Wednesday, November 16, 2005

ARC Freedom Antenna

ARC Freedom Antenna: "

Thanks to several dozen Cool Tool readers, I received many
suggestions for boosting the strength of my cell phone signal indoors.
Basically, the suggestions broke down into four major categories:

1) Use call forward system to forward cell calls to my land line.

2) Use a VOIP solution that would ring to both my cell number and land line number.

3) Use a wireless indoor antenna booster. This requires mounting an
antenna outside the house and running cable to a smaller antenna in the
room. Typical cost of this solution starts over $400.

4) Use a wired indoor antenna booster. This requires having a cable
connect from the phone to an indoor antenna. These solutions range from
about $40 to $100, depending on the size of the antenna.


I ended up going with option 4, as a low cost 'good enough'
solution. I bought an ARC Freedom Antenna. The antenna comes with a
three foot cable attached, with a female adaptor at the end. You then
have to buy a cable specific for your phone. I have the Palm Treo 600
and got the cable from for $12 plus
shipping. (Note that Radio Shack apparently also sells this same
antenna, but they have a unique cable terminator which requires you to
choose only from their limited assortment of phone cables.) The antenna
itself is encased in black plastic, about 4 inches wide by 7 inches
high and very thin. It has a small detachable stand for table top use,
or also comes with suction cups if you want to mount it to a window or
wall. (This antenna can also be used in your car.)

In my case, I am in a windowless basement with poured concrete walls.
Without the antenna I had 1 bar on my Treo with Verizon service, and
with the antenna I now have 2 bars. For $52, I can at least
now consistently dial out, receive calls and move around the
office, although I am now tethered to the antenna. (Hey, maybe I'll rig
up a way to connect this antenna to my belt!) Anyway, problem solved.

-- Bob Cooper


Available from

WPS Antennas

Manufactured by

ARC Wireless Solutions


OSDL opens online patent commons reference library

OSDL opens online patent commons reference library: "The library is free and details patent commitments from companies and
individuals who pledge not to assert particular patents or not to
assert patents against software implementations based on specific
technical standards."

Create a Layoff Plan Before the Pink Slip Comes

Create a Layoff Plan Before the Pink Slip Comes: "Here's how to take some of the fear and uncertainty out of the equation if you see a dismissal in your future.


Zimbra launches open-source messaging platform

Zimbra launches open-source messaging platform: "Zimbra is releasing a second beta of its open-sourced messaging software for businesses."

10 principles of effective information management

10 principles of effective information management: "

Improving information management practices is a key focus for many
organisations, across both the public and private sectors. This is
being driven by a range of factors, including a need to improve the
efficiency of business processes, the demands of compliance regulations
and the desire to deliver new services.

In many cases, 'information management' has meant deploying
new technology solutions, such as content or document management
systems, data warehousing or portal applications. These projects have a
poor track record of success, and most organisations are still
struggling to deliver an integrated information management environment.

Effective information management is not easy. There are many
systems to integrate, a huge range of business needs to meet, and
complex organisational (and cultural) issues to address.

This article draws together a number of 'critical success
factors' for information management projects. These do not provide an
exhaustive list, but do offer a series of principles that can be used
to guide the planning and implementation of information management

From the outset, it must be emphasised that this is not an
article about technology. Rather, it is about the organisational,
cultural and strategic factors that must be considered to improve the
management of information within organisations. The key goal of this
article is to help information management projects succeed.

[Read the full article.]


Putting perfect participants in every session

Putting perfect participants in every session: "

Jared Spool has written an article on obtaining participants for usability testing. To quote:

When putting together a design study, whether it is
usability testing, field research, or focus group activity, it turns
out that the most critical activity is recruiting the right
participants. Over the past few years, we've interviewed several dozen
user experience professionals, looking at the practices they use to
conduct their research. As we dissected every activity involved in
producing a successful study, we came to the conclusion that recruiting
participants is the lynchpin that holds the study together.

The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth

The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth: "

Sarah Bosch continues her reviews this week, with a look at Steven S. Little?s The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth.

For years, I?ve immersed myself in the study of
business growth. Who does it? Why do they do it? Why does this owner
make it work and not that one? What do the academicians say on the
subject? Successful entrepreneurs? Other self-proclaimed experts? The
media? It?s a fascinating subject and one in which your sources of
information are never exhausted.

