Thursday, May 28, 2009

7 Alternative Uses for Youtube: Finding the Useful Side of The Video-Sharing Site

Let's face it. Too many of us are spending way too much time on YouTube searching up the latest uselessly silly but somehow trendy videos by NigaHiga or whoever else. Sometimes it is a good dose of entertainment but when you get hooked, spending an hour or even half an hour every day on this video-sharing site, then you have a problem. YouTube should be a utility and not a time-waster so here are 7 good alternative uses for YouTube.

7. Product reviews

Reading a long, grueling product review just to pick out a few important points for 10 minutes is gruesome. On the other hand, watching a 10-minute video on the pros and cons of a product is less so. Trusted media sites and everyday people alike post videos on their favorite and least favorite things, often profane but often useful as well.

6. Getting caught up in the world

If you missed Obama's historic inauguration address, millions tuned into YouTube to watch clips of it in relatively high quality. They weren't captivated by the live moment but it's still nice to know a few good lines from the speech. There are tons of other speeches, news conferences and sporting event highlights displayed on the famed video site.

5. Expressing opinions

Here's my video on staying in Iraq and the dilemma surrounding the Iraq war. Here's another one, a prepared speech on brand name obsession, our adoration of the Abercrombies, Hollisters, American Eagles and Aeropostales. YouTube is a useful way to vent emotions and give honest opinions and insight, receiving public reaction that you could not get from just telling a few friends. Plus, you might get your four minutes of fame.

4. Instruction/Advice

Seminars are constantly posted up that might offer you some life-changing words of wisdom that you'll be able to credit YouTube for. Then there are other simple instructional videos on everyday things, from turning off a calculator to cooling a coke to making your own karaoke tracks.

3. Audio player

If you don't want to listen to radio, don't have an MP3 player, and don't have any tracks stored on your computer, then YouTube is the best option as an audio player. Just type in virtually any song and it's bound to be on YouTube. Most people like it for it's convenience and how easy it is to share music. You can just paste a link and people will be able to hear what you're hearing.

2. Promotion

Organizers might promote their event, start-up bands might promote their CDs, aspiring authors could promote their writing and publishers can promote their websites. Overall, YouTube is a great way to get publicity because no matter what, you are going to get at least 50 views within a month to pretty much any video. That's 100 more eyes on you.

1. Research

There's a lot of intriguing stuff that surprisingly never gets the millions of views that the stupid stuff gets. For a debate, I watched a few videos on gun control. And you can find videos posted by news agency, advocacy groups, companies and more on any issue. But that's not all. YouTube can be Wikipedia in videos and that's what I envision.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Top 6 Biggest Branding Mistakes and Failures: The Products Whose (Marketing) Fails to Impress

There are probably plenty of worse jobs that companies have done but this is what I've come up with. This list only includes products that are still in existence and those that launched in recent history. That means New Coke and the McPizza don't count although they definitely would make the all-time list.

6. Mitsubishi Elevators

Trailing Otis, Kone and several other companies in the elevator industry, Mitsubishi itself has been a massive failure. Its televisions have almost no market share while barely anyone knows about a random food and textiles division. Simply put, Mitsubishi does not stand out with any distinctive color like Ferrari, sound like the Ford Taurus or smell like Mercedes. And that's just its cars. But has anyone ever seen and recognized and applauded a Mitsubishi Elevator? The entire corporation has simply developed a reputation of substandard quality and no uniqueness or innovation, led by a badly trailing automobile division.

5. Microsoft Zune

I have complimented this device on its quality and I still think that it's a good device but from the start, it was destined for failure. After a hyped launch, the "iPod-killer" sputtered throughout its duration on the market at prices nearly the same as the iPod. A confusing interface, lack of unique features and little online capability, the Zune just doesn't have the charm that iPods do. The Zune doesn't even have a variation of the cover flow or genius playlist generator while online features are incredibly poor. Basically, Microsoft, renowned for its no-nonsense Windows operating system, has no right to market share in the MP3 player market, which demands innovation.

4. Samsung Instinct

Don't mess with Apple. The Samsung Instinct never even had the hype that the Zune had and was and still is regarded as an iPhone spinoff. I've never personally tried this device but can tell that its appeal is not anything compared the notorious Apple iPhone. Samsung just came too late in the touch screen world and is facing not-so-great sales as a consequence.

3. Dunlop Sport

Although a good tire manufacturer, Dunlop Sport is a mistake. Athletes are considerably picky about their brands and I know I wouldn't buy tennis balls or golf drivers made by a tire company. Dunlop has never been a leading innovator in any of its sports departments, trailing Wilson and Head in tennis, is a leader in the relatively small squash market, is not even considered as a player in the badminton market, which is the same with golf.

