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February 16 2014

February 06 2014

Astronauts Share Hardcore Fitness Tips With Olympian — From Space
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Astronauts can easily lose bone and muscle mass in space because their bodies don't have to do a lot of work to move around in zero gravity, but wasting away above the planet is not an option. On Thursday two astronauts at the International Space Station took part in a Google hangout to show the world that they spend enough time working out to put many Earthlings to shame — a characteristic they share with Olympians.

Back on Earth, experts say we should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a few times a week.

In space, according to astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio, it's more like 90 to 120 minutes every 24 hours, and that's just so astronauts can maintain their fitness level. The astronauts spent around 20 minutes talking about their workout routines with a panel that included a member of the Houston Texans, a Crossfit champion, a United States bobsled team member preparing for the Sochi Olympics and another astronaut who joined the talk from Earth. Read more...

More about Space, Tips, Workout, Astronauts, and Us World
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Soup.io will be discontinued :(

Dear soup.io fans and users,
 
today, we have to share very sad news. Soup.io will stop working in less than 10 days. :(
 
It's breaking our heart and we honestly tried whatever we could to keep the platform up and running. But the high costs and low revenue streams made it impossible to continue with it. We invested a lot of personal time and money to operate the platform, but when it's over, it's over.
 
We are really sorry. Soup.io is part of the internet history and online for one and a half decades.
 
Here are the hard facts:
- In 10 days the platform will stop working.
- Backup your data in this time
- We will not keep backups nor can we recover your data
 
July, 20th, 2020 is the due date.
 
Please, share your thoughts and feelings here.
 
Your Soup.io TEAM
Reposted bydotmariuszMagoryannerdanelmangoerainbowzombieskilledmyunicorntomashLogHiMakalesorSilentRulebiauekjamaicanbeatlevuneserenitephinangusiastysmoke11Climbingpragne-ataraksjisauerscharfArchimedesgreywolfmodalnaTheCrimsonIdoljormungundmarbearwaco6mieczuuFeindfeuerDagarhenvairashowmetherainbowszpaqusdivihindsightTabslawujcioBateyelynTabslaensommenitaeliblameyouHalobeatzalicexxxmgnsNorkNork

February 05 2014

Meryl Streep's Guide to Winning at Life
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Though she was born Mary Louise, Meryl Streep has made a name for herself that's synonymous with success.

The formidable actress is an 18-time Academy Award nominee, which is more than any other actor in history. That's a whopping six nominations more than Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, both currently tied for second place. Streep's most recent Oscar nomination is for "Best Actress" for her performance in August: Orange County.

It might be impossible to think we could ever glean even a molecule of Streep's essence of amazingness, but you couldn't find a better role model. Not just in acting, but in all life's aspects, her graceful, yet powerful nature should be reflected on by all. Read more...

More about Lists, Tips, Humor, Oscars, and Academy Awards

January 21 2014

10 Ways 'House of Cards' Can Help You Get Ahead at Work
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Getting ahead in the workplace can be difficult. It's easy to get stuck in the 9-to-5 grind and slip up. Shirts remain wrinkled, emails go unanswered and, before you know it, you've spent six hours looking at cats on Reddit

Luckily, we have the award-winning Netflix series House of Cards to teach us some valuable work lessons.

Save the date: Season two of House of Cards premieres on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.

Image: AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon Read more...

More about List, Netflix, Tips, Work, and House Of Cards

August 17 2013

Roger McNamee's 5 Tips for Facebook Marketing Success
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Roger McNamee isn't just an investor in Facebook. He's also a client.

In particular, McNamee, a founding partner at Elevation Partners, has used Facebook to market his band, Moonalice. The jam band had about 50,000 fans last summer, but is now around 220,000 thanks to some focused marketing on the platform. Perhaps more impressively, there are more people talking about Moonalice's Facebook Page than there are fans for the Page, indicating a high engagement.

Moonalice has been on Facebook since 2006. McNamee likes Twitter too, but says Facebook is better for launching something new, while Twitter is for established brands and individuals or organizations that have news to share. Since going whole hog on Facebook about a year ago, McNamee says he's learned some lessons about marketing on the platform that he'd like to share with others looking to increase their fan base, engagement or both. Since McNamee is a Facebook investor, though, you may want to take some of what he says with a grain or two of salt: Read more...

