Featuring marketing tips, tech news, digital wonders, some personal things and everything in between . . .

More Than Marketing: 4 Lesser-Known Webconsuls Services

Monday August 24, 2020

Reading Time: 8 minutes

At Webconsuls, we’re known for our digital marketing skills – okay, it’s for good reason. We’re dedicated to constantly optimizing our approach, which means that our team is always on the cutting edge of the online landscape. However, a lot of our friends and neighbors may not know the full scope of what we have to offer. Today on the blog, we’ll discuss four lesser-known Webconsuls services that you can use to boost your business.

Custom Development Services

We’ll admit it, we’re the definition of techy. Our clients have access to a full range of development services, ranging from traditional web dev to custom portals. Geared towards small and mid-size companies, we can build just about anything you need to advance your business. Looking for your own intranet with a customized CRM (customer relationship management) platform? We can do that. With our help, you can serve your clients through a user-friendly system that your team can easily update and manage.

Our developers are highly skilled in PHP, .NET, CSS, and JavaScript. Through these languages, we build PHP web portals, CMS solutions, CRM systems, ecommerce storefronts, enterprise applications, .NET projects and more! In addition to building websites, our services include creating the content that goes on them.

Photography for Web

Photography can be a powerful storytelling tool to highlight your facility, team members, products, and day-to-day experiences as a company. High quality imagery is vital to businesses of all sizes and ages, and it can be used in all of your marketing materials; when done right, one photoshoot can be repurposed for digital ads, social posts, and your website.

Because photography is so critical to legitimizing and promoting your business, it’s important that each shoot is effective. Contractors or outside companies engaged for one project may not fully recognize your needs. This can result in images which are beautiful, but which look strange or crop poorly on your website or in digital ads. When you’re promoting your company, be sure to choose a partner who understands your goals.

At Webconsuls, we create aesthetically pleasing branded content that effectively demonstrates your offerings. Our photographers create shot lists tailored to each unique use case; for example, we will take product photos for online listings and lifestyle shots to post in digital ads. This ensures that you receive images that truly work for your needs. In addition to offering still images, we also provide compelling video content.

Videography That Sells

It’s also common for business owners to hire individual contractors for videography services. Unfortunately, even if you like a person’s work online, one-off work can often lead to content that isn’t cohesive with your brand, photography, or business goals. It’s important to make videos that really work for you – not just something that looks pretty. The goal of a shoot is to generate a significant return on that investment.

At Webconsuls, we serve as a long-term strategic partner. Our team takes the time to truly understand your goals, aesthetic preferences, and target market. On top of that, we know what works. Webconsuls will collaborate with you to make branded video content that showcases your company and your unique offerings.

Brand Development Services

Whether you’re an established corporation with outdated branding or a fledgling startup looking for a logo, Webconsuls is here to help. We offer full branding services; in addition to providing beautiful brand marks and style guides, our content strategists can help you to craft your brand’s voice, positioning, messaging, and more.

Our brand development services include…

  • Building a new brand from square one
  • Rebranding an established company
  • Developing brand messaging and positioning
  • Strategizing for the future of your brand
  • Identifying areas for future expansion
  • Designing company logos and style guides
  • Creating a social media strategy for your company
  • Crafting written copy for websites and socials in your brand voice

Beyond design services, our strategists can help you to position your brand moving forward. If you’re hoping to expand into new markets, identify potential audiences, or grow your social following, we can help. By honing your brand, you can help your message to resonate with more people, which sets you up for success with a larger customer base.

You offer amazing services and help clients every day; isn’t it time that your identity reflected that? We’ll work with you to build a brand that aligns with your mission, values, and goals for the future.

If you’re interested in any of the services highlighted above, contact us today. Our managing partners are standing by to speak with you about your brand, website, and content.


Webconsuls is a digital agency with offices in Nashville, TN and Los Angeles, CA.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

20th Anniversary Celebration

Webconsuls, LLC is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a successful web design and search engine optimization firm. Founded just one year after Google Search and one year before Google Ads, the company has remained at the forefront of digital trends, assisting over 500 clients in the development of websites and digital strategy.

The History of Webconsuls

Webconsuls was established by Dick Fay and Dennis Helfand, both retirees from Atlantic Richfield Company/ARCO Alaska. Judith Helfand joined as a full partner in 2006. As of 2015, Dick has retired and Dennis and Judy serve as primary consultants for Webconsuls, now owned and operated by Malik Soomar, Heidi Trow and John McGhee. Today, Webconsuls continues to prioritize its mission of ethical, transparent, no-shortcuts digital marketing for each and every client.

“Our goal is to handle the digital marketing and optimization, so that our clients can focus on running their businesses,” says owner Heidi Trow. “Because we have such extensive expertise in SEO, web design and development, we’re able to serve as a single-source partner for all of our clients’ web needs. There’s no secret to our success – just hard work.”

