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Showing posts from September, 2016

Dell™ Vostro™ 15 3558 Series Technical Specification 2015

I have a soft spot for the Dell Vostro range of laptops. It is because I work on one and I do everything on it. From photo editing with Photoshop CC, design work on Sketchup and running my emails on Outlook. I have at times 15 applications running and never had any hiccup with this range of Dell laptops. The Dell Vostro 15 3558 is the latest from dell coming this spring 2015. It is ideal for business, it has a strong casing which to me is crucial when travelling.
You really need something that can handle all the knocks and bruises while travelling and the Dell Vostro range is designed for that. You are not going to get music like the XPS range, but heck, you are here for business. The Dell Vostro 15 3558 (and there are more versions),  is very well specified as can be seen by the table below. Powerfully efficient: Work through your day quickly and conveniently with the latest Intel® Core™ processor.
This ultra-low voltage processor delivers power and an efficient performance. Re…

What do you need for good product photography

Product photography has become so important in the last decade. It is hard to imagine a website without any images, especially if you are selling online. Sure when selling customized items it is a little difficult but there is always Sketchup and other free software to create some basic drawings. In most cases, manufacturers will supply generic white background product shots that are good enough for most web pages.  I use them myself in our businesses, but, whenever I can, I try replace them with my own product shots.  When competition is tough, you have to stand out above the rest. You have to differentiate your product from the others even though it is the same.  I think it is a psychological thing with buyers. Although the same product, if the image is different, it just "feels" different.  That is when you have the edge.  I am not talking about commodities such as an iPad, iPhone etc. They are too well known products and actually you don't even need an image to buy…

How rich do you want to be ?

So how rich do you want to be? I don't think there is a child or teenager that has not asked this question between friends and to themselves. Just how rich is rich enough. At this age it is all fantasy and money can be printed at the same rate as the Federal Reserve Bank, may be slightly slower. A castle at the beach, lake, for your mother and separate one when your dad is watching football. You have a house for you and your best friend, and oh yes, your boyfriend too, sort of. Then we get a job. Fresh out of school or college or university, totally wet behind the ears, you are in a state of pure green organics. Anyone, even the tea lady can mold you into whatever shape they want. So as you work your but off Friday evenings and have emergency meetings on Sundays, doubt drives past your small apartment. Just for who are you missing out on all the weekend fun. And if it sets in deep enough, you get a new job. New energy sets in just to be replaced by the old energy. WTF!? Disi…

Are you working for yourself or working for profit

When did you reach this epithamy.



It is when your bank balance moves horizontally all the time and your energy for more work goes southward. Reward for more work is not realized. Obviously it is different for everyone and we can all share it on Twitter, but the point is that all small business people reach this point some time in their life. I have.

Before realizing this crucial point in business life I would not be able to convince you that it is not about greed. It would be greed if you were a banking magnate, but you are a small company with, let's say less than 20 people.

I'll tell you when it hit me. Really hard.

I was doing a job for a client, it was quotes for products for his new house. We started first by having a meeting to discuss what his wife liked (he had to keep her happy for all the bj's). After that it was proposal time, and there were many, seriously, proposal after proposal. Amendment after amendment. All these proposals included images, diagrams, expla…

Should my business have a website

It does not matter what type of business you are in, you need to communicate what you do.  About 10 years ago the Yellow Pages (or similar directories), were absolutely essential. I remember that one year new business placements deadline was shifted a month earlier and I missed it. It was devastating to my business, that was a bad year. In those days you had to wait for the next publication to come out.

So what about now. I think you cannot afford not to have a website. I have heard the excuse that my sector is too competitive and I will never land on the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo.  We'll, just a wakeup call, Google has changed their algorithm and user experience, content quality comes first. The new algorithm even hit big companies such as ask.com because of their weak user experience and shallow information.  That is great for small businesses that want to rank a little higher because they have unique content that is useful to the consumer.

So the argument of not bein…

The first Wordpress plugins you should install

There are nearly 34,000 plugins to choose from. That is a lot! Considering that you will not use more than 10 it sounds like overkill. A lot of these plugins are not updated any more by their creators so the actual number that are current is difficult to estimate.

As with any website, there are a couple of things we all do and is the same for each website, we need good SEO, spam protection, access control and protection, traffic analysis and more.

The following plugins are the basic ones that should be installed even before you start writing.
Plugins for good SEO This is a must since they help you writing content that is focused  but also understandable by Google.  Don't overthink SEO, write good unique content. There are two major players:

Yoast WordPress SEO. Easy setup and quick to understand. Simple and effective.

All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert of Semper Fi Web Design. Quite complex settings that I do not understand. You can enter some keywords for your site but Googl…

When quitting means winning

The odds are against people who want to start a business. Statistics have shown that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start their own business fail within the first 18 months. It is quite a chilling fact and a big deterrent if you want to start. I don't want to talk about why business fail, because that is a totally different subject.

