The BizCATS REVIEWS All About Cool Technology for Small Biz Success http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats <![CDATA[Gmail Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Youtube.com. What is happening and why? Should we be concerned about it? I certainly don't like having my mails moved around... who knows what happen in transition?!?!?!]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-1333924-214190.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-1333924-214190.html Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:10:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Skype Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
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http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-Skype-1262396-207701.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-Skype-1262396-207701.html Mon, 23 May 2011 02:34:21 +0000
<![CDATA[ It's time to clear the iPad for take-off and landing]]>
All was going well until the passenger seated at the window asked to pass by us to use the restroom.  As I closed up the iPad to let the man go through, my daughter let out a scream the put the entire plane on notice that she was not happy to have her entertainment disrupted.  I quickly set her back up with the iPad once the man passed by, but at that point a chill ran through my spine.  I thought "what was going to happen when we needed to shut off all electronics for landing??"

Regardless of how you feel about my parenting techniques and using electronics to entertain a toddler, I didn't feel that cruising at 30,000 feet surrounded by strangers was the best time or place to try to instill a life lesson about hours of play time.  Most people would be reluctant to constructive criticism at the tail end of a cross-country flight, let alone a jet-lagged two year old who just finished off her last Goldfish crackers.

Fortunately, over the next 30 minutes, I was able to ween my daughter away from the iPad with some $10 crackers and raisins and I avoided the catastrophic melt-down during the landing which I had envisioned.

My experience caused me to consider the rules currently in place during take-off and landing that require all electronics to be completely shut off.  Sure, it may not seem like such a long time, but when you're trying to entertain a toddler, it feels like an eternity.  How old is this rule and do we still need to have it in place?  Are the communications electronics on the airplane so susceptible to electronic interference that a few games of Angry Birds could take down the aircraft?  And if so... should we even be flying at all??  Don't get me wrong, if using electronics does cause measurable interference with the avionics, then I'd much rather put up with some crying kids (and adults) than land in the middle of Lake Erie.  But let's at least collect some new data on this and see if we can rewrite some of the rules.  There's a very good chance that even today, a number of electronics stored in suitcases and purses are NOT shut off during take-off, yet no crashes have been attributed to "rogue electronics interference".  

Let's ask congress to take a break on investigating steroid use in the MLB and global warming, and put them to task on something that can have an immediate impact on millions of travelers!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-193418-It_s_time_to_clear_the_iPad_for_take_off_and.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-193418-It_s_time_to_clear_the_iPad_for_take_off_and.html Tue, 9 Nov 2010 18:23:29 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by 1MZJohansen]]> http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-191-1436308-166791.html http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-191-1436308-166791.html Mon, 27 Sep 2010 23:20:34 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by Shopaholic]]> http://www.lunch.com/iPadusers/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-536-1436308-159262.html http://www.lunch.com/iPadusers/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-536-1436308-159262.html Fri, 17 Sep 2010 19:06:55 +0000 <![CDATA[ iPad is the perfect laptop]]>  

I bought my iPad because I have an app that I'll start working on after the new operating system comes out in November.  I really had no idea that it would turn out to be my favorite computer!
 
I have: a few old Windows laptops and my four year old MacBookPro. For almost all of the things I need a laptop for, the iPad is as good as having the laptop and is often better
kkkI bought my iPad because I have an app that I'll start working on after the new operating system comes out in November.  I really had no idea that it would turn out to be my favorite computer!
 
I have: a few old Windows laptops and my four year old MacBookPro. For almost all of the things I need a laptop for, the iPad is as good as having the laptop and is often better

I bought my iPad because I have an app that I'll start working on after the new operating system comes out in November. I really had no idea that it would turn out to be my favorite computer!

For almost all of the things I need a laptop for, the iPad is as good as a laptop and is often better.

Consider the things that are important in a laptop:

Weight

My MacBook Pro weighs almost 6 lbs and my Windows laptops are even heavier.  The iPad 3G  is 1.6 lbs - that's a big difference in luggability.



Size


The iPad is small enough to carry easily, but the screen is large enough for me to work comfortably.

If I cannot make out the tiny print on some particular webpage, a quick flick of two fingers blows it up for me instantly.

I can work  with this in my lap or standing up because it is small enough and light enough to hold with one hand. The MacBook Pro  too hot for my lap and while I might be able to balance it on one hand briefly, that obviously is not safe or comfortable.

Battery Life

The iPad is beyond incredible.   I am often up at 6:00 AM and I'll use the iPad off and on all day to do my normal work (email, web browsing, writing) and when I quit at 10:00 PM, it usually still has 10% or more of its charge!

This means that when I go out to a customer, I don't even bother to bring the charger - I won't need it.  If I do have to bring a real laptop, I'll probably have to bring either the charger or a spare battery.

It's not a Toy

I've found that many people don't realize how much real work you can do on an iPad.  I am a tech guy and often need remote access to my customers machines.  I can do that with the iPad: I have VPN capability, SSH, RDP, Webex, VNC and even Citrix.   On a recent mini-vacation, I did remote work for a client all the way down the New Jersey Turnpike while my wife drove!

