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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

iPad: Is It The Solution For The News Industry?

When I was a kid I remember my Dad sitting at the kitchen table on the weekends with the newspaper spread all around him.  Sporadically throughout his reading he would point to the article he was reading and yell, "Hey.  Listen to this."  Then he would tell us the jist of the story and chuckle or offer some opposing view.  We would just chuckle too (or agree) although us kids didn't really have any clue what he was talking about.  We were just kind of pleased to be included I guess.  It was Twitter in it's earliest form, and this has always been they way with news.  We read it.  We want to share it.  We want to offer our opinion and perspective on it.  Basically, we want to interact with it. 

Although newspapers and magazines were excellent delivery forms for news and stories over the years, they had barriers to the way we wanted the news and what we wanted to do with it.  Then came the internet.  Now we could get the news almost when it happened.  We could interact with it through links and commenting.  And we can share with the masses today through social networking services.  Newspapers and magazines that had once scoffed at the internet began realizing it's where they needed to be.  (Well, that and the fact that ad dollars were shifting from their print products to online. They didn't have much choice but to follow the money).  Not only did they begin putting their stories online, they began giving them away for free expecting ad dollars online to make up losses in lagging hard-copy sales.  And, thus, the downward spiral begun for many major print news companies.

But when all seemed dim . . . along comes the iPad.  This past week, my wife actually won an iPad in a drawing and it finally gave me an opportunity to sit down and really play around with it hands-on.  The phone call itself from her was pretty funny.  She calls me at work and says, "Guess what?!  I won an iPad!"  What else could I say, "Wow!  That's great!"  Her next remark will make tech-lovers such as myself almost want to cry.  She then said, "I'm just so excited I won, but I don't have any use for this thing.  You want it?"  Truth be told, I actually don't have much use for it either (full-time that is) and we offered it to my father-in-law who lives with us.  He was really excited and being the good son-in-law I am, I offered to sacrifice my time to do the set up for him.  By the way, 'set up' takes about 20 minutes with an iTunes account.  But to make sure everything worked just fine, I stretched it out to about 3 hours.

NY Times iPad App
Anyway, back to the connection with the iPad and the saving of the news industry.  Since my father-in-law and I both like reading the news, I went looking for the news and magazine apps like the ones I have on my iPod Touch.  Most were there, and they look great.  Finally, the New York Times looks like the New York Times again.  USA Today feels like I'm holding a newspaper again with those sections denoted by the colored square boxes.  But now it was even better because I could do all that other stuff with it like share stories on social networking services or email them to others.  Newspapers and news looking the way they should look with the functionality to do with it the things we want to do with the news.  It's a beautiful thing.  Click here to check out some of the news and magazine apps available for the iPad.

So you'd think that's where the story ends, right?  Actually no, because there is one more issue the news has faced . . . since they've been giving it away for free for the last few years, will people pay for it again?  I noticed something very interesting with the magazine and many major newspaper apps (except for the two mentioned above which are both free), you can get the app for free to view the content but then you pay for a subscription or pay for individual issues within the application.  One thing (and probably the only thing) I have to agree with Ruppert Murdoch is that good journalism doesn't come cheap, and there is only so much advertising that can go around the internet.  You can't just give everything away for free and expect to remain in business.  So it will be interesting to see what the response by consumers is to these new pay options are. 

As tablets and other mobile devices take hold it will be interesting to see how local news companies also leverage this new avenue. 

Local news is primarily delivered via websites and rely heavily on ad dollars to support them.  A mobile app model with subscription or pay-per-issue delivery might be an avenue for an additional revenue stream. 

The real question is whether these news sites will begin charging even for website access and if they do . . . will people pay those fees?  This model has been tried in the past and is beginning to come around again. 

So, what do you think?  Would you pay per-issue or subscription fees to get news from the source you want via an app or website?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is a "Pluot" Anyways?

The word "pluot" came on my radar for the first time last year.

Before then if you asked me what a pluot is, I would not have any clue.

My friends and I have a joke going for these kinds of strange, unknown, heard-for-the-first-time kind of words, while playing Scrabble.

As a part of the joke one of us asks to "use it in a sentence" to challenge the person who used it --and usually someone responds with something like "Some of my best friends are pluots."

So really, what is "pluot" anyways? It's such a new and uncommon word, even as I write this blog post, the Blogger interface is underlining the word, warning me to spell check it.  Certainly it's not a word that existed for years, or centuries...

Let me go back to the first time I heard the word: I was at Publix Supermarket in Palm Coast (the one located on the corner of Belle Terre and Palm Coast Parkway).  They called them "Dinosaur Egg Pluots" --a fruit that looked like a cross between a nectarine and a large plum.

I never heard of them, never saw them, but they looked good and I bought them.

What can I say?  They were delicious!

I didn't know why they are called pluots, because they tasted much like plums.

Few weeks ago, they popped up at Publix again.

This time there were more choices, the dinosaur egg pluot, yes, but also a deep red one, too.  I bought a few of each of them.

At the check-out counter, the cashier pointed to the dinosaur egg pluots, and asked me if I knew what this fruit was as they did not have a tag to identify them. 

