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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Skype Hype: Are you using it for your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Now that the founders have become rich (again) and sold Skype to Microsoft – a questions must be posed.  “Did Microsoft completely overpay?” Not that question, but maybe (how the hell would I know).  “Will Microsoft underfund and completely destroy this new asset?”  yes…but not right away and that’s not the question. 

No, the real question is how will this new found attention to Skype change how will you use it for your business.   Before every cable company offered a VOIP solution, Skype was the way to talk over the internet for very little cost.  That uniqueness has gone away, but it still is the best way to talk internationally without it costing a lot.

The way we’ve been using Skype is for video conferences with our team (some of us are in Denver, some in the D.C. area) – and I’m sure we’ll continue to use it that way.  But Skype has competitors in that space with video chat already offered by Apple and other web camera services. 

One of the more interesting ways could be a combination of Skype into social media.  Don’t forget that Microsoft invested in Facebook a few years ago  — so forget poking, what about video chatting with your social network.

Any other thoughts on how Skype can help your business?

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ThunderSnow! What Your Business Needs!

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The past few weeks the U.S. as seen its fair share of Winter weather.  Last week D.C. shut down and KikScore co-founder, Raj, had to take refuge at a bar for several hours.  Not really sure how that is different from a normal day with perfect weather, but I digress. 

But the biggest storm of the season was the blast this week.  20 inches of snow hit Chicago, but more importantly, so did“ThunderSnow!”  This is a combination of a snow storm and thunder.  It’s happened twice this year (that have been televised) and the Weather Channel is freaking out about it.  Why?  I have no idea.

Neither of these two things (snow or thunder) really are that exceptional.  It’s not like a hundred foot wave crest that sunk the Andrea Gail.  No, it’s just the combination of two ordinary things that rarely happened together.  Or if they do happen together, it’s not ordinarily captured on tape. 

So, you have two common things, that may or may not happen concurrently.  I guess that’s exciting.  But what really is the sizzle is the name — ThunderSnow!  I think you have to include an exclamation point after you right that.  ThunderSnow! sounds like a  lame cartoon hero.  It sounds so much more awesome than it really is….sort of like the McRib (mmmm…McRibbbbbb).

That’s the beauty.  The name has you hooked.  The idea of ThunderSnow! is way better than the reality…sort of like my Toyota Prius…in traffic…in a snowstorm…or under ThunderSnow!  So, I guess my point to this (other than getting to write about the ThunderSnow!) is that you can have a decent, ordinary product, but if you market it correctly, or have the Weather Channel freak out about it, it can turn into a sensation. 

Speaking of which, maybe we should change our name to KikSnow!!

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: The Reason I'm not Working on My Small Business Tonight

Friday, January 14th, 2011

As a nights and weekend entrepreneur, every night I have a list of things I need to do to work on KikScore.  Usually I find the time.  But not on Thursdays.  Thursdays belong to Camille, Kyl, Lisa and Taylor — the ladies of RHOBH.  And I can’t be the only guy who thinks the same way.  In fact, there has been more than one drive home where I’ve talked about the show with Raj. 

Now besides being a fascinating study of human (mis)behavior, there are some decent business lessons to be found (at least that’s what I tell my partners so they don’t get made at me).  Here’s a start at what they are:

1.  Own Up to Your Mistakes:  We all know that Taylor talked trash about Kyl to Camille early on in the series.  Ever since, Taylor has been denying it and losing face every day.  Your customers know when you screw up, so instead of making excuses, just own up to it (you’ll be better off in the long run).

2.  Publicity May Not Always Be the Best Thing:  So you’re married to Kelsey Grammer and you want to establish you’re own identity.  Signing up for the RHOBH make sense.  But then it blows up.  Soon the whole world finds out that you’re a dim, manipulative harpy, whose only friends are on her payroll.  Maybe you don’t seek out publicity for your business, and only hope for attention for positive reasons (not because you’re desperate for it).

