Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Holiday Gift Your Kids Will Still Have in 20 Years

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

I was inspired the other morning watching my husband replacing a part to fix our electronic garage door opener. Just a few years ago anything that broke around our house would have prompted an immediate call to a company to send someone out to replace it.

The thought of fixing it would have been secondary to replacing it. The thought of my husband actually fixing it himself, well, that just makes me smile. In defense of his manliness; he could fix it, but he never would have thought to go that route.

Upon the garage door opening and closing properly again, he was actually excited and proud to show me his handiwork proclaiming – “I did it”.

It secretly reminds me of when I occasionally babysit my friend’s 2 and 3 year old boys. They are thrilled when they put their shoes on by themselves or navigate bringing a glass of ice tea to me without spilling a drop on the floor.

Similar to my reaction to the boys, I was all smiles to witness my husband’s achievement confirming his pride in accomplishment. I’m not making fun of him. I’m simply noticing more these days how everyone likes to feel and share success even in little things no matter their age or background.

It’s the everyday pleasures that count again.

Just a few years ago, the hectic work schedule of our two CEO family had us eating out five nights a week on a regular basis. Our 60 hour or more weekly work schedules have slowed down as the economy has slowed down.

We eat out 2-4 times per month now. I am cooking meals at home the rest of the time.

This has been a big change, and yet it has been a blessing to me as it turns out. I have rediscovered how much fun I have cooking and that I love to cook again.

I am just as proud of being a good cook as I am of being a good executive. I put the same amount of attention to detail in both endeavors and equally enjoy the “great job” accolade for either.

I grew up in a family with both parents being a great cook. My parents would never have thought to go out to eat dinner because they were too busy at work to cook at home.

They enjoyed cooking and saw it as pleasurable family time. My Italian dad was a home cook who made bread and pasta from scratch by hand weekly.

Rediscovering the fun in cooking has me re-remembering the smells and laughter I had learning to make lasagna and meatballs back then with one of my best teachers in life – my dad. My Swedish mom was a good cook too. Her “Black Magic Chocolate Cake” (strong coffee and sour milk believe it or not), chicken and dumplings, and deviled eggs is still the most requested birthday meal by me and my sisters.

I still chuckle to myself with the memory of my dad teasing my mom when she made her “little” Swedish meatballs dinner saying “You call that a meatball?”

I remember my mom and dad dancing around the kitchen cooking together when I hear a Frank Sinatra song. I remember chopping garlic cloves, for what seemed like forever, every time I see the glass jar of chopped garlic in the grocery store.

They are all memories of the simple pleasures in life I am glad I experienced. Everyday events may get overlooked in more hectic or prosperous times. They can bring have more meaning, and be more noticed, in times of counting blessings.

As we approach the holidays, I hope people, especially parents, will appreciate that it can be the gift of time and even inexpensive, thoughtful gifts that will bring great pleasure to their family and friends. I hope parents do not feel guilty if they cannot buy their children the latest, greatest technology gadget.

I hope everyone realizes the gifts of time and thoughtfulness are what create the lasting memories their kids will still have in 20 years. What you are creating today may be memories to be remembered years from now providing comfort perhaps when your child is feeling sad or facing a challenging time in their adult life.

As an example, your children will remember the fun in the kitchen holiday cooking with you long after this year’s hottest gadget has become obsolete to them.

Getting together with family and friends means more than you realize now, and this will create a lasting memory for all of you. It is usually thoughtfulness and laughter that people remember and look back on with fondness in life.

Some of you reading this might be saying to yourself right about now – “Yeah right, my kids would be embarrassed by any of this.” I know firsthand that an embarrassing family memory can become a treasured one.

As I mentioned, my dad made pasta from scratch by hand when I was growing up. I can remember coming home from school with a friend and seeing the pasta strips draped across dish towels on our dining room chairs, drying in the air, with Luciano Pavarotti playing in the background.

I was always embarrassed for my friends to see this, for it seemed so old fashioned and backwards to me at the time.

I made pasta from scratch by hand a few months ago and put Andre Bocelli on the stereo. I sensed my dad’s spirit in the dining room with me as I draped the pasta over our dining room chairs to dry.

It was the warmest and most comforting feeling I have had in a long time. The point being, you never know what your children will remember fondly later in life. If they are embarrassed by your effort now, so what, it’s still worth it.

My two favorite gifts of all time were both inexpensive. They are my favorite gifts because one was so intimately given from the heart, and the other was so reflective of knowing me on an every day level.

My youngest sister, like my dad was, is a gifted poet and writer. Many years ago for Christmas, when she had no money to buy gifts, she wrote me a poem titled “The Face in the Mirror”. She placed it in a mirror frame and wrapped it in a brown grocery bag she hand-decorated with angel drawings.

It is one of my treasures to this day. Half way through reading her poem for the first time that Christmas morning, I realized it was about her looking in the mirror and seeing the face of our dad looking back at her.

When I read her poem today years later, I still feel inside how she perfectly captured the dichotomy of our dad’s deep love and yet almost impossible-to-meet expectation for all of his children. The average person reading this poem may not realize it was about her and our dad.

It is very personal and intimate with that knowing between the two of us. This handmade gift had more impact in my life than any piece of expensive jewelry ever has.

On a lighter note, my second favorite gift was a $19.99 Mr. CoffeeTM Ice-Tea Maker my husband bought me the first year we were married. He thought it was the perfect gift for me, because it made my daily ice tea habit more convenient.