No Entanglements

My MacBook Pro is a great machine, but I usually have it hooked up to its Time Machine drives, an external monitor and a bigger keyboard.   If I want to go enjoy nice weather on the back porch, I have to unhook all that, and of course we have that battery life issue again.  With the iPad, I just wander wherever I want.  It's using my wireless when it can and the 3G the rest of the time.

By the way, I can get away with the $15.00 a month, 250 MB 3G plan and don't even need that all the time.   I only turn it on if I have to be out somewhere there will not be wireless access, so so far I have only spent $45.00 with them - most months I have not subscribed.  That "turn it on, turn it off" capability cuts down expenses for me.

Warts

No, it isn't perfect.  There are some things I need a real computer for and some things that are just easier on a real computer.  The new operating system due out soon will make the iPad even more useful, but I suspect it will be a long time before I could use this for everything I need to do.

That's OK.   It does more than enough to make this my favorite companion.  I like to say it is the perfect second computer, but actually it has become my primary computer - the MacBook is really my second computer now.
 

ˇ˛The iPad is small enough to carry easily, but the screen is large enough for me to work comfortably. If I cannot make out the tiny print on some particular webpage, a quick flick of two fingers blows it up for me instantly. I can work quite easily with this in my lap or even standing up. The MacBook Pro gets far too hot for my lap and is impossible to use standing up for more than a few seconds.
 
ˇ˛The iPad is small enough to carry easily, but the screen is large enough for me to work comfortably. If I cannot make out the tiny print on some particular webpage, a quick flick of two fingers blows it up for me instantly. I can work quite easily with this in my lap or even standing up. The MacBook Pro gets far too hot for my lap and is impossible to use standing up for more than a few seconds.
 
The iPad is small enough to carry easily, but the screen is large enough for me to work comfortably. If I cannot make out the tiny print on some particular webpage, a quick flick of two fingers blows it up for me instantly. I can work quite easily with this in my lap or even standing up. The MacBook Pro gets far too hot for my lap and is impossible to use standing up for more than a few seconds.
The iPad is small enough to carry easily, but the screen is large enough for me to work comfortably. If I cannot make out the tiny print on some particular webpage, a quick flick of two fingers blows it up for me instantly. I can work quite easily with this in my lap or even standing up. The MacBook Pro gets far too hot for my lap and is impossible to use standing up for more than a few seconds.
 
I have: a few old Windows laptops and my four year old MacBookPro. For almost all of the things I need a laptop for, the iPad is as good as having the laptop and is often better.
 
I bought my iPad because I have an app that I'll start working on after the new operating system comes out in November.  I really had no idea that it would turn out to be my favorite computer!
 
I have: a few old Windows laptops and my four year old MacBookPro. For almost all of the things I need a laptop for, the iPad is as good as having the laptop and is often better
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-158699-iPad_is_the_perfect_laptop.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-158699-iPad_is_the_perfect_laptop.html Fri, 17 Sep 2010 12:54:25 +0000
<![CDATA[ Gmail is a good choice for small businesses]]> First, I sell commercial mail servers (no, not Exchange), so  I have some bias.   I'm not going to plug the product I sell (though it's easy enough to track it down through my profile if you really wanted to).

If your small business is 10 employees or less, I think Gmail is an ideal choice.  I use it myself, and although I have some gripes about this and that, overall it beats everything else out there.

Above 10 employees, things change  and it becomes time to consider an in-house server.   You are going to want and need the calendering and collaboration apps that are not included in Gmail's free version,  and you also need the flexibility, control and security that can only come from an in-house server.

There's also the matter of cost.  At $50 per user per year for the full features set, Gmail through Google Apps is quite expensive.  At 50 users, even including the cost of hardware and maintenance, an in-house server is  half the cost or less of using Google.

I have links that talk about these things in more detail, but I am new to this community and don't know what the protocols are here so I am not including them.  

 

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-151-1333924-158697-Gmail_is_a_good_choice_for_small_businesses.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-151-1333924-158697-Gmail_is_a_good_choice_for_small_businesses.html Fri, 17 Sep 2010 12:09:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ Very versatile]]> I'm saving my money up for this one.  I have a friend who has one and I fell in love with it.  Read books, have it read to you, and a GPS all in one.  It doesn't get any better than this.  More expensive than a Kindle, but with all its versatility it is the e-gadget to have!

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-112279-Very_versatile.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-112279-Very_versatile.html Sun, 15 Aug 2010 14:35:57 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by igazaar]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-63227.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-63227.html Thu, 1 Jul 2010 20:37:22 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by nat_hill]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-62690.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-62690.html Tue, 29 Jun 2010 22:34:48 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by akaspan]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-62670.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-74-1436308-62670.html Tue, 29 Jun 2010 18:55:16 +0000 <![CDATA[ A Magical Product]]> Apple's iPad is truly a magical device. Since this community is focused on reading and books this review will focus mostly on that use of the iPad but the device is great for a number of things, reading just being one use.
 

Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble all have eReaders designed for the iPad, each with its respective store. Each of the three software pieces has its own strong points but all are great for reading. Browsing for a new book is especially fun in iBooks as a store is built right into the application. Apple uses many animAtions and color images to make the experience as good as possible.
 

Reading is great on the device. The backlight allows you to read in the dark, not disturbing anyone else. The color display also allows you to look at color images embedded in your literature, a weak point of the other ereaders on the market. Battery life is great- not as great as the kindle, but amazing for a backlit LCD.
 

If you have the extra money I definitely suggest buying this device over anoer ereaders as you are getting a lot for your money. You can read websites, check your email, itch movies and run applications. I am loving mine!

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-23064-A_Magical_Product.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-23064-A_Magical_Product.html Tue, 8 Jun 2010 12:35:03 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by fischbein]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-1436308-57212.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-1436308-57212.html Mon, 24 May 2010 19:13:15 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by fischbein]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-1436308-57209.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-1436308-57209.html Mon, 24 May 2010 15:50:51 +0000 <![CDATA[Gmail Quick Tip by RecycleEverything]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-1333924-56393.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-1333924-56393.html Wed, 28 Apr 2010 23:03:26 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/thatsbeat/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-138-1436308-55816.html http://www.lunch.com/thatsbeat/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-138-1436308-55816.html Wed, 7 Apr 2010 18:15:31 +0000 <![CDATA[ Very cool even though it feels like Steve Jobs is playing me]]>
First off, I'll leave all the detailed fawning over the coolness of this thing to the fanboys, but will say it is super cool toy.  I just want to play with it. 

But here are my issues with it.

First off, you can't even turn it on until you connect it to the apple store to buy their products... called... duh... iTunes.  When you take it out of the box there are 3 simple instructions to make it work... step one is sign up for iTunes.  To put this in perspective, can you imagine the uproar if Microsoft wouldn't even let turn on one of their machines until you sync'd it with their ecommerce platform??  It would be crazy... i think we'd have a congressional subcommittee formed, a special prosecutor assigned and televised antitrust trail... not to mention the angry mob outside the Microsoft headquarters calling for Bill Gates' head.  But with Apple... it's all good.

Second, typing is an issue.  Travis Murdock feels the same way.  But also, the size of the device makes it tough to hold it and type with your thumbs.  It's kind of awkward.  Laying it down and pecking at it with 2 fingers seems to be the best way to type.

But I'm still giving this thing a very high rating because it's VERY fun and I'm looking forward to using it to browse and watch a lot more content than i do on other devices.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20676-Very_cool_even_though_it_feels_like_Steve_Jobs_is.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20676-Very_cool_even_though_it_feels_like_Steve_Jobs_is.html Wed, 7 Apr 2010 18:10:59 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-191-1436308-55798.html http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-191-1436308-55798.html Tue, 6 Apr 2010 18:39:40 +0000 <![CDATA[ 24 Hours of iPad]]>
                                   

WHAT I LIKE
  • It's really fast. (MUCH faster than my 3G iPhone).  Everything just snaps.
  • Typing on the on-screen keyboard is much more effective than I would have anticipated.  Typing with one hand while holding the iPad in the other proved quite accurate, and if you can rest the iPad in your lap and type with two hands, it has a very natural feel.
  • The battery has outlasted me.  I'm still running off the "out of the box" charge.
  • There are a LOT of great "First Generation" iPad specific apps
  • The screen looks AMAZING
                                                   

For the last year, I had been considering picking up a Netbook to perform "light duty" computing around the house.  A computer I could leave on the coffee table, and grab for a quick e-mail check, look something up on the internet, or even an emergency SSH session (connect to a remote server for maintenance).  As soon as the iPad was announced, I have been scouring the internet for scrapings of information as to the the type of apps that would initially be available in order to figure out which way to go -- iPad or Netbook.

I'm so glad I went with the iPad!

In addition the benefits of my initial impressions above, the best thing about the iPad might be that it's NOT a netbook.  I spend all day on a computer at work, connecting to other computers, writing code, configuring software, tweaking settings so everything runs just right.  At the end of the day, it's refreshing to now be able to pick up the iPad and have a completely different user experience.  It's also great knowing that there are currently thousands of developers out there right now who are desperate to make a great application specific to me and my iPad.

        

As with any operating system, the real test is in the software.  As much as everyone gushed over the great improvements of Windows 7, without the software, it essentially just comes with a built-in browser.  Same case goes for the iPad.  Out of the box, it's pretty fun to play around with iPhoto, Videos, YouTube, Mail and Safari, but the real customization comes through installing applications through the Apple App Store.  The iPad version of the App Store is even better than before.  With the extra screen real-estate, it more closely resembles the experience in iTunes than it does of the version for iPhone.  Initial gripes from the iPad announcement were that it was essentially a bigger iPod Touch -- this is a gross over-simplification.  The initial wave of applications have ushered in some very creative solutions and push the iPad closer to a full laptop replacement device.

