The Space Shuttle Program: In our hearts and homes

On July 29, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Millions of people watched as the space shuttle Atlantis carried out its final voyage a week ago. This moment concluded the American space shuttle program but the program has left a legacy behind that will not soon die out. Countless technologies that enhance our lives owe their creation to the space program. We see it in our homes, hospitals, cars, as well as on vacation.

Most people think of rockets, spacesuits, and Dippin Dots, the frozen treats of the future, when they think of space shuttle technology. You may be surprised to find out just how many things wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for NASA’s drive to improve the space shuttle program. Check out NASA’s annual publication, Spinoff, its goal is to educate the public about technologies designed or commissioned for the space shuttle program which have been commercialized.

It may surprise you to realize that if it weren’t for the development of space shuttle technologies, these items would possibly not exist:

Athletic Shoes – Some are made using a method called blow rubber molding which was developed to produce space helmets. This allows companies to make soles hollow and fill them with a shock absorbing substance. Nike Air is probably one of the most commonly known shoe making use of this technology.

DustBusters – NASA commissioned engineers at Black and Decker to create a cordless power drill to use for moon landings. The technology is actually a computer program that enables motors to perform well even when using hardly any power. Black and Decker then expanded this and gave us the DustBuster.

Smoke Detectors – These were originally developed in 1970 for America’s first space station, Skylab. They are now so important in households that it’s illegal to build a residence without installing a functioning smoke detector.

Human beings have forever been moved by the idea of exploring space. The drive to do so has inspired incredible technologies. Although the space shuttle will be greatly missed, NASA will not stop creating new technologies that people will find a method to implement in a more terrestrial fashion. When we reflect on all the ways day to day life has benefited from the space shuttle program, we see that it will live forever within our homes as well as our hearts.


Memorable Business Cards

On July 27, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Business cards are an essential and longstanding cornerstone of effective networking. The format is as standard as the medium, a small stock-paper card with basic contact information and, if you are feeling saucy, a witty catch phrase. However, more and more creative thinkers are handing out extremely memorable business cards that toss out old networking conventions and replace them with unforgettable innovations. The very standard of what is and what is not a business card is changing. If you’re looking to improve your networking skills by creating a business card that will have people talking, contemplate a few of these creative techniques.

Add Texture

This is one of the easiest ways to make your business card more memorable. Adding texture to a card engages the sense of touch in a dynamic way, creating another layer of memory in the brain. It may sound silly, but if your business card has an intriguing texture, then the brain of the receiver will have one more thing to notice. Check out this great example.

Make Them Share-Worthy

Hand out a card that people will want to share with their friends or hang up on a wall at work. A simple and intelligent design on the back might just inspire others to show it to their coworkers. For example, take a look at this great mustache design on the back of a particularly fun business card. This sort of style will have people holding the card up to their face and, in turn, sharing it with others. Check it out here.

Make Them Digital

Who says a business card has to be a card? Why not go green and implement digital business cards by developing QR codes instead? QR codes are a popular trend among tech-savvy smart phone users. Demonstrating the ability to use this technology effectively will impress your audience, making your business card (and more importantly, your business) more memorable. Here are some tips on using QR codes.

Creating a business card is only limited by your imagination. Making your cards unique will make them more effective networking tools. For more tips and tricks on making business cards, make sure to read this article.


Exploring Virtual Teams

On July 22, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Connecting with people from all over the world is as simple as a click of a button. This significantly impacts our social lives and we are seeing more and more the result this has on business. The virtual team, or geographically dispersed team (GDT), is a fairly new organizational strategy but the amount of businesses that have embraced this strategy has grown significantly in the past few years. You may be asking yourself if it right for your business.

The idea that the level of productivity corresponds directly to the quantity of face-time a team receives may be a misconception that is falling to the wayside. Managers are realizing that an individual’s motivation, the dynamics of the group, and the capabilities of each person can have a much more vital impact. Virtual teams support more selectiveness when building the team, as location is not a factor. A manager can then find individuals who compliment each other and are self-motivated by the bettering of their personal careers.  Virtual teams can be a blessing to managers because of their productivity and the fact that they require less direct managing.