3.  Don’t listen to Mediums (or Larges).  During a memorable dinner party, Camille brought along her novelty friend, who was the inspiration for the show “Medium” (now cancelled).  In not a surprise twist, Camille’s friend started predicting all sorts of bad things for Camille’s frenemies.  She clearly saw that Kyl’s husband was going to cheat on her.  What the medium missed was the fact that Kelsey was, at that exact time, in NYC cheating on Camille.  Kind of a big miss.  So don’t believe mediums or proformas.

That’s the best I can do…i’ve no got to watch the show.

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20% Less Spam for Thanksgiving This Year!

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

To be honest with you, I actually really liked Spam when I was kid.  I don’t know what it was about that imitation, rubbery, ham-like substance but I am fairly certain that my Mom had me convinced it was real meat…either that, or I just didn’t know enough to think anything of it.  Jump forward 20 years, and Spam (emails) have become the bain of every Internet user’s existence.  Well, we are all in luck according to this article in the New York Times a couple days ago that indicates that these Spam emails should be decreasing by about 20% in the United States.

This article gives more details about how a major “spam kingpin” was recently arrested by Moscow police.  Apparently Igor Gusev was paying spammers handsomely to send emails promoting online pharmacies through his SpamIt.com domain.  The New York Times article goes on to talk about how known mass spammers and other cyber security threats have operated in public view for years but that recently the Russian government has started to try and clean up this image while also trying to partner with Silicon Valley to bring more commerce to the country.

While the reason for this Spam clean-up may be a little back-handed, I think that this is definitely good news for online security in general and a much needed step in the right direction.  Have you noticed a lower level of Spam email in your inbox over the course of the last 3-4 weeks?

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The turtle and the hare-revised! A cyber security fable

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Hello, everyone! How is your week going? Any of you SIS-U folks reading this? Yes? Great! Hi there!*waves* So,you’ve all heard about security problems on the internet and are probably going to click away from this post because you think it’ll rehash what has already been said. Well…you’re partly right, but only because it deserves rehashing, and you’re partly wrong. Did any other blog post give you the lesson in fable form? Yes? (Really? Where?). It all started when I read this post about experts urging people to ‘Stop. Think. Connect.’ I saw the word stop and immediately thought of turtles. [I think I had my university mascot on the brain.] Turtles move through life slowly, which is how we should move through the internet. (I wonder what this says about my university then)So, then I thought about updating the old turtle and hare fable for the modern internet age.(This fable dates back to the days when there was no copyright.)Everyone know how the original story went? Yes? Good for you, but you have to suspend that little bit of knowledge because this update is completely different!(Disclaimer: I did not reread the original version before I wrote this and it has been a while since I read the original) On to the story!

Once upon a time(all good stories start out this way) there was a large(very large) kingdom called Cybertopia (fanfare). Since this kingdom was very big, it was besieged by a vicious army of bots, viruses and malware out to steal it’s citizens identity and wealth.(cue the danger music)[from now on referred to as the BVM]{this would be easier if WordPress had a footnote button} Since Cybertopia’s citizens kept falling for the BVM’s tricks, the Cybertopian police decided to train a special division to educate the citizens about the BVM.(cue happy music!) Two of the most promising officers of the new division were  Rabbit and  Turtle. Today was the day of their obstacle course.

“All right recruits! The BVM has it in fer ya. They’ll set up traps, like the ones in this here obstacle course and it’s your job not to fall for them,” Sargent Monkey yelled.

“Yes,sir,” the recruits replied.

“Alright,” St. Monkey took out a list, ” the first one up is recruit number 55. Rabbit, yer up!” Rabbit stood on the starting line and waited for the signal. (ready, set, go!) Once he heard it, he was off and running. Rabbit raced through the obstacle course easily. He ignored the ads, dodged the bot’s lasers and smashed through the malware puzzles as if they were tissue paper. Rabbit was nearing the end of the course when he saw this billboard:

I Finally got a signal on the AT&T Network!!!!Click here to find out how I did it!

Wow,Rabbit thought, I should check that out! I have AT&T and I never get a signal! So Rabbit touched the billboard. Immediately a wormhole opened up, sucked Rabbit in and deposited him near St. Monkey.

