Broadband Expert: A friend in the highspeed internet industry

There are three things in life that are challenging, four that are nearly impossible. Buying a new car, figuring out your cell overage charges, negotiating with a contractor, and purchasing broadband internet for your home. For cars, cell phones, and home repair, we’ll leave others to contribute their advice. But when it comes to broadband access, there’s now an easy solution for everyone. Introducing, Broadband Expert.

Broadband Expert is a site that we wish existed for every industry. It is a simple interface that allows you to sift through the many different broadband options based upon your location. It contains a complete and diverse set of information that spans the industry. From high speed internet, to TV, Phone, mobile broadband, and satellite TV, it pretty much has all the telecommunication bases covered.

Broadband Expert Home

Working with Broadband Expert is simple. You start by clicking on the section of most interest to you. From there you can enter your zip code and it will immediately bring up a series of providers for your area. These include all the well known telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon. It also includes local or lesser known options as well. It gives you the ability to research only high speed internet, or package deals as well. For instance many people buy them all together, or just internet and TV, or internet and phone. With Broadband Expert you can readily sift through the many views.

While the home page is adorned with a series of attractive buttons each linking to specific views, my favorite view is actually the advanced search function. Being a bit of a techie I enjoy having all the various ways to filter information in one place. With the advanced search you can select whether you want, cable, DSL, or satellite results- or any combination therein. You can also select whether you want all packages, or any variation of combo packages. And then finally you can sort the results based upon price, speed, contract length, and user review rating. In a matter of seconds you can quickly see exactly how much the various options cost and what the speed and customer ratings were.

The listed results give you all the information you need to sign up. Most typically this is a phone number accompanied by the ever popular promo code. Don’t misread what Broadband Expert is though. It’s not a site that simply pushes an ever increasing stream of coupons and promo codes on the web. It’s a valuable comparative shopping tool that gives you full insight into the telecommunication options available in your area.

To further help users Broadband Expert offers a speed test tool. Since the most basic measure of broadband service is speed, it’s helpful to know what your current bandwidth rates are. Most people aren’t even aware of how fast their internet connection is. To the standard internet user it’s either super fast, or too slow. Broadband Expert will let you know exactly what your current level of service is so you can make educated choices when searching for new providers.

Broadband Expert News

Rounding things out is a series of industry related information including their site blog and news pages. These contain valuable information for those who’d like to know more about the internet and telecommunications industry. It’s another way that Broadband Expert demonstrates its market knowledge and expertise.

Shopping for broadband internet can be a hassle. With so many different options and various packages it’s hard to know what to buy. Broadband Expert gives you the insight and information you need to make informed decisions. Its easily sortable display of information greatly facilitates finding the right solution. The only thing more we could hope for is if they’ll make a similar site for cell phone providers and the ever infamous car industry. Until then, we’ll take the advantage where we can find it, with Broadband Expert’s complete collection of information on phone, TV, and high speed internet services.


UserMood: One simple question

Knowing what your customers think is one the most essential components to running a business. Their reactions, their satisfaction level, and their overall experience all contribute to your bottom line. It’s your customers that are your best sales people. Their referrals are worth far more than any marketing campaign you can create. But how to figure out what they’re thinking- that is the question.

In today’s day and age many stores are actually websites. And many customers are visitors who neither log in, register, or make a purchase. They arrive at the site, browse around a bit, and then move on. With the advent of tools such as Google Analytics site owners can determine how long they stayed, what pages they landed on, and other related information. What we can’t tell is what they really think. UserMood is a new site that can help us gauge our user’s thoughts and opinions. It’s a simple widget that pops up and asks our visitors just one question. They click on the answer, and it disappears just as quickly as it arrived. In so doing it provides valuable insight into the thoughts of those that browse our sites.

UserMood Home

Setting up UserMood is easy. You register for an account, and define your question and possible answers. From there it gives you a preview of what the widget will look like along with a code snippet to embed on your site. Once you configure it just take the code and place it on the page(s) that you’d like it displayed on. From there it will pop up and unobtrusively collect information from your visitors.