So what have I learned? For one thing, I?ve learned that back
when I thought I knew everything I could on the subject of growth, I
actually knew very little. I?ve also learned that the more I know about
my chosen field, the less definitive I can be. In other words, the more
I see and hear and experience what it takes to grow a privately held
business, the less able I am to make sweeping pronouncements and
general statements of truth.

I have to say that The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth
was NOT one of the books that was difficult to read. Witty, expressive,
communicative, entertaining and rich with information in useable form ?
Steven S. Little knows his audience and what they need to survive small
business endeavors.

I enjoyed Little from the very first page.
His tone is personal, entertaining, and conversational, but he
immediately came across as someone I could trust. It was immediately
obvious to me that Little has lived in the ?real world? and didn?t
sugarcoat the information I needed to know.

Although many of
the rules are without surprise, the great part about this book is found
in Little?s expansion on these topics. Rules such ?thoroughly
understand the marketplace? and ?attract and keep the best and the
brightest? ? we?ve heard these before. But the stories and unique spins
on these facts help to process the information differently, and that is
what sets this book apart.

One of the most unique inclusions
is Little?s suggested Next Steps section at the end of each rule, which
highlights key points, helps us to implement the things we?ve learned,
and gives us things to watch for in the future.

The many
anecdotes and stories were wonderful and took the book from great to
excellent. I especially loved his discussion of the printing company,
Printing For Less, which is used as an example throughout the book. I
have worked directly with Printing For Less and respect them greatly as
a printing company. Learning about how they started from a six-person
team in Livingston, Montana to becoming such a fantastic company was
great to read, and one of many fascinating stories in the book.

effectively suggests strategies to survive, sustain, and finally attain
the results each unique businessperson is after, but reminds us that
small business growth is extremely difficult and many lead to failure.
Realistic, yet optimistic at the same time - it is a strategy book for
small business entrepreneurs.

The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth
delivers the goods. Regardless of your current position in the business
world, this book is a must read. Rarely is business so entertaining!


Break-Even Analysis

Break-Even Analysis: "


For any new business, you should predict what gross
sales volume level you will have to achieve before you reach the
break-even point and then, of course, build to make a profit. For
early-stage businesses, you should be able to assess your early
prediction and determine how accurate they were, and monitor whether
you are actually on track to make the profits you need. Even the mature
business would be wise to look at their current break-even point and
perhaps find ways to lower that benchmark to increase profits. The
recent massive layoffs at large corporations are directed at this goal,
lowering the break-even point and increasing profits.

via Anthony Cerminaro.


The Venture Capital Squeeze

The Venture Capital Squeeze: "

RIMG0018. Photo by . VJ Fungo.

Paul Graham:

In the next few years, venture capital funds will find
themselves squeezed from four directions. They?re already stuck with a
seller?s market, because of the huge amounts they raised at the end of
the Bubble and still haven?t invested. This by itself is not the end of
the world. In fact, it?s just a more extreme version of the norm in the
VC business: too much money chasing too few deals.

Unfortunately, those few deals now want less and less money,
because it?s getting so cheap to start a startup. The four causes: open
source, which makes software free; Moore?s law, which makes hardware
geometrically closer to free; the Web, which makes promotion free if
you?re good; and better languages, which make development a lot cheaper.

we started our startup in 1995, the first three were our biggest
expenses. We had to pay $5000 for the Netscape Commerce Server, the
only software that then supported secure http connections. We paid
$3000 for a server with a 90 MHz processor and 32 meg of memory. And we
paid a PR firm about $30,000 to promote our launch.

Now you
could get all three for nothing. You can get the software for free;
people throw away computers more powerful than our first server; and if
you make something good you can generate ten times as much traffic by
word of mouth online than our first PR firm got through the print media.

via Jeff Clavier.

Photo by . VJ Fungo.


Energetic Advertising

Energetic Advertising: "

Scott Heiferman:

The most attention-worthy advertising that I see all
year? This guy was at a busy intersection in San Jose, holding a sign
for a burrito joint, wearing headphones, and dancing his ass off.
Dancing like a madman. With a big smile on his face. Virtually
impossible to not look at him and smile or laugh… and be curious about
what’s on the sign. As I took his picture from the car, he runs up to
me, hands me his card and says, “email me the picture!” His card reads,
“John Ng, Energetic Advertiser, ‘Watch Me Dance!’,“…

via Seth Godin.


