Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools can be so useful and yet so confusing!

Collaboration, A Fancy Word For Working Together!

Collaboration is working together, especially in an intellectual endeavour. For example:

  • Business planning in a group environment
  • Interactive online training
  • Creating marketing materials
  • Planning activities or events

Anything requiring input from multiple people to achieve a common goal could be considered a collaborative effort.

Collaboration Tools

There are different tools available to make collaboration easier:

  • Teleconference
  • Video Conference
  • In Person Meetings

Teleconference

teleconferenceTeleconference is great when you don’t need to share visuals or maybe combined with visual aids that can be shared by other means. This works well when you are working with people who may have limited access to broadband internet. For example, businesses with remote offices in northern Ontario may have difficulty using any kind of online video tools. This could ultimately lead to people “pretending” to be logged in but actually walked away and got coffee because it takes too long for their system to catch up.

You could use a teleconference to connect for audio and email presentations that the participants could then open locally on their computers and “click” along with the presenter during discussion. Thank God for Power Point! Well, thanks to Bill Gates and Microsoft.

 

Video Conference

GVO ConferenceGVO Conference is by far the most robust and best tool for the money. Fully functioning online conference software with available HTML5 functionality including the ability to share your desktop, video clips and presentations. You can even have group face to face where your broadband can support it.

Google Hangouts is readily available through your Chrome browser. In my experience, OK for 1-3 people face to face but can be unreliable with slightly larger groups.

Appear In is free for up to four people. Works well for video conference and desktop sharing but doesn’t have built in video or slide show ability.

Adobe Connect is very robust but also very resource hungry. You will need a good computer with a plugin in to run a room. This can be expensive and has a rather big learning curve.

There are many other tools like Webex and so on but I think you get the idea. In case you didn’t notice, yes, I’m trying to lead you to click on the link showing the GVO Suite of tools that includes the conference room! (Amiya, the name in the link is my granddaughter.)

In Person Meetings

In person meetingWe have all heard you can’t beat “belly to belly” for sales and much the same for learning and working together. I agree!

In the global economy of today, it often isn’t possible to bring people together in one place for collaboration purposes. By using tools like video conference, we can come from literally anywhere in the world to work together for a common purpose. Canada and USA are two of the largest countries in the world and going from one side to the other takes days, not hours, unless you are spending hundreds of dollars for air travel. Frankly, ground can be as much or more than air travel by the time you consider fuel, food and lodging!

I would suggest in person meetings may be advisable and preferable when kick starting a project or bringing it in for a landing. Consider something like GVO Conference for all of the in between work!

Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t always easy but the old cliche is “more heads are better than one”. Reach out to your business partners, whether you work in business, education or any other field, they are all business partners, and find the best way to work together. When you develop plans collaboratively, you get more buy in. People who have a vested interest don’t want to see “their” idea fail. Use whatever tools you need to bring the right voices to the table.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great minds, the internet and GVO! What are you thankful for today?

 

 

WordPress Makes Web/Blog Design Easy!

WordPress makes designing your website or blog easy and is quickly becoming the dominant content manager on the internet. It’s used by companies like large news publishers and as a result, there is a lot of third party support supplying plugins.

WordPress On A Self Hosted Site

WordPress is easy to install and easy to use!

Blog

Although you can find places to have a “free” website or blog, I recommend self hosting using the WordPress Content Management System (CMS). This way you truly control all content. For example, when you have a site with another provider, you are subject to their terms of use and they can arbitrarily remove or block content. Always read their terms!!! By self hosting, you set the terms. Keep in mind, this doesn’t exclude you from common sense, legal requirements and liabilities.

For a self hosted site, you will need a domain and a web host. Pureleverage and Global Virtual Opportunities (GVO) make it really easy! Pureleverage has the basic site set up for you and you can modify. With a GVO hosting account, you can have multiple domains and WordPress installations to keep your different businesses or hobbies separate. You might even want a combination of Pureleverage and GVO depending on your business needs! Just as an aside, they both have business opportunities.

Using GVO hosting, a self hosted WordPress site is really easy to install and not really that difficult to set up. There are many templates and plugins included and they are easily activated within the WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Installation

First you need to log into your control panel. With GVO, it would be Cpanel. Once you log in, go to the Softaculous section and look for the WordPress icon.

