Veterans Use the Internet to Expand Skill Set and Boost Income

ThinkstockPhotos-476519673.jpgAs a war veteran, Shane Thomason knows firsthand what it feels like to experience victory in battle. After being home for nearly ten years from the Iraqi War, Thomason now spends his time giving back to the community and expanding his occupational skill set via the internet. Owning more than 250 websites, including RandomVeteran.com, Thomason enjoys working from home and has found much success in being able to sell unique t-shirts and other novelty items online.

Thomason isn’t the only veteran taking advantage of the internet to boost his annual income. There are veterans located all across the globe who sell items and services online as a way to supplement their earnings, and for many of them, they simply do this for the same reason Thomason does — to pass the time and keep their minds occupied.

A former civil engineer for the US Navy, Zachary Scheel, says, “Veterans are comfortable operating in high-pressure environments that are changing rapidly, where they’re constantly forced to make decisions with incomplete information.” And while many common internet users may not think of the online world as being high-pressure, Thomason is sure to tell you different. From selling websites at exactly the right moment to creating content on a consistent basis, operating businesses and sites online is a full-time job that requires much attention, and more so, much intelligence.

There are many skills learned through the military and overseas that can be used in business. Six of the most valuable skills veterans can carry over from the battlefield are integrity, dependability, sharp decision-making, the initiative to go above and beyond, tenacity, and adaptability. The capability to take advantage of technology is also another skill that veterans are familiar with, making them all the more apt to find success. Whether it be learning new software or performing website coding, veterans often have a knack for training themselves.

Thomason wrote articles for his local newspaper, the Grayson County News Gazette, while serving in Iraq, which greatly improved his ability to write and has translated into an exceptional skill for being able to create web content, including home pages and product descriptions, which he uses to sell t-shirts and other items on RandomVeteran.com.

One of Thomason’s most valuable pieces of advice to other veterans who are considering using their skills for work is not to become a recluse. Thomason says, “helping the community by being actively involved is the primary way I am able to sustain peace in my life. Sure, working from home is great, but getting out in the community and working with the children and other veterans is what keeps me moving forward from one day to the next.” Thomason is the Commander of American Legion Post 81 and spends a great deal of time giving back to his community when he is not working.

Generating business is simple when veterans take advantage of the existing skill set that they acquired while serving in the military. Veterans can also find an abundance of resources available to them. From online training courses to website builders, many of these resources are available free of charge because they have served in the military.

AR, VR, and Other Ways to Use Technology in a Print Campaign

ThinkstockPhotos-525689337From the affordable headsets that take users into another setting or world via virtual reality to games like Pokémon Go and even children’s coloring pages, technology is impacting the way we live and seek out entertainment. It may seem like virtual or augmented reality is firmly fixed in the digital world (and therefore of no interest to those who create and use printed pieces), but a surprising amount of technology can be incorporated into printed media.

Augmented Reality and Printing

Augmented reality technology provides an overly to the “real world” you can see via your phone’s camera, adding digital elements to the space around you. Pokémon GO is the best recent example of AR in action, and retailers like IKEA also use it to allow you to see what furniture pieces would look like in your own home.

Adding AR elements to your printed pieces gives people a whole new way to interact with your postcards, business cards, catalogs, and more. It also adds an element of fun and makes it more likely that the recipient of the piece will want to hang onto it and even show it off.

While not everyone will “get” AR right away, recent hits like Pokémon Go show that AR can be accepted by a wide group of ages and demographics. From including an interactive game in your materials (as Toys R Us did in a recent catalog) to using a playful mascot or other element, creative use of AR can help your printed piece make a splash in the real world.

QR Codes

Those little square barcodes are an ideal match for printed pieces and can bring visitors to your site. Since QR codes are designed to be read with a smartphone, you give the person holding your printed material the ability to visit your site in an instant. Use a QR code on your printed piece to link to a special offer, unlock content, or even provide additional information. QR codes are small and won’t take up much space on your printed materials, and incorporating one allows your prospects and recipients to interact with your business in a whole new way.