Currently, I plan to use the iPad for the following tasks:
  • Checking and replying to mail
  • Web browsing
  • Streaming video via Netflix on demand, ABC Video, and even my EyeTV broadcast tv recordings
  • SSH
  • Instant Messaging
I'm currently on the hunt for a good application for SSH and Instant Messaging (iChat/AOL, Google Talk, Yahoo and MSN) so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.  As it is, the iPad has already fulfilled all my requirements I had for the Netbook, and it offers a much better experience based on its speed and user interface (I was always discouraged by some of the more "creative" keyboard layouts found on some Netbooks).

                   

One limitation of the iPad is the lack of ports -- it only has a headphone jack and the docking port.  However, there are already accessories available which provide a camera card reader, VGA output and even a keyboard dock.  While the lack of ports is a valid complaint, I think I like flexibility the "dock" port provides to third party developers.  When I checked out from the Apple Store yesterday, they were using an iPhone with a credit-card reader attachment.  There's no reason not to believe there won't be an explosion of devices which add even more versatility to the iPad.


THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE ADDRESSED
If I could make any suggestions for change, I'd love to see the following in a future hardware or software revision.
  • Allow for "multiple logins" so the Mail Accounts, contacts, calendar, apps and bookmarks are specific to each user.  Since I see this device sitting on the coffee table, it would be nice if both my wife and I had our own set of preferences (however, I'm guessing Steve Jobs would just prefer we buy TWO iPads)
  • Add an IR receiver so it could work with the Apple Remote.  In addition to switching music tracks, it would be great to be able to change Keynote slides using a smaller Apple Remote
  • Oh yeah... and a camera... I guess... but only because everyone else is asking for one, too.
Not all is perfect.  The ABC App crashes on my constantly, and (very) few webpages have had some issues with forms.  I'd also like a way to upload photos through a web interface without having to rely on a "proper iPad app".  
                                       
 Overall, I'm still incredibly giddy about my new iPad.  At this point, I'm sure all the naysayers have labelled me as an "Apple Fanboy", and at this point, that's not too far from the truth.  But everyone who has laid hands on this latest gadget from Apple have been impressed by every aspect of it. While I'm not ready to give up my laptop just yet, anyone who is considering buying a Netbook to complement their current computer would be well served to put their hands on an iPad.  Apple puts a ton of thought into both their hardware and software designs, and it is immediately apparent on the iPad.

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20577-24_Hours_of_iPad.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20577-24_Hours_of_iPad.html Mon, 5 Apr 2010 06:53:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ Consume Not Create - The iPad media device]]> People who know me know that I like screens. I have five screens at my desk at work and two in my home office. I learned a long time ago that I was more productive when everything is visible and I don't have to switch back and forth between applications. I often quote this Microsoft research that says you are 9 to 50 percent more effective with multiple screens so my IT department will let me have another display. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to buy an iPad, I thought of it as another way to make me more productive.

After an exciting morning at the Palo Alto Apple store, I fired up the iPad and began "being productive." I was truly amazed at the speed and sharpness of the images. Like the iPhone, I naturally knew how to move the screen, change pages and navigate. The biggest moment occurred Sunday morning when I opened up the New York Times on the iPad. I had the device in front of me as I ate, like the paper, and I was able to click through and quickly find stories, like the Web site. Consuming media was much easier and enjoyable from my couch without my fire-hot MacBook Pro on my legs. Facebook is a lot of fun when you are casually browsing it on the iPad. My iPhone screen is too small to navigate Facebook well (even with the app) and my laptop is awkward. I'm sure I'll consume a lot of media with the iPad and enjoy it more.

My experience with being productive went very differently. As soon as I started to write email messages, everything fell apart. I only have two days using the keyboard, but it is completely impossible to type on at a decent clip. I don't look at the keyboard when I type and I have to rest my fingers on the keys. With a touch-sensitive keyboard you can't do that. Your fingers have to hover above the keys and there are no physical cues to guide you. The keyboard experience is exactly like that of your phone - you can type if you watch the keys and you can only type short messages. The only answer is a physical keyboard. I'm happy to see that Apple has that coming soon.

The device is a brilliant work of art that I believe will set the bar for any company that wants to compete in the tablet space. I've had it for two days and it is already changing the way I consume media. Unfortunately, I'll have to do my content creation on the laptop. The good news is that now I have a sixth screen for my desk.

This review is also published at:
http://blog.travismurdock.com/2010/04/consum...-ipad-media-device.html]]>
http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20573-Consume_Not_Create_The_iPad_media_device.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-20573-Consume_Not_Create_The_iPad_media_device.html Mon, 5 Apr 2010 04:45:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: Gmail for BizMail? Yup!]]>

Should you use Gmail for your business? For a long time my answer was “No.” After all, having an email with @gmail.com on the end isn’t especially professional, especially if you’ve already set up your own website domain and want your customers to see you as something like my.name@mycompanyname.com or such.

