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June 3, 2014

iOS 8We watch a lot of product launches here at Sephone. It’s part of the life of a tech worker; it’s great to know what will be coming in the future. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is one of the most interesting for us, because often the announcements made there let us know what new things we’ll be able to do on the iOS side of mobile development when the next operating system is released.

It’s always tough to guess what exactly will catch on and gain mainstream usage. After the launch of the iPhone 5 a couple of years ago, we wrote about new features like Passbook and Smart App Banners and how could change how people used mobile sites and apps. Sometimes these features rise to popularity; sometimes they don’t. Whether or not they do, we love to know what’s out there – a little-used feature could be a perfect solution for a specific app or company.

Here’s a look at a couple of the announcements that caught our eyes during the preview of iOS 8 yesterday.

Extensibility

Extensibility is a fancy developer word for saying “letting developers build onto iOS 8 itself”. One of the ways to extend iOS is to build in ways to let apps talk to each other and extend what you can do in apps like Safari and Mail. During the presentation Apple showed that iOS 8 will allow Safari users to translate a web page’s content with a service like Bing or allow sharing on sites like Pinterest.

It will be really interesting to see how apps and companies use this kind of extensibility within iOS. Which sites would you like to share to from apps like Safari, or what services would you like to see available when you’re viewing a site?

HealthKit and the Health app

Health is becoming a huge area of focus for development, between fitness tracking apps, sleep analytics devices, and even blood pressure or glucose monitoring and tracking. Apple’s new HealthKit platform will let developers use a standardized platform for this kind of information in a way that keeps that data secure. The new Health app will be a dashboard showing graphs and statistics about a person’s health history. There’s a lot of possibility for innovation in this space.

iOS 8 will be released in the fall, and it will likely be adopted quickly by many of today’s current iOS users. It’s another step forward in the long road of new possibilities in iOS and Android development.

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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May 30, 2014

“SOCIAL MEDIA TAKES TOO MUCH TIME!!”
I understand.

But is the real challenge the learning of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.? Or does it take too much time to find content to put on a platform like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, all of which presents your content, in a very different style to often a different target market?

Or even better, is it when you open up Facebook to go to your business page you wander around Facebook to your friends pages and a half hour later, you realize you haven’t done what you have set out to do and there is something else that needs doing to keep your businesses doors open?

Talk to Me- I Get It

I hear about it all the time and as I have mentioned in other blog posts, people get frustrated and say they “HATE Facebook.” Or they think “Twitter is STUPID.”  It’s okay, you can say it, but we also understand that you don’t need something else to think about and to figure out. Is the frustration the fact that the amount of time in a day does not allow for something else?

Last things First, A Little Self Control

Getting lost in Facebook is common.  Mostly because it is a fun place to go, though Facebook can be the ultimate Frenemy  when it comes to getting work done.  So try this.  Use your “cruising time” through Facebook as a reward for posting to your business page first.  Be mindful about it.  Give yourself :15 minutes each day and the earlier part of the day works best – use a kitchen time or a timer on your phone if you need it. It helps keep you from getting lulled into the arms of Facebook procrastination.  AND get yourself a whiteboard, put it in the break room or in a common area with a dry erase marker attached.  In big letters write “FACEBOOK CONTENT”  ask for everyone to write ideas there.  Then as they are posted to Facebook, erase them or put the date next to them so people know they are helping you with Facebook posts.  If you work alone and at home, put a pad on your fridge and as you think of things write them there.

Call Me Crazy

You wouldn’t be the first person.  But making a new thing painless makes it easier to become part of your routine.  White boards are part of our lives, allowing others in your company to have a voice or perspective is fun and a great moral booster. It helps you as the “poster” feel like you are not alone.  It helps with the guilt of spacing out on Facebook, hoping to think of something witty only to be lost in Facebook purgatory.

Try it for a month, what do you have to lose?

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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May 23, 2014

arlingtonMemorial Day is upon us. The time to remember the few that laid down their lives for the freedom of the many, and to fly flags, have parades, and barbecue. To seasonal businesses, it’s often the start of the season.

Have you ever wondered it web traffic goes up or down during certain holidays? I have. So I picked Sephone sites at random, one geared towards people looking for a home, one for media professionals, one for people looking for something to eat and a few other small business sites. Just normal sites. Additional I added some server bandwidth usage into the mix. And here are my results.

  • New Years: Web traffic down 9%
  • Memorial Day: Web traffic down 10%
  • Thanksgiving: Web traffic down 50%
  • Christmas: Web traffic down 42%

And just for reference, our busiest times of traffic are June, July and August.

 

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.
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May 13, 2014

I have heard many times the plight of the business owner, just wanting to run his/her own business.  That is hard enough. But like having insurance, you need to make sure you are marketing your own business.  And Social Media is the rage so “pile it on!”  But, where do you start?

Before you grab the “tiger by the tail” there are 3 things you need to be clear about before you decide which platform(s) (facebook, twitter, a blog etc.) will reach your potential customer.

