Mood

Annoying drivers

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was in trouble again this year for describing the Isle of Sheppey in Kent as a giant caravan site, but he’s more than well known for bemoaning the number of caravans being driven on the roads and the desperation of getting stuck behind one.

Caravan towers aside, which drivers or actions make other motorists fume? Research by a UK broker unsurprisingly found anything that compromised your own space or safety to be the most annoying, listing tailgating, cutting up or lack of indication amongst the worst offenses. In fact, a quarter of those who responded put not indicating the top of the list.

Perhaps it’s not always a deliberate action that causes annoyance. The research pointed out the difference between pedestrian behavior and motoring behavior: for instance, if we bump into someone whilst walking along it’s a natural response to say sorry, but in a car it’s not easy to get close eye contact and even if you pull a ‘sorry’ face it may not be seen. Easier perhaps to pretend nothing happened and drive on your way!

Are classic car owners more considerate drivers?

Whether the answer’s yes or no, you can rest assured that whether you tow a caravan or forget to indicate when turning, it won’t actually affect your Cherished Vehicle Insurance. And the specialist team at Cherished Vehicle Insurance will be only too pleased to maneuver you into the best possible classic car cover and price!

Marketing

Tips On Creating Engaging Mobile Websites For Pharma Marketers

The world of pharmaceutical advertising and marketing always brings with it its own set of unique challenges… and designing a mobile site is no different. Here are some tips to help with the process.

Looking back, I feel it’s safe to think of 2011 as the year of the mobile website. At least, it was for me. I had the opportunity to be the User Experience Design lead on the creation of a pharmaceutical product’s mobile website. Remember the Mark Twain saying, “I would’ve written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time”? Well, when creating a mobile site less is definitely more.

Tips On Creating Engaging Mobile Websites For Pharma Marketers

Having a mobile presence for pharmaceutical products that are optimized for smartphones to engage the public is almost a requirement today. According to the Manhattan Research 2011 Year in Review 61 million consumers are using mobile devices for health, and smartphone consumers are twice as likely to use mobile websites rather than apps for health-related information.

Regardless of the industry, the objective of any mobile site is to be as intuitive and informative as possible. Crafting a site that is agile, engaging, and relevant requires a creative team to focus on only the most important information and actions. To do this, you need to find the right blend of relevant content with the user experience. Every piece of imagery, audio, video, and a copy is thoroughly thought-out, evaluated, re-evaluated, and then re-evaluated again to see how it relates to the whole experience. This basic formula is “the secret sauce” of a successful pharma mobile site.

With an artfully designed mobile site, a user is engaged and thinking only about the information they came for, not the mobile site navigation.

Mobile users are like information-seeking ninjas. Engage them with what they want fast or they leave as quickly as they arrived. Our multi-disciplinary team created the site by keeping the client’s objectives and the user experience always at the forefront. Here are a few helpful findings from our process. Think of it as Developing Pharma Mobile Sites 101.

The Content:

  • Use only easily digestible information and use no content of questionable value.
  • Base the content on data, and use site analytics to determine what people want.

The Design:

  • Keep the interface simple and intuitive.
  • Use high contrast visuals to keep the information legible.
  • The site’s navigation layers should be wide rather than deep—with relevant options near the top level of navigation.
  • Design a flexible layout from the beginning.
  • Prototype, evaluate, and re-evaluate. Rinse and repeat.

The Experience:

  • Don’t make the user think. Users should be able to find the information they want quickly and easily.
  • Use rich media and videos whenever possible. It’s more engaging and less work for the visitor than reading.

The Creation Process:

  • Take other mobile sites into account but don’t copy them. They may have done something right but use informed common sense to evaluate them and learn from their successes and failures.
  • It is an iterative process. Evaluate and re-evaluate. Rinse and repeat.
  • Create a finished product and don’t leave important elements until the next time the site is updated.

