Marketing Channels for a Senior Geek

Marketing Channels for a Senior GeekA new client called me last week to schedule a tutoring session. Two things were unusual about this. First is that the client did not report anything wrong with his computer; he just wanted to learn how to do some things, and he even had a list! Since most people who call me want service first and tutoring second, if at all, and many of them are too disorganized to make a squawk list, this was a gratifying phone call.

The second thing that was unusual was that the new client was a man. Most of my senior tutoring clients are women, sometimes with their husbands sitting in to pick up hints on how to fix things.

If you want to repair computers and tutor, you must consider marketing channels if your activity is to be anything other than a hobby with occasional small income. In my case, I offer free lectures through various senior centers, and I teach occasional courses through OASIS, a nationwide school system aimed at continuing education of seniors. I will present three short courses in June (see Class Description). This gives me exposure both to attendees and the multiplying factor of word-of-mouth advertising. My out-of-pocket expense is zero or negative (negative cost since I get paid to teach and occasionally get tips for my free lectures — leaving an open jar next to a signup sheet works wonders).

In addition to those marketing activities, I also write an occasional newsletter for anyone who has ever used my services. This newsletter is also sent (thank you, Alan) to members of at least one PC user club. My newsletter has also been quoted in a PC column in a local newspaper because the author of the column also gets a copy. That single quote brought several responses.

Strangely, although this series of LockerGnome posts has generated several conversations with local users as well as online comments, I cannot identify any client who first heard about me through the Internet. The vast majority of clients have been word-of-mouth referrals or attendees at one of my presentations.

Attending PC user clubs is fun, interesting, and another way of getting your name out to potentially interested clients. I am not aggressive in that type of marketing, and being too forward in pitching yourself will be a turn off for the other members. The benefit of clubs is primarily to associate with people who share your interests and exchange useful information. Any extra benefits are secondary. Be cool and enjoy. Make sure you give more to the club than you take.

So this new client is very organized. He has a desktop and laptop. The desktop is a general purpose machine for the family and visitors. The laptop is single-user and almost exclusively used for managing finances. We sat at his desk and ran through his list of questions. It was a pleasure to work with someone who had the basic ideas down and who wanted to learn more. It was such a pleasure that I almost forgot to perform the most rudimentary security checks on his systems. Checking for prior infections is my standard practice when meeting a new system for the first time.

With some quick surfing, I suspected his browser was compromised, so in spite of being at the end of our agreed upon session, I inspected his anti-virus software protection and noted that it was an expired commercial package that probably came with the computer. So I downloaded and installed Malwarebytes on both of his computers and ran quick scans. We chatted about various computer-related things while Malwarebytes did its thing, and we watched the red warnings pop up on the desktop as Malwarebytes found threats one after another. When the quick scan was complete, it had found over 300 threats, most of them relatively harmless adware, but a good sprinkling of them were harmful Trojans. We talked about that for a bit.

The laptop had a single threat indicated: some adware.

So I set up the desktop to do a complete scan and showed my client what do to when it finished after I left. We scheduled another meeting to install MSE and continue the tutoring.

The bottom line is that my client ended up spending more money than he had planned, but being happy that he did. His questions were answered, and he actually did the activities that he wanted to do rather than watching me demonstrate. My style of teaching is to say, “I know how to do it. You operate the computer, and I will simply oversee.” Some clients do not like this at first because they are self-conscious about making mistakes. They want to watch me operate the computer. I tell them that computer literacy is a lot like learning to play the piano; I can tell you where all the keys are, but you must practice.

As a bonus, he learned a bit about how malware works and bought into my standard speech that regardless of the anti-virus software, he is the first line of defense.

One does not get rich on a business where the income is proportional to the time spent by one person (unless maybe if one is Picasso!). However, the rewards can be in meeting new people, helping people, and making a bit of money here and there. If I wanted to be more formal and make more money, I would rent a small office and set up a “real” business. There would be tradeoffs. I like it the way it is. That does not relieve me of the necessity of minding the marketing channels. You can be the best tutor or technician in the world, and if no one knows it, you will get no clients.

And some clients can be delightful to work with.

Project Google Chrome OS Promises Hardware Acceleration Plus Support For Linux, OS X & Windows

The folks over at the Google Chrome OS team are starting to rethink their approach to the OS and could be expanding into other platforms. The team is posed to start focusing on the approach they take when it comes to windowing. These changes may also apply to the Google Chrome browser and the proposed changes such as eliminating the URL bar that I have previously written about.

