On the same page Edit documents in real-time with collaborative EtherPad

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

etherpad-logoThey say it’s the simple things in life that make you happy.  For tech geeks like us, it’s the simple web app with killer functionality and endless possibilities, like EtherPad.

EtherPad is a real-time, collaborative document editor.  Sure, there are similar products on the market,  but unlike, say, Google Docs or the eagerly anticipated Google Wave, EtherPad is the only “real time” editor available now.  Changes are instantly reflected on every participant’s screen (Google Docs has a pesky 5-15 second delay) and thanks to color-coded text, you can actually see who is making what changes.

EtherPad is a completely autonomous word processing platform, which means no sign-ups, no accounts, no permissions.   You can invite anyone to participate by sending them the URL.   It’s worth noting that there is an email invite feature, but it’s not required.   As users populate the “pad”, they see a common editing screen, where they can type directly or import a document, as well as a list of current editors and a group chat window.  EtherPad offers an infinite undo history and easy access to document revisions.   The editing functions are pretty limited (bold, italics), but you can export the final product in plain text, HTML, MS Word, or PDF, and style it further.  Your document and its multiple revisions will remain on your pad forever, however, since there are no accounts, the only way to access your work is through your EtherPad URL – lose that, and you could be in trouble.

etherpad-screenshot

The idea here, plain and simple, is collaboration on demand.  You can connect team members, clients, or any other outside party as they work on a creative concept; augment a team meeting or teleconference with shared notes that participants can take with them; hold a large brainstorming session; or just edit documents simultaneously.   The list goes on and on.

EtherPad is great for programmers and has a syntax highlighting feature for editing code. For pair programmers, who are often forced to share the same screen, you can collaborate and review the other person's work, regardless of physical location.

EtherPad offers an enterprise edition for companies looking to run an EtherPad server on their own network, but say, all you really want to do is create a branded (and easy to remember) EtherPad URL. No problem - just type http://EtherPad.com/yourbrand, and EtherPad will assign that URL to you (assuming it's not already taken).

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  Go with the flow Create media and web-enabled sales or demo presentations with Flowgram

Posted by maggie.hunsucker April 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

With so many media types – webpages, audio, video, etc. – why is presentation software so behind the curve?   Why show a screengrab when you can show the actual webpage?  Why explain with drab text when you can layer a voice recording over your presentation?

That’s the idea behind Flowgram, an interactive presentation software that lets you incorporate a little bit of everything and mix-master it from a web-based interface.   Here’s the quick run down of what you can include in your presentations:

•    Webpages
•    Photos
•    Background Audio
•    RSS
•    Photos from Flickr, Facebook, & Picassa
•    Recorded Narration
•    Microsoft docs, including PowerPoint

You upload each as an element of your presentation, arranging and editing as you go.  You can create custom pages to fill in the holes or create transitions, as well as highlight text in documents or on webpages to draw the viewers eye to an important selection.  When you’re done, just tell Flowgram how you intend to share your presentation – you can make it a public document on Flowgram, embed it in your website, email it, upload to YouTube, or publish it directly to your blogging or social platform of choice. Whew.

Check out the Flowgram we created to demo the new version 1.5 of the Mission Zero iPhone App:

If you’ve ever sat through a boring PowerPoint presentation or lackluster demo, then you understand that a little rich media can go a long way.  If webpages are an integral part of your presentation, this is the tool for you.

Flowgram also offers a bookmarklet tool, so you can gather presentation elements as you surf the web. Simply drag and drop the bookmarklet tool to your browser toolbar, and you are good to go.

Flowgram comes with a built-in community, so you can make your presentations public and distribute them across the network. From the homepage, you can view Newest, Features, Top Rated, and the Most Discussed Flowgrams.

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meetup Designed to Sell Recap from our Top Ten E-commerce Platforms and Tools Meetup

Posted by tom klein January 26, 2009 at 9:41 amarticles, e-commerce

meetup

We want to thank everyone who participated last Thursday for January’s Atlanta Digital Marketing Meetup, where the topic was the Top Ten E-Commerce Platforms and Tools. For those of you who could not make it, we’re providing a recap of our discussion below.

It should come at no surprise that e-commerce is on the rise – it offers low overhead and flexibility in a difficult economy. The real eye opener here are the resources at your disposal and just how easy they have made online selling. There is literally a tool for every e-commerce need, ranging from the small, single product shop to the full-blown e-commerce operation with multiple stores and thousands of products.