Beyond the basic question and answers, there are a few configuration settings that are helpful. It let’s you set how long the service will wait before displaying the widget. You can set it to wait anywhere from 0-30 days after the user first visits the site. This allows you to focus on collecting information from regular visitors. Typically you would turn the delay off for testing purposes, as you would normally want to let the people get to know your site before asking their feedback. The other display option is how often you’d like to display the widget after the first display. You can set this to never, or up to three months. Perhaps you’re making changes to the site and would like to periodically gauge their opinions.

Being the curious type I decided to try it out. Setting up the widget was as easy as expected and I quickly posted it on a page. You can see a screen shot of my top secret quiz below. Really, I have trouble coming up with relevant quizzes sometimes. This was the best I could do.

UserMood Sample Question

Regardless of how important or relevant your question is, UserMood will collect the results for you. They provide a reporting view which allows you to filter based upon any of the responses, or all of them at once. Also listed are the location, User ID, and IP address of the user, so you have a general idea of where they’re coming from. Let’s say for instance your site is geared towards the politically minded. You could set up a question asking them whether they have changed their opinion of Obama’s citizenship now that he’s presented a legitimate certificate of live birth. Invariably, those from red states will indicate they still think he was born in Zimbabwe. Taking our example a step further, let’s imagine you’d like to create a graph or pie chart of all the states that still think Obama wasn’t born in the US. You can readily export the UserMood results in CSV form,and then create all the graphs you want with Excel or other software.

Staying in sync with your customers is important. UserMood is a simple and easy way to do so. It doesn’t overcomplicate things with a long drawn out questionnaire that will distract your users. It gives them one simple question. With it, you can gauge the general sentiment of your users and make improvements to your site accordingly. Or, if you’re at all like me, you can use it for a bit of comic relief. Whatever your preference, UserMood is a great way to gauge the mood of your users.


Vidcinity: Video Augmented Reality

Geolocation is the new buzzword of the internet. It refers to when you identify the physical location of real world items or people. In practical terms it means you can find out what’s happening and where. A related buzzword is augmented reality. This is where you contribute extra information to someone’s real life experience. So let’s say you’re touring Paris and chance upon a huge tower. I believe there’s one tall obtrusive structure there which the French originally disdained. When you come upon this now national landmark what you’ll find are tons of tourists, and about twice as many cameras. Now let’s say when standing beneath this tall, but otherwise pointless structure, you’re able to bring up a wealth of information about it. This could include its height, history, or interesting facts. Your reality has now been augmented based upon geolocation information.

This may sound complicated at first, but it’s actually rather simple. For instance, imagine being able to record videos and associating them with a specific place. Then someone else comes to that same location and is able to watch your video. You have now entered the world of augmented reality. You have also entered the realm of Vidcinity, an iPhone app that provides exactly this service.

Vidcinity Home

Vidcinity is an iPhone and iPad app (android port is pending), that let’s you record videos and assign them to a specific location. At the same time, it’s a fun tool to view other people’s videos as you explore new places in the world. The way it works is simple. First you register for an account. Once registered, you download the free app and begin exploring locations. Since the iPhone is a natural geolocating device, it will tell you what videos are available in your area. You can then select them and check out what entertaining or educational clips people have left behind. If you are receiving too many or too few results you can adjust the search radius accordingly.

Once you become familiar with checking out other people’s videos the time will likely come when you chance upon something that truly inspires you. It’s time to contribute your own video. This can be done simply by recording the video and uploading it. If you don’t happen to have access to wifi at the time then you can upload your video later on. The video will be pinned to the exact location of where it was taken. Since it’s strictly latitude and longitude based Vidcinity is a ubiquitous solution that can be used for all purposes. People can take videos while at a restaurant as well as anywhere else they happen to be.

