Monthly Archives: December 2014

Spacing out your posts on Google+

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As with any other social media site, it is not considered a best practice to publish tons of content all at the same time. But, if you are like me and devote a particular amount of time each day to social media, you tend to want to do more during that special time because you might flake during the rest of the day. I understand! But…

If you post two articles in a row on Google+
You will suffer in the search results, particularly if those articles use the same tags. If you publish articles with different tags, you won’t be penalized so much, but if you have two articles with the same tags, you should wait two hours or more before publishing the second article.

Publishing too much in general
If you want your posts to get seen, you can’t publish too much. On the other hand, to get any results out of Google+, you need to publish a lot, and publish on a lot of groups. I have been banned from groups for publishing content from my blogs which was purely informational and not self-promotion. They don’t care, and they often just enjoy banning people who they don’t like. I also got into trouble by having too much of my material removed from communities on Google+. If you publish too much, the material that you publish will also get buried by your newly published content. So, what is the solution? I publish from three separate groups. My main group gets my really juicy material. My #2 group gets extra content that might get me some clicks, but that I don’t want showing up on my main feed. My #3 group is for blog posts from a different blog and overflow that I don’t have room for on my main feed. Basically, I have a main feed, and two backups.

Risky Communities?
If you have had content removed from a particular community on Google+, you might think about publishing on that group from a different account. That way if your #2 account gets banned from Google+ for two weeks, or forever, you won’t lose much. Taking risks is not a bad thing so long as you don’t risk something that is expensive to replace! In general, I would not publish on more than two groups per day, and only safe groups as well. The minute you get a post removed from a community, remove that community from your main account and add it to your supplementary accounts.

Retweeting your own content
If you have multiple Google+ accounts, it is easy to republish your content on all sorts of groups without the content showing up multiple times on your main feed. On your supplementary accounts, it doesn’t matter if a post shows up three times in a row, but on your main feed that gets traffic it will look really unprofessional even to have a post show up twice! By retweeting your own content, your original Google+ profile ID still shows up on the post, and you can still attract followers to your main page. Tandem or tag-team social media techniques are a good idea. I have six Twitter accounts. If something does well on one account, I often retweet it on my other accounts (depending on how relevant it is to those accounts.)

Google+ is fun to use and can get you a lot of traffic if you use it right. But, they are tricky too, and you can get into a lot of trouble if you take liberties. So, be careful, and think outside the plus!

Hiring programmers is like dating a guy if you’re a straight guy!

Categories: Semi-Popular, Software Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

What a bizarre title!
But, it’s kind of true. After working with different programmers who were all men (there was one woman, but she didn’t return my calls) I came to this ghastly realization. I began to feel sorry for women as a gender for having to put up with us. Men are rough, gruff, uncommunicative, make decisions without consulting others, don’t get back to you on time, do whatever they want, and don’t always care much if at all about your general welfare.

As a straight guy…
I never thought about what it would be like to date a guy. I don’t date much, but if I do, I assure you it would be with a female member of my species. For a woman or a male client of programmers it is hard. You are completely at the mercy of this guy who does whatever he wants and doesn’t care about your opinion. If they screw up, modules of your site could be dysfunctional, unusable, or just entirely down. I began to think like a woman after a few failed relationships with programmers. (BTW, I have nice programmers now [2014] who do not cause trouble)

Why can’t they just LISTEN?
First of all, the main complain that women have about men, is that we don’t listen. I don’t necessarily need these programmers to make suggestions — I just want them to listen. Many programmers take offense if you have an opinion, because after all, what could YOU possibly know about programming. The answer is that I don’t know anything. However, I do know what the long term consequences to my business are for programming strategies that are not sound. If a programmer does too much on a huge project without letting me check anything step by step, for all I know, they could be handing me a pile of useless broken code. I like to go step by step and make sure everything is working before moving on. I want my opinions to be considered — and I am happy to hear the opinion of the programmer too, so long as my comfort level oriented considerations are integrated into the project without a fuss.

