Archive for December, 2004

Women's website features wireless

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Picking “women” as your business topic can be a smart move, and this small but savvy website features articles and information about solutions that makes sense for the daily lives of many women. Areas covered include auto, beauty, books, career, computers, spirituality, etc. Not surprisingly, they seem to have a good amount of advertising, and they’ve even got their own MP3 radio player station–talk about a cool way to invite people to come back and stay…

This site is modeled a bit on the famous About.com where individual editors are assigned various topics and put in charge of keeping their portion of the site updated. It’s a good model if you’ve got all the revenue-producing pieces in place, and it looks like they’ve done a lot of research.

Check out their wireless section where they feature me this month as the publisher of A ReallyGoodFreelanceWriter.com who’s gone wireless.

Succession planning for publications

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Love this idea: finding a worthy competitor to carry on when your company is gone.

I’d been subscribing to an inspiring magazine called Hope for the last year and suddenly I got another one in the mail called Ode. Started reading it–and feeling a bit hooked–when I finally read the letter. It said that although Hope was ceasing publication (they didn’t say why, but I would love to know), they were going to complete my subscription with issues of Ode and hoped I’d be pleased.

Well, I am. This magazine Ode originates in Holland, and I’m receiving its recently initiated English-language version. So now I’m getting similarly inspiring stories (cell-phone-talking drivers more dangerous than legally drunk drivers; English becoming international–but now becoming mixed with many other dialects–and in the future, speakers of “just” English will be less skilled; a simple idea that will change the world: removing the ‘limited liability’ provision for corporations, etc.).

Anyway, the smooth transition to the new publication made it fairly painless for me as a subscriber. The new magazine is even more helpful for me to hear firsthand how other countries view various developments in the world, and it’s introduced me to the most exciting new idea in “haute” cuisine: vegetables. As a gourmet cook who doesn’t each much meat, this is incredibly exciting news. Check out Ode; it’s a good ‘un.

Death of a "hope"ful publication–and new hope… or new questions

Monday, December 27th, 2004

Was surprised and saddened to see the end of publishing for a very fine magazine called Hope–a publication that focused on printing on writing about what its title suggested. Now, knowing they could no longer support publishing their magazine, they kindly searched for and found a similar publication that originates in Holland and is called Ode. They arranged that subscribers to Hope will be able to finish out their Hope subscriptions with Ode, which also writes stories full of positive energy.

The lead story in this first issue I received headlines this: “A single thought that can transform the world.” Whew, I wonder, what is this story going to be about? But I open the magazine and I get so caught up in reading one story after another that I don’t even get to that big headline story til a couple of hours later.

Turns out the thought reflects a lot of what I saw in a low-budget, limited release film recently called “The Corporation.” The article talks a lot about what the movie focused on–that corporations are legal fictions that have all the rights of an individual person…with none of the obligations, moral, legal or otherwise. Scary, eh?

Anyway, the dramatic single alteration they say will change the world is this: eliminating the idea of “limited Liability” for shareholders of corporations. In other words, whoever profits from a company must be equally responsible for what it does to make those profits. Dow Chemcial bought the company that killed 22,000 people with a poisonous gas explosion in Bohpal, India and paid people off at $500 a head. Never mind the folks who died; the countryside is still littered with those who survived but can no longer hold jobs because they are mentally damaged.

Guess what? It’s not an original idea that limiting liability is destructive–Abraham Lincoln predicted the ruination of democratic society when he saw the introduction of the concept of limiting liability for the individuals who operated businesses.

Hmmm. This really makes me take pause. I just registered my company as an LLC. Not nearly the escape system that incorporation provides, but still, there’s that phrase “limited liability.” Gotta take some stock. Your thoughts are welcome.

Merry Christmas–only in America!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

GREETINGS

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2005, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Canada great (not to imply that Canada is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

………………………………………………..

And to all a restful-but-not drug-induced, containing-just-the-right-mix-of-REM-and-non-REM-repose evening.

: )

Low-income seniors–apply NOW to get double benefits

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Until December 31, low-income seniors have a unique opportunity to save DOUBLE money on prescription drugs.

The Greater Cleveland Access to Benefits Coalition, made up of several area agencies on aging, is working with Channel 3 in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio region to help low-income Medicare beneficiaries get registered for this $600 prescription drug credit to low-income seniors.

BUT if you apply for the card by December 31, 2004 you may get $1200 of benefits ($600 for 2004 and $600 for 2005). After June 2005, benefit amounts will decrease.

Other goals of the GCABC include:

• Educate, screen, and provide assistance with applications for the Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card program and other drug discount programs to 3060 low-income Medicare beneficiaries through 153 educational and enrollment sessions in various locations in a six county area in Northeast Ohio.

• Train 225 health care and senior service providers to provide individualized assistance to low-income seniors with screening and applications for this and other drug discount programs.

• Provide individualized assistance to 450 low-income seniors including persons in nursing facilities and homebound beneficiaries.

If you know a senior who could use this help, call RSVP (one of the agencies in GCABC) at 216.391.9500. For more information, visit RSVP’s website. VOLUNTEERS WELCOME!

It’s good to see nonprofits working together and getting help from local media outlets to provide this kind of much-needed service. If you have a favorite charity, consider partnering your business with them in 2005 to help them deliver services to those in need.

