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August 2011 Archives
Pundits are pointing to sales of Apple's iPad and the like and predicting tablet computers might be poised for a takeover of other home computing devices such as netbooks and laptops.
The number are impressive: Since Apple introduced the first iPad in April 2010, the company has sold nearly 29 million. In other words, just more than a year ago, the product category of tablet computer practically didn't exist. Now you'd be hard pressed not to to trip over at least one tap-happy iPad user on any given visit to any given coffee shop.
Compare the iPad's growth to adoption of DVD players: Apple sold 8 million units within the first 80 days of the iPad's introduction. DVD players, the most quickly adopted non-phone electronic product, according to CNBC, sold at a rate of 350,000 in their first year.
While Apple's the 800-pound gorilla of the tablet world, other manufacturers are churning out tablets, too, with consumer demand high.
According to Focus.com, "more than one-tenth of shoppers online are planning to purchase a tablet within the next half-year, suggesting as many as 28 million of the devices could be sold in the coming five months."
Read more about the "tablet takeover"
Many of these "12 Finer Points of Email Etiquette" from Robert Half Technology are common sense tips you might have heard before. But they're also worth repeating, so have a look.
12 Finer Points of Email Etiquette
Since Google stepped into the social networking arena with the launch of Google+ at the end of June, some have been anxious to declare the new service failure or Facebook-killer.
CNET's Steven Musil seemed to take a less-than-positive view in his post from last week, when he asked, "Is the shine beginning to fade for Google+?"
He cites Experian Hitwise figures that show "Google+ had 1.79 million visits for the week ending July 23, a decrease of 3 percent compared with the previous week when the network had 1.86 million visits."
CNET updated the post after its initial publication, with a rebuttal from Google, pointing out some flaws in the data.
The jury's still out on whether Google+ will catch fire. After all, it's barely been a month. But consider this: According to ComScore, the service has already attracted 20 million users in just its first three weeks.
That sounds like a pretty good start.
Read the CNET article
Computers and the code that runs them are near and dear to the hearts of the Signal team, as you might presume of a company devoted to building state-of-the-art Web sites.
The folks at ExtremeTech have put together an interesting history of programming languages, beginning with FORTRAN in 1957 through the introduction of Ruby on Rails in 2005. (Okay, so Ruby on Rails is a programming framework and not a language, but let's not split hairs.)
According to ExtremeTech, PHP is the most popular scripting language in the world.
Take a trip through computer programming history
Adobe will introduce a new product this fall that seems to indicate the company realizes Flash might not be long for this world.
Adobe Edge, now in beta, is a desktop application to help Web designers take advantage of many of the shiny new features included in the new HTML5 spec. Many of these features allow slick interface design once available only to designers who built sites using Adobe's Flash — and only visible to site visitors who'd installed the Flash browser plug-in.
By sticking to its guns of not allowing Flash to run on devices powered by its iOS, Apple has delivered a serious blow to Adobe. As more and more Web traffic is generated from iPhones, iPads and the like, more and more Web designers are reconsidering their allegiance to Flash.
With Edge, Adobe's smartly playing both sides of the field: If HTML5 gains traction, like many pundits believe it will, the company will already have a product to cater to HTML5 designers.
Furthermore, if Flash survives the open standards onslaught, all the better. For Adobe, at least.
The company plans to release Edge 1.0 in November.
Visit Adobe Labs to learn more about Edge
We all know mobile devices have taken off like wildfire in recent years, but just how much do people rely on those devices?
A recent survey by TeleNav reveals 22 percent of respondents would rather do without their toothbrush for a week than their mobile phone. For iPhone users that number climbs to 40 percent.
A third of respondents would choose to abstain from sex for a week rather than give up their phone. Alcohol? 70 percent.
Read more about how much people love their mobile phones
In the minute it'll take you to read this post, more than $1.2 million will be spent worldwide on e-commerce; approximately 470 people will log on for the first time (Where have those people been?); and about 40 new Web sites will launch.
That and other Net-related statistics are brought to life in Online Schools' animated "State of the Internet 2011" infographic.
Take a look at the "State of the Internet 2011"
Broadband providers are getting better at delivering the speeds they're promising to their customers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released results from its latest study of actual broadband speeds of major Internet service providers (ISPs) compared to advertised speeds. On average, actual speeds are within 80 percent of those advertised, a substantial improvement since a 2009 study.