Tips On Creating Engaging Mobile Websites For Pharma Marketers

It’s important to have the first launch to be a quality-finished product. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “It’s the web we can just change it later.” Just because online assets can be updated quickly doesn’t mean you should plan to put up a lower quality or incomplete site with the thought that it will be “fixed” in the next update. Taking a bit of extra time to develop a quality site the first time around can save time and effort down the road—especially when you consider the lengthy approval processes that pharmaceutical websites can require even for small changes. Updates to the site can then be strategic improvements based on the current data from the visitors using the new site rather than crutches to prop up a site that just limps along.

In 2012 the landscape will continue to change as mobile and tablet users evolve. One thing that won’t change is the challenge of presenting relevant information in an intuitive experience. It’s not rocket surgery, but it does take a commitment to have the user experience is baked into the mobile site from the beginning.

What was your most engaging experience on a mobile site?

Or better yet, what was your most frustrating mobile experience?

Mood

Where's Susan?

It’s Sunday and it’s seven a.m. and I’ve been up for quite a few minutes. This is fine now because the weather is nice and it always feels good to get a jump on an old day. Later, though, I will be yawning and rubbing my eyes like a child. I’ll need to do a sleeping cap and my eye-mask and hop into bed no later than eight p.m.! Eight p.m., can you imagine it? How embarrassing! How dreadful! How unlikely! It will never happen. I can most usually be seen howling at the moon all night long, going nuts, partying until the sun comes up.

Last Monday was my birthday, and I spent it well. I’m not too keen on birthdays, to be honest. It’s not that I’m sad about growing older. I’m aware that the transition from twenty-two to twenty-three is nothing special or impressive. I like celebrating the birthdays of others, and I remember a time when I was stoked on my own, but it’s been awhile. I wonder when the switch happened. Probably the year that I had a sleep-over and we watched IT because the film caused me to fear to shower, and dirty is no way to enter a new year of life.

Where's Susan?

I think I just don’t like the type of attention birthdays bring. It embarrasses me. While I’m sure it’s not as visible as I think it is, I get awkward and shifty about the whole thing. And also, I didn’t really do anything on that June 1st two decades ago. My mom did all of the work. She walked around the hospital corridors alone and tried not to barf while the big, fat, sweaty nurse with major body odor took blood and things in a tiny, June-hot room. While my heart feels squeezed when I think of that, it really was the most appropriate way for a difficult person like myself to arrive, and here I am, still.

So, I took off work Monday and hung out at Central Park. I snagged an epic spot and read a bit of P.G. Wodehouse. I also got a hair cut, used FAO Schwarz for their nice bathroom and ended up looking at all kinds of toys, and then ate Shake Shack for the first time. It was delicious and only made better by Tim Robbins being in line ahead of us. Vince noticed first and said, “Shawshank Redemption guy?” and I said, “Huh?” and he said, “In line ahead of us,” and I said, “WHERE’S SUSAN!?!?” At least, that’s how I remember the conversation.

Where's Susan?

I really love seeing celebrities, if we’re being honest. Not so much because of who they are, but because of how people, myself included, react to them. Once while I was enjoying some alcohol with Chelsea, I thought I saw Darrell Hammond. He’s not exactly on the top of his game or anything, but I was still young and excitable.

I nudged Chelsea and said, “Chelsea…CHELSEA….dodon’t….look….now…..but Darrell Hammond is right over there!” She proceeded to look around and I scolded her, “Don’t look like that, he’ll see you!” When she spotted the person I was talking about, she laughed at me and said, “That is not Darrell Hammond.” I meekly argued for thirty seconds before conceding that not only was it not Darrell Hammond, but also that it didn’t look anything like him at all. I had jumped the celebrity spotting gun, and Chelsea continues to make fun of me for it to this day.

Health

Is Breast Cancer Preventable?

Breast cancer is a devastating disease. Can it be prevented? You cannot change some risk factors. You cannot change the fact that you are getting older which increases your risk, the start of your first period, or when you start menopause. You also have no control over your family history and genetic history.

Although breast cancer isn’t considered preventable, some of the risk factors can be reduced and give you a better chance of not developing this disease. If you are young and still bearing children, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by breast-feeding your baby. If you are beginning menopause, you may want to look into other ways of copying other than hormonal replacement therapy. Using birth control pills will also increase your chances of developing breast cancer.