More about Facebook, Marketing, Tips, Facebook Marketing, and Business

August 07 2013

11 Hidden Windows Secrets and Tricks
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Have you ever wondered how to pin a file folder to your Windows taskbar? Or, how to access the secret "Send To" menu?

There are a few hidden Windows tips, tricks and keyboard shortcuts that will make your workflow smoother and quicker, without a whole lot of effort on your part

We've highlighted a few of the most useful tricks in the gallery above. The majority of the tricks apply to Windows 7, with the few exceptions noted on specific slides.

What's your favorite Windows secret? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image: Mashable, Meghan Uno Read more...

More about Tips, Tricks, Features, Windows, and Shortcuts

June 18 2013

9 Creative Ways to Leave a Tip
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If you want to avoid being a terrible person, always tip your waiter or waitress.

You could also make a lasting impression by leaving a tip with a little flare. You have your whole meal to decide on a way to present the money you'll leave, and the possibilities are endless

You could see it as an opportunity to dazzle the waitstaff with your artistic ability, or just see it as a way to make them smile. At the very least it could get you on Reddit

1. Incorporate the tip into your art

How my friend left his tip.

Image courtesy of Reddit, rkeyes47 Read more...

2. Or just make the tip itself into art

More about Lists, Tips, Money, and Watercooler
10 Subreddits for Pro Tips
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Is your financial knowledge a little rough around the edges? Do you ever experience the burning desire to handcraft a sail boat? Have you frequently found yourself wondering if you should button the top button or just leave it open, and how that decision will affect the rest of your day and, subsequently, the rest of your adult life?

If you answered yes (or a tentative maybe) to any of these questions, we're here to let you know: There's a subreddit for that.

Aside from being a place where standing U.S. Presidents go to field your questions, Reddit can also be used as a source for DIY life hacks and pro tips (if you know the right subreddits) Read more...

More about Reddit, Tips, Features, Diy, and Advice

May 15 2013

11 Things You Can Learn to Do in 6 Seconds
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The easiest way to learn how to do something is often by seeing how it's done. But what can you really teach someone in just six seconds?

Plenty.

Vine, the rising video-sharing network, is full of short tutorial videos that illustrate everything from how Wiz Khalifa sleeps on planes to how to “drive with a death wish,” according to Noah Sebastian. Some viners have adopted Tuesday as the de facto day to post such videos, using the hashtag #HowTuesday.

Much of the advice is hilariously useless, but there are a few gems out there. We'll leave it to you to decide which is which. Here are some fun, strange, and insightful tips offered on Vine. Read more...

More about Tips, Learning, Vine, Home Improvement, and Watercooler

August 07 2012

How To Enable 2-Factor Verification On Gmail (And Avoid Getting Hacked)

An easy tip for Gmail users on how to avoiding getting hacked: two-factor verification.  

If there is one lesson to be learned from Wired writer Mat Honan’s "epic" hacking last week - a hack that wiped years of digital memories including emails and photos of his daughter - it’s the importance of Gmail’s two-factor verification security feature.

“Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened,” wrote Honan, who went on to say if he had used the security feature the hack would have stopped during the hacker’s “recon mission” leading up to the multi-device attack.

Google’s two-factor verification, which the company began offering last February,  is easy to set up and just requires a phone capable of receiving text messages. When you try to log into your computer from a different location than the one you set up, like a coffeeshop or airport, Google ask you for a verification code before it lets you proceeds to your inbox. It will text you a code to enter, alongside your password, to make sure it is really you.   

Setting up the security feature can be done through a variety of options (like this one, or this one), but an easy way is to go to the menu options on the top right of your Google Account page screen when signed into Gmail. Click the downward facing arrow on the far right of your Google+ picture, and a small menu will pop out like so:

You want to click on Account, which will open up a new tab on your browser, your Google Account page. From here, you want to navigate to Security located on the far left side. 

Clicking the Security tab will reveal a few options, the most important being "2-step verification." You want to click the "Edit" button and once you do, Google will ask you to sign in again before allowing you to make the security change.

Once you have signed in a second time, Google will ask you for your phone number. You can choose to add additional devices and phone numbers as you see fit.

While many folks might hesitate giving their phone number to Google, the other possible option, having your "entire digital life ...destroyed" (as Honan so succinctly put it), isn't too appealing.  