I love that thing, and yes, I still use it almost every day of the week. He bought me other more expensive gifts too that holiday, but you know what - I cannot recall what they were today. Yet, when I used that ice-tea maker this afternoon, I smiled and remembered the day he gave it to me.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and on Facebook.

Monday, December 5, 2011

“Time Shifting” Reinvents 2012 Voter Campaign Message Consumption

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

Time shifting is the process of recording live television shows on TiVo, or a similar digital video recording (DVR) device, and watching them at a later date. People who time shift are opting-out of live TV viewing. This process includes fast-forwarding through commercials.

For many, this is particularly true of political ads when they hit favorite shows non-stop. Time shifting allows viewers to control their ad consumption, if any at all on TV.

Politicians must now become more creative and in-touch with how voters consume campaign messaging. The Internet has become the place to be seen and to be heard, and most importantly, the place to create voter engagement.

President Obama’s current use of Town Hall meetings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as websites and mobile phone applications, is no youth vote outreach novelty. It is an example for all politicians in meeting the evolving campaign consumption choices of voters regardless of age.

With his 2008 campaign, President Obama used social media to change the culture of politics. The days of marketers, including political campaigns, being “I speak and you listen.” are over. The new paradigm is “We must now listen to each other.”

Social media and new media in general, have changed voters’ campaign consumption and interaction. More Americans now expect two-way communication. They desire a seat at the table. They demand a meaningful online presence and engagement from politicians.

The Campaign Solutions Group (TCSG) has been a leading provider of TeleCampaign services since 1995. Based in San Diego, TCSG owns and operates a 150 seat in-house call center specializing in live-agent voter-ID, persuasion, patch-through and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) services. TCSG also offers a full suite of automated voter contact solutions including Tele Town Hall, robo-calls and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) polling.

Video-TownHall, The Campaign Solutions Group's newest virtual campaign tool, is now available for the 2012 election cycle. Video-TownHall is truly unique. Unlike a traditional Town Hall, it does not have to be tied to a live event. A video widget is permanently embedded on the campaign website. Voters engage in personalized Q&A sessions with the candidate by keying natural language questions (policy or personal). Answers are provided via prerecorded high definition video clips.

Video-TownHall is TCSG’s inaugural contribution to the digital campaign space. Future digital campaign tools will include Virtual Debate Forum and Grassroots Volunteer Portal.

John Mabie, CEO of The Campaign Solutions Group shares his insight.

BKH: What are the main effects social media, mobile apps, and TiVo are having on campaign message strategy and ad buys?

JM: With one third of voters time-shifting, campaigns must seek alternative communication channels to fill the gap. Old media, TV, print (including direct mail), and radio advertising will continue to be staples; however, new media is gaining ground.

The campaign website will still be the cornerstone of digital campaigning; however, candidates will also rely on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Digital content and messaging is now customary. The challenge for today’s digital campaign strategist is how to leverage technology to gain an advantage.

Creating voter engagement is the new priority. Effective campaign websites have minimal bounce rates. Bounce rates are visitors logging on to the site, then leaving after viewing the homepage. Website effectiveness is measured with analytics. Key performance indicators include page views, session duration, unique visitors, repeat visitors and active time.

The most effective campaign websites include tools which allow voters to do more than just click through pages and view content. Interactive voter engagement (completing web-forms, answering survey/poll questions, clicking “like,” etc.) is the Holy Grail of digital campaigning.

Digital campaign strategists must also develop effective ways to drive traffic to the website. The greatest campaign website is useless without visitors. Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital, for this makes it easy for voters to find the website when querying Google, Yahoo, etc.

The true challenge is to attract voters who are not looking for the site which involves marketing and promotion. The campaign website URL should be prominently displayed on all printed promotional material and mentioned in all TV and radio ads.

Campaigns must now deploy dedicated stand-alone advertising initiatives solely for the purpose of driving website traffic; namely, strategically placed banner ads. For example, if a candidate is trying to appeal to young adult males, placing banner ads on Entertainment and Sports Programming Network’s (ESPN) website is a clever choice. If older voters are the target, American Association of Retired Persons’ (AARP) website would be desirable.

Effective banner ads must be creative, perhaps provocative, and always include a “call to action.” For example, “Click here to view Candidate-X’s policy position on gay marriage!”

BKH: What are the main effects of voters trending away from traditional media to new media in general?

JM: The effects are different for the constituent and the candidate. For the constituent, with the advent of time shifting, many now control their ad consumption.

For the candidate, the campaign must deploy an integrated mix of traditional media and new media strategies. Putting all eggs in one basket is a losing formula. Each campaign must decide how to weight this mix in terms of dedicated resources and investment. Some common questions a campaign team must ask:

  1. How much do we spend on new media?
  2. How do we allocate our new media investment?
  3. Do we outsource every aspect of our new media initiative, or do we bring certain things in-house?

BKH: How has campaign strategy evolved most from 2008 to 2012?

JM: New media’s place in politics has gradually been gaining ground since Diane Feinstein lunched the first campaign website in 1994. By 1998, the effects of the Internet began to emerge. Independent Jesse Ventura stunned the Minnesota political establishment by conducting a campaign that featured email communications.

In 2000, GOP presidential candidate John McCain proved that candidates could raise a lot of money online. During the 2002-midterm elections, many voters were turning to the Internet to get political information from multiple sources.