Can’t they be a little more like James Bond?
Most girls want a guy who is like James Bond. He dresses well, smells good, always is confident and has perfect manners. In real life, guys are not like this, especially not programmers who are more like inverse-James un-Bond. How they dress is a smaller consideration. But, how they are often unwilling to interact, be friendly or personable makes me uncomfortable. In my experience workers who don’t like to communicate like to avoid their clients and never do very good work simply because they don’t like you and they don’t care. How people answer the phone is another indication of professional behavior. If people answer saying, “Hello,” or have an answering machine which doesn’t state their name or company name, that makes me very uncomfortable. For girls it is more about the image of a James Bond type guy that they like. For me it is more about the indication of a seasoned professional who will be helpful and trustworthy in all actions — which is a purely practical concern. After all, I am not a girl even if I have learned to think like one.

How can I manipulate guys like girls do.
I am a guy. For me when I see other guys, I chat with them. I am not intimidated by them if they are huge and muscular, or if they are way out of my class and drive a Bentley. For me guys are guys, and unless they are outwardly hostile or offensive, I feel comfortable with guys from any culture, class or background. I am less conscious of them in terms of their “level” as I don’t size them up like women do. Women know how to size up a guy, know what his strengths and flaws are before he opens his mouth, and they know how to manipulate them too. If you hire programmers, you need to know how to keep them under control, because they have a way of going their own direction the minute you are not watching them. Girls are experts at this. Why can’t I learn to be a professional at thinking like a girl? Do you kill them with kindness? Do you flatter them and bat your eyelashes? They you threaten them and make demands? Or do you simply act polite, tell them what you want, and tolerate exactly the right amount of nonsense. After all everyone will give you some amount of nonsense, the key is to know how much is too much!

To make it short, if you are in a profession that involves hiring others who are more powerful than you are — and by more powerful I do not mean richer, smarter, or more powerful in general — I mean more powerful in how critical they are to your project, then you need to learn to think like a girl. They are in this position their entire lives having their means for survival dependent on the guy they date or marry (unless they have a considerable income on their own merits.) Having a relationship with a programmer is the closest a straight guy will ever come to anything that resembles dating a guy.

To end a software development relationship, you could use the Seinfeld approach or these other crazy lines:

“It’s not you, it’s me”
“The commenting in the code didn’t let me comment back. Are my comments not important too?”
“Why can’t your style of coding be more like Andy’s — his is so efficient with all of those multicolored lines!”
“I think we should see other developers.”
“I love you, it’s just that I need a PHP developer who understands me better.”

Our Linked In seedling became a jungle!

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We started an outsourcing Linked In group over half a year ago. It was ignored, didn’t get posted on, and we had so much trouble attracting members. Then, I put a new staff member on the assignment and instructed her to get lots of “active” members who posted interesting content or responded to content on other networks. The girl in charge of this task is a very high energy gung-ho person. I knew she would get amazing results, but even I was surprised at how well the group did.

With only 600 members, participation is off the hook!
Our Linked In discussion group with less than 600 members was getting more discussions and interaction than groups over 10,000 strong. Amazing. I was so pleased. I had not looked at the group in over two months when we were only getting a handful of discussions. The quantity of content (it was quality content about interesting business issues) was so baffling, I couldn’t even find content that we had posted four days ago without scrolling for several minutes.

Our other Linked In group is getting us boatloads of clicks!
The same girl is also running our Linked In for notaries. That group unfortunately didn’t grow that much, but the quantity of high quality clicks from articles she submitted was baffling. She was only posting four posts a week, but we were getting more than 400 quality clicks per month! Another jungle in the making!

So, overall, my experience on Linked In has been good. It takes a while to figure out how to play the game the optimal way. But, once you figure out how to use Linked In effectively, it is very powerful if you want to attract a business oriented network!

Follow limits on Googleplus & how to handle it like a pro

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I remember bumping my head against the ceiling on Google+ for a month. I am a relatively new user on Google+ and certain things just bugged me. I want to create a large following as fast as possible to get the SEO benefits, but there are limitations. Google doesn’t want you following too many people too quickly, especially if you are new.

The rule of 3.5
Googleplus will not let you follow more than 3.5 times as many users as who follow you. So, if 300 people follow you, you can follow around 1050 total.

