Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Creating in the Clouds

Posted January 28, 2014, by

As most in any creative field are already aware, the Adobe Creative Cloud is here. Adobe decided to turn its industry-standard software collection into a subscription-based model. This change has allowed Adobe to provide constant updates and fixes to their software as well as prevent piracy. At first, it seemed like an unwelcome change to a set of programs that I’ve been using for years. I couldn’t imagine paying monthly for a product that I have just been able to buy outright. However, since the launch of the Adobe Creative Cloud, I’ve come to realize that there are some benefits to embracing the subscription-based model. If this change proves successful for Adobe, it’s likely that other software companies will head in this direction, so I’ve developed a pros and cons list to elaborate on the changes and what they mean for your work.

Pros:

  • 20GB Cloud storage means your work is always backed up
  • Workspace synching allows for a better workflow between devices
  • New features are constantly being added, so no need to make the costly upgrade to the next version
  • Behance will work seamlessly with Adobe products, allowing you to easily build and publish a portfolio
  • Helpful resources such as Creative Cloud Learn will allow you to access to tons of free tutorials
  • Access to TypeKit’s premium web font library
  • Can be installed on more than one device/machine

Cons:

  • Cost will become an issue for many. Because of the subscription-based model, you never actually own the software outright. You will continue to pay as long as you run the software and it’s difficult to predict how costs will change in the future.
  • Adobe holds no liability for issues, damage or errors that occur within the software. While this is the case, to some extent, with their desktop software, a cloud-based service poses entirely new risks, such as a failure within the cloud storage system or authentication issues via Adobe’s servers.
  • Access to an internet connection at least once per month is required to authenticate the software. While this isn’t typically a problem for the average user, it presents new conditions under which the software can be used.
  • If Adobe’s subscription-based service is successful, other companies will likely consider the same structure for their software, which could eventually mean having several product subscriptions.

Currently, any user who wants to upgrade beyond Adobe CS6 will have no other option but to move to the cloud. Time will tell if it proves to be a successful model.

Security Tips for Selling, Trashing or a Stolen Computer

Posted January 7, 2014, by

Recently I’ve been in the situation where computers have been stolen. Not only is the robbery itself very invasive and rough to deal with, but now that our entire lives are on our computers and phones it’s very important to be mindful when you either sell the device, it gets stolen or you need to get rid of it.

If you are throwing away a computer:

Destroy your Hard Drive. Simply throwing it in the trash will not work if someone comes along and takes it. They can recover data and possibly sensitive information.

If you are selling your computer:

When you sell a computer you most likely can’t destroy the hard drive, but it can be wiped of all information. Most new computers/laptops have simple ways to restore or wipe it to factory settings. Be mindful to wipe the computer and not use Window’s “System Restore.” Older computers may require you to do some searching to see how to wipe the computer. You may also be able to completely reformat your hard drive, but you could lose all data including the Operating System. This may not be the best if you are trying to sell.

Now the big one: if it has been stolen:

Obviously this is the most malicious so you need to be very careful with what data has been stolen. First and foremost, if you don’t have the serial numbers of your computer(s) written down, write it down now. The more information you have on what was stolen, the better it will be for the police to locate it and return it.

You need to sign out your current account sessions. What I mean is, for Facebook and Gmail you can sign out any active sessions. I personally have my computer logged into Gmail at all times, so when I go to the website I don’t enter my password, same with Facebook. In Gmail, you can scroll to the bottom of your inbox and click ‘Details.’For Facebook, go into your security settings and you should see Active Sessions.

You also need to begin changing passwords for your online accounts – if you have ever told your browser to remember your password it is saved to your computer and the thief will be able to get a hold of any information available with those accounts. Your most important passwords are for your main email address. If they have access to your main email they have access to any accounts tied to that email. Even if you don’t think you had a password saved to your computer CHANGE IT ANYWAY! I doubt most people have unique passwords to all your account (I know I don’t).