In 2004 presidential race, Howard Dean's campaign demonstrated how social networking (blogs) could be effective in generating voter interest. The 2006 midterm election campaign was perhaps most famous for the rise of online video, highlighted by Virginia Republican George Allen’s “macaca” video.

The main story of the historic 2008 presidential race was the way in which all kinds of social media tools came to prominence: Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and mobile phone texting. The 2010 race was notable for the innovation of mobile campaign apps.

I predict the digital trend will continue to expand in 2012. Candidates will place more emphasis on online messaging and will utilize more online channels. A simple campaign website will no longer suffice. The 2012 campaign strategist will deploy a feature rich website chock full of engaging features and web-tools. Facebook and Twitter will be leveraged more than ever.

The difference from 2010 to 2012 will not be marked by differences per se, but more by “scale.” The new media options that were effectively dabbled with in 2010 will command much greater attention and investment in 2012. Bigger campaigns will hire dedicated Digital Strategists. Campaigns will reassess 2010 voter outreach budget allocations and redirect a greater percentage to new media options.

If I had to predict one actual “big” campaign development in 2012, I’d say, “web traffic optimization.”

Campaigns will spend a lot of time and money designing compelling website campaign messaging, but they will spend record amounts of money driving traffic to the site. Strategists will invest heavily in targeted dedicated banner ads for the sole purpose of driving voters to campaign websites.

BKH: Is there a big difference between how over 40 voters versus under 40 voters follow campaigns?

JM: Voters are generally divided into four age categories: (18-29), (30-44), (45-64) and (65+). In 2008 Obama got 66%, 52% and 50% of the three youngest groups. McCain got 53% of the oldest group.

Statistics show that younger people opt-out of live TV more than older voters. Nearly 80% of young voters rely on the Internet as their primary source of news. Approximately 70% of young voters use some form of social networking every week, 39% do so every day.

Because younger voters are online more than older voters, they naturally consume more campaign information via digital options. Innovative forward thinking campaign strategists will make a better effort driving older voter digital traffic in 2012.

BKH: Do most politicians and political strategists understand the entire campaign message elements needed?

JM: As CEO of a TeleCampaign company, I speak to candidates, campaign managers and political consultants all the time. I can safely say everyone in the political campaign space is well aware of the increasing growth and value of new media. I am quite sure at least 99% of today’s campaign strategists utilize some form of digital messaging. At the least, they all use a basic campaign website.

In terms of proactive, creative, innovative, forward-thinking understanding and command of digital campaigning, the landscape is clearly segmented on a bell curve. Only a small group truly “gets it.” On the other end of the spectrum, only a small group lack true understanding.

The overwhelming majority are somewhere in the middle. Over time, the bell will start to change shape as more campaign strategists stop talking about comprehensive digital strategies and actually start allocating significant budget resources to new media initiatives.

Its true most modern campaign strategists understand social networking and the value of an online presence; however, most are “old-school,” still prepared to dedicate the vast majority of outreach resources to TV and print. Television advertising still casts a huge shadow over all other forms of voter messaging in terms of budget.

In 2010, nearly 70% of the $2 billion spent on campaigns was used for TV advertising. Total expenditures for 2012 are projected at $3 billion. How the 2012 pie will be cut up remains to be seen. No doubt new media will gain significant ground; however, it may still be underutilized.

Television will continue to lead the way. Old habits die hard, and the economics of the “campaign business” are deeply rooted in traditional TV ad buys. Modern campaign strategists acknowledge the need for an online presence, but most are satisfied with the mere basics of a vanilla website, an unimaginative Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account and perhaps an inexpensive mobile app.

As political TV ads are proven to be less effective and as more voters utilize new media, strategists will start allocating greater resources to digital campaigning. Basic campaign websites will eventually include more innovative content and interactive tools.

Capturing demographics and voter data will become a serious priority. Social media channels will be leveraged. Significant investments will be made in website traffic optimization. The early adopters will gain a decided advantage. Over time the playing field will level.

BKH: How are politicians and campaign strategists reengineering their voter outreach strategies in general?

JM: While all candidates and political consultants talk the digital talk, they are still not walking the digital walk. Candidates typically spend a very small portion of their ad budgets on digital advertising. Though digital advocates have predicted increases in online ad budgets for years, the standard is still around 5% of the overall ad budget or less. TV and direct mail still rule.

2008 was by far the biggest year for online political advertising, but wasn’t big enough to be considered a “tipping point,” that status may be attained in 2012. The impact of the 2008 Obama campaign certainly got the scale moving, but old-school political media consultants were not completely sold.

To-date, anecdotal evidence suggests Democrats have leveraged new media more successfully. However, in 2010, Republican Scott Brown’s stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts, driven in part by a sophisticated online organizing and advertising effort, proves digital campaigning works for Republicans too.

Since 2008, campaigns with money almost always include online advertising in the mix, both early on to build a supporter list, and later for persuasion and GOTV purposes. In the future, more and more small, bootstrapped campaigns, from city council to statehouse, will buy and target Google and Facebook ads and/or develop a display/banner ad initiative.

BKH: What are the new high traffic areas for messaging?

JM: Individual campaign websites are still campaign staples but Twitter and Facebook are gaining ground fast. In January 2011, only 40% of the US Congressmen and Congresswomen were on Twitter. That number doubled by August.