Throughout the past two decades, Webconsuls has generated a positive reputation nationwide. The company helped its clients to grow their businesses, even during the recession of 2007-2009. This allowed customers to add capacity, staff members and services at a time when others had to make cuts. This dedication contributed to a growing client roster, with loyal patrons choosing to renew their contracts year after year.

20 Years of Growth and Change

Much has changed since 1999. When Webconsuls was founded, the term “search engine optimization” was just two years old, and people were accessing the “world wide web” through bulky desktop computers – browsers weren’t available on Nokias or flip phones. Connections were available through dial-up, broadband or new DSL connections, with a maximum download speed of 6 Mbps. That year, Google processed 3.5 million search queries each day. Today, that number has skyrocketed to more than 3.5 billion searches per day – a total of 1.2 trillion requests per year, including new voice and mobile searches.

Webconsuls is proud to have grown alongside Google and other major search engines over the course of its 20-year history, through countless changes to the algorithm and the introduction of new services and devices that shape the way people interact online. Thank you for celebrating our 20th anniversary with us.

About Webconsuls

Webconsuls is a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee with a second location in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1999, Webconsuls provides web design, content development, search engine optimization and paid search services for a diverse array of fields, with a specialty for medical and legal services. Clients include addiction treatment providers, criminal defense lawyers and others in customer-facing industries. To learn more, visit https://www.webconsuls.com/

Reading Time: 5 minutes
facebook logo

We know it seems like of late we have focused a lot on business Facebook pages. A couple of weeks ago we talked about putting some finishing touches on your business page. Then we shared the evolution of Webconsuls’ Facebook cover photo. But here’s the catch: Like we said before, it seems Facebook is never finished and always evolving.  So today let’s talk about your business profile picture.

On April 18, 2012, Facebook page managers received the following message in their weekly Facebook page update.

“On April 26, we will be updating the size of the profile picture on all Pages. We are letting you know about this small change in advance so that you can update your profile picture on April 26. The new profile picture will be 160 x 160 pixels and will sit at 23 pixels from the left and 210 pixels from the top of the Page.”

A number of articles have been written about this update. The best and most clearly written with great visualizations is Facebook to Increase Profile Picture Size for Pages. Take the time to read this article. Want to see a variety of Facebook pages? Visit Facebook’s Discover Pages page.

Here are a few hints to consider when you are updating your profile picture:

  1. It does not need to be a picture of just your logo. Many logos are horizontal and do not fit neatly into a square.  For example, Coca-Cola has a horizontal logo, but their profile picture is of a Coke bottle which sends a complete message.
  2. If your profile picture is not sized correctly it will be blurry. You know you have seen many business pages with blurry profile pictures. Just last week we helped our client Clear View Business Solutions update their profile picture.
  3. You can opt to incorporate your “logo” in your cover photo and have your profile picture feature a product, people or a tagline/written message.
  4. If you are struggling with your logo, reach out to your web design company or a friend. Try to have different sizes and shapes for your logo. Remember your Facebook page could be your first and last impression!

Here you can see the latest version of our Facebook page. Notice the Profile Picture got slightly larger in the past couple of days.  Remember you can click on the image to make it larger.

webconsuls facebook

Hope you will leave a comment and let us know what is your favorite business Facebook page.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Did you know you can subscribe to our Webconsuls’ Blog? Simply go to any page of our website and look for the bright orange RSS button near the bottom of the left margin. Press it and go from there. Once you subscribe you will always know when we have a new post to read.

Do you know why you should subscribe to our blog? It is a resource for you to use as you promote your business with your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, and your business blog. In the last month our blog has covered the following topics:

Today Judy wrote a post “What I Learned from Julie and Julia”. She talks about how she came to build a personal blog and how our clients might enjoy this and use a personal blog as a training ground for their business blog.

Let us know what you think. Subscribe…it is FREE!

The Webconsuls Team

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Webconsuls Newsletter, Winter 2009, 4th Quarter

With the holidays upon us, we wanted to take a few minutes to wish all of our clients a happy and healthy New Year. This newsletter will take you down memory lane as Webconsuls turns 10 years old, spotlighting those clients who have been with us for those 10 years, welcoming new clients and sharing some milestones.

Webconsuls turns 10!

Dick and Dennis actually met at an ARCO Business Seminar in June 1981; however, their careers took them on different paths. It was not until October 1999 when Dick and Dennis met again and decided to form Webconsuls.

Dennis likes to recall how Webconsuls came to be…he was recently interviewed by http://www.arcoalumni.com/ and here is their article:

ARCO Alumni Dennis Helfand and Dick Fay built entirely new careers post ARCO. Their focus is to help commercial clients “generate new and/or additional revenues through web presence marketing.” Says Helfand, “We transitioned from a ‘hobby’ to a serious business enterprise very quickly. Webconsuls currently has about 90 clients across the US and a few based in Asia and Europe”.