There’s one important note worth observing about Vidcinity, and iPhone apps at large. For some reason a great percentage of iPhone application websites have what can only be described as phenomenal website designs. I don’t know whether it’s part of some kind of global mobile application conspiracy, or just a random coincidence, but you can tell right away when a site is for a mobile application. Vidcinity’s site is no different as it’s both creative and incorporates site content with the background design. The fun stuff is primarily at the bottom, which contains a stream of the latest videos, a Facebook like widget, as well as a clever sign up button. It’s all encased in a pleasant downtown setting.

Vidcinity iPhone Screenshot
Vidcinity iPhone Screenshot

Augmented reality has been making its entrance into our daily lives in numerous ways. From car navigation systems, to a variety of mobile applications, it’s relatively easy to learn more information about a place as you go about your travels. Vidcinity is a fun and intriguing way augment your reality by sharing and watching location based videos. It gives you a perspective on an area that you couldn’t get in any other way. Whether you’re at the bar down the street, or the Eiffel tower in Paris, with Vidcinity you can share experiences in a new and fun way.


YouGoSocial: The Next Stage in Social Networking

In our most recent edition of the SlapStart magazine we include a series of market observations and forecasts. Much discussion is committed to the topics of social networking, online classifieds, and the climate of the market of each. It’s our conclusion that the market has a need for a new type of site. The website we propose is not one that fits nicely into a single market segment such as a place for videos, or music, or friends. Instead we propose that it is time for a social networking site to combine all the major categories of online activities. We don’t need to go to a single site for online classifieds, and then another site for music, and yet another for photos, events, groups, and forums. No, it’s time that the internet graduates to the next level, thanking, but also leaving behind the stepping stones that got us here.

Almost with impeccable timing comes today’s feature- YouGoSocial. The folks at YouGoSocial most likely never read our ramblings about market forecasts. Production almost invariably started before those comments were released. What they did read however were the same zeitgeists that we’ve observed. And what they built is a site that comes pretty close to our prediction. A place where you can meet friends, find music, video, and much more, all in one location.

YouGoSocial Home

At first glance YouGoSocial might be misconstrued for a Facebook clone. That is, until you read the section headers. The basic profile is very wall-ish with lists of would be friends, a chat utility, profile pics, discussions, etc. The sections include blogs, videos, music, photos, classifieds, groups, events, forums, and Q&A. It has nearly every major shared piece of content that your average web user has grown accustomed to.

As I began to explore the various sections I realized how cool they were. The blogs for instance have featured blogs, and the ability to create your own. The videos are the same in that you can upload them from your computer or import them from Vimeo or YouTube. The music section gives you the ability to create albums, playlists, browse music, or upload your own. It’s a great way to discover new tunes, as well as give yourself a chance to be discovered. Photos have a series of public sections, as well as your own personal albums. You can upload your own photos and set the privacy options according to your preference.

Perhaps my favorite section is the classifieds. As noted in our magazine and overheard by angry mutterings under our breath, we feel strongly that it’s time for Craigslist to be dethroned from their pole position in online classifieds. Baring the possibility that they’ll dutifully pull down their site on their own, it’s likely a site that incorporates other social networking aspects will be best positioned to prevail over them. YouGoSocial’s classifieds is a map and category based system so you can see exactly how far away the item you’re looking for is. It almost immediately provides some visual relief from the pale blue text we’ve been stuck with.

YouGoSocial Video section

Groups are places where people with similar interests can commune for like minded exchanges. They can share ideas online or plan outings into the real world. Similar to other sections the creators of the groups can make them as public or private as they like. Events are direct replacements for Evite or event invites with Facebook. It provides all the tools needed to plan and schedule events including calendar, descriptions, send invites, etc. And finally, forums, polls, and Q&A are various sections for people to hang out and shoot the breeze. It gives you a variety of ways to gauge what other people are thinking and also share your own knowledge and opinions.

