FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bangor, Maine – Sephone Interactive Media on the Move…AGAIN!

September 5, 2014

“It’s hard to believe that we have been at our current location for 5 years,”
says president Joe DiStefano, “and this move allows our distributed workforce a more constant and convenient space for client and staff meetings. Face to face is important.” The location is the iconic TD Bank Building at 77 Exchange Street also makes it easier for those customers that visit “from away.”  The new space is on the 4th floor across from the new Penobscot Judicial Center, GPS and Google also love the location.

“Yeah, we are located in Suite 404, which has given us some laughs,” DiStefano continues, “404” according to Wikipedia is for an internet address requested but not found.

Downtown is a vibrant area for business and Sephone and has called it “Home” for all of its nearly 15 years of operation. “We have moved our Administrative & Sales Offices only and there will be little or no impact to our customers.” DiStefano continues, “servers with client sites and applications will continue to perform as normal and have been unaffected by the move.” The current mailing address, PO Box 2357 in Bangor, is also still valid.

When Sephone was founded in 2001, it’s philosophy was built on the foundation that businesses need to have control over the content on their websites. This was thought as “strategic” thinking. Sephone has always believed that whether it be simple content, inventory management or ecommerce businesses need to have it be their own, look like them and be controlled by them.

Now with interactive applications common place, people expect it.

This “allowing customers to control their own identity through words and pictures, has always been the cornerstone of our business and products we have developed,” says DiStefano, “it also makes the solution much more manageable financially when a customer does not have to incur ongoing maintenance fees to make simple content changes.”

Sephone is a full service web development and mobile application company. Integrating legacy systems, web based accessibility, including the latest buzzwords of social media and “SEO.”  Sephone has been on the ground floor along with extensive web design and application development providing a multitude of web and mobile services country-wide and right next door.

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For More Information contact:
Kelly H. Cotiaux, Partner and Marketing Maven
207.262.5040  kelly.cotiaux@sephone.com
Twitter:  Sephone   Facebook: Sephone Interactive Media

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Casting A Wider Net With Your Community and Clients

August 29, 2014

As you may have noticed, we have been talking a bit about The American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront.  We have mentioned that we have built an App, been on the ground floor also with the website.  We think the Folk Festival is pretty darned special.  It is our sponsorship and support to the festival. Friday Night RR Crowd We also design and execute the strategy for social media.  It is what Sephone can offer to the Festival, to the community and to the somewhere around 100+ visitors that come to enjoy our city.

We’re Selfish

Ok. We admit it.  As a volunteer for the festival, we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty.  And many of our customers are the same way.  We see them.  In fact one of our customers who has long retired logged some serious volunteer duty, 80+ hours in the last two weeks!  We do it. Not because we have all kinds of extra time on our hands or our businesses are slow, it is nothing further from the truth. We take the long view. We get to strengthen our relationships with our existing customers who are attending the same meetings, same functions as we are.  We get to meet potential clients and make new friends.

We are Different At the Core

We think strategically.  We  take the long view of what is best solution in the long run. We do this when working with our clients. Where are we going? What is it going to take to get there?  Sometimes that means business for us.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  But it always means a win for our area, our city and a move in the direction of making it a better place to live, work, and YES,  MOVE your business to or EXPAND your business here.  It may not happen tomorrow, but it happens eventually.  When we started Sephone in 2002, there was still a lot of dial-up, few cell phones and a waterfront in Bangor with a lot of sand piles.  But together, we have left those days behind us.  And next week, along with many others,  have a Folk Festival meeting to plan for 2015.  Hope to see you there.

If you are interested in two minutes of  Sephone and American Folk Festival, see it here.

 

 

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

The 2014 American Folk Festival App

August 19, 2014

2014 AFF app home screenWe love the end of August here at Sephone. For a weekend each year, the Bangor waterfront transforms into a musical space full of cultures and sounds from across America and the world – and we’re fortunate to bring information about it to Festival-goers through the official website at americanfolkfestival.com and through the Festival’s mobile app.

