This is Dawn here! Since this is my very last chance to write the entire Kibbles & Bytes newsletter, I offered to write so that Don and Ed can take one last week off. Holly has a few articles that have been saved up so she’ll get the week off, too, though she’ll have an article or two to contribute. Don did decide to write a bit of a closing so this is will wrap up the newsletter.
Everyone keeps asking how I’m doing, what I’m doing and if I’m excited. I am at the proverbial crossroads in my life and at first I intend to follow a path that I have never taken – I am going to take some time off. I have worked just about every day of my life since I held my first job as a dishwasher when I was 15. I’ve had a few vacations over the years and had a few unplanned bouts of unemployment but in general, I’ve been working. Even when I’ve taken vacations, I’ve always been thinking thoughts like “wouldn’t it be cool if Small Dog had video reviews of products” or “I think we could get more sales if Small Dog did this…” So my first plan of action is going to be to not think of my future or ways to make money or ideas for new web sites. I’m giving myself one week of not thinking. Once that week is up, I’m going to dive into my new life.
As far as how I’m doing, it’s a bit odd to imagine a day without Small Dog. For one thing, the people who I work with are really good people and great fun to be around. (You haven’t laughed until you’ve seen Hapy doing his Eric Cartman imitation.) I can honestly say that when you purchase from Small Dog, you are purchasing from a group of people who really care about your order. I know, this probably sounds a little “shmaltzy” but it is true. For example, I have seen Tony personally make sure that an order ships out and I’ve seen Artie and Jamie in a shipping frenzy making sure that every last package gets on the UPS truck. Sure, we are human and make mistakes but it’s not because of a lack of caring. I will certainly miss the camaraderie that is part of the Small Dog experience.
Also leaving on Friday is Troy Kingsbury. This comes as a bit of a surprise, even to Troy, but an offer crossed his bow of which he just had to take advantage. Troy is returning to his roots as a convenience store owner (his parents owned a convenience store) and he’ll be putting his work ethic to the supreme test as he keeps our local Village Grocery running seven days a week. If you haven’t met Troy, you’ve missed meeting one of the most optimistic folks on the planet. The glass just isn’t half full to Troy, it’s overflowing. As you might imagine offering tech support and customer service over the phone isn’t always easy – often people are calling at the end of their rope, full of frustration. I imagine having Troy answer the call defuses quite a few folks.
This is a bit of a changing of the old guard at Small Dog, but as Don always says, “Change is good and healthy” and it allows the opportunity to try new ideas and strategies as well as bring in people with new energy. This infusion of new energy will be coming at a time when the Apple market is really poised to gain more market share. It’s a very exciting time for both Small Dog and Apple!
As for my last words of wisdom to everyone it would be: Save often, make back ups and be true to your friends.
Dawn @ smalldog.com
Digital Cameras – A Couple Features Often Overlooked By Holly @ smalldog.com
I can’t be the only one who has a digital camera and only uses half of the features it has! With the season of graduations, weddings and outdoor celebrations upon us, I thought I’d take a minute to go over a few overlooked features on digital cameras.
Continuous Shooting. In this mode the camera shoots continuously while the shutter button is held down. When the shutter button is released, the recording stops. Here’s a wonderful example of using continuous shoot:
Postcard Date Imprint. This allows you to set a selectable date stamp that can be imprinted in the corner of a picture. It also deliberately crops the image creating a slightly longer rectangle to fill a 4 x 6 postcard. When shooting in Postcard mode the camera automatically reduces the resolution to 1600 x 1200 with fine compression (an ideal setting for 4 x 6 images with no need for the user to manually set the resolution and compression).
Stitch Assist. This allows you to take a number of regular shots and digitally “stitch” them together in an image editing software to produce a panoramic picture. It is very impressive when used to take a large group of people, say a club’s members or a large family with grandparents and grandchildren, all lined up. Ever wonder how those Virtual Tours are created when browsing real estate sites? Yup, Stitch Assist!!
Feel free to email me examples on how you used these!
Technology Immersion! by Dawn @ smalldog.com
One of the things that I intend to do with my more relaxed schedule is to really delve into software that I know how to use on the surface that I want to become completely versed in. Here’s my list:
Flash – this is one application that I’ve only scratched the surface of but I haven’t yet had the time or the reason to get to know this application inside and out.
Illustrator – again, my knowledge of Illustrator is only skin deep so I intend to learn more about one of my favorite apps.
Final Cut Express/Pro – When Final Cut Pro first came out, I was lucky enough to attend and Apple sponsored training on FCP. Though I learned some basics, I never really got to use the application every day.