Having been Director of Public Affairs and Field Operations, at ARCO, Helfand took the 1985 Early Retirement Package at ARCO Alaska, “my wife and I bought a 120-bed country inn resort in New Hampshire’s White Mountains National Forest area, which we operated from 1986 until 1997. In the mid 1990’s, while at the inn, I became interested in learning about marketing the property via the Internet and pursued this activity with great interest. When we sold the inn, we were already realizing quite a bit of revenue from internet-generated leads.”

After relocating to Newport Beach, CA, a number of my former NH-based competitors (friends nonetheless) contacted me to market their facilities over the internet. This became a sort of hobby, earning a few dollars here and there in the process. Then two serendipitous events occurred.

  1. An inn owner and close friend had been trying to sell his property through Realtors. There were very few prospects and not a single serious buyer. I suggested selling his property over the Internet for a “marketing fee.” This was in 1998 and I believe it may have been one of the first commercial property sales via the Internet. Best of all, my web marketing fee amounted to just about one percent of the total sales price!

2.  The second fortuitous event was meeting my former Crude Supply Manager for lunch in 1998. I asked him about Dick Fay (W. Richard Fay) from ARCO Transportation Company. He said Dick recently retired and was looking to do something new and interesting.

The rest is history. Webconsuls.com was established in 1999. We formed an LLC and got serious very quickly. On-Line courses and technical publications gave us new skill sets and we gradually acquired outside specialists to assist us as our business grew. My wife Judy, a business analyst in the information technology field joined Webconsuls in November 2006.

We have seen our business thrive and look forward to continued growth and new experiences.

Clients come and go…
Over the past 10 years Webconsuls’ team has had the privilege to work with over 300 clients in a variety of industries. Each client is unique and that is what makes web design, SEO and SMO so interesting and vital. Judy recently looked back to see which clients started with Webconsuls in the Fall of 1999 and of those which ones are still our clients. Interestingly enough, there are four! They are New Hampshire Campground Association, Motorcars East, Newport Channel Inn and Edna Deeb Law.

Here are some interesting facts from Webconsuls first business quarter: 22 clients, nine California clients, nine New Hampshire clients, four Connecticut clients, 31 invoices!

New Clients round out our base…
We are happy to introduce you to our newest clients and we invite you to check out their websites.

Celebrate a New Life **

Creative Care

Green Clean OC **

Hardline 830 **

Law Office of Carilyn Ibsen **

Promises Foundation

Rockport Inn & Suites

Snap Out of It Now

Surfing Heritage Foundation **

We are also working on either new sites or redesigns for

Savoir Faire Language Institute

Forrest General Healthcare Foundation

Executive Maintenance

Wallace Physical Therapy

Law Office of Salvatore Ciulla

The Internet Grows and Evolves

Dick Fay remembers how when they first started in 2000 Webconsuls could make some small changes to a site and viola! the site would be on the first page of Alta Vista. The number of competitors to most sites was measured in the hundreds, pay per click was in its infancy with something called Overture, Google was an upstart, and no one had heard of Social Marketing. Potential clients were trying to decide if they “needed” a web site. Websites themselves were usually static and straightforward.

Now some clients face thousands or millions of competitors for key terms, Google has about 70% of the search engine marketplace, pay per click is huge and requires expert management to be successful. Clients are deciding when to redesign their web site to keep it up to date with the available technology. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and video are staples of many successful businesses whose owners work hand in hand with Webconsuls to grow their business.

Webconsuls Grows and Evolves

Webconsuls has also grown and evolved over the last 10 years. We have added a third partner, Judy Helfand. The entire team keeps up with the latest in Search Engine Optimization. We have added specialists in web design, pay per click, social media, and link building. We have redesigned our web site several times to reflect our growing business. We have added a blog and links to news feeds on Search Engine Marketing and Social Media. Check them out:

Search Engine Optimization

Social Media Optimization

You can also follow us on Twitter

Let us know if you have a twitter account and would like us to follow you.

Webconsuls’ Team News…

As most of you know Malik Moosa-Soomar, our web development specialist and designer, was married to Zaheen Allibhoy on April 11, 2009. Dennis, Judy, Dick and Fran were happy to attend their wedding celebration in Austin, TX. Speaking of weddings, Dick and Fran were married February 20, 2009. Keith Hansen, our pay-per-click specialist, and his wife, Diana, welcomed a baby boy, Layne, on April 26, 2009.

We are happy to welcome Alycia Kaczuwka as our new Social Media expert. Alycia is working with our clients focusing on brand-building using tools like blogs/RSS, Facebook, Twitter and social bookmarking. She brings her extensive background in audience development and website design to social tools to keep the SMO process in focus as an integrated part of a web-based marketing plan. In addition, Alycia has a comprehensive background in web analytics using Google Analytics and Omniture to measure campaign performance and return on investment.