I proudly answered "Dinosaur Egg Pluots!" 

She laughed, but punched it in the system, and said "oh, yeah, that's what it is indeed."

As she was scanning the rest of the groceries, we launched into a conversation with the cashier and the older gentleman who was bagging the groceries, talking about how strange of a name/fruit it was.  They asked me how it tasted, and I said "pretty good."   That's when it occurred to me: Is this an invented, genetically engineered fruit that did not exist before?  We chatted about that a little bit with the cashier and the bagger, too.  

When I came home I went straight to Google --and indeed found out that this is a "made-fruit." 

I found out what a pluot is, thanks to Wikipedia:
A "pluot" is a tradename for varieties of interspecific Plum developed in the late 20th century by Floyd Zaiger. 
In the United States, the fruit is known by most regulatory agencies as an Interspecific Plum or Plumcot.
It is a complex cross hybrid of plum and apricot, exhibiting more plum-like traits. The pluot, like the "aprium"  is derived from plums, apricots and or hybrids called the plumcot.

Floyd Zaiger (born 1926) is a biologist who is most noted for his work in fruit genetics.
He also founded Zaiger's Genetics.  
He was born in Nebraska and grew up in Iowa. 
Zaiger has developed both cultivars of existing species and new hybrids such as the pluot and the aprium.

So there it was, this is indeed a made, an invented, a genetically engineered fruit, that is now making it to the mainstream supermarkets!

Why do they do that?  Why would anyone mess with mother nature's blessings like plums and apricots, to come up with a plum-like fruit, called a funny name like pluot or apricum, and push it to mainstream Supermarkets all the way to Palm Coast, Florida --though even this blogger spell-check is not recognizing these names?

Most folks today (including religious or non-religious folks, humanists, spiritualists, and realists) believe that every being and every vegetation is on this earth for a particular reason.  Whether you call it God's purpose or thousands and tens of thousands of years of evolution, all beings fit in this world and they serve a purpose.

Do we even know the long term implications of messing with the genetics of plants, vegetables, fruits, and animals?

What do you think?..

by Ky Ekinci: Ky is a management consultant, and an entrepreneur based in Palm Coast, FL. He’s a co-founder of Office Divvy. Ky’s career in the travel industry has spanned the globe. He has held senior management positions with several well-known national companies in the U.S., and has been responsible for numerous large projects as an executive, including one of the biggest United Nations events in the world. Ky has a master’s degree from Cambridge College in Management. He can be found on twitter @KyEkinci.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Florida DOT Recognizes Flagler County Airport

Flagler County Council Receiving the FDOT Award
Florida Department of Transportation recognized Flagler County Airport for FDOT’s 2010 General Aviation Airport Project of the Year for the construction of the Air Traffic Control Tower.

The tower began operation in October of 2009 and since then controllers have worked more than 100,000 operations which equates to approximately 500 operations a day. The addition of the tower added layer of safety to the skies above Flagler County.

Tower placement, need, safety and planning for future development of the airport were all cited as reasons for awarding the recognition.

The tower project was funded by DOT for $2.4 million and $600,000 was provided for construction from revenues the Airport receives from leases, fuel sales and other sources.

Flagler County Airport, Palm Coast, Florida
Because of its central location in Palm Coast, and outside of the major control zones, the airport fills a vital role for flight training, business as well as recreational and sport aviation activities.

Flagler County government says that the Flagler County Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the State of Florida.

* * *

According to a March 2010 Publication by Florida Department of Transportation:  
The annual economic impact of Flagler County Airport is associated with direct impacts that come from tenants/businesses located at the airport and construction projects that are undertaken by the airport or by on-site businesses.
Indirect impacts are associated with spending from visitors who arrive in the area via general aviation aircraft.
The airport’s total annual economic impact is estimated as:

  • 1,431 Jobs
  • $120Million in Economic Activity
  • $40Million in Payroll
Though the study makes references to businesses that use the airport as Ginn Development Company, Sea Ray Boats, Palm Coast Holdings, and Palm Coast Resort -- some of which in trouble, and some of which is not exactly thriving today.  Summary of the study is below...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local Inventor/School Teacher Helps Golfers With the O'Beam!

Visit The O'Beam Website
A few years ago I was introduced to golf.  
Well, not like I didn't know what the game was, I just had never played it.  I found out I actually enjoyed it.  I even got a set of clubs.  Heck I was going to be living in Florida and what better thing to be able to do, but enjoying some 'relaxing' games of golf.  

The 'relaxing' portion of that phrase I've come to find out is apparently a secret pun used by all of those who have actually become good at the game to entice others to come in to their private little joke against the rest of us would-be golfers.  

I have also come to realize that the best description of how the game was actually conceived was by Robin Williams who described the game's concept occurring by a drunk Scotsman in a pub one evening (video contains explicit languae).  

Seriously, I start out at the tee box (which is not a box at all) and look down at this wide open green area with a little flag flopping in the wind in the distance.  "Just hit it to me.", the flag beckons.  I know now the the flopping of the flag is not from the wind but from the flag laughing at me from what is to come once I begin actually hitting the ball towards it.  