GarageBand/Soundtrack Pro – believe it or not, I’ve only used GarageBand about 3 times since I first installed it. I don’t expect that what I produce will be all that great, since I’m not very musically inclined but I do want to know more then just how to record my voice. (I used GarageBand to record the voice overs for the Small Dog radio ads).
Other apps that I really want to continue to use on a regular basis: Google Earth, Keynote, Excel, AppleScript, to name just a few!
Flash resources: Flash Developer Site: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/
Free tutorials: http://www.entheosweb.com/Flash/default.asp
More tutorials: http://www.flashguru.co.uk/category/flash-tutorials/
An entire list of tutorials: http://www.flashdeveloper.nl/ g_flash_Tutorials.html
Adobe training area: http://www.adobe.com/training/
Free tutorials: http://www.ndesign-studio.com/resources/tutorials/
More tutorials: http://www.designertoday.com/Tutorials.aspx
An entire site of tutorials: http://tutorialoutpost.com/
Resources for GarageBand, Soundtrack Pro and Final Cut Apple Pro area has been revised and has loads of great resources for Apple’s creative software. http://www.apple.com/pro/
Apple’s Garageband tutorial: http://www.apple.com/ilife/tutorials/ garageband/
QuickTime tutorials: http://comtechlab.iupui.edu/tutorialsfolder/ garageband.html
Creative Calf for newcomers to media tools: http:// creativecalf.creativecow.net/
Creative Cow for media pros: http://forums.creativecow.net/index.html
For the others:
Google Earth: http://www.chrisjdavis.org/2006/01/13/google-earth-part-1/
Google Earth 101: http://nlcommunities.com/communities/joevans/ archive/2006/04/04/69822.aspx
More on Google Earth: http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2006/03/ tutorials_for_g.html
Choosing an ISP (Internet Service Provider) By Holly @ smalldog.com
NOTE: This article is geared towards novice computers users. I’m not going to discuss the rate of speed on a dial-up. However I will say if your needs for the Internet are for streaming applications or video, a dial-up connection is probably going to provide you with more frustration then enjoyment. If your applications only need to send text and data, then dial-up modems can provide enough bandwidth for your needs. The Internet experience is enriched by added graphics, images, sounds and video, but this requires more bandwidth.
(For those wondering what the heck “bandwidth” is, it’s a measure of the capacity of a communication channel, and with regards to this article, the channel is your phone line.)
While most people would prefer high-speed Internet access, sometimes it’s not possible. According to Nielsen/Net Ratings, more than 200 million Americans access the Net from home, and slightly more than half use a dial-up connection to do it. This article will go over things to consider when choosing an ISP for a dial-up connection. The more you know about what you’re buying, along with how you’re most likely to use the ISP, the more likely you’ll make the best decision.
The most basic feature the ISP is providing is a connection to the Internet. However let’s identify some other basic ‘features’ an ISP is selling you.
– When this connection is via dial-up make sure you verify the number you dial *truly* is a local access number. The ISP may say it is but sometimes what’s local to the ISP and local to your phone company can be too different things. Find out what number you would be dialing in with and check with your phone carrier to verify it’s indeed local for you.
– Although it doesn’t happen as much anymore, there’s still a possibility of getting a busy signal when you attempt to dial in. Even still a possibility of being disconnected once on because the line has exceeded it’s capacity. Try calling the number BEFORE you sign up at various times, particularly 9PM on weeknights, and see if the line is busy. Ask the ISP how often busy signals and disconnects occur.
– E-mail accounts. Look for ISPs that offer the best packages on e- mail accounts, including features and number of e-mail aliases. There shouldn’t be any restrictions on using POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail programs, such as Eudora and Outlook, or instant-messaging apps, but ask, just in case.
– Customer service and support. Ideally, support should be 24/7, free, and available via a local or toll-free number.
– Advanced spam-blocking features. A few years ago, spam blocking features cost extra, but these days they are more likely to be part of the basic features package.
– Security. ISPs typically offer minimal security services with a basic account. Most major ISPs have built-in spam filtering and antivirus protection at the server level, but you’re generally on your own at the desktop.
– Parental control over e-mail, IM, and Web surfing.
Other things to look for:
So you’ve found an ISP with the features you want, the pricing is to your satisfaction, but before you hand over your credit card number, there’s a few more things you should verify. Some ISP’s require you to use their software and not all are compatible with a Mac so be sure to check the system requirements. Don’t assume one of the “big guys” won’t have system requirements. Check!
Before you sign up, make sure you can back out. Does the ISP offer a 30-day money-back guarantee? If not, can you cancel after a month — without penalties– if you can’t get promised performance? (If not, don’t bite.) Either way, check for early termination fees, which can range from $200 to $500.