What’s more you don’t want to change your email address and confuse/irritate all your contacts. But I was wrong and I’m now convinced that Gmail is a much better business option than Outlook or any other desktop email application. So let’s look first at what Gmail is and why it’s so good, then about how to use it with your own domain name or existing email account.

Gmail is email in the "cloud." All your email is accessed and stored online and you get to it through your web browser – any browser on any computer anywhere or even your cell phone. You’d be surprised just how convenient this is when you’re no longer tied to that laptop you drag everywhere. And with virtually unending storage you never fill up your hard drive – or lose it all to a virus or when it crashes (and it seems like there’s always a crash just before you buy a new computer).

"But what if I don’t have an internet connection and need to get to my email?" Good question. That usually happens to me when I’m in the car and need to get to those driving directions a client sent me. The answer is to enable the Gmail "offline" feature which automatically stores duplicates of all your emails – and your calendar – on your hard drive. Problem solved!

Now about that pesky gmail.com email address. Yes, when you set up Gmail you will have to establish a personal gmail account and gmail.com email. But if you go to the settings/general/accounts menu you can add any existing email addresses – like the ones associated with your website – into your Gmail account. Once you’ve set this up – and it's easy – you can send all your emails via Gmail using your business email address. To receive business emails into your gmail account just go to your email provider and set up email forwarding to your gmail address.

If you’re a very small business of one or a few people this should work great for you. If your business is a bit larger and you want all your employees on gmail but on one system, Google offers Google Apps – a more sophisticated offering that comes in both free and paid versions. We’ll look at Apps in a later segment but for now, give Google’s Gmail a try – you won’t be disappointed.



What is your favorite biz technology product?

 

What product would you like the BizCATS to review?

 

Tell us your experience with this product!

 

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-151-1333924-20426-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_Gmail_for_BizMail_Yup_.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-Gmail-151-1333924-20426-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_Gmail_for_BizMail_Yup_.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:49:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: Go On a Photo PICNIK!]]>

Here’s a tip that can help you spice up your website, your blog, or your marketing materials and might be a bit of fun at the same time. So let’s talk photography and specifically a pretty slick online product called PICNIK (www.picnik.com).

Photos can be a real asset to your website or social media marketing. They might be pictures of your company in action, your location, customers, or even your products. The more interesting and “real” they are the more they can engage viewers – and that’s the point of our marketing materials. The challenge however isn’t just taking photos, it’s doing all the adjustments to get them looking good. No matter how good your camera is – and mine are professional quality – photos still often need a tweak or two. Maybe cropping out a hand sticking into the picture or a bit of sharpening or some little adjustments to the exposure. Or maybe you want to add some text, or create a collage, or apply some special effects to make something dramatic. It hasn’t always been that easy to do and often required complex photo editing software that could be expensive. Unless you were really “into photography” it was probably more effort than you would really want to expend.

And that’s why I absolutely love PICNIK – a 100% free online photo editing service that is fast, elegant, drop dead easy, and give you just about every tool you’ll ever need to produce marketing photography. Online means you upload a photo into their editor, do your editing, and then save by downloading back to your computer. This whole process is fast, fast, fast – I was amazed! In the free version you don’t store anything on their site. In fact, you don’t even have to register to use it.

PICNIK gives you all the basics – a quick auto-fix, crop and resize, adjustments to brightness and contrast, etc., etc. Where they shine, however, is in the “creatives” where you can create everything from framed photos, to special effects, to collages, and greeting cards. So give it a try (and it’s also great for pictures of the kids!).


Bring a BizCATS Speaker to your Event at http://www.thebizcats.com



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<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: LogMeIn, Scotty!]]>

Have you ever gone somewhere without your computer and suddenly realized there was a document you absolutely needed on your desktop? Maybe your computer is running super slow or acting weird but your computer-guru buddy lives across the country – and an over-the-phone walk through simply won’t cut it. Does your business have multiple locations or people who work from home? Do you have an IT department that gets swarmed with phone calls and spends hours each week troubleshooting? There might be a good single solution for all these problems, and depending on your needs, it might not cost you anything at all.

At the BizCATS we've been looking at LogMeIn (www.logmein.com) and their "remote access" technology. Remote access isn't really that new and there are several good competitors in this product area but I installed LogMeIn for myself last week to give it a trial run. I had tried a similar product some years ago that let me access my home computer remotely when I was traveling. At the time I found it somewhat slow and cumbersome. I also realized that as a very small business myself I might only need these capabilities occasionally - certainly not enough to justify paying a monthly fee. In other words, it was something I could live without.

Testing LogMeIn, however, was eyeopening on several levels: (1) It was easy to set up and very fast, (2) the basic free version doesn't expire, (3) the Pro and "Rescue" versions are actually cost effective, and (4) I can access my PC from my iPhone! Cool, very cool. 

LogMeIn is supported on Windows PCs, Macs, and smartphones, including BlackBerry devices. 