Get proper screening and do once month self-breast exams. In fact, you can make it fun and interesting if you teach your husband how to do your breast exam each month. Regular doctor. Early detection is the best weapon we can use against breast cancer.

Having your children before the age of 30, breast-feed them, and control your weight gain during pregnancy, these can reduce breast cancer risks. If you are menopausal, avoid if possible, the use of long-term hormone replacement therapy.

Limiting your alcohol intake, controlling your weight, and getting the proper exercise will keep; you healthier and reduce your risk of breast cancer. The proper diet and taking care of your body will help prevent this horrible disease.

Studies have been conducted that, although not final, do suggest that Vitamin A may protect against breast cancer, but more studies are needed before it is recommended as a prevention of the disease. Other vitamins such as E and C are being investigated because they carry high numbers of soy. These tests are also not conclusive but are being researched for more information.

Tamoxifen, although not used for prevention of breast cancer, could be used if you are in a high-risk group for developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen is mostly used after breast surgery to prevent breast cancer from redeveloping. The drug is being tested with a select group of qualified women to discover if taking this drug will prevent breast cancer. Tamoxifen has several notable side effects, although most are not serious. The most common are hot flashes and vaginal discharge. In rare occasions, Tamoxifen can cause blood clots, stroke, uterine cancer, and pulmonary embolus. These are life threatening and if you are taking Tamoxifen, you should be aware of these potentially dangerous side effects.

It is important to remember that women, who have high-risk factors for developing breast cancer, do not always develop it. On the other hand, those who have no clear risk factors can still develop this disease. Keeping your body healthy, regular self-breast exams and prescreening can help reduce the chances of developing this disease. Breast cancer, if caught early, can be cured and many survivors can attest to that fact.

Health

Learn How to Get a Flat Belly - Your Life Depends On It

We see the advertisements daily – “learn how to get a flat belly” or”create six-pack abs”. And yet while we might see flat stomachs as more desirable than fat ones, we must understand that appearance is the least of our worries. Put simply, belly fat is extremely dangerous for our health.

What health hazards does belly fat bring with it? Research has shown that a large midsection is linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. If you’re not sure if your stomach is at a dangerous size or not, then use the following guidelines for best health – a man’s waist should be no more than 40 inches round and women should be at or below 35 inches.

Want to know how to get a flat belly? Use these time-tested tips:

Get Moving
You’re going to have to get active, there’s no way around it. Your metabolism needs a jump-start and cardio work is just the tool to get it going. But don’t be discouraged if gyms aren’t your style. There’s plenty of things you can do to burn calories. We heartily recommend that you buy a game console like the Nintendo Wii. You certainly won’t get bored with the many different and fun fitness games (sports, dance workouts, yoga, and more!) that you can play on this weight loss friendly device. You can buy one in our Amazon Get Fit! Store. Other tips? Jump on your bike and ride around town. For that matter, ride your bike to work if you can. Take brisk walks. Learn an active martial art like taekwondo. Play games like soccer and tag with your kids. Take up gardening. Join a running club or ultimate frisbee team. Canoe on a nearby lake. Ice skate. Just get out there and get moving and you’re sure to get rid of belly fat!

Key to sticking with any cardio exercise is shaking up your routine. Do lots of active pursuits and you won’t get bored. Variety helps you stick with and enjoy physical activity for life. Plus, variety helps challenge your body so it doesn’t get used to and “immune” to one activity.

To fully know how to get a flat belly involves more than just learning about cardio training. You also need to build up your abdominal muscles to get the firmness you desire. Some excellent exercises as recommended by the American Council on Exercise include captain’s chair leg lifts, supine bicycle, vertical leg crunches, exercise ball crunches, and twisting crunches. You can find detailed instructions and video tutorials online. Your efforts will burn both calories and strengthen your core, giving your body a solid foundation as you move to a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Well
Learn how to eat real food again and you’ll have the key to how to get a flat belly. The sugary, ’empty’ carbs and packaged foods we’re accustomed to eating are often so heavily processed they no longer contain the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need and do nothing but produce belly fat. Instead of these belt busters, opt for foods that burn fat. Many whole foods do just that. Concentrate on complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, millet and other whole grains (but try and avoid wheat products if possible as most people will find that weight loss comes easier without it in their diet); sources of lean protein such as lean meats and nuts; and the fiber richness of fruits and vegetables.

