Unambiguous To-dos: A Tip for Better Progress

post-it-actionDo you ever wonder what is keeping you from making progress toward your goals? Perhaps you’ve set up a schedule for yourself, outlining the things you need to do each day so that you focus on the most important tasks related to your business, but somehow, you still seem to be falling short. Maybe the solution is not in the lack of planning and foresight on your part, but rather the lack of clarity around the things that need to be done. Read More about Unambiguous To-dos: A Tip for Better Progress

BookFresh: A Virtual Receptionist

bookfresh-logoWhen you’re working on your own, setting up appointments can take you away from more important tasks. Even if the appointment itself is something crucial — a meeting with a client to go over a new project’s specs, say — the back and forth of trying to find a time that works for both of you can delay your ability to get down to business. BookFresh provides an alternative that can let your clients choose a time to talk to you that works for both of you. Read More about BookFresh: A Virtual Receptionist

How to Alter Your Work Schedule to Accommodate Personal Projects

544232_calendar_series_4One of the advantages of working from home is the flexible schedule. No matter how many things you need to accomplish, or how many simultaneous projects you have, you can still control when you can perform certain tasks, as well as how long they take. While this is more true of freelancing than it is for employees, it’s this schedule flexibility that makes the prospect of teleworking more attractive.

Whether it’s a do-it-yourself renovation of your home office, a one-month trip, or participating in NaNoWriMo, there’s always the big, personal project that you’re trying to fit in your schedule. How do you make sure that it won’t have much of a negative impact on your work? Read More about How to Alter Your Work Schedule to Accommodate Personal Projects

Hiccups in the Stream, That Is What They Are

We love the idea of streaming video over the Internet directly on our television sets. The issue is, when you stream video to your house, you open yourself up to problems you don’t get when you pop a DVD into your player.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out where the system can break down, but it’s a good reminder that streaming services are far from foolproof yet.

Consumerist has a story today about a Qwest (s Q) customer who believed her YouTube (s GOOG) watching was being hampered by the ISP. Though a Qwest rep denied throttling users (after initially saying it did), as our sister site GigaOM has reminded us, instituting bandwidth caps and metered access helps cable and telephone companies manage their networks while protecting their traditional video businesses.

Problems with video watching can arise for completely non-nefarious reasons as well. I later learned that my recent tribulations with Amazon’s (s AMZN) HD VOD service were caused by latency issues and excessive hops the data had to go through in order to reach me. (I only found that out after I got all reporterly and went through several rounds of back and forth with Comcast (s CMSCA), Amazon and Roku PR departments.)

Throw in CDNs, traffic congestion and the way information is routed from party to party and you almost start thinking it’s a miracle video gets to you at all.

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How to Turn Productivity into a Habit

Let’s face it – we are not web working machines. There are several forces that are going against our productivity. So what do we do if we can’t afford to fall into an unproductive day? Here are four techniques to turn productivity into a habit.

iPhone How-To: Synchronizing Your Google Calendar

The iPhone is indeed a wonderful little device and, for some of us, a game-changer in terms of managing our digital lives from the palm of our hands. There are, however, some essential features that Apple neglected to implement.

Regular GMail and Google Calendar users will have noticed the glaring lack of a Calendar synchronization option, making the native iPhone calendar app somewhat less useful.
All is not lost though! Enter NuevaSync, a web-service that enables two-way synchronization between your Google Calendar and the iPhone Calendar app. NuevaSync is secure, easy to use and painless to set-up…and most notably, it’s totally free.
So, it’s time to grab your gear and follow this ten minute guide to setting up NuevaSync. You’ll need your computer, a Google Account and your iPhone, with the latest firmware update. And by the way, iPod touch users can also get in on the syncing fun.
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TimeDriver Pares Down Enterprise Scheduling For You

TimeDriverYou need to schedule back-to-back demos with different tech companies. Or you want to hold “virtual office hours” for lead generation and effortlessly book them based on your actual availabilities each week. You don’t have a personal assistant. So what do you do?

Take TimeDriver for a test run. Judi Sohn covered this app after DEMO earlier this year. TimeDriver is a free, stripped-down version of TimeTrade System’s TimeTrade Enterprise Scheduling Application (TESA), the solution behind big companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, QuestDiagnostics and Charles Schwab. Stripped down, however, doesn’t mean feature poor.Opening up for a public beta on August 25, TimeDriver takes the guesswork and busywork out of scheduling individual appointments with a number of different people.So how does it do what it does?

