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.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Watch States’ Voter Issues for 2012 National Message Strategy

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

With the state 2011 elections results now known and the 2012 presidential election only a year away, 2012 campaigns are watching state’s activity for proven winning and losing message strategies.

The 2011 state initiatives were hard fought with millions spent in campaign ads to influence voters. State parties also fought to gain or retain state house control. Both parties had big wins and big losses. Most important, the voters got informed and involved, and they had their say.

Kentucky retained a Democrat Governor with an easy re-election of Steve Beshear. The Mississippi Governor seat remains in the GOP’s hands with Phil Bryant replacing term-limited-out Haley Barbour.

Liz Mathis’ Iowa senate win retains the slight Democrat control with a 26-24 split. Virginia broke a Democrat majority in the state senate by gaining seats to create a 20-20 split that puts GOP Lt. Governor Bill Bolling in position to cast a vote to break any senate tie votes. Democrats had legislative losses in Tennessee.

Redistricting may also hold some influence as shown in the New Jersey Democrats picking up an assembly seat described by the New York Times as “in a district that was redrawn to exclude the incumbent’s home.”

The most effective election message strategy was seen in the 60%-40% vote on Ohio’s Issue 2 which turned back what many saw as the GOP’s overreach on curbing collective bargaining rights for public unions. A public union coalition based $30 million campaign spit in the face of the 2010 Tea Party message of more fiscal government policies being for working people.

Vice President Biden and White House Press Secretary Jim Carney immediately congratulated the voters of Ohio on the no vote victory on Issue 2. They ignored the Ohio voter message of the yes vote on Issue 3. Issue 3 bans the individual mandate of President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation.

Republicans hoping to keep the 2012 election focus on economic issues, and Democrats hoping to diffuse this focus with abortion rights issues may look to the resounding defeat of Mississippi’s personhood initiative hoping to define life as beginning at conception. It is a divisive issue that will get Democrats to the polls in 2012.

A recent Gallop poll on key swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) reflects “…Republicans in these states are more enthusiastic about voting than are Democrats.”

Look for Democrats to interject social issues like retaining pro-choice more into campaign message strategy. Yet, they may need to be careful on social issues that also have a direct economic impact on Americans like the rising cost in state government budgets for illegal immigration services or on insurance premiums and medical costs under the Obama health care reform law.

Remember, 28 states are suing the federal government over the health care law. It is expected the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case in 2012.

Resolving illegal immigration resonates with the majority of Americans, yet a GOP overreach will not do them any favors in most states including the ground zero state of Arizona. This was brought home by Arizona SB 170 author Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearse losing a recall election and being replaced by more moderate Republican Jerry Lewis.

Many state legislatures and voters are championing laws requiring photo ID to vote. In the elections held on November 8, Mississippi voters passed a voter ID law, and Maine voters restored same day registration and vote taken away by state legislators. Look for continued state activity on voter laws in general.

Democrats need to be careful in their alignment with the Occupy Wall Street protestors as Republicans have seen some push back themselves on alignment with the fiscal austerity goals of Tea Party protestors. Should lawlessness, violence, and outrageous city costs increase associated with OWS, there could be a voting backlash for Democrats.

While some Democrats stoke the fires of class warfare and higher taxes on the rich, voters are in no mood for more taxes in general as the solution to our current fiscal crisis as expressed in Colorado voters rejecting tax hikes to help balance the budget deficit in that state.

There are a few political websites to see state-by-state activity. TheStateColumn.com is one to watch and support.

Caught in the trend, that began in 2008, of college graduates having a very hard time finding jobs in their field of study, Kramer Phillips created his own opportunity by founding TheStateColumn.com in 2010.

He explains, “Following my graduation from Whitman College in May of 2008, I moved to D.C. in an attempt to find a job. After interviewing for a number of positions on Capitol Hill, I eventually moved backed to Seattle and spent the year teaching myself how to code and create websites.”