Mitt Romney ran the first political Twitter ad on September 21, 2011. As of November 2011, Mitt Romney has 1.19 million Facebook “Likes.” By comparison, President Obama has 24 million “Likes.”

BKH: Where is the ad placement and ad money leaving and going?

JM: Online ads allow candidates to capture supporters at a relatively low cost compared to TV, direct mail, and other media. Digital ads, like the sponsored links that show up at the top of a Google search and ubiquitous social network ads, help candidates drive voters to their Facebook pages or campaign websites.

From there, they can entice supporters to sign a petition focused on a key issue, get them to register to volunteer with the campaign, and most important, donate campaign contributions. Once campaigns have an email address, they can go back to a supporter again and again to ask for additional donations.

In 2008, Obama clearly beat McCain in terms of online campaigning. The major distinction was money. The Obama camp spent upwards of $20 million. McCain’s team, on the other hand, spent closer to $4 million.

Google was the clear winner, grabbing at least $7.5 million in ad dollars from Obama. Obama spent less than $1 million on Facebook ads. Though Google is still a powerhouse when it comes to online political advertising, Facebook is rapidly closing in on Google’s dominant position as a result of its explosive growth among much of the voting public in the U.S. 2010 was the first big election year for social network advertising.

Because nearly every campaign created a Facebook page, many took the next step of running display ads to promote their pages in the hopes of garnering more “Likes”, which by extension is a bigger audience for their political messages and fundraising appeals. The trend is sure to continue in 2012.

BKH: What are the new products that meet the needs of how voters' want to view candidate information?

JM: New campaign trends for 2012 will include innovative web-tools, like Video-TownHall, and integrated “analytics analysis” that will trigger donation requests to visitors who are obvious supporters.

Video will start playing a more significant role in digital campaigning. More candidates are posting speeches and/or TV news appearances on YouTube, and embedding those videos on their campaign website.

I believe we will see a very large increase in money spent promoting all forms of online campaign communication, namely banner ads to drive traffic to campaign websites.

Originated in 2008, the Google ad tactic known as the “Google Surge” will continue to be popular and will likely be copied. Typically employed for GOTV right before election day, the surge involves a display ad blitz on the Google content network within a brief period of time, targeting a specific geographic area. The surge is equivalent to a short term “blast,” bombarding the electorate with consistent and persistent messaging.

BKH: How is Video-Town Hall a revolutionary campaign solution?

JM: Video-TownHall is revolutionary, because it is the first campaign web-tool, which allows true voter-candidate interaction in real time, any time - not tied to a live event. The Q&A experience is available 24-7.

The interactive Q&A experience is in itself revolutionary. No other campaign product or web-tool has ever created an individualized virtual town hall experience for the voter. Constituents engage the candidate on personalized issues.

Voters are not forced to listen to long speeches or view extended YouTube videos, which may contain issues/subjects of little or no interest to that voter.

No other campaign product or web-tool exposes the “personal” side of a candidate like Video-TownHall. Politicians may typically be viewed as detached and inaccessible - just a suit and a set of talking points. Video-TownHall actually helps “humanize” the candidate.

Video-TownHall allows voters to ask personal questions like What books do you read?, Who’s your favorite actor?, Did you always do your homework in school?, PC or Mac?, What historical figures do you admire most? The experience is engaging and fun!

Video-TownHall is also revolutionary, because it is on the cutting edge of “constituency profiling.” All voter Q&A engagement is recorded and reported. If logged on through Facebook, the voter’s demographic profile comes with him/her. Each Q&A session results in valuable data capture.

The platform allows for measurement of question frequency and pinpoints hot issues in specific geographic locations. It identifies key issues by age and/or gender, which is useful for micro-targeting and campaign strategy. The back-end analytics are invaluable. Captured voter data, via online interaction, will eventually be the life-blood of campaigns in the future.

Video-TownHall is revolutionary, because it is “newsworthy” in and of itself. Utilizing this new technology creates publicity. Forward thinking early adopters of new technology are seen as tech savvy innovators. Candidates who think outside the box are considered cutting edge.

BKH: Which candidates are currently using Video-TownHall?

JM: The web-tool was released in late October. San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio was the first candidate to deploy the technology.

Six candidates are scheduled to come online soon. Two are U.S. Congressmen, one is a U.S. Senate candidate, two are California Assemblymen, and one is a Los Angeles Board of Supervisor candidate.

In addition, we have submitted 200+ additional proposals, and The Campaign Solutions Group will start a national advertising campaign in December.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

App overload? There’s a mobile browser for that!

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

The growth of mobile phone usage worldwide has been astounding to say the least. According to digitalbuzz, “Over 70% of the world’s population now has a mobile phone, that’s over 5 billion mobile subscribers, and in places like the US, it’s 9 in 10 people. Apple has sold almost 60 million iPhones world wide, while Google’s Android OS is growing at 886% year on year and now activating over 160,000 devices a day, across 60 devices in over 40 countries.”

There are hundreds of thousands of apps available for Apple and Android smart phones with another combined 200,000 approximately in development. Wow, does that make your brain hurt or what? Good news is there is now a new a mobile browser to use for that!

On October 31, appMobi located in San Francisco announced immediate availability of its MobiUs product, the world’s first Web app browser, bringing native app functionality to Web apps and websites developed specifically to run apps written in HTML5.

appMobi is the world’s leading HTML5 development ecosystem, offering developers a stack of easy to use tools and services for the development, deployment and monetization of HTML5 apps.

appMobi CEO Dave Kennedy offers, “The company has focused on products that advance the mobile market’s shift from proprietary native tools and services to industry standards HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. While the emerging HTML5 standard offers the mobile industry ease of app development and freedom from fragmentation, it lacks a number of key features that drove Apple’s rapid ascent to market leader.”