Virtual teams are not practical for industries and companies that require physical interaction, but for businesses thatdo not require physical proximity, employing teams that interact remotely is not only feasible but can enhance their processes. If you are considering the use of virtual teams in your business here are some items to consider.


  • Recruitment based on expertise not proximity
  • Team members can work during the times when they perform most efficiently
  • Teams consist of members that are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or expense
  • Reduced overhead, as there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are lowered as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better evaluate the team’s efficiency because there are less social pressures


  • Less social interaction, which can be a demotivator for many people
  • Loss of trust between team members if there is not guarantee that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity might be stifled, as the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the amount of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind

Virtual teams make use of a variety of technology to interface. These include email, audio and video conferencing, and file sharing programs. Below is a list of a few programs that can be beneficial to virtual teams.

  • Go to meetings – a relatively inexpensive option to have remote conferences
  • Yammer – a private social network for companies that makes it possible for quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars

If you want more information on virtual teams in action, look at the articles below:


Tech bubble redo

On July 20, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Are we in the midst of a 1990s-style tech bubble? Some experts think so.

Try this: Head over to Google News and enter a search for ‘tech bubble.’ You’ll obtain a large amount of results. Fresh results.

But let’s pause for second. What, exactly, is a tech bubble? Here’s Investopedia’s definition:

Tech Bubble – a pronounced and unsustainable market rise caused by increased speculation in technology stocks. A tech bubble is highlighted by rapid stock price growth and high valuations based on standard metrics like price/earnings ratio or price/sales.”

Hmmm. Are we able to find proof of speculation and inflated valuations?

Scanning the recent headlines, we now have stories of acquisitions and IPOs (and impending IPOs) for a variety of hot domains, including,,,, and And there are at least eleven billion articles and blog posts about Facebook’s eventual IPO.

If we’re in a tech bubble, it certainly has a social-media flavor!

So. Of these hot companies, how many are profitable? (This helps us gauge whether their valuations are inflated.)

  • LinkedIn – Earned $12 million in 2010 (its first year of profitability).
  • Pandora – Not profitable.
  • Groupon – Same story.
  • Twitter – A little!
  • Zynga – Way profitable! With a 35% profit margin in 2010.
  • Facebook – Quite profitable. With a respectable 25% profit margin in 2010.

Of course, just because a few of these companies aren’t very profitable doesn’t mean they’re not brimming with profit potential. Look at Launched in 1995, the organization didn’t make money until 2004! But last year the company’s net profit was well over $1 billion and it is now threatening Walmart’s retail dominance.

In other words, a lack of profits today does not a bubble make (necessarily).

And as Mashable columnist Jolie O’Dell notes, today’s tech climate is much different than those heady days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when you had hundreds of startups with half-baked ideas and flimsy business plans getting insane opening day valuations. In 1999, the height of dot-com mania, there were 308 IPOs. This year, by comparison, there have been 25, and several of them have been mature businesses with healthy revenue (e.g. LinkedIn).

O’Dell notes another major distinction between now and then: Internet usage. Back in the 1990s, relatively few people were online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project, Internet adoption has nearly doubled among adults since 1999. Today 77 percent of American adults are online. Among teens, the number is over 90 percent.

In the dot-com era, investors swooned for companies that didn’t have any users. The users weren’t even there. Today is different. Examine Twitter. Sure, it has fought to turn a profit, but at least it has a large, influential and growing customer base. You couldn’t say the same for, one of the biggest flops of the dot-com era.

But it’s still tough to say with confidence whether today’s eagerness is rational or irrational. Again, go back to Google News. You’ll see good arguments on both sides


QR Codes and How to Use Them

On July 15, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

We’ve all seen the bizarre black squares that are consistently being photographed by smartphone users. They’re called QR codes, an innovative re-imagining of barcode technology. Originally used for tracking components in vehicle manufacturing, these codes are now used in a much broader context. The use of QR codes is even finding new life in creative business ventures and interactive advertising.

What is a QR Code?