The 24 hour rule
Googleplus will set limits on how many people you can follow in a 24 hour period. If you were following at 2pm yesterday, you will have trouble following if you login at 1pm today. You will have to wait to do your following.

The interacting rule
Googleplus likes it when you interact with others, especially if they comment, or plus your comment. Sometimes Google will limit how many people you can follow in a day, but lift that limit if you make some intelligent comments to other people’s posts.

The follow-back rule
Google will let you follow more people if you follow-back people following you. If you schedule your daily 20 minutes on G+, I suggest the following itinerary: Unfollow a few dozen people from a circle that has been around for about a week. You need to mark your circles in a way so you know when you added them. Next, follow the people on your posts page in the upper right corner who are following you. Most of them will be people you are not following. Google puts them up there because Google wants you to follow them in particular. Next, do some following from a targetted source and label the circle you put them in thoughtfully. Finally, do some posting or share someone else’s post. Wait a few hours before your next post. Following back should come 2nd, in your daily G+ itinerary — and for a reason. If you follow them first when you are your limit of # of followers, you might be bumping your head on the ceiling.

Using sister accounts
Many experts like the idea of having multiple Google+ accounts that work as a team. One technique that has worked a charm is to invite people from your googleplus account #2 to join the community on googleplus account #1. If they join your community, they are likely to join your main account as well. This is a way to get more followers significantly faster for those of you who want to reach 1000 followers as fast as humanly possible.

That’s all for now. Happy following, and remember — when using Google+, you need to have a system. Keep all your circles thoughtfully labeled and time stamped (somehow) according to when they were created and when they are to be removed — if they are to be removed!

Outsourcing work for $2 per hour?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles, Semi-Popular | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I talk to a lot of people involved in outsourcing and read about this topic regularly as well. Prices for outsourcing work can really vary. The issue with me is that I want to know what I am paying for and what I’m getting. You never really know what you are getting, especially when you outsource to India. Companies there hire a lot of beginners who haven’t a clue what they are doing. On the other hand, they also have some seasoned professionals who will work for a reasonable cost as well.

I just got an email stating that a data entry company would work for $2 per hour. I wonder what the cost would be to fix the errors that their clerk made, or how efficient their work could possibly be. When you see prices like this, you have to keep in mind that they are probably only paying their clerk about 70 cents per hour, and their offer might only be a come on, and not a long term price.

On the other hand, I talked to many providers of social media services. I heard prices like $3 per hour if you get one hour a day and you pay a fixed monthly rate of about $120. Another social media company wanted $5 per hour. A third company wanted $500 per month for one hour per day which is about $25 per hour. I wonder how much better the quality of the $25 per hour provider is. The man who answered the phone didn’t seem at all polished. $25 per hour is more than 90% of programmers in India charge — and I assure you that social media is a lot simpler to learn than PHP programming!

In America and other wealthy countries, outsourced labor can run from $30 to $100 per hour for various tasks. Call center work pricing has really gone down due to intense competition from Manila. But, social media work in the USA is no bargain. The sad part is that the providers of these expensive services in the US or India generally have very little experience, very limited knowledge, and quit their jobs on a whim. How can anyone run a business based on outsourcing I ask?

My solution is that you become an expert at whatever you are outsourcing and keep a close eye on whomever you hire to do anything. You might be able to get some good work from the $2 and hour folks, and maybe even teach them something that will benefit both of you.

Star Wars: Dearth Vader outsources an IT project to Tatooine!

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Please note that the characters and references in this article are based on American television and movies. If you are from a country that didn’t have our media presence, you might not understand who the characters are. As I was taking my afternoon walk, I fantasized about how interesting it would be if the main characters from Star Wars (1976) had dialogues resembling the ones in the American sitcom Seinfeld. As I walked, I thought that princess Leah would make a great Elaine from Seinfeld. Han Solo has the same sarcasm as Jerry. Luke unfortunately is too innocent and optimistic to be a Seinfeld character. Lando could be George. But, who would be Kramer. It could be Obi-Wan, or Darth Vader. Hmmm.