According to the study, Verizon Communications Inc.'s fiber network was best at meeting or exceeding its promise. Cablevision Systems Corp. was the worst.
Read more about the study at Reuters
For information about broadband in Vermont:
The project is a cooperative effort of the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI), Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA), Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) and Center for Rural Studies (CRS) of the University of Vermont (UVM).
The BroadbandVT.org site, developed by the team here at Signal, features an interactive map of broadband availability in Vermont.
The folks at Smashing Magazine have published an article in defense of email. Felicity Evans makes a case for why email is still important, despite a recent comScore study that seems to take the opposite view.
(That study is the same one covered by Signal email expert Holly Buttura in her Feb. 15 post ["Email is not dead, nor is it dying"].)
The Smashing article includes a smart and quick piece on how to get more out of your email campaign:
- Have something to say. Sounds simple, but while your daily musings are permissible on Twitter, your email audience will be less forgiving.
- Make it digestible. Email doesn't limit your word count, but you'll need to apply some editing of your own. If it's a long article, include an excerpt and link through to the website for the full story. This has the added bonus of enabling you to track the most popular items.
- Be regular. Set a schedule of emails that you know you can keep to. A monthly or quarterly newsletter can be a good guide.
- Be personal. Tailor your tone to the audience. Most email services offer invaluable segmentation tools. You wouldn't speak to your spouse the way you talk to your bank manager; neither should you address your entire audience the same way.
Read the full article at Smashing Magazine
Not too long ago, typing your credit card information into a Web form to pay for your online purchase seemed pretty advanced. Then came PayPal, letting us make payments without sharing our credit card information — with anyone besides PayPal, at least.
Now cell phone carriers have gotten into the online payment game.
Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have recently announced plans that will allow you to pay for online purchases with little more than your phone number and PIN. The charge shows up on your phone bill.
T-Mobile is partnering with a number of companies to make it happen: BillToMobile, PayFone, Boku, OpenMarket, and Zong. It expects to begin offering the service with its first participating vendors later this month.
Verizon's arrangement includes American Express and Serve.
Juniper Research forecasts mobile payments over the next three years will reach $670 billion by 2015.
Read more about Verizon Wireless's plan
Read more about T-Mobile's plan
For the average person, thinking about the holiday season right now is like Texans thinking, 'Hey, this heat is great, keep it coming!' For businesses, they should absolutely be thinking about the holiday season, especially for their email marketing program.
It's easy to put your email plans on the back burner to deal with more 'immediate' issues. However we know things get crazy busy when the holidays arrive and then who has time to put together a carefully crafted email? Don't disappoint your readers who've taken time to express their interest in hearing from you. Plan now and make them excited; just like Texas is sure to be when the heat wave goes away!
Learn the 6 Best Practices For Holiday Email Campaign Success This Year
According to Gomez, a division of Compuware, Google Chrome is the fastest desktop browser measured under "real world" conditions.
The company collected 1.86 billion measurements on visits to more than 200 Web sites over a one-month period to draw its conclusions. Only broadcast connections were included in the survey.
See how all the major browsers compared
Try as we all may to tweak our Web pages to bring in the highest volume of traffic most relevant to our content — a practice called "search engine optimization" — it turns out the best way to build Web traffic is to be the one who directs that traffic.
Case and point: Though far from conclusive, new research suggests search engine giant Google tends to drive traffic to Google-owned sites.
The new numbers, from Searchmetrics, indicate a steep climb in search results that include images and video. The world's top sites for both are Blogger and YouTube, both owned by Google.
This wouldn't be the first time a charge of digital nepotism has been leveled against Google: Anti-trust investigations are underway in the U.S. and U.K.
Read more about the new accusations against Google
It's your bandwidth. So, service agreements aside, if you want to let your neighbors tap into your Wi-Fi to suck down some free bits, that's your business.
But if you want to be sure the guys on the other side of your office wall can't, here's a clever, simple and free way to discourage it: Pick a bad-ass name for your network.
For example, how many netizens would choose to join a network called C:\virus.exe even if it meant the possibility of some free connect time?
The folks at Digital Inspiration detail how you can set your Wi-Fi to broadcast that or any other less-than-inviting SSID to would-be moochers.
Of course, a much more secure way of protecting yourself is to secure your Wi-Fi connection with a password and/or only allow certain known devices access to your network.
Digital Inspiration covers those, too.
Read how to secure your Wi-Fi network
According to comScore estimates, 14 million Americans used quick response (QR) codes in June.
