Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How Fast Is Your Internet Connection

Have you ever wondered how fast your internet connection really is? We all know that our internet service providers promise us the world, but do they actually deliver? Check out these websites to run a speed test for your internet connection.

Speedtest.net

Speakeasy Speed Test

Internet Frog Speed Test *

McAfee Speedometer
*

AuditMyPC Speed Test *

They're all a little bit different. I like the ones that show where your speed compares to typical performance of cable modems, dsl, isdn, dial up modems, t1, t3, etc. I've marked those with a * above. It's also interesting to see how performance varies at different times of the day. Have fun!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

How To Send Large Files

Do you ever have trouble sending or receiving large files? Do file attachments clog up your email or even it shut down sometimes? Have large attachments ever slowed down your system to a crawl? These are common problems. But there is an easy solution; a solution I have used myself and that I have implemented for some of my clients.

I recommend two file transfer solutions that are secure, easy to use and very effective. Both have free versions as well as paid versions that allow larger file sizes, longer retention of files and other bells and whistles. And best of all, these file transfer tools keep large files out of your email system, thus avoiding all of those problems. The recipient simply downloads the file(s) to their own computer's hard drive from a link provided in an email. It's really simple and there is no software to install!

YouSendIt.com is a file transfer system with more than four million registered users from 220 countries, with over 30,000 GB transferred per day and over 500 million files to date. So yeah, it's reliable and proven. In fact, YouSendIt is even HIPPA compliant (the healthcare privacy standard thing).

YouSendIt allows creation of a custom dropbox page branded to closely match your site. They also allow a "sitebox" to be embedded directly on any page of your website to give a more integrated feel with your website. Prices range from free to $29.99 per month. Compare Features. The current maximum file size for paid accounts is 2 GB.

The free version allows files up to 100MB and up to 1 GB per month of transfers. You can even send a file without signing up for an account just by going to their front page. The only drawback is when the file is retrieved, there are bunch of ads. neither the sender nor the receiver needs an account in this case.

SendThisFile.com is another very useful and effective file transfer tool. It also allows you to easily send and receive large files to and from anyone, anywhere. SendThisFile is also HIPPA compliant.

To use SendThisFile, you must sign up for an account. There is a free version and there are upgraded plans starting as low as $4.95 per month. Compare Features.

One cool feature of SendthisFile.com is that there are not any limits on file size. That's right ... no limits at all. So if you regularly deal with enormous file sizes, this might be the solution for you. Another great feature is that the file box that can be embedded on your website can accomodate up five file uploads at the same time. So if you have clients sending you multiple files at the same time, this is a great way to go.

With either solution, Baer Marketing can help you learn to use it and set it up as an integrated part of your website. But they're also easy enough for you to use on your own. Let us know if we can help you!

And just a reminder ... please share this with your friends and colleagues that might find the information useful!

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by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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Monday, September 29, 2008

The Best Do-It-Yourself Marketing Tools

Just a quick post. As much as I'd love you to hire me to do all kinds of marketing for your company, there's a lot that you can do yourself. How? Check out the Do-It-Yourself Marketing Tools page! We've listed a number of DIY websites ranging from logo design to small computer network management software to an email newsletter management website. I've personally used every service listed on the DIY page so I can vouch for all of them. If it doesn't pass my test, it doesn't go on my DIY page. And stay tuned for more as I find new DIY services that pass my quality and usefulness test! (please pass this on to friend and colleagues who might find it useful!) Subscribe to Baer Marketing - $ales $ense by Email BaerMarketingNetwork.com $ales $ense Blog Home Page

Monday, September 8, 2008

Easy Photo Cropping Tool

Since we're not all graphic artists, wouldn't it be nice to have a few easy tools for basic editing of digital photos? Well, I've found two that are pretty easy to use for just about everyone. They're both online tools so you don't need any software downloads or installs. And best of all, they're free! Today, we'll start with just one of these tools.