After the movie Star Wars was made. There were many changes in the galaxy, and in the Federation. Darth Vader got sick of being on the dark side of the force and just wanted a simpler life. Lando kept thinking of scams that could get him ahead at work. And Han Solo, just got more and more cynical about life.

LEAH: I can’t believe this happened. He said, it’s not you it’s me. I invented that. That’s my line. I should be the one who says it’s not you, it’s me.

HAN SOLO: Well, maybe in this case it really is him.

LANDO: I hate it when people say that. If they say it’s not you, its me — then it’s you. If they say — I think we should see other people, it means they already are.

DARTH VADER: You gotta see this. It’s a new spaceship. You gotta see the brochure. It’s only 500,000 federation dollars!

LANDO: Well, is it good on fuel efficiency?

DARTH: It doesn’t use fuel, it absorbs the energies of the universe around it.

HAN SOLO: Better steer clear of you when you wake up in the morning.

DARTH: I’m not a morning person.

HAN SOLO: I’d hate to hear how deep your voice is then.

DARTH: Hey Leah, guess what I just bought. It’s sitting on space dock #9

LEAH: That’s yours? Get OUT! (pushes Darth)

DARTH: Well, I need it. Ever since I left my military post, I’ve been running my own business doing droid programming outsourcing. Sometimes I need to go to Naboo and Tatooine to visit the programmers. In fact, I’ve got to go now before the exchange rates change.

LEAH: May the force be with you. The good side of the force, that is.

HAN SOLO: What’s the deal with this thing called the force? When you think about it, it’s a little creepy. I’m not sure I want the force being with me all the time. A little here, a little there when you need to get something done I can understand. But with you 24/7? I need my alone time. I need my space.

LEAH: This is Star Wars. We all need our space! That’s where we live.

HAN SOLO: And “force”. Right away, it conjures up doing something against my will.

LEAH: Okay, okay. May the… something short of force be with you, when you don’t need your space.

HAN SOLO: (to Darth) Speaking of needing your space, how come that face helmet you’re wearing doesn’t cramp your style?

DARTH: Don’t knock the face helmet, Han. The savings in breath mints alone makes it a worthy investment.

Darth takes off in his new space ship.

HAN SOLO: Thank God for breath mints. That’s a force I don’t need with me.

Leah nods her head in agreement. Cut to Darth and Vipool in programming.

DARTH: Hey Vipool, how’s it coming with the programming for R2D2?

VIPOOL: Oh sorry. My programmer who specialized in R2 units just got poached by Infosys. My other guys only specialize in Androids and mobile apps.

DARTH: Well, now what am I supposed to do? I could just strangle that guy while breathing heavily through my black mask!

VIPOOL: I just dig your new space ship. Does it still have that new space ship smell?

DARTH: Ooh baby. You know it. Maybe you should have some type of a contract with those programmers to make sure they don’t get poached.

VIPOOL: The only ones who would sign it are ones who I don’t want to keep anyway. It’s a bit like dating.

DARTH: Tell me about it. My love life has sucked ever since puberty kicked in and my voice changed.

VIPOOL: It’s hard to imagine you without a deep voice.

DARTH: Oh, I had a deep voice at birth. At puberty, it changed to the lilting soprano you hear now.

VIPOOL: You call that a lilting soprano?

DARTH: Compared to my voice at birth, bingo.

VIPOOL: So, how are we going to get a new programmer for R2?

DARTH: What do you mean how are WE. How are YOU? If you don’t get a replacement soon, I might be tempted to return to the dark side of the force.

VIPOOL: Chelsea Handler is better off there on her own. I can put a junior R2 programmer on the task tomorrow. Do you want one resource or two?

DARTH: If he’s a junior programmer, he’s more of a liability than a resource. Use the force, Vipool.

OBI-WAN: Darth. I know you’ve come a long way since you struck me down. I will help you. I will help you find a new R2 programmer who specializes in droid migration technologies. The force will be with you.

DARTH: I feel a presence that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Obi-Wan. My teacher. You have come to help me! Wait. The answer is coming to me. I need to outsource my project to a different star system. I am feeling it now. The moon on Yavin — yes, they will have R2 programmers there, and the exchange rate will be one Federation dollar for every 3.5 Yavinese Dinars. I will fly there immediately.