Tags: Tips

April 17 2012

3 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Learn Markdown

You've probably heard of Markdown. Maybe you've heard the name for years. Perhaps you just encountered it, since it's enjoyed a renaissance lately.

But do you know what it is? Are you using it? You should be. Here are three good reasons to use Markdown. There are no good reasons not to.

Wait... What Is Markdown Again?

If you don't know what Markdown is, here's the introduction from the Markdown project page:

"Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).

Thus, 'Markdown' is two things: (1) a plain-text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to HTML."

We're here to discuss No. 1, using Markdown whenever you're typing to format your text - whether or not you plan to post that text on the Web. Installing it allows you to directly post Markdown documents as blog posts or Web pages, but that's up to you.

One of its key strengths is that you can use HTML in Markdown. If there's something you can't do in Markdown, or if you can't remember the Markdown syntax, you can switch back and forth freely between HTML and Markdown within one document. It understands both.

You don't have to have Markdown installed on your site in order to use it. It's amazingly useful just as a writing language. Even if you don't have to convert to HTML at all, it's still an appealing way to format plain text without having to deal with Microsoft Word or another goofy rich-text editor.

But if you write for the Web, or you work with people who do, you just have to try it. Here's why.

Easy On The Eyes

"The overriding design goal for Markdown's formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible," writes John Gruber of Daring Fireball, creator of Markdown. "The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it's been marked up with tags or formatting instructions."

HTML tags add lots of in-line noise. They make a document hard to read. For people unfamiliar with HTML, it could be impossible. Reading a Markdown document should make plain sense to anyone.

Here's an example of the difference:

HTML

<h1>Why <em>you</em> should use Markdown to write your next blog post</h1>

<p><a href="http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/">Markdown</a> is just so dang legible, it will make your <em>whole life</em> easier. <strong>I promise.</strong></p>

Markdown

# Why *you* should use Markdown to write your next blog post

[Markdown][1] is just so dang legible, it will make your *whole life* easier. **I promise.**

[1]: http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/basics

Not only is Markdown easier to type and read, it's accessible to someone who doesn't know the first thing about HTML. There are no extra words or letters, the link looks like a footnote readers are used to seeing, and asterisks around a word convey emphasis even if you don't know which is italics and which is bold.

For Web developers and designers, this clarity will make life easier for nontechnical members of your team. For people not used to writing in hypertext, the Markdown characters are far more intuitive and easier to remember.

Fewer Errors

HTML just begs for typos. Even the smallest, one-letter tags require three characters to open them and four characters to close. If you forget a slash or accidentally type an apostrophe instead of a quotation mark, your whole page could be screwed up. And especially if you're in a hurry, the errors can be hard to spot.

Plenty of tools assist with HTML writing by highlighting errors on the fly, but why rely on those? Markdown's simplicity and flexibility helps you make fewer mistakes, and errors are much easier to find.

Kill Your CMS

Writing straight into a browser window is a dangerous game. It's so easy to accidentally lose or save over data. Furthermore, most content management systems offer the temptation to use WYSIWYG tools, and those tend to create awful HTML code that could make your page display in funky ways.

Markdown can be written anywhere there's a blinking cursor and shared in any format. It's just plain text. You don't need any WYSIWYG controls, because the Markdown characters actually look like the formatted results you'll get.

Markdown syntax is intuitive and, in many cases, it allows for multiple options, so writers can choose the formatting characters that make the most sense for them.

Plus, thanks to the Markdown renaissance, there are tons of new text apps that help Markdown writers on Mac, Windows, iOS and the Web. The good ones can even preview and export your Markdown writing as HTML, which you can then paste or upload into your CMS once you're done.

Markdown is so easy to learn. Don't let inertia stop you. Just download a Markdown text editor or use Gruber's browser-based dingus and start writing. You'll get it under your fingers in no time.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Tags: Tips

April 16 2012

12 Deadly Grammatical Errors Startups Must Avoid

Can the difference between "it's" and "its" actually affect the fortunes of a technology startup? You might be surprised. If you're working with a startup, odds are you're wearing a half-dozen hats and doing too much with too little. Often, this means that founders are writing their own website copy, press releases and blog posts. Too often, that results in grammatical errors that reflect poorly on the startup.

