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Chuck Parish
Chuck Parish

Friday May 9th 2008

Shopping

for a web site?

Asking The Right Questions ... Knowing The Right Answers

Most of our new Clients make the same statement (or one very similar) during our initial meeting: "I have put off getting a web site for so long, but I just didn't know where to start and who to talk to.

Another one that we hear very often is: "How do you know who you can trust?" and "I've been afraid to start looking because I'm not even sure what I want or need."

One of our Clients said to me, "You should write a book about how to buy a website. I know I would buy it."

Well, that's just what we have done. Our new book will be avalable in just a few more weeks. The title is "Shopping For A Web Site? - Asking The Right Questions ... Knowing The Right Answers." It is being published by Top Hat Enterprises and will be available in paperback from Amazon or your favorite book site soon. You can read more about the book at it's web site: www.ShoppingForAWebSite.com

I wrote the book using simple terminology so that it is easy to read and so that everyone can understand the important information that they need when buying a web site. The book answers all of the basic questions and is perfect for new business owners, business managers, and professionals/consultants in any field who want to buy a web site.

You can pre-order a copy today and save $10.00 off the retail price.

I see it this way ...

Make a difference for Literacy

"What will you be doing on Saturday May 17th", I ask?

"It depends on the weather", you reply.

May I make a suggestion? Why not visit the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and while you're there, stop in at the 2008 Kansas City Literary Festival. As I'm sure you know, illiteracy among American youth is a national crisis. You can help by gathering your family and friends and making a trip to the Festival. This year, there will be many national authors on hand and events for every age group. Last years Festival was a great success, and this year will bring new authors, exhibitors, seminars and entertainment to the area.

Penguin Webs is a major sponsor of the Festival, donating our web design services since the event began. We believe in literacy! How about you - read any good books lately?

 

Chuck Parish
Chuck Parish

Friday February 29th 2008

A Leap Year?

I guess it depends on your perspective ...

Wiktionary defines the word "leap" as "a jump from one location to another." When I hear the word, I think of "... one giant leap for mankind" - a positive forward step - a great move of progress.

But this year, when I think of the word "leap" ( brought to mind because today is the 29th of February), its difficult to find a lot of "progress" to celebrate. Are we really moving forward?

According to Wikipedia, "A leap year is a year containing one or more extra days in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. For example, in the Gregorian calender, February would have 29 days in a leap year instead of the usual 28. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat at an exact number of full days, a calendar which had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year which is not a leap year is called a common year."

Many leaps have already occurred this year:

But the leaps are not all bad:

So I guess our attitude on this special day in February just depends on our perspective. How's yours?

 

I see it this way ...

Make a difference for Literacy

"What will you be doing on Saturday May 17th", I ask?

"It’s too far ahead to know", you reply.

May I make a suggestion? Why not visit the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and while you're there, stop in at the 2008 Kansas City Literary Festival. As I'm sure you know, illiteracy among American youth is a national crisis. You can help by gathering your family and friends and making a trip to the Festival. This year, there will be many national authors on hand and events for every age group. Last years Festival was a great success, and this year will bring new authors, exhibitors, seminars and entertainment to the area.

If you really want to help, you can volunteer your assistance during the Festival.

Penguin Webs is a major sponsor of the Festival, donating our web design services since the event began. We believe in literacy! How about you - read any good books lately?

 

Thursday December 27th 2007

Resolutions ... or Results

Have you made your list yet?

At this time of year, most people find themselves making a list of goals and changes that they want to make during the coming new year. Some of these are simply mental "to-do" lists while others are more advanced, utilizing checklists and calendar reminders to help us remember our goals and designed to measure our progress during the year. Regardless of the type of list you use, have you started one yet? I have.

I believe that we are all more successful in life if we have plans and goals to encourage and spur us on. At the end of 2008, I will celebrate my fiftieth year so I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on the past and planning for the future. At the top of my list is my health. I have reduced my overall body weight by 10% in the last two months and I have a goal for 2008 to continue to adapt to a new style of eating. Not dieting - but eating smarter. Making better choices in food selection and portion control. Last week, my doctor told me that I have most likely added 10 years to my life just by loosing that 10%.

Another line item at the top of my list is to laugh at myself more frequently :-) It is so easy to be too serious these days. The war, the economy (recession?), the housing market, increased taxes, food prices, fuel costs and the heating bill. All of these add to the daily stress in our lives. I want to practice smiling more and finding joy in the little things around me. After all, I can't really change the world around me very much, but I can change my attitude.

I have added family time to complete the top-three on my new year's resolution list.