How to Find a Manufacturer’s Rep

How to Find a Manufacturer’s Rep: "

vegetables. Photo by Presidente.

AOL Black Voices:

You have just entered the market with a great new
product to offer. But how do you get it into the hands of the people
who want and need it? That all depends on the kind of sales entity you
intend to use. In essence, you have three choices: hire an in-house
sales staff, work with an independent manufacturers’ sales
representative firm, or use an independent distributor.

In-house sales staff work as employees. A manufacturers’
representative is an independent entity who will sell your wares but
does not warehouse or inventory those products. A distributor is an
independent firm that actually buys the product from you, warehouses
it, and then sells that product to an outlet that sells it to the end

You will have to do some homework to identify
distributors or sales reps that sell products to stores that can
successfully carry your goods. For example, if you are manufacturing
disposable medical products, you want to identify distributors or sales
reps who sell to outlets familiar with those kinds of products, says
Bill Radin, author, consultant, and president of Radin Associates and

One way to identify distributors or sales reps is
through Internet companies that match sales reps or distributors with
manufacturers. Three such firms are;; and Manufacturers Representative Profile, or
RepLocate allows a manufacturer to advertise its need for a sales rep
or distributor. actually recruits commission-only reps
and has more than 7,000 profiles of independent reps on file.
Manufacturers pay a small subscription fee ranging from $89 a month to
$149 a month for the right to use RepHunter’s database.

Photo by Presidente.


Starting Your Own e-Business

Starting Your Own e-Business: "[IMG web business]SmallBusinessComputing has a 4-part series going that
is a must read for anyone wanting to start up their own e-business.
It’s not..."

Internal Search As a Marketing Tool

Internal Search As a Marketing Tool: "I just finished listening to epipod 16 (yes it is a lame term, but if I
can help it become mainstream we can all be lame together along with
Alan and..."

Thursday, November 03, 2005


[H]ard|OCP: "I know most of you are not going to fall for something like this BUT we all know people who will, so make sure you pass the word on to your less tech savvy friends that Avian flu e-mails running around are actually carrying a virus. That was your [H]ard|OCP PSA of the Day.

Computer hackers are exploiting fears over bird flu by releasing a computer virus attached to an e-mail passing itself off as containing avian flu information. The virus Naiva.A masquerades as a word document with email subject lines such as 'Outbreak in North America' and 'What is avian"


[H]ard|OCP: "We live in a society that works so hard to make things easy, is it no wonder that technology is making us stupid? Apparently there are at least a few smart people left in the world to make all these devices for us stupid people.

With the advent of PDAs, smartphones, notebooks and whatnot, humans have a companion that’s with them pretty much all the time."


[H]ard|OCP: "Firefox 1.5 Release Candidate 1 is now available for download. This is the first release candidate of our next generation Firefox browser, to be released later this year, and it is being made available to our developer and testing community for compatibility testing and to solicit feedback."


[H]ard|OCP: "Building A New Dual-Core System:
The Tech Report’s very own Scott Wasson has put together a write up covering the build up of a new dual-core PC. Scott gives a detailed part by part description of his latest PC upgrade and also talks a bit about the common misconception that hardware review sites always sport the latest and greatest hardware in their work rigs. Interesting reading."


[H]ard|OCP: "Beginners Guide: Cloning WinXP:
Need to clone your current WindowsXP install and move it to a new hard drive or machine? PCStats latest Beginners Guide: Cloning WinXP should help."

Big, Bad Microsoft by Wes

Big, Bad Microsoft: "here’s been some conspiracy theories about Microsoft’s decision to include a three-year old version of Word with Microsoft Works Suite 2006.

Outsiders automatically assume the worst from Microsoft. Most Microsoft employees are actually passionate about their work, which they see as contributing positively and enormously to the world. The mindset is not to milk customers, but to create additional value for which they get paid for in exchange."

All About Business: FACING THE AWFUL TRUTH by Hugh Aaron

A businessman friend phoned after five months of silence. The last time we had spoken, he presented me with his company’s financials. They revealed a stunning record of mismanagement. He was seeking my analysis of what had gone wrong and advice on how to correct it."