I just ran across this search results page on Google and happened to notice the “Code Snippet” section. Has that always been there? I know Google has been testing some new “Search Refinement Features” lately, is this one of them, or have I just never noticed it before?
NASA / Google recently announced their new Singularity University project. It looks pretty cool except for one little thing. Their site (hosted at BlueHost) seems to have been suspended. (All these brilliant people and they can’t keep their site up.)
Jaiku will is already in the process of being ported over to the Google App Engine and will live on as an open source project (though it will no longer be managed by Google).
Google Notebook will continue to function (though it’s unclear how long) for current users but the browser bookmarklet will be disabled. New users will not be able to create accounts.
Google Video has long taken a back seat to YouTube (another Google property). I don’t think too many people will be sad to see it go.
Google Dodgeball was intended as a “mobile social networking service that lets you share your location with friends via text message”. (Why you can’t just text your friends directly, I don’t know.) It will be completely shut down though a timeframe has yet to be established.
Google Mashup Editor, similar in functionality and purpose to Yahoo! Tubes, will be shut down in 6 months. Authors are encouraged to move their projects over to the Google App Engine.
The closing of all of these projects/services begs the question, what will be the fate of other less popular, less profitable Google services such as Knol (a Wikipedia clone)or GrandCentral (a universal phone number and voicemail system)?
How do you feel about these services being shut down? Do you use any of them? Will you miss them?
I just stumbled across Google Wishlist, a type of universal wishlist based around Google Product Search. Is this something new, or have I simply never noticed it before? Basically you start by finding a product through Google’s product search (originally called “Froogle”) which itself is based on Google Base. If it has been around for any significant period of time, then adoption is apparently really low. If it is something new, interest is apparently quite low because I don’t hear anyone else talking about it. I guess we’ll see. Personally, I’m still a huge fan of Amazon’s Universal Wishlist.
Has you used (or even heard of) Google Wishlist?
You’ve no doubt heard about the economic turmoil all around us. Maybe the recession is hitting your business particularly hard. While there’s nothing we can do to fix the economy, here are some ideas you can implement today that will help you cut costs and save big bucks.
6. Make Friends with a Competitor
You’ve been in business long enough to know that you can’t please everyone. And why would you want to? There are some customers out there who just wouldn’t be a good fit to work with your company. But guess what… some other business is a great fit. And that’s okay. Because most of your customers wouldn’t be a good fit with their company.
Now that we’ve clarified that, working with the competition becomes a great opportunity. If you’re too expensive for some clients, refer them to someone less expensive. If you don’t offer exactly the service someone is looking for, tell them who does. You’ll quickly realize that you’re spending less time dealing with frustrated clients, and more time with the profitable ones. And what’s more, your competitors will start sending customers to you. It’s all about building good karma. Cost = FREE
5. Accept Payment Online
Do you offer online payment to your clients? If not, you probably should be. These days, people expect to be able to pay with their credit card. And they don’t trust letting that card out of their site. Offering online payment options through a reputable provider makes your business that much easier to work with. And the best part is, it’s not that difficult. Just 15 minutes to set up an account with PayPal or Google Checkout and you’ll be ready to accept payments from Visa, MasterCard, AmericanExpress, and Discover.
Your customers can feel safe that you won’t ever have access to their card, and you can rest easy knowing that nobody can break into your office and steal valuable information. Cost = FREE
4. Stop Mailing Invoices
How much time does your receptionist spend printing/folding/stuffing/addressing/mailing invoices each month? How much money do you spend on postage? paper? envelopes? Is tracking down late payments sucking up time that you could be using to make money? Enough is enough!
There are a mountain of companies that can automate your invoicing process including: Zoho Invoice (my personal preference), Invoice Journal (my 2nd favorite), FreshBooks, and Blinksale. These products take all the complication out of billing your clients.
For example with Zoho:
- Just click on “Create a New Invoice”
- Choose a client and the service performed
- Verify the correct amount
- Click “Save and Send”.
An invoice will be emailed to your client along with a link to make a secure payment via PayPal. If they forget to pay, a reminder will automatically be sent to them later. Zoho shows you at a glance how much you’ve invoiced, how much you’ve collected, and how much is still outstanding. Cost = FREE to send a few invoices; up to $35/month to send a lot of invoices.
Jump to the next page for 3 more suggestions… Read More..
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LinkedIn has long been called Facebook for Business. Well it just stepped a little bit closer. On October 28, 2008 LinkedIn added applications. Fortunately, these aren’t useless time wasters like most of Facebook’s applications. Most of them actually add some interesting functionality. For example, one application connects your LinkedIn profile to your WordPress Blog. Another lets you embed presentations into your profile.
(I wonder how long it will be until we hear about someone getting fired because they posted a company presentation that was only meant for internal use.)
