Friday, September 10, 2010

Cool tool from Forrester Research

Forrester's Social Technographics® classifies consumers into six overlapping levels of participation. To find out what the types mean, visit http://www.forrester.com/empowered/ladder2010




Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Flip Books. Hey, I want to make a flipping book!

Some predict the digital age will wipe out print books. For a fresh point of view that challenges this assumption, see Books in the age of the iPad by Craig Mod.


Two clients are integrating digital publishing, one for books and one for employee manuals and the flipping pages effect came up. Apple put the spotlight on this feature with the iPad's page-turner (heh). A little history: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/01/apple-tablet-ebook/


What is it?  Flip books create the sensation you are reading a paper book by turning pages rather than scrolling through content online. My partner gets confused these days from swapping between her iPad and hardcovers -- she occaisionally taps a book on the upper right corner and wonders why it won't turn the page.


Flip books in action
Product catalog
- includes table of contents, bookmarks, email, download, print
Glossy Magazine - embedded hotlinks, video, social sharing
Educational Book - add your own notes, bookmarks, highlight


Who is this for? If you publish brochures, catalogs, manuals, magazines, adding a flip book can make it more enjoyable, sexier and more useful with the ability for visitors to add their own notes, share and download the content.


If you are a book publisher (or  have decided to take advantage of digital technology to become one) getting into digital means understanding the formats and how to produce them. Start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats  Next, Google "ebook publishing services" and "ebook publishing software". Adobe seems to be in the process of creating a comprehensive service http://www.adobe.com/digitalpublishing/


Have a story you always wanted to tell? These three articles are for you:
http://venturebeat.com/2010/03/28/self-published-electronic-books-to-make-it-to-apples-ipad/
http://www.smashwords.com/
http://www.kobobooks.com/


Review of Flip Book Providers 


Virtual_Paper _Online_Publishing 


Virtual Paper


The first provider had very nice glossy magazines in the showcase and a well-branded name: Virtual Paper Online Publishing Platform.


Check out Mlle Figaro magazine. Click on the table of contents items to go to a page.  Very slick.  There is a 14-day free trial, and to publish one book (which you can embed on your site as well as their hosting it for a year) is only $119 a year at this writing. Such a deal!


The representative emailed me back with answers to my questions within a working day.


Requirements: You have to provide your content in PDF format. They will convert it to HTML web pages with Flash.  Oh no! Steve Jobs does not like Flash anymore.  It is okay, the content is visible (but not flipping) for iPhone and iPad users and is also SEO friendly.


What's special about this one?  Ideal for commercial magazines and publications. Beautiful presention, designed to be seductive and shared.  Navigate through content via a table of contents that displays a screenshot of each page. In other words, image-media-rich content.


I did not dive into the 14-day trial but will add the results here if I do.


Flip Viewer


The second well-referenced site was Flip Viewer, another on-line flip book publishing service.  Not as slick, but they offer a Flip Book for $99 a year with hosting, or again, the option to add the book to your own site. You can also download and put the book on CD's, USB keys and your computer. A cool feature was the ability to add notes and a text table of contents in addition to the thumbnail navigation.


What's special about this one?  I liked the Grammar lesson book because it demonstrates bookmarks and a nifty yellow highlighter. This is very user-friendly for training or educational materials. 


I did not dive into the 7-day trial but will report back if I do.


Flipping Book aka Page-Flip.com


Flipping Book is a Web 2.0 friendly software provider who has publishing software you download, plus plugins for WordPress and Joomla! CMS.  The software price is competitive with the online services starting at $199.


Although only basic technical skills are needed, for power users there is an extension for Adobe Flash (but you would have to know how to use Flash, and that is like having a commercial pilot's license). Dreamweaver and I are closer than my nearest relative, but I can just barely change an image in Flash.


The demo kitchen catalog has a pretty display of thumbnail or chapters 


Being a big Joomla! fan, I downloaded the Joomla! component and installed it. Now to make the book. You need to translate your pages to .jpg or Flash files (.swf). Flipping Book provided the great tip to use a free tool to convert PDF to SWF - awesome!  Works on Linux - more awesome! We love you SWFTOOLS.


Following the How-To, I had my first book converted from .doc to .pdf (via Adobe Photoshop) and from PDF to .swf (with SWFTOOLS), uploaded to the site, ordered the pages,created a book and linked to it from the menu in a flash...  You can also use any image file, like .jpg if you want to skip the Flash part. But then the PDF has to be opened in Photoshop and each page saved separately as a .jpg in the right size. Beware: 
you have create a .jpg in two sizes if you want a small book and a zoom. So budget time depending on the amount of pages to produce.


What's special about this one? The plugins for Joomla! and WordPress make this a convenient way to add a flip book to your blog or site. The site provides more details about the benefits and differences between using their software and the online services.


Conclusion:  Flip book technology has matured to a point where it is not too difficult or expensive to add a smoothly-functioning, user-friendly version to your own digital offerings.


 



Monday, September 6, 2010

Google How Do I?

