Archive for July, 2010

Playing to learn

July 30th, 2010

One of the various advertising jingles that takes up memory space in my brain (I often wonder if it wasn’t there-would I now remember something useful) is one that Milton Bradley used to market the board game LIFE-“You can be a winner at the game of LIFE…spin the wheel…” Okay, so maybe I don’t remember the full jingle/song. The point is I remember the basics of how to play the game and some of the messaging attached to the game after a couple of decades.

Things that are catchy, fun or can be experienced tend to stay with us longer. Many brands have recognized that and have gone towards gaming in order to expose customer to their brand in a way that is more memorable and interactive.

Games can also be educational teaching skills and tricking people into learning. About a year or two ago my 7 year old was big into ToonTown-an online Disney game that consists of various missions that can be completed individually but could also be played in groups. He also decided from his experience that he wanted to grow up to create games. So we started him on a website put on by MIT called Scratch.

 It’s a drag and drop object oriented program that allows kids to create animation, games, and whatever else they can think of. They can share their projects with a community of other kids, who can then remix the projects allowing them to download the “code” to see how they did it and add their own touch to it. He’s now running digital Survivor-type contests, recording sound effects, creating interactive projects and working on storylines. It’s been amazing to see how quickly he’s progressed.

For anyone else looking to learn some basic programming skills in a fun way here are a few other similar sites we’ve recently come across:

A little help from my friends

July 22nd, 2010

A while ago I mentioned some alternative forms of peer-to-peer financing. Well, I came across a few others lately and am curious if anyone has had experience with them. In contrast to those sites these don’t require repayment but are a mechanism for crowds to donate. The following information just comes from their respective websites-so double check that I read it right before you do anything with them. All of them have some sort of widget you can put on your website of Facebook page.

Kickstarter-Specifically set up to support to creative and artistic endeavors. Each project is reviewed by the team before putting it on the site which is searchable. It is currently run through Amazon’s Payment Services though not affiliated with Amazon. Project organizers offer tiered prizes or gifts for donations. Contributors aren’t charged anything unless the goal is met. It is an all or nothing event. They charge 5% on the funds raised and Amazon takes a little too-so be sure to compensate for that.

Chipin-No review or approval process for the projects or causes. It is run through PayPal and users are charged when they “chip in” and the organizers don’t get the money until they end the chip in event but can keep whatever is collected even if the goal wasn’t reached. No fees besides those charged by PayPal are taken. You can try collecting for up to 365 days

IndieGoGo-This one is open to everyone and everything-no reviews or restrictions. You get to keep everything you raise. They do charge 9% on the funds raised but give you 5% if you reach your goal. You can use PayPal or Amazon Payments.

SellaBand -Focuses on musicians and bands who then get the money when they reach their goals. Another on is called artistShare.

It’s a fun concept that gives hope to anyone willing to dream the impossible dream

The Few…The Proud…The Crazy?

July 21st, 2010


In a recent press release, Challenger, Gray, & Christmas (yes Christmas)-an outplacement and executive coaching firm, commented:  “The decision of starting a business involves so many factors…the trends over time suggest that start-up activity is at its lowest just as a recession hits. In the months immediately following the end of the recession, when unemployment is at its highest and hiring is virtually non-existent, we see a spike in job seekers starting businesses,” said Challenger. “When the recovery reaches the point when employers begin hiring, but the economy remains relatively fragile, we tend to see a drop in entrepreneurism as job seekers start to see success in their searches. As the economy continues to gain strength, start-up activity begins to grow again, as conditions for such ventures become more inviting…”

So what does this mean for those of us who have decided to start a business?

Less competition =)

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