Susan in the Tub/ DUB-DUB-DUB

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

SUSAN IN THE TUB

Recently I have been under a lot of stress. My good friend and quintessential practical networker Ramona, seeing that I was definitely in need of a therapeutic experience, invited me to join her and another friend to visit West Virginia’s Berkeley Springs spa. Never having visited any spa—and pretty well burned out—I agreed to the adventure. Soaking for 30 minutes in a huge ceramic tub of minueral water heated to 102 degrees  was a delightful experience I will never forget. I’m hooked on the experience. I recommend the experience. I’ll be back.

Bathhouse

                                                            DUB-DUB-DUB

(Now Optional)

A while back, my Toastmaster friend from California George—a webmaster by profession—pointed out that for anyone to visit my website, the infamous “WWW” (aka “dub-dub-dub”) had to precede PEQUODSYSTEMS.  All that has now been changed, and you can now get to our website by simply entering PEQUODSYSTEMS.COM in your browser.

Thanks, George! Much appreciated! 

 

 

Susan Ellsworth

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pequod-Systems/46475331027

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Your Profession: Does your Volunteer Experience Really Matter?

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

Recently Dan Rex, the CEO of Toastmasters International, announced that the TI Board of Directors had decided to institute new District officer titles that, among other reasons, would “Create a parallel between district leadership and leadership in the corporate and volunteer sectors.” Basically, the idea is to help volunteers easily explain to current and potential employers what knowledge, skills and abilities they were likely to have acquired by participating in these roles.

All very nice and mostly window-dressing, insofar as many members have thought.

The real question is, does your volunteer experience actually prepare you for paid work? Does your volunteer experience really matter?

Recently, I sat down with George Marshall, whose online Toastmaster Tools are used by members around the globe. I asked him that very question, and here is what he said.

During my year as Toastmasters Area Governor, I became very interested in the big differences in club quality, and as I gathered data about each of my clubs to try to help them, I realized that the information I wanted was sometimes hard to gather in useful form. I learned a lot that year about downloading the reports and doing my own analysis in spreadsheets.

After a while, I decided to automate the more time-consuming tasks. I started working on what eventually became the Tools for Toastmasters website, summarizing some of the reports in real-time. After a year or so, I realized that the data would be more useful if it were in a database, which I knew nothing about. But I sat out to learn how, and with the help of mentors, within a year or so, the core of today’s site was in place, with built-in summaries and analysis of several types of Toastmaster data.

I have learned a lot about databases with this project, some of which I have been able to apply to our business. [Freemont Web Solutions].

Susan Ellsworth

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Talking about Technology

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

As the 2013 year winds down, I find myself musing about the language we use to talk about technology. As a friend of mine observed a while back, every time the online technology comes up with a new feature/experience, the technologists and their marketers struggle to find the right words to describe that experience and its unique selling proposition.

Many of a certain age will remember when “hanging out” was a bad thing tinged with the suggestion of juvenile delinquency. Not since Google brought out Google + Hangouts.  I participate with a group that recently struggled with whether to call itself online  or virtual. Gone are the days when a cloud was simply a fluffy vision in the sky. Now it’s a fluffy way to tell end users that the computer they are using to communicate with others is not in the same facility they are.  Just as there are hybrid cars, there are hybrid clouds, which the Webopedia says is a ” combined form of private clouds and public clouds in which some critical data resides in the enterprise’s private cloud while other data is stored in and accessible from a public cloud. Hybrid clouds seek to deliver the advantages of scalability, reliability, rapid deployment and potential cost savings of public clouds with the security and increased control and management of private clouds.Really old-timers still think of a tweet as a sound made by a bird. Avatar spawned the word Gravitar for WordPress users. Bitcoin has been around for a while, and now has been entered into the Webopedia.  My picture in this blog is a selfie—a picture I took of myself. Then there is BYOD —Bring Your Own Device, a concept that used to scare corporate systems managers into hiding. The phrase Software As A Service is a yawner from yesterday. Now we have Anything As a Service and Everything as a Service, both of which are abbreviated as XaaS. Now that’s just plain weird. I think I’ll go have an eggnog and wish all of you a happy holiday and a great new MMXIV.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Susan Ellsworth

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A Tempting Technology from a Wine Taster and Connoisseur

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

You never know where the next great idea might come from. I sometimes get ideas for this blog from comments by friends in various social media. But who would have ever thought that the idea for today’s blog about a new idea for technology would come from my alltime favorite wine connoisseur and longtime friend Heidi McLain? Heidi is the CEO and founder of the To Your Taste!®Wine Party Kit, an educational kit of tools to help those who may not feel confident about buying wine, ordering it in a restaurant, or just talking about it.