The app is a great indicator of how the world’s turned to mobile more and more each year. Last year, we saw a 75% increase in the number of people downloading the app compared to 2012 – and the numbers are still growing. We love having an app, too, because it allows people to have the information they need quickly and easily.

In addition to favorite features from years past (including the ability to build your own schedule, push notifications to alert you of upcoming performances, information on who’s currently performing and who’s scheduled to perform, and up-to-the-minute schedule changes), we’ve added a new vendors section with information about all the amazing food and craft vendors throughout the Festival. And if you want to support the Festival but don’t want to miss any of the music and don’t see a member of the Bucket Brigade nearby, you can now donate online, right from the app.

Make sure you have the latest version of the app before you head to the waterfront! Go into the App Store app on  your iOS device and click on the Updates tab, or go into the My Apps area of the Play Store on Android. Updating only takes a couple of minutes!

Don’t forget to share photos from the Festival from the app, and tweet to your heart’s content about what you see using the #AFFBangor hashtag! See you on the waterfront.

By the way, we made a two-minute video talking about the site, the app, and how the Festival has changed over the years. We hope you like it!

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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.

HTTPS and Windows XP

August 15, 2014

WARNING:  This blog post will be semi-technical.

First and foremost, if you are using Windows XP, you need to upgrade. Mainstream support ended years ago, extended support ended months ago. The last release of XP was over 6 years ago. Really, just upgrade. Okay, on to the heart of the matter.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are one of the core pillars of how the internet works. An IP address is  used to locate a unique host on the internet, sort of like a phone number or a regular street address. The internet is running out of version 4 IP addresses (IPv4). There is a solution, version 6 IP addresses (IPv6), but there is issue if you are using Windows XP, your operating system only supports IPv4.

sslSo with time ticking until we run out of IPv4 addresses, it’s getting harder and harder to get them. That presents another problem. Secure certificates. These things are what provide encryption on the web so you can securely transfer your private information, credit card numbers, etc. Often times, a browser will show a lock in the address bar along side the” https ” to show you that you are secure. You need a unique IP for every secure certificate, or you used to at least. There is a newer thing called Server Name Identification (SNI) where you don’t need an IP for every secure certificate, but again, XP does not support that, so it’s irrelevant.

What we are driving at is, Sephone is not likely to host new secure certificates that support Windows XP, they no longer support it, so neither can we. You need to upgrade. We will continue with the “grandfathered” ones we have, but it’s time to stop letting Windows XP keep all of us from using the proper technology to do the job. Do the job right.

 

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

App Permissions: What Can and Can’t Apps Do?

August 6, 2014

One of the aspects of mobile apps that make them great is that they have the ability to use some of your phone’s native features like its camera and its contact list. Our American Folk Festival app, for instance, allows users to take photos that can be submitted to the Festival for use in a Facebook album. If you have a gaming app, you may want the app to access your contacts to see if anyone else you know is willing to take part in a head-to-head matchup.

Lock on a doorRecently there’s been some controversy surrounding Facebook’s push of its Messenger app for chatting with friends. Some users have noticed that it asks to do a lot – record audio, take photos, and more – and some posts go so far as to say that it might record ambient audio or take random photos without your permission.

This is a good time to take a look at app permissions. Each app has its own set of actions it wants to take with your phone, like the examples above. App developers use these permissions to allow their app to access parts of your phone’s operating system (for example, iOS or Android). And despite what you may read, you have control over what your phone’s apps can access.

iOS

iOS 7 lays out a few categories for feature access, including photos, microphone, and geolocation. When an app first requests access to one of these areas, you’ll see a prompt asking whether you’d like to allow access. If you do, you can turn access off later (or see a list of apps that use that permission) by going into the Settings app, tapping Privacy, and then looking at the permission you’d like to control. If you don’t want the Messenger app to access your microphone, for instance, go into the Microphone area and toggle the line for the Messenger app.