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Developers may not care, but other folks do. When you're composing copy, no matter if it's for the company website or a tweet, slow down a little bit and take a look to be sure you're not making any of these dozen deadly errors.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Two things before we get started. First, this doesn't apply to non-native English speakers. If English is your second, third or Nth language, it's understandable that English grammar and spelling might be tricky - partly because the language is a bit of a jumbled mess, and partially because you'd be exposed to a lot of native English speakers getting it wrong. If you're a non-native English speaker, please don't worry too much about your English usage.

Secondly, this shouldn't be taken as a claim that any writing is completely error-free. We all make mistakes, but there's a difference between the occasional slipup and repeated errors. With input from several tech industry veterans, here is a list of errors seen frequently enough that it seemed worthwhile to point them out.

The Dirty Dozen

1. Its or It's: Its is possessive, but it's is a contraction of "it is."

2. Then or than: Than is used in comparisons; then is often used for time. For some reason, the phrase "more then" keeps cropping up in online communications - and it's more than a little annoying.

3. Loose or lose: Loose means that something isn't tight, while lose means that something has been lost. Admittedly, there's some room for confusion. Lose is a verb, loose is an adjective, but you can let loose of something and wind up losing it.

4. Unique: There's no problem with using unique on its own. The problem is using modifiers with unique, as in "we have the most unique product in this category" or "this is a really unique website." Since "unique" means something is singular, it can't be "most" or "pretty" unique. If fact, you can't qualify it at all.

5. In my personal opinion: If it's your opinion, it's personal. The qualifier "personal" is redundant. This one is so often used, though, that it can be hard to avoid.

6. You're or your: Another possessive that causes confusion, "your" is possessive while "you're" is a contraction of "you are."

7. Literally: Don't use literally when you really mean figuratively. Literally should be used to mean "in reality," not as an intensifier.

8. Pique, peek or peak: This one crops up all too often when folks use peek or peak to mean pique. Someone might want a peek at your press release or product, if their interest has been piqued. Choose wisely for peak impact.

9. Flush out an idea: Generally, you want to flesh out an idea. Though it might be flushed if it's particularly bad.

10. Affect or Effect: It's not entirely surprising that these are mixed up often, given their similar spellings and meanings. Affect is a verb, and effect is a noun. You can affect something, which might have an effect.

11. Compliment and complement: A compliment is praise, while complement means that two (or more) things work well together. When two companies form a partnership, the product offerings may complement each other while the CEOs will probably compliment their partners and themselves on a wise deal.

To further confuse things, because English is a cruel and unforgiving language, there's complimentary and complementary. Complimentary can mean that something is related to a compliment, or it can mean something given freely - as in "a complimentary" breakfast. Complementary is an adjective which is similar in meaning to complement.

12. Capitol and capital: You can raise capital in the state capital, but you should only use capitol to refer to buildings that house the legislatures.

Finally, a bonus entry for leetspeak or text-speak. If you're sending a text message to your best friend to say you're going to be late to the bar, then abbreviating "you" to "U" is perfectly acceptable. (Unless your friend is an English professor, perhaps.) It's not acceptable in any kind of professional communication if you wish to be taken seriously. No, not even on Twitter.

Ain't You Going to Mention Ain't?

Has anyone ever told you that ain't isn't a word? Well, they're wrong.

If you do the research, you'll find that it's not only a legitimate word - it has a long history. Ain't is a contraction of "are not" (don't ask me how) that dates back to 1778, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. If it pleases you to use ain't, then the OED is on your side.

This list represents some errors that are common enough to be noteworthy. It avoids stylistic issues like more than versus over that have strong opposition in some style guides with no grammatical basis for the disapproval.

That said, let us know what errors you see most often. And which ones bug you the most.

Image under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, courtesy of mikeymckay on Flickr.

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Tags: Tips

January 08 2012

December 21 2011

Save 10% On Microsoft Office365 With MasterCard

MasterCard and Microsoft announced a new strategic initiative to market and sell Microsoft's cloud productivity service, Office 365. You can get an automatic 10% discount when you buy through their easysavings.com discount program and use your MasterCard. There are several plans that start at $6 per user per month for less than 50 seats (undiscounted).

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We last looked at Office 365 here and compared it to Google Docs and Zoho Docs. Microsoft has changed a few elements of its plans since our article came out this summer.

The easysavings.com program is similar to those from other credit card companies, and there is a list of other discounts that are available. You don't need to do anything to get the discounts, other than use your credit card, once you register. For small businesses, this might be worth a few bucks off your bill if you use any of these service providers: you can save 10% off Budget car rentals, and 5% on Frontier airline tickets too.