Relax and Lose Fat
You’ll see it mentioned more than once on this site because we love what this exercise does for your mind and body. We’re talking about yoga. This activity is fantastic for relieving stress and shedding pounds. What’s the big deal about getting rid of stress? Because stress is proven to lead to belly fat and a host of other ailments including high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system and more.

Yoga doesn’t just help with a relation. It helps create a firm belly, increases flexibility and builds a toned, pain-free body. This is one serious, life-changing tool at your disposal. (By the way, we highly recommend you check out Brilliant Yoga, an excellent resource for giving you a personal ‘yoga prescription’ that gets you the very best yoga fat loss results for your efforts.

Learning how to get a flat belly is all about moving, eating well and relaxing. Start today and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this earlier.

Business

The Entertainment Industry Needs a New Business Model

I am not sure what most of the readers of this site think about the RIAA and MPAA or if they even know what those acronyms mean. If you are even a casual reader of most news sites, you have to be aware of the ongoing battle between technology companies and the entertainment industry.

I can honestly say I understand the plight the entertainment groups are faced with, which is that emerging technology always seems to be providing a way that could harm their profit margin. What I cannot appreciate is how they typically go about dealing with the dilemma, which is to fight it tooth and nail. Methods are employed to limit your ability to use technology, and even worse, untold millions of dollars are used to “influence” lawmakers to pass legislation in favor of businesses at the detriment of the people on the whole. This is clearly against the purpose that our government was designed for.

My opinions are strong in this area. I feel like the business in any industry has to evolve to meet the ever-changing market demands or something “fitter” will win out in the fight for the ever important dollar. The problem, in this case, is that there are serious dollars at work, and people are willing to do anything to keep those dollars flowing their direction.

I am not literary king, so I have often avoided commenting on this subject because I don’t think I can do it justice. I think another little part of me believes in conspiracy theories, so I am afraid that I will wake up to find my house being ransacked after bringing up topics such as these. I read an article today that I thought made a great point on the use of DRM (Digital Rights Management). It is titled Privately Hollywood admits DRM isn’t about piracy.

I think over time I will try to continue to point out articles I think are pertinent to this argument. The problem exists for the music as well as the movie industry. I have personal experience working in the music industry and have seen how even a seasoned entertainer has to fight against the insider bubble to try and make it in the industry. There are a lot of things wrong with the business, but in the end what matters to me most is that my rights as a citizen of my country cannot be infringed upon for the interests of a specific industry or business. That is just plain wrong.

Sorry, not a lot of humor in this post because I couldn’t really find much to laugh about. The consequences of what is happening with our laws and the current environment on this topic are truly frightening.

Mood

Typical Online Personas

Growing up we spend most of our time complaining that people don’t take us seriously enough. I know most teenagers think they know it all and no one realizes it or respects them for it. As an adult, most of us get over this though plenty of others do not.

Most adults I deal with on a day-to-day basis understand and even have a sense of humor. I know this may not seem like a novel concept, but it is harder to come by than I would have thought. Some people just take things too seriously and jump at the chance to take offense at even the smallest thing they can find.

I see this a lot in online discussions. Forums, comments on articles, and especially sites like Digg and Slashdot where commenting is a major portion of the community on which they are built tend to drive me crazy. I used to read through comments purely for entertainment, but the common types that appear bug me too much that I have given up reading anything other than the source article unless I am really intrigued by what others might have to say on the subject.

I have discussed before how the anonymity the ‘net gives people tends to bring out the worst in so many. So many people lose all practical inhibitions, meaning the good ones when it comes to social grace or simple respect for fellow human beings. They will jump on even the smallest error in a post as an opportunity to belittle the individual and invalidate any point that the individual might have been trying to make.