QR Codes and Virtual Reality

Immerse your reader in your printed materials by providing a QR code that links the viewer to a virtual reality experience or unlocks additional content. If you already have a VR showroom, game, or content, then making it easy for users to access it by simply scanning a QR code ensures you get plenty of extra traffic, without taking up space on your materials.

Variable Data Printing

This type of technology won’t change the look of your printed pieces, but it can help personalize the materials you create. Your customer won’t notice anything special about the printing, but they will think you’re really in tune with what they want and need.

The ability to create on-demand pieces that match your customer’s preferences boosts the likelihood that your offer will resonate with them. Used primarily in direct mail, but adaptable to other pieces, variable data printing allows you to target the elements used in a specific piece to the intended recipient. This technology is particularly useful for targeted marketing campaigns with a personal touch.

Adding a dash of high tech to your printed materials gives you additional ways to connect with customers and helps you get the most from your printing investment. Your pieces are also more likely to start a conversation, grab attention, and even be saved by the recipient, boosting their long-term value and ensuring your brand is remembered when your prospect needs something.

Awesome Keyboard Shortcuts

A GREAT WAY TO STAY FOCUSED AND INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

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Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to stay focused and increase productivity. Here are a few of the most popular shortcuts that we recommend you memorize if you haven’t already.

Windows:
Ctrl + A will select all
Ctrl + C will copy
Ctrl + X will cut/remove (rather than copying it)
Ctrl + V will paste the text or object stored in the clipboard
Ctrl + Z will undo changes
Ctrl + Y will redo changes
Ctrl + F opens the find field
Alt + Tab switches between open programs
Ctrl + Tab switches between browser tabs
Ctrl + S saves your file
Ctrl + Home moves the cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl + End moves the cursor to the end of the document
Ctrl + P provides a print preview

Apple:
Command + A wills select all
Command + C will copy
Command + X will cut/remove (rather than copying it)
Command + V will paste the text or object stored in the clipboard
Command + Z will undo changes
Command + Shift + Z will redo changes
Command + F opens the find field
Command + Tab will switch to most recently used open app
Command + N opens a new window or document
Command + O opens a selected item
Command + P prints the current document
Command + S saves the current document.
Command + W closes the front window
Command+Option+W closes all windows of an app¬

While using the internet, spacebar (or the “pg dn” key) moves the scrollbar down a page, Shift + spacebar (or “pg up” key) moves the scrollbar up a page.

Speed Up Your PC

REVIVE YOUR PC’S PERFORMANCE

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A sluggish computer can be very frustrating. If you’re running a Windows PC, here are a few easy ways to revive your computerБ─≥s performance and increase its speed:

  • Close numerous browser tabs. Having too many browser tabs or programs open at once will put a strain on your computerБ─≥s RAM and could cause your PC to slow down.
  • Uninstall programs you rarely use. To uninstall these programs manually, visit the Add/Remove Programs section of your Control Panel and uninstall any programs you did not order with your computer, such as trial versions of anti-virus or games. Or try a third party program, such as PC Decrapifier.
  • Disable unwanted startup programs. To do this, click Ctrl-Shift-Esc and disable those that donБ─≥t need to be running all the time.
  • Remove web browser extensions or add-ons you donБ─≥t need, which can slow down your web browser and use more memory. Simply go to your web browserБ─≥s Extensions or Add-ons manager and remove add-ons you donБ─≥t need.
  • Defrag your computer hard disk, so it works more efficiently. In Windows, go to Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup > Disk Defrag
  • Turn on automatic system updates, which can improve the speed and lifespan of your computer. Automatic updates load in the background whenever you are connected to the internet and wonБ─≥t slow you down or interfere with your work. Click Start >Control Panel > Automatic Updates and choose Automatic.
  • Periodically clear your browser history to avoid a build-up of cookies and help it run faster. Go to the History menu on your browser and then click Б─°Clear browsing data.Б─²

We know speed is important when it comes to your important printing projects too. We specialize in impossible deadlines, and our team works fast, so you donБ─≥t have to!

