Ubuntu 13.04 due out today

By The Natural State Hawg on 12:31 AM

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That's right, Linux fans – a new version of Ubuntu is due out today.

If you already have Ubuntu, your system should tell you when the update is available. If not, launch the update manager in Ubuntu and it will search for the new operating system for you.

If you simply want to switch to Ubuntu, head over to Ubuntu.com, hit the download tab and follow the directions. Bear in mind that you can have Ubuntu running alongside your current operating system or you can put it on a USB drive or DVD so you can test drive it instead of installing it on your system.

Is your Internet site really helping your business?

By The Natural State Hawg on 11:12 PM

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speaktoleads

A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a Ford Mustang. There are two local dealerships that sell those – I’ll refer to them as Dealership A and Dealership B.

Like a lot of consumers, I started researching Mustangs on the Internet by visiting the sites of both dealerships. I found cars that met my requirements on both sites and asked for more information about those vehicles. Dealership B got back to me in a hurry while Dealership A responded much later. I bought my Mustang from Dealership B because that lot got back to me first. Both dealerships had similar cars and there wasn’t much difference in price.

The only difference between them is that one responded to me before the other one did – the quick company made a $28,000 sale, whereas the slow one lost a customer to a competitor.

What can we take from this? Response time matters and anyone who doesn’t realize that simple truth is living in a fool’s paradise.

Now, that all makes sense, and there’s data to back up that notion. A Kellogg study proving that the odds of connecting with a lead increases 100 times if contact is made within five minutes rather than within 30 minutes. Here’s something else – leads contacted within five minutes are 21times more likely to become customers than leads contacted within 30 minutes.

The name of the game, then, is lead generation. You can spend a ton of time and cash putting together a snazzy site that gets people interested in your business, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if a slow response time means you don’t convert leads into paying customers. You can have great content and an attention-grabbing call to action button that potential customers click like crazy, but all of that is wasted effort if your response time is so slow that interest leads wander to sites run by your competitors.

If you need some help in that area, you’re in luck – there’s a company called Speak2Leads that specializes into helping you turn those leads into paying customers.

That’s why your company started an Internet site to begin with, isn’t it? The whole point of putting your company on the Web is to find people interested enough to pay you money. If your company isn’t responding quickly enough to inquiries from potential customers, then what’s the point of its Internet site?

Why not take it easy on yourself?

By The Natural State Hawg on 10:11 PM

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TaskBulletDo you want to know the worst part of owning your own business? All the piddling tasks that you have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Well, those tasks aren’t exactly piddling – they have to be done. We’re talking about stuff like billing, customer support tasks, answering email, scheduling appointments, bookkeeping, etc. If those tasks don’t get done, you’ve got some real problems just waiting to jump up and bite you.

While those tasks are important, they keep you from doing the things that made you decide to open your own business in the first place. I know about this firsthand from the days I was an attorney. I didn’t get a law degree, pass the bar and open an office so I could spent most of my time paying bills, checking my post office box and dealing with salesmen who wandered into my office. No, I opened a law firm so I could spend my time suing people and growling at other attorneys. In other words, I loved the freedom of owning my own office, but hated the day-to-day office stuff for which I had no training and no interest.

In my case, I wound up hiring a secretary to take care of everything from scheduling appointments to putting together bankruptcy petitions. The problem with a full time employees is that they are expensive, want benefits and may or may not show up to work on time. Now, I don’t want to bash my secretary – she was great and was great at keeping me from having to deal with the tasks that need to be done but which bored me to tears. However, she was expensive and cut into my profit margin like crazy.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d avoid hiring a secretary altogether and turn to virtual assistant services instead. Why? A virtual assistant can cost half of what a regular employee does and they handle those necessary tasks you don’t want to do and that frees you up to work on the large tasks you dreamt of when you started your business. Also, you can scale your workforce at will – grab some more assistants if you have a large project requires more help and then trim your workforce back as needed (in other words, there’s no full time employee drawing a salary when there’s no work to do).

By the way, hit the aforementioned link if you want to hire virtual assistants from an American company that has no shortage of professionals with university degrees. Oh, and you can hire those smart assistants for one of the lowest rates in the industry. Not bad, huh?

Wordless Wednesday–‘Mine!’

By The Natural State Hawg on 2:04 AM

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mine

Click here for more Wordless Wednesday entries.

A dentist for people who don’t like dentists?

By The Natural State Hawg on 1:23 AM

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Haymore

If you don’t have a horror story or two about dentists, the chances are good you know someone who does. As for me, I’ve been through serial extractions, wisdom teeth removal, braces and a number of things that have left me with a distinct dislike of dentists.

So, when you run across one that talks about “gentle” dentistry, it’s time to pay attention. That’s doubly true if the dentist has patient testimonials on hand to back up his claims. The great thing about the Internet, of course, is that researching is very easy – finding a painless dentist (or anything else) has become much easier than it used to be.

At any rate, I’m about to make that research a bit easier for you good people in Las Vegas. Forget about running searches for “dentist Las Vegas” or “root canal Las Vegas” and simply click, click, click one of those two aforementioned links to visit the site of a dentist who promises to be gentle with patients.

