Google Has Code Snippets?

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?

Google Code Snippet

Have Google always included "Code Snippets" in their SERPs?

UPDATE: Yes, Danny Sullivan notified me that Google has included Code Snippets since at least last year.

Google Shuts Down Notebook, Jaiku, and More

I just read that Google has decided to shut down a handful of unpopular (or unprofitable) services. These include Jaiku, Notebook, Google Video, Dodgeball and Mashup Editor

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?

6 Ways to Cut Costs (& Boost Business) in a Tough Economy

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…

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Who Will Be the Next President of the USA?

Stay tuned here for live updates.

LinkedIn Adds Applications

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.)

Burger King Disappointed Me

I’m no Burger King fanboy or anything, but I get a bit of a kick out of the creepy plastic dancing king. He entertains me.

So, after two and a half hours in the car yesterday, I decided that I wanted something to eat. I saw a billboard that said, “McDonald’s, next 4 exits”. I thought to myself, “McDonald’s is okay. I know it’ll be fast, I know exactly what to expect, but…if there’s a better option, I’ll go there.” Now, I would MUCH rather have a B.K. burger than a McD’s burger anytime so I was pleased to see a little combination Chevron/Burger King at the bottom of the offramp. I went there. BAD CHOICE.

It took me about 18 minutes to get through the drive-through! Now I understand that sometimes things are going smoothly. Maybe they’re short-staffed. Maybe they ran out of fries. Let me make it quite clear that the fact that it took me so long is not the main reason I’m disappointed. Here’s the main reason. When I finally did get up to the window, I asked the girl working what took so long. She just shrugged and said, “Training. Here’s your order.”

No apology. No “Thanks for Coming”. Nothing. Just pure apathy. Ok, so they’re training. They have to train at some point. I understand that. Unfortunately, they’re training all these new guys to be apathetic and rude. “Don’t you get it? You have a job because of me! You’re at my mercy. BE NICE.”

Next time, I’ll try Wendy’s.

Should Have a Business Plan?

Absolutely. Good post on why you should have a (simple) business plan.

Free Restrooms Inside

Why do so many stores have a sign that reads, “Restrooms are for paying customers”? Sure, I understand that it can be costly to have a bathroom that you need to maintain. But how much money do these same businesses spend just to get people into their stores? Then they discourage them from coming inside. It doesn’t make sense. Don’t dissuade these potential customers, welcome them.

If I ran a retail store, I would put a sign outside that said, “Free Restrooms Inside”. People who come into the store will end up walking past the clothes, or candy, or whatever I put in their path and some of them will end up buying something. Sure a few of them won’t buy anything…this time…buy they’ve come in and they’ll come back. The last thing I want to do is spend a bunch of money advertising my company and then make them feel unwelcome when they get there.

You know more than me

I’m a firm believer that we’re all much smarter collectively than we are individually. I believe that any business that truly opens itself up and becomes transparent and honestly seeks the advice of its clients/vendors/partners will be much more successful than the business that tries to hunker down and do everything on their own.

In fact, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is…in a way. I’m issuing an open invitation to you to tell me how to run my business. Look over my site, rip it apart, tell me what needs to change. Everything is fair game from site design to product pricing to body copy. Let’s hear what you have to say.

McNice?!?!

Here’s my attempt at a Seth Godin-style post (I’m just missing the cell phone snapshot…will add later if I can figure it out). As I left the McDonalds drive-through this afternoon with my dollar-menu sandwich, I saw a sign that really impressed me. It said, “We know you have other options. Thank you for choosing McDonalds today.”

I was amazed. How cool is that? Sure it’s only a metal sign. Most people probably never notice it. But probably McDonalds spent about $50 bucks (or something) for the sign and more to keep it clean. At least that’s something. Why don’t more companies do that?