Android

When you first install an Android app, you’ll see a list of permissions it requests. It’s important to note that if you have auto-updating turned on, updates to the app may add related permissions without asking you first, but you’ll still be prompted about any major permission changes before the update occurs. At this time there doesn’t seem to be a convenient way to control apps on a per-permission basis like there is in iOS, though this feature is hidden in some of the latest versions of Android and may be made public at some point.

It’s also worth noting that once you allow access to a permission for an app, whether it’s on install in Android or after a prompt in iOS, the app can use it in some cases without your knowledge – so there is some level of trust needed. As with all software, be careful of its source!

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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.

You CAN Take it With YOU?

July 29, 2014

Are you a business owner? Or just somebody that has a demanding job?

Maybe you have said more than once,

  • “I don’t know what is worse, the week before I leave for vacation or the week I get back?”

Or how about this one? 

  • “I really need more than one week of vacation, I don’t even relax until about Wednesday then by Friday I am getting cranked up again!”

Idle Thoughts

Some of my best ideas are when I allow myself to just stop for a minute and allow the free thoughts flow.  Otherwise, petty tasks and random thoughts may spin around and round. If I don’t write them down they interrupt more strategic problem solving.  This goes for lots of things, Work things, Camp projects, Grocery Lists, etc.  And if you have kids you have your own “Things to Do” just for them.

All blocking the thinking, the planning you really ought to be doing for your business- direction you want to go, plans for the future.  These thoughts are hard to dig into if the constant interruptive thoughts of “I need eggs on the way home,” are constantly bumping into them.

I Am On Vacation

I worked on this post before I left and I was thinking I have a million apps on my phone (that is with me always,) how can I try and use some oevernote_iconf the time to learn one of them to try to manage my “Monkey Brain?”  There, on my phone was Evernote, downloaded over a year ago and seldom used.  In the meantime, more and more people I know have tried it, I tweeted out asking what people thought of it.  Some people said, “I tried it, maybe I didn’t give it a chance.”  I knew that was me.

A couple weeks ago I blogged about Twitter and really it was more about “Focus” than anything else.  This is the same thing really. As I started thinking about things I had to remember, instead of writing them down, I religiously put them in Evernote, when I was on my laptop, my iPad and my phone.  Whatever was in my hand at the time, I am putting those thoughts in Evernote.

While this is not meant to be another “RAH RAH Evernote!” discussion,  I really had no idea how powerful a tool it could be, if I really used it. Here is probably the best blog post that hit the bullseye on all it can do. (Apologies in advance for some of the geek speak.)

Two Assignments to Myself

Rather to be overwhelmed with the array of options or if I should buy the Premium version, two things I am going to try working with first:

  1. The Note Feature – those random thoughts that I need to get somewhere that need to come up when I am a coffee shop or riding in the car. This is where many people end it.
  2. Web Clipper – for reading later and saving it to a notebook that I set up on my laptop. Take all the thoughts that take me away from vacation, “To Not Forget When I Get Back” and plunk them in Evernote. Get them out of my head and back to my vacation!

As my old boss would say: “Cotiaux, you can eat an elephant – Just One Bite at a Time.  So stay tuned!

 

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Create Your Own App?

July 24, 2014

It seems every time I use Facebook, YouTube or Pandora I am presented with an ad for a different “Create our own mobile app” company. In this blog post we are going to explore what these services are capable of.

History

Google acknowledged that they had an automated app inventor in 2010 (about a year and a half after the release of Android). By the fall of 2010, they released the source code for “App Inventor for Android” and gave the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), some funding to continue on with it.

App Inventor was the first of its kind and still is in popular use today. It’s somewhat hard for the layperson, but for the technically minded, you can make working apps with a few hours of effort. With 10 to 20 hours, you can actually get pretty impressive results. And it’s free.