EasyCropper - This one is pretty basic, although a bit odd. But after getting used to it, it works great! Be sure to view their 60 second "screencast" tutorial. Some things you need to know, however, are not mentioned anywhere on the website.

First, many digital cameras today take photos that are really, really big, both in file size (megabytes) and in vertical and horizontal dimensions. For now, I'm only going to talk about dimensions, because when you reduce dimensions, the file size automatically gets reduced as well. For instance, my camera takes photos that are about 2500 pixels wide by about 2000 pixels high (in screen resolution). That 80% ratio of height to width is fairly standard for your typical horizontal ("landscape") photo.

Now for an email or website, about the biggest you'll ever want a photo is about 640 width x 480 height. So, obviously, we all need to reduce our photo sizes, especially if we're sending a photo by email, or if we want to crop out something before we send it to our web designer or anyone else.

EasyCropper is pretty limited in what it can do, but it is still good for simple cropping. On the first screen you have to click the arrow for uploading the image you want to crop. On the next screen, you'll have to browse your hard drive for the image you want to crop. And you'll have to enter the desired height and width in pixels. Of course, most of us don't know exactly what size we want, so start by entering 640 height by 480 width. Of course, if you want a square, then put equal dimensions. You will be able to adjust the size of the cropped area, but not the ratio of width to height. If you put in a size that doesn't work, you can always start over with a new size.

Your photo will now be uploaded and you'll see a white box with your dimensions overlayed on your photo. IMPORTANT! Below the photo is a slider bar with a blue ball. Move the blue ball back and forth and the size of your white box cropping area will get larger and smaller.

Next, put your cursor inside the white box. Notice that the cursor changes to four arrows. When the four arrows are present, you can click, hold and drag your image behind the white box. It's kind of counter-intuitive because it seems like you should be able to drag the box, not the photo, but you'll get used to it. So drag your image around behind the white box until the part of the photo you want to keep is inside the box. Remember, you can still drag the blue ball on the slider bar to change the size of the box.

Play around with it and once you have the image as you want it, click "Crop It" down below the image and below the slider bar. But you're not done yet!

The next screen shows a down arrow and says "Your image is now ready for download". Click the arrow. You'll see your newly cropped photo on your screen in your browser. From here, place your cursor over the photo and right click. Choose the option that says "Save Picture As" or something similar. Select the folder location on your hard drive where you want to save your newly cropped image and click on "Save". You're done! Just be sure you remember where you saved the image on your computer. Oh, and you'll probably want to rename it before you save it so that it will be something meaningful to you. Also note that this will not affect your original image in any way. As long as you give the newly cropped photo a new name, your original will still be on your hard drive.

One more thing. I tried this in Firefox browser and it didn't work. So be sure to use Internet Explorer as your web browser when using EasyCropper.

Confusing? Not really. Try out EasyCropper and play around with it. It's really pretty easy to use. Soon, I'll introduce you to another online photo editor that is much more robust, but still easy to use.

Feel free to add comments or questions about this post using the links below! And feel free to send this on to a friend or colleague!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How To Easily Order Small Quantities of Metal Online

Have you ever had a project or a prototype where you needed just a small bit of some kind of steel rod or plate? How about a small quantity of sheet metal or even structural steel? Whether the project is at work or home, Baer Marketing has a solution for you! As you know, most steel service centers won't mess around with small quantity orders. They're especially not ready to ship small quantities. But at Online Metals, no order is too small. Since 1998, Online Metals has specialized in orders for less than full bars and less than full sheets, plus they carry a variety of materials rivaled only by the largest metal service centers. Whether you need tool steel, hot or cold rolled steel, titanium, plastics, nickel alloys, and even carbon fiber, they have them in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Plus, they'll cut your order to your specs. And all of the information you'll need is online, including pricing and shipping costs. With years of experience in shipping small quantity metal orders, Online Metals knows how to package and efficiently ship your order. So check out Online Metals today and bookmark their site for your future reference! And be sure to forward this message to any friends or colleagues that might find this useful as well!

