Situation bleak - Calgarians are still experiencing the effects of the recession

CNW/ - New Calgary Counselling Centre research results show Calgarians are still feeling the effects of the recession and many do not have a plan to deal with the changes they are experiencing.


7 Ways to Improve Your Business that Cost No Money

It is the norm for Small businesses, startup, new ventures to struggle due to limited financial resources. There are so many efforts that can improve your business and produce results that are little or no cost. We all want results, but at what cost ? Did that $1,000 investment or expense produce $10 results?
Part of my profession as a business broker involves consulting with both buyers and seller of business. I also provide consulting services to businesses outside my role as a business broker in Florida. Rarely do I experience a discussion based upon “I have too much cash flow to deal with.” Small business owner and entrepreneurs are constantly seeking ways to improve their businesses with limited resources.
Below are a list of several tactics and efforts a small business owner may take that cost little or no money and therefore the Return on Investment (ROI) is extremely high. There are many other practices and efforts that can be utilized outside of the below short list, hopefully this list can change the line of thinking of a business owner from “I wish I could do something but I don’t have the money” to:
“what can I do to improve my business with limited or no money” -
1. Look at your company from the perspective of a customer
Can you do that? Can you pretend you are a customer trying to do business with your company. You send an inquiry via email, you place a call into your company – what happens? We all have dealt with companies that customer service seems more like “How to effectively get a customer off the phone” instead of “I won’t let you hang up the phone until I know I have completely helped you to fulfillment.” IS it a pleasant experience to do business with your business?
2. Attempt to surround yourself with more beneficial synergistic strategic partners
As a business broker I have various strategic partners that allow me to best assist my clients. These professionals include, Attorneys, Accountants, bankers and Financial people. I am relocating to a city 5 hours from where I am and am in the process in developing a new “team” that I can rely on. I researched banks that do a lot of SBA loans to small business, migrated thru the company website, found a point of contact that I had an interest in meeting with, sent an email, and got an email back saying “going on vacation back in 2 weeks, call me then.” I proceeded to pursue a relationship with someone that would call me back, passed over this prospective strategic partner and found someone that I feel will develop into a mutually beneficial business relationship. My clients will benefit from my valued strategic partners.
3. Use the Internet more
post a blog – how much does that cost?
post a tweet about a sale, a special or event- We’ve all heard/read that this can be a good idea- just do it.
check out a site such as and see if someone can do something for you for $5. Are there other sites that facilitate low cost solutions? Can you afford to make a $5 error?
Try something you haven’t tried – a video, guest blogging, join more related forums or user groups, start a group.
4. Educate yourself
Take some time out of your day to read other related blogs info on your industry or specific area of focus. Commit yourself to learn your own financials better than you presently do. Again the ROI on your time invested in this can be quite high.
5. Go to a network meeting
There are several available in most communities that are either free or cost a couple bucks. How much could you benefit from making that “right contact.”
6. Consider a Freelancer
Are there some functions/task that you currently are having performed that may be done more cost effectively thru an outside source such as a free lancer. Open your mind to it.
7. Treat all customers, prospects, employees, vendors with respect and integrity
The ROI on this no cost effort is immense.
Don’t ever stop trying something different. I have utilized the above items in my various business ventures throughout the years and still utilize them on a regular basis. If you are running a business, buying a business, or growing a business these low and no cost business practices will result in very good return on investment and usually all it takes to get these returns is to consider them and just do them.


SolLight LightShip

This solar-powered LED light comes with suction cups and is incredibly handy. I keep one in the car on the back window, so it's always charged in case of a breakdown. It also features a red LED to preserve night vision is, as well as the auto-shut-off with the light sensor. It is weather sealed and it stood up brilliantly to the elements while living in Fiji- sun, salt and sea.

I used this device, along with the brilliant LightCap. This latest version of the Sollight classic LightShip is fantastic as ever. Great for hands free light, camping, and emergencies. -- Kaz Brecher

SolLight Lightship

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by SolLight



Reposted from Cool Tools.

The GeekDesk is the best and most versatile desk I have found for my home office. It uses an electric motor to switch from sitting to standing position, and after nearly a year of using other standing desks I can say that it is one of the best investments anyone can make if they are interested in an adjustable desk.

My foray into standing desks began when I started working from home more often. I found that when I was sitting at work I would easily become distracted and more often than not lethargic. After reading several articles about the perils of sitting around all day I decided it was probably in my best interest to get a standing desk. My first standing desk was a podium I found on craigslist for $10. It was not adjustable, had an angled surface, and wasn't the best solution. But for the cost, it served me well. I learned how to stand all day, and the small footprint of the podium meant that I could keep my regular desk without sacrificing too much space. The difference between sitting and standing was immediately noticeable. I was much more likely to walk away from my desk and do something that needed to get done, I found that I didn't tire as much, and that my back no longer hurt from long days in a soft cushy chair. I was a standing desk convert.

