News

8 tips to make yourself an office standout

Posted in Tips on 20 August 2014
You’ve started your new job and seem to be settling in nicely. You’ve put the finishing touches on your desk space, could easily ace a quiz of coworkers’ names and are long past sharing that embarrassing story at your first staff meeting. Maybe you’ve even impressed the CEO a time or two. 
 
While there’s good reason to celebrate that you’re excelling in your current role, now’s not the time to rest on your laurels. Just because you’re all settled in and no longer the “newbie” doesn’t mean you have to stop proving yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. 
 
Rocking your job responsibilities is key, but let’s face it, it’s no longer enough in today’s working world. Everyone I know in marketing and PR, particularly my fellow young professionals, are all going above and beyond to set themselves apart, both in their respective workplaces and within a fiercely competitive industry. 
 
So, what can you do to stand out? Newbie or not, here are eights steps to help you shine among your coworkers and in a crowded field of industry pros. Following these steps is going to take some extra time and effort on your part, so start tapping into that same drive that you had during the job search process. After all, that’s what led you to where you are today. 
 
1. Get involved. Be committed to going beyond your job responsibilities to improve the company overall. Get a feel for what committees and programs your office has to offer, and see where you’d be a good fit. Even if it’s the party planning committee, getting involved shows that you’re a well-rounded individual who is invested in the workplace. 
 
2. Write for the company blog or newsletter. You wouldn’t be in this industry if you couldn’t write. Since nearly every company has a blog and newsletter nowadays, don’t let your skills go to waste. This is also a chance to share what you’ve written via your personal social media accounts. 
 
3. Take initiative on your team. Now that you’re more comfortable in your role, step up and offer to take the lead on team projects. This shows great initiative and gives you the chance to put your leadership skills on full display. This tactic also helps ease the burden on your boss and allows you to work with team members with whom you may not get to interact as often. 
 
4. Join a local professional society. Whether it’s your local PRSA chapter or niche groups focused on areas such as tech or content creation, it’s time to get involved outside of work. This is the perfect opportunity to network and take on a leadership role. Chances are others around your office are already members, too, so look to them as resources. 
 
5. Volunteer. Use your industry skills for the greater good by volunteering for a nonprofit organization, political campaign, or something similar. You never know who you’re going to meet, and it never hurts to hone your skills outside of the office. 
 
6. Choose a mentor. Many offices and professional groups have mentor programs in place, so take advantage. If this isn’t your reality, personally reach out to someone you admire around the office or industry. Sure, everyone’s busy, but keep in mind that the people you admire were once in your place and are probably more than willing to give you a few pointers over coffee. 
 
7. Be a mentor. You don’t need to be a senior staffer to serve as a mentor. Professional groups often have mentoring programs through which you can work with young professionals or high school and college students. Many times your own alma mater will invite you to do the same for current students. Don’t hesitate to pay it forward to new hires at your office, who will welcome your help in learning the ropes. 
 
8. Network. Attend professional events around town and travel to regional and national conferences whenever possible. Be proactive in seeking out these opportunities, as networking helps you with everything from getting connected to practicing the all-important elevator pitch. And don’t forget that you can also network internally through company events. The free food isn’t the only benefit to attending those! 
 

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Google Gearing Up for YouTube Supscription Music Service

Posted in News on 20 August 2014
Google’s highly rumored and much anticipated YouTube music subscription service may soon become a reality.
 
The final details of the on-demand streaming music service, dubbed YouTube Music Key, are currently being worked out, Android Police is reporting.
 
According to the report, Music Key will offer audio-only ad-free music and offline playback. Google, at the same time, will rebrand Google Play Music All Access to Google Play Music Key. Google has also already acquired the domain YouTubeMusicKey.com.
 
The cost for both services combined is $9.99 per month, although users can first give it a try with a free 30-day trial.
 
The technology titan has added more than 20 million high-quality tracks to Music Key, which include complete albums, organized into artist discographies.
 
The ad-free subscription service was originally to have launched last summer and was then put on hold until late last year. In December, however, it was announced YouTube’s music service had been further delayed.
 
Pieces of code spotted during a teardown of YouTube 5.3 by Android Police late last year revealed the service would have the following characteristics:
 
• Users will have the ability to save entire playlists for offline playback, although it looks like YouTube uploaders will be able to specify that their videos cannot be cached.
• The option to have background music playing while users utilize other apps. Offline playback and background listening will also be part of Music Pass, but may only be available to those who subscribe.
• Uninterrupted playback will mean no ads on millions of songs.

So far, there has been no indication when the new service will be launched
 

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Comcast, Time-Warner Deal Facing Further Scrutiny

Posted in News on 20 August 2014
The much-debated merger between Time-Warner and Comcast continues to face hurdles.
 
The move has long been under the microscope of the Federal Communications Commission and, once again, is struggling, this time with content delivery. The FCC must decide what to do about an agreement Time-Warner made previously with Bright House Networks in which programming and technology acquisitions are handled and delivered by the company.
 
Bright House is the sixth-largest cable operator in the country and falls under the Newhouse family media banner. Currently, it serves 2.1 million customers in a handful of states including Indiana, Michigan and California.
 