RECOMMENDATION: the “LogMeIn Free” product will meet the basic needs of many very small businesses or independent professionals and is a great way to try out this technology. Paid versions offer some very nice additional features that are well worth considering.  – Tim, Jr.


For more product reviews visit The BizCATS at www.thebizcats.com



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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/website/UserReview-LogMeIn-151-1442449-20424-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_LogMeIn_Scotty_.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/website/UserReview-LogMeIn-151-1442449-20424-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_LogMeIn_Scotty_.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:41:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: KLPZ Simplicity in Prospecting]]>

If there is one issue I have with sales force automation programs, like CRM, is that it doesn’t always do enough for the sales rep who uses it. Yes there’s lots of good history information that’s valuable to the company or a new sales rep inheriting a territory or account, but on a day to day basis SFA/CRM systems ask salespeople to do a lot of data entry without a lot of immediate benefit, i.e., it doesn’t do much to help you close a deal. So I’m always searching for a sales tool that both inside and outside sales reps would love because it actively works to them make money. And being a small businessman myself, I want something that is easy to setup, learn, and use and that’s light on the wallet. Okay, that’s a lot to ask for but once in awhile …

Recently I came across a new product called “MyKlpz” by Contact Science (www.contactscience.com) that’s designed to increase the efficiency of sales prospecting whether you’re an enterprise or independent sales pro.. Pronounced my –clips, it can be a standalone tool or a front end to an existing CRM or contact management system. I’m oversimplifying for the sake of space, but essentially with MyKlpz you create a sales prospecting campaign (goals, target customers, calls per day, sales messages, follow up strategies, etc., etc.) and then the program works continuously to keep you on track. By actively watching the results of what you’re doing it can let you know if you’re doing the right things or your campaign needs to be adjusted. The monthly cost is under $40.00 – that meets my “light on the wallet” criteria and it doesn’t take a lot of success to justify the expense.

In sales there is no ”silver bullet” to success, so it’s worthwhile to point out that no software package will ever take the place of the hard work of prospecting and the commitment to doing it. Few salespeople, inside or outside, really like to cold call prospect even though it’s clearly one of the most necessary functions of business.  If a tool like Klpz can improve results, however, then it can make prospecting a lot less painful and maybe even reduce call reluctance a bit. Our BizCATS take is that Klpz is definitely worth a hard look and a trial.



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<![CDATA[ The BizCATS Review: Get Thy Flock Together – FLOCKDRAW Whiteboard]]>

I like to call online Whiteboarding “poor man’s web conferencing”. That’s not really a fair description but it reflects the fact that sometimes you need to interact online with others and you just need something quick, cheap, and easy to help get your ideas across. I’m one of those people who in a meeting says “can I use the flip chart?”.  I need to diagram my thoughts, write up key points for discussion, and in general draw arrows all over the place in different colors. Okay, it’s not pretty but it’s how a lot of us think and communicate … and it’s why I need a whiteboard in online meetings as well as face to face ones.

Most web conferencing products contain a whiteboard feature. If you need screen or application sharing for your meeting, they work just fine. But maybe you don’t need all of that (and also don’t want to pay for it). For example, you have a weekly conference call with your sales team or dealers and you want to put up some discussion topics, layout a sales strategy, or list the sales pipeline. You also want this to be easy for your meeting attendees – you want your meeting private and you don’t want people to have to register, download a program, or remember a password. In other words, you want it all to be simple.

There are a number of good, free whiteboarding tools available, but I am really enjoying a new one called FLOCKDRAW (www.flockdraw.com). Flockdraw has all the basics … period. No frills at all but a wonderful simplicity. You and your team can draw, erase, color, and diagram to your hearts content on demand. Set up a personal screen – for free, of course – and invite your team to it. You can also embed your Flockdraw page into your own website or intranet page which could make it even easier for your participants.

If you’re new to the whole idea of online whiteboard conferencing you’ll love Flockdraw just because they kept it so simple and user friendly. It’s a pretty much “goof proof” way to experiment with online meetings, and personally I find it meets my needs 90% of the time. If you’re a power user, however, who wants to save or print screens, show pictures, and so forth you’ll probably want upgrade to one of the more technically elegant whiteboard services.

Click on the screen below to play with a live sample of Flockdraw and have some fun :)

-- Tim

 




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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-FlockDraw_Whiteboard-151-1442447-20422-The_BizCATS_Review_Get_Thy_Flock_Together_.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-FlockDraw_Whiteboard-151-1442447-20422-The_BizCATS_Review_Get_Thy_Flock_Together_.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:28:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: TEAMBOX for Team Selling!]]>

There are a ton of online project management and team collaboration tools available today and they’re all pretty good; that is, they let you share tasks, goals, files, and more as you manage a project to completion. I never found one that I thought was a fit for a sales team, however, until I came across TEAMBOX (www.teambox.com).