Given the limitations of the podium I then decided to replace it with a used AnthroCart desk: a solid American-made adjustable desk with an amazing life-time warranty. Seeing how it was adjustable I was able to fine-tune the height so that it made for easy typing. The desk was composed of three aluminum poles that have slots that range from 24" to 30" (and up to 48" with extensions) in height where you could screw the work surface in. It had a large 3'x3' flat surface that allowed me to add an external monitor and a printer to my setup. However, it also meant that I had to say goodbye to my chair and sitting desk. My conversion to full-time standing desk was pleasant, but there were times when I wished I could sit down to write longer pieces.

All of this explains why I am so happy to have discovered the GeekDesk. Simply put, it is a traditional two-legged desk frame that uses an electric motor to raise or lower the working surface from 26" to 46.5" and anywhere in-between. It can lift up to 175 pounds, and it rises and falls at 1" per second.

The desk itself is made up of two steel legs connected by a cross bar that contains the electric motor and rack-and-pinion lift mechanism. The top of the desk is screwed on to the legs. GeekDesk sells the legs separately for those interested in attaching their own surface.

I have the slightly smaller GeekDesk Mini. It is identical to the GeekDesk except that it comes with a shorter crossbar that is 37.75" wide compared to the standard 61.42" model. It is more than enough space for me as I have a fairly compact setup including a 15" laptop, and a 24" external monitor.

To raise or lower the desk there are controls attached to the underside of the working surface. They remain out of the way, and are very easy to use. Simply push the button to activate, and click up or down on the toggle. It is a smooth movement and you can do it with everything on your desk without a fear of spills, or toppling monitors.

While my AnthroCart desk served me well, I realized that having the versatility of being able to sit and stand at the same workspace was really valuable to me. The biggest downside of this flexibility is that the temptation to sit is ever present. Since adopting the GeekDesk I do find myself sitting down more often than I would if I didn't have the option. I am undecided about whether this is a good or bad thing, but if you find that you have low self control then it is possible this desk isn't for you.

I love being able to sit and stand at my workspace, and I believe it has improved my general well being and happiness while working from home. A word of warning: anybody interested in switching to standing all day should, as with anything bio-mechanical, take it slow and make sure not to cause too much strain. I have had friends who have made the switch too quickly complain about back strain, foot pain, and tired legs. This goes away, but can easily be avoided by slowly easing into standing all day. And I strongly believe the GeekDesk represents one of the absolute best ways to do so. -- Oliver Hulland

[Note: GeekDesks ship by freight, only to the U.S. and Canada.-- OH]

GeekDesk Mini
Frame dimensions: 37.75" wide x 22" deep
Desk Surface: 47.25" wide x 31.5" deep
$525 for the frame (plus $85-$180 for shipping)
$749 for the frame and top (plus $110-$310 for shipping)

Frame dimensions: 61.42" wide x 22" deep
Desk surface is 78.75" wide x 31.5" deep
$799 for the frame and top (plus $110-$310 for shipping)

Available from and manufactured by GeekDesk


Classroom Hero Cultivates Global Citizens

When students at Homestead Middle School enter Adewale Alonge's agriculture class, they often aren't enthused. They come from families of mostly Hispanic migrant workers. They've likely spent hours in the fields near Miami, Fla. watching their parents work. Agriculture is something they know, too well. It's something they want to escape from.

As an immigrant from Nigeria, Alonge knows how difficult it is for them to think past their circumstances, about a life beyond the next harvest.

But in his classroom, a few plants can quickly become a field of dreams.


Vera Rubin and the Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prizes are won, but I was rooting for astronomer Vera Rubin, now 82, whose quiet, unassuming demeanor might seem incongruent with her extraordinary career in science.


Students fined for being late for class
We might be changing out named to five dollar bills if the trend in Salt Lake City continues... A school will be allowing students to choose between a $5 fine or 30 minutes of detention for being late to class. The fees will go to pay the teachers who need to watch the kids in detention.The idea itself seems interesting -- but how about a dual policy that fines boring / ineffective teachers and reimburses the students for wasting their time.Pros: students learn early that money will buy you out of most any trouble.Cons: less advantaged students end up serving detention and the wealthier peers simply pay the fine.STORY: Students at East High School will be charged $5 for being late to class
Related Articles from DetentionSlip Utah
Students fined for being late for class
Mother Doctored Photo of 13 year old student
School claims Jesus was a vampire

thanks from ifranks


Roombots: autonomous, mobile, evolutionary self-assembling furniture

Roombots are autonomous, roving furniture segments that cruise around your house, looking for each other and spontaneously organizing themselves into furnishings that evolve based on how you use them. It's a project from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. This project intends to design and control modular robots, called Roombots, to be used as building blocks for furniture that moves, self-assembles, self-reconfigures, and self-repairs. Modular robots are robots made of multiple simple robotic modules that can attach and detach (Wikipedia: Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robotics).

