The Future Looks NOT SO Bright

Smart Phones, Dumb People

Smart Phones, Dumb PeopleWe’ve all seen the photos by now: people sitting around a table (mostly teens) with their head buried into their phone instead of having a conversation; a photo of a sidewalk menu that says “No WiFi – Talk to each other;” and you might have seen this well done video anecdote “Look Up” about social media and the future digital generation.

All of this reinforces the idea that we are ‘dumbing’ ourselves down. Sure, technology always has a way to make our lives easier, but the underlying problem is: while having a cell phone with the internet gives you instant access to any topic, or your entire medical history, we still need to understand the implications of all this technology.  In other words, “Without smart citizens you can’t have smart cities. Without smart patients you can’t have smart healthcare.” In essence this is nothing new. A well educated society that embraces technology correlates to a more productive, higher quality of life than one that does not.

So how ‘dumb’ are we? I can’t help but think about the silly futuristic comedy “Idiocracy” starring Luke Wilson. Clearly the film is quite an exaggeration, but we seem to be heading in that direction. Check out the article on “Idiocracy” predictions that actually are true today. One of the predictions of the film was the complete degradation of human language. Well not only is social media making us actually ‘less social’, but texting with limited characters is having a negative effect on how we interact and communicate.

Social Media Rears (and loses) Its Ugly Head

Here’s where the danger of an uneducated,  undeveloped society comes into play. Over the last few weeks, something caught my attention: CNN reporting beheading videos posted on social media sites are used as “recruitment tools” for terrorist organizations. And now just the other day, a man in Oklahoma goes on a rampage and beheads a co-worker.  The facts are still being put together, but he appears to have a violent past, mental problems, and a Muslim (convert). Throw in a radical Facebook page, web links, etc. and you are pretty much asking for trouble. I don’t think Andy Warhol ever fathomed beheadings in his famous quote. Moreover, ISIS and the atrocities of Muslim extremist groups have been televised and broadcast across main-stream media ad nauseam. So in no way am I suggesting Social Media is to blame for a beheading in Oklahoma or any of the other violent and ruthless acts. Of course it’s not helping, and it’s impossible to fully regulate or censor.

Imagine (easy if you try) the Nazi Propaganda Machine was around today and could utilize social media to reach and indoctrinate millions.  Similar to what we are seeing with ISIS as individuals from around the world have joined them. Not a massive number, but it’s a ‘no-brainier’ to realize the darker side of social media, also described as “Terror Marketing”. Not to mention we are witnessing not just an increase of Hate Speech, but Hate Crimes.  Hey, I don’t know where we would be without the internet and I’m big fan of social media which I highly recommend my clients utilize in their business. But as I alluded to above, this presents some serious issues. So what happens when the uneducated and misinformed masses are manipulated by massive amounts of harmful, false information? Are we living in the dawn of “Idiocracy?” Perhaps we will find out in the not-so-distant future.

The future’s been bright for so long now, it looks like dark to me

Check out the 80′s classic one-hit wonder by Timbuk 3

Some Mind Melting facts on Social Media

Please watch and enjoy this fact filled, entertaining video on Social Media from Kevin.
Pay attention, there’s a quiz at the end.

Social Media Marketing

Chances are by now, you are one of the billions of people that are on Facebook and most likely if you are reading this article, have several, perhaps too many, Social Media accounts. So now what? Likes. Followers. Connections. Great!  But what about Dollars?? The ‘billion dollar’ question: ‘How do I leverage this incredible technology and massive virtually unlimited customer database for my business?’

The answer has more to do with your business than you probably realize. You may have signed up for Facebook just because everyone else started signing up, and continue to post and share the same rather meaningless ‘stuff’ that’s quite frankly just a wast of time. Hey, we all get caught up in it (and no, your kids are not meaningless) but better start to focus on business. You need to: get organized, feature business related content, set a schedule,  be consistent . Essentially, you need a Marketing Plan / Strategy.

Think of all these Social Media sites as tools, and your business is your ‘project’ or what needs fixing. Do you just reach in the tool box and start grabbing various tools hoping to find the right one, or do you look for and get the right tool based on the job? The problem of course is knowing which “tool” to use, so you better take some time to learn about the various Social Media sites you sign up with, or hire someone who does. For example: Yelp and Google have greater value for professional services or retail; Instagram or Pinterest if you model, cut hair, in the food or travel industry, Youtube for music & film, Facebook for branding and product launches, etc. Before long you may wind up with a full Social Media “toolbox” but not just because “it’s the latest thing out there.”

Bottom line, Social Media Marketing can be extremely effective but you need to:

  1. Consider your business needs first.
  2. Evaluate and really understand the differences between Social Media sites
  3. Develop and implement an overall Marketing Plan.

