IcoBlog: October 2008

The official Blog of Iconico & SoftwareMarketingResource

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nico Westerdale Accepts ASP BoD Nomination

Nico Westerdale Accepts Nomination for a seat on the Association of Shareware Professionals Board of Directors.

I stand before you here today, addressing all my fellow members of this great Association, with profound gratitude and great humility, I accept this nomination for a place on the Association of Shareware Board of Directors.

Many of you watching may not know this junior entrepreneur from England, and I'd like to spend a few moments to introduce myself.

My journey is an improbable one. Being born in England, of American parents, I learnt programming at an early age on a ZX81. I was schooled in art, and came to New York to participate in the great experiment that only America could forge, the dot com boom, and then inevitable bust. Born out of this I formed Iconico.com and set about to produce my own shareware tools and sell them over the web.

Now our economy faces a similar collapse, and during such times it's every member's responsibility to change, to think anew about the role shareware plays, and I believe that my skills learnt through hard times and hard work will help the Association through these dark times.

A year ago I took over the running of BitsDuJour.com and worked as a community organizer with developers, ISVs, and ecommerce providers alike, helping them to promote, market, and sell their products. We rebuilt the infrastructure, eliminated waste, and forged new partnerships whilst never pandering to the special interests, all in the cause of giving developers a global audience for their products.

As we stand at this crossroads in history the ASP has a choice. To continue the same failed policies of the past which have resulted year on year in falling memberships, or to embrace change. We must look hard at the $100 membership fee and find new ways to market the Association in order for fledgling developers to come on board in these tough economic times.

We must look hard at the ASP website, and our marketing efforts. Our organization is one that still produces a printed paper newsletter, when great financial savings and even greater exposure could come from blogs, rss feeds and wikis. We must embrace this change for the future, not in the quality of what we are doing, but in how we get our message out there.

I believe that despite our best efforts the ASP has lost respect amongst the professional software community. As a member of the board of directors I will be prepared to sit down with leaders of the OISV, and Joel on Software, at a time and place of my choosing. Isolationism in the recent years have only lost us members, and by negotiating without preconditions, and starting face to face talks with our competitors I believe that we can forge new alliances and regain respect for our organization on the world stage.

As small business owners and developers we all share a hope for the future. I've seen that hope in the developers who work long nights and weekends, with the dream that one day they can give up their day jobs and devote themselves to their business full time. I've seen hope in the eyes of people in conferences from Denver to Boston, and this great Association that we have built together serves that hope, that dream for a better future.'

Fellow members, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.

At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that independent Shareware promise, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the Association of Shareware Professionals.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Clipstory Released

Clipstory We're happy to announce today the release of Clipstory. We all use Copy and Paste all the time, but the problem is that you can only copy and paste one thing at a time.

What's needed is a way to copy and paste to the clipboard, and see the history; and that's why we call our new application Clipstory!

Clipstory gives you a huge extension to your copy and paste abilities, you can quickly cycle through your entire history of copied text, files, images, audio and binary data. Through use of the keyboard shortcuts a preview popup is shown in the corner of your screen, and this works with any and all applications.

Clipstory's full list of clipped items is easy to search and scroll through to find something that you've clipped a while back. You can save, restore and even set up custom filters to automate your clipping and save items. Clipstory's powerful functions are sure to save you time every day, and never interrupt your normal work.

The software is available on trial download and can be purchased for $19.50. Feel free to download and give it a test run.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Not So Obvious Internet Credit Card Scam

A few weeks back I purchased a new keyboard through Amazon, and this unleashed a slew of events that left me in the middle of a large scale credit card scam. I'm pretty savvy to online scams, and have never replied to the Nigerian emails asking for a cool million, but this one caught me out!

Now Amazon has opened up their system to allow small merchants to sell their own products, so you can get a substantial discount on a product. For the keyboard I wanted I had a look through the New offers and found many at nearly half off, so I went with a merchant who had decent feedback and clicked through the checkout.

Amazon runs the checkout process, so the merchant doesn't get my credit card number, all good. My keyboard arrived in good time and I got several emails from the merchant, great service I thought.

Then I started getting packages.