To Grow or Not to Grow; That is the Question

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To Grow or Not to Grow; That is the Question

Booster Juice started off in 1999 as a one-store operation with a lot of questions about whether it would burn out as a fad. Their product was a juice smoothie (a fruit, vegetable, or plant-based drink shake). However, by 2016, Booster Juice had over 330 stores across Canada, and they are now looking at entering the U.S. market for even more expansion. How did this company go from one small outfit to a mega corporation franchise, and what did Booster Juice’s management do right to maintain growth successfully?

Dale Wishewan, Booster Juice’s owner, was a mechanical engineer by training, being naturally geared to decisions based on analysis. However, he also realized that just running a business by not taking any risks or having the cash on hand to pay for those risks, was never going to produce fast, exponential growth.

A Path for Growth

So, Wishewan settled early on franchising. The franchise decentralization of daily work and keeping an eye on the big picture kept Wishewan and Booster Juice on track. However, the fact that the daily store management was placed with franchisees who had “skin in the game” also meant that Wishewan didn’t have to worry about the loss of loyalty or control.

The above said, Wishewan still avoided high risk markets, especially overseas like China or South America. While these emerging market venues seemed to offer faster growth, the risk level was higher with control issues. Distance and language also presented major management hurdles as well. So, Wishewan wisely turned down those markets to continue growing in Canada alone. It was a smart decision proven by Booster Juice’s metrics and profit figures.

It’s All About the Plan

Scaling up is as much about planning and strategy as it is understanding one’s current capability and cash flow. There is no one aspect of business an owner or manager focuses on; it’s a multi-faceted challenge to meet the increased sales demand promptly and plan logistics correctly while not ending up going bankrupt in the process. As was seen in the above franchise example, not every opportunity was pursued. The business owners had to do some hard research and probability testing to determine which markets were their best choices for solid growth versus high risk and potential failure. By doing so, they avoided common mistakes in fast growth, such as over-commitment and unreasonable sales targets in the process.

Have an Objective Perspective

Exponential expansion can seem alluring, even addictive. After all, with accrual accounting, things can look pretty rosy for a business once projected sales are included in the numbers, and they’re boosting the revenue side of the accounting reports. However, cash is the killer that brings back reality like a bucket of cold water in the face. When payroll, supplies, liabilities, loans and leveraging can’t be paid timely because the projected sales haven’t materialized yet, a company can fold very quickly, even within a thirty to forty-five day time cycle, just from lack of cash. Ideally, a business should have sufficient resources to take on extra growth, but that’s not how real business works. Risk and taking logistical bets are common which makes planning wisely crucial to not betting the farm on “maybe” revenue.

Wishewan and Booster Juice provide a clear example of why, even with positive growth, a business owner or leader has to judge ventures carefully before jumping in. Sometimes some revenue opportunities do need to be passed up to stay successful overall.

Paper Shifts Color: Orange is the New Red

SO MANY ACRONYMS, SO LITTLE TIME

Have you ever been to a restaurant and all you wanted was a simple breakfast? Just when you thought you had your order all planned out, your waitress hits you with a rambling of options. Would you care for white, wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread? Do you want those eggs fried, scrambled, poached, green, with a side of ham? Sometimes, the choices seem endless.

When it comes to printing, sometimes your options can feel a little like that, too. Take spot colors, for instance. Any colors that fall outside of the normal range of CMYK inks are commonly called “spot colors.” Where CMYK colors use a blend of four specific inks – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to create a wide range of color, spot colors are actually pre-mixed using a unique formula to create one, specific color. As you start to learn more about spot colors, one of the things you’ll notice is that just like your breakfast options, there are a number of different acronyms and options that you’re somehow supposed to be able to keep track of. Would you like coated, uncoated, or matte? Huh? Thankfully, they have pretty straightforward explanations.

C vs. U and Beyond

The acronyms C and U refer to “coated” and “uncoated.” The key thing to remember here is that when used in reference to spot colors, they’re actually talking about the paper and not the ink. Ink is made up of pigment (the color) and the carrier, which is usually oil. The oil part of the ink soaks into the paper and dries. The pigment sits up on top of the mineral or clay coating with coated papers, but soaks into the fibers with uncoated papers. Because the type of paper you’re using can have a pretty significant impact on the way the ink color appears in real life, it’s something you’ll want to try and keep track of.