So I was surprised to see a video post from Heidi about Phonebloks.com, a company pointing out an obvious aspect of cell phones. Not built to last, thousands of cell phones are being thrown away daily simply because one component of the phone does not work. Or that it is out of date. The idea behind Phonebloks is that phones should be modular, and enable users to easily upgrade or modify a phone built on an open platform. Basically, the idea is for companies working together to build the best phone in the world. Personally, I had never once thought about what happened to the components of my previous cell phones. That’s a little strange for me, because I have thought of myself as a great believer in a greener earth and as someone who likes to put things together to make them work.

Recognizing that getting phone manufacturers to work together will not be an easy task, Phonebloks takes full advantage of social media. The plan is that on October 29 at 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time, all who like that idea send out eMail blasts through Thunderclap.  Messages will go to our FaceBook friends and Twitter followers saying that this modular type phone is a phone worth keeping. (and developing, since the phone has not yet been developed!) Presumably these messages will reach manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung. As of the date of this blog, Thunderclap lists some 856,800 supporters of a goal of 900,000 supporters and a social reach of 331,641,218.

For a team of perhaps three people, this is a ginormous goal. On his help-out FAQ page Developer Dave Hakkens says

>How can you help out and make Phonebloks become something more than just a concept? Do not send money! At least not yet. Dave writes on his facebook page

>“Just to be sure #Phonebloks doesn’t ask for any donation or money. Every site that does is a scam. Please forward this! “ I’m inclined to sign up to participate in his adventure. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/2931-phonebloks

So if this whole thing actually comes to pass, I think I’ll wander over to Heidi’s place for a nice glass of wine.

To your health!

Susan Ellsworth

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An Open Letter to Malala Yousufzai

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

Dear Malala,
We at Pequod Systems hear you loud and clear. And we were deeply moved by your recent speech at the  U.N. Youth Assembly in New York City. We look forward to the day there is a documentary about your efforts to encourage the education of all girls, women and children. While we  are blessed to be in a country where women are not shot for trying to get an education, we have also been around long enough to have watched a dramatic change in the numbers of girls and women being encouraged to enter technical fields as technicians rather than as secretaries. 

Malala, as a young girl, I was encouraged only to be a secretary to someone who would be far more intelligent than I was assumed to be. Enter my  husband and first computing mentor Grant. He knew I have a mind of my own and gently encouraged me to learn to use his first computer—an Apple II+.  Later, he bought a server on which I managed a database created by my second mentor, Ed Fox.

Ed taught me one of the best lessons I would ever learn about data management: Where does the data come from, who will benefit by its use, and what is your plan for managing it when your first plan does not exactly work the way you thought it would?

David Rorabaugh was my third computing mentor.  David had no truck with those who minimized women for any reason, and was a visionary who understood and talked about the future of Windows. He was a Certified NetWare Engineer when I was on a government contract with him. Eventually we both were taking—and passing—the same professional examinations and comparing notes with each other.

Today, while the number of women computer technicians is still significantly lower than the number of men in the field, I believe there has been a generational attitude shift among younger men about women and computing. A Google search shows a lot of articles about women in computing. Most encouraging (to me, at least) there is a Philadelphia-based Network of Women in Computer Technology which focuses on mentoring young girls who might want to enter the field.

Malala, keep speaking out as you did on your birthday. In some parts of the world, women are making progress. In others, we still need an army of your friends who believe in supporting the education of all women, girls and children just as you do. Thank you for your inspirational example.

Susan Ellsworth

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Pequod Systems Posts: the Breast Cancer Series 2

Susan Ellsworth

Thank you, Grant, Aref, Jon, Team Nimble, Sally, Andrew, Judy, Steve,Ruth, Steve, Dottie, Attila, Janice  and the rest of the village it has taken to get me up and going again. My radiology is done. Although I still have leftovers from my last chemo on January 10,  I am beginning to agree with my managing partner and our customers—this is almost over.   My fingers are now getting better re-acquainted with my keyboard.

Two final notes on the subject. First, a number of  “race for the cure” events are in progress. It’s time for more research into the discovery of causes of breast cancer and the prevention of it. Second, a far less-advertised but equally determined effort in that direction is being made by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women Program.  Made possible by the Avon Foundation for Women, the AOW had 366,632 volunteers as of 5/21/12.  This Army’s vision is “Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts.” Volunteers periodically receive brief notices about iniatives focused on  various groups and breast cancer. I am one of those nearly 366, 700 volunteers in that Army, and I invite you to join. Visit http://www.armyofwomen.org/ and sign up.