Having your computer Password Protected is very beneficial when a computer is stolen. Just having a password keeps your files pretty safe from the average thief. Having backups not on your computer is also helpful for transitioning to a new PC.

Give Back, Get More

Posted December 26, 2013, by

About a month ago I waited in the drive-through line for my morning coffee, feeling rushed and running late for work. When I pulled up to the window, I was ready to hand over my coupon and credit card and carry on my way, but when I turned to the employee, she told me that the gentleman in front of me had paid for my drink. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so rushed.

Honestly as silly as it may sound, I was overwhelmed with joy. Like, ear-to-ear, smiling-till-my-cheeks-hurt joy. What a simple yet wonderful thing to do for someone you don’t even know. The stress melted away and, in a single moment, a complete stranger had changed my entire outlook on the day.

I will never get to thank that man (unless he’s reading this right now, and if so, thank you), but what I can do is pay it forward and give that same feeling to someone else.

I’ve made it a goal to find a little extra money each month to give back in a small way. Not for the thank you, but for the feeling I hope it gives the person who receives it.

Sometimes during the Holidays the push to donate and get involved can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Find little ways to give back all year because, even if you’re wallet is tight, just remember you can make the guy behind you in the drive-through’s day a little brighter.

Here are five ways to give a little:

  1. Buy a coffee for the guy behind you in the drive-through and start his day off right
  2. Tape a scratch-off lotto ticket to the gas pump for the next patron to find (and maybe win)
  3. Hide a few dollars around the dollar store so child can have a new toy
  4. Buy the soldier at the table next to you his meal, because he does so much
  5. Sneak a tasty treat in to your co-worker’s desk so he or she has a sweet surprise  for later

This holiday season spread some joy and give back, even just a little, and I promise you’ll get so much more in return.

Attaching Multiple Images to a Facebook Post

Posted December 17, 2013, by

Facebook is constantly working on ways to better their social site by making updates – big or small. Some of their updates are small enough that they may go unnoticed, such as adding the direct comment reply feature. Others are big enough to cause users to boycott the site (until they accept the change and move on), like the introduction to Facebook’s Timeline.

As a Social Media Manager, I usually notice most updates before reading about them on informational sites like Mashable. One new feature that I really enjoy and am glad Facebook finally made is the ability to upload multiple images to a Facebook post without creating an album.

Why I like this Facebook update:

  1. Avoiding Another Album: Albums are nice for events, portfolios and more, but there are times when I want to upload multiple images to my timeline without creating a new album first. Since fans can search a page’s images by albums, it is nice to keep organized and only create an album when necessary.
  2. Increasing Reach: As explained in the blog, Facebook Edgerank: The Newsfeed Algorithm, posts with photos carry the most weight in Facebook’s Edgerank. Being able to add multiple images to a single post will help increase the weight of your post.
  3. Quick and Easy: Uploading multiple images to a post takes very little extra work. Simply upload as many images as you want – all within one status.
  4. Add Descriptions: Once you post your status, you can then add a description to each photo, including who you were with, where the photo was taken and when the photo was taken.

Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page to keep up with weekly blog postings, events, behind the scenes at M3 Group and more!

10 Tips for Taking ‘Man on the Street’ Surveys

Posted December 12, 2013, by

As an employee of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency who also produces and publishes two local magazines (Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and The Greater Lansing Business Monthly), I am, at times, asked to write articles or contribute to stories in other ways. One monthly feature that The Greater Lansing Business Monthly publishes is a ‘Man on the Street’ survey.

If you are new to interviewing people on the street, I put together some tips to make your time asking ‘Man on the Street’ survey questions more productive and a good experience for everybody.