Connectors between units allow the creation of arbitrary and changing structures depending on the task to be solved. Compared to "monolithic" robots, modular robots offer higher versatility and robustness against failure, as well as the possibility of self-reconfiguration. The type of scenario that we envision for the Rolex Learning Center is a group of Roombots that autonomously connect to each other to form different types of furniture, e.g. stools, chairs, sofas and tables, depending on user requirements. This furniture will change shape over time (e.g. a stool becoming a chair, a set of chairs becoming a sofa) as well as move using actuated joints to different locations depending on the users needs. When not needed, the group of modules can create a static structure such as a wall or a box.

Roombots: Modular robotics for adaptive and self-organizing furniture (via Beyond the Beyond)

Long-exposure photo of Roomba coverage
Concept for swarming "display blocks"
What happens to junk left behind in foreclosed homes?


FontPark Is a Searchable, Sortable Database of Over 70,000 Free Fonts [Fonts]

FontPark is a great big database of free fonts.

Fonts are available for personal and/or commercial use, and will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.



After countless discussions with some of the newer teachers about some general concepts, someone has collected a list of a few of the suggestions (for life?) to pass along.

Click the image above for 50 tips, alright?

thanks from ifranks


Best Text Recognition Tool: ABBYY FineReader [Hive Five Followup]

Last week we asked you to share your favorite text recognition tool--more formally known as optical character recognition (OCR)--then we compared them all. Now we're back to highlight the most popular text recognition tool.More


Apple and the War for the Mobile Market

The short history of the computer industry is dominated by two well-known stories: How mainframe makers failed to take the personal computer seriously until it was too late, and how Apple refused to license its innovative new operating system and ended up ceding the market to Microsoft.

Unless Apple learns from its mistakes it's going to end up with a Macintosh-like minority market share again -- in mobile.

FAQ: BlackBerry Messenger & PIN Messages are NOT Encrypted

I just wanted to provide some more detail to my previous explanation of what communications are encrypted on a BlackBerry. This issue has caused quite a bit of confusion recently so I thought I would clear it up specifically for BlackBerry Messenger and PIN messages.

BlackBerry Messenger and PIN to PIN messages are NOT encrypted. They are scrambled using a global cryptographic key which EVERY BlackBerry in the world uses. BES administrators have the option to encrypt the body of PIN messages (but not the PIN itself) using a organization specific encryption key but that limits users to only be able to send PIN messages within the organization so it is usually not done. It is possible to use the S/MIME Package RIM sells to encrypt PIN to PIN messages but that gets complicated and is really only done by Government organizations.

There are a couple of problems with PIN to PIN messaging that is also the basis of BlackBerry messenger that you should know about. The Communications Security Establishment in Canada was kind enough to detail some of these issues:
As said before PIN to PIN messages by default are NOT encrypted they are scrambled using a cryptographic key
If an wireless carrier or government manages to reroute your PIN message to any other BlackBerry in the world by changing the header then it will be readable on that device
Devices cannot be reused by another person since messages for that PIN will continue to come to the device for the original owner. Think of it this way. If you sell your BlackBerry the new owner will get your PIN messages. The sender would also have no idea that this is the case.
You have no idea if the person sending you that PIN message has not sold their device or had it stolen by another person who is impersonating them.
Even if an organization uses their BES with a organization specific PIN key the PIN number is still not encrypted and sent in the clear. That means a snoop could see who is sending messages back and forth.

RIM server in Saudi Arabia


Investopedia Article - Dissecting Declarations, Ex-Dividends And Record Dates

Dissecting Declarations, Ex-Dividends And Record Dates

Investopedia is your complete, unbiased, and easy-to-understand educational guide to investing and personal finance. The site has the biggest financial dictionary on the web, hundreds of articles and tutorials, and an investing simulator where you can practice managing a portfolio without putting your money at risk.



Do you have a pile of work to do from your home office, a "white collar" desk job, or need to complete long hours of data entry (it is tax season now)?

Most of the time...stand up while you work! This burns more calories, gives you more energy in general, and makes you sound better on phone calls!