Google Accounts Hell...p 


That was one of the alternative titles that came to mind while composing this post. Today is the 3rd day I've tried to coordinate the various accounts and services I have gone to Google for. The main culprits in this post are Adwords, Gmail, Android and Google Apps for your group. But there is also Picasa, Google Buzz, Blogspot, Feedburner, YouTube, Google Maps, iGoogle, Custom Search, Calendar, Webmaster Tools, Voice, Mobile...  Yes, I find all these Google tools pretty fab or I would not be using them, but there are some pitfalls to look out for that can waste a lot of time. Here I am -- the sky is blue, the weather is fair in  Paris, the afternoon is fading, and I'm still in front of this computer...ugh.  At this rate will I ever get outside or fulfill the long-held dream of organizing the sock drawer or winter clothes before winter arrives?


Who is this article for?  Others who might try to get their Google offspring all playing together nicely. If you have no accounts with Google but intend to set some up, these tips might prevent headaches. (looks like I will be adding links to this article from now on...)


THE TIPS


Google Accounts | Gmail & Adwords | Gmail & Android | Google Apps and Google Accounts | Google Apps and Google Voice


Google Accounts. https://www.google.com/accounts  -- The mother of most of your Google services (but they might not necessarily have the same father).


TIP: You can create a Google Account in order to use many Google services. 


Decide if you are, as my brilliant friend Larry Butcher said:  "the kind of person who likes to take two things and put them together, or who likes to take one thing and pull it apart."


One account for everything or not? If it is better to keep your personal and business life apart create an account for each. Create the one you need now and don't use it for services that fall into the other domain. For example, say you create a business account for Adwords using your name and later you create a YouTube account for your goofy home videos. You may want one unified identity online, or you may want to limit your audiences. Do you feel compelled to try total transparency? If you are someone who behaves the same in front of your boss and your childhood friends in physical reality, sure, go for it in virtual reality.


My advice: better to divide and conquer with Google; entanglements are hard to break off.


Names. For two accounts, create your business account with your business name (unless your name is your brand; then use a nickname for the personal account). It is not recommended to take Google up on the invitation to create a Gmail account for your new Google account. For your business, use your business email like "rob@bobalot.com" to help you avoid this issue: Why is my Gmail username showing in my AdWords account?


Gmail & Adwords


If you create an Adwords account, or are invited to login to someone else's, Google will warn you that you must have a Google Account to login.  Many people make the mistake of thinking a Google Account means a Gmail account. This is NOT true.  You can login with the business email for the Google Account you created above.


TIP: if you already have an Adwords account, or ever did, even in a past life, the email you used with it can not be associated with any other Adwords account. Even if you closed the Adwords account, even if you did not create it but some friend who is out of business and retired to Tahiti just put your name on it as a user, it will never give up hoping you might come back someday and it will never release your email.  If your primary email is trapped in a co-dependent relationship with Adwords, my advice is to create a forwarding only email for the new connection that describes what it is, like "adwords2@bobalot.com". In the Adwords > forum > lost souls topic, you can see "adwords 2, 3, 4..." and "adwords-delete-me@" to overcome this.


DANGER, DANGER: If you have to use forwarding emails to deal with your split personality and the invitation email for your new Google account is forwarded to your main inbox, copy the acceptance link to another browser or you may inadvertently associate Adwords to the wrong email account. The next thing you know you will be creating "please-release-me-set-me-free@bobalot.com".


Gmail & Android


Yay, I got an Android phone and I like it. In order to download Apps from the market, you have to use your... you guessed it, Google Account.  I put in my main email and downloaded apps.  My phone started beeping every 30 seconds. I had to clear the little envelope constantly.  I had entered my main Account, duh!  This account gets hundreds of emails a day.  Now I'd done it. I suppose you could create filters and groups, but sometimes you don't want your main account on your phone.  It can be next to impossible to remove or change your Google account without losing all your information and starting from scratch again. Here is help for anyone who has gone down the same path.


How to remove your Google Account from Android


Google Apps and Google Accounts


If you are a small business and use Google Apps to manage sharing documents, calendar and set up emails you might think the emails created in Google Apps would be recognized as Google Accounts but they are not.  Even if you create a Google Accout with your Apps email, they are still not linked (at this writing). I was a little hesitant to make an email I created via Google Apps the arbiter of a Google Account that would manage financial transactions in Adwords simply because if I stop using Apps the email will go away. So, once again, using the Google Account you set up with your business email is the better choice.


Google lets you  merge these accounts as of August, 2010, but with warnings.


What's the Difference Between Google Accounts and Google Apps?


Google's explanation of the difference between Accounts and Apps before the transition to allowing merging - Accounts Help http://ow.ly/2Ayt1


How merging Apps and Accounts works (a user's experience with good information)


Some additional helpful information about Google integration:


Google Voice and Google Apps


How to transfer Google Voice to your Google Apps account


If you need to call for help, contact Hoi Moon marketing. We will consult, console, make you laugh and support you.