Happy Holidays

This year rather than send a small gift to our clients we are making donations to the following:

Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children
Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of over 50,000 abused, neglected, and at-risk children and their families.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine
The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine is successful mentoring relationships for youth in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo Counties, contributing to better schools, stronger communities and brighter future.

The Promises Foundation Miriam’s House
The Promises Foundation is committed to restoring hope for families by creating a safe environment for mothers and their children to grow and develop the tools they require to live meaningful and self-sufficient lives.


Dick, Dennis and Judy

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Is Bing a decision engine, a surname, a candy bar, a slag heap? Over the past couple of months I have been reading a lot about Microsoft’s new search engine BING.com. We are all familiar with Microsoft, right? We know about Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search. And now we have Microsoft’s latest reincarnation, BING, and more importantly BING is being referred to as a decision engine as opposed to a search engine. I suppose MS is for all intents and purposes now a matchmaker! Not only is MS finding you mates to choose from they are determined to help you make the decision.

A few of observations about BING:
  • On the serious side: I want our clients to know that the Webconsuls’ Team will be following and studying the impact of BING from an SEO standpoint. That is what we are tasked to do. There are a number of questions to be asked and answered, but we must do this responsibly. And on that front, Webconsuls will keep our clients informed.
  • BING is quite lovely to look at. Everyday the home page photo changes and these photos are dramatic. Google’s basic home page is pretty blank, but works. Yahoo, which by the way is still my default home page has a lot of information and I have grown accustom to reading the news’ headlines, clicking on finance, travel, etc, I have never had a Yahoo account or email account.
  • There are a number of sites that you can visit that will allow you to compare search results for BING to GOOGLE. And there is another site that lets you compare search results from GOOGLE, BING, and YAHOO. This site’s search results are returned in a “blind” state and the fun feature about this site is that you can vote for which search results best suits your search query. You might be surprised which search engine’s results you really like.

My final thought today has to do with the choice of the name “BING”. I will say that writing this blog always gives me an opportunity to learn new things and today is no exception. Why “BING”? I understand that originally Microsoft was going to call their new search (decision) engine KUMO. They actually registered both trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. KUMO is a Japanese word that means spider or cloud. Hmmmm, well I guess we can all get the “spider” connection to the world wide web and in the IT world “cloud” is a metaphor for the internet, so I guess it could have cleverly worked. So I come back to question: why “BING”? I am going to assume, although I know that can be a mistake, that someone at Microsoft looked up the meaning(s) of the word “BING”.

BING Toy Company founded in 1863, famous for the manufacturing of toy trains
Bing is apparently a fairly common surname, and let’s not forget Chandler Bing of Friends
BING Candy Bar, made in Iowa
BING cherries, all with pits
Bing is another name for a slag heap which is a collection of the tailings or by-products of mining (DATA Mining comes to mind?)
Bing is the name of a soft drink produced in England
Bing is the name of Chinese flat bread
Bing is also a phrase used by prison inmates to describe solitary confinement

Ok, maybe they didn’t do a lot of name research, maybe they just liked the sound of “BING”. Maybe they like saying “Bing and Decide“. Whatever….I invite you to go to their Discover Bing informational site and learn all about it.

Webconsuls will continue to study BING and keep you informed. Let me know what you think.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you are a regular reader of the Webconsuls’ blog, then perhaps yesterday you saw Keith Hansen’s post about love and marriage. Keith addressed the subject of how to know when you have found “the one” and you are ready for marriage. I am happy to report that love is in the air at Webconsuls. Dick Fay and Francene Miyake were married yesterday, February 20, 2009.

Today, on behalf of the Webconsuls’ team, I would like to congratulate Dick and Fran on the occasion of their wedding. I am dedicating this post to them.

I am not sure when Dick and Fran first met, but I came to know them as a couple about 10 years ago. I actually met Dick in June 1981, when he and Dennis were both attending an ARCO executive training seminar. But it wasn’t until Dennis and I returned to California in 1997 that Dennis and Dick reconnected and eventually formed Webconsuls.

But back to the happy couple…and a wonderfully interesting couple they are. Here is what I can tell you about them:
*Dick and Fran are fiercely loyal to their alma maters, Dick to Villanova and Duke, Fran to University of Southern California (USC). (I try not to call Dick the day after a critical loss!)
*They enjoy attending USC home games.
*Fran is an avid gardener.
*Dick is an avid golfer.
*Dick enjoys photography.
*They are both great with numbers. Dick has a masters in Applied Statistics and Fran, I believe, is a CPA.
*They are inquisitive and love to read.
*They both enjoy traveling to exotic places. (Think “Following the Equator” by Mark Twain,1897)

Today as I was preparing this post I thought about finding a beautiful quotation about marriage. Mark Twain is usually a good source for meaningful observations about life. I learned that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) married Olivia Langdon 139 years ago this month! On September 8, 1869, Twain sent the following message to Olivia:

“This 4th of February will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, the holiest, and the most generous toward us both–for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flower, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; and Livy it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In that day the scales will fall from our eyes and we shall look upon a new world. Speed it!”