An agreement was made in the 1990s, reports The Wall Street Journal, where Time-Warner has an ownership in the company and handles programming negotiations, technology deals and engineering services for the firm, for an annual fee.
 
The FCC recognizes if the merger is given the go-ahead Comcast would be given a larger slice in the programming negotiations pie yet, if blocked, it may increase the cost for Bright House’s customers.
 
One of the states served by Bright House, California, is now weighing in on the merger.
 
The state’s public utility commission issued a memo last week citing its concerns over the merger and how customers in the Pacific state need to be considered by federal authorities.
 
“Comcast and TWC, through their California subsidiaries, would potentially combine the two largest providers of high-speed last mile broadband service in the state,” reads the memo. “The merger would impact competition and consumer welfare in California’s market for wholesale telecommunications, retail voice, backhaul and broadband services.
 
“More importantly, the merger would have an impact on broadband deployment in California as two of the largest cable broadband services in the state form one entity.”
 

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Former CEO Steve Ballmer Resigns From Microsoft Board of Directors

Posted in News on 20 August 2014
Steve Ballmer has cut all ties with the company he devoted more than 30 years of his life to.
 
The 58-year-old resigned from Microsoft’s board of directors eight months after leaving his post as the software giant’s CEO.
 
In a letter to Satya Nadella, the man now sitting in the CEO’s office, Ballmer described the company as his “life’s work.”
 
“I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will. I continue to love discussing the company’s future,” wrote Ballmer, who remains the company’s largest shareholder with 333 million shares worth more than $15 billion.
 
“I love trying new products and sending feedback. I love reading about what is going on at the company. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights. I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.”
 
Ballmer cited his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers and a teaching gig as major factors in his decision to resign. Ballmer’s $2-billion acquisition of the NBA team became official last week. The record-breaking deal closed late last Tuesday.
 
In the six months since leaving, Ballmer said he has been “very busy.”
 
“I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” he said. “I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers. I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.
 
“Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.”
 
Ballmer on Monday introduced himself to Clipper fans at a special rally with his trademark enthusiasm, effectively beginning the new chapter in his life.
 

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Yahoo Debuts a Made-Over Yahoo Stores for Small Business Owners

Posted in News on 18 August 2014
Yahoo is launching a new and improved eCommerce platform to enable small businesses to sell online with greater ease.
 
Dubbed Yahoo Stores, the redesigned platform offers a number of new features, including a new payment-processing service “that is automatically PCI (payment card industry) compliant.” That means sellers are connected directly to a payment service provider in just a few clicks.
 
“Yahoo Small Business is for anyone with an idea, and with Yahoo Stores we’re making it even easier to turn those ideas into successful businesses,” says head of Yahoo Small Business Amit Kumar.
 
“Yahoo Small Business took the best of everything we’ve learned from our million+ customers over the past 16 years, and applied it to Yahoo Stores to give small business owners a more powerful, streamlined and beautiful way to turn their ideas into a business.”
 
To ensure customers can find the store owners, all Yahoo Stores pages will receive the benefit of the same SEO technology that is used on Yahoo.com including relevant keywords in the store’s website URLs and concise descriptions of each store’s website’s content.
 
Kumar said the its new tool, Themes, makes creating a beautiful website simple. Using the Themes, storeowners can create new online storefront designs with customized color and style guides that will automatically respond and adapt across mobile phones, tablets and desktop.
 
“We’ve also introduced a simple editing process, so changes can be made directly to your website with no preview required,” he said. “You don’t need to be technical or know html to make easy edits — change titles, pictures, descriptions and more with no second guessing.”
 
Those on-the-go can also make use of Live Web Insights for mobile.
 

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CurrentlyDown Reports On Sites' Availability

Posted in News on 18 August 2014

It’s a regular frustration for Web surfers and one that generally prompts a question of ‘Is it down or is it me?’

logoEveryone who’s spent time on the Internet knows how frustrating it can be to try to log on to their favorite website only to have it either fail to load or take forever to load. Those situations often lead to questions over whether the site itself is down or if one’s predicament is unique to them.

Now, thanks to a new site, it’s easy to find out if everyone is struggling to access a site.
CurrentlyDown acts like most search engines with the difference being it’s goal is to tell users what websites are temporarily out of commission. It’s a simple premise with an easy-to-use approach.

“CurrentlyDown lets you check whether a website is working at the moment or not. If a website is not loading, we’ll let you know if it’s down for everyone or just for you,” the site explains.

There’s more than just searching, though. A quick visit to CurrentlyDown’s home page, for example, gives a rundown of sites that are down at the current time and those sites that have experienced recent issues. Breaking the report down to ‘recently down’ and ‘big outages’, the site says which sites have been experiencing problems, when and for how long.

“We monitor the most popular websites and track website availability over the long term,” the site explains. “This data is then displayed into easy-to-understand charts so you can see a website’s availability on any particular date.”