2. Reebok Reebok

In an athletic wear market dominated by Nike and Adidas, Reebok comes in at a lowly third. In the shadow of these two foes, Reebok has a good hockey division and has an adequate share in fan merchandise in the NFL but every other sport puts this brand out of the equation. Little to no media marketing, massively overpriced items, lower quality and simply the shadow of the two giants has not helped the company.

1. GM Pontiac

Have you ever heard of If you've been reading my blog, you have but if you haven't then you probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Well, you've probably heard of Pontiac. So why has CalorieLab overtaken Pontiac in daily web reach (website visitors), according to web research company Alexa? Because nobody cares about the sinking division of a sinking GM anymore. GM doesn't even care about Pontiac, which is not included in its four-division focus. This is because what does Pontiac have that's unique? Nothing. It was lauded as the new car company like Saturn. It isn't true American like Chevrolet. It isn't luxury like Cadillac. And it isn't fuel efficient like Toyota.

Do you see the similarities of all these? They all don't have any unique features and they all live in the shadows of a big-name, big-brand player in their market. This is exactly what you shouldn't do. Just some advice.

Why Testimonials Don't Convince Buyers (Anymore)

Testimonials are now officially useless. But they did have a few years of glory back when these little devices were the big thing that was used to sway buyers into trusting a product. However, since then, the dawn of a new type of testimonial has come to town.
The self-testimonial has become a pretty prominent non-factor in the market of scammer websites. Joe Walker isn't a satisfied customer. Cindy Johnson sure isn't either. They're all invented by some coward who thinks he's cool making fake testimonials. And he is anything but cool because some dumb page filled with these dumb things does anything but convince at least adequately intelligent people to make any purchases.
The rare income that these scammers to get is the few people who are too tempted by the small possibility that they could lose 50 pounds in a month on a guided weight loss program that costs $50. Or maybe its a work-at-home program that costs $20 to get started.
But the vast majority of people have simply stopped going to the testimonial parts of websites. If there's a testimonials page, I advise you to immediately close the window in which there will probably be a series of other pop-ups that activate right when you do this.
The plain truth is that companies or web businesses that have seriously established themselves as a brand that can be trusted, don't need testimonials to re-inforce anything.
This is the same with television testimonials. The multicultural actors dressed in business suits, with no facial expression are more lame attempts at making you think that they are real people.
Here's a perfect example of testimonials obviously created by make-up laiden actors who barely know what they're working for. Trust me, it doesn't just happen that they all look like either weightlifters or half-genuine football dads with their goatees and everything.
It's all stupid and it's all crap. Please. Don't ever fall for a testimonial.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

PicApp: An Innovation in Free Images for Blogs

While reading about copyright issues with blogs, I encountered a mentioned website, so I decided to check it out. PicApp offers free images that can be publicly displayed or published on a blog for free (that means you don't have to pay).
The homepage will list the steps: Find an appropriate picture for your blog by typing in search terms as well as selecting from either the editorial (mostly celebrity) photography or stock photography (flowers, grass etc.); then, select it and embed it and your done.
First off, the library of images is updated constantly with a huge number of photos of virtually everyone who has made some type of a name for themself whether it be Adam Levine, prominent singer for Maroon 5, or Guillermo Quiroz, obscure minor league baseball catcher. Sporting events, concerts, political things, film festivals are all covered comprehensively. Food has some good listings and you'll even find results for specific lakes and mountains. However, one complaint that I do have is the fact that say, logos, a particular brand of pencil sharpener or a small business in Maine is not listed. But they're only human. They can't obtain rights to everything and the thousands or millions of photos that they do offer for free publication do make for an incredible resource.
In addition to this, once you've selected something, publishing it is easy. Click on your favorite image and a box will come up showing a preview, listing the HTML code for embedding and even letting you share the photo with others.
On the other hand, it seems that web designers have tried much too hard on the interface. It's painfully slow in virtually every process.
But in an expensive world, it's nice to know that you don't have to pay for a good image.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Micrsoft Windows Vista's Windows Speech Recognition: What Hasn't Been Said About the Voice Recognition Program