“appMobi’s mission is to provide the missing features that will allow HTML5 to compete and win against proprietary solutions. Specifically, these features include an HTML5 development, debugging, and build system, user authentication, ‘touch to buy’, push notifications, user analytics, and on-device app updates. appMobi has created best-of-breed solutions for each of these issues.”

“appMobi’s XDK (cross platform development kit) allows developers to use HTML5 technology to create fully functional mobile apps that run across different hardware platforms, including Android and iOs.”

Key features of MobiUs include:

  • Mobile-optimized Web app caching for instant access to Web apps even when the device isn’t connected
  • DirectCanvas for supercharged game speed and performance
  • Web-based Push notifications for user engagement
  • Built-in eCommerce capability through appMobi’s 1Touch digital wallet technology
  • Mobile-optimized tabbed browsing
  • Full screen browsing
  • Orientation locking
  • In-app access to device hardware functionalities such as the accelerometer, GPS, compass, vibration, microphone, camera and more.

Melissa Burns, Executive Vice President Mobility Public Relations, notes, “MobiUs is a revolutionary new mobile browser that for the first time powers Web apps and even websites with the exact same capabilities as native apps from the app stores.”

She continues, “MobiUs works either as a standalone mobile browser, or it can power Web apps and websites with full native app functionality from a person’s favorite mobile browser, such as the Safari browser for iPhone. MobiUs for iOS is available in the Apple App Store as a free app.”

Sam Abadir, Founder, Chairman and CTO, explains, “Until now, Web apps and websites have had limited capabilities, technically incapable of utilizing the great features that made smartphones so popular: gravity sensing, accelerometer, GPS, camera, sound and vibration, file system, and more.”

“MobiUs integrates powerful APIs from PhoneGap and appMobi to give Web apps the same performance, look and feel as native apps. HTML5 Offline Caching lets MobiUs run Web apps even when network connectivity is unavailable. Once a Web app is bookmarked in MobiUs, the app is stored on the smartphone, so it loads instantly and can run with or without Internet connectivity, just like a native app.”

Melissa offers, “MobiUs represents the state of the art in mobile browsing technology; with an optimized user experience that leverages new capabilities enabled by the emerging HTML5 standard, plus enhanced capabilities engineered by appMobi.”

“Because gameplay accounts for a large percentage of the time people spend with their smartphones, appMobi has embedded its DirectCanvas HTML5 game acceleration technology within MobiUs. DirectCanvas supercharges the performance of a game’s physics calculation and screen drawing by an astounding 500 percent, making Web games played via MobiUs as fast and responsive as native app games.”

“MobiUs is huge, with the power to disrupt everything you know about mobile apps, where you get them and how developers and publishers benefit from them,” says Sam Abadir.

He provides, “What has been particularly exciting for us is the early interest in MobiUs from some of our game developer customers. Game developers always push technology to the absolute edge of its limitations in order to make entertaining, thrilling and compelling games, and they are finding the combination of MobiUs and appMobi’s GameDev XDK gives them performance up to and even beyond the speed and capabilities of Adobe Flash.”

Executive Vice President Burns touts the benefits of MobiUs, “If mobile users want to harness the power of MobiUs while continuing to use their favorite browser, they can. To invoke MobiUs, mobile app developers simply add an HTML tag to their Web app hyperlinks which allows their Web apps to run on a user's device through any mobile browser.”

“Increasingly, smartphone apps utilize push notifications to send messages to users about something new that requires their attention. MobiUs is the first smartphone browser to enable push notifications for HTML5, giving Web apps the power of push notifications not just in the form of familiar text notifications, but with full multimedia messages powered by HTML5 that can include text, animations, audio and video messages.”

“MobiUs also includes appMobi’s breakthrough 1Touch digital wallet technology, allowing developers to include a single click payment process within their Web apps. 1Touch users avoid the privacy and security risks associated with storing personal financial information like credit card numbers and addresses in large, at-risk databases in the cloud, susceptible to massive hacks and security breaches. Instead, 1Touch securely stores encrypted credit card information on the device, only decrypted when purchases are made.”

“The MobiUs browser makes the mobile Web far more immersive by allowing Web developers to access all of the functions that native apps can access, effectively creating the performance of a native app in a mobile website. Viewed in MobiUs, mobile sites are able to make use of device functionalities such as the accelerometer, GPS, compass, vibration, microphone, camera and more.”

CTO Abadir expounds, “With MobiUs on the scene, the ‘walled garden’ is now a public space. There are many good reasons why app publishers might still want to use the walled garden app stores, but for the first time, MobiUs gives them a real choice between distributing by app store or the open Web.”

“The appMobi platform and MobiUs allow any HTML5 developer to create and market mobile apps on the open Web that are indistinguishable from native apps in performance and functionality. MobiUs truly empowers Web apps and opens up the entire World Wide Web as the new app store.”

Burns follows up, “Over the past year appMobi has released a number of tools into the hands of developers, arming them with everything they need to build, deploy, measure and monetize their cross platform mobile apps. Tens of thousands of developers have joined appMobi, leveraging the company’s tools and services to build incredible mobile apps.”