So it goes and I hit.  Then I venture on a search for that little white ball in what can best be described as something close to what you see on those lost-in-the-woods survival shows.  Then after about 20 hits (granted this is my average par 3 too) and about 10 new balls I arrive at the green.  

You know the green...  

The green is that oasis of the golf course.  It's open.  Possibly a little roll here and there, but just a few feet (or yards) of tapping separates you from that final destination . . . the ball in the hole.  You can even hear that beautiful little sound in your head that resonates as the ball bounces around in the pvc-like material of the 'cup'.  So you tap your putt and . . . . and you tap again . . . and you tap again . . . and . . . the ball goes past the hole!!!!  

Or if you have a bag full of the really obnoxious golf balls like me, the ball stops right on the rim of the cup laughing at you.  Why? Why? Why?!!!!  

Well, local golf enthusiast, inventor, and 8th Grade St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School Teacher Katie O'Keefe has found a way to help all of us frustrated golfers with . . . The O'Beam!

"What's an O'Beam" you may ask.  The O'Beam is designed to correct the biggest problem with putting for golfers . . . head movement.  

The O'Beam is a laser device that clips on the brim of a golfer's hat or visor and projects a small circle on the ball.  This helps train the golfer to minimize head movement while putting.  

Sure the club companies put that little line on the putter as an obvious gesture of kindness, but it doesn't stop one's head from moving around alot.  The O'Beam does.  

According to O'Keefe (from her website):

" Minimal head movement is essential in a solid golf swing, particularly in a solid putting stroke.  Obviously it is impossible to keep your head absolutely still, but minimizing your head movement will dramatically improve your putting stroke and lower your scores."  

Chip Beck (PGA and Champions Tour Player) says:
" 'O' BEAM is the best putting aid I have ever used. It clearly helps you to minimize head movement which results in more solid putts and lower scores.  A must-have for every golfer!"

Check out the video of the interview with Katie on The Golf Channel below to see the O'Beam in action.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flagler County School Board Candidates Primary Election Results

In the School Board District 3 race the incumbent Trevor Tucker received 56% of the votes, against his challanger Mark Ray's 44%.

Last year, Tucker was appointed to the School Board by Governor Charlie Crist, to fill Peter Palmer's term as School Board Member at District 3.

With his clear victory in  the elections, Tucker holds on to his seat in the Flagler County School Board.

* * *

The more crowded School Board District 5 race has one candidate clearly lost, but no one to claim the School Board seat.  We'll have to wait till November for that.

In the Disctrict 5 race, Peter Peligian is out of the race with only 22% of the votes.

John Fischer is the winner with 44.07% of the votes, followed by Raven Sword with 34.19% of the votes.

The two will have to face each other in the general election on November 2, 2010.

Here's brief bios of both candidates you will see on the ballots in the general elections for the School Board seat from District 5:

John Fischer
Age: 65  
Residence: Palm Coast
OccupationField agent for Knights of Columbus
Political ExperienceNone

Priorities for School Board: Promoting higher family values, a higher standard of education for children, fair salaries and a better health care plan for teachers and substitute teachers.

Raven Sword
Age: 33 
ResidencePalm Coast
Occupation: Attorney
Political Experience: None.

Priorities for School Board: Continue the School Board's efforts in striking a balance between cost-cutting and investment in education while maintaining safe and secure 21st century learning environments that promote excellence for all; continue efforts to effectively lobby state and federal governments for additional money to support schools; and intensify grant-writing efforts as an alternative to cutting programs.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Going Back To School Digital

Most of us grew up with grand parents and parents telling us all the stuff they didn't have when they were in school and how it was.

Remember the famous Bill Cosby quote?
" I walked to school uphill both ways and in the snow!"  

I've hit that age where I get to say, "When I went to school, I didn't have the internet."

Sounds silly, but many students today would find that a horrifying idea.  We didn't have Wikipedia.  We actually had to go to the library and look up sources in the card catalog.

Write a paper?  We actually hand wrote it.  If you were lucky, you had a typewriter available to you.  Those horrid machines made your paper look nice, but try actually getting through the noise of them without a massive headache or the frustrating task of correcting a mistake.  By the way, we only had aspirin too for the headache.

Today's students have great digital tools available to them.  The hard part is that the technology has advanced so much that many find it difficult to keep up with to properly equip students with the right digital tools and the most effective way to use them.  So let's take a look at how students can use these great new digital tools.

Organizing Your Classes
Nook Study by Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble just announced it's free software application called Nook Study.  This application takes the concept of individual folders and allows you to organize all of your classes and course materials in one spot.

The interface is simple to use and allows the student some great features:
  • Create individual class buttons
  • Upload course materials like a syllabus and add it to the class
  • Each class is tabulated with corresponding course materials
  • Links with your existing account and automatically imports your existing eBook library 
  • Assign existing ebooks to each class
  • Shop for eTextbooks and print textbooks right in the software
  • Mark up ebooks and eTextbooks right in the software with highlights and notes
Depending upon your school or University, you may also have use of a free software application called   This service provides similar organization of courses like Nook Study and adds in things like message board from Instructors and the ability for students in a class to chat online.  