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by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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Monday, August 25, 2008

How To Find A Caller's City From Their Area Code & Prefix

In the course of a day's work, have you ever had a phone number sitting there and wondered where that area code is from? Better yet, have you ever wondered the specific city within an area code that a particular phone number is from?

Well, here is your easy solution: Area-Codes.com. There is a lot to this site, but the basic look-up tool is free. On the left side in the yellow box, you can simply enter the area code (NPA) and the first three local digits of the phone number (NXX) and then click on the Search button. Then you'll get more information than you want to know about that phone exchange. But you'll definitely get the city and state of your phone number. And you might even be able to tell if the phone number is a cell phone or landline.

Another cool feature on this site is the zip code look-ups. If you click on a zip code in your phone results, you'll get some basic demographic data for that zip. Stats include population of that zip code, number of households, average house value, average household income, and racial demographics for the zip code. If you click the "zip code database" link on the left, you can get even more detailed demographic data. So if you're doing any direct mail to consumers / households, then this zip code demographic data should be invaluable to you. It can help you choose the best zip codes where you can focus your mailings.

Have fun looking around Area-Codes.com!

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by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Does Your Phone Number Spell?

Here is one of those posts that I promised. Have you ever wondered what words your phone number spells? Have you ever wondered what numbers you needed to spell a certain word? Now you can find out with Phone Spell!

Check it out at www.PhoneSpell.com

One thing to note: their new feature "dial vanity phone numbers" is rather strange. I haven't tried it yet, but it just seems rather odd. The real meat and potatoes is matching words to numbers and vice versa. Then if you want to obtain that toll free number, let me know. My partnership with Kall8 can help you get the toll free phone number you want.

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by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Google Engineer Shares Search Engine Tips

There is a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) advice floating around out there on the internet, some good, some not so good. But this comes straight from the horses mouth. Matt Cutts, a Google engineer and well know search engine optimization guru recently shared some basic SEO advice with USA Today. Here's a summary ... and I've added some comments below. In fact, each of these five points individually is deserving of it's own future blog posts ... so stay tuned.
  1. On each page, use your best search terms appropriate for that page in the content of the page, weaving them in naturally in the content of the page.
  2. Use appropriate title tags and description tags for each page.
  3. Get other appropriate sites to link back to you to raise your site's popularity / page rank.
  4. Start a blog and make regular updates to the blog.
  5. Use free tools such as site maps and Google's local business center, if you're a local company, to get listed on google maps.
So if you've ever talked to me about websites, you'll know that Baer Marketing sings the same song. In fact, for items 1 and 2 above, we automatically build in target keywords on your pages when we build your website. And we assure that you have good meta tags to go along with each page. For those of you who aren't yet Baer Marketing clients, we can help you rewrite the content of critical pages and update your website for you to accomplish these important Google recommended optimization tasks. Many sites are actually designed by graphic artists who do great visual work, but who fail to understand the critical importance of properly marketing and optimizing a website for search engines. Baer Marketing, however, approaches every website task from a marketing perspective first. For Google's 3rd recommendation, getting other sites to link back to you, Baer Marketing has always recommended an ongoing link marketing campaign. But this has always been a rather intangible and hard to understand endeavor, so it has never gained much traction among most website owners. When a website is completed, even when it is built exceptionally well, that is when marketing should begin, not end. Linking, however, can be a tricky game. It has to be done correctly because there are many potential pitfalls involved. Among those pitfalls are too many links too quickly, non-relevant links, link farms, and many more. Linking, in fact, is so important and both potentially rewarding and dangerous, that I'll have to do another post solely about linking. Meanwhile, feel free to contact us to discuss setting up a link building program for your website. Matt Cutt's fourth recommendation is blogging. For most industrial and contractor companies that I work with, this is a wholly new concept and not yet widely used in these sectors. So now is the time to be a leader in your field and get ahead of the competition. Baer Marketing would be happy to help you set up a blog correctly so that the content you post is actually considered an ever expanding part of your website. And finally, Google's Matt Cutts recommends site maps and getting featured on google maps. For many small 5-10 page websites that rarely change, a site map is not always necessary. Your basic navigation menu essentially serves as a site map. For those small website I've designed, every page always get indexed on the major search engines, even without sitemaps. And we can always look up the last time that Google, Yahoo or MSN.com reindexed the various pages. But for larger websites, sitemaps are very important and we're glad to help you out with those. Getting featured on the business listings on google maps is a task that I have not yet done with my more localized clients. The link above can help you do that on your own. But we're also glad to help you with that task. So as you can see, I'm not the only one suggesting that search engine friendly steps should be taken. Again, once a website is completed is when marketing the site needs to truly begin. The website can only go so far on it's own merits, which are basically steps 1 and 2 recommended above. After that, marketing a website takes time and effort if you do it on your own or a small investment if you hire Baer Marketing to do these tasks for you. We would love to hear your feedback and comments on this post and on any other marketing methods that you have found successful. Thanks for reading! Subscribe to Baer Marketing - $ales $ense by Email

