Entries in ND&P (203)

Friday
Jul012011

Cloud 101: What is this "Cloud?"

The cloud is here! Rumbles on the internet say it’s the next best thing since, well, the internet. (How meta!)  In fact, companies are moving so quickly with cloud-based developments you’re likely to get lost in its fluffy trail.  The concept of cloud computing is as vast and nebulous as it sounds.  By no means is this blog a comprehensive report, I just wanted to answer the question that everybody has been asking lately– what’s up with the cloud?

What is it?

Consider the cloud your virtual hard drive in the sky that contains absolutely all of the information you wish to share; centrally located data that is accessible via internet connection. Your computer, smartphone or tablet can connect to this cloud of computing power, where all your applications and files are housed. Confused?  Ok, try to think of the cloud in a literal sense – a mass floating above you that can be filled with select information accessible to whoever, whenever.  Imagine having all of your chosen information – and when I say all I mean all –available 24/7/365. Basically, we are no longer bound by location and hardware. Still confused? PCMag.com offers a pretty succinct definition, “In essence, personal cloud computing means having every piece of data you need for every aspect of your life at your fingertips and ready for use.”

Everybody loves the cloud!

All the big names, from Amazon to Apple to Google are on board, too. Chances are you’ve already been in the cloud and didn’t know it. Web-based file sharing services like Dropbox and SugarSync , that allow you to access and share information in your cloud, are gaining users at rapid speeds. In fact, Dropbox alone has 25 million users worldwide. These services are equipped to run across all the operating systems and mobile devices to ensure that you are never without access to your info. See, the cloud is kind of a big deal.

What about privacy?

But before we collectively burn our jump drives, there is the, uh, “cloudy” issue that we need to address called privacy. Having your personal cloud networked with the public will undoubtedly make a few people nervous. As the cloud continues to gain popularity I’m sure privacy settings and good old fashioned internet paranoia will increase. In the meantime, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is keeping a close eye on the cloud and continues to promise consumer security and privacy policies are valid concerns. Needless to say, discretion is advised when sharing files, cloud or no cloud.  

From the looks of things, the cloud is shaping up to be a huge, innovative step in the right direction towards how we access and share information.

(Janae Johnson)

Thursday
Jun302011

July 4th Tips from ND&P (and Mo's dip recipe, too!)

Many of us are hitting the road this weekend to visit family and friends for the July 4th holiday, (though perhaps not as many as last year, according to travel forecasts). Or we'll be playing the host, pulling out the family recipes or hunting for new ones, making lists and grabbing our recycled grocery bags. And at the end of the day the odds are pretty good that we'll take in a few fireworks.

For the Road Warriors
In your haste to get up and go, don’t forget some basic (and important) items before you hit the traffic-packed roads. Parents.com has seven good road-trip tips (for those with or without little ones), such as making sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. And here are eighteen various tips from blogger Britt Reints – like changing the oil in your car before you go and making sure you have trash bags (and sunglasses!) with you in the car.

For the Gracious Hosts
Looking to add some new recipes to your patriotic party this year? Check out some ideas from Food Network, including black bean burgers and a fruit tart flag. If you want something really easy (and yummy) to take to a party, consider customizing your own layered dip. I have a new fave I’d like to share. Credit goes to ND&P colleague Mo Davis, who recently brought a batch in to the office. (I should also mention Mo seems to have some magical gift with avocados, so don’t skimp on the green layer!). Measurements aren’t exact, allowing each chef to customize to his or her taste, but it’s an easy dish your guests are sure to dig in to:

Mo’s "Make it How You Like it" Layered Dip:

  1. Start with a medium or large rectangle serving dish.
  2. Spread two cans of your favorite refried beans in the dish for the bottom layer.
  3. Combine about 4 peeled/seeded/chopped or mashed avocados, lemon juice, chopped fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and spread over the bean layer.
  4. Combine approx. 1 cup sour cream, ½ cup mayo, and about ½ package of taco seasoning mix and spread over the avocado layer.
  5. Rinse and drain a can of black beans, and shake on top of the sour cream layer.
  6. Dice about three Roma tomatoes and mix with a medium/small jar of your favorite salsa (Mo uses Marie’s Mild) and spoon over the beans.
  7. Dice a few green onions and sprinkle on next.
  8. Drain a can of black olives (chop or slice ‘em up if they aren’t already) and add them to your masterpiece.
  9. And last, top with a layer of shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar.