“We are glad they took the time to learn more about MobiUs. Beyond MobiUs, appMobi has an even grander vision for how HTML5 will drive change, and we look forward to the opportunity to keep developers abreast of these changes as they inevitably happen. There is no question that the app landscape a year from now will be dramatically different from what we see today.”

appMobi CEO Dave Kennedy summarizes, “We cannot even begin to imagine the ways that developers will amaze us with the apps they will conceive of and build with our development tools. But one thing is patently clear. HTML5 is the future, and it is going to change everything you and I know about how and where people get their mobile apps. With MobiUs, appMobi has truly leveled the mobile app playing field, and it will never be the same again."

MobiUs for iOS is available today in the Apple App Store as a free app. MobiUs for Android will be available Q1 2012.

Developers who wish to publish with MobiUs can use the MobiUs SDK and appMobi’s free XDK HTML5 development tool.

Connect with appMobi on Twitter and Facebook and link to the MobiUs app download.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fun Thanksgiving Day Facts, Statistics, and Thankfulness

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

This Thursday, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends with a traditional feast which includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Do you know why we celebrate this official day of thanks?

Only about half of the original Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony settlers, survived a very hard year from fall 1620 to fall 1621 with the other half saved from starvation by the Wampanoag who gave them food and taught them farming and food preparation and storage in their new land as well as ways to survive the bitter cold winter.

With the Pilgrim’s first bountiful harvest in the fall of 1621, they held a day of Thanksgiving with 91 Native Americans. We now celebrate this American tradition as a remembrance of that first Thanksgiving.

Here are some fun Thanksgiving Day facts and statistics to share with your family and friends as you carve this year’s turkey.

  • The 1621 Thanksgiving lasted three days and included games. It did not include women or children.
  • The first national Thanksgiving was declared by President George Washington in 1789.
  • Thanksgiving became a national holiday, to be observed the last Thursday of November, by proclamation under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
  • To allow for a longer holiday shopping season, President Franklin Roosevelt defined Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
  • The word Pilgrim means foreigner or traveler from afar coming from the Latin word “peregrinus.”
  • In the U.S. there are 37 places and townships named Plymouth and only one township named Pilgrim.
  • Seafood and venison were most likely served at the first Thanksgiving and not turkey.
  • 248 million turkeys are expected to be raised in the U.S. in 2011.
  • 46 million turkeys are expected to be consumed on Thanksgiving Day at an average weight of 16-17 pounds per turkey.
  • 750 million pounds of cranberries, 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, and 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins are expected to be raised in the U.S. in 2011.
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages and overeating are more likely the reasons you might be falling asleep on the couch after a Thanksgiving Day meal than the effects of the Trytophan amount in the turkey.
  • Top 5 busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel are: 1. Chicago O’Hare International, 2. Los Angeles International, 3. Logan International, 4. LaGuardia International, and 5. San Francisco International.
  • The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924.

As we have fun with our family and friends on Thanksgiving, enjoying our feast and football, many do take a moment to express what they are thankful for in their lives. Family and friends usually top this list. What else are you grateful for this year? A few Americans answered this “what else” question posted on LinkedIn and Facebook:

“ I am thankful that I no longer have to eat my mothers lime Jell-o mold with cabbage. It also had onions and peas in it! And they say the 50's were the good old days...." Barbara Bach, Dallas, TX

“I am most thankful to God for giving me a beautiful granddaughter who was born in September, two months after I lost my job. She has helped me realize what is most important in life - spending time with my family.”
Mary Matison, Greater Chicago, IL

Red wine. Need something to take the edge off family gatherings! I wrote a piece last year for Forbes about a study that found 68% of women expect family drama at Thanksgiving.” Jenna Goudreau, Great New York
City
, NY

“Too many things to name, Family, Friends, My job, my animals, so many thinks. Another year on planet earth!” Liz Peters, Greater Chicago, IL

"I am thankful for the unique and exciting history we are creating as a rapidly transforming world. Very excited for the future it all creates." Joe Elkjer, Scottsdale, AZ


“I am thankful for my little brother, Sean. He's my rock and ends every call with "Love You" even when his friends make fun of him for it.” Kerry McDonough, Greater
Chicago, IL

“I am thankful that my parents raised me never to expect someone to give to me the things I want in life.” Grant Epstein, Greater
Chicago, IL

"
I am the most thankful that the USA has this holiday to even celebrate! I think family gatherings can be funny and also tragic. Many do not have family to stay with and others wish they had less of some family members. (We cannot pick our relatives.) Some people drink too much and say things they should regret later.

But as a country we do have much to be thankful for. Whenever I travel outside the
USA, I am glad to be an American with our basic freedoms most of us take for granted. I am thankful we can mostly dissent and gather politically whether we agree or not. In too may countries citizens cannot do that.

I am thankful we have freedom of religion, and for some, they have freedom from religion. I am thankful I do not live in Iran or many other countries where women are second class citizens at best. I am thankful to Linked In and the Internet for making communications much easier and faster and for gathering places like this.

I am thankful I get the opportunity to eat too much when too many in the world are starving.

I am just flat out thankful to be an American and celebrate this great holiday with family and friends!” Jennifer Wise,
Spokane, WA

The Almighty?” Hitendra Patil, Greater Chicago, IL

I am thankful for all of you, my loyal readers and followers. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read and share my articles. Thank you for the feedback emails and comments on my social media pages. I enjoy reading them.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will Millenniums Break the American Two Party System Lock?