The marks, which are popping up everywhere, allow mobile device users to quickly access Web addresses, email addresses and other data with a simple snap of their device's camera.
The study shows QR users tend to be male, 18- to 34-years old, and have a household income greater than $100,000.
Read more results from the QR code study
A new report shows Microsoft's Bing search engine has a higher success rate than Google.
In July, the success rate for U.S. Bing searches was 80.04%. Google's was 67.56%.
Experian Hitwise, the company that conducted the research, defines "success rate" as the percentage of queries that result in a visit to a Web site.
It might seem hard to believe the number one search engine in the world will ever be any other than Google. On the other hand, once upon a time Alta Vista held that title, and it seemed hard believe that would ever change.
Search volume is still clearly in Google's favor. Google's U.S. search volume for July was 66.05%. Bing's was 12.98%.
Read more about the Experian Hitwise study
Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) and the Vermont Attorney General's Office (AGO) have launched the Vermont Rental Housing Codes Web site.
The site offers guidance on health and safety standards that existing residential rental housing in Vermont must meet, as well as the legal rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants throughout the rental process.
The site's content was compiled and arranged by AGO intern Victoria Westgate and reviewed by many stakeholders.
I designed the site while employed by VHFA before joining Signal last month. Final revisions were made by Signal at the direction of VHFA during August.
Visit Vermont Rental Housing Codes
According to Google, the average U.S. click-through rate (CTR) for banner ads on the Web fell from 0.1% to 0.09% in 2010.
Google also reports, not surprisingly, banner size and format have an effect on CTR. Ads that are 250x250 pixels and use Flash get the highest CTR: 0.26%. Vertical 120x240 banners with Flash and 468x60 banners with Flash tied for worst CTR: 0.05%.
Read more about CTRs
With businesses finding more and more places to display those quick response (QR) codes to drive traffic to their Web sites, it's nigh time for some savvy tips on how to make the most of those efforts.
NeoMedia CEO Laura Marriott has put together five tips for a successful QR campaign. Here's our favorite:
Giveaways, discounts, free tickets and exclusive access will compel consumers to interact with and scan your code. If your code simply offers the customer a chance to view a TV advertisement or link to a website, it's best to try again.
Read Five Tips for a Successful QR Campaign
What's the fastest Web browser? Well, according to our post from last week, where we cited research by CompuWare's Gomez, it's Google's Chrome.
A better answer might be a question: According to what standards?
A uniform series of truly browser-neutral tests to determine performance are likely on the way from the W3C, which should help level the playing field and make sure we all have our apples and oranges sorted out.
Read more about browser-neutral performance testing
Anyone familiar with Smugglers' Notch knows there's plenty to do year-round at America's Family Resort. And now their Web site reflects it.
We've added information specific to spring activities at Smuggs.
Visit Smugglers' Notch Resort online
Public relations disasters have taken on different characteristics in this age of "social media." A simple slip of the mouse can mean the difference between tweeting about the weekend's late night debauchery to friends and family — or to clients and vendors.
When your business finds itself in a tight spot following a Twitter snafu, there is hope for turning things around — sometimes even turning a PR disaster into a PR opportunity.
Read some tips on how to clean up after a social media PR disaster
Researcher Global Web Index says Facebook are becoming less active on the site.
The company's study looked at user activity from July 2009 to June 2011 and found several activities were on the decline:
- Gifting to friends, down 12.9% in the U.S., 7.5% worldwide
- Messaging to friends, down 14.8% in the U.S., 7.4% worldwide
- Joining a group, 12.8%, 6.5%
- Searching for new contacts, 12.7%, 4.5%
The one significant increase in Facebook activity was uploading videos: up 5% in the U.S., 7.6% worldwide.
Read more about the Facebook user study
As you might imagine, we're pretty bullish on the benefits of online content here at Signal. But a new report suggests when it comes to recalling what you've read, you're better off reading the print version.
The report, by three doctoral candidates at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, found readers of printed news could remember "significantly more" than those who read news online.
Headlines, on the other hand, were recalled equally well by both types of readers — proof, perhaps, that people really do scan much more than they read when online.
Read more about the study
With the number and variety of online services growing every day sometimes it's hard for any one new service to cut through the noise. But here's one that caught our eye: The Interviewr, a free service that allows you to record phone calls.
More than that, the app combines a couple other companies' application programming interfaces (APIs) to help you schedule calls, take and share notes about the conversation and more.Learn more about The Interviewr