One caveat before we go further: Teambox is a great tool if you have a team approach to selling. If each of your sales reps works pretty independently then it might not be of that much value. But if you have a team of several sales reps or sales + product specialists who work together on a sales opportunity or customer project and need to coordinate, communicate, and report more effectively, then this is a great solution. Maybe your company sells to large, complex accounts; or maybe your customer has multiple sales locations each covered by a different rep on your team.

Simply put, Teambox is an online tool accessible by any computer – or smartphone – in which you can set up an unlimited number of projects (e.g., sales opportunities), assign project members, tasks, and milestones, share files (proposals, account plans, and other information, and track progress. What I like best, however, are the “status updates” – each team member can easily post updates on their activity, comments, or any information relevant for the team, online or from their phone!. What’s maybe even better is that members don’t have to go online to find out what’s new – status updates can be delivered via email (real time or on a set schedule) or accessed via blackberry or smartphone.

From a management standpoint, the email updates are a godsend. Imagine you’re a sales manager, business owner or Key Account Manager and you receive daily updates on the progress of each sales project. You can even coach the project by entering “status update” comments that will be delivered only to the team for that opportunity. It’s not a CRM system, per se, but it can be a phenomenal “Opportunity Management” system!

Although we’re talking about sales, clearly there are no limits to what you can do with Teambox to manage any kind of company project.

TEAMBOX is open source. If you’re a small business with a small number of projects going on at one time it can be free forever; the “Professional” and “Corporate” versions offer more concurrent projects, storage, and support and are very reasonably priced. And if you’re concerned about having your data on the web, you can even install it on your own server and run it 100% internally.



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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-TeamBox-151-1442446-20421-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_TEAMBOX_for_Team_Selling_.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-TeamBox-151-1442446-20421-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_TEAMBOX_for_Team_Selling_.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:24:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: TEUXDEUX or Not "To Do"? One Tres Cool App!]]>

Once in awhile I like to write about personal productivity tech tools. I don’t do it very often because I haven’t found many that weren’t more effort to use than they’re worth. But there are exceptions.

I have a hard time with “To Do” lists. I’ve tried to use all the great Tasks apps in Gmail, my CRM system, my Blackberry, “Remember the Milk”, and lots of others but I still end up going back to scribbling notes on a sheet of paper. Of course I lose or misplace the paper then try to remember what I wrote down so I wouldn’t have to remember it. I’m fairly sure I’m not alone although most folks don’t talk about all the stuff they forget or admit they’re personally this disorganized … or as I like to call it “organizationally uberdysfunctional”.

What I’ve always wanted is something that’s just drop dead simple. I want it on my computer and also on my smartphone and the two should play together nicely. I want to be able to quickly scribble all the “to do’s” I think of during the day; I want to assign them to a certain day or have them float in a “when I get around to it” list … until I get around to them. And although it’s theoretically useful, I don’t want to link them to customers or contacts or my calendar or projects or anything else. No bells, no whistles.  Oddly enough that’s tough to find in today’s world of “feature rich” productivity tools.

I just found TEUXDEUX (www.teuxdeux), however, and it’s almost exactly what I wanted. In fact the most complicated thing about it is the name that I can’t spell. And if you didn’t get it, it’s pronounced “TO DO”.  It’s a “cloud” app that I’ve just made my browser home page. With a beautifully clean and simple screen design, it’s a breeze to type in all my action items, ideas, and meetings by day or in the “Someday” list (love the Someday list!). That’s it! That’s all it does. All those notes and “to do’s” are exactly where I want them when I start up my computer each morning.

They tell me their iPhone app is in beta test and should be available soon. Since I live from my phone having my lists synched will be invaluable. There are a few little feature tweaks that might be nice but I suspect we’ll see these as the product matures. One thing I like, having absolutely no business relevance, is that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously or pretend to have developed the world’s greatest technical innovation. A slightly funky website with a light-hearted message underscores the simplicity and utility of their concept.

TeuxDeux is free and requires only a short, simple sign up. Down the road I expect they’ll have premium upgrades and such – and maybe I’ll even buy them – but for now I’m finally happy. So I suggest you write TeuxDeux in your To Do list and try really hard to remember to check them out. – Tim


 




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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-TeuxDeux-151-1442445-20418-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_TEUXDEUX_or_Not_To_Do_One.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-TeuxDeux-151-1442445-20418-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_TEUXDEUX_or_Not_To_Do_One.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:08:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: Create Your Own iPhone Marketing App with Eyemag!]]> Today I received the following note from the folks at EYEMAGS: "Today we've announced support for the iPad. So any eyemags created now also work on the iPad. We've upgraded the picture support to make the magazines on the iPad look better. Go to http://ipadmags.com and watch the 2 videos to see what they look like...".

 If you watched or read our last review, Eyemags is a very slick tool that lets your turn your blog into an APP for the iPhone or iPOD Touch with just a few simple clicks. We said that it was a great, super easy, and very low cost way to jump on the mobile bandwagon or at least try the waters. Since then the news is all about Apple's new iPAD, an iPod on steroids (and then some) that's revolutionizing the APP world.