This article is about when to quit a business even if it is not a failure or not making money. You can decide to quit a business venture and sell just because your ROI will be at it's highest. Quitting does not necessary mean stopping what you are doing or taking a new direction. You don't need to quit the whole business, it is healthy to quit parts of it. Shed unprofitable sections and either sell them off or just cut them loose. I call it adapting (in my view anyway).
When do you decide when to quit Well you don't decide, or should not decide, to quit business when things are really bad. When things get tough it is often very difficult to…

What is the best wordpress theme for beginners

Wordpress is growing at a phenomenal rate. I don't know by how much compared to the others, but I do know it is more than others (Drupal and Joomla, those are the big contenders). I'm not talking about Blogger and Wordpress.com, I'm talking about creating your own website and then thinking, oh shit, I don't know diddly squat about html. That realisation used to be in the past. We have Wordpress, and themes! We have the freedom of choice!

My goodness do we have choice. Can you imagine 10 years ago, at the click of a button, pay a web developer $50 and you have a beautiful website.

Now we have over +1,000 (it could be a million by now, LOL) good looking websites for free at the click of button, How the world has changed!

For the beginners, that freedom of choice and plethora of options is sometimes limiting.  There is a saying:

Boundness to the unbounded is the worst form of boundedness
It is actually a Dutch saying "Gebondenheid tot de ongebondenheid is de ergste …

How can small business beat big business at their own game

If you own a small business and you are selling the same products that the big guys are selling you are sort of stuffed. There is just no way you will get the number of customers or bottom line they do by competing directly with them. Even if they could sell at cost, they still have a rebate of at least 2.5 - 5.0% with which they can play with.

So where lies the secret or better still, the money?

Each business sector has it's own strategy, but I will make a few generalizations just to get you going.

The first thing you need to believe is that the big boys can be challenged. They are too busy with their own politics and corporate bullshit to even notice you. So don't be scared. I mean really, can you hurt Massmart. They don't think so.

Secondly, you must target big corporation's weak points. I will discuss three and how to beat them.

Bottom line The sales personnel are more concerned over turnover than bottom line. So the sales person on the floor has a certain target …

The best sharpening technique for faces, skin and hair in Photoshop CC

The standard sharpening techniques like Sharpen, Sharpen Edges and Smart Sharpen are useless when sharpening faces. It works ok with hair, but the last thing you want to do is sharpen skin, especially women's skin. It is the fastest way you will get negative feedback on your images if you over sharpen womens faces. Why do you think there is so much makeup available, it is to soften the skin not give it a crackling effect.

We will be using Unsharp Mask in this tutorial and sharpening an inverted red channel on top of a Luminosity blend mode. Well that is the super condensed summary version. Lets start off with an image I got from Public Domain Pictures. I did not download the full sized image but you can do it yourself and get better results.

Step 1: Open the image you like to edit in RGB mode.
The image is ok, but it lacks bite or as other photographers call it, "pop".

Step 2: Create a duplicate layer background by pressing CTRL-J.
The duplicate layer is on top and the bac…

The best photoshop sharpening technique used by professionals

If there is one sharpening technique that works for most images with detail it will be this one I am about to explain to you. What I like about this method is that it is fast and does not add any noise to the smooth sections of the image.

This method works best where you have a lot of sharp edges such as grass, bricks (like the sample below), close-up of sand and deserts etc. Do not use it on smooth surfaces such as painted walls, clouds, faces etc.

Here is the method (I only know the windows commands in Photoshop CC):
Open a jpg image in RGB mode (That is important, it should not be CMYK or LAB mode)Press F7 to see your layersPress CTRL-J  to make a duplicate layer of the imageWith the top layer highlighted click on the Channels tab (if not there, on the main menu click <Window> and select <Channels>Select the RED channel, all the others will be deselected and the image will go light gray. The shortcut is CTRL-1.On the main menu select <Filter> and then highlight &l…

Why putting your money in a savings accounts is a bad idea

Teaching your child to save money by putting it in a savings account is worse than ........ I can't think of anything worse at the moment. Here are the reasons that I think it is a really bad idea. You are teaching your child exactly what big corporations want you to tell your child. Big corporations need your cheap money! They make millions out of your (and millions of others like you) monthly deposits.

The reason that they can make so much out of your false perceptions is that you don't know a simple financial or mathematical calculation. Don't get scared, there will be no grade 10 maths applied here.

Ok, let me explain how it works;

Large corporations (the banks etc) promises you a certain amount of interest on your deposit(s), let's say 5%.  So on $1000.00 you will have $1050 at the end of the year, because interest is accrued and calculated on a yearly basis. Seriously, $50 a year profit with $1000?

Now, here is something that you can calculate yourself, for each depo…

Adding more color to dull images in Photoshop

There are certain scenes that just lack color and "pop". Your basic family shots with bright coloured clothing is not the biggest problem, it's those seaside shots, or landscape shots with little colour other than brown and green. They are just lifeless, you get a feeling that is not how you saw it when you were there, and anyhow, it looks crap. It is a method that is used by most professionals since they know where and when to use it. So here is a couple of tips when NOT to use this method. Don't use it on bright coloured flower shots.Don't use it where peoples faces are the main feature of the image, such as portraits and group shots.Any image taken late in the evening or early in the morning, be very careful.Any overexposed image or under exposed image can pose a problemDon't use images with a color cast, get the cast our first and then apply color enhancing.Ok, I assume you get the drift.
The best image to use are dull desert landscapes and beach images.  …