First, TimeDriver connects with either your Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. For those of you using iCal (like me), you can sync your iCal with Google Calendar using SpanningSync to take advantage of this personal appointment scheduling system. The company says they still plan on supporting Salesforce and Lotus Notes in the near future but they are adding the most popular calendaring programs first.

Next, you use TimeDriver’s calendaring page to indicate blocks of time when you’d like to schedule appointments by dragging from the start to the end time. The system syncs up with your overall calendar and immediately blacks out times where you already have something else scheduled and will continue to do so as you add any additional events or appointments to your personal calendar.

TimeDriver SchedulerThen you can generate a link that you can share with others to schedule their appointments with you. So if you are working on scheduling back-to-back demos with tech companies, the system will email individual messages to each company rep with an embedded button that brings each person to their own private page with your invitation.

From there, they can click over to view open dates and times for scheduling a demo with you, add any notes, and submit the information into the system. The date and time they choose is automatically removed from the availablitilites that others will see.

If you are soliciting leads on your web site or even your LinkedIn page and are offering to speak with people for a free assessment of their needs with the hopes of landing some new clients, you can embed the scheduling link on your Web site. When people click on it, they are led to the TimeDriver system to schedule a phoner with you.

In a nutshell, the process for setting up TimeDriver is:

1. Name your event.

2. Choose whether it will be by phone or a face-to-face meeting.

3. Pick a duration for the event.

4. Compose your invitation message (photo or logo optional). You can even add a qualifying question to get information in advance.

5. Pick your windows of availability.

6. Get scheduling link or send out emails for the activity you’ve set up.

What TimeDriver does not do is coordinate scheduling for multiple people. The company feels there are enough players in that area.

The TimeDriver system does track all recipients of the emails you send including who has responded, who has looked at your invitation but hasn’t responded and who hasn’t looked at all. You can trigger a followup message to those who haven’t yet confirmed a date and time. The system also accounts for each person’s time zone based on their machine settings.

Currently in Alpha is an integrated Outlook add-on that inserts a scheduling link into emails composed through the program.

Personally, I can see using TimeDriver for:

1. Letting people schedule 1/2 hour free consultations with me via my LinkedIn page and web site to cultivate new clients.

2. Scheduling check-in calls with clients in clusters so I can be more efficient about direct contact with them to supplement the more-typical daily emails.

3. Booking more Web app demos with tech companies in neat blocks of time so I can be incredibly productive.

You can pre-register for TimeDriver’s open beta at their site. Doors open on August 25th. The basic TimeDriver service is free.

Was Ribbit Sold? Maybe, Maybe Not

Ribbit, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company that is pushing a VoIP platform that marries web with voice is subject of acquisition rumors this evening. VentureBeat reported that the company was close to being acquired by British Telecom (BT), but later changed their story. When contacted by me, Don Thorson, Ribbit’s Vice President of Marketing dismissed the rumors but declined to comment any further.

It wouldn’t surprise me if BT (or some European telecom) acquired Ribbit (or any other platform) to expand across the borders and find a way to stay relevant. We had pointed out that a consortium of incumbent carriers were developing their competitor to Skype. Ribbit-type platform could be used to develop apps for the incumbent supra-net.

Ribbit has so far raised $13 million from Allegis Capital, KPG Ventures and Alsop Louie Ventures. The company has attracted about 4000 developers to its platform, though it is hard to tell if it is making any revenues from its platform. Over past few weeks, I had heard about Ribbit being in “play” and talking to likely buyers, but there is nothing concrete to add.

Wallstrip Team Taps the Street for Moblogic

The folks behind financial web show Wallstrip — who cracked the nut of online video if only because they got CBS to buy them for $4 million — are launching a new show on Friday. Moblogic is a show about popular opinion. Host Lindsay Campbell (who’s been replaced at Wallstrip by Julie Alexandria) will take a particular news story to the street each day and ask people what they think about it.

Rather than the highly scripted Wallstrip, “This show is about the immediacy,” said co-creator Adam Elend, speaking from a car whose passengers included Campbell, co-creator Jeff Marks, and the show’s two producers, all en route to catch a plane bound for the South by Southwest festival in Austin.

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Dash winner announced!

Balloons_2People called us crazy when we announced we were giving away an unlocked Dash, OK they call us crazy anyway, but even so the contest was a smashing success with over 150 entries!  Kevin’s kids have rolled the old "pick a winner" dice and the winner of the Dash is none other than Tom Hodgers!   All Tom needs to do is send me an email by clicking on my cartoon head in the right sidebar and providing me with his email address and physical address for shipping.  Congratulations, Tom!