In a time where so many websites are taking aim at Facebook, Craigslist, or other popular sites by created new and improved versions, it’s nice to see someone come up with a real solution. YouGoSocial is one such innovator that goes far beyond coming up with the next version of a product. They came up with the next version of the web. It challenges the conventional ways people interact online and proposes something different- something better. This ground breaking application is a model of entrepreneurial excellence amongst a web full of imitators. The one questions remains- are the zeitgeists ready to welcome this new web paradigm? YouGoSocial provides their answer, but time can only tell.

YouGoSocial went YouGoPostal. They left the start-up world, leaving it for what we can only assume to be greener, more nurturing, pastures.


EmailFormLogix: Forms, your way

Creating a form online is one of those things that’s fun the first time, kind of interesting the second, and just another development chore all the times after that. They largely consist of the same pieces of code. You have basic input boxes that select information. You collect the information, validate it, and pass it off to the server to process. There’s really nothing all that interesting about forms.

Despite the relatively innocuous impression they leave on those that build them, forms are critical conduits of information. They are the core of what makes the web interactive. Of course now that we live in an AJAXified world there are other more impressive means of gathering user input, but it all started with forms. No matter what new technologies are released, we’ll never get away from them.

EmailFormLogix Home

Providing a way to spare developers the nuisance of building yet another form, is EmailFormLogix. It is an easy to use email form builder that will let you capture all the information you like. Once collected, it emails it back to you when the form is submitted.

The way it works is pretty impressive. It has a fully featured WYSIWYG editor that allows you to build the form however you like. It’s based upon the same engine as the recently featured FormLogix. The main difference is that EmailFormLogix is designed specifically for those that want to email the form results upon completion.

When working with the editor you can add fields to the page such as text area, labels, containers, and so on. You can also adjust the attributes of each of these including font, color, and size. Once completed (which takes just a few minutes) you save your form, and then publish it. The publishing options include using a URL given to you by EmailFormLogix, or embedding the form anywhere you like. Impressively, it comes with both iFrame and Script code snippets giving you maximum flexibility when embedding. Let’s say you don’t have a web page and just want to collect information. For this case you can send out a link to the page’s unique URL on EmailFormLogix. Having a web page to direct people to makes you look much more professional than just asking them by email.

EmailFormLogix Form Builder

EmailFormLogix is free to try out and test. You don’t even need to register actually. It lets you go right to the page, create the form, and submit it a few times as well. Really, submitting forms isn’t much more exciting than building them, but it’s nice to see it work once or twice. If you’d like to retain your form to email creations you can register for an account. They have a free trial, or you can register for less than a dollar a month. Given the ease with which forms are created and implemented this is well worth the nominal fee.

One of the secrets to success in business is optimizing and automating redundant tasks. Form building fits squarely into this category. EmailFormLogix gives you the ability to quickly and readily build an email form online. The editor is easy to use and gives you the granularity to adjust all the attributes you need. In a matter of minutes you can embed the form anywhere on the web, or send it out by email. With it, developers can get their form building tasks out of the way so they can focus on their more compelling design challenges.

In a case of one is better than two, EmailFormLogix joined up with its sister site FormLogix. The one has been rather successful proving once again that maintaining multiple domains is not the right way to go.


Wave Accounting: Freedom from shoebox accounting

Originally this was Wave Accounting. Now it’s been folded into a series of applications, under the heading “Wave.”

It’s tax time. At least it was up until a couple days ago. In this annual ritual each of us goes through the process of organizing our previous year’s earnings and paying a portion to the government. These proceeds are the lifeblood of the country that keeps us free. Yet for many of us this is a stressful event. I remember the easy days. I had a steady eddy job at Acme large corporation. It was boring beyond tears, but tax day was a breeze back then. I needed to account for just a handful of investments and one W2. Those were the simple days.

One day, like many others, I spread my wings and left the security of a stable job. As an independent contractor large contracts can pay well, and small contracts keep things moving. All of them however, need to be accounted for at the end of the year. Thus, I learned the importance of what’s known as shoebox accounting. This is where you keep all your receipts in a shoebox and at the end of the year tally them up as deductions. Almost invariably a spreadsheet is involved to keep track of it all. I remember last year I headed down to see my accountant, spreadsheet and shoebox in hand. (I used an envelope actually.) I dumped it on her desk and she poured through all the papers. Watching her distill my year’s financial efforts down to a single bottom line is one of my favorite events of the year. It takes her so little effort and me even less. I just sit there making small talk, and pay her money at the end.