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Tags: Tips

November 12 2011

4 Strategies for Working With Designers Without Killing Each Other


Fourteen years ago, in my first job where my title was “Information Architect,” I clashed with a designer. We were working at a large advertising agency that was known for stunning design work. The art directors wielded a level of power at the agency that I have never seen anywhere else, and the result over the decades was a portfolio of gorgeous print and TV ads. The design-first method had worked well for this agency, winning them awards and a long roster of Fortune 500 clients, so they naturally decided to use this approach in their newly launched web department, too.

Things went well for a while, until I attended a kickoff meeting for a new website project. The designer came to the meeting with an already completed graphic design, before any information had been provided about who the site was for or what it would do. This designer had been at the company longer than me, and she had been happily designing sites without an information architect for several months. As far as she was concerned, this was a process that worked well for her, and why shouldn’t it? She had complete control of the site, her designs looked lovely, and they were not in any way influenced by user needs, site goals, or reality.

What followed was a long, drawn-out battle for control of the site between me and the designer. This battle usually sounded something like this, played out again and again:

Me: And when you click on this button where does it take you?

Designer: I haven’t worked that out yet, but it’ll be fine.

At the time, I thought I had encountered a particularly obstinate designer, but in fact I had just bulldozed my way into the biggest challenge in information architecture (IA): navigating the line between beautiful design and usable IA. Because this was early in the web world, the agency had yet to learn about this balance between usability and design, and I hadn’t either. And in the intervening years, things haven’t changed much. Designers still want to make things beautiful, UXers still want to make things usable, and those two goals are frequently at odds. What has changed for me, though, is the approach I now take to working with designers.


1. Get the Right Designer on the Project


We don’t always have the luxury of selecting the designer who will bring our wireframes and prototypes to life, but on occasion this happens. All UXers should have a roster of designers who are UX-friendly who they can call when the opportunity arises. More and more frequently, I have clients who either ask us to handle design or ask for designer referrals. When this happens I always feel like I’ve won the lottery. I have a collection of designers I’ve met over the years who are great at working with highly functional sites; if you have the opportunity to influence the designer selection, you need to be ready to jump in with names and portfolios.


2. Don’t Just Throw Wireframes Over the Fence


Last year, I worked on an unusual project where the timeframe was so compressed that there was no time for wireframes. Instead I spent many, many hours each day on the phone with the designer discussing the interface, working out where each element should go and exactly how it should function. While I wouldn’t recommend this process as a rule, the end result was a beautiful working relationship and an interface that we were both thrilled with.

Many agencies are structured such that designers are just handed a stack of wireframes and told to execute on them. The end result tends to be either a site that looks like a very pretty version of the wireframes, or one that is only very loosely based on the UX design. To strike the right balance that prevents designers from either taking an overly literal interpretation of wireframes or from developing their own new interaction models, designers need to be involved early and often. As soon as you’ve got a few wireframes done, pull your designer in to start mocking up a visual design so you can work together through anything that needs to be rethought.


3. Give Designers Space to Do Their Thing


People go into design because they want to express their creativity, to play with shapes and color, and to have fun doing it. In some ways, information architects just come in and rain on designers’ parades by imposing structure and preferring the obvious over the unique. But there are designers out there — more and more all the time — who look forward to working with information architects because working off of wireframes makes their jobs easier. These designers still want to play and have fun, and (in the right place and time) new and interesting designs and interactions can make people happy, so it’s a good idea to include a design-centric section on sites that warrant it, where the information architecture takes a back seat to the design. This works for areas of a site that needs to provide a visceral feel for a brand, or portfolio sections of sites that need to showcase work or case studies. If you respect the designers’ need to create something beautiful, they are more likely to respect your need to create something usable.


4. Don’t Discount the Importance of Design


It’s important to remember, as Don Norman has famously said and Dana Chisnell recently reiterated, that beautiful design makes people happy. Good UX design is the backbone of good visual design, and one cannot exist without the other. Back when I was engaging the designer at my first IA job in thermonuclear warfare, I did it because I only barely registered design as something that mattered to the user experience. But the joy inherent in beautiful design is important as well, so sometimes when a designer overrides your UX design on aesthetic grounds, the designer is right. UXers need to weigh the pros and cons of all design decisions very carefully in order to determine where visual design should triumph over UX design, and vice versa.