Current Batch of Services

As impressive as App Inventor was and still is, it was not without drawbacks. It does not work for iOS, it’s for Android only (and somewhat does work with Fire OS). And the second issue is that it is hard to use unless you at least somewhat versed with web software.

So those drawbacks are what has propagated to the current fleet of app creation services. They are easier to use, as well as faster to having an app, and many handle your app store listing as well. The app store listing is where you upload your app, information, and screenshots.  Of course, with all this simplicity, automation and speed there is a cost, and that is the number of features your app can have. Speaking of cost, most of these services are affordable. On the low end, there are some that are around $5 per month and others as high as $250 per month, all depending on what they provide.

Most of the cheaper services are great at taking the RSS from your blog and making that available on an app, or having some simple content or maybe even having a few forms.  Many of the more expensive options can make complex applications that do many things, but requires you to have some backend APIs (such as REST or SOAP).

So my simple answer boils down to this: if you need an app that is mostly static content or from an RSS feed, the layperson may find success with app creation services. To make complex applications, you need developer skills.

Other options

They are tons of “mashup” type possibilities too. You can pay an “App Creation Service Company,”  to make your app and then get a developer to make the RESTful API that powers the app. If you need functionality in your app that no current “App Creation Service Company” provides, you may just need to go custom. Going custom costs some money, but you get exactly what you want.

Another option that is often overlooked is getting your current site more mobile. There are things like responsive design and adding bookmarks to home screens of mobile devices that can produce good results.  It may not be a bad idea to take a minute and pull up your current website and see how it looks on a phone, or a few different phones.  It may be eye opening in more ways than one.

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

#Hashtag Heaven? Twitter Isn’t Just For Twits

July 18, 2014

It Happened

For the past year or so, even as mainstream as the Today Show is, the constant Hashtag and Trending reference is staring you in the face before you even go to work in the morning.  It moved from the “Late Night” crowd of Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live to your breakfast table and your favorite ESPN sports show.

From what my clients and friends are telling me they fall into one of three categories:

  1. They have a Twitter account and use it often
  2. They have a Twitter account but still haven’t really grasped why they need it
  3. They think Twitter is stupid and a waste of time.

If you are in the third category this post isn’t going to attempt to convert you.  But I would suggest that if you decide to get a Twitter account, which is still free you may follow some interesting news that you can’t get any other way, or with Twitter you often get the news faster. You may want to try it just for fun, see what your kids are doing, the weather or about an accident or road construction you may encounter on your way home.  It’s up to you.

Twitter

Twitter

For the Rest of You

I am going to confess,  this is something I am guilty of not being skilled in this area.  Here goes, “FOCUS.”  The idea of using Twitter, simple bursts of sending out a message, sharing a message or consuming a message in a 140 characters bursts certainly doesn’t lend itself to FOCUS.  The mere consumption of Twitter can send your head spinning! But the fact that most of people consume it via mobile means it is with them all the time!

Your “Audience” Is the Same Way

If you use your twitter account and I mean USE it, tweet daily, share and reply daily, managing your account, creating lists and following the people you want to can fall by the wayside when your business takes you away from this kind of organizational thinking.  Blurt out something or find something out and then go back to answering the phone or customer emails, right?

But if these Social Media accounts were like papers or files and we had to look at them when we walked into our office, we probably would do something with them, organize, recycle, SOMETHING. These stacks of papers are staring us in the face and anyone else (including a client) that may come into our business, right?  Often once we organize things we can work more efficiently.  Social Media is no different.

Not Sure How to Become More Active on Twitter?

Again, when I make something a priority it gets done.  You may want to write it down or set a reminder to do it.  With Twitter it can be as little as :15 minutes a day to get engaged and make it part of your routine.  Of course your tweet content will evolve over time.

But no tweeting, no sharing, no responding?  No evolution, while your competition passes you by,

 

 

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!