Archive for February, 2011

Spam From Spying

A while back, we told you about how Google was using its mapping street-vans to “accidentally” collect things like your passwords in their efforts to provide all the public information they can to people.  Recently, Steve Kovach has pointed out that they’re recording your browser history in order to spam you with adds while you’re online.  I’ve got to admit that I’ve noticed a serious uptick in the number of adds I come across from the sites I’ve visited more than once.

To me, though, the problem is more that once again you’re being tracked.  The fact that it’s merely to advertise sites you’re already looking at is merely insulting.  But they’re violating your privacy – once again – by tracking you in the first place.  Steve focuses on the companies themselves, and that’s worthwhile in itself, because blocking them from getting the information does reduce the problem.  But the heart of the issue is that, once again, you’re being spied on by people claiming to help you.  That makes it look like nothing’s ever going to change, and these people really do want to take over your brain.

Honestly, it makes me feel like everyone’s got their own personal stalker who’s creeping around the Internet.  Maybe that’s what Eric Schmidt was talking about with his creepy line, in which case, it’s definitely been crossed.  And all so they can remind you about something that you’ve already looked at.  There’s a little cynical thought inside me that’s wondering what this is really about.  It can’t just be about rerunning ads, because no one’s so forgetful that they need reminded that they’re interested in something.

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Taking Care Of Your Site’s Needs: The Smart Phone

With the smart phone becoming one of the most ubiquitous pieces of personal equipment wherever you go, it’s important to make sure that your website is ready to deal with this new client base.  Yes, it does count as a different demographic from people browsing with their computers.  Here’s why:

You have to have a different website programming in order for smart phones to be able to read it.

Part of this is because of the differences of a smart phone’s screen from the average computer screen.  The smaller size means that the pages viewed have to be formatted differently so that everything isn’t  one big left-right scroll bar.  Part of it is because of the basic differences in the operational computer languages of phones as opposed to “normal” computers.  And part of it is because people are going to be more prone to make snap decisions when they’re dealing with you through their phones than they would over the computer.

The problem here is that, unless you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be hard pressed to make the changes you need without wrecking either the smart phone version or the main version of your website.  When you’ve got everything taken care of properly, though, you’ve literally opened the door to a whole new demographic – people who aren’t using their computers to look at your website.  This may not cause a dramatic increase in the amount of business you do in a short time, but it’ll still bring more paying customers to the table.

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Social Media Doesn’t Have To Be A Pitfall

Everyone who’s every worked in an office understands the dangers that social media can present.  If you aren’t careful, you’ll wind up spending more time socializing than actually doing your work.  That’s why so many companies have policies against using it at all while on the clock (with the possible exception of when you’re on break).  However, there’s a problem with this: it cuts down on the level of social media interaction that your company can have with your client base.

Don’t misunderstand me.  There are things that experts can do for your company that you’d only be able to stumble through at best.  But, there are also things that your employees can do that simply can’t be achieved through any outside influence.  You need both in order to get the full spectrum of what’s possible.  Otherwise, you’re always going to be missing out on something or other.

So we find ourselves back to addressing the pitfall that’s been present since the beginning.  How do you allow your employees to use social media at work without accidentally giving them a way out of work whether they use it intentionally or not?  The answer is surprisingly simple:  You set limits on what will be done during business hours.  When you do that, they can take quick breaks with their friends (if they happen to be on at the same time), and they can actually help with social outreach to your client base.

For one thing, you can require that some of their time online be spent on your company’s social media sites.  Any number of specific methods could be used but the point is that, while your employees are on any SM site while on the clock, your company is on that site.  As long as it doesn’t become a new source of stress for your people, that’s a valuable resource that you shouldn’t dismiss.  Simply setting reasonable limits on what will be done while at the office will take something that was potentially a serious pitfall and turn it into an asset for the company.

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Better Start Getting Ready For IPv6

As we’ve said many times, the Internet is changing.  Well, looks like part of this is that it’s just about outgrown it’s current limits.  There are only about a hundred million IP addresses left on the current system (IPv4).  So, major companies like Facebook and Google – and the U.S. government – are getting everything ready to switch over to IPv6.

That’s important, because adding new IP addresses isn’t the same as adding new area codes to the phone listings – which is still quite an undertaking in and of itself!  Instead, a whole new system had to be written so that everything could still work properly.  Most people aren’t going to be affected in their private lives, because the hardware requirements are already included in most recent technology that they’re apt to buy, but anyone wanting their companies to stay online are going to need to make some upgrades to things like their router and other networking gear.

It’s nothing to get in a frenzy about:  the Internet isn’t going to collapse simply because there’s no room for any more website addresses.  It’s actually going to be comparable to replacing your old car with a newer model.  Some effort is involved, and you want to find the best deal you can, but as long as you get it done before your old one dies completely you’re going to be fine.  And, considering that IPv4 is nearly forty years old, I’d say it’s got a pretty good track record for not dying.  All you need to do is make sure that you get ready before everyone switches over, so that you aren’t left behind.

The Internet is changing.  This change means new growth.  Anyone who’s ready when it happens will be in a great position for taking the lead in all parts of online business.  Everyone else will just have to follow their lead.

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