Scottsdale Camp – Why you should go.

Scottsdale Camp is being organized by Tyler Hurst and myself and will be held at Sky Song (click here for a map) in Scottsdale on April 24th from 1:30pm to 6pm with a special screening of the movie Lemonade at 1pm and a Q&A with the Director after the screening.  Lemonade is a movie by Erik Proulx, it’s a short film about him and a bunch of inspired people who saw unemployment as an opportunity, not a hardship.

So why should you go?

I think Tyler said it best in his post:

…it needs to happen. Residents of Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler get it, the businesses they frequent mostly get it and their employers are starting to turn on to it. But Scottsdale seems to be a bit behind the curve.

So let’s catch them up. Scottsdale Camp is an afternoon of teaching, sharing and learning from the actual practitioners. Speakers and topics were chosen to specifically target the theories that our geek conferences tend to specialize in.

If you’re a Scottsdale small business, if you shop at Scottsdale small businesses or if you like to see Scottsdale small businesses succeed, come help us out. We’re looking for smart people that want to learn AND teach.

That is the vision in a nutshell, provide Scottsdale businesses and residents with the tools they need to build stronger communities.

Register here!

See you there!

Remote Desktop Solution

Having a mobile office can have its pros and cons, one of the cons is not having every single file or document with you or on your laptop/netbook at all times. Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with this scenario and have been forced to find a solution. So, I thought I would share.

What I found was Team Viewer 5, it is an excellent free solution to my problem. I simply have Team Viewer installed on both computers, initiate a session, usually from my netbook to my home computer and either drop the files I need in my Dropbox (also installed on both computers) or use the browser to upload them to Google Docs. This way I have access to them via the cloud or I can download them to my netbook.

By the way, if you are not using Dropbox or Google Docs and you have a mobile office, you really need to look into them, great tools for the toolbox.

Another nice feature is that you can enable, chat, VOIP or video chat during the sessions as well. So, it has many uses for collaboration and sharing as well as remote access.

Side note: It is also a great help in assisting your technologically challenged parents when they want to know where the “Any” key is.

There is only one caveat to the free price tag, you cannot use it for commercial purposes. In other words you cannot use it for your home technical support business without paying Team Viewer their due. So, play fair.

If you have found another solution, please feel free to share in the comments.

Wisestamp for your business. Seriously.

Have you been looking for an easy, diverse and customizable auto signature for your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail web mail?  Maybe one you could display your social media profiles, RSS feeds, fan pages and blog posts in.  Are you a Firefox, Chrome, Flock or Thunderbird user?

If so, I have been using a great add-on/extension you should be using, Wisestamp.  I have been using Wisestamp for some time with Gmail in Firefox 3.6 and in Thunderbird 3 and I love it.  It gives me the ability to create multiple signatures, add any of my social media profiles in the form of an icon and display any RSS feed I choose.  It will then auto insert itself into the aforementioned web mail services. This is what my “Business” signature looks like:

Signature Capture

So, for instance, if I was a Realtor® that wanted to advertise my services, community information, upcoming events, point customers to my Facbook fan page etc. in every email I sent out, this would be the tool to use.  It is customizable and best of all, FREE!

Check this page out for some awesome examples.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

How will Twitter change your business?

A couple weeks ago 24/7 Wall St wrote an article entitled The Ten Ways Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business, the article centers on how Twitter benefits hyper-local marketing efforts and how it helps eliminate the need for some large scale media advertising for some businesses. It is a fascinating article and I highly recommend reading it.

As I was reading this article I began to think about how Twitter has changed my business.  Well, not being a prolific writer I came up with 5 Ways Twitter has changed my business.  Here they are:

1) Twitter has given me the opportunity to connect easily and more often with people that are local.  Not to mention the ability to actually meet and connect with people IRL (in real life) via tweetups, etc.

2) When I need product suggestions or some minor technical help, I have found myself using Twitter before Google. Reason being is that the help and/or suggestions I receive on Twitter are generally from people I know and have engaged with or met IRL. That means that I put more trust and confidence in the suggestions I get from Twitter. This is also probably the reason Google has been so interested in Twitter.

3) I have learned to be more succinct with my communication skills. Twitter does not give you the opportunity to be long winded, therefore it forces you to articulate your point in 140 characters or less.

4) Collaborating with other like minded business professionals to exchange ideas, foster innovation and support one another has been invaluable, especially during an economic downturn when it is easy to lose focus.

5) Finally, Twitter has given me another channel to connect and engage my potential and existing clients.  Which gives me a chance to learn more about them so that I can better meet their needs.

So I ask, how has Twitter changed your business?

Tech Tidbit: Free Photoshop Alternatives

As a Professional REALTOR® I spend a lot of time editing and retouching photos. Therefore, one would naturally assume that I use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements but one would be incorrect in assuming that.  Don’t get me wrong both products are outstanding at what they do, but they are very robust and very expensive and much more horsepower than the average real estate professional need.

So, I have assembled a list of six FREE alternatives that may not be as robust but will provide a more than satisfactory amount of features for the average user and a significantly less painful hit to the wallet.  Please feel free to comment with what your experience has been with any of these products.

  1. Snipshot is a web based somewhat bare bones site and offers the usual assortment of editing and enhancement capabilities.
  2. Picnik is another web based photo editing site that allows you to pull photos from multiple social networking sites and has a much cleaner and friendlier interface than most.  But, sadly, Picnik still only offers the standard editing capabilities, unless you upgrade of course.
  3. Paint.NET is a software program that only works on Windows machines but provides a much more robust photo enhancement experience. It is pretty easy to use and has a lot of tools such as a gradient tool, layers, special effects and a text editor.
  4. Splashup is another web based photo editor that provides more functionality than most, you can do multiple image editing, adjust pixels and add depth with layers.  This site also allows you to pull photos from some social networking sites.
  5. The Gimp is an outstanding software program with an tool set that rivals Photoshop Elements. It has plugins so you can add functionality to it and a huge forum that you will need to use often because it is not the easiest program to use. Granted, they changed some of the feel and names of commands to match Photoshop but there is still a learning curve with it.
  6. Fotoflexer is another web based photo editor that is, in my opinion, the best web based photo editor out there, for free.  Not only can you pull photos from many photo and social networking sites but you can edit a photo from your computer without uploading it to the site. It has impressive functionality with a clean and easy to use interface.

I know I have omitted many other sites out there but these are the ones I have experience with. I look forward to your comments.  Happy editing.