Friday, 5 October 2007

Newsletter Issue 138, October 2007

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 138, October 2007
Hi guys,
For those of you about to do another print run, check out Business Card Tips before you go to print.
In case you have forgotten about MIT's comms work, we have an Update on Project Oxygen
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Business Card Tips

What do you like to see in a business card? What drives you mad about some business cards?
I recently received a tip from a business consultant from the US. They had seven great ideas to make memorable business cards. The trouble is, when I read through their list, I felt that six of their tips were big no-nos (use two or four sides; ditch centred alignment; add your services; add the benefits of working with you; add a photo of you; use an unusual shape).
So I had a bit of a think about what is a good issue for a business card, and what is not. I considered what we do with business cards once we get them. I thought about what pleased me and what annoyed me when I was given cards. The resulting tips are what I think makes a good business card:
  1. Keep it simple. Don't cram too much information on the front of your card. The most effective cards I have seen are those which convey your key company skills through effective use of colour, images, logo or straplines, leaving lots of space.
  2. Brand it. Make sure the branding on your business card is the same as is on your letterhead, vehicle, website, brochures and invoices.
  3. Standardise. Use internationally recognised phone number formats. Use a standard international size (for filing in a business card folder or rotating file). Present all your contact details in the same format on all your branded marketing collateral so people learn where to go each time to find your contact information. Don't use odd card shapes unless they will fit into a business card holder or rotating file; your card becomes an annoyance because it can't be stored.
  4. Make it legible. Don't use fonts on key contact information that are too fancy or too small to read clearly.
  5. Single-sided printing only. Don't do double-sided printing unless you make sure all your company and contact information is on ONE side for those who store cards in a business card folder or rotating file. If you want to add more detail about the services you offer or the benefits of working with you, put that on the back. If you want a four-sided business card, again, make sure there is one face with all the details on for easy filing.
  6. No personal photos. Don't put your image on your business card; this is a look aligned with real estate agents and insurance salespeople. It feels pushy, and if you have swapped cards at a meeting, they already know what you look like.
  7. Landscape or Portrait. If your card is portrait, then your user will have to read the details off with their head to one side on a card file. This is something that makes your client have to work harder to get in touch with you; if the design is fantastic, then you may be prepared to risk a little client inconvenience, but you should consider it.
  8. Alignment of card info. It doesn't matter whether you align information, straplines or contact details left, right or centre, as long as it is consistent with your branding and is legible.
  9. Unusual paper/materials. Sometimes unusual papers or materials can work well, such as a metalwork company putting out thin metal cards. If it fits your company, then use it. However, the storage issue again needs to be considered. Keep your end user in mind, and make it easy for them to keep your information on file.
When giving someone your business card, you usually do that in a face to face meeting. Thus there is no need to try to make your business card do too much work by specifying what your key services are or to have a photo of you. They should remember you from your meeting, and your business card allows them to contact you later on; or you to contact them for follow-up.
And of course, once you have built a relationship, you don't need the card anymore. That client then becomes a contact in Outlook and on your PDA, and you rarely, if ever, look at their business card again. So keeping your design and print costs low is probably a good line to follow.
At some point in the future, something will probably replace business cards as we know them. We had a brief foray with the mini CDs, but they failed to ignite our imagination. I can't see anything on the horizon yet that matches the simplicity of transferring our contact information to others, in a format that everyone can use easily.
So for now, it would pay to ensure that your business cards are client-friendly.

Update on Project Oxygen

For those of you who remember MIT's Project Oxygen, which kicked off in the late 90s, you may be assuming, as I was, that the project was lying dormant with the rise of iPods, Blackberrys and other personal devices.
However, a quick visit to MIT's Oxygen website soon sets you straight. Oxygen is aiming to use human perception as the main modes of interaction to run the technologies - ie, speech and vision, rather than keyboards and mice.
They are working on multimodal integration to increase perceptual technology effectiveness, such as using vision to augment speech understanding by recognising facial expressions, lip movement, and gaze (I can imagine that this is going to be quite tricky - especially with the range of expression from Italy - low context - to Japan - high context - where even other Japanese have trouble working out facial expressions).
Perceptual technologies are part of the core of Oxygen, not just afterthoughts or interfaces to separate applications. So it is built around interaction driven by speech and vision.
Project Oxygen's teams are working on the following applications clusters:
  • Automation technologies, for automating and tuning repetitive information and control tasks, eg, allowing users to create 'scripts' to customise doors or heating systems
  • Collaboration technologies, support for recording / archiving speech and video fragments from meetings, and for linking these fragments to issues, summaries, keywords, and annotations; enabling spontaneous collaborative region formation to accommodate the needs of highly mobile people and computations
  • Knowledge access technologies, which offer greatly improved access to information, customised to people's needs, applications, and software systems. They allow users to access their own knowledge bases, the knowledge bases of friends and associates, and those on the web. They facilitate this access through semantic connection nets.
The two applications cases that the team quote on their website are interesting as well. Shades of Star Trek. "Computer? Get me a trim latte." "Coming right up, Captain".

Vista vs Windows XP

The forest products giant Carter Holt Harvey (CHH), employs 10,000 people across New Zealand, Australia and Asia, and has no plans to upgrade to Microsoft's new operating system, Vista. Despite being an early adopter of Microsoft's Windows XP, CHH's IT department, CHH Infotech, do not plan to upgrade to Vista. They can’t see the benefit of it at this stage, and may skip the new operating system altogether.
Krassi Modkov, CHH's manager of design and implementation says "If a technology platform serves its purpose, there is no reason to change or upgrade it. When CHH does decide to upgrade it will probably not go for the latest operating system version. When we adopt a new technology, we ride the technology wave for as long as we possibly can."
The company is not alone in preferring XP to Vista. Microsoft has revised their 2008 forecast, from an 85:15 percent split between Vista/XP sales to 78:22. Dell is now re-offering Windows XP on small business and home user PCs.
However, Microsoft still plans to terminate Windows XP sales in January 2008, and to terminate XP support in April 2014.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLA for you:
  • ARPU, Average revenue per user/unit. The income generated by a typical subscriber or device per unit time in a telecoms network. ARPU is used to indicate the effectiveness with which revenue-generating potential is exploited.
  • JSON, Javascript Object Notation. A text-based, human-readable data interchange format used for representing simple data structures and objects in Web browser-based code. JSON is also sometimes used in desktop and server-side programming environments.
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short & Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at some of the Windows keyboard key shortcuts:
  • Windows Show the desktop     Win & D
  • Windows Minimize all windows     Win & M
  • Windows Restore minimized windows     Win & Shift & M
  • Windows Launch Windows Explorer     Win & E
  • Windows Search for files or folders     Win & F
  • Windows Search for computers     Win & Ctrl & F
  • Windows Lock the computer     Win & L
  • Windows Open the Run box     Win & R
  • Windows Open Utility Manager     Win & U
  • Windows Display System Properties Box     Win & Pause
  • Windows Open/Close the Start menu     Win

Hot Linx
For any of you who are returning to study, and need to know the latest referencing standards, check out the very easy to use APA guide at
Could you recognise a photo of Kurt Cobain as a child? What about Bruce Willis? To find out, take this quick quiz and at
For access to all government business information and services for business people, small and medium sized enterprises, check out
If any of you have an interest in astronomy, go to and download their application for viewing ur universe. If you find space a little empty (surprise!) use the go to function...

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here


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