Friday, July 29, 2011

Space Shuttle Technologies Impact You Everyday

Last week we watched as the space shuttle Atlantis took its last trip into space. This marks the conclusion of the space shuttle program but if you look around your home or office you can observe evidence of the impact the program has had on our lives. Thousands of technologies developed for the space shuttle program have been commercialized and applied in a variety of ways to improve our lives.

When I think about NASA technology, I used to imagine space ships, rockets, highly magnetic boots, and of course freeze-dried ice cream. After doing some research, I realize just how many technologies have found their way into regularly used things within my life. There's a NASA periodical called Spinoff that is committed to educating people about all of the commercialized ways technologies from the space program are used.

Here are just a few surprising things that have been developed due to the NASA space shuttle program:

Athletic Shoes – Blow rubber molding is a process developed to make helmets for NASA. It is currently used in many running shoes as companies can make hollow soles and fill them with a shock absorbing substance. One common shoe that utilizes this is the Nike Air.

DustBusters – NASA commissioned engineers at Black and Decker to develope a computer program that would allow an electric motor to perform well without needing much power. Black and Decker brought it into our homes with the cordless power drill and the DustBuster.

Smoke Detectors – First created in 1970 for Skylab, America’s first space station, these devices are now so important that legally they must be installed in newly built homes.

Space exploration has inspired many things throughout time. Through the desire to improve and create new technologies for this purpose, NASA inadvertently improved our everyday lives. I’m sure in years to come NASA will continue to commission or develop new technologies that will impact us. But as we say good-bye to the space shuttle program we can rest assured that it will forever live on in our everyday lives.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Memorable Business Cards

Business cards are an essential and longstanding cornerstone of effective networking. The format is as standard as the medium, a small stock-paper card with basic contact information and, if you're feeling saucy, a witty catch phrase. However, more and more creative thinkers are handing out extremely memorable business cards that toss out old networking conventions and replace them with unforgettable innovations. The very standard of what is and what is not a business card is changing. If you're looking to improve your networking skills by creating a business card that will have people talking, take into account a few of these creative techniques.

Add Texture

This is one of the most basic ways to make your business card more memorable. Adding texture to a card engages the sense of touch in a dynamic way, creating another layer of memory in the brain. It may sound silly, but if your business card has an intriguing texture, then the brain of the receiver will have one more thing to notice. Check out this great example.

Make Them Share-Worthy

Hand out a card that people will want to share with their friends or hang up on a wall at work. A simple and clever design on the back might just inspire others to show it to their coworkers. For example, take a look at this great mustache design on the back of a particularly fun business card. This sort of design will have people holding the card up to their face and, in turn, sharing it with others. Check it out here.

Make Them Digital

Who says a business card has to be a card? Why not go green and implement digital business cards by developing QR codes instead? QR codes are a popular trend among tech-savvy smart phone users. Demonstrating the ability to use this technology effectively will impress your audience, making your business card (and more importantly, your business) more memorable. Here are some tips on using QR codes.

Creating a business card is only limited by your imagination. Making your cards unique will make them more effective networking tools. For more tips and tricks on making business cards, make sure to read this article.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Exploring Virtual Teams

Connecting with people from all over the world is as simple as a click of a button. This significantly impacts our social lives and we are seeing more and more the result this has on business. The virtual team, or geographically dispersed team (GDT), is a relatively new organizational strategy but the quantity of businesses that have embraced this tactic has grown significantly in the past few years. You may be asking yourself if it right for your business.

The idea that the level of productivity corresponds directly to the amount of face-time a team receives is a misconception that is falling to the wayside. Managers are noticing that an individual’s motivation, the dynamics of the group, and the capabilities of each person can have a much more significant impact. Virtual teams support more selectiveness when building the team, as location isn't a factor. A manager can then find people who compliment each other and are self-motivated through the bettering of their personal careers.  Virtual teams can be a blessing to managers because of their productivity and the fact that they require less direct managing.

Virtual teams are not realistic for industries and companies that require physical interaction, however for companies thatdo not require physical proximity, implementing teams that interact remotely is not only feasible but can enhance their processes. If you are considering the use of virtual teams in your business here are some items to consider.

Advantages

  • Recruitment based on competence not proximity
  • Team members can work during the times when they function most efficiently
  • Teams are comprised of members that are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or cost
  • Reduced overhead, because there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are reduced as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better examine the team’s performance as there are less social pressures


Disadvantages

  • Less social interaction, which can be a demotivator for some people
  • Loss of trust among team members if there is not assurance that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity could possibly be stifled, as the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the length of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind


Online technology is the primary way that virtual teams interface with one another, including email, audio conferencing, and file sharing programs. Here is a list of a few websites and products that facilitate teams that interact virtually.

  • Go to meetings – a relatively inexpensive way to have remote conferences
  • Yammer – a private social network for companies that enables quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars


If you want more information on virtual teams in action, check out the articles below: 
http://www.theanywhereoffice.com/mobile-work/telework-viritual-teams-midmarket-companies.htm
http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/19/virtual-teams-meetings-leadership-managing-cooperation.html
http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-effective-tools-for-managing-a-virtual-team

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Will another tech bubble pop

If you go to Google News and enter a search for ‘tech bubble,’ you’ll get a dozen fresh articles debating this question: Are technology stocks, particularly social media companies, overvalued?

The mother of all tech bubbles took place in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when half-baked business ventures got oodles of cash just for fixing a .com to their name.

When the market regained its senses, in 2000, the bubble burst and investors wound up with dot nothing. The question du jour: Does today’s market have any of the characteristics of the dot-com-era market?

The answer:  Yes and no.

In the yes column, you have companies with huge stock prices without much in the way of, say, profits. Consider some recent and awaited IPOs: LinkedIn.com, Pandora.com, and Groupon.com. Two of these have yet to turn a profit. (LinkedIn logged its first profitable year in 2010.) Twitter is predicted to fetch a huge share price when it goes public this year, but the company has yet to iron out its moneymaking strategy. (Minor detail, right?)

The no column, there’s a massive quantitative and qualitative difference between 1999 and 2011. As Mashable columnist Jolie O'Dell notes, in 1999 308 tech companies filed for IPO. So far, there have been 25 in 2011. What’s more, it’s easier to see the worth of an Internet company today, when nearly 80 percent of adults and above 90 percent of teens are online. In the late 1990s, lower than 40 percent of adults used the Internet, according research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

In other words, the market has matured considerably in the last decade or so. And the players tend to be more mature too. LinkedIn is no Webvan.

Regardless of the differences between 2011 and 1999, there’s still cause for concern. Stock market bubbles are like extremophiles -- they find a way to grow in even the most hostile environments. (Which is why you see such huge stock values in an otherwise dismal economy.)

If we’re heading for market correction, I suspect it won’t be as severe as the one in 2000. But if Facebook starts running Superbowl ads featuring sockpuppet, it’s time to panic. 


Friday, July 8, 2011

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.

  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.

  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can alway preview any post or edit you before you share it to the world.