I hope you will enjoy today’s photo album. The first photo is of Dick and Fran in Kenya 2004, taken on the equator. Photo two is of Dick and Fran on their trip to the Arctic 2006.


You will notice there is nothing technical about this blog, it is Saturday morning and love is in the air. Today is about two really nice people, Dick and Fran. Here’s to our friends, to a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers…and a new world together. Speed it, indeed!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Over the course of any week I receive a number of SEO/Webmaster newsletter emails. I try to read through them for hints, myths, SEO/SMO news in general. This past week one of these newsletters had a link to a video in which Sally Falkow was discussing Internet marketing. I don’t know Sally Falkow but I found what she had to say very intriguing. She sited an old mantra “Tell, don’t sell”, which I believe applies to blogs, in that blogs should tell a good story.

Now you are probably wondering where I am going with this idea. After all it is Saturday morning and you no doubt, if you are reading this at all, are thinking to yourself with a sigh, “doesn’t Judy always tell a story in her blog post?”

It is very easy for the Webconsuls’ team to suggest to a client that the client should have a blog, but most clients go into panic mode because they don’t trust themselves to be able to write. What our clients sometimes forget is that every business has a story to tell and all they have to do is relate the story for their guests, customers, or clients to read. Just tell a good story.

Finding your niche in storytelling can take some time. Let me give you an example. In June 2007 Webconsuls built a blog for Alice and Len Schiller, owners/innkeepers of The Inn at Stockbridge. Darin McClure coached Alice on how to do blog posts and she did a nice job. She frequently would write about events and attractions in the Berkshires. All very interesting, but might have served the local attractions more than the inn.

On December 29, 2008, Alice came up with a clever idea and she posted it: “The Inn at Stockbridge blog is going to put a new spin on things. Alice Schiller feels that she is fortunate enough to have owned and run the inn for over fourteen years. Over the years we have had a great variety of guests visit us and each one has a wonderful story to share. We are now going to share their stories. Guests who visit the Inn come from all walks of life, are a varied age group and have met in a myriad of ways and have wonderful tidbits to share with you the readers of this blog. We are fortunate enough to have them share their experiences at the Inn as well as their stories with you.”

Wonderful…the stories have begun, complete with photos, so interesting to read and the best part is Alice and Len are involving their guests (read customers). As a former innkeeper I know that relating stories about your guests is a great marketing tool. People love to be part of something and future guests secretly hope that they will also be featured at some later date.

You may recall, on September 20, 2008, I wrote a blog post called “The benefit of being a ‘blogger-in-chief’?” In that blog I talked about how I wrote a newsletter for our inn, Cranmore Mountain Lodge. This was the old fashion way of staying in touch with our customers. Just this past week I came across a copy of the last issue of Inn-Ovations that I wrote in the Fall of 1997. You might enjoy reading the front page. Click on the image and it will get bigger!

Today I hope you will check the Inn at Stockbridge’s blog. Read the stories about their guests. Leave a comment. And if you want to preview the inn, here is a video that tells the Inn’s story in another way.

I have a feeling Sally Falkow has not come up with something unique. Storytelling is as old as mankind ~ it is the fabric that keeps our cultures, our families, our nations moving through time.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s look at some of the opportunity costs of NOT having a website.

How will people find you? Yellow Pages?
You may want to rethink. The other day as I walked up to our door I passed my neighbor’s doorstep and noticed the Yellow Pages had arrived. There was a copy on our front doormat as well. Upstairs there was a third copy.

I set mine inside.

The next day I noticed the Yellow Pages were still out on everyone’s doorstep. After about a week and some rain I took it upon myself to remove the Yellow Pages and put them in the recycle bin.

What has happened? The Yellow Pages was once the first place a search for a service or product began.

Blog comments to a post on the “LISNews Librarian And Information Science News” also reflect this change in consumer behavior.

By not having a website a good portion of consumers will not find you listed when they search for products and services.

  • You need customers to find your business. If they don’t find you they will find your competition.
  • A website is flexible. Unlike print ads and other media websites can be altered and changed after they are “published” to the web.
  • A website can save you time by describing your services, answering common questions, and providing resources.
  • Websites are global. There is no geographical barrier to websites. With one website you have the opportunity to reach anyone in the world with an internet connection.
  • Prospective customers expect a business to have an online presence. By not having a website you risk appearing unprofessional and unestablished.
  • Websites can provide valuable data on prospective customers. Your website can provide your business with marketing information unavailable in other formats. Statistics regarding popularity of website content, information was most often viewed, where website visitors originate and exit, and if they converted. This important marketing information can be gathered and shown visually in a myriad of methods depending on the tools you choose to use. This information can be used to make immediate adjustments and improvements in your marketing efforts.
  • Websites give an opportunity for small businesses to compete with larger corporations. The internet has leveled the playing field. A small company can appear more established with a well designed website than a larger business or even a corporation.