I am playing catchup with corporate marketing responsibilities and homework.  It’s rather sad when Twitter sends you a notice about missing you. I have an embarrassingly tall stack of Nimble leads to call. I juggle (let’s face it!) home tasks with followup medical appointments and corporate responsibilities. Thankfully, various friends drop by now and then to help with home tasks.  Blessings on them. Now if our two cats would just learn to clean and change their catbox….

In the meantime, good things have happened. One of our favorite long-time customers, a company that makes affordable and decent housing available in Washington DC has recovered somewhat from the bad economy. We have remained in touch with key staff members during a seriously tough time for them, and they recently came back to us for workstations and service.

Another company we met many years ago and have provided service to off and on for many years has suddenly discovered the importance and value of registering software and keeping track of software licenses. I wrote about this matter so long  ago in the Business Monthly that it has rolled off the archive.  Yet, there are still companies such as this one that have not moved all their applications into the cloud and have not figured out corporately that registrations and licenses for local Microsoft applications are not something to be hung onto by a sometime tech support contractor or by an employee who has no idea why that documentation is important. Bottom line? It’s quite expensive and sometimes next to impossible to upgrade or move a system without this critical data.

On the good news side, Todd Martin from Nimble has written an insightful blog about “The Art of Selling Yourself Online: 5 Ways To Introduce Yourself Through Social Media.”  It’s definitely worth a read, so check it out.

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Pequod Systems Posts: the Breast Cancer Series

Thank you for your FaceBook eMail, Garick.

Today’s news is that my last scheduled day of radiology is May 9, 2012.  After that, it will be a matter of a daily pill for the next five years. My radiologist MD says that the further I get away from my chemo experience, the more energy I will get back. We’ll see if I’m up to partying the weekend of May 12-13.

And of course, I will be getting my mammograms regularly and hoping that the breast cancer does not come back. The good news is that I discovered that not every mammogram has to be painful. The one I had at my hospital just prior to my lumpectomy, for example, was a bit uncomfortable but nowhere near as painful as the one I had at the facility my general practitioner had sent me to.  The challenge now is to educate my GP so he will understand that there is no correlation between the amount of pain one feels with a breast smashed between two plates and the quality of the mammogram.

As you know, it has not been easy to travel the road to cure my breast cancer and do what I can to function as the marketing partner of Pequod Systems. Especially with all the great new features and benefits that Nimble has been rolling out at the very time I have mostly not had the energy to talk with prospects intelligently. I mostly have had “chemo brain” as a result of the Taxotere in the chemo brew that I took in November, December and January.  I will have to explain to Richard and Todd that one does not contact a lead when one’s not-so-nimble brain is somewhere south of the border. Believe it or not, there actually are chemo-brain-like  residual effects from the Taxotere that do take time to disappear. I am sure they will understand.

What you don’t know is that I consequently had not paid attention to my workstation. Shortly after I learned that I had breast cancer, my hard drive had very nearly been filled with old files and plain old junk I really did not need. What’s almost worse,  the dust of the ages (not to mention cat fuzz) had penetrated my system and I suspect had been a purveyor of  static. So it was no wonder that every website (and Nimble!) I visited, I not only had the feeling I was slogging through tar, but also that my mouse would regularly stop working. Aargh.  (More about those cats in another note…) As you can imagine, I have been spending significant time moving some useless junk from my hard drive into the ozone, and my workstation has now been re-introduced to a can of air. The upside? I will not be adding more graphics without paying attention to how much disk space I have left.

One other detail…I really have less hair now than my picture shows. As a matter of fact, my managing partner has said I look like I have a military haircut. Yup, that’s the same guy who, in a moment of frustration, said that he was beginning to wonder if breast cancer is “a rite of passage.” He just knows many of the same folks that I do.

In the meantime, thanks for the intro to Google+ Hangouts. FaceBook will have to hustle.

Cheers!

Susan

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In the Meantime, and Thanks to Friends, I’m Back

 Many thanks to the help of several Toastmasters friends and to the encouragement of Nimble folks, I’m back from four chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Radiology will be next. I will always be grateful to my Toastmasters friends who took me to and from the chemo treatments which made me quite sleepy and unable to drive. 