Other items include business, spiritual, relational and hobby goals. Whatever you place on your list, pull it out once a week and review how you have done. It helps you to stay on track and to gain a feeling of accomplishment during the year.

 

I see it this way ...

After the Holidays

Have you made your year-end donation to your favorite charitable organization yet? There is still time. Visit their web site or give them a call. They will be happy to assist you in making a donation, and if you do it before the 1st of January, you can deduct your charitable donations on your next tax return.

Saturday October 20th 2007

I'm getting greener

Is being 'green' just a fad?

Okay. I've heard, read and viewed so many news reports, articles and studies that I'm ready to go out and hug a tree.

But what can I really do that would make any difference at all? Is there any quantifiable significance to a single action that I might make to help the environment? I believe there is!

As I learn more and educate myself on the issue(s), I can't help but think about my beautiful 2 year old granddaughter and wonder about the world that I am leaving to her. I don't claim to understand all the talk of global warming, ozone holes, etc. but I do know that I want to do the best I can to become a part of the solution.

So, I have started to recycle my computer paper. I ordered some recycling bags for the ink cartridges in our office printers. I have swapped our multitude of internal flood lights with low amp florescent light bulbs. I drive less and combine outings.

Will these things really make a difference? I don't know - why don't you join me and maybe the two of us together can begin to change things.

 

I see it this way ...

Preparing for the Holidays

Have you started to think about the upcoming holiday season yet? Is there a twinkle in your eye and a sense of nostalgia in your daydreams? Or are you shuddering at the thought of long lines, grouchy store clerks, overspending and the general 'holiday rush'?

May I make a suggestion? This year, why not slow down just a bit - go ahead, lean back - take a deep breath - that's it ...

... now while you are reclining, why not make a list of your favorite charities and instead of worrying about not finding the perfect gift, make out a check or an on-line donation to one of them. Then, with a thoughtful card and a holiday wish, let you loved ones know that your gift to them this year is a donation that you have made in their name - to help change the world!

Most of the larger charitable organizations can even help you in this process by providing a holiday card - and many will even send it for you.

Thursday July 20th 2007

Cultural sensitivity

Isn't everybody just like me?

Wouldn't the world be a great place if everybody else was just like you and I? No! It would not.

Having been raised in the United States, mostly in small communities, I came to believe that everybody else was just like me and that America was the best, biggest and most desirable place in the world to live. I actually believed that we (in America) were the most important society on earth and that everybody else wanted to be just like us.

Wow! What an ethnocentric up-bringing! I don't think it was intentional - just the bi-product of living in the "great society." I don't recall any of my instructors or mentors as having been racist or imperialistic. They simply lived and passed on the myth.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I love the United States. I am glad I am here. I am proud to be an American! I realize every day how much of a privilege it is to live here. I am repulsed by the amount of anti-american sentiment that abounds today. I won't debate that some of it is deserved - while much of it is just politically motivated propaganda.

What I am talking about is the need for all of us - citizens of the same planet - to become more aware of the beauty and diversity of the people around us. Every culture on earth has both good and bad ideas, concepts and philosophies. But they also hold wonderful traditions and rich history.

I have had the privilege of traveling to many different parts of the world and the unique opportunity to interact with people of many different cultures. My family and I lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for three years - an experience that opened my eyes and heart many times over. I have traveled in South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. There are many places on my list that I plan to visit.

In each of these areas, I have found good and bad - generosity and greed - love and hate - poverty and wealth - amazing traditions and horrible practices. And among all of this - people just like me. People with beliefs, dreams, faults, goals, hurts, insight, misinformation, pain, stress, and worries.

My company tries to be culturally aware and inclusive. As the driving force behind who we are becoming, I try to remember and apply the cultural lessons I have learned and incorporate them into our business practices.

Do I want everybody to be just like me? Nope. I find that the differences between myself and others drive me to grow and expand who I am becoming!

 

I see it this way ...

An 8-year-old terrorist?

Have you heard about the 8-year-old boy from Kansas who was trying to fly home when the airline denied him a seat because his name was on the no-fly list?

It was his first time to fly. There is, as one would expect, quite a media frenzy railing against the absurdity of it all. People are mad at the airline. We are mad at the ticket agent. We are mad at the no-fly list. We are upset with Homeland Security. In fact, lets just add all of the blame for this to the long list against President Bush ...

Or maybe we are just plain mad. Maybe we just need to find someone to blame for all of our problems. Maybe, if we can do that, it will fix what's wrong with the world - - ya think?

Neither do I!