But keeping track of one’s expenses this way is both tedious and error prone. The first year I was self employed I had to visit my accountant two or three times since I didn’t bring everything I needed. Invariably some expenses were missed along the way. Thus, I ended up donating money to the stewards of this fair land. I very much appreciate our public servant’s hard work, but don’t really intend to overpay them. In this era of internet banking and technological advances there must be a better way. Surely we can do better than a pile of receipt and a hand made spreadsheet. Accounting programs provide some relief. They help keep track of one’s income and expenses. In reality though they just transfer the organizational problem from a once a year occurrence to an ongoing chore. You’re still manually tracking every invoice and receipt and recording it. A long awaited solution to this accounting management problem has finally arrived. It comes with the promise of doing away with the shoebox full of receipts once and for all. It’s called Wave.

Wave Accounting (found at waveapps.com), is a fully functional online accounting solution. With it you can enter in all your expenses and receipts that comprise your business as well as personal expenses. It comes with an invoicing system and payment reminder system as well. That’s just scratching the surface though. Wave allows you to integrate with your banks and credit card companies and will import all your transactions for you. Thus, when you go out to dinner with a client and pay for it with your credit card, it will import that transaction and prompt you to categorize it. By quickly dragging and dropping each expense they are readily categorized appropriately. With Wave, the receipts never need leave the shoebox, excepting for backup or the rare case of an audit.

The unprecedented ease with which accounting can be done with Wave doesn’t end there. As you continue to categorize your expenses the system will learn your spending habits and will automatically categorize them for you. All that’s left for you to do is approve the categorizations, or place them in a different category if needed.

Wave Personal Finances Dashboard

To round things out it comes with multiple other amenities including balance sheets, general ledger, income statements, and a variety of other reports that you and your accountant will find useful. Speaking of your accountant, the system allows you to grant them direct access to your profile so they can log in. You can give them full access or a select portion of your financial profile. The list of Wave features goes on, but we’ll take a moment to jump to the bottom line. It’s best understood as quipped by the New York Times- “Even though I’d say the service is well worth paying for, it’s free.” Wave isn’t just free for 30 days, or free for limited access to their accounting system with the option to upgrade for more. It’s free- free. You never have to pay for it. The service is entirely funded by affiliate marketing ads from financial providers they work with.

Small business owners and sole proprietors have a unique challenge in tracking their expenses. The lines between personal credit cards and business accounts are frequently crossed. In many situations expenses slip through causing money to be lost. Wave’s free online accounting software for small businesses is the solution we’ve been waiting for. Its integration with banking institutions as well as auto categorization takes care of most of the steps needed to track one’s expenses. And while its automated features are groundbreaking, it’s flexible enough to be utilized as a conventional accounting system as well. With Wave small business owners can finally track both their personal and business expenses with accuracy and ease.


GoodBuzz: Harness the Power of Social Media to Promote Your Event

Would Oscar Wilde have a blog?  Would Marilyn Monroe tweet?  Would Hemmingway post pictures of him standing over a slain rhinoceros on Facebook?

The answer to all these questions is, most likely, yes.

That’s because human nature hasn’t changed; the technology has.  And as technology has grown, more people are using it for a very human endeavor: to promote things. This could be a business, a cause, an event, or often, themselves.  This, of course, is not rocket science; what is rocket science, however, is promoting something effectively, and not alienating people in the process.

After all, if building an organic buzz for an event was as easy as posting on Facebook, everyone would do it.  That’s because it’s hard to reach out beyond your immediate contact-universe in a meaningful, precise way.  Until now.  Until GoodBuzz.