There was a fair amount of hype surrounding the Windows Speech Recognition that comes standard with Windows Vista. However, this quickly died after several tests gone wrong and poor reviews galore, broadcasted across the web and on multiple television channels.
People have grown addicted to posting YouTube videos criticizing Microsoft's speech recognition engine. We've seen them speak quite clearly into a decent microphone and watch random words pop up on the screen, time and again. Clearly, it sucks when speech recognition programs don't work and your boss asks you what you mean by "fast pendulum unholy compact unicycle".
But, clearly, we all know the advantages of speech recognition engines and uses of them when they're accurate.
And I'm here to tell you that Windows Vista's standard Windows Speech Recognition software works. If you're an Apple fanboy, you're probably pretty pissed off just at the fact that I complimented Microsoft. But it is true (and by the way, I don't really like Apple).
Of course, it is not 100% effective and doesn't work miracles. After all, it isn't ObamaWare, it's software from Microsoft and you know it's going to have its flaws. In addition to that, it's a free speech recognition software as long as you purchase Windows Vista. You don't hear the phrase "free speech recognition software" very often so be very grateful of Microsoft's contribution.
Obviously, if you want to go ahead and throw $300 at Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking, widely known as the best speech-to-text program out there, you can, and you will get results. But if you'd rather spend that $300 on something else, just stick with Microsoft's version.
An introduction of it for those who haven't tried it is that they'll run you through a training program that picks up your voice's characteristics for improved accuracy. This is after they do a quick configuration of your microphone. This training program will tell you all the little quirks and is incredibly easy to understand from a Microsoft thing. You can open applications, click on web links and of course type with full functionality with Windows Speech Recognition, something most other freeware can't brag about.
And then you're off and running: You say start listening to get it to start working and stop listening to get it to pause for a little while. It's pretty simple.
And as long as you're in a considerably quiet room you're good.
When you see all those videos showing the software's flaws, ignore them. They just have crappy microphones. Personally, I use a headset microphone, the "Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000", which works like a charm. But when I don't want to wear that, I find that a RocketFish desktop microphone is great too.
YouTube users who waste their time making dumb videos showcasing Microsoft's errors aren't the smartest people in our population. Don't listen to them. Windows Speech Recognition is fine. So I say, keep dictating (you'd understand if you had the program).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Re-Birth of Newsweek: Newsweek, America's Second Biggest News Magazine has Evolved

Newsweek: Now vs. Then

Newsweek has changed. For the better. The little things and the big things alike; they've added stuff, taken away stuff, modified stuff, all with a new aim to be a new magazine with a new direction of making it in a tough economy with creativity and intuitiveness. Without a doubt, it's the right step but even with the total and utter and complete makeover, it'll be tough to find success as a print publication looking for market share in these tough times.

How Newsweek Has Changed

The little things

If you ask anyone at the company, they'll probably say it's the little things that make or break a magazine. Well, Newsweek has re-made its little things into one big masterpiece. They've improved the site design, staying with the same colors and fonts but employing them in a more appealing way.
They've improved the interface with easy navigation and more convenience; the blogs are right at the top, they've put in an "In the Know" section that highlights important articles from other news agencies, they have a "News/Week" bar that shows the important stories from each day on an interactive space.
They've supplemented to the cool factor with a quote bar. But there a much bigger things as well.

The big things

Everything that you could possibly need is now at your fingertips with Newsweek's evolution. The Newsweek Newswire, although only for the featured stories, adds insight from other sources, from Wikitravel to the the Moscow Times to the New Yorker while Newsweekopedia provides a full collection of all Newsweek articles on every topic from economic stimulus to crime. And this is literally every topic ever mentioned in a Newsweek article. In addition, direct links to related stories, related Newsweekopedia topics, the best Wikipedia article and web search results from Live Search provide all you need to become a Newsweekian expert on anything.
Moreover, the weekly magazine is involves readers more, which is necessary because don't we all love being involved with the rise of video games and other interactive activities? You can be involved in a new and improved daily poll section called "Serious Fun". Plus, if you have a Twitter account, your comments on Newsweek's tweets will be played for the whole world to see. They've also intergrated their own digg-like rating tool that comes standard with each of the articles that allows you to find the best articles on Newsweek. The number of "Recommendations" is proudly displayed beside every article while the number of comments is also broadcasted.

And everything they're doing is a huge mission "to create a forum for a continuous – and continuously worthwhile – conversation about key events and issues."

Is it Going to Help?

