Sunday, July 30, 2006

Building Online Communities

I have been an online community member for years now. Over the years I have moved from one community to the other. I have stayed in some and I have simply vacated others in as short as a week.

It's great being part of an online community, it enables a person to bring out facets of his persona that may not normally be seen in real life. It can be due to a multitude of reasons. It can be because that facet maybe unnatural in RL (Real life), like say being a pervert? or it can be because a person simply does not have any way to bring that part out in RL, like say no one in your RL community has that same hobby as yours. Or it can also be because in RL, you like to keep a different mask due to some constraint.

Whatever the reason, an online community is a vent in which people can express themselves. This blog itself is part of an online community.

How does this equate to in a corporate setting though? Well just think of the communication that it can actually facilitate. Imagine people from different departments who normally do not interact, getting to interact! that in itself is a plus.

The problem though is in actually building the community. A lot of people think that you just build a site and BOOM! you have an online community. Or just put chat capability or forum capability within your site and BAM! you got a community. A lot of people actually do that and then just expect the people to come in and use it. WRONG!!!!

Dead wrong! you just cannot do that. Even if you spend thousands of USD or even millions in building your site, it will never happen by just wishing it so.

So what do you do then? How do you actually build a community? Is there a secret formula? or a silver bullet as they may say?

Well there is none. It can depend on the exact community that you will be wanting to create.

BUT!! there is one thing that you will need. and will help a lot in creating a site. And that is to actually have a reason for creating the community. There has to be a purpose for people to go to the site and use it. And that is what you have to target.

People congregate together for a reason. What is that reason? What is your reason for building that community? unless you have one, then whatever you do, it will matter squat.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Clean and Green" corporations 101 - Conserve Electricity

There are so many ways for companies to help in the "clean and Green" efforts to save mother earth. And most if not all will benefit the companies, in terms of marketing, PR and even monetary.

However I find it quite mind-numbing as to why a lot of companies do not implement any of it...
anyway that is for another topic for another day. For now, let's just talk about one way to implement clean and green corporations.

Conserve Electricity

Here are some easy steps to do this
01 Open the curtains, use natural light where applicable

02 Switch off lights when not needed

03 Switch off computer monitors when not in use

04 Switch off computers when you go home

05 Avoid setting the Airconditioning to less than 25 degrees

06 Switch off electronics not in use

07 Use lower wattage bulbs in seldom used locations

For more advanced implementations

01 Design installations which make full use of the available light

02 Use timer controlled lighting

03 Use timer controlled airconditioning

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Recorders

Sometimes when I am traveling, I like to take notes of things. It can be about anything. It can be about the view I am looking at, or something I see or feel, tasted, smelled (hopefully not bad) or touched.

It used to be that handheld recorders were used for these. But with the advent of PDAs and mobile phones, I was thinking that it would be great if it was possible to use cellphones or PDAs to record at least 2 hours of audio.

I am sure it is possible, the circuitry and the memory is already present, the only thing needed now would be to actually enable the units to act as voice recorders.

Admit it, there are times when its really easier to just record an audio clip than to actually write it down. Imagine walking down the grocery aisle, you suddenly remember something. You just pull out your PDA or cellphone, and then record "Note to self: flush toilet when you get home"

Now wouldnt that be easier?

am not sure about PDAs but my cellphone does not have that capability. But if PDAs do have that, then I will buy that immediately.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

RFID for Asset Management

I really love RFID. :-) I guess you can tell.

Another use for RFID would be for asset management. If each asset is tagged with an ID, inventory of any location would be a breeze. Instead of actually pulling up every item, the person doing the inventory can simply track the scanner over a certain area and every item within the area would be checked already. Now isn't that great?

It would also make it easier to check if any asset is being moved outside of a secured location. Just install a scanner in every access point and in any case that an item is moved, the scanner will pick it up.

Of course making sure that the tags are kept in place is another problem :-)

Using Photos for Hair Salons

Have you ever gone to a hair salon and tried to explain a specific haircut that you wanted to a hairdresser?

Me, just to avoid the hassle of trying to explain exactly what I want, I simply tell the hairdresser to give me a cut that would fit in a corporate setting and yet require little or no maintenance. 90% of the time, this has worked for me. The other 10%, I have had to live with a weird hairstyle for at least a month :-)

Now most salons have pictures which you can pick from, making it easier to actually visualize your desired hairstyle. However most of these are usually presented in the form of posters or photobooks. and thus can be limiting.

One time I was in japan, I was able to see a visualizer (I don't really know the name so let's call it that) in the form of a digicam and a console. what it basically does is that it takes a photo of you and then you can cycle through a set of clothes which is then overlayed over your video or photo. Thus enabling you to actually see yourself wearing the clothes.

Now what if that same technology is applied to hair salons? Enabling you to overlay various hairstyles over your image?

Now wouldn't that be cool?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Advertising in Google Maps

I just love google Earth. Well at the moment, there is not much data for metro manila or baguio there but I still love to go skipsurfing over the different locales.

anyway, one way for some people to make money out of it (and add content to the database) would be to partner with google (or maybe google philippines can do it) to add advertising capabilities within google earth.

Advertising? how?

well what if you charge merchants say a minimal fee of a hundred peso a month (roughly equivalent to 2 dollars) so that their physical locations will be posted in the appropriate layer.

any user checking out the specific locale will then be able to check out the buildings and see what merchants are located there. Each location tag will also contain a link to the merchant website or google can even create and maintain merchant websites for a minimal fee of say a thousand pesos (20 dollars).

From the point of view of the merchant, 22 dollars per month is chump change for additional avertising. Google can even charge premiums for monthly special listings.

From the point of view of google, 22 dollars isn't really much. but if you consider the sheer number of merchants that can be signed up, it can be big. A single mall in any area alone would have up to a hundred merchants. equating to 2200 dollars per month just for one building. Multiply that by the number of buildings within a business area and then again by the number of business areas within a city and then by the number of cities in any given country and what you have is huge!

RFid in Public transportation

Think of this...

When commuting, what if instead of rummaging around for change everytime you get on a bus or train, you instead have an RFid chip with you, it can be in your bag, your wallet or even embedded in your skull, the scanner picks up the signal. It sends the data to the transportation company. The company collates your monthly usage and then just bills your credit card every month.

Wouldn't that be cool? no need to rummage for change. no need to buy tickets everytime. And you get billed every month. And think of the time it can save you and the transportation company.

RFID in company ID systems

Let's talk about systems utilized by companies to track the log in and log out of employees. Depending on the company, it can range from the very basic such as employees creating their own timesheets to the very sophisticated using biometrics and multi-character passwords. For this instance though, let us discuss medium security access only.

If you are an ordinary employee, whatever system is used can be quite time consuming. If you use a logbook, you actually have to stop, sign in/out the time. The time spent might be small, but in the larger scale of things, when you add it all up, it can be quite big.

If it takes a minute to log in and then a minute to log out, multiplied by say 21 days per month, that means per employee 42 minutes per month is spent alone in just logging in and then out.

Wouldn't it be better to just have RFid chips embedded within an ID card and then employees can just walk in and then walk out? with the scanner doing all the scanning without having to other the employee?

that is something I would love to have in the companies I work with. I don't have to stand in line to swipe/scan/ or sign in. thus less time lost, more time for work.