He continues, “We tested a number of versions of the site during 2010, eventually settling on the current version. The State Column was officially launched in January 2011 with a goal of providing political coverage of all 50 states as well as national politics. Ross Cronkrite came on in May 2011 and is the Managing Editor.”

“Since then, the website has grown by 30-50% each month, and readership will total one million monthly visitors by the end of the year. Key to the site’s continued growth from the day the site went live has been our use of social media, which is increasingly where people are going to get their political news.”

“Since launching the site in January, we have seen traffic increase from 100,000 monthly readers to 600,000 monthly readers. We expect to reach 1 million monthly readers by the end of November, and we are currently building our team of reporters in an effort to expand coverage of national and state politics.”

Kramer Phillips, TheStateColumn.com Founder and Editor-In-Chief, shares his insight:

BKH: What were the needs you hope to satisfy with TheStateColumn.com?

KP: From the get-go, the goal has been to increase focus on state-level politics and to provide a resource for political junkies as well as the casual follower of politics, in every state in the country. State politics are the breeding ground for national political developments, though the media doesn’t always do a good job of paying enough attention to state politics.

BKH: What are the demographics of your readers?

KP: The vast majority of our more than one million readers a month come from the United States, and they span every age and political affiliation. Many of them are working on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country.

BKH: Do you see redistricting significantly affecting the 2012 elections?

KP: Redistricting will absolutely affect the 2012 elections at the local level. You can see that happening in Washington, Arizona and Ohio. Depending on what party is shaping the redistricting process, some incumbents will essentially lose their previously safe district, while other districts will be made safer for the incumbent.

And in Washington, for example, you see a district being added¸ but because its final lines haven’t been determined, so the primary field is in this kind of holding pattern as they wait to see how the district will look.

BKH: Which states have had the most political activity in 2011?

KP: It’s tough to say what state had the ‘most’ activity and how you quantify that, but there’s no doubt that the political developments in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, and Mississippi over the last year are driving much of the national debate on key issues that will likely play an important in the 2012 presidential election.

Take Wisconsin, for example, where the battle over collective bargaining rights has given new life to the national debate over the rights of workers. There’s no doubt labor is more energized at the national level because of what happened in Madison.

And in New York, the vote to allow same-sex couples to marry has created a renewed push for similar laws across in other states, and also at the federal level.

BKH: What do you see being the hottest political issues in the 2012 elections watching state activity?

KP: I think there are three big issues. The first of course is the economy and jobs. But immigration and abortion are also going to be huge issues in the 2012 cycle.

BKH: Which states are leading the way for reform on these issues with state ballot initiatives?

KP: Mississippi is leading the way with its ballot issue on abortion, which is a “personhood” amendment that would designate a fertilized egg as a person, thus making abortion illegal which failed in the election November 8.

Colorado tried to pass a tax increase on income and sales tax, which failed, that would have provided additional funds for education. For immigration, Alabama and Arizona are leading the way.

BKH: The GOP presidential candidate beats President Obama in 12 key swing states on jobs and the deficit according to a November 4, 2011 USAToday/Gallop poll. Do you predict this holding up in 2012 watching state political news?

KP: It is just really tough to predict a year out from the election. There are so many factors in play, and so much can change. A few months of improving economic news could radically change the mood around jobs and the deficit among voters in the key swing states.

What makes it even harder to predict is that economic forecasts are notoriously poor. We just don’t know how things are going to look when people go to the polls in a year. But it’s clear that if the economy does not show at least some improvement, the Democrats are in trouble.

BKH: Which states do you predict will go from red in 2008 to blue in 2012?

KP: I really don’t see any states going that direction. It’s clear the Democrats’ challenge is actually to keep the states blue in 2012 that were blue in 2008.

BKH: Do you see activity to predict any states going from blue in 2008 to red in 2012?

KP: I can see a scenario in which North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all go red in 2012. These states are where unemployment remains high, and the economy is the major issue. This is eroding the President’s support among independents and blue-collar workers, which were keys in helping him, win these states in 2008.