Keeping Track of To-Do's and Schedules
Paper planners are great, but an online or digital calendar and contact system have become great tools for students.  The Google Gmail system has a great calendar system and contact manager that can easily be set up with mobile devices such as a smartphone (i.e. iPhone, Droid phone, etc.) or iPod Touch that syncs the information automatically.  This provides students with enter-once-use-everywhere capability.

Save Money With Online Applications
The Google Gmail account also gives students access to Google Docs.  This free online suite of software provides them with access to word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.  You don't have to worry about updating software that can be costly.  You can also work with these applications offline by downloading the free Google Desktop application.   Microsoft also just launched free Web Apps versions of their popular Office Suite for Word, Excel, OneNote, and Powerpoint.  OneNote is a great software application for students as well and allows them to create a virtual notebook-like binder for taking notes and staying organized. 

Improved Communication
Email provides great means of effective and efficient communication for students.  It's not only a means to receive updates and information from the school or teacher/instructor, email is also being used to deliver class assignments without the need to print.  Obviously a huge cost saver.

Students also have chat style applications available to them today such as Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter, etc. That allows them to great connections when they might need additional help.  Remember the telephone?  I remember getting calls from classmates asking for help and it could be really difficult to try explain things over the phone.  Google Talk for one is great because it allows the users to not only type a conversation; but they can use voice, video, link to websites for support, share files easily, etc. 

eBooks for students is a huge advancement.  Today's eBook stores like the one offered by Barnes and Noble, give students access to a wide range of books on multiple devices.  The great thing about this also is that you simply sign in to your account on any supported device and the book is available for use.  No out-of-stock issues, markup the books with notes and highlights, etc.

Students today have a great deal of tools available to them to support them and enhance their education.  All of which are much simpler to use today then they have been in the past.  In addition, by students using these tools on a daily basis they are better preparing themselves for their futures.

What do you think?..

by Brad West
Originally from Southern NJ and Central PA, Brad moved to Palm Coast in 2004 with his family. He has over 15 years of retail management and is currently a manager with Barnes & Noble in St. Augustine. He also assists his wife Kathleen (Realtor with Trademark Realty Group of PC) with her Real Estate business performing a variety of duties such as website design and maintenance for, as well as marketing and advertising, and operations.   You can find Brad on twitter:  @bwest2

Friday, August 20, 2010

Strategies to Connect People to Policy: Communicating Economic Development to Residents | By: Harriet Lewis, PhD

How much information do residents need prior to the execution of a new economic development initiative?

Now, I’m not referring to economic development activities such as recruiting specific companies to bring jobs, because in the competitive market, confidentiality is key. Nor am I referring to activities such as economic development strategy development. I believe the trained professional should be allowed to develop the map for the community. I am referring to the specifics—such as the "how we will get there": 
Will it require additional taxes for residents?

Will we need to offer special incentives that may be counter-productive to economic development in order to attract firms?

Does it create the jobs that residents are eager and able to perform?

Too often local residents believe there is an attempt by economic development professionals to take advantage of them. It really does not matter whether or not there is any truth to the belief, the fact that the belief exists creates challenges for politicians and economic development professionals.

Economic development professionals are charged with creating an engine in the community that will spur jobs and improve the quality of life for its citizens, and at times, this involves attracting out-of-state businesses through incentives and ready-built infrastructure. In an ideal situation, the newly created jobs would offer salaries to support a family and improve their quality of life; unfortunately, too often this is not the case. It is also an unfortunate situation when there is a need for policy makers to leverage public revenues, in the hopes of attracting industry—industry that will come not this year, but a few years after new infrastructure has been built—to create the jobs that are needed now. Residents understand these challenges, but they don’t particularly like to be the last to find out—especially when they are being asked to foot the bill.

So what’s an economic development professional to do?

How can they get the support they need from the community in order to move initiatives forward without too much hassle?

Perhaps try communicating economic development ideas and plans with the community...

Residents seek transparency. Usually, when an economic development project encounters resistance from residents, it is because the residents do not believe that the economic development professionals are transparent and accountable in their actions to promote the community using tax dollars.

Economic development professionals need to act in a “community-oriented” way in relation to how they communicate with local residents.

There are three principles for communication that should be considered: focal point, accessibility and medium (aka FAM)...

First, the focal point is the single location for information. Information should not be “officially” coming from multiple economic development actors in a community. Economic development players need to determine who that entity will be to disseminate information as the “source”. In a municipality, should it be the city’s economic development department, the local chamber of commerce or the local private/public partnership? I don’t know, but it needs to be one entity disseminating the information, because other than that, the official information appears to be unorganized, political maneuvering, and counter-productive.

Second, the information must be accessible to everyone in the community. Too often the informed are the few members of the community who sit on economic development boards and local government committees, who at times have agendas of their own. When it is time to set an initiative in motion where community support is required, the community is uninformed. Local economic development officials need to launch a community-wide information campaign, aimed at various constituencies, to ensure broad representation of feedback for its initiatives.

Finally, the medium is the mode of communication used to connect people to policy. Proposed policies and new initiatives must be communicated broadly through a variety of media to reach every type of resident.