In addition, the Google Chrome OS team is considering hardware acceleration to support and also to consolidate the Chrome UI across different platforms including Windows, OS X, and Linux. Also mentioned on the Google Chrome Web site is support for OpenGL, Direct 3D, and Win 32 as well as other open source support.

Google has this chart showing its proposal and areas of support:

What will all of this mean for you and me? Currently on my Cr-48 laptop test computer, the Chrome OS is limited to just one single window open at a time. When Google finally implements the changes to its OS, users will be able to open multiple windows for multiple users all at once.

Google has also has scrapped the idea of completely supporting HTML only. The project team is indicating that it is looking into using JavaScript front end code.

I personal believe that this is an exciting project that may influence the way we all do our computing, whether in the cloud or not. Google seems to be gearing their fight towards both Microsoft and Apple, by not only offering changes to their Google Chrome OS, but also to its Google Chrome Web browser.

We may start seeing a blur between the difference of the Google Chrome OS and Google Chrome browser in the very near future.

This is a rumor, but Google may — just may — release the final version of the Google Chrome OS sometime mid-year.

Comments welcome.

Source – Google The Chromium Project

Have Firefox Add-Ons Caused You Problems?

I have kept something quiet for the past few months, that I haven’t shared with anyone. I have stopped using Firefox on my Windows machine running Windows 7 Ultimate for about two months. The problem began several months ago when one of my add-ons named Zemanta disappeared on my web sites here at Lockergnome. I contacted Chris and he assured me that nothing was changed to prevent Zemanta from working. So I installed Google Chrome on my box, installed the Zemanta extension and it worked perfectly.

So what is Zemanta? Zemanta is designed with the blogger in mind. The program provides relevant images, articles, links and tags for the article you are writing. I find Zemanta as great asset and use it often. When it stopped working, I really missed it, so I switched to Chrome to get it back.

When I switched over Linux Mint I was happy to se an old friend waiting for me. Mint uses Firefox as the default browser, so I fired it up and added all of the add-ons I used, including Zemanta. All was well until yesterday. When I fired up Mint and launched Firefox, I had trouble accessing my web sites. I did all of the trouble shooting, rebooting Firefox, clear cache, reboot router, modem, all to no avail. All other sites I visited worked perfectly.

So I once again contacted Chris, The sites were checked and all was well. This morning it dawned on me. Could it be Zemanta causing the problem once again? I uninstalled Zemanta and the web sites worked perfectly for me. But since I like using Zemanta when I blog.I downloaded and installed Google Chrome and installed Zemanta and it worked perfectly.

This is the first time I have experienced a problem with a Firefox Add-On.

Have I been lucky in the past? Or is this an exception and all other add-ons work well?

So my question is this. Have you had problems with any Firefox Add-Ons?

Comments welcome.

I Took The Palemoon Plunge

Hi, Dick – don’t try this! LOL

OK. I admit. I was bored. So when I read a reader’s comment about how much faster Palemoon was than Firefox, I decided to give it another try. I must admit, reading the Web site helps. I did not realize that on the Palemoon site there is a migration tool that copies over your Firefox user profile. This saves a lot of time, because when I first tried Palemoon, I thought it was a giant pain to try and put back on my toolbar, add ons, extensions, themes, history, settings, and bookmarks. So when I saw the migration tool I decided to give Palemoon another try.

Before doing anything, I highly recommend if you wish to migrate, use the add-on called FEBE. FEBE makes a backup copy of your profile in case something goes wrong.

The migration was a snap. The tool worked perfectly and my profile with all settings was transferred over to Palemoon without issue.

So is Palemoon quicker than Firefox?

It is. I have always been a firm believer that an experienced user can feel the difference in performance when using any software without the need for benchmarks. IMHO Palemoon is quicker.

Will I be staying with Palemoon?

Yes I will. I like the snappy response plus the benefit that it is Firefox, optimized. :-)

Comments welcome.

Palemoon’s Web site is here.

Palemoon migration tool is here.

Google Chrome Warns You If A Site Is Down

Google has added a nice feature to their Chrome browser that hopefully will be added to other browsers as well. When you go to a web site, and the site is down, Chrome provides a user with this message:

“Other users are also experiencing difficulties connecting to this site, so you may have to wait a few minutes.”.

So what do you think? Is this one new feature enough to make you switch to Chrome or will you be sticking with your current browser?