Here’s an example of what coated versus uncoated paper would look like. You can see how the coated paper provides some extra “shine.”

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That “shine” will affect how spot colors are displayed, so keep that in mind when making your paper choice.

Furthermore, if you were to compare the colors PANTONE 185C and PANTONE 185U side-by-side, for example, one of the first things you would notice is that PANTONE 185C looks a little brighter and a little more saturated than the PANTONE 185U version. You’re still talking about literally the exact same ink, but the difference between coated and uncoated stock changes the way that ink ultimately looks when printed. Pretty fascinating, and pretty important to remember when making your decisions!

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“M” stands for matte. Matte coated or dull coated papers are still coated with a mineral coating, so the ink colors typically look closer to the C or coated version, but keep in mind that these papers are not as bright and tend to make the color ink look a little more subdued.

Pretty simple, right?

Two other acronyms that you might encounter are CVU and CVC. The “CV” letters stand for “computer video” and are largely used to reproduce colors on a computer screen. Adding a “U” for uncoated or “C” for coated indicates which paper type is being simulated on the computer screen.

Hopefully, by now you’ve realized that your options aren’t nearly as hard to work with as you thought they were. Remember that these options, even though they’re used in conjunction with the ink are actually talking about the paper. The ink, for the most part, is the ink is the ink, but the paper is a whole different story. Select your swatches in any way you see fit, but remember, ultimately the type of paper you choose can make something darker, less saturated, more saturated or something else entirely.

 

Learn to Protect Yourself From the Inside

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Kingdoms have fallen, and wars have been lost because of betrayal. Although we all desire to foster an atmosphere of trust and dependence on one another within our companies, it would be foolish to underestimate the internal risks with reports and employees in this digital age.

The Case of Bradley Manning

The case of Bradley Manning is an illustrative example of how even the most secure agencies can be compromised from the inside. Private Manning worked as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army two years after enlisting in 2007. Then, in 2009, a major leak occurred that disclosed millions of classified documents from the military’s databases to the now-famous government leak website, Wikileaks. The identification of the source was unknown until Bradley Manning himself disclosed he was the source to a civilian. The conversations about that activity, and other functions Manning had in the military, were primarily out of boredom and disillusionment with the U.S. Army and its role in the Middle East. That discussion disclosing Manning as the source was then reported by the civilian, and Manning was arrested. He was eventually charged and sentenced to 35 years incarceration in a court martial for his actions releasing intelligence material. However, outgoing President Barack Obama decided to pardon Manning.

That Manning was pardoned or that he committed the damage he did to U.S. intelligence is beside the point. The real takeaway here is that he did not trip any flags during his enlistment, screening, and subsequent assignment to intelligence. And then, without any warning, Manning ends up becoming the source one of the top five most famous intelligence leaks in U.S. military history via the internet.

We all want to think the best of the employees and contractors who support our businesses. As a result, most employee policies are written with the assumption that no action will be taken until a threshold is met of unacceptable behavior. However, companies cannot reasonably operate with blind trust either, especially when managing sensitive data information. As in the case of Manning, it only took one action and one flash drive to walk away with as much as was lost in that case. So companies need to be proactive as well.

Begin with One, Two, Three

There are ways to stop data losses from the inside before they occur without having to be suspicious of good employees. Here are three of them:

1) Modularization of data access is a key defense. 

By effectively limiting an employee to only the data area in the network needed to do his or her job, the employee cannot access anything else. This can be done through both network login authorizations, as well as pass-keys to different parts of the office building.

2) Keep logs of large data movements.

By having your network administrators can keep regular records of large data changes, you would be able to highlight issues to look into, such as large data transfers at night or on the weekend when nobody would regularly be working or connecting.

3) Learn to be proactive with training.

Companies can follow up regularly with training to teach employees to notice and proactively warn their superiors when they see something wrong.  Employees are typically eager to help in this way because they are seen as part of the company defense to protect it and their own livelihood. This approach focuses on personal investment in the issue, which often gains very strong support in practice.

Again, we assume the best of employees, but we also need to be realistic about how easy damage can occur in the digital age. Practicing both trust and sound IT defense can protect a company far more than just a firewall alone.