Click here for a website and web marketing proposal.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dennis and I went to see the new Baz Luhrmann film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Having read many reviews of this film, some great and some mixed, I figured we might as well venture out on Black Friday and see this epic film. What better way to spend two and three-quarter hours when a movie includes wonderful scenery of Australia, World War II history, an expose of the “stolen generation”, not to mention I could enjoy watching Hugh Jackman (People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2008) and Dennis could similarly enjoy watching the beautiful and talented Nicole Kidman. As we purchased our tickets, I noticed the theatre was giving away free Australia movie posters. What a treat! Not exactly like receiving a movie “program book” that I frequently received back in the 60’s and 70’s. Yes, I said “program book.”
These were souvenir books, some over 30 pages in length, that were part of your ticket price, typically produced for those major films like Dr. Zhivago (1965) and Hawaii (1966). And, yes, I still have some of these treasures, and remember that these movies often included an “intermission!” But, back to Australia…it is 1939.
doctor zhivago
There is much to say about this movie and I really hope you will see it for yourself. What struck me the most is how Luhrmann managed to weave the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, into his storytelling. And of course, there is the beautiful Oz song, “Over the Rainbow”. As I watched Australia I thought to myself, what is it about “Over the Rainbow” that somehow reaches your inner soul and magically soothes you. We all know that Australia is not the first movie that has incorporated “Over the Rainbow”, as I can name at least six other films, and it undoubtedly won’t be the last…so still the question remains. Why do people love the song “Over the Rainbow”?

Consider the following: “Over the Rainbow” was written in 1939; lyrics by Edgar Yipsel(Yip)Harburg; music by Harold Arlen; original performing artist was Judy Garland; won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (1939) and was voted by the American Film Institute as the Best Movie Song of all time. According to SongFacts.com, Yip Harburg’s “lyrics have a political significance. Harburg was expressing hope for America under President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program, which was designed to get America out of the Great Depression in the early ’30s.” Hmmmm…

I suppose you are wondering what my blog post about Over the Rainbow, Australia and the magic of music has to do with Webconsuls’ primary services, SEO and SMO. Well, here is the connection. A few months ago, one of our clients, Whiteside Manor, Riverside, CA, asked us to create a video for their website. We had wonderful photos, but we needed just the right music. Dan contacted his friend, Paul Meredith, and asked Paul to record a version of “Over the Rainbow.” You can view the finished product here:

So today:
1. Let me know your thoughts about “Over the Rainbow” and Australia.
2. See if you can name one or more of the other movie soundtracks which include “Over the Rainbow”.
3. Let me know if you need Webconsuls to produce a video for your website

….’Somewhere over the rainbow… skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.’

Dare to dream…

Reading Time: 10 minutes

The other day I signed into my Gmail account and noticed a new link at the top of the page. The link says: “New! Video chat.” Usually I learn about new Gmail tools from Webconsuls’ technical director, Darin McClure. What crossed my mind is why hasn’t Darin sent me or us an email extolling the virtues of this new tool. Not like Darin to not jump on a Gmail bandwagon. Hmmm! I even reviewed the Webconsuls’ blog to make sure I hadn’t missed a blog about this new tool. Couldn’t find anything.

I ignored the bold red font, “New! Video chat” for a few days, but yesterday I was a little curious. So, I clicked on the link. This is what I learned:
* Voice and video in Gmail only works with the newer version of Gmail in supported browsers: FF 2.0+, IE 6.0+, Safari 3.0+, and Google Chrome.
* Download the Gmail voice and video chat plug-in, quit all open browser windows, and install the plug-in.
* Sign in to Gmail.
* In the Chat section of your Gmail, select the contact you want to call. If they have a camera icon next to their name, you can make a voice or video call to them; just click Video & more.

Now the first thing to remember is that you need to have a web-cam. If you don’t have a web-cam, then Google has made it easy for you to purchase one. According to their site: “We tried to make buying a web-cam easier by working with Logitech and Buy.com to offer high quality cameras at up to 30% off with free shipping until November 30th, 2008.” The prices quoted range from $39.99 to $89.99. But, not to worry, I already have a web-cam, so I was good to go.

My browsers met the requirements, I downloaded the Gmail voice and video chat plug-in, I quit all open browsers, and I installed the plug-in! I signed in to my Gmail account and lo and behold, there I was in a little window…Judy at work! Great, right? Here is what I noticed:
1. My Web-cam sits right on top of my monitor, so I could see myself very clearly, but I could also see my co-worker, Dennis, at work at his computer desk. You see when we are both working my back is to him, a kind of “what I don’t see won’t hurt me” position. But now I could clearly see him working away.
2. I could also see the little camera icon next to my name in the “Chat” box on my Gmail page, but interestingly enough the only associate with a camera icon next to their name was Malik. I could see that Malik was on-line so I tried to connect with him with video chat. Well, he could chat, but what I discovered is that he was experiencing problems with Video Chat. To quote Malik: “crashes my browser every time though”. Not good and I read on-line that other users were experiencing this problem. Bugs!!