These should include the following:
  • Hold regular town hall meetings
    Typically, there are opportunities for audience feedback in city council meetings, however there also needs to be regularly bi-monthly or quarterly community-wide meetings with one or two agenda items. These meetings should be widely advertised through local media and other outlets. At these meetings, information about proposed economic development initiatives should be presented. Audience participants should be allowed time to ask questions, evaluate the pros and cons of the initiative, and present alternative strategies to be considered at that meeting or perhaps at the one in the future.
  • Capitalize on social media
    Economic development professionals must capitalize on the current trend of social media. Many of the constituents participate in social media. They need to have a presence on sites such as facebook, and perhaps a blog, in order to disseminate information and solicit feedback from interested audiences.
  • e-Government websites
    Local governments and economic development agencies need to use their websites as much as possible as a source to disseminate information and solicit feedback. Economic development proposal summaries can be posted so that residents will have access to information in a written form to review at their leisure.
  • Survey and Poll residents
    It is important to survey and poll residents regularly to ensure that they understand the initiatives being put forth that affect their daily lives, and to measure the effectiveness of the strategies or the delivery of the information. These surveys and polls should be random and scientific, outside of the current network of feedback like the e-Government websites and social media forums, and completed by third parties. This strategy should be implemented throughout the year for various initiatives.

The key to these strategies and the purpose of this article is to encourage opportunities to connect local residents to economic development initiatives early, in order to minimize backlash later.

Local economic development officials at a minimum must appear to be transparent to the local resident if they seek their support. This can be accomplished by employing the FAM principles. The days of assuming that one may be able slip a referendum on a ballot to be passed without backlash are over.

More importantly, why would an economic development professional want to slip something through, if it is really for the people?

Harriet Lewis, PhD is the Co-Founder/President of Konesens Research, a Palm Coast, FL based international market research firm specializing in online data collection and panel development, and studies of social and economic interest.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wear Yourself On Your Sleeve

Remember when those “Event Staff” and “Federal Prison” t-shirts became popular to wear on your day out? We didn’t know it at the time, but it was just the beginning of a t-shirt boom.

The Internet got wind of the mass production of these trickery shirts and an entire industry was born. Now you can immortalize a famous movie quote, iconic celebrity faux pas, or old timey product ad and emblazon it across your chest for a cheap price. But why would you want to do such a thing?

I think it’s safe to say we have moved from a society of constant plain, white button ups to a culture of self-expression. We want what we use to represent us and we want to wear it on our sleeves. If we can wear a “That’s what she said” joke everywhere we go, that’s even better. You can go to a number of websites to buy a cotton (and sometimes organic) shirt on any topic under the sun. Some will make your mother gasp and some will reinforce some good points, but all will represent some frame of mind.

Like all things, the pop culture t-shirt business has begun to evolve. Take DonkeyTees, for starters. Here we can find the classic array of hilarious shirts designed to keep fleeting moments of news and media alive. Shirts range from $12 to $20 according to popularity and will arrive at your door in 3 to 5 business days, within the US. For a few more dollars you can get your design on a hoodie. Pretty straightforward and pretty priceless website.

Then you have a little dynamic thrown in with "Shirt.Woot" -- where designers submit their ideas to the website, which are then voted into selling. Every week a theme is announced and the designers flood the site with designs. They have to be kept there by votes and sales, otherwise they are gone. Some are kept as “classics”, those who have sold the most over time. There’s a new shirt on the front page every day, at a featured price, according to that week’s theme.

Little did you know, a new, local Palm Coast business called Look Crispy is about to shake things up again.

Founder Joey Santos runs his company based on the belief you can have a tshirt that represents who you are by what’s on the front of it and still maintain a crisp style.

Recently, I was able to ask him some questions over Big Macs about the business, how it got started, and what his experience has been starting something new.

Check out the interview below:

Joey Santos
Founder, Designer
Look Crispy
Q: What lead you to the idea of a Tshirt company?
JS: It was something I've been hugely passionate about since I was in High School. I've always collected shirts and can remember the first time I received a package in the mail with a t-shirt I ordered. It felt like Christmas. I want others to feel that way with our shirts. They can't wait to get one, and can't wait to wear one.

Q: Why "Look Crispy"?
JS: Sometimes you'll use the word "Crisp" to describe a piece of clothing. Perhaps I'm the only one who uses the word to describe clothing. Nonetheless, "Look Crispy" is based off the idea that a t-shirt will freshen up your look. It just goes with everything. When you walk out the door, you just Look Crispy.

Q: What are some of the challenges thus far?
JS: I knew going into it I wanted to have everything be a certain quality. So I had to test and try on every type of shirt I could find. I have a closet filled with blank white shirts and different qualities in my closet now. This is my business, this is my life. I believe that. Unfortunately, there's a lot more to a business than just selling t-shirts. It was a huge challenge but truthfully, a fun one.

Q: Launch date and first deal advertised?
JS: Our launch date is September 4th. We will have 2 designs. Each one has been hand-drawn, painted, followed by being illustrated digitally, followed by finishing touches. We're teaming with the Greater Good ORGanization to have proceeds from one of our t-shirts (will be available at launch) go directly to the victims of the Gulf spill. We knew who we wanted to be partnered with when we saw that they will donate 100%.

