Google maps rant

While preparing for my European trip, I was using Google maps a lot. Naturally, I wanted to save the maps I created, to return to them later. And that’s where my problems started.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Google suite of tools. They are extremely useful, usable and intuitive. I would not be able to function without Google calendar (and I totally love its easy integration with event organizing tools like Eventbrite). My business e-mail runs on Gmail. My business website is on Blogspot platform. I use Google analytics. And I am not paying a cent for all that. (I would have a hard time if Google suddenly decided to charge for all these things, I would have to pay through the nose. Just don’t tell Google, it may give them ideas.)

However, I was extremely disappointed with Google maps. They are as counter-intuitive as it gets. I was completely frustrated.

Intuitively, you expect the following sequence of operations:
1. You open a document.
2. You edit it.
3. You save it.
4. You can repeat pp. 2 and 3 as required.

Now, with Google maps it just does not work. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

My post for Blogging Idol contest – Your IT budget on a shoestring

You have recently started a business, but don’t have a huge budget for all things IT?

Here are 17 free or inexpensive tools that will help you to establish your online presence and spread the word.

1. Create a Facebook webpage for your business. (Not a group, though; only people who are on Facebook can see a group and participate in it, while a Facebook page can be seen by anyone.) Become a fan (there is a button for it) and ask all your Facebook friends to become fans, too. Cost: free

2. Create your company’s profile on LinkedIn. Cost: free

3. Blog! Blog a lot. Write something interesting and useful, so people want to come back for more. Write often, to become a habit with your readers. Cost: free

4. Microblog! Post on Twitter. (Take care and do not overspam your followers; post something they will find useful – information about freebies, discounts, promotions, news and events, for example.) “Live tweet” events on Twitter. Cost: free

5. Get yourself a good domain name – short and meaningful. Avoid acronyms. Speak to your reader. “YourNews.info” is better than “MyNews.com”. Cost: as low as $9 per year.

6. GoogleApps will give you a free hosting (but you will need your own domain name, see above). Cost: free

7. A business e-mail on hotmail does not look cool. You can get a free business e-mail from Google (but you will need your own domain name, see above). Cost: free

8. You can create your own professional-looking website on a blog platform, choosing one of a million freely available styles. Check out WordPress 2.7 – WordPress has recently grown into a full-scale content management system. Check out Blogspot, too. With Blogspot, you can redirect your domain name to your blog-based website for free, so it has a “grown-up” url and not a third-tier domain name. Blogspot, however, offers fewer features if you want to develop a full-scale website. You can use your own domain name with WordPress, too, but in this case you will have to pay a small amount to WordPress for the redirection (something like $15 a year). Decisions, decisions. Cost: free to $15.

9. TikiWiki is another powerful and free content management system and groupware. It is open source and free, and you can find hosting for as low as 0.95 per month. Cost: from $0.95 per month

10. Attend meetups and various camps: there is DemoCamp, Barcamp, CloudCamp, BookCamp, Podcamp and millions of others. When you register, insert a link to your website and blog. (Many event management systems, like Eventbrite, have this feature.) Cost: free

11. Search Engine Optimization. Check this great document from Google. Cost: free.

12. Use Google Analytics and Google AdWords to find out who is visiting your website and what they expect to find there. Cost: free.

13. Create videos and post them on YouTube. Create responses to other people’s videos. This simple and short presentation was viewed almost 800,000 times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

14. Inbound marketing. Create a toolkit, give people something they would want to use. Cost: free.

15. Turn your PowerPoint presentation into a Slideshare slide show. Cost: free.

16. Post your ads on kijiji and Craigslist. Cost: free.

17. Give people an opportunity to contribute. For example, create a wiki where people can share their experience and information about your product or service. Cost: priceless. People love to share, and you will contribute to the community building.

 

 

Be lazy

Instead of checking proz.com daily to see whether any new jobs have been posted, which I hate and always forget to do, I subscribed to their RSS feed.
Now the new jobs will be delivered into my Google Reader which I read every morning over coffee.

Besides, I found out (I probably knew that before, from the days I worked as a secretary, but forgot) that you can use Word mail merge to print mailing labels (one for each addressee you have in your database). This will save me a lot of time over Christmas when I usually mail traditional paper postcards.

Being lazy saves you time and, eventually, money.

WordPress now supports easier LiveJournal migration

Great job! Check it out!

  • Enter your LiveJournal username and password and you’re ready to go
  • WordPress will automatically connect to the LiveJournal API and download all of your posts: Read the rest of this entry »

Getting into Self-Employment Benefit (SEB) program: Q & A

Tom:: Hi.

Is this the program you were talking about?

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/tcu/employees/selfEmployment.html

Tania: Looks like it

Tom:: Who is it for?

Tania: For people who are currently on EI or were eligible for EI within the last 3 years (5 years if you were eligible for maternal or parental benefits) and want to start their own business. They also need to have a viable business idea.

You don’t get SEB automatically, unlike EI. You have to apply for it first, and then undergo an admission process with presenting and defending your business idea. The entire process may take about 6 to 8 weeks. (You don’t have to wait until your EI runs out to apply for SEB.)

Tom:: Have you applied yourself, or do you know anyone that has?

Read the rest of this entry »

Pep up your website popularity with Google Analytics

Get to know who your visitors are and where they come from
Find out what works and what does not
Google Analytics for your web-site by Helen Overland – presentation from PodCamp’09 Toronto

My resolutions for February (#LifeCampTO)

Following LifeCampTO, I decided to post my resolutions for February. I always found that talking to people about what I am going to achieve actually stimulates me to do it. So, here goes:

1. Spend at least 1 hour a day proactively promoting my business (like sending out emails, calling people on the phone, making presentations).
2. Make steady progress with the Russian translation of Someone comes to town…
3. The first revision of my translation of Iris Murdoch‘s Philosopher pupil has returned from the editor – I have to implement her suggestions and make at least one more iteration before the deadline (March 1st). Hopefully one iteration will be enough.
4. York is back to classes! And my technical writing class is on starting the day after tomorrow. This semester, long overdue, will end on March 1.
5. I start working on another SR&ED claim tomorrow. Tight deadline on this one, too – possibly the end of February.
6. I need to put up my website, finally. I sorted out the domain names, too (registered getyourmessageacross.ca, findyourpast.ca and sred4you.com).
7. I will be helping Reuven Cohen at the CloudCamp.
8. I want to go for a 15-minutes walk daily and drink a lot of water, according to Flylady‘s advice.
9. I need to contact all the people whose business cards I collected over the last month and invite them to my SR&ED presentation.
10. I have to set up the date for the said presentation and find a location (I think it will be CSI on Spadina, if I can get it).

I think that’s all, but if anything else springs to mind, I will put it here. If I don’t achieve these goals by February 28, you can hold me accountable!