The line about posture is out of the Dark Knight Returns book from Frank Miller.

batman dark knight computer

Get a sweet (sweeet) keyboard and mouse is the most used part of your computer, right?
There are multitudes of ergonomic designs from companies like Microsoft.

I prefer the wireless, rechargable, orange-glow-in-the-dark Divino variety from Logitech,
especially when it looks sleek, uses secure Bluetooth technology, and can be branded with a minimalist Bat logo.

Recently, Logitech launched a contest for some nifty prizes ala Dark Knight.

Keep a neutrally-coloured blazer or jacket at your desk; dark beige, dark, blue, or grey seem to work well for most people. Layers of professional clothing are a nice (successful) way to handle temperature changes throughout the day within an air conditioned office, right?

Keep your clothes in shape by avoiding those 1960's "Bat Poles"...
thanks from ifranks



Feel free to use some TANTALIZING QUOTES related to Twitter and Google for spicing-up your speeches, discussions, and board (bored?) meetings...

From Vogelstein writing in Wired magazine, August 2009:
“Google is big. Very big. Its millions of servers process about 1 petabyte of user-generated data every [60 minutes]...bigness is the very point of Google...its competitive advantage-is its ability to find meaning in massive sets of data. The larger the data sets, the more potential meaning can be derived...”

By the by, one petabyte (PiB) is equal to 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes (B), and each standard byte contains eight bits (ones and/or zeros). Impressive, isn’t it?

Eric Schmidt, one of the founders of Google, repeatedly reminds his employees that Microsoft could crush Google at any moment. To wit:
“...because Microsoft is a follower, there is a concern that it could use its Windows monopoly to restrict choices”

Here's a couple from Jarvis in his What Would Google Do? book:
“When China’s Sichuan Province suffered its horrendous earthquake in May 2008, people who felt it firsthand shared their experience via Twitter...people in the quake zone would use Twitter to update friends...If I were going through a quake, I’d want to tell family and friends that I was safe, wouldn’t you?”

Note that back then, the Twitter service was only 600 days old – this is a reflection of the significantly swift adoption rate that y'all have for web services that “just work” connect you with your friends and family.

What Would Google Do?:
“...those of us that teach students in rapidly changing arenas...must get better at keeping up with – no, getting ahead of – our students, industry, and society.”

We're standing on the shoulders of Giants, right?

We're enjoying the multitudes of free web applications that are being developed nowadays to "just work," with the software vendor getting out of the way.
How do some of the newer, smaller, web vendors that "give away" free online services pay their employees, though?
The Web 2.0 conundrum...
Any brilliant ideas about this?
I keep hoping that this Golden (Google?) Age of developing free "just work" web applications lasts for a while.

If not, change will be brutally and significantly swift, too.

Talk about these ideas soon, eh?

thanks from ifranks



Before Web 2.0 evolved, the concept of "Customer loyalty" was pervasive in the software industry (E.g. "we've only ever used Microsoft Outlook for CRM").

In many people's view, this was the result of a combination of factors including the following:
  • steep prices for software, making it prohibitive to buy from another vendor
  • unique "killer" features of one title over another
  • investment of intensive staff training, and costs of subsequent re-training
With the establishment of Web 2.0 software applications, smaller agile
companies were able to come up with competitive products that were
able to quickly pull "loyal" customers away from the giants. Some of the advantages are as follows:
  • low fees for software
  • streamlined features to get the job done
  • easy-to-learn minimal staff training
Moreover, note that competing companies can copy all of the
functionality, terminology, and marketing from other companies
extremely easily...(e.g. compare the glaring similarities between American Basecamp and the European iTeamwork, for

In the current environment then, with high exportability of data
records, think about how easy it would be for you to buy one software
use it for a while and then say "nah, there's something better over here..."
....and quickly change vendors
(e.g. people that used Evite from Yahoo now use
Facebook for event management;

Australian Diigo quietly took over Furl for online management of bookmarks;
Delicious is contending with Yahoo and Google Toolbar for bookmarks)!

Did Web 2.0 move us into a world of low customer loyalty, copycat
features everywhere, and high migration?
For instance, there are sooo many vendors for free (and almost free) Web 2.0 software for
task management lists, todo lists, and sticky note applications,
that it boggles the mind which one to choose.
Most sane people likely just "go with the marketing flow."

How do Web 2.0 vendors retain customers? To ponder...
  • "Air miles" point / discount programs to make customers reluctant about switching vendors?
  • How comfortable are you with the vendor's business philosophy - are you in-tune?
  • With more organizations from your industry using the same application, there may be more apt support for your specific needs, right?
  • Do you keep buying more and more disparate mini applications, or just get one giant application that is much more robust?
thanks from ifranks