Q: How do you plan to be different from other internet tshirt companies?
JS: We do it because we love it. While our name is "Look Crispy" and our logo is Mr. Bacon Glasses, all our shirts are designed to be creative and have meaning, not movie quotes and puns. We believe in wearing something that represents you and we believe in providing a product that brings out confidence in those that wear it. This is our life.

Q: Any advice for the fellow startup business?
JS: Know your brand. Having a Facebook page isn't enough. Go out there and talk to your potential consumers and understand what they want. You can always be experienced but always be open to learning.
Be ready to have your product not sell. Be ready to worry and pace. If selling online or selling your services isn't working, say online, be ready to go out there and sell it to every individual.
Be Unique. You're against massive companies. Why should a consumer buy your product instead of the more inexpensive product? They want something that represents them. Why do people buy Apple products instead of cheaper PCs? Who else is like Apple?
Just do it. I have so many dreams and aspirations, I'd go crazy to just sit on them. You don't succeed without going all-in. I would throw every penny I have into the business just because I love it.

If you want to be first in line to preorder a Look Crispy tshirt and support Joey and his vision, you can do it here:

If you are on social media, you can follow Joey Santos' Look Crispy on twitter, and connect with him on Look Crispy on Facebook

by Lauren Mack
Lauren Mack is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. Home is in Palm Coast, FL, where she works a customer service job for magazine subscriptions. When she isn’t helping you out on the phone, Lauren attends Flagler College where she majors in English and dabbles in Communications. In Lauren’s downtime she labors away, hopefully, at a novel and can be found observing things on her blog or dashing about on Twitter @heylaurenmack

Chicken or Egg: Websites and Search Engine Ranking

For last few years I've been maintaining my wife's Real Estate website ( and her online strategy.  I am not saying I am the greatest website designer.  Although the website itself has been pretty successful thus far and has received great feedback, we have plenty of plans for the future to continue to enhance that.  I often get asked by others for my opinions about websites and find that the front and foremost thing they simply want to know is how to get up in the search engines with little or no regard for the content and visitor experience of the website itself.  The truth is that a great looking website that offers no real benefit to visitors is a lot of wasted opportunities in my opinion.  I actually put search engine ranking secondary to the creation of a website although I know many within the industry would disagree with me.

What Is SEO?

The acronym 'SEO' means Search Engine Optimization.  It basically boils down to where your website shows up in search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) when people search for a topic related to you or your business.  Think of it this way, if you put your business along side of Palm Coast Parkway you will obviously gain more exposure than a business not on Palm Coast Parkway.  The question is does that exposure really mean an actual increase in business?  Many that sell 'SEO services' will obviously tell you yes it does, but I do not agree with that.  For example, I was reading an article the other day where an individual has invested heavily into great SEO for their website and gets on average of about 20,000 visitors per month.  In terms of the business that generates . . . about 1 customer per month.  20,000 visitors per month is a great result for any website, but if you are only generating 1 customer per month from that kind of traffic you can bet the website itself has a lot of opportunities.  In fact I can guarantee you that the time on the site from a visitor is minimal and return visitors is extremely low without ever looking at the statistics. To put it bluntly, the visitor experience is not good.

SEO is a result of a lot of things when it comes to a website.  A lot of which is about linking to and from other websites that are relevant to your business.  There are technicals as well that can be tweaked to enhance the exposure to a website and will take time to 'take hold'.  Designers come in to real play here with these things.

Purpose of a Website

The first thing to consider in regards to a website is the purpose, and this is the most important foundation in my opinion.  A website should be a virtual extension of your existing store or office.  It should provide visitors with a similar experience and set of services.  Think for a minute about your physical business location.  Prior to that ever opening, you probably selected a location that would get you the best possible future exposure.  But prior to ever opening the doors, you set the location up to create the best possible visitor experience and a format which would provide them the best possible set of services.  Right?  The website is therefore no different.  What I find most people doing is creating a 'great big giant business card' as Gary Keller puts it.  And if that's what you create, you'll get little or no benefit from your website for your business.

Office Divvy
Website content will obviously vary based upon the industry and the customer base.  For example, consumer product retail types of websites need to be focused on the great shopping experience and the services surrounding that.  Whereas organizational type of websites (i,.e. groups, Churches, etc.) will be focused on communications of information pertinent to members as well as a great presentation to the outside world.  Our local government organizations are great examples of being focused on the services and communication of relevant information to the community.  Take for example the Property Appraiser website (   This particular website is very easy to use to get comprehensive public property information and provides great services to the community as well as outsiders. The City of Palm Coast's website ( also provides great services and information to our community. is a great example of a local business website that does a great job of explaining the company's services and offering online services to their potential customers or inquirers.

Tell People About the Website & It's Benefits 

This is the part that most forget and why SEO is so important to them.  SEO in my opinion leaves way too much to chance.  Take control and go out and tell people about the website.  Your website should be a part of every piece of advertising, on business cards, linked back to in blog articles, linked to in online directories, link to features and sections through social networking updates, so forth and so on.  For example, a few years ago Toby Tobin advertised his local Real Estate website in a local magazine.  Not him, but the website itself and the benefits of it.  This was a great idea because you just wanted to go and check it out.  The website has been a success for Toby and he has done a great job with it. 