You need to be aware that this new tool is being rolled out by Google, which means not everyone has access to the new tool at the same time. Don’t assume that because you have access that all of your friends can access it, just yet.

Here is my first take on this tool: Fun tool. Free tool, unless you need to buy a web-cam. I don’t really know if it will take the place of Skype, as Google video chat does not allow you to connect to landlines, but it is one more tool for the tool box. Whether it will be the sharpest tool in the box remains to be seen. Also, I noticed that once you have downloaded this new tool, there does not seem to be a way to just “turn it off” should you not want to be contacted via video chat. This is a little disconcerting, but maybe I just haven’t played with it enough. I do know that the software is not activated unless you are signed in to your Gmail account, so maybe that feature is the main “shut-off” valve. In other words, you can be signed out of your Gmail account and still be running “Google Talk” on your desktop and chat with friends and co-workers the old fashioned way, sans webcam.

According to the official Gmail blog: ‘Once you install the plug-in, to start a video chat, just click on the “Video & more” menu at the bottom of your Gmail chat window, and choose “Start video chat.” You’ll have a few seconds to make sure you look presentable while it’s ringing, and then you’ll see and hear your friend live, right from within Gmail.’ The operative phrase in this statement is: “You’ll have a few seconds to make sure you look presentable.” Yikes!!!

Here is the bottom line: if you are always signed into you Gmail account, the webcam is running and you better be prepared for your friends and co-workers to want to video chat with you. You better keep your desk straightened, your hair combed and not be wearing your PJs at 3:00PM.

For the record, I un-installed the “plug-in” yesterday, because I don’t want to be the first one on my block to use this software…I am going to wait for Darin, Lisa, Dick, Dennis, Malik, Keith, Dan and Dennis to “plug-in”. I don’t want to be the cheerleader and I am still wondering why the usual cheerleaders are not cheering…just yet.
To learn more, view the video below and I promise to keep you posted on this new tool. Let me know what you think by posting a comment here.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Spam comes at us from many directions. It is estimated that on any given day 88% to 98% of emails sent across the internets are spam or virus laden. That begs the question, how good are your filters? Do you get 1 bad email a day? an hour? a week? Or has email become such a wasteland of spam that you no longer bother to read it and go directly to instant messaging or Facebook and Twitter. It looks to me like Sarah Palin needs to check her filters, as no “Flapper” should have ever let that kind of call thru. (a Flapper being the human equivalent of a filter.)

As Sarah found out, it is a good idea to check your filter regularly. Like your car, not just to see what has been caught, but also to decide if too much junk is getting thru.

Here at Webconsuls we use GMail for our domain email. Today I bet Palin wishes Google had a service that could filter her calls, perhaps when Grand Central comes outa beta.

Reading Time: 10 minutes


coffee maker

2008 Daylight Saving Time (DST), aka daylight time, will come to an end on Sunday, November 2nd at 2:00AM**. So if you happen to be awake at 2:00AM on Sunday morning and you don’t live in most of Arizona and Hawaii please remember to “fall back”. Most people will go around their home before they go to bed on Saturday evening and reset all of their clocks. They will check the kitchen stove, microwave, coffeemakers, wall clocks, grandfather clocks, alarm clocks, their wrist watches, etc. Depending on the age of your automobiles or the sophistication of your car you may need to reset your vehicle clocks, as well. Your computers will update automatically and the good news is if you have cable TV your local cable company will automatically update your cable boxes. “Springing forward” and “falling backward” can be exhausting.

40 year old oven clock

If you take the time to read the history of daylight saving time you will find that the pros and cons continue to baffle countries, states, counties, etc. When these governments debate the benefits, typically research shows that most of these benefits are never realized. But that is not my problem this year. You see this year I moved to Arizona, one of two of the United States that chooses not to observe “daylight saving time”. Arizona is actually located in the Mountain Time Zone which means that when it is 10:00AM in California (PST), then it is 11:00AM in Arizona, except during “daylight saving time” when Arizona does not “spring forward”, which means from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November it is the same time in Arizona as it is in California! Now just to confuse the issue a little more, part of Arizona includes the Navajo Nation and the geographical boundaries of the Navajo Nation include parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico; therefore, the Navajo Nation does observe “daylight saving time.”

cable box
Cable Box

Time zones can be quite entertaining. We tend to zero in on our own time zone and sometimes have trouble with the simple computation of adding or subtracting hours to determine what time it is in another time zone. Let me give you an example. When I was an innkeeper in New Hampshire (EST) it was not unusual to get a phone call at midnight with someone requesting to make a reservation. Invariably when I would inquire where they were calling from they would say something like California (PST). If I had been awakened from a deep sleep, I would further inquire “Do you know what time it is in New Hampshire?” And more times than not, the response would be: “Oh, isn’t it 6:00PM? Isn’t New Hampshire three hours behind us?” No….New Hampshire is three hours ahead of California!

