cllocked to 3.46GHz)

Cooling Unit: Corsair Hydro H50 CPU Liquid Cooling Unit

Hard Drive: Seagate 1.5TB SATA-6G

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GT430

Optical Drive: Plextor 24X DVDRW w/ Lightscribe

Monitor: Samsung 27” LED SyncMaster

Keyboard: Logitech Wireless K80 Illuminated

Mouse: Microsoft Mobile Wireless 4000

Well, now that all the components are accounted for, they need a proper home. Let’s take a look at mounting the power supply in the case. So, empty case first…

Empty Case

Introduce power supply…

Power Supply

Now marry them. This particular case calls for mounting the power supply in the bottom of the unit. Many cases have top-mounted power supplies but I prefer the stability of having the weight at the bottom…

Power supply in case

Next I’ll take a look at the motherboard, mount the processor, RAM and finally install it in the case…

Dream CPU build… Step 1

Thus begins the short and rewarding journey that is my cpu build. I ordered all the parts from Tiger Direct and that proved to be a great choice.

So first things first: I received the parts and proceeded to jump up and down like a kid in a candy store… NOT kidding

My parts

Be back after I open and admire all the pieces!

Thinking of using HTML5? Think Modernizr

With all the hype around HTML5, the new JavaScript APIs, and CSS3, it’s a wonder more companies aren’t calling and wanting their sites updated. Seriously, if you haven’t seen what HTML5 and all it’s children can do, you need to check this out.

So, as I said, it’s a wonder that more people aren’t moving to HTML5 right now! Fear of the unknown may be one excuse for some. My bet is on browser compatibility issues. Ahhh, yes… Legacy browsers such as IE 6, 7, and 8 don’t support HTML5, and IE 9 has holes in it as well. I guess we can’t use it then right? WRONG!

My good friends over at Modernizr.com have created a JavaScript feature detection library that allows you to start using HTML5 today! By running Modernizr on your web pages, you can create test cases and fallbacks for older browsers. Not only can you get HTML5 running on today’s browsers, but you can add in JavaScript “polyfills” (fancy name for scripts and functions) to backdate HTML5 to the stone age (exaggeration).

So if you’re like me and you want to take advantage of HTML5’s bells and whistles but are nervous about older browsers, grab Modernizr and do it big because you don’t know what you’re missing!

Crunch Time Development!?

These past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy and stressful, and that’s just the way I like it.

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been offered and accepted 3 web design/development contracts, finished an e-commerce site for Google, started working on an interactive HTML5 site for 3M, am taking 16 credits towards my BS in Web Application Development, and am starting development on a site that needs to be done on Thursday of this week. CRUNCH TIME!

But I would rather find myself on this end of the unemployment situation and feel very blessed for the position I’m in at this point. God is good

Responsive Web Gift-Giving Ideas

If it seems that I’ve been hinting that I’m interested in web design/devlopment, it might be due to the fact that I… ummm…AM!!! Be that as it may, the Holidays are quickly approaching and I came across this wonderful list of web design books from .NET Magazine.

If you or someone you know is interested in web design or web development (building websites), these books would serve as absolutely fantastic gifts that will help them along in their quest. 

Thanks to .NET Magazine, for the list.