1.  Who is my Target?  

Who am I trying to get my message for my product and service in front of?  Where are these people on Social Media? Demographics are important but just as important is which platform creates a mindset in the reader that allows them to get your message?  Quick example: Pinterest’s  design and characteristics are different than Facebook,  Twitter and Facebook have similar demographics but the behavior of the site viewer  is different as well as the psychographics (lifestyle choices.) So which one or ones?

2.  Who is “in charge?”

Please think about this. Would you give the keys or the alarm code to your business to just anybody off the street? This person is representing your company, this person has your passwords and your company name to do with as he/she chooses. Do you have any control of it at all?  It certainly may be convenient to give it to someone working with you for the summer or an intern but don’t completely walk away from it.  Check in regularly, look at what is posted, be aware of what “YOUR COMPANY” is saying and how your customers are being treated with the responses from these accounts.  The voice is “YOURS” as far as your customer is concerned.

3. Don’t throw the “baby out with the bath water”

Social media is not a silver bullet. With all of today’s distractions, it is even more important to remember that social media of any type can support your other efforts.  For example: Radio spots can invite people to “Follow” you, or “Like” you, each supports the other and delivers exponential results when used together rather than instead of.

Keep in mind that we have multiple senses and they need to be engaged and repeated in order to be remembered and acted upon.  Think about your own purchase decisions?

 

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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May 9, 2014

What is it like to Intern at Sephone?

Over the past five months, I was given the opportunity to intern at Sephone. During my time interning here, I was given a wide range of tasks, including: Designing, developing and managing the content on websites, real world interaction with clients and putting invoices in envelopes. While I, like anyone else, have my preferences and strengths; the best thing about these tasks was that at Sephone, they were all made enjoyable. Sephone is a company made up of talented professionals but these professionals also have a sense of humor, which means that despite being a distributed workforce company, where most of the time employees work outside a traditional office environment, Sephone has managed to maintain a tight-knit feeling work environment. This assists Sephone in maintaining an efficient work environment where people are able to communicate and work together efficiently.

What did I learn during my time at Sephone?

While the classroom setting at the New England School of Communications does a great job of preparing students for “real world” application of their skills, the classroom setting cannot provide the students with these experiences. Internships are the solution to this problem. Sephone was absolutely a great opportunity for me as it provided me with experience at an established web services company and demonstrated to me how these companies can operate. Sephone pushed me to expand my knowledge into new areas in the areas of website design and development with the tasks that were assigned to me. These tasks provided me with a platform that allowed me to expand my knowledge of the WordPress web software to which many websites are built. This has already translated into tangible results as I begin to freelance design. Another skill that Sephone assisted me in developing was client interaction. Sephone provided me with the opportunity apply the interaction skills covered in my college courses in a real world environment

Alongside this, I was given the opportunity to gain real world experience working in a team; and a close-knit one at that. The open line of communication between employees at Sephone during working hours made me feel connected throughout the workday and anytime I had a question, someone was there to assist me. Despite being a company where people work from home, there are still times I got to work in the central office located in downtown Bangor with a couple other Sephone employees. These times were a highlight of my internship as it provided me with exposure to bigger projects and a sense of just how tight-knit the employees are. Over all, I would say interning at Sephone so far has been a highlight of my college career; and I would recommend an internship to anyone seeking one.

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April 25, 2014

Most of my posts are about Marketing, people and behavior on the internet. This post is no different. With Heartbleed and other hacks on the internet stressing “Are You Human?” it’s more important than ever.  How about those funky words that you cannot make out?  John did a post about it here in January of 2013. “Captcha” is just one way we try to determine if the requester for information is “legit” or not.

Ted Talks

Ted.tv is such a great way to be brought up to speed on what is going on.  And you can do it when it is convenient for you to learn about a subject. On this particular Ted Talk, the inventor of CAPTCHA
discusses at great detail about how it is changing the digitizing of books, the translation of the internet by collaboration of its users.  This is a great video to watch and the inventor/presenter is funny.  A few minutes watching this is helpful information delivered in a pleasing way.

 

I don’t mind saying that those pesky passwords that I cannot remember don’t make sense to me. It seems to be a silly box of words just an inconvenience to deal with, knowing why helps me limit my whining time.

We need to be protected by those that only want to break into a website, steal my password or identity.  There is always a bigger picture!

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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April 18, 2014

Recently, the internet service provider (ISP) GWI, has made changes to their network.  This change no longer allows unauthenticated SMTP (outgoing) email.

So what does that mean?

Well, if you are a GWI customer and send email through their server, you will need to authenticate it before you will be able to send email.  To do this,  you will need a username and password that GWI will be able to provide to you.

How to know if you send through GWI

It varies from mail client to mail client, but in most cases, you will need to go to your email or account settings on your computer, tablet or phone.  One there,  you should see an area for “Outgoing Email.”  There should be a server name associated with it.  If this server name is smtp.gwi.net or outgoing.gwi.net, then you are attempting to send mail through their servers and this effects you.