BKH: States are the breeding ground for politicians coming up to the national level. Which state and local politicians do you predict to rise to the national level by the 2016 election cycle?

KP: It’s always hard to predict what local and state politicians have the promise and potential to rise to the national level. If I could do that consistently, then I’d probably have to give up my day job at The State Column and get into political consulting.

That said, I think three people we need to watch on a possible national stage are Marco Rubio, a first-term Republican Senator from Florida; Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who was being courted by some in the GOP circles for a White House run; and Bob McDonnell, the Republican governor of Virginia.

BKH: Thank you Kramer. Follow TheStateColumn.com on Twitter and Facebook.

Even with all of the distraction strategy and campaign nastiness we are all expecting with the 2012 election, most believe it ultimately will come down to the state of the U.S. economic conditions over the next year for the majority of voters.

Some social issues will have an impact in each state, but whether or not either party presents solutions to increased employment opportunity, more responsible spending, and more accountable government to the people will decide the voters’ selection reward.

Most voters want balanced budgets at all government levels. They want an environment for healthy GDP growth and job creation. The 2010 election has already shown once more fiscal responsibility that leads to more austere government expenditures have been voted in, when the reality hits the voter directly, they get angry.

Unlike the federal government, state and local government can not digitize money to bridge their budget shortfalls. Many states and cities will no longer be able to kick the can down the road as easily in 2012 as in past years.

Watch the state activity, especially the cash-strapped swing states, and the reactions of the citizens to budget deficit resolutions. These reactions will direct the message strategy as we move into the 2012 national election showdown.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Career Doctor for the “Laid-Off at 50+” Bug

Photo Credit - Flickr Creative Common

Have you always worked hard, made the right career choices, taken good care of yourself, and been a very successful person? In generations past, those that did usually enjoyed a stable and healthy career peak as they hit the mile stone of turning 50.

That was then, and this is now. The Great Recession ailment has had many Americans being diagnosed with the “laid-off at 50+” bug making the rounds.

The prognosis for many has seemed bleak with those finding themselves unemployed at 50+ having a hard time finding a cure. The old tried and true treatments may not work as they once did.

The good news is the Career Doctor is in – a specialist with an effective new treatment for many.

Kathy Bernard is a Career Doctor with ILostMyJob.com, where she leads free webinars on a variety of subjects including:

* 50 top tips to land a job after 50

* How to learn about and then impress hiring companies

* How to SHOW and TELL you are the best job candidate

* Outmaneuvering the online application system

Kathy Bernard is the internationally known author of the Get a Job! Tips blog. She is also a career coach, webinar and workshop speaker, and award-winning corporate communications leader based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Career Doctor Bernard wants to help you recover from the unemployment bug and get better! Bernard started conducting the “Top Tips for Landing a Job after 50” webinars in December, 2010. She has done 25 so far with more scheduled for November and December. This career doctor knows, “You are not finished at 50+!”

Bernard summarizes, “Finding a job is tough for anyone nowadays, but it is particularly hard if you are over 50. Despite the difficulty, landing a great, well paying job after 50 is possible … if you take steps now to improve your odds.”

In her free webinar, you will discover 50 ways to improve your chances of getting hired. Bernard notes, “We will even send you all 50 tips in printable format so you can get started right away.” She details, “In just 60 minutes, you’ll learn how to do the following.”

* Position yourself as the solution to a company’s problems
* Play up your strengths and shore up your weaknesses
* Identify organizations that actively seek out experienced workers
* Convince younger hiring managers that your experience is a plus and not a threat
* Demonstrate your passion, vitality and accomplishments in a way that can get you hired
* Implement more than a dozen “fast forward” tips that will help you stand out immediately

The response in the community has been huge. It is ILostMyJob.com's most well attended webinar. Bernard offers, “We average 400-600 attendees for it, which just tells you what the incredible need is for such services to help Baby Boomers and beyond.”