Now, any dentist on the planet can make that claim, but how can you tell if the dentist is telling the truth? Fortunately, you’ve got some testimonials on that site that back up the dentist’s claims. In the words of one client who submitted a review, “…fast, efficient root canal. Did not hurt at all and face did not swell up.”

That’s good stuff. Haymore Endontics backs that claim up further by showing off an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Something else in the dentist’s favor is the ability to make an appointment online in about 30 seconds. You can even make an emergency appointment on the site.

That, folks, is the epitome of convenience. In this day and age where people are in a hurry and money is tight, good customer service is essential – if you’re going to pay for something, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, right? That fast-loading, informative site is indicative of a professional who knows the value of good customer service. That speaks volumes, folks.

Again, one of the advantages of the Internet is that doing some research on dentists or anything else is easy. I wish such a tool would have been available back when I was a kid and my parents were searching for a good dentist for me. I wound up with a dentist who evidently subscribed to a philosophy that suggests that causing a patient pain is merely an unavoidable consequence of getting dental work done. It’s nice to see a dentist bucking that trend, isn’t it?

Looking for a business lawyer in Lafayette?

By The Natural State Hawg on 10:46 PM

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Back in my 20s, I went to law school, passed the Arkansas Bar Exam and then went to work as an attorney. While I don’t practice law anymore, I do understand what the most difficult thing was about finding an attorney was hiring one that wasn’t awful.

What’s the best way to find a solid, competent attorney? Do some research. If you’re looking for a business lawyer in Lafayette, La., just click on the aforementioned link and you can start your research immediately. What will you find there? The firm’s philosophy, areas of focus and everything else you might need when wondering where to find a good business lawyer in the area.

If you want to move past the business lawyer area, make sure to read up on the Lafayette lawyers’ areas of practice. Remember – attorneys are expensive. If you need one, you’d better hire a good one as a bad one costs about the same and can really leave you in a world of hurt.

A time-tested, online travel site

By The Natural State Hawg on 10:32 PM

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travel_logo_smallWhat can you say about a site that’s been online in 1997? It’s ancient by “dot com” standards and, as such, must have something going for it.

Travel.com.au has been around since 1997 and has managed to survive the shakeups that killed a lot of online companies. I particularly like this site because I’ve always wanted to visit Australia for one reason or another (possibly because there are some areas of that country that stay between 50 degrees and 70 degrees all year long and Arkansas isn’t exactly like that).

If you’re planning a trip outside the country, the chances are good that you’ll need a little help with international flights, international airfares and those sorts of things, right? If you’re a cheapskate like I am, you’ll probably want to find some cheap flights, too. So, I tested out the site and tried to figure out what flights were available from Little Rock, Ark. to Sydney, Australia, on June 1 from the Little Rock National Airport.

Within seconds, I got to see which flights I could take, how much each one cost, how long my travel time would be and in which airports my flight would layover. That’s very convenient and the site does a great job of listing every relevant provider – you might be looking for Signapore Airlines, Jetstar, United Airlines or Qantas (just a few examples) and you can see where each of those airlines fits into your international flight (or, indeed, if they are included at all).

That’s what we call convenience, folks. Check out the site if you’re in the mood to travel.

Take your music underwater

By The Natural State Hawg on 8:29 PM

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smush_p_mega

Every wanted to take your music underwater? Ever worried that you’d ruin your iPod by taking it in a swimming pool with you? Have you ever thought that a waterproof iPod might cost you a fortune even if such a thing existed?

Well, fear not – you can have your very own underwater iPod for around $165. Yes, we’re talking about a legitimate iPod Shuffle that comes complete with waterproof headphones and everything you need to take your music with you wherever you go.

Folks, that’ significant. Think back to the 1980s (well, think back to those days if you’re old enough to remember that particular decade) when the Sony Walkman came out. It was revolutionary simply because it allowed people to take their music with them just about anywhere and listen to it in anywhere. Music became portable and very individual. For a low price, you could listen to music on the bus, in your office, in your house in such a way that you wouldn’t annoy your family with it and – as I said – go anywhere with it.

Well, you couldn’t take it underwater. That was a major limitation when you consider that three-fourths of the world is underwater.

That underwater barrier, folks, has been shattered. The iPod was limited in that regard the same way the Walkman was, but that is no longer the case. Now you can pick up an iPod Shuffle for a low price and truly take your music wherever you want.

What do you get for your money? How about a legitimate Apple device that has been improved (as mentioned) and comes in a variety of colors? How about a one-year warranty and a guarantee that the device will be waterproof up to 200 feet? It’s a pretty cool device to be sure and it is backed by a company that will give you your money back if the waterproof iPod doesn’t work as well as advertised.

Think about that for a second – a little waterproofing makes a device that was once revolutionary but has become fairly common a revolutionary music player once again. Here’s another benefit that will be recognized by anyone who has had an iPod ruined by water – you can drop this thing in the kitchen sink and it’ll be OK. That, alone, is well worth the price of admission. Have a look at the waterproof iPod, folks – when you think about all the uses for it, it’ll just become that much more attractive.