Hello Collaboration!

Networking is Chic

If you go into “town” with any frequency you’ve probably noticed that many businesses, especially retailers and restaurants, are advertising that they offer free or low-cost WiFi to their clientele. The marketing scheme behind this may seem transparent…if you can offer the customer a free service and they’ll spend more time in your store which will translate to more merchandise purchased. I believe that the initiative behind this customer “perk” is to accomplish more than to just generate a few more sales. I will use Ukrop’s grocery and McDonald’s to examine the “We have WiFi” phenomenon.

For a couple of years Ukrop’s grocery has offered WiFi in their cafe area. Ukrop’s company mission is ultimately customer and community service. Offering free Wifi in their cafe was just one more way to offer the ultimate customer experience. WiFi was a very low cost addition to all of their other services such as dry cleaning, bag boys that carry your groceries for you, a fully stocked florist, catering, banking, and a restaurant. I think the point of all of their services, including the WiFi is to build a very flexible, accommodating reputation for families and businesses. Although I’m not sure of the actual dollar value that offering WiFi has added to their bottom line, I do know that Ukrop’s customers now go there not only to grocery shop, but to conduct business meetings, on-line business and study groups because of the WiFi capabilities. In essence, adding WiFi has created more business for them in their off peak times, because people that would have gone somewhere such as a library or Internet cafe to do business can go to their neighborhood Ukrop’s.

McDonald’s initiative for offering WiFi is a different scenario. This company is known for consistency and fast food, not necessarily ultimate customer service. The fact is that McDonald’s is trying to change its brand to to be more chic and customer service related. They have modernized a lot of their older restaurants, they are incorporating coffee bars within the restaurant, and they are offering WiFi. They are using WiFi as a tool to reach out to a new clientele and to also let their old clientele know that they are evolving into a more customer friendly environment.


Although their specific initiatives may be different, outfits that offer free or low-cost WiFi to their customers are trying to potray that they cater to the tech savvy, but mostly that they are in tune with their customer’s needs. WiFi availiablity helps businesses build stronger loyalty from their customers, both family and business.

JiWire.Com is a website that has a fairly current directory of all WiFi hotspot across the globe. Once you find your area you can even see which locations are free and how other customers rate the connections and service speed. http://www.jiwire.com/


Open Source is Great!
September 20, 2008, 3:02 am
Filed under: Collaborative Technologies Course | Tags: , , ,

Open source software, which I’ll refer to as OSS, provides great opportunities for developers and end users. My initial understanding of OSS is that it is software developed to contribute to the common good of technology, so it is free of patent. The initial objective of this type of software is to provide a technology base for developers to look at, learn, pick apart and improve upon. Check out this article from USA Today On-line for a pretty thorough summary: great open source summary. The technical meaning of OSS is that the computer source code behind the program is visible to everyone that views the software, not just the originators. This can help developers learn and improve technology faster. The really nice thing for people like me, a non-programmer, is that the OS software is generally free for the public to use. The low/no cost aspect, along with their creative nature makes OSS especially great for providing resources for small business solutions OR for small problems in a big business.

Last semester, in my MHRM coursework, I took an HRIS course. In this course we did our fair share of end user sampling of many open source softwares.  We used them free of charge to create solutions for organizational problems. One of OSS(s) that we used was a software for building a “wiki.” We also sampled some collaborative and media editing softwares. The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to OSS because developers want to get their software noticed, critiqued and used by professionals and end users alike.

As noted in a Helium magazine article, a negative associated with OSS is that a lot of the programs are not necessarily at their peak of end-user friendliness as are competitive patented products. In addition, they are not always compatible with other patented software…so integrating them into daily work can be challenging. For programmers, it could become frustrating to work strictly with open source projects because they are so “public” and therefore not as competitive as patenting.

Regardless, everyone should try a few out and decide for themselves. Check out the Wikipedia list of available OSS arranged by functional category.

Check out this video of a casual conversation about Intel’s open source strategies.

Hardware Mania! A Day in the Life of Dawn
September 20, 2008, 12:12 am
Filed under: Collaborative Technologies Course | Tags: , ,

-This is an account of how many computer hardware systems I use daily and their implications



This morning I woke up to the sound of emails arriving on my Blackberry. I clicked through them quickly and snoozed a little more. I can pretty much rely on a series of junk mail arriving around 7 am from the previous night because I have Blackberry set up that way. After checking the weather forecast for the day on my personal laptop I gathered my things and walked out front door for work. Once I got in my car I plugged in my Ipod and started the car. On the way to work I stopped by Starbucks to get a Banana Chocolate Vivanno with one shot of espresso (you should all try this if you like smoothies and caffeine). Finally I arrived at work after sitting in construction traffic! The first thing I do to begin my workday is power up my desktop PC and my laptop. I check my emails and begin preparing for my day. Prior to beginning my day I did a co-worker, who had taken the day off, a favor by gathering up a few of our different model PDA cell phones for one his clients to pick up and try out prior to buying them for his entire office (I work for a wireless phone retailer).  After that interruption, the remainder of my morning was consumed by preparation for a late afternoon training group. During this prep time I combined use of my desktop PC, laptop, and Blackberry. I left work and decided to run to the ATM prior to meeting a few new hires at a lunch meeting; I always like to have cash just in case my card doesn’t go through for some reason…sometimes credit card technology does fail us! I had a very nice lunch getting to know our recruits and then we all headed back to the office to continue training. After training was over I decided I was leaving work a little early to enjoy the end to a day of beautiful weather.


Based on this account the following list should cover all of the different types of hardware I come in contact with on regular basis:

Ø       Home PC Laptop

Ø       Work Desktop PC

Ø       Work PC Laptop

Ø       Ipod

Ø       Blackberry PDA phone

Ø       Computer that runs my car (2008 Chevy)

Ø       ATM


Prior to writing this account of my day I didn’t realize how much technology, and especially hardware, I use on a daily basis. I have to admit that I can’t imagine going about my daily personal life, and especially my work life without using these hardware technologies. I think that all of these things can be viewed as a double edged sword in the way that they make daily transactions so much easier and effortless, but there a is a lot more room for unexpected errors usually due to user ignorance. Bases on personal experience I can come up with numerous pros and cons for each hardware technology, but I think that the pros definitely outweigh the cons!


This is a visual collage of my day!










What’s This All About?
September 6, 2008, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Collaborative Technologies Course | Tags: , , , , ,

For the next few months this blog will be primarily devoted to exploring and utilizing collaborational technologies with my University of Richmond ISYS classmates! I look forward to adding more techy topics of conversation and learning with my classmates, all of whom also are blogging (take a look at their pages too!) I will be adding pages devoted to different subject matter each week.

I hope that when this initiative is over I will continue to blog and learn from other’s here on wordpress.