“You fail,” St.Monkey hollered, “since you were in a rush, you failed to notice the trap! You’re going to have to take this course again! Turtle, yer up.” Unlike Rabbit, Turtle took the obstacle course very slowly. He ignored the ads, was too slow for the bot’s lasers to hit him and made the malware puzzles explode out of sheer frustration.  Turtle was the nearing the end of the course, when another ad popped up. Turtle looked at it for a few seconds, then shook his head and moved on.

“Congratulations,” St. Monkey said, ” because you took things nice and slow, you avoided the traps. You pass the course!” So, Turtle got his badge, while Rabbit had to retake the course. The moral of this story, slow down when you are on the web. Things that may look tempting, may harm you.

Contest!!!

If you can guess the show this picture is from( the logo on the bottom right gives you a hint) you get a landscape drawn by me! You can request scenes of course( as long as they don’t involve people or too complicated to draw animals, because I cannot draw them) and I will try my best to draw it the way you want it.

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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Lego Models: The New Windows Phone 7

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Anyone checked their homepage recently? Anyone have an iGoogle homepage?(Wonder if they ripped that off Apple…?) NO? Well if you do, you know you can customize it and get various news feeds from different news sources.

I have a PC World news feed on my homepage and when I was looking at it this morning, the headline said Microsoft sends out Windows Phone 7 Mockups Made Of…Lego Bricks. So, I clicked on it and found this article. PC World speculated that the Microsoft folks were inspired by the Lego iPad, shown here. I don’t think so. Looking at the photos provided by Engadget, the Lego version of the Windows Phone 7 is one ugly thing. The picture of the real one shown in the photo looks way cooler than the Lego model.  According to PC World’s article , the new Windows Phone 7 launches in New York(Figures,the day someone launches a cool tech product in DC, I will show up to that event.) on October 11, of this year. PC World is still speculating on the list of carriers for the phone, but the list includes all four major US cellphone companies.  The phone manufacturer is still unknown, but the list includes HTC, Toshiba, Samsung, LG and Dell to name a few.

So what exactly is the Windows Phone 7?  PC World has a neat little slideshow explaining that.(Quick little shout out to PC World, you guys are great!) Some of the highlights:

  • a mobile Windows Office
  • the only(currently) Xbox live app on a phone
  • the phone lets you manage its content from the web
  • makes it easier to find your lost

The rest is just what every other phone can do. Why buy it? I have no idea. Because it’s new and shiny? Because you’re an early adopter? Because you do a lot of work on your phone? Surprisingly enough, I couldn’t find a PC World article that dealt with that issue. If anyone has a good reason for buying this phone, let me know.

Extra!(because this post is way too short)

Want more Lego models? These sites have some incredible and strange ones.

Popular Mechanics: I liked the Lego Difference Engine and the Lego Air Conditioner(which actually works!)

Huffington Post: I liked the Lego Capitol, the Lego Man(actually Iron Man, but made out of Lego’s),Milk and Lego’s( is that actually milk in that Lego glass?), and the Lego Soccer Stadium(someone had way too much time on their hands)

Mashable: I didn’t know the Twitter mascot was named Ollie. I’d like to see the Google logo made out of Lego’s in a museum somewhere. See the iPhone unpacking slideshow(Mashable has a link) and the Google Chrome Logo video is epic.

Anyone else feel like a five year old watching/looking at these?

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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

How Would You Use A Hot Tub Time Machine?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Every generation has a movie that defines it.  It seems pretty obvious that this generation will be defined by Hot Tub Time Machine.  There have been plenty of movies about time travel, but what other combines time travel with hot tubbing and the 80s?  The fact that John Cusak is poking fun of the decade that established him will establish this movie as a all-time classic. 

In gearing up for this movie, I started thinking, what would I do for KikScore if I had access to at HTTM (yes, we need to create an acronym for it…it’s too long to keep typing).  Here’s some thoughts:

1.  Funding:  I would have purchased as many credit default swaps on subprime loans as possible.  That would have taken care of funding.

2.  Avoid Certain Vendors:  The biggest challange we have faced as a company was initially working with the wrong third-party developers.  We soon corrected, but we essentially flushed money down the drain.

3.  Started Blog Earlier:  We’ve only been writing for a few months, and readership keeps growing.  If we had only started a year ago.