One other thing I think is important to look for is the contact information of the company. When you’re on their website can you easily find their address and phone number? Is the address a Post Office box, or an actual physical location. While I can’t diss anyone for using a PO Box, b/c I use one, but when it comes to a place of business, I would feel more secure working with a company that provides information to where they’re located and how to get in touch with them.
In closing, here are a couple links for more information on Internet connections.
Start Soapbox by Dawn @ smalldog.com
Our Government is a Poorly Run Business
I don’t often climb up on a soapbox to speak my mind but since I’m filling in for Don this week, I felt the need to write the entire newsletter, including a soapbox. I thought about all the topics that I could possibly write about and couldn’t decide which might be best to put into a soapbox. Then driving to work the other day, I had the idea to write about how I feel about the war in Iraq and war in general.
On my way to work, I pass a “monument” to the soldiers lost in Iraq. The area is a field with wildflowers, some US flags and a small white flag for each soldier killed in Iraq. Though the flags representing the fallen soldiers are small, it takes up a surprising amount of space for the almost 2500 flags. I don’t know who created the memorial but it’s beautiful and touching to see these small flags in the breeze and know that they stand from someone who died.
But it isn’t the flags on their own that inspired me to write but that a thought popped into my head that I wondered how many Iraqi civilians have died and how many flags would that be? Not long after I had that thought, I made it home to watch the news which talked about a car bombing and showed images of several small children being carried off. My thoughts while watching had me thinking of what it must be like to be an average Iraqi citizen.
I imagine, like most people, their thoughts are to make sure that their families have food, that their children are safe and that life maintains some type of normalcy. How difficult it must be for someone who just wants to survive to get through the day. I can’t imagine what it must be like, to go to sleep worrying only to have the day repeat itself. What has to be done to survive? And does that mean choosing sides?
I came across a blog, “Baghdad Burning” which is a first hand view of life in Iraq. It is an amazing read. Start at the beginning to get the full effect and go from there. Here’s an excerpt:
“There’s an ethnic cleansing in progress and it’s impossible to deny. People are being killed according to their ID card. Extremists on both sides are making life impossible. Some of them work for Zarqawi, and the others work for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. We hear about Shia being killed in the “Sunni triangle” and corpses of Sunnis named Omar (a Sunni name) arriving by the dozen at the Baghdad morgue. I never thought I’d actually miss the car bombs. At least a car bomb is indiscriminate. It doesn’t seek you out because you’re Sunni or Shia.”
The body count for Iraqi civilians ranges from a conservative 38,000 to a high of 100,000. Probably the best web site that I found that is documenting the Iraqi death count is IraqBodyCount.org that sources include public domain news gathering agencies. Their count ranges from 38355 to 42747 as of early June. This is about the same amount of civilians that were killed during the London Blitz to give you an idea of the amount of destruction in lives. If the amount we closer to the 100,000 mark this would represent one in every six Vermonters being killed.
Yes, there are many other places in the world where innocents are being killed in large numbers but Iraq is a direct consequence of my country’s involvement and I don’t understand why we are in this position and have no idea how we will get out without more deaths, more anti-American sentiment and more insurgents. I need my government to make a plan, to tell me about it and to stick to it.
When I think back upon the years since we invaded Iraq, in particular seeing my President standing on the aircraft carrier with the “mission accomplished” banner, all I can think of is a poorly run business. This is a business which makes marketing statements that have nothing to do with the quality of product. I see a bunch of people too busy disagreeing for the sake of hearing themselves talk instead of making resolutions.
I’m a stock holder in the US and I want to see our stock numbers, our brand equity and our dividends (health care and education) improve. I don’t see this happening with the current executives in place. As stock holders, we should demand better returns.
Three years after “Mission Accomplished” and we are no closer to an accomplishment. That’s just poor marketing.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through June 22 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
LaCie 4gb Carte Orange USB Key drive – $84!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16744/mymac
MacBook Pro 15in 2.0GHz 1gb/100/Superdrive, Applecare for MacBook Pro – $2219!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16762/mymac
PowerMac G5 DC/2.3GHz with 2.5 GB RAM/250 GH HD/Superdrive/GeF6600, LaCie 20″ LCD for $2949!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16765/mymac +—————-+
iPod nano 2gb White (r), FREE Premium leather Crimson ClickCase – $169!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag50083/mymac
iPod nano 2gb Black (r) with FREE Ebony ClickCase – $169!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16763
LaCie 160gb 7200RPM FireWire P3 Porsche – $99
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16247/mymac
Valusoft Tune Transfer Software for iPod – now only $17.49!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16752/mymac
LaCie 119 19in LCD Display with LaFrame – FREE SHIPPING – $459
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16746/mymac
LaCie 120 20in LCD Display with LaFrame – FREE SHIPPING – $705
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16747/mymac +—————-+
Kensington FlyFan Mobile USB Fan – stay cool this summer, for only $8.99!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16749/atmymac
The Canon Powershot S3 – now only $469!