GoodBuzz Home

GoodBuzz is a place where everyone can post their activity and event promotions, and taps into a free peer referral network to virally spread the message to.  Members recommend each other’s events for free using different channels available: e-mailing, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Myspace, etc.), blog, posters, flyers, SMS, etc.  When things work out well, the grass roots buzz is achieved, and your event is a smash.  Registration is free and easy, allowing to log in using any type of account, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s how it works.  Once logged in, create an event marketing campaign through GoodBuzz.  Send referral requests out into the universe and throw in some rewards to lure participants.  Then sit back and manage the campaign with a nifty menu of data, analytics, and messaging tools.  Those are the basics, and a quick scan of assorted screen shots will show you just how intuitive and aesthetically pleasing it is.

It’s the back-end logic behind the platform that makes it so promising.  For starters, GoodBuzz has a keen understanding of what constitutes an effective promotional campaign, which is a happy confluence of “quantity” and “quality.”   On the quality side, GoodBuzz helps you cut through the “white noise” of event overload.  Anyone on Facebook, or – God forbid, Myspace – can attest to this.  You’re bombarded with dozens of events a day, and it’s hard to keep up.  They all blend together, you get flustered, and you end up staying home, eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.  GoodBuzz works because it enables you to create local networks, like, say, “Chicago Bands Network,” or LinkedIn-ish networks like “International Technology and Business Events Organizers Network.” Simply put, it reduces – if not eliminates – the dreaded “event spam.”

Second, the quantity component.  GoodBuzz is like a great electronic telephone tree, with eight campaign channels available (emailing, social networks, banners, widget, invitations (RSVP), SMS, flyers, posters (indoor, outdoor), and word of mouth.  To a savvy user who has an intuitive understanding of their desired recipients, they can create a targeted campaign using one or any combination of these channels.  To those who aren’t sure, they can experiment and see what works.  The idea here is precision, focus, and finesse – the true tangy magic sauce to any successful marketing effort.

GoodBuzz Scenario (comic borrowed from GoodBuzz.org)

There’s also the idea of incentives.  Last I checked, humans like getting stuff, and GoodBuzz enables you to reward strangers for spreading the word.  The deals can be tangible, and they can be whatever you want (although the “free albino pony” reward may get cumbersome over time.)

To that end, each campaign can be attached to a specific goal (e.g. “we want 200 attendees at our concert.”)  This feature displays a keen sense of how the human mind works; people simply act faster when presented with a tangible, articulated end-state (“nothing like imminent death to focus the mind,” the old adage goes.)  Similarly, this feature adds a “name and shame” component – invited registrants, when they see who has signed up, will feel compelled to join.  Good ol’ peer pressure!

GoodBuzz’s platform is scalable and can be applied to all types of businesses, be it something as simple as a band drumming up support for a big show, or as complex as a non-profit holding a fundraiser, or a business rolling out a holiday marketing campaign.   There are no limits to this free referral platform.

Ultimately, GoodBuzz’s model combines the timeless psychological elements of the human mind – not a huge surprise once you realize its founder studied philosophy at university; the premise is classic Hobbes!  GoodBuzz understands the value of incentives, of – for a lack of better term – peer pressure, self-interest, knowing your audience, and the fact that at the end of the day, people want to do the right thing and help out their fellow man.  It also helps that the current web landscape lacks a platform that can tie these diverse elements together while harnessing the power of GoogleBuzz (no less) to help promote events.

So while I’ll leave the deeper Freudian analysis on the human psyche to the experts, I’ll go out on a limb and say that if Elvis was having a party, he’d use GoodBuzz to get the word out.  After all, internet or no internet, no one wants to throw a party where nobody comes.

Especially Elvis.


7pgifts: A gift to remember

Shopping for gifts is the type of thing some people enjoy, and others find taxing. At times it can be difficult finding exactly the right item for the right person. I have some friends that shop for Christmas year round. They have so many people on their list that they are continuously looking for items to fit their criteria. Oftentimes they boast about how they’ve finished all their shopping by Thanksgiving.