Still not convinced you need social media for your business ? Here’s an article on Seven Reasons Your Small Business Should Use Social Media.

Now, what did social media take over as the Number One activity on the Web?

Windows XP users will die

Use Windows XP after April 8 and your PC will explodeBy now you’ve probably heard that Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP in one week on April 8th. So what does this mean? If you have Windows XP, will your PC just spontaneously combust come midnight, April 8, 2014?  Yes, unfortunately to report.
Actually no…April Fools!*

The reality is, just like with the end of the Mayan Calendar, absolutely nothing is going to “happen.” At least not right away. Eventually you may need to update as Microsoft’s support includes bug fixes, security patches, system updates, service packs, etc. Vendors will stop writing software and making hardware for it as well. Just the typical nature of operating systems life cycles – i.e  Windows 2000, 98, 3.1, etc. not to mention Apple’s line of OS X (10.3, 10.4,10.5, etc.) You get the idea..

Of course upgrading is easier said then done, especially for companies with lots of users, expensive proprietary or enterprise software that would need to be updated as well. Considering the cost and time involved, Microsoft’s decision to end XP  has caused some headaches for larger organizations, some willing to “run XP despite the risks associated with running an unsupported OS

So if you or your company is not planning on upgrading, there are several things to consider and implement if you plan to stick with Windows XP. We suggest running a security audit / check, which is something we offer. Contact Us for details.

XP has had quite a good run of 13 years (2001-20014). For most small businesses and single users, if you are considering upgrading, ‘what are you still waiting for?’  Although to be fair, it may not be so much leaving XP as it is updating to Microsoft’s latest lackluster OS, Windows 8. Hate Windows 8 ? Not to worry, there are lots of alternatives. We personally recommend Windows 7 (64 bit) as an upgrade from Windows XP which is still available. If you have questions, such as:

Will it work with my existing or old software?
What version of Win 7 should I purchase? Can I upgrade from a CD/DVD ?
Where can I find good deals on PCs with Win 7?
What is Windows 8.1 ?
What is this going to cost?

Just comment below or send us a quick email. Please let us know how your upgrade process went, or didn’t, as well. And remember, don’t panic, backup your data, and ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’

*Disclaimer: for those who don't get it, the part about windows xp users dying is entirely a joke, and any incident of computers with Windows XP exploding and someone dying, is purely a coincidence.

Closing the Book on L.O.O.K.

A look back at Project Look
I can still remember the exact moment when my friend, and new business partner at the time, Josh said those four key words that have changed lives and shaped the entire world throughout the course of history: “I have an idea”

Well, maybe not exactly when he said it as this goes back a number of years! However, what ensued was quite an endeavor that lasted over 4 years, took up lots of time, money, energy, and unlike college, there was no diploma at the end. We got close, and I like to believe that our last round of potential investors meetings in August 2011 went well, but our chances basically went down with the World Trade Towers several weeks later. To be honest, it wasn’t going to be easy to launch, money or no money.  We already started to have some internal problems as our programmer left, technology kept changing, project costs were higher than originally predicted, and our main investor was looking to split us up. So even if we did receive a large capital investment, there was no guarantee the project would ever come to fruition.

look-notes1

Original concept outlines and drawings for logo and display stand.

So what is this thing about, you might be wondering ?  

L.O.O.K. is is a unique advertisement media using cutting edge technology to provide outstanding multimedia productions. We intend to service our customer with real time updates using a telecommunications network that will make this product hassle free.

Basically an interactive Kiosk, that featured Plasma Displays and touchscreens. We were a little ahead of our time…just wasn’t cost effective, not to mention broadband was still slow and expensive. Be sure to check out the concept video just below the article.

look-notes3

Interactive display notes for the touchscreen panel 10+ years before the ipad

Josh and I have definitely moved on from this, and even though the project flopped, we learned a lot from the experience as a whole. I realized there is some truth to “It’s the journey that counts, not the destination.” The real world demands of tight deadlines, long hours, need for constant training and focus really enhanced my skill set and far surpassed or equaled any academic environment I’ve ever experienced. Anyone who works or worked in any kind of start-up environment will certainly agree.

"Mind melting" flowchart of complete system

“Mind melting” flowchart and algorithm of the entire system / functionality

Therefore, as we are now in the process of revamping the website and removing old information, I figured my initial MindMelt blog entry should mention L.O.OK.– for while it didn’t make it, the venture helped create a company which has produced hundreds of designs, web sites, blogs, logos / motion graphics, etc.

At least that’s one way to L.O.O.K.at it.