4.  Transportation:  Not really related to KikScore, but I never would have bough that Toyota Prius.  It’s not because of safety either.  In fact, the last thing I worry about with my Prius is sudden acceleration.  If my Prius started going 85 miles/hour, I wouldn’t just call the police, I’d call everybody.

That’s what I would do with a HTTM.  How about you?

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Is March Madness Good for the Office?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Every year corporate efficiency wonks (or as I like to call them, the Fun Police) estimate the many billions lost by employees following the NCAA basketball tourney.  People take off work to watch the games, they talk about upsets (likeNotre Dame’s stunning loss to Old Dominion), and I’ve heard that people even participate in office betting pools.  Those sound fun…I should that out some time.   

Admittedly, focusing on college basketball isn’t business focused, but I think March Madness is good for business for a few reasons:

1.  Office morale: Betting on basketball games is an office equalizer.  The CEO is no smarter than a sales rep on who is going to win the tourney — and taking money from the bosses, if you do win, is a sweet thing.

2.  Enhance your ability to make small talk:  often when talking with customers (or potential customers), you don’t have anything in terms of small talk.  For the next several weeks, you have endless amounts of small talk (how you’re doing in the office pool, your favorite team getting beat by Old Dominion etc…etc..).  It’s the same reason why I like People Magazine, it gives me material so I can talk with anyone.

3.  Improves your project management ability:  anyone who has ever run an office betting pool will tell you that it is a nightmare unless you’re organized.  What better way to break in your new project manager than by throwing him an illegal office pool.

What’s your thoughts on the NCAA tourney?

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Small Business Interview with CardSauce.com owner Kevin Hoyle

Monday, February 15th, 2010

sauceIt’s February 15th… How did you celebrate the weekend with your Special Valentine?   Chances are high you sent or gave a card.  So, how long did you stand there in the card aisle, climbing over other sentiment seekers, trying to find the perfect one?  Our KikScore interview today is with a unique online card company that not only offers one of a kind designs and sentiments, but will also print and mail it for you! CardSauce has surely spiced up the greeting card industry and we are excited that owner Kevin Hoyle took the time to share his story.

1. Tell us about CardSauce.com and who you focus on serving?
CardSauce.com.comis a new online hub for quality, physical greeting cards and we’re here to spice-up the industry by offering a unique, user-driven experience! At CardSauce.com, we cater to…
- Buyers: When a customer places an order, we print the card(s) and mail it to the recipient(s) for them.
- Sellers: Artists (or graphic designer, photographer, etc) have the opportunity to upload original sauces (greeting cards) and sell them. Each time an artist’s design is purchased, he/she makes $1. It’s a true user-driven experience. While we do feature some original CardSauce.com designs, the cards featured are mainly “by the people, for the people”.
 

2. How did you get started selling online?
When the amount of times I found myself staring at unoriginal, unexciting cards at traditional stores and reseller outlets began to add up. I realized I was spending more time looking for an appealing card than I was on celebrating the actual event that the card was intended for. So I thought, why not move the future of greeting cards away from the mainstream corporations and place it into the hands of everyday people like you and me? Whether physical greeting cards are given to remind of an old memory shared, create a new memory, serve as inspiration, or spark a laugh, they all serve a common purpose: to relate or connect in some way to the recipient. So by allowing everyone and anyone the opportunity to create and sell original designs – not only does it generate creative cards for buyers to choose from – but it adds a level of authenticity to the industry as well. Sellers from various backgrounds, cultures, religions, etc can put a little piece of their life into their designs – building a portfolio of cards that offers something for everyone.

Why is CardSauce.com physically online, you may ask?  Well, in addition to it being more cost-effective to start (I’m a “one-man-band” with limited funding), it adds convenience for buyers and sellers.  Buyers can quickly browse the database of designs by category or key word, and can purchase and send cards from the comfort of their own home (plus let’s face it… gas money and stamps add up).  Meanwhile, sellers can pursue a hobby they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue – all while making a profit, or royalties, on each sale.
 