Comments welcome.

Source – Rudefox

Can Browsers Really Become Operating Systems? Some Say ‘Yes’ They Can

My article about laptops replacing desktop computer system went over so well, I thought I would tackle the subject if a browser could become an operating system. First of all this would not be for business systems, but more for mobile systems like laptops, netbooks, and iPad clones used primarily by consumers. Second, the browser as an operating system would rely on using cloud computing for all computing needs and to store data for the user.

The one major player who most likely will be able to pull this off is Google. It is developing and fine tuning its Chromium operating system, which should be available at the end of the year. Google and its partner are developing features including the ability to determine which way is up. ReadWriteWeb states:

According to a report from CNET, the orientation support now being added to Chrome would be “particularly useful” for mobile gaming. “For example, tilting a device can turn it into a steering wheel or a tabletop on which a marble rolls,” writes CNET’s Stephen Shankland describing the upcoming capabilities.

Already, developers are hard at work building applications for the Chrome operating system and its accompanying Chrome Web Store, which will function as Google’s version of the “App Store” for Web-based applications. In test builds of the browser’s open source bits, developers are running everything from simple card games to arcade-like casual games, including popular iTunes titles like “Plants vs. Zombies” and console favorite “Lego Star Wars.”

So what is all this going to mean for you and me? Well, it is going to mean we will finally have an instant boot system. We will not be plagued with viruses and other critters. Those bad people on the Internet who love to compromise our Windows system will be SOL. Our data will be stored away from our computer and we will be able to access it from anywhere.

We won’t need quad core processors just to write a note, or gobs of RAM just to satisfy the OS. We also won’t need a GUI that sucks the resources out of the OS just to show us how beautiful a desktop scene can be. Flashy stuff need not apply.

The bottom line is that we are going to be in store for a future without Windows.

Source – ReadWriteWeb

Source – CNET

Clockspot

There should be an image here!There are a lot of online time tracking tools that help employees and freelancers keep track of their time so that they can report their hours accurately and efficiently, but many employers and clients would rather be a part of this process from the beginning instead of just receiving the reports at the end of the week or month. This makes sense because in this day and age, everyone is keeping a close eye on how their money is being spent. Clockspot is a paid time tracking tool that works well for anyone who needs to track their time, but it also offers additional features for the people that are paying them.

Workers can clock in and out and keep track of their progress on an ongoing basis, and their supervisors can do things like assign tasks and see how long it takes to complete them, share files, and chat and communicate using the included messaging system. If you begin to use Clockspot, you’ll be in great company because they have a good number of big and popular customers. If it works for them, it might be able to work for you.

[Photo above by laffy4k / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Who Else Wants A Faster, More Powerful Firefox Browser? How About Super-Duper?

The folks over at Mozilla are promising that the new Firefox 4 browser will be faster and offer better performance. But I had to laugh when I read what the new browser will offer:

The primary goals for Firefox 4 will be making a browser:

  • Fast: making Firefox super-duper fast
  • Powerful: enabling new open, standard Web technologies (HTML5 and beyond!),
  • Empowering: putting users in full control of their browser, data, and Web experience.

Super-duper? Wow, that sounds really fast! I don’t believe any other browser will be able to match a super-duper speed, since I believe that super-super is as fast as one can go! LOL

There was also this:

That said: please understand that these plans are fluid and are likely to change.

This tells me we are not going to be seeing Firefox 4 for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Firefox browser because, well… it is super-duper!

Comments welcome.

Source

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Got A Laptop? Use An Sd Card + Ready Boost To Kick Up Performance

I just finished ready an article over at How To Geek, in which they are touting using an SD card in Vista or Windows 7, along with Ready Boost, to kick up performance. I have been using SD cards in both my system and my wife’s computer both running Windows 7 Ultimate, using this same procedure as is being described by the article.

On both of the laptops I have employed Ready Boost coupled with the 3G of RAM that came installed on the systems. Both systems also came with dual core AMD processors and the systems work very well. On my personal system, I spend a considerable amount of time on the Internet. I use Firefox with 11 add-ons, and usually have 10 tabs or more open at at one time. In addition I use Microsoft Office Outlook to control my personal email account and one auxillary account for miscellaneous emails. I also use Mozilla Thunderbird for my gmail account in which I receive Google alerts through out the day, plus other news services looking for stuff to write about.