Help! How to hire when you gotta get some

Saturday, December 18th, 2004


How did your business do this year? Let’s’ face it: the dailiness of running a small business takes a lot of time. And for whatever number of hours you also perform the work–as opposed to working on the business–you increase the time invested exponentially. So it really pays to hire the right people.

How do you choose the right person for a job? Is liking someone a good reason? It helps if you do, but it’s hardly the way to judge a person’s capabilities fairly. And disliking is sufficient reason not to hire someone, but not if you dislike the person for his or her color, gender, religious preferences, etc.

The big corporations have batteries of tests they administer–and the open-ended questions the professional HR people ask are pretty effective at uncovering attitudes or biases that might cause problems in a corporate environment. But a small business is a different breed of cat.

First you have to figure out what the legal entanglements are. Read some FAQs on the niceties of hiring. Here’s the IRS site on necessary forms for hiring employees.

Then you’ll want to know how to go about it. It ain’t easy, folks. And it’s a huge responsibility to have someone working for you. So make sure you need an employee as opposed to a contractor. (Beware here–the IRS recently began cracking down on calling someone a contractor when he or she really fits the definition of employee–they work the hours you say and do what you tell them, rather than performing the job somewhat independently.) Here’s a simply written checklist of things to do to hire a new employee.

However you decide to approach it, feeling overwhelmed more than a day or two at a time is a sign you need some help. Go ahead. Wish yourself a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) and expand your possibilities.

Business code of conduct challenged

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

Ethics. Boy, we thought we had problems before. Enron was a pimple on the rear of the universe compared to what lies ahead with bioengineering…

Now comes a group called the Union of Concerned Scientists calling together a panel of experts to discuss the frighteningly real dangers of growing crops bioengineered to produce drugs. It’s impossible to control where seeds and other bits of bioengineered stuff will blow when crops like that are grown outdoors. It’s nature’s way of spreading whatever is growing–by wind, by rain, by bee and by bird. You can’t expect the rigged stuff to be any different.

The UCS and the panelists are calling for a ban on growing these crops outside. Keep ‘em in enclosed, controlled environments, they say.

Unless their call is heeded, you and I and our kids could soon be serving generous helpings of unknown drugs in our next bowl of cornflakes. Read more.

Accessing the wisdom of the ages will soon be easier

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

In a mind-boggling move, search giant Google has managed to seal a partnership with knowledge giants “Harvard University, The University of Michigan, Stanford University, Oxford University, and The New York Public Library” to–now think about this–scan some 50 million of their book titles and make them searchable on the Internet.

Just stop for a minute. Let that soak in. I remember a panel discussion in which Case Western Reserve University’s IT guru Lev Gonick stated that bricks-and-mortar universities that did not begin immediately to participate in the electronic age would soon have no reason to exist.

Today that day looks to be getting uncomfortably closer. As jobs continue to evaporate, and fragile operating margins continue driving business owners to slim down payrolls, cut out inefficiencies, double up job duties, now comes nothing less than simple, complete access for all people all over the globe to some of the world’s greatest accumulated repositories of knowledge.

Perhaps the “degree” of the future will become a personalized label you make up for yourself based on what you’ve chosen to study out of love and desire. Perhaps a new category of job will come into being–instead of teachers we’ll have “degree consultants” who’ll guide you in your learning choices so that your education doesn’t become too narrow.

Our world is changing so rapidly we can’t afford to blink–or we’re guaranteed to miss something important and exciting. The trick, as always, will be to maintain our connection to the deeper parts of ourselves…to nature and to spirit…and not get lost in the race for more information.

Geico versus Google–Courts to decide if Google's search is fair

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

A killer lawsuit is underway in which car insurer Geico is suing Google because a Google search for “Geico” also brings up ads for Allstate and other car insurers. Check out this Forbes article: At issue: the very fiber of Google’s search algorithms.

Some trademark experts claim you can’t own a name–just a name connected with a product. Others are saying the law simply isn’t well delineated in this area. Just as Microsoft’s highly visible trial over monopoly issues, this one’ll be closely watched by an awful lot of people–not least the horde of folks who’ve recently entered the highly paid search engine optimization business.

Just the fact that the courts have accepted the case for trial means the exciting new world of online competition may soon encounter the long arm of legislation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Security threats are jumping the fences now

Monday, December 13th, 2004

Oh, brother. As if we didn’t have enough junk with hundreds of virus-laden emails arriving in our inboxes every day, now comes The Sans Institute, a place that provides training in security announcing that new technology makes it possible for a trusted website to get infected with malicious content that jumps from a website that happens to be open in another browser window on your machine.

Read Peter Coffee’s rant on where this latest security invasion might lead us–a separate machine for every application–just the opposite of what we’ve been trying to accomplish all these decades. Sigh.

I ask you, who are the people doing this and what exactly is their ROI on this sort of skulduggery? Who benefits, besides anti-virus software people and possibly security consultants? It hardly seems possible that these people would be spending their spare time inventing pervasively evil code so they’ll have more work to do. If this is teenagers with not enough to do, we’ve got some societal issues to work on. And if it’s a psycho, well, I guess we can be grateful he’s not focusing on chemical warfare.