Don't forget to look at your website in a manner that is similar to your physical business or group.  It should enhance the services you provide.  But more importantly, the success of that website to serve it's purpose and role within your business/group shouldn't be 'left to chance' and simply SEO.  Just like you advertise your existing business . . . advertise your website!

Some Great Local Websites To Check Out

What are your thoughts?

Also, check back for the 'Going Back to School Digital' post coming soon.

Who's Talking about "Flagler Beach" on Twitter?

Are you on twitter?  If so, you know where to go to search for what people are saying on a particular subject or phrase.

But if you're not on twitter, here's a little widget we included on this page that will help you to keep an eye on who's saying what about "Flagler Beach."

Without further ado, here's all the chatter about Flagler Beach on twitter:

Did you know?
Here are some of the contributors to this Flagler County Blog who are on twitter:

Ky Ekinci
twitter handle: @KyEkinci 
twitter bio: Management Consultant. Strategic Marketing Consultant Entrepreneur. World Traveler.

Lisa Schenone Ekinci
twitter handle: @LisaFLA
twitter bio: Digital media producer; rotarian, entrepreneur, lover
David Royall 
twitter handle: @royalld 
twitter bio: Writer - Photographer - Sailboat wanderer - Retired: Air traffic control

Brad West
twitter handle: @bwest2 
twitter bio: n/a

Lauren Mack
twitter handle: @heylaurenmack 
twitter bio: As bad for you as anyone you ever knew

Harriet Lewis, PhD
Harriet Lewis, PhD is the Co-Founder/President of Konesens Research, a Palm Coast, FL based international market research firm specializing in online data collection and panel development, and studies of social and economic interest.  You can connect with Harriet on twitter at @Konesens

...and the last but not the least, Palm Coast Blog's own Spokesperson on Twitter:

Ask Palm Coast -
twitter handle: @AskPalmCoast 
twitter bio: Professional and Business life, events and tips in Palm Coast, Bunnell, Flagler Beach and Flagler County, Florida.

Note: List of contributors is shown in the order of when they became a blog contributor.   Full bios of contributors available here.    If you have an article, event, or news you'd like to submit, please do that here.

Twitter?  How About Facebook?
Fair question!  You can stay in touch with the Flagler Beach folks Flagler Beach Facebook Page at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Palm Coast: An Unfortunate Morning Incident....

At the end of our morning walk a collection of emergency vehicles had blocked the exit to the parking lot of the St. Joe's Pathway.

We saw a helmet on the street pavement, under the Hammock Dunes toll bridge. It was near the entrance to European village.
 I assumed there was
a hit and run incident
There was no bicycle in sight nor were there any vehicles other than those driven by emergency responders.

When I approached one of the responders, to ask about when I could move my car, I was told that a helicopter was enroute to airlift a person to the hospital.

The responder also told us that it was not an hit and run.

It was a cyclist who stopped to rest while riding over the bridge. He apparently sat on the rail to rest.

The bicycle handlebar
was still where
the rider rested
on the rail of the
A motorist on the bridge saw a man sitting on the rail fall over backwards, according to the Sherriff's deputy.

The airlift helicopter arrived very quickly. The patient, was rapidly whisked off to the south.

I did not get his name... nor was I told his condition or which hospital he was taken to.

David Royall is a writer who has yet to write his best sentence. He is a photographer who says he always hopes that his next photo will be his best. David also dreams of crossing the equator, one day, in the sailboat that he named Shibumi.  David is shy when using identity labels because he thinks he has too many of them. “Who I am depends upon who you are and where you are standing when you see me”, he says. He is a father, a son, a brother, and a spousal equivalent. He is a commercial pilot, a scuba diver and a student of Tai Chi; among many other things.  David retired from a 38 year career in air traffic control. He was also an entrepreneur with two successful companies in Atlanta, GA. Today David lives in Palm Coast, Florida and travels from there with a pocket camera and a little Moleskine journal; aimlessly recording whatever catches his interest. You can find David on twitter at @royalld read David’s Blog: Retired – Driving Slow in the Fast Lane”or visit his Online Photo Galleries

Monday, August 16, 2010

Will Book Stores Go Away As eBooks Take Hold?

Barnes and Noble Nook
There is a great deal of speculation about the fate of book stores as ebooks become more and more popular.  In fact, I get asked that question a lot.  In the last 22 years of working retail and 15 years managing in stores, I've seen digital media transform businesses a great deal.  And the short answer in terms of book stores is . . . they will stay.  Will all stay?  No.  But many will and the sustainability of those businesses will depend on their ability to evolve and compete in the digital world.

Take Barnes & Noble for example.  This company has fully embraced the digital age (and the future of it) in terms of books.  Their ebook store is one of the most powerful and comprehensive initiatives for readers.  The Nook is one of the best ereader devices on the market.  And the competition knows it.  Amazon has a good brand and did a great job with the Kindle, but if you haven't noticed . . . everything they are doing now are reactions to Barnes & Noble.  This includes price (price drops twice now), device options (WiFi version), mobile apps, etc.  The biggest difference still being is that the use of Kindle does not provide users options outside of Amazon.  Nook is very open-ended and provides users more flexibility to use the device with other sources for content (i.e. libraries).

