Online Gaming: My Unconventional Experiment in Marketing

Online Gaming as an Experiment in MarketingI’ve recently started playing an online game in my *cough* free time. Since I have it on my phone, it happens during those moments I used to spend learning something — reading articles I’d saved, checking email obsessively, and similar pursuits. But, I’m having quite a bit of fun with it and I’m testing out some… are you ready… marketing theories! Continue reading

Easy, Free Remote Desktop Tool to Help Clients Virtually!

Remote Desktop Tool for FreeSometimes one of my clients calls in need of a little “long distance technical assistance.” This might be a simple “how do I…?” question or their issue might require multi-step troubleshooting.  Either way, it’s often easier to show them than to try to explain it all in multiple back-and-forth emails or chat sessions — or even a “walking through” over the phone. And, demonstrating on their own computer, so they can see what I’m doing, means they are more likely to be able to do it themselves next time. Win-Win!

There are paid options for this, but I’ve found that one quick and easy way to be able to be able to show — using their own computer and their own mouse — is a little tool that presents itself as a Chrome extension. And, it’s a cross-platform tool — so if they have a Mac and I’m logged into my WIN7 machine, it works. Likewise, if I’m  on my MacBook and they are using some flavor of Windows, I can still help them. That’s nice!

It involves opening up a session (two clicks from the apps screen of your Chrome browser) with a code shared with the client. The client will then type in the code and approve the share. Once the session is over, the code won’t work again. It’s easy, it’s secure and it gets the job done.

If you aren’t already using the Chrome Browser, I highly recommend it. I sing its praises to all my clients and now there is this new, uber-cool reason to use it. It’s called (simply enough) the “Chrome Remote Desktop” and it works like a charm. Download it today and put it in your arsenal of tools to help others!

(Note: Special thanks goes out to for suggesting this tool when I was looking for the best option.)

3 Cool Email Tools: Google Labs

Google Lab Treats Email Users Right!I love my Google Apps account. Granted, I fret over how much Google knows about me… but I’m beginning to accept that the concept of “privacy” as I knew it growing up no longer exists. With that disclaimer firmly in place at the beginning of this blog, I’ll skip merrily along and share three great finds for email over on Google Labs with you (and a few bonus ones for Google chat users!)

Get Labs Stuff For Yourself

To access Google Lab goodies for your own Google Apps Email account, simply sign into your email, click the “gear” icon in the upper right hand corner and select “settings.” When the settings page appears, go to the FARRRRRR right upper tab and select “Labs.”

Presto, you are there and now you can skip about too — enabling this and that and the other thing to your heart’s content. Personally, I think these are the best options at the moment:

Top Three Wicked Google Labs Picks for Email

Preview Pane – a toggle switch that lets you see the list of emails you have, or a preview pane (a la “outlookish” style).

RIght Side Chat – I burn up my Google chat, but that dancing up and down thing at the bottom of the left hand column makes me nuts. This moves the entire chat window over to the far right column so it’s dance-free. :) (Note: I also use “Pictures in Chat,” “SMS in Chat,” and “Green Robot” to improve my chat experience — the first shows a mugshot of me and my chat partner, the second one lets me send and receive SMS messages from my contacts (so I don’t have to get up from my computer to go find the phone when I need to send one) and the latter lets me know if the people I’m trying to reach are at their computer or on their android device. These aren’t actually “email” labs, but I still wanted to share them.) 

Unread Message Icon – a super simple, really useful add-on that places a number of unread messages on the favicon found on the tab containing my email browser window. At a glance I can tell if any new messages have arrived without all those nasty “pop-up” notification things that make me nuts and interrupt my train of thought.

Let me know if I’ve skipped one that YOU find invaluable! (Comments always make me happy!)


iTunes won’t update Apps!!! iTunes error 400.

For several weeks, I’ve had to update my apps one at a time on my iphones — yes, we have multiples in this house (three) plus an iPod touch. So, manual updates get to be a bit cumbersome.

I’ve been getting an error (without an error number, just so you know, saying there’s no internet connection — which there WAS) along with a second error (400) when I try to update. Error 400 in relation to the iTunes store, BTW, referenced iTunes version 4.8 and is seldom seen now. It would also tell me that the iTunes store was temporarily unavailable and it asked me to try again later. For weeks.

The odd thing was that I can get online and view the iTunes store. I could also buy and download apps, but I couldn’t update any — and I had over 230 that said they need to be updated.