Monday, May 12, 2008

How To Avoid Domain Scams

I typically get three kinds of questions about domains from my website clients and they involve other companies trying to bait you into switching your domain registration. As a client of Baer Marketing Network, please be aware that we will always handle your domain registration as well as your hosting. We'll take care of the details and you don't have to worry about your domain as long as you're with Baer Marketing. So anything you receive from any other source suggesting that they can help you with your domain renewal or registration is not valid! So here are the three most common domain scamming issues. First, you might receive a notice in regular mail saying that you should act quickly so that you don't lose your domain name. Many of these are disguised as invoices and look very legitimate. This type of phishing (pronounced "fishing") has been going on for years. But do not fall for it! This type of notice is basically a scam and a form of domain spamming to trick you into authorizing a domain transfer to another company. Simple rule: Baer Marketing is the only source you need for your domain registration. Ignore all other notifications about your domain! The second domain scam is a more recent phenomenon. It seems that China is getting into the act. This domain scam involves a very legitimate looking letter and/or email stating that you need to renew your domain and claim all of your domain names before you lose them. Again, it surreptitiously attempts to get you to authorize a domain transfer. Simple rule: Baer Marketing is the only source you need for your domain registration. Ignore all other notifications about your domain! The third issue with domains involves previous registrars of your domain. For most clients, Baer Marketing Network unified your domain registration and the hosting; i.e. we brought together the domain registration and hosting under one company ... this makes it more cost effective and simpler. Unfortunately, quite often, a previous registrar of your domain name may contact you to raise alarms (false alarms) that your domain is in danger and needs to be "reactivated". Or they might use other similar language. But basically, they're just trying to convince you to switch your domain registration back to their service when it's really not necessary. Simple rule: Baer Marketing is the only source you need for your domain registration. Ignore all other notifications about your domain! Actually, Baer Marketing will rarely, if ever, notify you specifically about your domain name or domain registration. We simply include it as part of your annual hosting so there is less for you to worry about. We're always happy to share the nitty gritty details of your domain registration, but we realize that you're busy and generally don't need the such details. Quite simply, we've got you covered as far as keeping your domains renewed and up-to-date. So what should you do if you receive any notifications about your domain name? We've got you covered. You can ignore it. You can delete it. You can shred it. You can throw darts at it. But first and foremost, do not become alarmed. We've got you covered. But also, feel free to forward such emails to me or you can even fax me any letters you receive. I plan on putting sample domain scams up on BaerMarketingNetwork.com for your viewing pleasure. As I add them, I'll let you know via this new blog. Please let me know if you have any questions by posting a question or response to this post or by sending me an email.

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by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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