I am using 4G SD cards to supplement memory using Ready Boost. I bought the cards on sale when they were priced at only $10 each. So in my mind this was an extremely low price to pay to kick up performance. But the one question everyone wants to know is does it work?

I believe that Ready Boost would be the most beneficial on those systems that came with 1G or 2G of RAM. I believe this would kick up performance and actually increase the speed in which programs load. But with 3G Rams, I am not 100% positive that it does improve performance. I have used my computer with and without the added RAM and I haven’t really noticed that much of a difference.

Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

Comments welcome.

How To Geek article on Ready Boost

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Invoice Bubble

Many of us enjoy the work that we do, but when it comes down to it, we work so that we can get paid, make money, and support ourselves and our families. If you work for yourself and juggle multiple clients, then you know that sending out invoices to all of your clients can take a lot of time, but that doesn’t matter because that’s what you need to do to get paid. Sometimes we place a lot of the focus on finding tools to improve our work and communication efforts, but we should also be open to tools that can improve the invoicing process since that’s the last step in the process before your money arrives. Invoice Bubble makes invoicing simple for freelancers and small businesses.

This tool definitely doesn’t get in your way. You just select your client, enter the amount they that owe, and wait for the payment to arrive through PayPal. Branding the invoices to make them more professional is possible, and you can also setup recurring invoices and keep track of all of your clients. The free version of Invoice Bubble should prove to be suitable for anyone that has five clients or less, but the premium version is very affordable and offers more options.

Dribbble

I have a lot of respect for designers. They can express their ideas through design in ways that are astounding. Many designers (especially those who are freelance) tend to work by themselves, and the only design interactions that they may have are with their clients. A lot of designers work well like this, but other designers might enjoy sharing their work with other designers and being inspired by what they’re creating. A site called Dribbble lets designers share what they’re working on with their peers.

While you’re designing something, you can grab a small screenshot of your progress and upload it to Dribbble for other designers to comment on. They can even expand your design with their own interpretation. This feedback can prove to be very helpful and may provide ways in which you can improve your work. In order to join Dribbble, you have to be invited by a member. This helps to keep the community at the highest level possible, so if you’re a fantastic designer, you may have already been invited.

UpShot

I’m not a designer, but I’ve worked with designers before and know from those personal experiences that it can be a tough job. Some people may look at what they do and think that they have it easy because they get to draw and play around with Photoshop and Illustrator all day, but there’s a lot more to being a designer than that. The designer may be the professional, but the clients oftentimes try to tell them how to do their job. Of course, design feedback is a fact of life for a designer, and it’s said that the client is always right. Whether you agree with that or not, you can try to improve the design feedback process with UpShot.

As the designer, all you have to do is upload your design and send it to the client or anyone else for that matter. The invited participants will then be able to attach their feedback to specific parts of the design, which is a much better approach than leaving plain text comments below it. This feedback will help you to get into the mind of the client, which as you know can be a very scary place.

Glasscubes

Working together and staying on the same page can be tough enough when you work with other people in an office, but when you’re working with people from all over the world, challenges sometimes have more opportunities to present themselves. For example, miscommunication can easily become a problem because you don’t actually see the people at random times during the day like you would in an office. With that said, if you have the right tools by your side, working with a distributed team can be a great experience. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve found that it works better for me than the alternative. If effective collaboration is an issue for you, give Glasscubes a try.

This tool will probably prove to be helpful for teams working in the same location, but the benefits really become clear when it’s used with distributed teams. As you would expect, you can communicate with team members and clients, and all of the core collaboration and project management features are included. Files can be uploaded and worked on, tasks can be managed, calendars can be shared, and contacts can be organized. If you’ve been using a collection of different tools to handle these responsibilities, it’s worth seeing what rolling everything into one solution can do for productivity.

Bidsketch

If you have your own business, one of the toughest parts of what you do can be developing proposals to try and get work. One of the frustrating things about developing proposals is that you could develop one and not get the work, but in order to develop a good proposal, you have to think like you’re already doing the job. This takes time and effort, but it’s worth it if you get the job. The ideas that are written down are very important, but the presentation of the info is also important. Bidsketch is all about improving the proposal process from beginning to end and it’s made for designers.

While Bidsketch won’t come up with the proposal details for you, it will help you to put your proposals together and keep track of them so that you just have to worry about what’s included. You can see what your success rate is, mix and match sections from your proposals, and encourage your clients to comment on the proposals through the online sharing functionality. Go close some deals, folks!