There are still struggles, of course, and there are projects where designers want to go one direction and the UX team wants to go another. But I do seem to encounter fewer and fewer all-out wars between design and UX teams. When designers and UXers work well together, the ultimate winners are the users, who get a product that is not only easy to use but lovely to interact with.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, JamesBrey, and Flickr, Phil Roeder

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September 02 2011

5 Tips for Raising a Venture Round

SandHillRoad.jpg

While certainly not every business needs to raise venture financing, it is the path for many high-growth technology startups. Therefore, going down the fundraising path is something many technology entrepreneurs will need to do and is a critical step in the development of their business. This can be an intimidating experience so I've put together a list of five tips for raising a venture round. This is by no means an exhaustive list so I'd love to hear other suggestions from you in the comments of this post.

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Tip 1: Make Sure You Are Ready to Scale

First, before you even start the process of raising a lot of money, make sure you have figured out your model and are truly ready to scale. Earlier this week on ReadWriteStart, Steve Blank used research at The Startup Genome Project and explained:

One of the biggest surprises is that success isn't about size of team or funding. It turns out Premature Scaling is the leading cause of hemorrhaging cash in a startup, and death.

If you're early in the investment process, a small angel round or partnering with an accelerator may be the best approach. In fact, research conducted by the Startup Genome Project found that the best practice in the first phase, a.ka. discovery, is to only raise between $10,000 and $50,000.

Tip 2: Have A Real Lead

Next, if you are going to raise a round, find one or two partners to do it with. As Mark Suster pointed out yesterday on his blog, he's seeing more and more cases where "entrepreneurs are working hard to make sure they have as many VC names and famous angels on their cap table for signaling value." He explains five problems with this and I couldn't agree more. Remember, once you screw up your cap table it's really hard to go back. So in your first few funding rounds, try to raise money from as few people as possible and make sure they really will help.

Tip 3: Conduct Diligence on Your Potential Investors

When you get close to finding a lead, don't be afraid to ask to speak to some CEOs who have worked with the firm. They are going to poke and prod your business to figure out if you're someone they want to work with. You should figure out the same thing. Pay special attention to investors who are willing to introduce you to CEOs of their portfolio companies that went through hard times. This is when your potential investor will really show how committed they are to the companies they invest in.

Tip 4: Really Understand Key Terms

Once you get the term sheet make sure you know how to read it. I strongly recommend reading Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson's Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. This will give you tons of information on all the terms you'll encounter when raising a venture round and how they could impact your deal. This includes things like how liquidation preferences impact future rounds and ultimate liquidity, to why VCs ask to expand an option pool before investing as part of their term sheet. Too many entrepreneurs focus exclusive on the valuation number and this book can really help you understand all the implications around the term sheet you receive.

Tip 5: Remember Time Kills Deals

Once you have a term sheet you are happy with, don't over negotiate. You have a business to run and more importantly don't forget one of the first principals of any sales process: "time kills deals". The worst thing that can happen is for you to drag your feet over some meaningless terms (which you'll understand are meaningless thanks to reading Brad and Jason's book above) and end up having your potential investor get cold feet or even have something that's outside your control change. Just get the deal done once you're happy with the material terms and have an investor you trust and want to work with.

Bonus Tip: Run a Great First Board Meeting

When the cash is in the bank, you're not done; in fact you are just starting. Once you've raise your round, you'll almost certainly end up with at least one new board member. It's really key that you run a great first board meeting at this point. If this is your first round, this may be the first formal board meeting you've had, so prepare for it and make sure you know what you want to accomplish. This will set the tone for future board meetings so make sure that board members take your meetings seriously. There are a number of great posts on this topic and I may try to summarize these in a future post, but one of my favorites for now is from Guy Kawasaki on "The Art of the Board Meeting."

As I said at the beginning of this post, this isn't an exhaustive list. I'd love suggestions in the comments below for other tips when raising a venture round.

Thanks to Mark Coggins for creative commons use of the photo.

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Tags: Tips

August 03 2011

To Reduce IE6 Pain, Don't Leave It Until the End

It's safe to say most Web developers would prefer not to support Internet Explorer 6. They'd rather put up a notice for the user to download another browser, or maybe just display the WAP-optimized version of the site instead.