Our staff has put together the short list of e-commerce platforms worth investigating. We have a healthy mix of low-cost and no-cost solutions – most we have worked with and can vouch for.

If you’re looking to launch an online store or want to sell products from your website, we invite you to review our list and weigh the pros and cons of each, which can be found under after the jump.

Besides, it doesn’t hurt to shop your options.

Drumroll…

The Top E-Commerce Platforms and Tools (in no particular order as no one tool is right for everyone):

We publish our “weekly” monthly” and give you 11 options on a Top Ten List… that’s how we roll. Click on “more” to see the details.

(more…)

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  Fixed prices! Sell online with a simple store from Big Cartel

Posted by tom klein January 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

big-cartel-logo

Sometimes you just need a small solution to get a job done. If online selling is secondary to your core business, maybe you’re looking to distribute a tutorial or turn a profit on market research, too many features can just get in the way.

Think about Big Cartel instead. This platform was designed with the do-it-yourselfer or small shopkeeper in mind and offers the bare minimum of features required to sell a product or service online, such as:

  • A straightforward user interface that lets you create and manage your store, including inventory controls and sales stats
  • Pre-stocked store templates and page designs (or create your own)
  • The ability to charge sales tax and shipping and/or offer discount codes
  • Free Big Cartel domain or use your own
  • Convenient PayPal checkout – no need to setup or pay for credit card processing

Check out the store we threw together in 3 minutes (granted, that shows):

bigcartel-screenshot2

Big Cartel offers a free account that comes with 5 product slots and hosting. The Diamond package, which is about $20/month, comes with 100 product slots, full customization, inventory tracking, product reviews, and visitor stats.

There’s no need to pay for a lot of extras you don’t need. Here’s a hassle-free solution for selling just about anything online.

Big Cartel offers control over site CSS, as well as access to their HTML & JavaScript API's, so you can customize your store to your heart's content and even integrate with external widgets and sites.

Big Cartel was designed for small apparel shops, artisans, and music distributors - the burgeoning online merchandise scene. Unlike an Etsy or an Ebay, here is a chance to put your product in the spotlight, without a middleman or sales fees attached.

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  You say you wanna . . . Set-up and manage a feature-rich online shop with Volusion

Posted by maggie.hunsucker January 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

volusion-logo
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, there’s an ecommerce solution for just about every kind of store.

Take, for example, the e-commerce platform called Volusion that, literally, helps you sell. With Volusion, you can create and manage a feature-rich online store with no knowledge of HTML or outside development cost. This is a 100% point and click set-up, with free storefront templates and an arsenal of features. Regardless of your service level, you get the these extras standard with your Volusion store:

  • Free Website (customizable)
  • Email Accounts
  • Integrated Shopping Cart
  • Integrated Shipping
  • Payment Gateway
  • Credit Card Merchant Services (process Visa, MC, AMEX & Discover cards at industry low rates)
  • Live Site Chat
  • SEO Optimized Product Inventory
  • Multi-permission Administrative Interface
  • Analytics and Marketing Tools
  • System Training Videos & Support
  • SSL / 128 Bit Encryption Security
  • Free Hosting and Server Monitoring

With e-commerce systems, you’ll come to love and hate these long lists of features – each one presents a challenge for someone who wants to sell stuff.

We really like the free analytics and marketing tools (go figure). You can monitor and manage search results (both organic and paid) from the Volusion interface, and with the built-in ROI tracker, you can measure the success of your email marketing campaigns (open rates, clicks to site, purchases made). And the best part – Volusion doesn’t try to skim off the top. You pay a flat monthly fee, depending on the number or products you carry and your monthly bandwidth usage, and a one-time set-up fee. Prices range from $29-$197 / month, with free Adwords credits to boot.

If you’re in the market for a no-fuss e-commerce solution, here’s an option to consider. Plus, Volusion offers a free 14-day trial, so you can take the system for a test drive before you commit.

You can easily import data and inventory from an existing store to Volusion, as well as export data. The one-click export features lets you download queries into comma-separated values (CSV), tab-delimited or MS Access formats.

If you're not a fan of templates or are a glutton for custom design, you can always pay Volusion to design individual site elements for you, like your logo, homepage, site template, or buttons. Prices range from $450-$1,000.

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