Here are a few of the common “types” I have observed when perusing such comment threads:

  • Those with a valid point to add to the discussion – a small minority
  • The spell checkers – those that flame any user that happens to let a typo through before submitting their comment
  • The grammar checkers – just like the spell checkers, but these believe they are the only ones with a mastery of the English language and consider it a shame that apparently no one else does.
  • The oppositional ones – they will take the opposite point of view on every discussion
  • The rule enforcers – those that report anyone they don’t like to the moderator for apparent rules violations.
  • The butt kissers – those that will gush with appreciation and compliments for the site administrators and moderators whenever an official announcement is posted.
  • The loyalists – the ones that want to be recognized for their long-standing loyalty and obvious prowess because they “have been there since the beginning”
  • The experts (aka know-it-alls) – whenever long debate ensues, these users jump in with the “official speak” and a list of references backing their position. Sometimes these types are right, other times they are just annoying.
  • The agree-ers – these just cannot see a thread and not participate. They will post “me too” or “yes” on every thread.
  • The I-can’t-search-for-myself types – will ask the same question that has been covered a hundred times before rather than search out the answer from the previous posts.
  • The propagandist – No matter what the topic, George Bush is at fault (or other conservative/liberal depending on your preference). Even if they think they are being funny, they will constantly throw in degrading comments showing their obvious slant.
  • The spammer – the idiot that acts as they care with some half-baked post and a huge signature line with all their products/sites they are advertising.There are oh so many more “types” out there, but that is a good start. Any other types you would like to add to the list?
lifestyle

Tired of Insomnia

Why is that as kids we fight sleep, and as adults we fight for it? Kids hate naps as toddlers, crying themselves to sleep (at least mine do) and the other youngsters do everything in their power to push bedtime later with every stall tactic imaginable. As a teenager, I remember staying up late to do the dumbest things, and curfew on weekends was something to be challenged at every opportunity. Now as an adult, I cherish every minute of quiet, dark bliss I can get. My wife would sleep double what she gets given even a chance.

So why is it I have such a hard time getting to sleep?

I want to sleep, I try to sleep, I just can’t fall asleep until the moment when I can barely keep my eyes open. Truthfully, I know why. I stress about things, and when I do, those things pass through my mind constantly until I can think of a solution. Then once I have a solution, I go over that solution repeatedly in my mind. I can’t turn it off, and until my brain just doesn’t have any more power to work on, it just keeps going.

So everyone has their suggestion, which of course works for them but rarely does a thing for me. Counting sheep is the old favorite, but that never did anything for me. Falling asleep with the TV on is not an option my wife would let me try, and when I have tried it in another room, I just stay awake engaged in what I am watching anyway. Ever heard the warm milk suggestion”¦blech!

What typically works for me is reading a good (read that brainless mystery) book for 30 minutes or so, which gets my mind off the matters of the day and slowing down so I can rest. Problem is always having a book I am interested in to read. I have read most everything of the authors I like, so it is always a quest to find a new author that is up to par.

Of course, for many years this situation worked wonders for me, giving me many more productive hours for my entrepreneurial ventures as I worked on the computer late into the night until I was practically dipping my head into the keyboard. I just don’t have the stamina for it anymore. I blame that on my kids. I still do tend to stay up late reading things on the computer, but my ability to be productive late at night is far less than in the past.

What makes it worse is if I don’t get to sleep quickly at night, I use that as an excuse to turn off my alarm and skip the gym the next morning. I need that gym time to get invigorated and to work on shedding the extra 20 lbs I have been trying to lose for some time.

Insomnia in my life just has to go. It sucks, no other way to put it. I need the ability to fall asleep on demand so I can wake up in the morning early to get my day going right. So do you have this problem, and if so, what do you do?

general

Dogs Love My Trash

This doesn’t happen all that often in my neighborhood, so I shouldn’t complain too much, but what fun would that be? It has happened plenty throughout my life though, so I feel justified.