    A QR, or Quick Response code, is a specific matrix barcode that is readable by specialized scanners and, more commonly, smartphones. Because QR codes are two-dimensional constructs, they can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information much like the traditional barcode found on most purchased products. They are practical tools for business because of their capability to hold large amounts of easily translatable information.

    When you scan or read a QR code with your smartphone, the code links you to web-enabled digital content. Similarly to when a barcode is scanned to generate the price of a certain item in a grocery store, in a much more complicated way, when a QR code is scanned, increased amounts of information can then be generated.

How are QR codes used in Business?

    Making a QR code is easy. It’s an easy process of entering the appropriate data into a QR generator. There are several free versions of this code online, if you’d like to check one out try using the Kaywa generator.

    After you’ve created your QR code, it is possible to print it on business cards, posters, billboards, or distribute it on the web. After the code is accessible, prospective customers are able to scan the code with their phone and then access whatever information you would like them to see.

Why it works

    Creating a QR code is a unique way of creating an interactive ad campaign. You give the mysterious code to the audience; the audience deciphers the code and is then rewarded with the information you’ve coded. It adds value to that information by making it a fun activity. Though QR codes are still new to America, they’ve been a popular way of creating brand loyalty in Japan for over a decade. If you’re trying to create a conversation with your prospective clients, think about using this innovative device.


The Rise of the Tablet

On July 8, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Hold on a second — are tablets productivity boosters?

You’re not alone if you thought tablets were merely shiny toys for consuming media. Most of the television spots advertising these gadgets show game playing, video watching, and web surfing — and not much in the way of work.

But that hasn’t stopped businesses from adopting these devices for their own gain. Infoworld recently reported on a New York law firm that deployed iPads to its team of attorneys. The firm, Proskauer, has had some hiccups with the rollout, but they’re not looking back:

“Today, more than 500 Proskauer lawyers use iPads to create superslick PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets filled with sky-high figures, and verbose Word documents. Lawyers pass this electronic paperwork back and forth among clients. They even present information on their iPads to judges.”

Businesses that are ready to hop on the tablet bandwagon should prepare for the occasional bump. Early adopters must work through issues on the fly, without the benefit of others’ experience. Proskauer faced a number of tough questions as it prepared for its iPad rollout.

“Rolling out the iPad actually turned out to be quite a significant investment in time, much more than I would have thought,” said Steven Kayman, chair of Proskauer’s technology committee, in an interview with Infoworld. “There’s just a hundred decisions that have to be made along the way.”

Such as: Do we give our team members a blank check when it comes to downloading apps? Or should we install a preset app menu before distributing the devices? Who are the best vendors for document management and remote desktop apps? How will all of these new endpoints effect our network security?

The tablet/app marketplace is still quite young and unruly, and that poses difficulties to businesses that don’t want to spend a lot of time and money testing new systems and tinkering with half-baked apps that were rushed to market. (Even big software makers like Citrix, Google, and Microsoft have debuted some real clunkers.)

But these drawbacks are likely temporary, and businesses are undauntedly rushing into the tablet realm regardless. According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 3 out of 4 of the Fortune 500 have intentions to deploy iPads to their workers. Health care organizations have similar ambitions, in particular those who have deployed EHR software to manage patient health records. According to a May 2011 survey from Quantia Communications, 32 percent of physicians currently have an Apple or Android tablet, and another 34 percent plan to purchase one within the year.  

Small businesses are expected to get in on the action too: a March 2011 analysis from AMI-Partners predicts that tablet adoption will grow 1000 percent by 2015, with 1 in 3 SMBs eventually using tablets on a daily basis.


What is going to happen to spam

On July 6, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Spammers made a lot of money during the early days of the Internet. However, if some tech-savvy delinquent desired to earn some extra money via spam on today’s Internet, they might want to think about a new line of work. The truth is, since the all time high of spamming strikes in 1997, spam filters have become too good. Simple mathematics make spamming an un-profitable business, thanks to the increasing amount of hardware and time needed to spam effectively. In fact, spam is currently at its all time lowest levels since 2008. The question is, why has spamming decreased, and how will spamming adapt to new Internet changes?