I, too, have been time zone challenged over the years. When I first moved to Alaska in the winter of 1983 there were four time zones Alaska. Yes, you read correctly, four time zones in one state. This became a problem when Dennis would travel throughout the state and he would call home to check in, many times forgetting that he was two time zones away from me and I had already gone to bed! Fortunately, in September 1983, Alaska went to two time zones. Some at the time referred to this new larger time zone as “political time.” The New York Times reported on September 18, 1983: “Transportation Secretary Elizabeth H. Dole ordered changes Friday that will put most of Alaska in the same time zone and end years of confusion and communication problems in the state. Under the action, taken under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, all but the extreme western portion of the Aleutian Islands will be consolidated in the Yukon Time Zone. The change takes effect on Sunday, Oct. 30, when the country goes off daylight time. Alaska, the largest state in area, stretches across four time zones. That has created problems in doing business within the state, with the rest of the United States and with foreign countries. The changes were made at the request of the Alaskan authorities, who had complained of the difficulties of dealing with four time zones, after public hearings in the state.”

wall clock
Wall clocks need to be changed

The good news for me is that tonight I don’t have to go around the house and change all of the time pieces, but I do have to remind myself for the next four months that I do live in the Mountain Standard Time zone and not to call my California Webconsuls’ associates too early in the morning. Remember Mountain Standard Time is one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time. This means when it is 6:00AM in Arizona, then it is 5:00AM in California!

This morning it just occurred to me that Fire safety officials encourage people to use the two annual clock shifts as a reminder to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I wonder how Arizonians remember to check their smoke alarm batteries, since they don’t need to reset their clocks. I will let you know how this works out for us.

By the way, since it is Saturday, why not share some of your own anecdotes about Daylight Saving Time?

**Daylight Savings 2012 ends on November 4th at 2:00AM.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If have pictures from back in the days before digital camera’s came about, this scanner will be useful.

If you have printed material that needs to be compiled in to a PDF file, this scanner will be useful.

Released around 8/31/08 New Canon CanoScan LiDe 100 Flatbed scanner for $60, great product for a great price. I recently purchased the Canon CanoScan LiDE 100, a scanner with 2400 x 4800dpi, USB 2.0, compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Macs. Weighing at 3.5 lbs, dimensions 14.6″ x 9.9″ x 1.6″ makes it very easy to take from one place to another without worrying about the weight or size

Instantly scan your photos to use on your website to display personal family and/or friends photos or better yet, put up pictures of your business, from your staff to your facility. Have Webconsuls setup an image gallery for you in FLASH or HTML.

Purchase one today and start marketing your photos on your website.
Frys Electronics, Newegg.com

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Genuine intellectual curiosity is the attribute established brands need to be successful in the blogosphere.
– Geoffrey Moore

With every second that passes the world changes, something new and exciting is created or an idea is set into motion that will forever alter how human beings live their life and interact with each other. In the past sixty years a flood of, what would seem to most, irrational ideas have been used as stepping stones to create the most rational and useful technologies that we enjoy in our life. Radio started the information age, followed by television, and now the world world-wide-web; but, kindred spirits either join together or they kill each other, leaving yesterday’s trend behind.

I believe the biggest complaint about television is the lack of interaction in every respect; both commercial and entertainment aspects of television have a human element missing. Human beings have a drive to be involved in everything they lay their eyes on. Internet has provided the ability for the consumer to have a say in what they see and do, the Internet is a means for people to be a part of a growing network with limitless possibilities. It was hard to see at first with the early Internet, but the possibility has always been there waiting to bloom; for a long time the Internet (WEB 1.0) was like T.V., it was just something to look at with many more channels. WEB 2.0 is a totally different ball game, we the people are the players and the umpires – It’s About You!

Social Media is what the Internet is all about, a global village of people sharing ideas, information, and art. Not only individuals, business’ (large and small) are working towards going interactive; through blogging and social networks the world is getting smaller and the possibilities are becoming greater. This revolution has forced television to jump on the train or be left behind; the fact is that people can meet their communication and entertainment needs from one central location. The Internet has given everyone a voice and audience to listen, companies can advertise, sell, and interact with the consumer in a way that T.V can’t provide.

Today, your computer is a portal for all of your day to day media and communication tools to connect with the web. The time has come to join up with social networks and blog circles, this will increase your presence and network; whether for business or pleasure, I believe it will be worth your time to move with the Internet and not against it. Experience the world in the way that you want, at your desired pace; the Internet is no longer growing with you, transversely you’re growing with the Internet. The Internet has already started anticipating your next move and remembers what you are interested in; your computer is no longer an extension of you, rather you are an extension of your computer!