Every company out there is cash-starved. They have to cut spending in every department. This includes marketing. What does this mean for Newsweek and every other print publication, TV show, website and outdoor signage provider (I don't know what they're actually called)? It means that they can't sell enough ad space unless they lower the prices to the point where they can no longer make profit.
As you know, none of these media companies rely on the $0.50 per issue subscriber rate or even the $5 per issue at newsstands. They rely on the advertisers. Unfortunately, a great majority of advertisers are not going to have any more marketing budget until we're out of this economic crisis. Hence, the basis of this new Newsweek is to fight for what the companies can give up for advertising. Don't get me wrong, it is still a pretty huge trade but while internet ads are popping up everywhere, print publications' share of the cashflow is shrinking.
Still, it is unquestionable that this huge makeover is going to help Newsweek obtain more advertisers than they had last week but the real mystery is whether the magazine will even be able to survive and thrive, with these additional advertisers. Ad rates are lowered and they still have less advertisers than before, despite the fact that their print publication market share has not changed by much. The print publication market is simply shrinking.

On the other hand, back to positives, Newsweek is still a strong news magazine. This is why reader response is better than ever. Instead of the 2-3 "I agrees" on Facebook, they're getting 9-10 detailed responses to big articles. Their Twitter page is doing even better and the new self-integrated recommendations system is beginning to catch on.
At the same time, Google search volume doesn't seem to be seeing much of an improvement although Newsweek is neck-and-neck in terms of volume with its closest competitor, Time Magazine.

And even if it doesn't work out accordingly for Newsweek, let's hope it survives because it's a great read and never fails to fascinate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Invention Trade: Buy and Sell Patents at the Free Patent Auction

Inventions, ideas and everything of the sort are sold at the Free Patent Auction. Online since 2004, this site has never been the most popular one out there but haven't we all learned that it doesn't have to be popular to be useful.
At the homepage, you'll see a very simple layout, nothing fancy, mostly just text. However, the concept behind this site is a lot bigger. The basic idea is that inventors who have either lost hope or just want to make immediate profit from a patented invention, can sell these patents at often negotiable prices.
If a user of the service wants to sell a patent they can either set a price or list "to be negotiated", then write a description, give a simple diagram, add the country of protection and they'll be off and running. Of course, anybody with a patent can do this by making a free account with the Free Patent Auction.
And if buyers are particularly interest, they'll have a chance to have a peak at the seller's website, as well as access to the patent web page, all inventions from the member and contacting the seller.
At any certain time, there are usually over 1500 patents that are waiting for buyers, all categorized and searchable.
However, this is not for everyone. First of all, buying a patent costs at least $1 million and not everybody owns a marketable patent. As well, it is rare that anyone actually purchases so beware of that too. But maybe you'll be part of the lucky few who get noticed on this site and soon receive a cheque for a million dollars.

Friday, May 1, 2009

6 Reasons to Hate and Never Read Engadget

Ah. Tech blogs. Everyone knows that they have to be up to date in the world of technology so everyone favours one tech blog that they read everyday. Most of the time its either one of the utter nerd tech blogs like Engadget and Gizmodo. I'm starting the non-nerd tech blog movement so read this instead. Or you can go back to your geeky texts talking about RAM, microchips and special wiring. Here's why you shouldn't read Engadget:

6. Owned by AOL

AOL, Google's friendly enemy. It doesn't have any unique features from Yahoo! and MSN and all these copied services are downgraded. I have a very personal hate of AOL and all of its entities and you should too.

5. Way too many ads

An irritatingly obviously and poorly designed ad in the wrong size between every two posts is a bit hefty. And that's in addition to all the banner ads on the sides and banner on the top. Plus, the unbearable marketing of other AOL affiliations everywhere on the page definitely counts as well.

4. Biased because affiliation

Rarely will you see Engadget promoting Microsoft or Yahoo!. After all, they're AOL's competitors ("Microsoft's Profits Sink for the First Time in 23 Years", "Microsoft to Pirates: You're Bad but You'll Still Get Windows 7 Updates").

3. Spams your RSS Feed

Do you honestly need to know about the latest "endoscope" or "Thrustmaster's" latest additions to there line-up of products? And with the tens of geeky staff bloggers (meaning they do nothing but blog about stupid crap and enjoy doing it) as well as a host of guest bloggers, they can pump out 10-20 posts like these out every day. Oh yeah, don't forget about the "USB light" either.

2. Keeps you out of touch with the real world

When you start to get hooked on reading Engadget posts all day, you know your soul has totally died. I mean, you're not even chatting on MSN Messenger, let alone socializing physically. Instead, you read dozens of posts per day on the latest features on the new Palm.

1. Super-geeky

No need for explanation. When your blog is called "Engadget", is a division of AOL and talks about the latest breaking news in the tech world such as Norway's laptop giveways, it just is.