3. Where will CardSauce.com focus most of its energy in 2010?
In 2008 we focused our resources on web development and software.  Once CardSauce.com went live to the public in 2009, we realized we were not yet where we wanted to be and continued our focus on site enhancements.  Now that we feel comfortable with our offering from a web standpoint, we’ll focus our energy toward generating awareness and site traffic in 2010 – while continuing to enhance our core offerings.

 

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?
My two lessons would be more about business start-up than CardSauce.com.  First and foremost, technology – computers and the web in particular – is not as accommodating as people may assume. Sure, technology continues to advance at an incredibly fast rate and there are gadgets and software that exist today that people never assumed possible.   But that doesn’t mean you can “do whatever you want” with a website (remember, I’m not the IT guy here).

When I was first scoping out my idea to potential web developers, I lost count of the amount of times I heard “that’s not doable”, “there’s no way to build that”, or “we can do that, but it’s going to be incredibly time-consuming and will cost you thousands of dollars”. I essentially had to change the blueprints of the website throughout the process and it was very educational.  Things seemingly as simple as having PayPal split a single payment to two recipients is not doable, and that altered the entire make-up of the CardSauce.com checkout process.  It’s really incredible – though sometimes it causes some road bumps.

The second lesson I learned is don’t rush it, no matter what “it” is!  For example: Card Sauce, Inc. was incorporated in the fall of 2007 based on expectations set by my original web developer that the site would go live to the public within the next four months.  The site didn’t go live to the public until the summer of 2009! That’s two years of paying federal and state taxes without any source of revenue… NOT cool! 

Another example is when CardSauce.com.com finally did go live in June of 2009, it was not ready from a visual standpoint or a functional standpoint.  I was forced to hire on a new web developer and start from the ground up behind the scenes, while the original site just kind of took up real-estate on the web. With first impressions being so powerful, it’s important to capitalize on potential customers (buyers and sellers) immediately and we were unable to do that. There’s no telling how much business we lost in those early months.

 

5. As 2010 begins, what do you see as 2 new trends in your business this year?
Growth and revenue. With ’08 and ’09 being all about web development and 2010 being all about generating awareness and site traffic, it’s difficult to imagine any other trend(s) taking over one of the top two spots.

6. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?
Great question; I think I’ll go with Finding Nemo.  With industry powerhouses like Hallmark and American Greeting Corp. around, CardSauce.com is a classic “little fish trying to make it in a big pond” scenario – but in the end I think we’ll be able to pull it off.

7. If CardSauce.com could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?
Not really sure; greeting cards aren’t exactly the type of product or gift that fall into the “seeking celebrity endorsements” category. I’d imagine we’d probably work the humor angle and find someone witty and original to exemplify the user-generated designs available for purchase.

8. How do the folks at CardSauce.com let loose after a busy day working?
Well, I’m currently operating a “one-man-band” that is only just beginning to focus on generating awareness and site traffic (revenue), remember? So, until CardSauce.com starts to pick up, it is my “after hours” gig. I currently work full-time during the day and spend many a late nights trying to perfect the sauce. When I’m not working, I enjoy letting loose in a variety of ways – whether it be dabbling in some physical activity (the gym, ice hockey, etc) or a frosty beverage with friends/family. Now that it’s ski/snowboard season here in Boston, I hope to be able to make a few treks north as well.

9. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?
Only to support the CardSauce.com revolution and buy your quality, physical greeting cards online, of course!

So, get out the calendar, outline your greeting card list this year and surprise someone with a unique CardSauce.com design! And, share your spokesperson ideas with Kevin and CardSauce.

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Stay Classy, Online World …We're Ron Burgundy? KikScore's New Holiday Shopping Watch!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

stayclassy

We here at KikScore are pleased to announce our new seasonal feature — Panda Watch!  No, actually, it’s going to be Shopping Watch!  We’re going to poll our customers, readers as well as gather our own anecdotal information (at the mall, online stats) to measure how this holiday season is going for everyone.  We’re assembling our crack Channel 4 News Team to gather data.  But just in case Papa Burgundy (that would be Raj) can’t gather all the relevant info, please send us your view of how this holiday shopping season is going.  Also send us your favorite AnchorMan scene.  Here’s a best of clip:best of anchorman.

Stay Classy!

Brian Fantana

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