Seth Godin always has some great things to say about marketing and he has done it again. As you may know, Pepsi recently released a redesigned logo. If you care to know my opinion, I think it’s ridiculously ugly. They’ve gone from owning an iconic shap to owning a lopsided… something. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to the the corner of a smirk, a masked superhero’s eye, or a Pringle.
Naturally, they are hoping that the new logo will help them to make more money. I’m not sure how it’s supposed to do that exactly, but then, I don’t work at Pepsi.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that logos can be important. If you’re a small startup company trying to compete in the business world and your logo looks like it was made by your 9 year-old neice with construction paper… it’s probably time to hire a designer. But the concept that a mega-corporation is going to suddenly gain tons of business because they’ve redesigned their logo is beyond me.
In all actuality it’s going to cost them millions of dollars. Not only will they have to pay the overpriced agency that developed the logo, but they’ll have to redesign/repaint their trucks, redesign/reprint their stationary and business cards and ovehaul their website. And if they have any schwag to give away (and corporations always have schwag), they’ll have to start from scratch.
So if it costs so much money, why do corporations do it? Because the CEO got tired of the old logo.
I’ve decided to take a page out of 37signals’ playbook and offer up some design enhancements of my own choosing. The benefit to doing this, is that there’s no liability. No customers to please. No deadlines. No real constraints. Just an open opportunity to brainstorm and imagine “what if?” What if a certain product performed a certain way? How could this be easier?
For my first case, I decided to tackle a Redbox “Rental Selection” screen. I’m a huge fan of what Redbox is doing. They’ve really turned the movie rental industry on its ear. But I can’t help but notice how difficult their machines can be for n00bs (newbies) to use. I believe that a few well executed enhancements would make the whole process faster and easier for everybody.
First, let’s take a look at Redbox’s “Rental Selection” screen as it currently appears. The buttons on the left side are decent enough, but the buttons across the bottom are all the same size/shape/color. There’s no indication as to their function or importance. If you removed the text, you would have no idea which button performed which function.
In my version, the buttons are turned into images which can indicate their purpose. Also, the row of letters make it easy to jump to a particular part of the alphabet (the previous system requires the user to touch the “A to Z” button before giving them an opportunity to choose a letter.)
The horizontal red bar across the top of the screen indicates the current sorting method. Touching any section allows the user to sort movies differently.
Disclaimer: This mock-up concept was put together in about an hour and a half. It is not intended to be a final solution, but simply a better solution. I would never suggest implementing changes to an interface without first testing it with users. One weakness with this first optimization, is that it isn’t immediately clear how to change the sorting method. Some further thought could go into this challenge.
Google has announced several upgrades to their popular Analytics application. On Tuesday, they announced a fresh new look for the program. It’s nothing drastic, but rather a bit of a clean-up job. It also seems to be a bit faster although I’m not sure if this was intentional or a happy side-effect of the redesign (or ‘realign‘ if you will).
On Wednesday – that’s today – they announced several additional functionality improvements including advanced segmentation, “motion charts”, adsense reporting, custom reporting. and an API.
Google’s new “Motion Charts” tool allows you to observe a particular keyword’s (or group of keywords’) performance over time. You have full control segmentation dimensions that are displayed as x- and y-axis, bubble size, bubble color, and motion over time. This gives the user unprecedented insight into a campaign’s performance and will be very useful to webmasters.
Segmentation has always been possible within Google Analytics, but you were limited to the slices that were already prepared. With their new Advanced Segmentation tools, you can choose a nearly infinite number of segments, filters, values, etc. And my favorite feature? You can save your segmentations for future use. Over the course of time, that will save hours of work and make it infinitely easier to draw useful insights from the data.
Have you ever wanted to see a particular report in Google Analytics but couldn’t figure out how to make Analytics show it to you? Me too. But the new Custom Reporting feature lets you create reports that contain only the metrics you want to see. Just define the metrics you want to analyze along with the dimensions you want to see. (If you want, you can even define sub-dimensions.) And like “Advanced Segmentation”, you can save all your custom reports for future use. See the video below for an example.
If you use Google’s AdSense program, today is a great day. Analytics now contains (or will soon contain… it’s rolling out slowly) new reporting just for you. Using the new functionality, you’ll have insight into a wealth of new data such as: AdSense revenue, AdSense revenue per 1000 visitors, # of AdSense ads clicked, # of AdSense ads clicked per visitor, AdSense CTR, and much more. You’ll be able to see which of your content generates the most AdSense revenue, and which of your referrers pushes the most profitable traffic. Combine all that with the new segmentation and reporting features, and you’re well on your way to optimizing your site for profitability.
For those of you who don’t know what an API is, it’s a way of extracting data out of a program (in this case, Google Analytics) for use in another program. By offering an API, Google is making it easier for developers to write programs that can extend the functionality of Google Analytics but providing additional services using the data from Analytics. This is great news for you. It means that soon, there will be even more ways to slice & dice your site’s information using data from Analytics.
What do you think of the new functionality (and more importantly, the new look )