Softaculous

This is where you click to start the installation. Once you are on the installation page, it’s pretty much intuitive. Fill in the blanks. Some things to think about before you start the installation are:

  • whether it will be the primary site or secondary,
  • what will you call it,
  • will it be multi site (visit Exclusive Vogue Networking for an example),
  • what do you want it to look like (I recommend Graphene. Visit barryclermont.com for a sample)

WordPress Installation

The reason I recommend Graphene is its simple clean design and responsiveness. It automatically adjusts to present well whether you are using a computer, tablet or smart phone.

WordPress Plugins

Now that you have installed WordPress, you need to decide what plugins to add. Plugins are add-ons that provide further functionality to your site. Here is my list of preferred plugins.

  • BulletProof Security
  • Social Media Feather
  • Tiny MCE Advanced
  • WP Super Cache
  • Yoast SEO

BulletProof Security provides some spam protection, helps block hackers and includes a backup option. Social Media Feather give you those icons people can click to go to your social media sites or automate their posting your blog to their own social media sites. Tiny MCE Advanced provides extra editing functionality when you are creating your blogs. WP Super Cache helps speed up loading your site pages and Yoast SEO helps make sure your posts and pages are found.

WordPress Makes Blogging and Web Design Easy!

WordPressDon’t let the thought of putting your business online scare you. If you can create a document using a word processor, you can create a website and/or blog using WordPress. There are numerous YouTube videos and web sites that can walk you through the process.

Alternatively, there are many service providers out there that can look after it for you. Just make sure they are willing to take a little time to show you the basics so you can make changes afterward.

 

Make it a great Day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for WordPress, GVO and the Internet! What are you thankful for today?

Why I like Blurb over Chatbooks and Shutterfly

Blurb is my personal choice over Chatbooks and Shutterfly. I have only just begun using Blurb on the advice of my friend Joe Chrvala. Joe has been doing some great photography over the years and I have seen the books he produced. Another friend referred Chatbooks and someone else recommended Shutterfly.

I invite you to check them all out if you have ever thought of producing a photo album or even something like an eBook to sell!

Blurb

  • Free program (Blurb BookWright) to create on your local computer
  • Use your own high quality images
  • Great templates, both free and fee based
  • Great pricing
  • Deliver internationally

Photo of Dad and Daughter

My daughter was married recently and will be moving to the UK shortly. I wanted something she could take with her that won’t take much space and that she could give to her new family. I remembered Joe talking about Blurb and called him to get the address. Wow! So easy to use. I created the book and ordered copies for the kids to take the UK, plus one for us of course! I could have delivered directly to UK for the same shipping cost but they were going anyway and I didn’t want to pay once for here and once for there.

If you ever thought creating a book to sell, they make it so easy! No, I’m not pitching this to you. You wouldn’t have any reason to be interested in this album other than as a sample. Click here to see the book preview.

Chatbooks

My friend said she found Chatbooks really cheap. If you only order the basic $15 book, she would be correct. For myself, I take way too many pictures and wouldn’t like to limit myself that much. Too hard to choose! Feedback I found online indicated that when people use the connection to social media to make the books, this seems to be optimized for Instagram, you run the risk of the images being too low quality when you produce a book.

Chatbooks offers a phone app to produce offline but that doesn’t help on my laptop. This is a big factor for me.

Shutterfly

  • Upload your own images or pull directly from social media (You control the quality)
  • Offers pre-formatted layouts
  • Offers service to do the work for you
  • Can be reasonably priced but watch out for add ons

I went to Shutterfly and set up an account where I tried to create a similar book but for a trip I did last year. I think if I limited myself to the same number of pages, pricing is only a little more than Blurb. I did like the layout options. I didn’t like the fact I couldn’t figure out how to work offline when creating the book. When I traveled on my bus commute to work, I couldn’t work on the book because the WiFi on the bus is really limited for upload and download. I gave up!

Blurb Wins! (For me.)

Blurb book coverI prefer Blurb because I can work locally with high quality graphics to produce a reasonably priced book whether in hard cover, soft cover or as an eBook. We all have different needs and I can’t choose for you but I hope this gives you a place to start. If you have ever thought of creating and selling a book, Blurb makes it easy including the “Store front” with a shopping cart!

When will you write your first book?

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my friends, Blurb and Lenovo! What are you thankful for today?

Why I Use Goo.gl For Link Shortening.

Goo.gl is my favourite link shortening site. Not because of the link itself but because of the analytics that come with it.

Goo.gl

Google provides https://goo.gl free of charge. As we all know, nothing is ever really free. We are giving them some great traffic information that helps them target things like Google Adwords. I’m slipping a bit on that one. I need to incorporate some Adwords into my web pages and posts. I digress.