I wake up this morning, finally feeling better after my 3+ day holiday bug, ready for the day. While getting ready, my wife opens the curtains and lets me know, “Some dog got in our trash.”

I am not sure how the trash routine is in your neck of the woods, but around here when there is a holiday we basically have no idea when our can is going to get emptied. We normally have Wednesday as our pick up day, but when a holiday happens early in the week, on the weekend, or in the last couple of weeks, our trash day is automatically bumped to some other day, so be prepared. It could happen on the same day too, we have no idea. Often it is the day after your normal pick up, but you just can’t count on that. We have planned on it in the past and had to deal with an overstuffed bin for an extra week because, by some superhuman feat, the trash guy was able to keep us on schedule.

I am sure there is some logic to all this, but the company engaged by the city to take care of our refuse doesn’t care to share it with all of us. Trust me, we do actually read our city monthly newsletter, so we would know! We have only lived here two years now, so perhaps they only announce it once every decade and I shouldn’t be complaining.

So, in lieu of knowing what the heck is going on, we – and all our neighbors – dutifully put out our trash on a normal day so we will be ready for whenever the pickup actually happens. Queue dog getting out of whatever stronghold a neighbor should have him in. It is the Christmas season, right? This dog definitely had himself a whole buffet of options available. With the inevitable overstuffing of garbage cans due to the discarded present packaging, lids are all askew and rampant aromas floating in the air.

You would expect trash strewn up and down the street from everyone can available, right? Wrong. Of course not. For some reason, the contents of my can hit this particular dogs delight. My wife mused,

“Maybe it’s the wonderful diapers we have in our can, dogs love those.”

Yuck. That is one thing that turns my stomach, but it’s true. Dog’s love the baby diapers. That can’t be the case though because the Utah water hit several of our neighbors this last year and we all have little ones under 1 yr. I guess my kid just has that special scent.

Whatever the reason, we were the only ones with the pleasure of having our trash spread for the world to see. Lucky us.

Mood

There’s Nothing on TV

I know I am overgeneralizing with that title, but I hope to make the point that TV these days has a lot of nothing worth watching.

Do you remember as a kid opening up the fridge and standing there for several minutes before your mom or dad yelled at asked you to close the door? Your reply was “but there’s nothing to eat!” Of course, there were plenty of things to eat in there, but none of it sounded all that interesting to you. You wanted something good.

That is the way I feel about TV these days. There is always plenty of channels with something on, but none of it sounds all that interesting to me. Fortunately, some smart people invented the DVR, which lets me digitally record shows, even automatically recording all new shows of certain series I indicate. This lets me watch what I think is interesting when I want to watch it.There’s Nothing on TV

Lately though, even having a DVR is not enough. I have come to the end of my most recent Dish Network contract feeling unsatisfied with what I am paying nearly $50 a month to have just the basic options of their service. What irks me, even more, is that they are still advertising the $29.95 rate that I signed up for, and not as a promotional price. About halfway through the service, they raised the rates due to “increasing costs of delivering high-quality content.” Hogwash.

So, at the end of the month, we are turning the service off. Prior to this most recent stint back on the Dish service, we chose as a family to not have any TV service for a little over a year. We found that we did more as a family, had more time to do other things, and we ended up watching many DVD based TV shows sans-commercials. For the most part, we really didn’t miss having live TV. We ended up subscribing for Dish to get a few channels and shows we wanted to catch since we are in a pocket that really doesn’t get any decent local reception. Now we again don’t feel it is worth it.

There’s Nothing on TV

With $50/mo in savings, I am planning to research some better antennae options mounted in my attic (so I don’t have a huge device on my roof) to see if I can pull down a better signal for local channels. I will miss TLC and Discovery, ESPN and TBS/TNT, but really that is about it. Otherwise, I plan to catch some shows online and perhaps just do more with the time I have wasted periodically watching TV. What a novel concept.

Maybe I’ll read a few more books or spend more time with my photography. Whatever I do, I know it will be more productive than watching TV.