Back in November, I swore I would not wear a pink ribbon.  I swore that I would not wear a skull cap, a baggy beanie, a turban or a do-rag to hide what I knew would soon be my completely bald head.  I did indulge my love for hats. As you see in my picture, I also  got a pixie cut,  so that I had a little more control over how much hair would fall out and when.  But I did cheat on the pink thing.  My hand-made Christmas cards featured a pair of pink boots.  However, I’m still not wearing a skull cap, a baggie beanie, a turban or a do-rag.  Those are just not me.

In the meantime, Nimble—our Social CRM—has  blossomed into Nimble Personal and Nimble Business.   Pricing for both Nimble Personal and for Nimble Business were announced.  Orders for Nimble are rolling in from people  like you who know that their customers—and future customers—are already on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And they want to see them all—and connect with them all—in one place.  So they are signing up for Nimble.   It’s your turn. Nimble Personal—which will always be free—is available here.  Nimble Business—at an extremely competitive price for small to medium businesses  is here.  What’s more, What’s New with Nimble is right here.

Cheers, all!

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Google’s Rel = Author…where is the Return On Investment?

Susan Ellsworth

For anyone other than a professional webmaster, Google’s current “Rel=Author” implementation in G+ profiles for increasing trustworthy content has a long way to go before those of us in small business will find it easy to implement. And I am wondering exactly where is the return on investment for the time and sweat it now takes to make it work reliably.

Setting up a Google+ account is actually quite straightforward. So is pointing the G+ profile directly to my website and to the URL for this blog. Pointing this blog in the direction of my G+ profile, however, was not so much. The introductory  Matt Cutts/Othar Hansson video on authorship did not match my thee-hour effort to discover the appropriate way to point this blog in the direction of my G+ profile. Google’s online helpdesk documentation specific to WordPress, the Content Management System for this blog, told me why the video had tripped ever so lightly over commenting on its implementation by saying that the implementation is still “in the early days.” Make that “still in Beta.”

At the end of the day, I found myself ponding on two questions. First, where is the return on investment for small business website owners to spend time and effort in this way? If I don’t go through all this effort, will searches on terms on my website suddenly go into the toilet insofar as Google is concerned?

Second, I thought about the matter of trustworthiness as a whole. Frankly, in business dealings, I trust people more than I worry about website rankings. I thought about Jon Ferrera, the Nimble CEO. I have not met him in person, and yet I trust him as a person. Why is that? I have spent time on the phone with him and with his staff. What they say is what they do. My business partner knew him in his early GoldMine days, and I have watched as GoldMine partner after partner has come on board—including some who originally had hooted down the idea of integrating GoldMine with social networking, let alone turning it into a Social Business Platform. Jon has over 20 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA). An entrepreneur at heart, Jon founded GoldMine CRM in 1989 with a college friend and turned it into a very successful venture that he eventually sold to FrontRange. In 2009, Jon founded Nimble LLC, and by February 2010, we were on board. We’re not looking back any time soon. See us at our Nimble site.
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To Skype and FaceBook Together…or Not

Recently I discovered a solid business reason for using Skype. A company from BanglaDesh and my company are collaborating on a project together, and Skype is a convenient, economical way we can stay in touch. As a FaceBook user, I was fascinated to see on my Skype page an option to “Connect your Facebook account to message your friends from Skype and see their News Feed.” And of course, the “Learn More” link only said “Enjoy the magic of video calls when you and your friends are logged in to Facebook. ”

As a partner in a systems integration company, I love it when apps come together and play nicely with each other. However, just yesterday I had extolled the benefits of LinkNotify. I had proclaimed that LinkNotify is a fast read, that it sends me an eMail three times a week with current links posted by friends and/or organizations I had “LIKED.”  As an example, I pointed out that Nimble had posted a FaceBook link to the the July 6 LA Times piece “Facebook details Skype-powered video calling, group chats” and how I had received a report on July 7 from LinkNotify. I had immediately returned to FaceBook to see a comment about starting a group to enable chatting. Earlier in the day, a friend from the Philippines had posted a link to the FaceBook announcement, so that made me twice as interested. A 10-second scan of the LinkNotify report had just saved me a 30-minute check of links posted by all my FaceBook friends. It all looked like so much FUN!

However, I had also said that I had killed off all my time-wasting FaceBook games and apps. Considering that LinkNotify is a business-oriented app that allows me to skim through the links my FaceBook friends have posted without my being slowed down by the posts about what they’re eating or watching on TV, I asked myself the obvious question:  Would SKYPE also do that for me? Not that I could see. So for now, unless my Nimble buddies can show me a good reason to the contrary, I think I’ll pass on the Skype-FaceBook integration opportunity. 

 


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