But sometimes, it's not up to the developer to decide whether to support IE6. Your employer or client may require it. In a recent blog post Mike Davies reminds us that saving IE6 compatibility until the end of a project is a recipe for disaster. "If you leave IE6 testing and fixing to the end of your project, you have no-one else to blame for the pain but yourself," he concludes.

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It might be tempting to keep quiet and hope the subject of IE6 support never comes up, but if you wait until the project is done and then try to bolt IE6 support on after the fact, you'll face far more difficulties than you will if you think about IE6 from the beginning. "Leaving any requirement untouched until the end of a project is asking for trouble and pain," writes Davies . "The fault isn't in the requirement, but in the developer's approach to web development."

Also, Davies notes:

Support isn't a binary option. It ranges from pixel-perfect rendering, to slight differences in rendering, to completely working with a simpler style, to providing only the core functionality, through to zero support at all. The right level is that which matches the enagement of your audience using that particular browser.
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Android vs. iOS From a Developers' Perspective

quality_code_matrix.jpg Are you an iOS developer thinking about dipping your toe into the Android pool? If so, you should read developer Nick Farina's post about his experience developing on Android after developing on iOS.

Farina compares the development environment (he writes that you'll hate Eclipse at first, but once you get used to it "you'll enjoy some seriously amazing, productivity-boosting code completion, refactoring, and automatic fixing."), provides slick side-by-side code comparisons (spoiler: Java and Objective-C look a lot alike) and addresses the fragmentation issue.

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Farina writes:

Not that fragmentation is unique to Android; it's just exaggerated a lot in the media. We need quite a few iOS devices in our lab too. One tiny unexpected OS or device difference can bring your app crashing down, on any platform.

It seems that, once you get used to Eclipse the two platforms are pretty similar. The big differences are testing environments (though both end up requiring physical devices to do real testing) and the UI libraries. Android's XML-based UI tools make for much easier development, even though it's just one more thing to learn. But Apple's GPU support makes for much smoother animation.

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July 27 2011

Only One Month In, Google Plus Shows Promise For Online Marketers

It may have only launched a mere month ago, but Google Plus is already showing signs of promise to online marketers, especially in its ability to drive traffic to other Websites.

Google's brand new social product has a long way to go before it poses a realistic threat to Facebook's massive marketshare, but having surpassed the 20 million user mark in under a month, its growth has been impressive. By comparison, it took Facebook and Twitter a few years to reach the same milestone.

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While businesses are still patiently awaiting the arrival of its official brand pages, some can count on Google Plus to drive significant traffic to their Websites.

In one case study, Google Plus was shown to comprise over 15% of referrals to Web marketing blog Wordstream, beating LinkedIn's 9.8% and trailing not too far behind Twitter. Here at ReadWriteWeb, we've also seen Google Plus makes its way into our top sources of referral traffic in just a matter of weeks.

In a more extreme case, technology blog LAUNCH saw 67% of its traffic come from Google Plus in a single day, according to a post by its founder Jason Calacanis on none other than - you guessed it - Google Plus.

These early numbers come with an obvious caveat: the sites mentioned above are all publishers, whose content is more common for people to organically share via social media than, say, the "Products" page of a small business's Website. Just as with other social media channels, businesses are going to need a content and social marketing strategy that makes sense and serves them and their customers well in order to be successful when Google Plus brand pages finally do drop.

Have you seen much referral traffic from Google Plus yet? Let us know about your experience thus far in the comments.

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Google's AdWords Express Targets Small Businesses

In its ongoing quest to capture more local ad dollars, Google yesterday announced the launch of AdWords Express, a simplified version of their search advertising platform. This new advertising product aims to streamline the process of purchasing search ads, enabling smaller, local businesses to get on board.

If AdWords Express looks familiar, that's because it was originally launched in select markets last October under the name Google Boost.

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Like its predecessor, AdWords Express aims to reduce the learning curve of setting up an ad campaign by shifting some of the heavy lifting over to Google's end. For example, the platform automatically recommends keywords and bidding amounts rather than expecting the business owner to have that expertise.

All the business owner needs to do is enter a category, write a headline and description, set a budget and tell AdWords Express whether a clicked ad should send people to the company's Website or a Google Places page. The finished product is a a cost-per-click ad campaign that runs on Google search results pages, on Google Maps and on mobile devices running Android.


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