To order: hhttp://www.smalldog.com/wag16751/atmymac
Who Moved my Cheese? don @ smalldog.com
Some time ago a now-departed Apple executive gave every Apple Specialist a copy of Dr. Spencer Johnson’s best seller “Who Moved my Cheese?”. This book has a very clear message about preparing for and embracing change. As you know, we are experiencing some changes in our staff here at Small Dog Electronics with the departure today of Dawn D’Angelillo and Troy Kingsbury. It is with a very liberating feeling of regret and pride that I see two of the most conscientious, hard working and loyal employees in my 30 years in business leave Small Dog to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Dawn is leaving to form her own marketing consulting company and Troy has purchased the local general store, the Village Grocery (where we anticipate a major upgrade in the sandwich quality!)
Both of these employees have been role models to many here at Small Dog and have made contributions well beyond their job description. Both are home-grown talents that have embraced change and rapidly learned new skills, taken on new responsibilities and set the standard for professional effort in pushing Small Dog to be a better company. We have a lot of very talented people here at Small Dog Electronics but I want to take a few minutes to talk about the intangible aspects of the contributions of Dawn and Troy and why they have made such a positive impact upon WHO Small Dog Electronics is.
Dawn had worked with me in a couple of other businesses and was working for a local canoe manufacturer when we recruited her. It was a difficult negotiation and it took a set of Lady Callaway golf clubs to ultimately seal the deal. I don’t know if it was a benefit or a detriment that her husband, Artie, worked her but when the Small Dog staff consisted of the four of us, Hapy, myself, Dawn and Art we were in the heat of an entrepreneurial flame. There is simply nothing in business that is quite like the energy of a new born company. We all worked really hard but we also laughed hard and played hard, too. We all did everything from answering the phone to shipping the packages. We established a commitment to providing superior customer service. We dedicated ourselves to becoming a socially responsible and aware company and we launched an approach to marketing that was both personal and personable. This could not have been done without Dawn. This company would be a very different company today had we not sprung for those golf clubs and enticed Dawn to join our small start- up. The impact that Dawn has made is in the very DNA of our company and we are grateful and proud.
Troy joined us a few years later as a shipper. Troy had managed his parent’s convenience store and was a classmate of Artie and Hapy in grammar school. We had played softball together since he started high school and we were more than thrilled to have Troy join our team even though the only opening we had was in shipping. Troy had come to me and confided that he wanted to work with us because of who we were and that he was committed to putting his energy behind making the company a success. And boy has Troy followed through on that promise. He rapidly taught himself how to repair Macs by staying late on his own time, studying for the Apple Technician certifications and ultimately becoming the manager of our technical department. There were many many nights that I would sign onto iChat to talk with Mark out in California or some of our far-east suppliers and I’d see Troy online, too. We would chat about the company and our work and there are so many great ideas that have started in those chats. One of the most rewarding ideas that came from Troy was our charitable giving program. In addition to staying late Troy was also one of the first to come in in the morning, too. Early one summer morning he came up to my desk and over a cup of coffee he made the suggestion that we allow our customers to make donations to charitable organizations during checkout on our web site. We discussed the notion and I decided it was such a good idea that we enhanced it to include our match of the contributions.
I have always given the most difficult customer service issues to Troy and he has solved them all with grace and concern. I have a folder full of email praising Troy’s work and genuine concern for customers. Troy has always had a “can-do ” approach to work but he combined it with an unfailing optimistic viewpoint. You never see Troy without a smile on his face, a kind word and a playful attitude towards work. He frequently would come in and cook breakfast for the warehouse crew and he has combined work and fun in a mixture that equals unparalleled productivity. I expect that our local general store will be a very different place with Troy at the helm.
It is directly because of the work of Dawn and Troy that when we began to advertise for replacements for their positions that we have received literally hundreds of applications from highly qualified candidates that are more attracted to our company than they are to the specific position we have open. We will have announcements of replacements for these two stellar employees over the next couple of weeks. As much as we become melancholy with Dawn and Troy’s departure, we are excited about the new energy and new ideas that we will see from the rookies joining our team! All of us at Small Dog Electronics salute Dawn and Troy and I know you will join us in wishing them the very best in their new ventures.
Thank you for reading Kibbles & Bytes! Ed, Holly and I will be back even stronger next week!