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

The Great Recession has changed life in America, and it is also revising views of establishment politics. A recent Pew Research Center social trends paper details the resulting fall out of financial losses, unemployment pain, and general uncertainty of the future for most Americans.

Congressional gridlock and missing leadership in general in Washington D.C. has changed the political views of the majority of Americans on politicians in either of the two controlling major parties in the U.S. having any real answers or the political will to work together to enact non-partisan solutions if they did.

America’s exploding debt which topped $15 Trillion on November 16, it’s jobless economic recovery which may take a decade, and the overall financial meltdown that saw Wall Street and banks bailed out by taxpayers has left the people of the U.S. angry and blaming the past and current political class and their championing of crony capitalism for the mess.

There is no doubt these realities are changing the political affiliation landscape as more Americans are tired of party over solutions with the hard reality that equates in real terms as party over people, especially the suffering middle class.

A January, 2011 Gallop poll headline reflected, “Democratic Party ID Drops in 2010, Tying 22-Year Low” with a sub-title of “Democrats still outnumber Republicans, while independent identification increases.”

A May, 2011 Pew poll detailed “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology.” Pew provided, “Today, there are two core Republican groups, compared with three in 2005, to some extent reflecting a decline in GOP party affiliation. However, Democrats have not made gains in party identification. Rather, there has been a sharp rise in the percentage of independents – from 30% in 2005 to 37% currently. Today, there are three disparate groups of independents, compared with two in 2005.”

Pew summarized, “While Republicans trail the Democrats in party affiliation, they enjoy advantages in other areas: The two core GOP groups are more homogeneous – demographically and ideologically – than are the three core Democratic groups. And socioeconomic differences are more apparent on the left: Nearly half of Solid Liberals (49%) are college graduates, compared with 27% of New Coalition Democrats and just 13% of Hard-Pressed Democrats."

The Millenniums may end up being the most impacted generation by the effects of the Great Recession while private and public sector solutions are found and implemented.

Wikipedia explains, “Generation Y, also know as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomers, or Worst Generation describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There is no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-70s to the early 2000s.”

One thing is for sure, Millenniums when at full voting age will be as significant as the Baby Boomers in elections. Millenniums are already showing signs of being cynical about politics and distrustful of the establishment political parties. Many see the political establishment as having caused the problems they face today and not being effective at resolving them.

They are more likely to vote by issue than party lines, and are showing signs they will support third party candidates that support their position on issues more readily than past generations. As a whole they are becoming politically engaged for their economic survival and national vision.

Millenniums are also a fully immersed technology generation which leads them to engage politically significantly online. Through the technology capabilities started by social media, Americans, and especially Millennials, expect a more direct conversation with politicians, participation in the political process, and voice in their future.

America’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in this arena with political sites like TheVoterEffect.com, TellMyGov.com, FinalDebate.com, and Ruck.us, to name a few, coming of age in 2011.

Ruck.us Founder Nathan Daschle explains his new online political engagement community, “Ruck.us is taking on a broken political system by letting you organize around issues, not party labels. Here’s how it works: You begin by answering a dynamic set of questions about your positions and issues. This allows Ruck.us to capture and analyze your political DNA.”

“Ruck.us then uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically match you to politically like-minded people, giving you an instant, personal and actionable political network. Then, Ruck.us recommends political actions you can take on or off site to promote your interests.”

He notes, “One Ruck.us member tweeted, “Ruck.us is like a combination of Hunch, Quora, Current TV, and HackerNews.”

Will millenniums break the American two-party system lock? Nathan Daschle shares his thoughts.

BKH: What led you to start Ruck.us?

ND: In 2008 we witnessed the biggest change election in my lifetime with President Obama’s victory, but just one year later, the pendulum was swinging back hard in the opposite direction. After the 2009 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, I knew there was a powerful undercurrent in politics. The 2010 mid-term elections reflected this also.

Pundits were saying it was a big win for the Republicans, but I thought the volatility was the product of a much deeper disconnect with American politics.

BKH: Are you affiliated with or funded by any political party, PAC, or political think tank, or specific media group?

ND: No.

BKH: How are you funded?

ND: We raised money from angel investors, including myself.

BKH: Does having a politically connected last name hurt or help?

ND: Probably both. It opens a few more doors than would not be open otherwise, but it also puts a bigger target on your back. Two of the three co-founders have had fathers in politics, but we try to make it as much of a non-issue as we can.

BKH: What are the security and privacy standards with Ruck.us?

ND: We do not do anything with anyone's personally identifiable information except make better recommendations for members of their “ruck” on the site. While it would be tempting to follow the lead of other companies that profit off an individual's personal data, we think it would be counter to our brand and message.

BKH: Currently, who are the users on Ruck.us – your demographics?

ND: We have people from every demographic and philosophical grouping. Nevertheless, probably the largest cluster is among the socially liberal, fiscally conservative users.

BKH: What needs does Ruck.us satisfy that are not being satisfied with our current political system?

ND: The current system is far too restrictive, especially when you consider how much our lives have changed in the last ten years. When we can get music, clothing, information and everything else tailored to our unique needs, asking us to conform to one of two 19th century creations is too much.

With Ruck.us, not only do you not have to subscribe wholesale to an agenda set by party elites, but you also do not have to maintain the fiction that our country is divided into a red and blue team. Instead, you simply let us know what issues and positions are most important to you, and we match you with people who share your views.