But gifts aren’t limited to the holidays. There are anniversaries, birthday, and many other occasions that you might want to send someone a thoughtful card or bouquet. In fact, the largely one’s network of close friends and family, the more gifts you ought to remember to give. This can be challenging to keep up with.

7pgifts Home

Now there’s a new way to never miss an important gift giving occasion. 7pgifts is a new site that allows you to send future gifts automatically. With it people can indicate what they’d like to buy, and when, so that a caring and thoughtful gifts will be sent at the appropriate time. It even allows people to schedule gifts after one’s passing, so they can continue to express their love in their absence.

Working with 7pgifts is easy. It’s a cross between an automated platform and a customized service. On the automated side people can select general items, such as a box of chocolates or bouquet of roses. Then they indicate when they’d like it sent and to whom. They can set it up on a recurring basis, or a one time example. This would be great for sending Valentine’s day gifts to your significant other or other important people in your life.

The customized service includes a few options. The most basic is their storage and delivery option. Here you can send gifts ahead of time to be stored by 7pgifts and sent out at the correct time. This allows people to send hand written cards or something they purchased on their own. Military personal or those who travel a lot would find this option particularly useful. The next customized service is to have 7pgifts select a generic gift. Let’s say you’re an elderly person who would like to send your teenage granddaughter something from Best Buy over the next five years. You can work with 7pgifts directly and explain what you’d like and how much you’d like to spend. They’ll then act as a personal shopper and buy best selling items that are popular at the time. Nobody knows what will be popular years down the road, so this allows people to find something that will be thoughtful, in the future.

7pgifts bouquets

The service fees associated with the future gifts service vary depending on whether you store the gift at their facility or utilize their generic gift selection option. In most cases you aren’t charged until the gift is actually sent. For those who would like to send gifts after passing away these fees are paid upfront.

7pgifts is a service that’s built on a principle of sending love in non traditional ways. For many, the traditional way to express their love is to buy a last minute item. In the worst case, they might accidentally forget to do so altogether. Unless you’re like my friend who is the perennial shopper, you’re bound to let an important occasion slip eventually. Whether it’s for those who know their time on earth is short, to those who are planning on being abroad, or those who are entirely forgetful, 7pgifts is a thoughtful and caring way to send someone a gift. It ensures that important dates won’t be missed and that you remember to send a thoughtful gift to those you care for the most.


dynOz: Keeping business hours and course schedules

In recent years I’ve been somewhat of a regular in the gym. I’ve been pretty consistent about going two to three times a week, hitting the weights and cardio machines. Truth be told I more often do cardio outside, but you get the point. How can you go jogging in the gym when it’s so nice outside? While going about my normal exercise routine I finally got curious about the classes. You know, the step classes, or spin class. In my mind I always thought these were primarily geared for women. Then I went to one. After three minutes of boot camp class I was in agony. Ten minutes and I was staring at the clock watching the minutes drag on. I could barely walk the next day.

I stuck with it, but occasionally popped in on other classes as well. They became kind of like an addiction and I’d challenge myself to go more frequently. They also raised the bar on my workouts. As one guy put it, “You can’t do that to yourself.” What he meant was the encouragement and coaching of the instructor brought the workout to the next level.

dynOZ Home

One thing about these classes is that the schedule changes every now and again. To keep everyone in the loop they pass out new schedules at the front desk so people can know about the latest updates. Occasionally the situation occurs where someone shows up at the wrong time or wrong place. Imagine thinking your heading to Turbo Kick Boxing only to find out that you have an hour of yoga in store. To be sure I enjoy yoga; it’s just very different from turbo kick.

Now there’s a way for businesses to maintain and update their schedules with a minimal amount of effort. dynOZ (found at dynoz.net) is a one stop solution for schedule maintenance. With it companies can manage both business hours and course schedules online and have the results displayed anywhere on the web.