So why is Barnes and Noble 'up for sale'?  It has to do with stock price and is not about financial issues with the company.  Founder of what Barnes and Noble is today, Len Riggio (Chairman of the Board), is very passionate about the company and literacy in general.  To insure a solid future for the company, the board has decided to look at a possible buyout of the company due to some investor issues.  The feeling is that the stock is highly undervalued. The timing of this in relation to the digital evolution is more coincidental than anything in my opinion.

Borders is a different story.  They have actually been having financial difficulties for the last several years.  Their entry into the ebook market and current strategy is weaker than Amazon and Barnes and Noble due to the fact that they still do not provide their users an over-the-air delivery option for purchasing ebooks.  You have to hook up to a computer to get ebooks pruchased from them to the ereader itself.  For Borders, their issues were already present.

So what about indie stores?  Independent book stores have always found success in niches that they stay true to and are good at.  Used and out-of-print, antique books, local authors, etc.  Those that utilize the online avenues to continue to reach wider customer bases outside of their local communities will continue to do well in my opinion.  Will they have to compete in the ebook market to sustain themselves?  That depends on their business model really.  For those niche types of indie stores, ebooks is not really a factor in many ways.  Indie stores that primarily focus on new book sales will need to have a presence in the ebook market.  What's interesting compared to other digital media forms is that indie stores can get into 'play here'.  Adobe Digital Editions offers indie stores the ability to provide ebooks to their customers that can be used on a variety of ereaders.  So they do have the option to expand their selection and services to their customers.

Apple iPad
What about Apple and the iPad?  Somehow the iPad became lumped in with eReaders in terms of a device.  What most don't realize is the battle that has existed with Amazon and Apple for some time now that started over music.  Apple had an awesome grip on music sales with the success of the iPod and its iTunes store.  Amazon began undercutting iTunes pricing and lauched an application that allowed customers to purchase music that automatically dropped the file right into a users iTunes library.  So the entry into the ebook business with the development of the iPad was a natural competitive progression and also somewhat of a 'Take that Amazon' shot if you ask me.  The iPad is awesome and opens the door to some amazing new technology advancements, but an LCD display is not always the best reading experience as most find.  eInk is still the better reading experience since it provides a paper-like display.

What about the book itself?  Physical books (I truly dislike the recent phrasing of 'dead tree books' by the way) will not go away.  In fact, no projections show they will.  Actually the sepculation of them going away is the same exact specualtion that has been applied to CD's and DVD's.  Both still sell well and will continue to sell for some time.  No, the media industries can not support all of the exisiting competitors as formats change but that is nothing new throughout the history of businesses as society changes.  Companies still exist that make saddles for horses.  There just aren't as many with the invention and wide-scale adoption of the car.

It's too early to tell what the true impact of ebooks and digital media in general will be on a large scale.  Book stores will remain and continue to be great community hubs.  Yes, some may go away.  It would be naive to think otherwise.  The real truth with ebooks is that they are a truly exciting new format for the book itself and are providing some very exciting new services in the book industry such as being able to reach more readers than ever before and exciting new publishing option for new authors.  Be careful of some the news and opinions.  Positive is not always the most attractive news as we all have unfortunately come to know.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Construction you see from I-95 is: The Palm Coast Days Inn

Palm Coast is getting one more hotel.  And the newest addition is ...drumroll....: Days Inn.  If you ever passed by Exit 289 driving south on I-95, you probably noticed the new construction already.  The "Days Inn" sign is already up.

According to the city's permit records, the building has 60,000 sq. ft of space, and it is estimated as a $6 Million project.  The hotel is located at 120 Garden Street North --and that's right off the Boulder Rock Drive; right behind Home Depot.  

In the development phases of Palm Coast, that subsection always planned to have a hotel site.  What's not to like?  It's an excellent location: It's easy to get on and off from both US-1 and I-95, but also that same area harbors restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesdays, Hooligans, and other eateries such as the Bruster's Ice Cream Parlor.

Days Inn Palm Coast Hotel is already featured on the chains website.  The website indicates that the hotel will have an outdoor pool, a fitness center, business center, and a meeting room (for about 50 people).  High Speed Wireless Internet Access in All Rooms and Public Areas will be offered free of charge; as well as free Continental Breakfast.  All rooms are planned to feature alarm clock, Coffee Maker, Hair Dryer, Microwave, Refrigerator, 32 Inch Television with Cable TV, and a Desk.

The website is not showing an assigned phone number, and there is no indication of pricing as of yet.

* * *

Palm Coast Hotels off of Exit 289:
  • Days Inn  (new)
  • Fairfield Inn (new)
  • Microtel
  • Sleep Inn
  • Best Western
  • European Village (condotel)
  • Yacht Harbor Village (condotel)
  • Hammock Beach Resort
Palm Coast Hotels off of Exit 284:
  • Hilton Garden Inn (new)
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Hampton Inn and Suites

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