What’s next?

If you are a Sephone customer and need to send email you can use our webmail to do so.  This can be accessed by going to mail. YourDomainName.ext (replace YourDomainName.ext with your actual domain name. For example: Sephone’s is, sephone.com. )  Here,  you will be able to login with your email address and password and can send mail.  The next step would be to contact GWI to get your username and password and have them walk you through their authenticating process.

As an alternative,  Sephone can migrate your email to our new solution, Google Apps Mail.  This is a more robust email service, providing a better webmail interface, easier remote access, along with the full suite of Google services.  There is an extra cost to this though, at $5 per account per month.  If this is something you are interested in exploring, please contact us at 207-262-5040.

Reference for GWI outgoing settings: http://www.gwi.net/kb/article.php?id=005

Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.
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April 16, 2014

Boat on a VehicleFor nearly 50 years on the third Saturday in April, one of the largest canoe races in nation takes place in Penobscot County. Nearly a thousand people travel to Kenduskeag Maine in the morning with boats and gear in tow. Over the course of an hour and half, all the participates will take their turn getting in the water and starting their 16.5 mile journey southeast to Bangor, where the stream dumps into the mighty Penobscot River. It’s a rite of passage, it’s a sign of the spring season, it’s the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

Technology in a Canoe Race

In the last five years a few things have changed about the race, a few have not. One of the things that has not changed, cellular phone coverage at the starting line. It’s poor, even without all the extra people, it’s poor. Don’t count on your phone working well at the starting line. It might work some, but it will be poor service. Of course, many people don’t take their phone for fear of losing it in the stream.

The United States Geological Survey has a water gauge at the bridge at Six Mile Falls that measures water height and volume. This has been running for the past five years, it’s nice to see the water levels to know if it’s going to be a fast year, boney year, or normal year. As I write this, the water level is 10+ feet. Which is very high. The last four races, have been 4.9, 3.5, 7.5, and 4.4 (2013 to 2010). Under 4 is boney, 5 to 7 is a good fun race, it’s very fast when it’s 8+.

Another neat thing about race conditions is social media. Not everybody lives right in Bangor. The days before the race, tons of videos and pictures of the rapids make onto social media sites, so people not handy to the stream can “scout” the rapids without actually being there.

The rugged waterproof type video cameras are showing up more and more. GoPro’s are the most popular by far, but you see others from time to time. Below is a video of the race from such a camera on a kayak from a guy scouting out this year’s race.

What is Running the Race Like?

Upon arriving in Kenduskeag Village, normally you are greeted with many vehicles and a little bit of a challenge locating a parking spot. After parking, you walk into the big white building right off of route 15 just before the bridge to get your t-shirts, stickers and vest with number on it. Everybody then gathers around the starting line (which is the bridge over the Kenduskeag Stream right by the white building) to hear a few rules. Then the loud speaker calls out boats number 1 through 5 on the line. Those boats, get into the water, and then “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!”. Every 60 seconds until all the boats are gone, this continues.

A few hundred yards pass the starting line, most of the people on the shore are gone, the road is gone, and you meander through a pretty calm stream for the next 10 miles. No rapids really, you go under Route 15 once, and every now and again are close to small residential roads or railroad tracks.

After the first ten miles, things change, Route 221 comes up on the left, you can hear the hum of tires on your right from Route 15. Over the sound of the water, you here the crowd roar. The river vultures. Six Mile Falls. The sign for the optional portage is on the right. Boats are shuffling all over as they pick the way they want to navigate through the falls. You start seeing people on the banks. The main drop comes into view, you focus, get low, and paddle hard. Upon bouncing through the drop, there is a sea of people, eager to see some action. The bridge is loaded with the large objective lens of expensive camera equipment. The stream is littered with paddles, inverted boats, and rescue workers.

The next few miles are simple enough. Small rapids here and there, normally navigated without too much effort. Passing through the outskirts of Bangor, much of the stream is an easy walk from residential streets and many people sit in chairs on the edges, often with words of encouragement.

Shopping, 2011Once you get into more of the heart of Bangor, there are two portages, both of them around Valley Avenue.  It’s normal to see people stretching as they have been in a boat for hours at that point and their legs may not be awake. Both portages are around 100 yards. The first one over level ground on a trail, the other, over muddy hilly ground.

Upon getting back in the water after the second portage, comes the final test of the race. Shopping Cart. It’s a little bit of rough ride the 100 yards before shopping cart with some “pushy” water. Shopping Cart proper is a drop followed up by standing waves. It feels like you riding a seesaw, while being splashed with 37 degree water.

After Shopping Cart, it’s all peaches and cream. Under the bridges and through the canals of downtown Bangor. People are thronging the railings around the stream, clapping and cheering mostly. After going under State Street, the big “Finish Line” banner is visible on the bridge connected to the Pickering Square parking garage. Then it’s all laughs, coffee and chilli.

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.
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