  1. Always be polite, being nice is more likely to get you responses
  2. Don’t chase people down the street for an answer
  3. Keep your questions relatively short and be sure to prepare them beforehand
  4. Let the person talk, nobody likes to be interrupted
  5. Happy people are the most likely to answer questions
  6. People in groups are less likely to stop and answer
  7. Never interrupt people on the phone
  8. People with headphones don’t usually want to be disturbed
  9. Take short notes to respect people’s time
  10. Choose a place where people frequently walk

5 Reasons I am Thankful for Cyber Monday

Posted December 10, 2013, by

It’s that time of the year again to get out and spend some money on your family and friends for the holiday season.

As we all know, the best deals come right after Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, that is because the weekend after Thanksgiving is Black Friday.

As the inexperienced shopper that I am, I have a hard enough time navigating the mall on a slow Tuesday afternoon, let alone on a crazy Black Friday. In fact, while at the mall, I usually find myself wandering the food court or riding the escalators.

Needless to say, I have never ventured out on a Black Friday in hopes to get a deal on a gift that I’d like to give. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t envy those who do go out and get that sweet deal.

Luckily for me, and those with similar shopping habits, we too can receive great deals thanks to Cyber Monday.

Here are 5 reasons that I am thankful for Cyber Monday.

  1. The ability to compare product prices between two stores by clicking the tab to the left as apposed to driving 10 miles to the South.
  2. As much as I’d like to take the store employee’s word for it, it is his/her job to sell and talk up the store’s product, whereas online customer reviews are from consumers just like you and me.
  3. Being able to shop in sweatpants with the game on in the background. (You may be able to get away with this at BestBuy – though they may ask you to leave before the final buzzer.)
  4. This isn’t a guarantee, but it is more likely that an online store has the size and color in stock than at the store itself.
  5. When your shopping is complete, instead of carrying countless bags to your car in the cold, all you need to carry is your empty coffee mug to the kitchen sink.

I wish all small businesses much success this holiday season and remember, though it is great to get people into your store, there are people like me who simply want to shop in their home, online.

If you are a business in need of a website makeover in order to add ecommerce software to your site, give us a shout, we can help!

Five Reasons Second Graders Rule

Posted December 5, 2013, by

I don’t remember a ton from second grade. I remember I had tights with little pink hearts on them that I loved and begged to wear every day. I remember I thought my teacher had a crush on the art teacher. I remember that my mom told my sister and I that she was having another baby.

It’s these memories (and the fact that I do have memories from the second grade) that come to mind on Tuesday mornings as I pull into the parking lot of a local elementary school to serve as a Junior Achievement (JA) volunteer. For five weeks a year, I get to play teacher as I talk to second graders about their community.

If you don’t know, JA is a nonprofit organization that invites volunteers into K-12 classrooms to talk about various topics including government, entrepreneurship and more.

Although my school didn’t have JA, I do remember that any adult who comes into the classroom, who isn’t the teacher, is automatically cool. I try to use that knowledge to my advantage as I teach the students about the different jobs available in the community, a little bit about how our government works and more.

Instead of heading into the classroom this week on Tuesday morning, I attended my third Starmaker’s breakfast, which is an annual fundraising event for JA and the way I found out about this awesome organization in the first place.

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that highly values giving back to our community and therefore allows me to take time away from the office to participate in JA.

And while I hope the students are getting something out of our conversations I have to admit that I get so much out of teaching that I can’t imagine not doing it. Here are five reasons second graders rule:

  1. Last week one student gave me a drawing of a Christmas tree, which inspired five other students to also give me holiday-inspired drawings, which are decorating my office now.
  2. I’m guaranteed a hug every time I walk into the classroom.
  3. The things they say can honestly keep me laughing all day long.
  4. Kids are easy to please. Give them each a sticker or a piece of candy and you’d think they won the lottery.
  5. No matter if they’ve thought about it before, each and every one of the students tells me they want to be a writer when they grow up, because I’m a writer. Talk about making you feel like a rock star!