Earlier this week, on Sunday, I spent the entire day — literally over five hours — on the phone with Apple trying to figure this one out before my iPad pre-order arrives and needs access to the iTunes updates too.

We finally gave up when the levels of tech support were exhausted and my issue was sent to “engineering” to resolve it.

Today (on Tuesday) I’m cleaning things off my Mac, and decided to be rid of some programs I no longer need or want. One of them was NetBarrier X5. Since this one had proven to be less than simple to uninstall — it was going to require a bit of research. Some months ago, I simply opened it up so it wasn’t blocking my ports for wireless apps and other programs that I use until I had time to actually get rid of it.

While enjoying my insomnia tonight, I decided to clean this particular little program off my machine. I have to do a web search to determine how to do it. While searching, I actually trip across this article which states that there is some weirdness reported between iTunes store permissions and logins and NetBarrier.

Long story short… removing the NetBarrier (which had to be done by re-downloading the product and then attempting to install and hitting the uninstall instead) and then a reboot and the problem was solved.

Now, I just have to call my support guy back at Apple and let him know what I’ve found so they can document it on their site’s tech support.

And one more huge, bothersome thing to do is off my list…along with the smaller one that caused it.

Moleskine Hacks: Budget Gift Ideas With Impact

Need a practical, median priced gift for your favorite artist, writer or student this year? Know someone who would benefit from a GTD command post that would fit in a pocket or purse?

Maybe a little bitty notebook could be the cornerstone of your gift giving season (you save money if you buy in bulk!)

My own love affair with the Moleskine:

Despite my love of Moleskines for everyday use, I really appreciate the artistic side of things where these little gems are concerned. I enjoy them so much that I’ve been collecting some sites that show off the best illustrations, hacks and accessories for the little volumes.

I know that they now make smaller and brighter colored versions (Volant versions). I just got the email yesterday. It’s pretty fresh news. But, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my notebooks.

I’m not saying I won’t try one of the tiny ones — it looks like those may represent a “can’t help myself” episode in full force. Gee, I love paper and pens and pencils (Oh. My!)

Newfangled colored and flexi-covered versions aside, today I’m going to share a few cool things with you, fellow classic Moleskine lover. And these things can make a notebook into a token gift or an amazingly rich gift… depending on how you play it.

Moleskine Art:

Some ideas for the artist in your life. Select a Moleskine Small Sketch Notebook (pocket-sized) and add a high quality graphite pencil set and art erasers. If you are particularly fond of this artist, add in a lust-worthy water color pencil set and/or travel watercolor brush or professional quality colored pencils to create a portable art studio.

Smashing Magazine’s Collection of Moleskine Art
‘ – a site dedicated to the decorated moleskine
Flicker Hive Mind collection over on


A writer’s Moleskine Hacks – Mikes version from 2004, but still quite applicable (and I use the writer’s tools PDFs printed out and glued into my own). Add a package of post-it tabs, brightly colored index cards, a fabulous pen (I highly recommend the Namiki Vanishing Point Raden Fountain Pen if it’s in your budget. I swear by mine.) You may prefer to opt for a high quality mechanical pencil, instead. Be sure to tuck an gift card in the pocket to support their reading habit. And dedicate it to the writer on the inside cover. No writer likes to be caught out without a place to capture ideas. IMHO, there’s no better, quicker, easier tool to capture those thoughts on the fly than a properly outfitted pocket-sized, ruled Moleskine notebook. Leather covers are nice too (see below.)

GTD Moleskine Hack for Students – Great gift idea! This How-To printed out with a brand-spanking new Moleskine, a good no-skip pen and a mechanical pencil, a few Post-It tabs, a package of index cards, a large rubber band and an eraser. Add a funky, properly sized sticker and tuck an “emergency $20 bill” in the pocket alongside a prepaid calling card and you have a “to die for” gift that will actually be enjoyed and appreciated.


Want a beautiful, handmade leather case for your favorite notebook? Try Gfeller Casemakers.
Want one that’s got the midas touch, and is made to order? Try Sojourner Leatherwork

To whet your appetite for bitty notebooks:

If you aren’t already a convert, learn more about all things Moleskine over on Moleskinerie. Those of us who are already in love with these little notebooks will wait, we are patient. It’s only a matter of time before you join us in our addiction. :)