BKH: What do you believe is the best definition for independent voters or those that declare they are Independent politically?

ND: Washington is lazy in its political thinking and too often equates Independents with moderates. There is no correlation. Independents are people of any stripe who choose not to be a member of a political party. Three-quarters of Occupy Wall Street protesters are politically independent.

BKH: Which party do you believe most voters under 30 identify with and why?

ND: The relationship between young voters and political parties is tenuous at best. Even more than the rest of us, voters under 30 are unwilling to limit themselves to an ill-fitting structure, leaving many to view themselves as Independents.

Philosophically, they tend to be more socially liberal but more fiscally conservative than their parents. So their support is very much in play. Obama won in 2008, but it is less clear where these voters will go in 2012.

BKH: How did technology most influence voting in 2008?

ND: 2004 was the year that politics took fundraising online. 2008 was the year it took organizing online. No one before Obama had effectively utilized Facebook and Twitter to organize people around a campaign. The aftershocks have been felt in the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements.

BKH: What technology influence do you predict for 2012?

ND: The next frontier is giving people a voice. How long can we let people "like" anything on Facebook, but have no say in a party or candidate's platform?

BKH: What are the best and worst elements of the current two-party system in America?

ND: The two-party system is at once broadening and limiting. To be in a party, you have to accept people of differing viewpoints, because the tent has to be sufficiently big enough to capture 50% of the vote +1.

At the same time, years and years of channeling people into two separate worlds, along with the professionalization of the industry, has led to a zero sum game mentality. The only result is stalemate.

There is no incentive to make progress if that involves allowing for shared success. Moreover, putting people on teams has allowed us to demonize all too easily, which further inhibits progress and turns more people away.

BKH: How do you overcome the conventional political wisdom currently of a vote outside of one for a Republican or Democrat is a wasted vote?

ND: Here is where I probably need to clarify. I do not support a third party, because I do not believe our "winner takes all" system allows for one. Until we change the Constitution, we will always have something approximating the two parties. But they do not have to have the same degree of relevance.

More specifically, as individuals, there is no need anymore for us to consider ourselves members of a party when technology gives us all the tools we need.

BKH: How do you overcome the fear and anger often seen directed at 3rd party candidates, because many see this as being a disadvantage by taking votes away from the GOP or Democrats candidates and skews election results for them and victories from them?

ND: I would like to see a world where Independents are the majority, and the two parties cater to the votes of the wide and diverse community of people who put issues first. Like everything else, politics follows the laws of the physical universe, and politicians are gravitationally drawn to the largest masses.

Right now, we have corrupted the landscape with two artificial masses at the ends of the spectrums. A political party diaspora will make the physical landscape a better approximation of where people are, and politicians are bound to respond.

BKH: Do you believe millenniums will break the two-party system monopoly ultimately?

ND: Yes. Our current system is the political equivalent of asking the iTunes generation to now start shopping at record stores.

BKH: How and when?

ND: Several groups are making themselves heard in advance of the 2012 election, but usually there is a lag of a cycle or two. Because technology is moving so fast, I think we will see a major non-party candidate for President (as well as massive party disruption) in 2016.

BKH: Why do you think are the pros and cons of the multi-party systems in Europe?

ND: The U.S. is for all intents and purposes the world's only two-party democracy. Of course, there are structural reasons for this, but in the end, we only present our citizens with two choices. That is extremely limiting compared to our closest neighbor, the U.K., which has 14 parties represented in parliament.

BKH: What has been the majority feedback from national politicians to Ruck.us so far?

ND: Surprisingly, we have received as much support from inside the beltway as outside. The problem with politics today is not the people; it is the systems.

The people who work in politics are as frustrated as the rest of us. Certainly there are some people who do not like what we are doing and accuse us of disloyalty, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

BKH: What has been the majority feedback from Ruck.us users so far?

ND: Our users are overwhelmingly engaged. This is important, because at the end of the day, Ruck.us is not about the co-founders, its about the users. We are so grateful that people from all over the county have come onto the site to experience politics outside of the confining silos of the two parties.

In just two months of being live, our users have submitted over 300 questions and taken countless actions. Moreover, the average user is answering 40 questions - a much higher rate than we originally anticipated.

BKH: What are your future plans for Ruck.us features and expansion?

ND: We are keeping our specific plans for new features under wraps of course for now, but our primary goal is to build a vibrant community of motivated individuals intent on wresting power away from institutions and back to the people.

We have had some requests to build Ruck.us in other countries and even an international version, but that is well down the road.

BKH: Will Ruck.us change the U.S. political system?

ND: Ruck.us as a site is just code. Ruck.us as a community is a powerful new frontier of political engagement, and I have no doubt they will change the world.

BKH: Thank you Nathan. Connect with Ruck.us and join them on Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to being the founder and CEO of Ruck.us, from 2007 to 2010, Nathan Daschle was the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), where he managed a $50 million annual budget and staff of over 20. Over the four-year period in which he led DGA, the organization set numerous fundraising records and won a majority of its targeted races.

He has served in the legislative affairs office of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In October 2010, Nathan was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “40 under 40” rising stars in politics.

Daschle currently serves on the advisory boards of EverFi and Rubicon Public Sector, as well as the faculty of Public Squared. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2002 and his B.A., with distinction, from Northwestern University in 1995.

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