I am really sorry that this young boy found himself the victim of a large system, but I am not ready to fault the system itself. There are some facts that we would do well to remember:

  • 9-11
  • There are people who would like to do us harm.
  • The boy arrived late which did not allow the airline personnel time to clear the situation (which they did shortly after the plane took off).
  • Children have been used recently as unknowing agents of terror and destruction.

So, lets express sorrow for this boy's trials, and gratitude to a system that is working against almost impossible odds to keep us safe - and protect our right ... to be mad.

You can read more about this here on the Fox News web site.

Monday June 18th 2007

give something back

Are you a GIVER? I'm learning how to be!

When was the last time you asked for, and sought out some help? Yesterday? Last week? A month ago?

From time to time all of us reach out to others for help. Maybe it was a flat tire on the freeway. Maybe a piece of furniture that was too heavy to lift alone? Or maybe just an extra hand on the door so that you could use both of your own to carry something inside.

Over the years I have needed, and asked for such help. The people who have come to my aide are much too numerous to list. I'm sure I can't even remember them all. But each one helped to make my life just a bit easier and in doing so, they also taught me another lesson in GIVING.

But I want to focus today on GIVING SOMETHING BACK. I believe that we need to make a conscious decision - each day - to give something back. In 2000, there was a great movie released titled "Pay it Forward." A simple story about a profound concept. The idea - we receive more than we give and we get sooner than we need; therefore we should begin to give - even before we have need - and with no thought of a return.

Due to the crazy rush of our lives, we all seem to be too busy to 'get involved' in the needs of others. It is just plain easier to close our eyes and push our way through the crowd around us. But that crowd is full of people who could use a simple kindness. A smile, a hand on the door, an offer to help. Have you received the reward lately of a surprised smile when you have stopped to help? It produces a feeling inside that is just hard to beat!

My company also tries to give something back! Sometimes it means donating time and services to community events like the Kansas City Literary Festival. Other times it means spending some extra time with a Client to make sure they understand everything involved in their new web site. Many times it means adding in a few un-billed hours in order to really give a Client what they want - within their budget.

I continue to learn to be a giver and I'm finding that life has a little bit more joy in each day.

 

I see it this way ...

Driving at 16 (or younger) - a right?

Did you know that the #1 cause of death among 15-to-20-year-olds in the US is car accidents? Did you know that waiting 1 year (17 instead of 16) can decrease the chance of your teenager being in a serious accident by more than 60% ?

If the facts above startle you, you might want to read this article by Anna Quindlen (originally published in NEWSWEEK June 11,2007). It has some really startling facts about young drivers in the US.

I have three sons - two of which have been driving now for a number of years. My youngest is taking driver's education this summer. We purposely waited until he was 17 before allowing him to drive. Several friends and acquaintances have commented how 'cruel' that was. Well, after reading Ms. Quindlen's article, I feel reassured that we made a good choice. I know there are certain circumstances where a young person needs to drive out of necessity, but I wonder if we are allowing many young people to drive so early - for our own convenience.

Monday June 4th 2007

Customer service

Putting the SERVICE back in Customer Service

I'm a Boomer. Part of a generation that grew up being taught a set of standards which we believed to be important for a great nation. One of those standards that I recall so clearly was summed up in the phrase, "The customer is always right."

I had this standard first instilled in me by my parents and educators, and then later as I ventured out into the working world, by my employers. I still have a faded old employee handbook from that era which required my signature - showing agreement with the policy and detailing the consequences of non-compliance.

Last year (2005), in preparation for my oldest son's wedding, my wife and I purchased new living room and dining room furniture from a national furniture chain. We parted with more than $4,000 of our hard earned income. When the furniture was delivered, the glass shelves to the beautiful curio cabinet were not delivered.

This occurred just a few days before the wedding as my wife was frantically trying to get the house ready for all of the incoming relatives and friends. We quickly drove to the store, and spoke to the salesman (whom we later discovered was the Floor Manager in charge of the other sales representatives). He said, "We do not have another cabinet in stock, so all I can do is order another complete cabinet from our warehouse in Alabama and have it delivered to you in a few weeks." When asked why it would take so long, I was blandly told, "We only get a truck from the warehouse every two weeks, so I can't get one any sooner."