 

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Google Snaps Up Image-Recognition Firm Jetpac

Posted in News on 18 August 2014

Google’s summer shopping spree continues with the recently-announced acquisition of Jetpac, an image recognition firm and social travel app developer.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed and the announcement about the purchase was brief.

jetpac2googleA short note on the Jetpac website thanks its users for their support, but fails to give much detail on what its role will be at Google.

“We look forward to working on exciting projects with our colleagues at Google,” reads the note. “We’ll be removing Jetpac’s apps from the App Store in the coming days, and ending support for them on 9/15.”

Jetpac is known for its City Guides iPhone app which relies on Instagram data.

Here is what the website had to say about the app:

“We can spot lipstick, blue sky views, hipster mustaches and more, through advanced image processing on billions of photos. Jetpac City Guides is a visual guide to local recommendations for over 6,000 cities all around the world, from San Francisco to Kathmandu.”

There is much speculation about the purpose of the acquisition, but the consensus seems to be that Google will use Jetpac technology to bolster its search offerings using photo data.

 

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Samsung Announces Intent to Join Smart Home Market With Purchase of SmartThings

Posted in News on 15 August 2014
Samsung is looking to a future in which the Internet of Things is front and center.
 
To that end, the South Korean technology titan has announced its intention to acquire SmartThings, an open platform for Smart home devices. Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Re/code is reporting a purchase price of $200 billion.
 
The goal of the acquisitione is to meld Samsung’s resources with SmartThings’ platform to further bolster innovation in the Internet of Things.
 
“SmartThings has created a remarkable universe of partners and developers and now has the most engagement of any smart home platform in the world,” said Samsung Open Innovation Center (OIC) leader David Eun. “Connected devices have long been strategically important to Samsung and, like Alex and his team, we want to improve the convenience and services in people’s lives by giving their devices and appliances a voice so they can interact more easily with them. We are committed to maintaining SmartThings’ open platform, fostering more explosive growth, and becoming its newest strategic partner.”
 
SmartThings will become part of the Samsung OIC and will move its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Palo Alto, California. Despite the changes, the company will continue to operate independently under founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson.
 
“As an open, standards-agnostic platform for the Internet of Things, our vision has always been to innovate, build, and make the world smarter, together,” Hawkinson said. “With Samsung behind us, we will be able to attract more device makers and developers to unlock the limitless possibilities of the consumer Internet of Things. We are thrilled to become part of the Samsung family and continue our goal in making every home a smart home.”
 
SmartThings, which was founded two years ago, enables users to monitor, control and automate their homes from wherever they happen to be via a single mobile app. SmartThings’ open platform supports more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps created by its community of device makers, inventors, and developers.
 

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Facebook Tool Measures Purchases Across Devices

Posted in News on 15 August 2014

Facebook has launched a new tool to give advertisers a better idea of what devices people are using before buying an advertised product.

The cross-device reporting service will reveal “how people are moving between devices — across mobile apps and the web — before they convert.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 9.45.10 PMFacebook had this to say in a blog post:

Imagine seeing an ad for a product on your mobile phone while in line at the bank. Do you immediately make a purchase on your phone? Probably not. But perhaps you go back to your office later that day and buy on your desktop computer. Such cross-device conversions are becoming increasingly common as people move between their phones, tablets and desktop computers to interact with businesses.”

With the new cross-device report, advertisers are now able to view the devices on which people see ads and the devices on which conversions subsequently occur. For instance, a marketer can view the number of customers that clicked an ad on an iPhone but then later converted on desktop, or the number of people that saw an ad on desktop but then converted on an Android tablet.

Facebook has discovered that 32 percent of Americans who show interest in mobile Facebook ads made a purchase on desktop within 28 days.

To compile the cross-device conversion data, Facebook uses information collected by the Facebook Conversion Pixel and mobile apps using the Facebook SDK.

 

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Cisco Slashes 6,000 Jobs

Posted in News on 15 August 2014
The company announced Thursday it will be reducing its workforce by 6,000 jobs, a move that is expected to result in restructuring charges of $700 million in cash in the year ending July 2015, Reuters reported. The latest round of cuts means in the past four years there have been 17,000 employees cut.
 
The news comes at the same time the company announced a flat fourth quarter. Cisco reported revenue for the fourth quarter of $12.4 billion.
 
In a company issued release, however, chairman and chief executive officer John Chambers remained optimistic.
 
“We are executing well in a tough environment and delivered our best non-GAAP earnings per share quarter in our history. I’m pleased with how we are transforming our company over the past several years and that journey continues,” stated Chambers.
 
“We are focused on growth, innovation and talent, especially in the areas of security, data center, software, cloud and internet of everything. Our strategy is sound, our financials are strong, and our market leadership is secure. We have the team in place to deliver and are uniquely positioned to help our customers solve their biggest business problems.”
 
The move reflects the company’s bid to remain strong in uncertain economic times.
 
Reuters quoted Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney as noting Chambers needs to “maintain his margins” during the “strategic changes.”
 
“A lot of his software investments have not panned out. He has got to get back to his core business and do greater things. That will happen if he gets new management under him,” said Dulaney.
 
Regardless, Dulaney said it is not likely Chambers will retire or be forced out because he has a loyal board which has backed him since he joined the company in 1991.
 

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