Where the pavement ends

I live much of my life surrounded by technology and people involved in technology who are all talking about technology. I tech, and progress. I also love spending time with old friends, something I don’t get to do enough.

This past weekend, I had the chance to do it for the first time in a long time.  I hadn’t seen many of these friends in ten years or longer. I was wondering if we would still have things to talk about, and if things would be like they were a long time ago.

That anxiety disappeared when I drove off the pavement in the Central Valley.

When I got there, I realized that my friends, were still my friends.  We’ve grown up, and spent most of our time hearing about each others’ kids, but the comfort I had with the conversation was different than I have with other people on a regular basis.  I was more comfortable, more relaxed. Not sure, if it was the friends, or the location, but it might have been a little of both.

Get a burger at Fireside in El Dorado Hills

A few nights ago, we were getting together with my mother for dinner before she left on a short trip. We wanted to go somewhere casual, but good and decided on Fireside Burgers in the El Dorado Hills Town Center.

My wife and I had been before, but apparently that was a ‘soft opening,’ as when we arrived we saw:

Yes, it was the grand opening. So, along with our meal, we had music, courtesy of Tim Dierkes who had played at my wife’s birthday party a few years ago;

then they had a raffle, and guess who won a bottle of wine?

And to top it all off, we all had great burgers.  Believe me, we’re still fans of Burger Hut, and we’ll keep going there too, but if you’re over by Town Center to catch a movie, try out Fireside, it’s a huge step up in quality from the Chili’s across the way, and much better priced.

We Are a Small Town and The Jersey Shore Has Amazing Publicists

I was switching between two of the local newscasts this evening and after seeing the same story on both of the stations, two things became clear:

Why do I say this?  The story was that Pauly D was DJ’ing for the night at a club in downtown Sacramento.  Seriously, a DJ from an MTV realty show was at minute 14, and minute 20 of two of the top local late night newscasts in a top 20 market. That makes us small town. Sorry. It’s OK. Embrace it. It’s why we love Sacramento.

Not sure who he is?

image from MTV.com

Why does this mean they have great publicists? Look at the picture below that I took from one of the newscasts:

Kind of hard to see what that is. It’s a signed headshot of the DJ personalized for someone at the station that apparently loves him or the show. If that was all, we would just give a polite golf clap to the publicist. Thing is, the SAME EXACT thing was on another news station, with an anchor getting a signed headshot. Don’t believe me? Look at this one.

It was a gimmick, and it worked.  Huge props.

Intuit is Supporting Small Businesses in Sacramento and Across the Country

Read an article this morning in the Sacramento Bee about Intuit launching a program called “Love a Local Business.”

Go to http://lovealocalbusiness.intuit.com/, and enter or vote for your favorite local business, or your own.  They are then eligible for cash prizes from Intuit which they can use to purchase equipment, expand business etc.  Two local companies that have already received grants include Cybertary and Yogurtagoogo.

The program is having an event this Friday and Saturday (11-6 and 11-9 respectively) at 1801 L. Street, Suite 70.

According to the article, “as part of the local event, business people can receive cash grants, talk with business advisers and Intuit staffers, network with other small-business owners and gain information from local lenders and small-business counselors.”

I was a little skeptical of this program until I saw it was being run by Justin Kitch, with whom I worked, long, long ago. He’s a good guy, and this looks like a good project.

The article also had some great stats about small businesses in the area.

“A recent Intuit survey drew 500 Sacramento respondents and showed that:

• 59 percent of Sacramento residents spent at least $100 a month at small businesses.

• 65 percent want more small businesses in the area.

• 47 percent have friends or family who have their own businesses in Sacramento.

• 90 percent said it’s vital to have small businesses in the community.”

My favorite part of the article was the quote from Justin, “”We think Sacramento represents towns that are like most of the country,” I always tell people I meet from across the country that Sacramento is not what people think of, when they think California.  We’re much more Middle America than California.  Sometimes, I think we’re a little bit Sacrakansas, and that’s not a bad thing.  I think in Kansas, people try and support neighbor, we should too.  Support a local business if you can.

Great review of client Chrometa by WebWorkerDaily

Check out this great review of our friends from Chrometa, time tracking software, at WebWorkerDaily. I would love to take credit for this, but this was all due to the CEO of Chrometa not giving up and making sure WebWorkerDaily took a look at his product. Chrometa is time tracking and productivity software that automatically tracks how much time you spend on certain activities on your computer.

It paid off. They love it!

A few of the highlights:

  • Most time tracking and management applications require some up front work before you can roll with them, but not Windows app Chrometa.
  • You don’t need to work hard to figure out the simple interface, either. A calendar sits on the left side of the screen that lets you go back and review any day, week, month or selected timeframe to see how you spend your time. Categories appear below the calendar. The rest of the interface splits into two sections: Active Time and Away Time. That’s it.
  • However, the time management application is ahead of many others in its ease of use and effectiveness. The impressive thing about Chrometa is that you can benefit from the collected data without doing anything.

If you work in a small law practice, are a CPA or other professional that bills for your time, check out Chrometa.  30 day free trial. Also, if you’re a law student, it’s free. Go get it!

Teaching time!

Tonight is the first class meeting of my third year teaching a course on social media and marketing at UC Davis Extension. The thing I’m looking most forward to is learning tonight where we’re starting.  The first time I taught this course in the Spring of 2008, most of the participants were spectators at most with social media.  The percentage of those actively participating in social media and creating content rose significantly in 2009, but still most kept their use of social media completely separate from their “work lives.”

As of this morning, there were 24 registrants in the class. I’ll let you know what I find out tonight and where our starting point is for the class.  My classroom style is a mix of lecture, with lots of time for students to share their own experiences and questions. The make-up of the class will have a lot to do with how much we cover in different topics.

Share a lot of pictures with friends & family? Try Circlous

There are 2.5 billion, yes with a “b,” photos uploaded to the world’s biggest social network each month.  That’s a lot of people sharing pictures with friends and family.  Social networks make money selling ads around page views. It’s in their best interest to maximize page views. This isn’t necessarily always in the best interest of consumers and privacy. yes, you can control your settings, but in my experience, many, many people don’t.

We work with Circlous. They are a smart company, based in Sunnyvale, that has created a personal peer to peer network for sharing images and video in their original resolution.  What does this mean? It means that you can create a network and share hi-def video and hi-res images only with people you want to see them. There is no central shared server, so Circlous never keeps your images.

You might have noticed that I keep mentioning hi-res images.  Images of all resolutions are shared in their native resolution on Circlous.  Why is this important? Take a look at the examples on Circlous’ site about the difference between what an image looks like when shared on the most popular social networking site and on Circlous.  The basic thinking is that on the former you can tell someone is at the Grand Canyon, but you can’t tell if they’re having fun because you can’t see their expression.

There’s no advertising around your pictures and no central searchable directory.  Since the service is not subsidized by selling ads about how to lose belly flab, or how to whiten your teeth, they charge $9.95 per year to shre your images and video. There is no cost to those that just want to view what you are sharing.

Check out Circlous. You receive a free 30 day trial when you sign up. No obligation. If you like, when 30 days is up, you pay with PayPal or you move on and go back to what you were doing before.