The first package that I got was a box of five of the keyboards that I had ordered, then the next day I got two pieces of software. I emailed the merchant and they told me that there had been a mess up in the order and they had been incorrectly shipped to my address. The shipping labels had someone else's name on it so it all seemed like a genuine mistake and the merchant would figure out what went wrong.

The merchant emailed me some pre-paid UPS shipping labels addressed to their 'Returns Department' which I printed out. The merchant even offered to arrange a UPS pickup so I sent on the packages.

A few days later I started to get more packages. These included a video projector, a 30 inch monitor, and some other really big ticket items. I refused delivery of the items and noticed that the items were coming direct from places such as NewEgg and Dell, and at this point I realized that there was something more sinister afoot. I was also getting emails from the merchant pleading with me not to refuse delivery as that would 'incur extra shipping charges' and instead to ship them on to them.

What must have happened was that I had been co-opted into acting as a fence for stolen goods. The merchant has at their disposal a number of stolen credit cards. They were ordering items from manufacturers and having them shipped to my mailing address. I'd then forward them on and there would be no paper trail from the original purchase through to their receipt of the goods.

Armed with printouts of all the emails and photographs of all the shipping labels (I'm now on first name terms with my UPS guy) I went down to the local police precinct. I filled out a form and thought that as I had the address that these good would ultimately go to that the fraud department would be able to track down these guys.

When I did get to speak to the desk Sergent he said there was absolutely nothing they could do as the fraud was no committed in New York state. I called NewEgg and they didn't have any ideas on what to do. Dell has taken my number and a week later has not got back to me.

Now this is a pretty smart scam, and I certainly don't like being taken for a sucker, what gets me is that these guys probably have a huge operation running here and there seems very little that anyone can do about it. I could call up the FBI, but they aren't defrauding me, so I don't really want to invest yet more time in all this.

Maybe this is a well known scam, but it's the first I've heard of it, and it seems the only thing left for me to do is put the word out so that nobody else gets caught in the same trap.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Business Of Software.org

There's a new resource for software business people over at businessofsoftware.org. It's a social networking site, the first of it's kind exclusively for this niche. If you're in the business take a look here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Design Elements of a Successful Webpage

When visitors come to a site the first five seconds allow the user to make a judgments about the quality of the website, and this judgments is transferred to the quality of the company or the service being offered. These one step judgments means that the first impression of the website is very important – for this reason, a well designed site is a must for any business.

The design of the website must be consistent and recognizable, similar to creating a brand. A successful website is designed with this in mind. The user should be able to identify the website, the service being offered and the company offering the service with couple quick clicks. Logo placement should be subtle, with an adequate amount of information being offered on the website.

A site that has been designed cohesively with complimentary color and design schemes will mean users spending more time on your site! Two main colors, with one complimentary color work best in any site design. Regardless of color, the site should be easily read, with a contrast between the text and background. Should the image in the background be patterned – text boxes should be used to implement any information. This will ensure readability.

A difficult website to navigate can have a terrible impact on traffic. The navigation bar for the website should be clear, easy to locate and in the same area on every page of the website. Ensuring that it is in the same place ensures continuity throughout the duration of the visit. Doing this will ensure more time spent on your site, as the user can link back to the home page and visit other pages on the website.

Having too many graphics on the website can distract the visitor from the information that they visited the site for. Graphics should be kept a minimum, or at least be in line with text to avoid confusion and make for ease of reading. It is important to remember that an increased amount of graphics could cause increased loading times within the site. Many consumers will click away from the site should there be large amounts of graphics that are not loading. Remember this tip when designing – and take into account if the graphics are necessary.

Use headings. All successful websites have static headings that display logos, text and other important contact information at the top of the site where it is easily located. These headings also assist in customer recognition. Every website should include the contact information for the business.

Use clear and outlines sections for text within the websites that create easy to read sections for the user. Allow links within the text to complimentary information, or other sections of the website. There is one rule when it comes to website, the simpler and more elegant the design – the easier it is going to be to read. Consumers don’t want to spend valuable time reading information that is not pertinent to what it is they are looking for.

Using these elements create a positive experience for all visitors that join the site. A website should be functional, and aesthetically pleasing to ensure future visits. Take these tips into account, and traffic should increase and be sustained for a long period of time.

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