HAN SOLO: Why do people make the jump to hyper-space? Half the time, people haven’t even analyzed the coordinates to see where they’re going. It’s like telling Siri, “Take me frickin’ anywhere.”

LEAH: Siri. Didn’t you used to date her?

HAN SOLO: Yeah. She’s great at giving directions, but wasn’t great at taking them.

LEAH: I can’t believe it. The Death Star’s plumbing system is being completely overhauled. There’s never a good plumber when you need one.

HAN SOLO: Didn’t you date a plumber once?

LEAH: Like I said, there’s never a good plumber when you need one.

LANDO: I have to go down there to renew my intergallactic driver’s license. Believe it or now, I”m authorized to fly a ship up to 10,000 metric tons. I lied on the application. I told them I had five years experience flying medium sized ships.

LEAH: Why do they still call it the Death Star? Since Darth turned to the good side of the force, it’s become just like a regular place.

LANDO: Too expensive changing the name on all the Death Star tchotchkes.

This short satire ends with Darth going to a new star system and hiring new programmers. Yavin’s moon has programmers who don’t have any aspiration to get married. They aren’t attracted by the status of working for a big company. They’re just happy working for the same company year after year. And since the average inhabitant of Yavin’s moon lives to be 392.5 years old, the average worker has several human lifetimes of experience before they retire. Including being phased out by employers who fire them when they reach 265 for cheaper labor. Darth Vader had used the force to find programming staff that were the smartest in the universe. These did NOT include any TV network programmers! Thus ends this episode of Star Wars with Seinfeld type rules!

The best thing I did as a child was my small business

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I was just talking to a childhood friend. We have known each other since age 14. He knows me better than anyone, and knows a lot about my childhood that I have simply forgotten like my coin collection for one. But, we were talking about the good old days. I told him that the best thing I did as a child was my landscaping business. It taught me business skills which I would not have survived without. I had a difficult time getting a job as an adult. But, since I had my own business since I was 14, I had the skills to drum up customers and get jobs done! My mom, dad, friends, and others tried to talk me out of doing my business and just focus on study or getting a regular dumb minimum wage job. I am so glad that I didn’t listen to these nay-sayers. I would have been ruined if I had.

I started when I was 14 with a small lawnmover. I got half of my neighbors to hire me. I didn’t charge much, but I made fast money because their lawns were small. As time went on, I purchased a huge lawnmover that could mow huge lawns in twenty minutes. I bought a small pick up truck and started doing lawns in other neighborhoods ten minutes or more away. I was not so smart how I ran my business. If I ran it with my consciousness I have today I would be rich. But, that is okay. As a child, you are expected to make tons of dumb mistakes. The point is that I learned how to get clients, run a business, hire people, buy equipment, and more at a very young age. The other kids talked about dumb things all day long, but I was up to date on lots of political issues, business, and more!

As an adult I started a tutoring business, notary business, and several online directories — one of which makes a lot of money. Without that foundation I created as a child, I never would have succeeded as an adult. I would have been a complete failure. When your kid has a crazy idea to do a business. Don’t talk him out of it. Just talk him into thinking about the business in a reasonable and cautious way. Some people want to be millionaires overnight without understanding the complexities of growing a business. Step by step is my way, and leads to really knowing what you are doing before your business gets out of hand. And that is something to learn from!

The software boss whose agent ruined his client relations

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I was talking to a guy who had 120 employees. Obviously he was doing well, but it was not without some unpleasant knocks. He had hired an agent to get him clients. The problem was that the agent didn’t get payment to him in a timely way, and he was not able to keep the clients as a result. I told the software outsourcing boss that the problem was simple. He gave control of his income to a stranger who played games with his revenue. In business, whether you are large or small, you have to be in control at all times, otherwise you will suffer huge losses. I told him that he needs to have his own in-house marketing department. It might be hard to learn how to find the right people, but at least once you figure it out, you will be in control, and not some outside company that will ruin your client relations.

The world of outsourcing is a strange one, especially in India. So, don’t try to grow too fast, and focus on being solid in all aspects of your outsource business. Good luck!