She notes, “Those attendees who have reached out to me afterwards have been very enthusiastic, because they have said they found the information instantly usable, complete and uplifting.” Her blog testimonial page bears this out.

Bernard explains what she has seen as the main differences for laid off workers over 50 as opposed to other laid off workers. “I have found that job seekers over 50 in general work harder to try to find work than any other age group. They actively seek out help, they network, follow-up, help other job seekers and constantly reinvent themselves, yet still they are finding it very hard to find work.”

She continues, “I am amazed by their energy and tenacity and am glad to be a part of such a dynamic, but often discounted group. I am 52 years old and am astonished and sometimes even shocked that the business world seems to be putting out to pasture the very people who worked so hard to help them succeed and who still very much want to work hard to help them grow now.”

Bernard feels there are many benefits to employers that hire someone with more age and experience. “They are willing to work very hard. They are dependable and a great team member.”

She provides, “That is not just me saying that. A Mature Workers Alliance survey of Human Resource managers from 400 companies with 50 or more employees have said that the top attributes of seasoned workers are the following.”

* Loyalty/dedication
* Commitment to quality
* Dependability
* Strong performance record
* Basic math, reading and writing skills
* Solid job/industry experience
* Ability to get along well with coworkers

Bernard answers whether employers have a bias right now in hiring older workers. “I definitely believe there is a bias against seasoned workers. I meet with so many capable over 50 employees that are not given a change to shine in open positions that they could easily handle.”

She notes the main misconceptions leading to a possible hiring bias. “Companies seem to think seasoned workers are out of touch with technology, resistant to change, and expensive. I contend that their dependability, energy, and hard work make them an excellent business investment in reality.”

She provides the easiest ways for older workers to combat misconceptions. “Personify vibrancy, technical know-how, a willingness to learn new things (even before they are hired for the job), and an open nature willing to work with and accept all types of people.”

The Business Case for Workers Age 50+: Planning for Tomorrow’s Talent Needs in Today’s Competitive Environment report “debunks many of the widely held misperceptions about the costs of older workers and demonstrates that companies should view 50+ workers as an essential part of the plan to meet their workforce needs.”

Bernard reveals how society and younger generations may benefit from hiring older workers. “Seasoned workers can bring incredible knowledge from their past experiences, as well as a sense of how business works and what pitfalls to avoid.”

She points out, “Too often, naive new employees can run full-tilt into expensive mistakes. More experienced and tested workers can bring some rational decision making into the process saving companies thousands of dollars.”

She shares her best advice for those over 50 looking for a job in this business climate. “ First, up your game - know technology and new techniques better than people younger than you, even if that means learning it now on your own time and your own dime. Companies are not going to hire you for job duties that no longer exist. You have to prepare for the hot jobs now.”

“Second, consider alternative work such as contract, temporary, franchise opportunities, part time work, starting your own company, etc. Standard 40-hour week jobs are becoming increasingly rare, so embrace alternative work.”

Robert Shindell, CEO of ILostMyJob.com concludes, “Top 50 Tips for Landing a Job after 50” featuring Kathy Bernard has been , and continues to be, one of our most popular webinar offerings. Kathy’s practical and tactical approach to helping those over 50 become more competitive in the job market, as well as her amazing presentation style, has helped thousands of individuals.”

“ILostMyJob.com and our Career Center Tool Box continually seek to provide information as well as ideas and inspiration to all who are dealing with unemployment and underemployment. Kathy’s commitment to helping those in need is second to none, and we are honored to have her as part of our team.”

Career Doctor and internationally known career blog author Kathy Bernard welcomes connection invitations through her profile on LinkedIn.

You can sign up for Kathy Bernard’s next “Top 50 Tips for Getting a Job After 50 “ webinar scheduled for Monday, November 21 here.

It just might be the cure you have been searching for. Many have seen healing results.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Related AXcess News Article: Americans Stepping Up – The Power of One in Helping Job Seekers