There are two aspects to working with dynOZ. The simplest part is setting up and maintaining the schedule. It provides you a complete set of options including indicating your contact info, address, and various calendar sensitive schedules. So if operating hours change for a few months you can indicate that and have the schedule updated accordingly. The other aspect is setting up the integration. Here businesses can integrate their site using client side or server side technologies. They can also integrate with Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar and various CMSs. This includes Joomla , Drupal, and TYPO3. Essentially, the hours of operation can be configured to be displayed however and wherever you like.

dynOZ Edit Schedule Page

dynOZ is one of those products that seems surprisingly simple, but when you look closer it’s much more complex. Once it’s set up it allows you to update your website with no IT experience or programming knowledge required. The schedule can be propagated out to the web to different locations so that everyone is on the same page. It also accounts for changes and deviations so it’s always up to date.

Updating your business or course schedule can be a tedious job. At its worst it can involve editing HTML files or contacting a sysadmin to take care of it. dynOZ allows you to make all the necessary changes and updates through a simple online interface. Not only does it provide users with the ability to easily maintain their business hours and course schedules, it also allows them to propagate them out to the web. With it there will be no more need for people to hand out sheets of paper every time there’s a change in the schedule.


My Personal Shopper: Deals delivered to your inbox

Everybody gets a ton of email offers to buy various things. These range from coupons, to discounts, to more absurd offerings that float around the web. Each of us in our own way has learned how to filter these. Either we rapidly delete them or allow our email service to weed them out for us. It’s not very common that we find an unexpected email in our inbox that actually is an interesting deal.

But shopping is an important part of our lives. We need clothes, electronics, books, and vacations. When buying these we’re all somewhat familiar with how to research them. Just go to Google, type in whatever you’re looking to buy, and see how much it costs at various outlets. Some people are much better at shopping than others though. I have one friend who knows the cheapest way to buy the best stuff. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about- a trip to Florida, a vacation to Mexico, new shoes, or a tie. She knows where to get it and at the lowest price.

Now, I need to qualify what I mean when I say I have this friend. What I really mean is I had a friend who then got married and her fiancé, now husband, ousted me from their life. Relationally, this left me in a place where I henceforth invest very little effort in opposite sex platonic relationships. (Not that I’m bitter or anything.) This still leaves me with the problem that I lost my best shopping advisor though. Until now.

My Personal Shopper (found at mypersonalshopper.com) is a site that will replace my lost friend by providing meaningful shopping deals, discounts, and promo codes for things that I’m interested in. The way it works is simple. First you register, then it will send you a couple emails a week which include items you may be interested.

The key to using My Personal Shopper is in the set up. It gives you an ultra brief questionnaire and your responses consist of selecting the categories that are of most interest to you. So it begins with the good stuff- food. Here you can select whether you like Italian, Asian, European, Bars and Clubs, and so on. Next up are clothes, which includes all the usual suspects- Macy’s, Gap, Old Navy, Express, etc. The last selection is favorite stuff. This is divided by sub categories of Electronics, Home, Health and Beauty, Sport and Fitness, and Activities and Events. Under each of those are a series of options from which you can choose. Each section limits how many options you can select and also includes an open field if your preferred option isn’t listed. After making you’re selections it brings you to a final page where you enter your name, email, and some demographic info, and then you’re done.

My Personal Shopper Home

Once registered the emails will come just a few times a week and only when they have offers that are in your areas of interest. Whether you purchase or not these offers will be for discounted rates providing you valuable insight into how much you should expect to pay for various items. If you decide you don’t want to receive emails any longer you can unsubsubscribe whenever you like. To sign up again you can always re-register.

Having a friend who’s in the know can be helpful when buying new items. In my case, my best shopping friend left the building leaving me in a state of confusion when it comes to shopping. My Personal Shopper is a great first line of defense so you won’t spend more money than I need to. It brings the deals to you so that you don’t have to go looking for them. With it, even those of us who need a little help with shopping can buy things at discounted rates.

My Personal Shopper took a turn for the worse. They became My Impersonal Server Error. But it was a nice service while it lasted.