Silver Bells…from my vantage point

Posted November 21, 2013, by

Where will I be the night of Silver Bells in the City?  Working … at the corner of Washington Square and Michigan Ave. No, it’s not what you think. I’ll be that friendly face directing media trucks to where they should park. Since this is my first time at Silver Bells, I’ve asked what it’ll be like. I’ve heard stories of the not-so-pleasant frigid temperatures and the rush of patrons who “almost” run you over to get the best spot as you sit in your folding chair awaiting the media’s arrival. I dream of another reality. I imagine a time where the weather is just right, I pick the perfect spot to sit, the media doesn’t forget their parking pass and every media truck finds a parking spot. Is this too much to ask for? But wait, I’m not done dreaming…

I imagine the sights and sounds of glowing lights, jingle bells and laughter as everyone anticipates the approaching parade and Santa! I envision a clear view of the beautifully lit Christmas tree overlooking the Capitol, oh what a scene! When I’m cold, I just walk into Troppo and there’s a hot chocolate waiting for me. How lovely!

I’m sure the whole downtown area will be a flurry of activity as thousands of visitors take part in this massive annual event. I’m sure my favorite part of the night will be the Electric Light Parade. I wonder what floats I’ll see or if there will be marching bands. Oh how I love to hear the sounds of holiday music … it just gets me in the mood for Christmas. I’ll be sure to say Hi to the Mayor if I see him. Maybe when I’m released from my post, I’ll stop by the Silver Bells Shopping Village for some tasty treats or drop in one of the local restaurants for a late night snack on my way out of town.

If you haven’t thought about coming to Silver Bells on Friday night, Nov. 22, you definitely should go. It’s more than just a parade, it’s entertainment, shopping, food and more! You’ll get in the holiday spirit in no time. Visit the Silver Bells in the City website for more information.

We’re All Connected

Posted November 7, 2013, by

You most likely have heard of the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, the idea that six links connect any two people on the planet in some way.  This theory is still debated as myth or truth since its inception in the 1960s.

In my experience, especially in a small “big” city like Lansing, Mich. this theory is definitely true. Besides my own experiences, I see connections in my office all the time. For example, one member of our sales team’s sister-in-law is now our rep for one of the stations our media team does media buys with. I can’t help but to ignore the fact that it seems that we are all connected.

Here’s the bigger point: it matters that we are somehow linked to each other. I have personally called a friend of a friend of a friend rather than a complete stranger just because it is comforting to have that small connection. In the business world this serves as another reminder to always act with kindness and courtesy to anyone you come into contact with. Recommendations can come from near and far when people have exceptional attitudes and great service.

So just remember next time you’re at the grocery store, nail salon, gym or out to dinner – a connection is right in front of you. It could be your next client, supplier, partner or link to your next big break.

6 Tips for Workplace Training

Posted October 30, 2013, by

I recently started some part-time work in dog training and I started to notice the similarities in training dogs and humans.

While training a dog certainly isn’t like training an employee, there are certain similarities. My dog, Mitch, would like to offer a few examples of similar training techniques you can use with people!

Tips on training a human, by Mitch:

  1. Always be sure you have plenty of treats.  The humans I know seem especially fond of chocolate, this is a sure fire way to start your training off on the right paw.
  2. Be kind. This is much appreciated, as learning new things is challenging and can be frustrating.
  3. Be patient. Remember, your human is new to this.  You may have to take a couple steps back from time to time, but don’t give up!  Just make it a little easier before moving to the next step.  Extra treats can come in very handy when humans get frustrated.  ☺
  4. Don’t spend more than an hour or two on training without taking a little break. When you see that glazed over look in your human’s eyes, nothing is getting through.
  5. Gradually work with your human until you build them up to 100% performance of the task at hand.  This may take a while, so be sure to go at your human’s pace.
  6. Finally, once your human has been performing the new task with minimal to no errors and seems comfortable with it, you can begin the process of weaning them off treats.  WARNING: this can be very difficult at first, make sure this is a gradual process as to not upset your human and send them screaming from the building.

Good luck with your training, and remember patience and kindness go a long way, and so do yummy treats!