(serve with red, white and blue corn chips if you're feeling ultra patriotic)

For the Entertainment-Seekers

Many of us will be slathering on some bug repellant and grabbing blankets to head out to local hotspots for a fire-crackin’ evening under the stars. Some will be putting on their own shows. Options for those who prefer their fireworks in HD include (all times are EST):

Just like you, ND&P-ers will be celebrating the holiday in a variety of ways. Embarking on roadtrips where we tell our backseat children to stop taunting each other and we’re almost there. Wondering where we stashed the red, white and blue napkins. Showing off our grill finesse while serving neighbors our famous ooey-gooey-four-cheesy-turkey burgers. Maybe even making REAL lemonade.

And wishing you all a safe and happy Fourth.

(Shaun Amanda Herrmann)

Tuesday
Jun282011

Avvo Seeks to Join the Physician Ratings Game

Recently we have gotten several inquiries on another new and growing consumer rating service for healthcare called Avvo. Here is my take so far:

What is Avvo?
Avvo launched in 2007 with a focus on legal professional services, but has expanded to also include medical services. It's similar to some of the other consumer physician rating sites (Angie's List, HealthGrades, DrScore, etc.) in that it encourages patients to rate their experiences. The site also offers sponsored and customizable profiles and display advertising – nothing new there, either.

Things to Consider
The Q&A forum - allowing doctors to answer questions from visitors to the site - is somewhat unique, and a major part of their sell in terms of raising your exposure and generating traffic to individual profiles. However,
sharecare© is also doing something very similar in a format that is more of a pure health portal, and appears to have more momentum at this point. 

Current Recommendation
I don't see it as a very significant player worth the additional investment. But some of their offerings are free, so more aggressive online marketers (who are already doing a good job of hitting the basics of online marketing) may find this new and potentially growing channel worth exploring for ways to best leverage it. 

As with all the healthcare ratings and rankings sites out there, we'll continue to monitor the situation and provide updates that we think are relevant to your marketing efforts.

(Danny Fell)

Wednesday
Jun152011

News You May Have Missed: Marriot Recruits with Facebook, the Hidden Cost of Sleep Deprivation and More

Marriot Uses Facebook Game as Recruitment Tool

Marriot hotels are turning to Facebook games to recruit employees internationally. The company recently created a Facebook game that simulates the chaotic world of owning and operating a hotel. Players begin in the game as a cook and must learn to solve problems of high costs, sudden demands and low budgets. The company hopes that the game will help to recruit employees from fast growing markets such as China and India. 

Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Unethical

Sleep deprivation may be costing Americans more than a couple extra hours a night. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Arizona it can also lead to rude behavior, inappropriate responses and attempts to take more money than earned. Why does this contribute to unethical behavior? Sleep deprivation controls executive functions in the prefrontal cortex, which controls functions like emotion and behavior.

Twitter Makes Ads Available to Small Businesses

Last week Twitter announced that it will be offering an automated ad-buying system for small businesses. The current process requires businesses to contact the Twitter sales department, which makes the process slow and selective. (Only the top 500 business receive any attention.) With the new automated process smaller business could easily buy online ads and target local users.

New Travel Site Lets You Preview Rooms

Room77.com is the newest hotel booking website that allows you to actually see inside of hotel rooms before booking. This feature is not common on other travel websites of its kind. Room77 utilizes Google Earth technology to offer simulated views of the room. The site allows users to find rooms based on price, size and number of stars. It then presents results based on the percentage they match the request.

(Lindsay Wade) 

 

Tuesday
Jun072011

The iCloud is Here, Nike Takes on Action Sports, and More!

The Cloud is Coming
This past week Apple announced its newest software and an internet service called iCloud. What will make iCloud special is that it will allow users to share photos, calendars, and music over the internet without ever having to sync an Apple™ device.  Amazon and Google have already released similar services but both still require the user to upload music beforehand.

Angry Birds Hold Their Own
Rovio Mobile Ltd. is known for more than its adorable Angry Birds. The company has also won attention for applying an interesting marketing strategy to the game app. Instead of expanding horizontally and designing sequel games, the company grew vertically to concentrate on Angry Bird Merchandise. The paradigm shift allowed Rovio Mobile to focus on developing the brand. The untraditional strategy seems to be working – they have $30 million worth of proof.

Survey Shows Americans Want to Save Energy
A recent survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association reported that 60% of Americans were worried about their electric bill and 38% were concerned about the amount of power their electronics used. However, only 27% are aware of solutions such as smart grids. A smart grid is an energy management technology that could reduce energy consumption by managing appliances through a smart phone.

Nike Zones In
Last week Nike announced that it would begin a new ad campaign to focus on action sports. With the new campaign Nike plans to design products for sports such as skateboarding and surfing. The action sports market is generally difficult to break into because of athlete loyalty to smaller brands. Nike, however, has stepped up the publicity (and the budget) to unceasingly promote youth events and push viral campaigns.

(Lindsay Wade)