    There were a few high profile arrests in 2010 that made a obvious dent in the spamming industry. However, more than increased monitoring, spammers have noticed a decline in earnings. For a time, with each increase in spam filters, spammers would also increase the number of sites attacked. Though with increased efforts, the amount of money that can be made through spamming is at record low levels. It’s just not worth it for most professional spammers.

    Though spamming is now a money-losing business, spammers are known for adapting to new security updates. How can we expect spamming to evolve along with the changes being made to the Internet?

Smart Spam

    Spammers are getting crafty. Instead of overloading an inbox with traditional spam messages, personal email accounts are being hacked, allowing spam messages to be sent from more reputable accounts. The same can be said for social media mediums like Facebook and Twitter. A short while ago, actor Simon Pegg had his twitter account hacked. Spammers then sent a link to spyware to over 1 million of his followers. Spammers have combined their skills with hacking in order to overcome a more secure Internet.

    To protect yourself, remember to always be wary of odd-looking links, even if they are sent from friends. Being diligent of suspicious activity will help keep you safe in a future of more subversive spamming. For more information, take a look at this article.


What is the Internet

On July 1, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

A several years ago, we all laughed at then-U.S. senator Ted Stevens when he described the Internet as “a series of tubes.”

In the same speech, Stevens also appeared to confuse the Internet with email, recalling how one of his staffers “sent an Internet” on Friday that didn’t arrive in his inbox until the following Tuesday.

We all hate it when that happens.

But in the midst of our laughter at Stevens’ expense, we secretly hoped that no one would ask us to create our own definition, because, well, what the heck IS the Internet?

It’s that thing we can’t imagine living without. It’s the way we work, buy stuff, watch videos, communicate, share memories, conduct research, tell jokes, catch up with friends, etc.

But what is it?

Lucky for us, the folks at Business Insider (BI) have assembled a slideshow that walks through the basics. Take a look here.

Here are the salient points:

Internet = interconnected network; it’s a network of networks. The Internet is a collection of computers (servers, desktops, laptops, etc.) that share information via telephone wires and satellite links; these computers are all connected by a common software standard called Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). Most us go to the Internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as AT&T, Comcast, or Road Runner (the three largest ISPs). BI: “When you connect to an ISP, your computer becomes a part of its network. That network is already connected to another larger network, and that network is connected to yet another network, and so on and so forth across the globe.” The Internet is composed of servers and clients. Servers are machines that provide services with other machines. Clients (desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc.) use these services. BI: “So when you sign online at work, your computer becomes a client that’s accessing a Web server. Every device connected to the Internet has a unique numerical IP address The web ≠ the Internet. Invented in the late 1980s by Tim Berners-Lee, the web “is actually a subset of the Internet; it is all the pages that can be accessed using Web browsers [e.g. Explorer, Firefox].” All domain names have a corresponding numerical IP address. Example (courtesy of Wikipedia): the domain name translates to the IP address The Domain Name System was created to make the Internet more user-friendly (domain names are easier to remember than long strings of numbers)  
The physical infrastructure that supports the Internet
As it happens, Stevens’ conception of the Internet as a series of tubes wasn’t far from the mark. There exists a physical dimension to the Internet. A 2009 Wired magazine photo essay, Andrew Blum followed the path of a single bit of information as it traveled from the UK to the California coast, photographing the physical infrastructure that makes such a long (and blisteringly fast) journey doable. Here’s a look at one leg of its journey.

When our bit hits the Big Apple, it passes through the beating heart of the American Internet: 60 Hudson Street (right), in downtown Manhattan. More transatlantic and transcontinental lines come together in New York than anywhere else in the country. Western Union opened the building in 1930 as the telegraph junction between Wall Street and Main Street. The ducts that once carried high-gauge copper wire are now filled with thousands of strands of glass fiber owned by hundreds of networks. Techs physically connect them to one another in a “meet-me-room,” neutral territory run by a company called Telx.

Is there a meaningful difference between ‘tubes’ and ‘ducts filled with glass fiber’?

If Stevens were alive today, I might be inclined to send him an ‘Internet’ apologizing for laughing at his tube-based definition of the Internet.