Goo.glGoo.gl provides great feedback. For example, I posted a blog and was surprised to find that I have more clicks in the US than I do in Canada. Almost twice as many! And then Australia and the UK. Another measure that surprised me was how much is on handheld devices. 90% of the clicks were on Facebook Mobile. The rest were on Facebook on desktops. The fact that I published that blog to Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter means that I really need to focus most of my attention on Facebook when I’m blogging. The results are a little different when I’m sharing other content while making my own comments. Still 65% or more on Facebook but there is a greater proportion of “other” that I believe is likely Twitter and other referral sites.

Other LInk Shorteners

There are at least a couple of other options I’m aware of. Hootesuite provides a built in shortener, ow.ly and there is another service called bit.ly. Both provide analytics but you get more with Google for less. Besides, I couldn’t prove it but I would bet that Google ranks their shortened links higher.

So, why do I use goo.gl? Because it’s easy to use and understand. And, it’s affordable.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for Google Analytics. I’m thankful for Hootsuite. I’m thankful for my Pure Leverage suite of tools! What are you thankful for today?

Home Office Technology On A Budget: K.I.S.S

Your home office doesn’t have to break the bank. Know what you need and apply the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep it simple.

Office Technology Business Needs Analysis

You have a home based business, sometimes referred to as your “Plan B”. What technology do you really need to operate?

  • Smartphone
  • Computer
  • Software
  • Internet

Think through your day. Where will you spend most of your time and what will you need to do? If 80% of your day is out on the road, can you function on a smartphone or should you consider a laptop or tablet for the road? If you use a tablet, will there be a need to transfer data to your computer? Once you decide on the hardware, what software do you need and how do you keep the cost down? I’m getting tired just setting up the scenario!

Hardware

ComputerI have to admit to a bias on phones. I believe they are mostly for phone calls and simple messaging; text, email or social media. Short and sweet. This means that as long as you can dial a number and send email, any phone will do. If it’s for demonstration purposes like running a video demonstration for a prospect, you need a tablet or laptop. An iPad would be nice but are they really worth the cost? If you are on a limited budget, visit a place like Best Buy or Canada Computers and you can find very affordable tablets that you can either access the Internet (Gotta love most coffee shops and free Wi-Fi these days!) and Youtube or load video files directly for when there is no Internet connection. Laptops are less convenient for situations like running a presentation in a coffee shop but you could get by without a tablet if you use a laptop. This would also give you the flexibility to connect to a projector for full fledged demonstrations if that is likely to happen in your world. If your budget allows, I would also keep a desktop in the home office because of their greater storage capacity. This would allow you to keep a backup copy of critical files in case of emergency.

Software

An office productivity suite will cover most of your needs. Cost has come down a lot from when I was in the computer solutions business. I remember selling the Microsoft Office Professional for approximately $900. In those days, I preferred Corel WordPerfect because it was a better product for half the price. These days you can get Open Office for nothing and it does everything most people need. You might consider something like QuickBooks to track your business financials

Will you be creating your own graphics? There are many free tools or you could consider Adobe products and alternatives like Serif.

Free Internet Marketing Coaching

Office Technology Solution Sample

This post was creating using a refurbished computer from Canada Computers, a Dell OptiPlex GX775 and my Pure Leverage suite. I paid $119 for the computer and $25/month for the Pure Leverage suite.

Dell OptiPlex 775:

  • Pentium Core 2 Duo 2.33Mhz
  • 4GB DDR2
  • 80GB Hard Drive
  • DVD ROM
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (free upgrade to Windows 10)

Pure Leverage Suite

  • Pure LeverageWeb Site and development software
  • Online Conference Room
  • Video Producer
  • Auto Responder Email System
  • Elite Coaching program

I installed a free anti-virus program, a free malware program and the free Open Office productivity suite. You can buy a printer under $50 these days or just email to Staples and have your documents printed there!

Backup

One of the easiest things to overlook is a backup solution. Typically, the cost is frightening. External drives are $100 or more and they can be stolen or fail. Tape drives can run into multiple hundreds of dollars. The challenge is that if you don’t have a backup and your computer is damaged in a fire or stolen, how do you get all your files back? Chances are your business is gone with your hardware and files.

Take a look at Got Backup. <<< Click Here

In these days of precarious employment, many find it necessary to find ways to supplement their income. Don’t let the cost of setting up your home office scare you. The cost can be quite manageable if you are willing to do a little research and work. I hope this blog helps you get started.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for informational blogs. I’m thankful for opportunity. I’m thankful for every new beginning.

What are you thankful for today?