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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-eyemags-151-1442441-20417-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_Create_Your_Own_iPhone.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/d/UserReview-eyemags-151-1442441-20417-The_BizCATS_REVIEW_Create_Your_Own_iPhone.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:05:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ The BizCATS REVIEW: MIKOGO- Web Conferencing with WOW!]]>  


If you follow The BizCATS you know that I think web meetings are a must-have tool for any sales team. Online web meetings can be both costly and often a technical challenge that might or might not work;  so it’s no surprise that sales reps might not fully utilize the potential of this tool to leverage their selling efforts.
Here’s an example: in almost every face-to-face sales call we use some sort of visual aids –a brochure or photo, reports, document, or proposal because they’re powerful selling tools. But in today’s cost conscious world salespeople make more and more use of the telephone to “touch” their customers and prospects and lose the “selling power” those visual aids bring them. So a really quick and easy web meeting tool that enables trouble free desktop and document sharing could potentially be a part of almost every sales call.
 
There are hundreds of web meeting and screen sharing programs out there but the one that gets my vote this week is Mikogo (www.mikogo.com). I like it because it’s easy, always there when I need it, performs exceptionally well, and it’s free for up to 10 participants/unlimited use. Mikogo also includes a suite of capabilities typically expected with high pricetag webmeeting apps.
 
 Set up a free account and download the “starter” software that places an icon in your systems tray. When you’re ready to start a session, click the icon and send the “join” URL to your customer. Sessions can also be prescheduled for planned sales calls. That’s pretty straightforward, but there were a number of other features that I thought made this product a winner …
 
  • ·         Participant Pointers – during a session, each participant has a live “pointer” that they can use to interact with the presenter. Very slick.
  • ·         All sessions can be recorded by both presenter and participants – that means if your participants want a record of the presentation they’re able to manage their own recording of it. Now that’s neat!
  • ·         Back monitor – a simple little window that lets you see exactly what your participants are viewing. That’s a handy feature since I often end up asking “Okay, are you seeing …?”
  • ·         Works for Windows and Mac users and starts up super fast.
  • ·         All the basics: remote control, switch presenter, whiteboard, file transfer, conference calling (Us and International numbers), etc.
One note: participants do have to download a small .exe viewer file. It’s small and fast but there may be some folks who shy at having to download a program.
 
Like many of today’s software companies, Mikogo hopes that you will upgrade to their premium offerings for more users and capabilities. For many small businesses or sales reps, however, 10 users will be plenty, especially considering how robust the free offering is. My only question is where do they come up with these weird product names?

The BizCATS: www.thebizcats.com
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<![CDATA[ Underwhelmed with iPad]]>

I'm underwhelmed by this iPad thing, especially with all of the hype surrounding it.  It's no secret that I'm a well documented iPhobe, but I've tried to put that aside and be objective here.   I predict that only the most hardcore iSheep will be flocking to this overgrown iPod Touch.  I can see a future for the device and others like it, but it's not there in the present.

What's wrong with it?

  • No camera.
  • No phone calling.
  • Another $30/month for unlimited Internet access on top of what you're paying for your phone and home Internet access.
  • That *name*!!! Sounds like something that will revolutionize how women deal with uh...well...you get what I'm saying.
  • It's kinda big to lug around and it will DEFINITELY need a case to protect all of that glass.  You might as well keep using your laptop/netbook.
  • It's too small to get "real" work done, especially with no keyboard.  Again, keep your laptop/netbook.
  • New, untested processor that Apple designed in-house.  Why didn't they use Intel?

What's good about it?

  • The claimed battery life is amazing.
  • The multi-touch capability on a device that size might change things...someday.
  • This would be great to watch movies with on a plane.
  • I imagine there will be some niche applications that will be great;  I can see in-the-field photo editing and possible video work.

I looks like it would be an OUTSTANDING book/magazine reader, albeit an expensive one.  The kindle is monochrome and really only for books.  Something tells me that Amazon might kick it up a notch now though.

Speaking of books: I hope one day kids will just have to carry something like this vs. the backbreaking load of tree carcass that they have to walk around with now.  The only concern is that Apple is notoriously proprietary so I'll have to root for equal marketshare for Kindle and iPad and Sony and whomever else jumps in, so that there can be a standard file type and users can CHOOSE which device they want to carry around.

What's the damage?

  • 16GB = $499
  • 32GB = $599
  • 64GB = $699
  • Add $130 to the price if you want mobile 3G Internet access capability.

The Internet access is provided by AT&T exclusively, but the device isn't locked and there is no contract and can be used with WiFi only.  Here's what the access will cost you:

  • 250MB/month $14.99
  • Unlimited Access $29.99


So it appears that I'm in no danger of making my 1st ever Apple purchase.  Although, with some improvements and openness to 3rd party content (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon), I *just* might in the future.

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http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-17533-Underwhelmed_with_iPad.html http://www.lunch.com/thebizcats/reviews/product/UserReview-iPad-151-1436308-17533-Underwhelmed_with_iPad.html Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:05:54 +0000