Well, this Boomer (me) instantly began to think of all of the possible solutions that I could offer to my valued customer (again me). What follows is my 'short list', but I'm sure I could have added several more given a few extra minutes:

  1. Search the store room and warehouse to try to find the missing shelves for the customer.
  2. Take the shelves out of the floor display model and hand carry them (after cleaning them and carefully wrapping them in a safe package) to the customer's car with my sincere apologies for causing them to make a second trip to the store.
  3. Call the next closest store and arrange for them to send me a set of glass shelves from one of their cabinets - via Fed Ex to arrive next-day air at the customer's house. Again with my sincere apologies for the inconvenience.
  4. If the above failed, I would call the manager of the warehouse in Alabama and explain the situation to him (knowing that as the manager, he would surely understand that satisfying the customer was paramount to successful business), and ask him to get a set of glass shelves from one of the cabinets in the warehouse and Fed Ex those to my customer - again next-day air.

Well, after suggesting all of the above, one by one, each was flatly refused. It wasn't "... store policy." There was "... nothing I can do." When I suggested that there was something I could do - return all of my purchase and go somewhere else - I was abruptly told, "... that is your choice if you want to do that." - Yeah right - two days before the wedding I have the time, energy and nerves in tact to start the furniture search all over again.

I was literally flabbergasted, exasperated and stunned - all in one breath. I couldn't understand what was happening. Was I not the 'customer'? Was I not important? Did this company have so much business that they didn't need mine?

We ended up buying another curio cabinet that we really didn't like as well. And I learned a severe lesson about today's business environment.

There was a gratifying end to this horrible experience. No more than three months to the day, after our purchase, that furniture store went out of business. Bankrupt, chain having to close multiple stores. Inventory pushed out the door at fire sale prices - below cost prices.

Was I surprised? You must be kidding! Did I want to gloat - YES. Did my lovely wife let me - NO. I don't know where that salesman ended up. I wonder if he was able to put two and two together? Did he learn anything?

So - is the "customer always right?" He/she BETTER BE !

At Penguin Webs, we believe in customer service. It is just part of who we are. We believe "the customer is always right."

If you need a new web site, or a new 'face' to your current one, let's get together and discuss it - you might be surprised at how much professional web development you can get with your budget dollars!

I see it this way ...

Have you noticed lately that so much of the 'news' reporting, that arrives in our mailboxes and on the front porch or driveway, contains quotes from people who are afraid to speak publicly? I subscribe to a major national news magazine. I read it every week. This past issue was full of comments within the news stories which had been provided under the following conditions:

  • "declined to be named talking about campaign strategy"
  • "wouldn't be named discussing his conversations with - or talks about - the former president"
  • "wouldn't criticize the campaign on record"

I wonder if our understanding of the news might be a bit more accurate if we only had to read the comments of those who were willing to stand up and be recognized. After all - it is pretty easy to say anything - about anyone - if you don't have to be held accountable for what you've said. 

Wednesday May 23rd 2007

we're web friendly

I've met with three new clients this week. Great people who want honest solutions to their web site needs.

All three of these new friends made comments similar to, "A friend has been helping me to create my site, but he ran out of time," or, "My brother-in-law did my web site, but it just doesn't look as professional as I would like."

I hear this at least once every week. Business people know that a great looking web site can help to ensure growth and repeat sales. They also know they need to have the best web site that their budget allows. The problem is that they are afraid - and rightfully so! Quality web design is not as easy as it might appear.

I have heard it said, "Anyone can create a web site." With today's software and tools, this is probably true. But what kind of a web site? How does it look? Does it have a crisp, professional appearance? Do all of the features work? Does it look the same in the newest browser as well as some of the older ones? Is it dependant on newer technologies such as Flash or Java that might not be enabled on a visitor's computer?

What about load speed? Sure it looked great when you viewed it on you souped up Vista PC with a high speed connection - but what about the visitor that comes to your web site using and older computer with Windows 98 and a dial-up connection? Are these visitors still waiting for your web page to load all those fancy graphics and un-optimized photos?

And what about search engine rankings? There is much more to search engine optimization (SEO) than just notifying Google and Yahoo that your new web site is ready for the world! It is simply not true that 'if you build it, they will come.' There is a science to ranking high on a search page.

Yes, I have three new friends now - and I would like to thank their 'friend' and 'brother-in-law' for sending them to me :-)

If you need a new web site, or a new 'face' to your current one, lets get together and discuss it - you might be surprised at how much professional web development you can get with your budget dollars!

I see it this way ...

I wonder when our local, state and national leaders are going to finally decide that we have a crisis that is affecting all of us - our friends, families and associates? The crisis I am referring to is the abundance of 'pay-day' 'title' and other high interest loans that are aimed at those who are already barely squeaking by from week to week. When will we have some responsible laws that will protect these honest and hard working individuals from predatory practices of these loan sharks?

Get more information and then write to your city, state or federal leaders - today!