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Friday, May 27, 2011

Green is the lucky color for City of Palm Coast

...and no, I'm not talking about changing the color of the City's white pick-up trucks with blue seals. This "green" here is about caring for environment and sustainability.

And when it comes to "Green," our City not only leads green efforts in Flagler County, but also in Florida and nationally.  City of Palm Coast received award after award for their green initiatives:

Awards From the Florida Green Building Coalition:
  • 2009: Silver award for Green Local Government
  • 2010: Gold designation for Green Local Government

Award From the Northeast Florida Regional Council:
  • 2011: Regional Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship

The awards maybe symbolic; but the City is actually walking the walk:

Palm Coast initiated a battery recycling program in July 2009, and to date nearly 2000 lbs of batteries have been collected and recycled.  City has collection boxes at 10 locations across the community where you can drop off your batteries for Palm Coast Battery Recycling. Consumer batteries for laptops, cell phones, portable tools, cameras, watches, hearing aids or regular AA/AAA, C, D, and 9 volt batteries can be recycled. 

The City also formed a Green Team as a part of  Division of Community Development. The Green Team comprises City technical staff including the Landscape Architect, Urban Forester, and Environmental Planner. Through the Green Team, the City of Palm Coast provides a focused group of professionals that cumulatively comprise a diverse resource of environmental knowledge and experience.

What should be next?

I would like to personally see a mandatory recycling program for commercial establishments.  It's sad that the there is no requirement for the restaurants, bars, department stores, shops, and office buildings to recycle the paper, alimunim, plastic, and glass.  The amount of waste and pollution due to lack of recycling practices by commercial establishments is concerning.

Some of the fellow business owners will perhaps object to this idea; pointing to the economy, or that it's burdensome for business to recycle, or that it'll cost money to the businesses to recycle etc.  But as Martin Luther King says:
" The time is always right to do the right thing."  

by Ky Ekinci  |  Ky is a management consultant, and an entrepreneur based in Palm Coast, FL. He’s a co-founder of Office Divvy providing ready-to-use offices, virtual office solutions and outsourced operations to all profiles in the business community.  Ky is the Chair of the Flagler Chamber of Commerce Professional Development Committee (2011-2012).  He can be found on twitter @KyEkinci.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

eReaders Vs. Tablets: How Many Are Getting It Wrong

I'm one that loves comparisons. They help us make better sense of things. When it comes to the tech world, there is a lot flying the mainstream way these days and the comparisons are coming as well. Funny thing is that some things are not all that easily compared.

We're all pretty well acquainted at this point with various media technology. An MP3 player plays music. A Blu-Ray player plays movies. So what's an eReader? It displays books in digital format. Books are a popular but different form of media. We read them. So there is not a whole lot of "flashy things" with a book displayed on an ereader. It's the craft of writing delivered to readers in a way that is best for viewing by the reader.  Paper has done well over the years, but has barriers such as not being able to change the font size or carrying a lot of books with you.  Publishing and distribution also offers it's share of challenges and barriers in the print world. eReaders overcome a great deal of barriers in the book world for readers, authors, and publishers alike.

Can a tablet display ebooks? Yes. Tablets can also play movies, play music, do web browsing, send/receive email, and many other functions. Guess what it's not best compared to . . . an ereader. But many in the tech world keep insisting that be done for whatever reason. Things like a "Kindle or a Nook are no iPad." Um . . . I agree. Because that is like saying an iPod is no Android Tablet. They are two entirely different devices serving very different functions. The iPod is designed to be an awesome music player which it is. A tablet can play music, but it's a bit bulky to carry around for jogging and wanting music. Likewise, the iPad can display ebooks; but is not so good laying by the pool reading due to glare. A great eReader device with eInk display provides a better option.

eReaders do have a bit of tablet-like features added for the user such as the ability to add and play music as well as add and view personal photos.  Nook color is probably one of the most confusing ones.  This device is the one that borders the most on tablet.  It is an ereader first utilizing the full-color touch screen to offer revolutionary new styles of interactive children's books, better display of magazine and newspapers, and additional web functionality.

So which one should I get? A tablet or an ereader?

That's up to the individual. Here's the questions to be asking here:

1. What is it you want to do?
2. What is the functionality you truly need?
3. And what is your budget?

For many a full blown tablet is "overkill" to their needs and budgets. Likewise, if you truly want the best reading experience . . . an eInk ereader is a paper-like display and a great option. Again, if you want a great music player . . . you look to get a great music player. If you want a great device reading . . . you get an ereader. If you want to be able to read books and need a lot of functionality . . . tablet.

So why aren't the tech blogging pro's say this? Because these guys and gals are surrounded by high-end tech all day long. When you get a dedicated device like an ereader that doesn't always have a lot of "flash" to it . . . it confuses them. They just don't know where to place it. No disrespect to them, they provide a great service highlighting new tech; but they are missing the mark quite a bit in the ereader world.

Barnes and Noble's Nooks (TM) are my favorite. In fact, they just released a brand new eink version capitalizing on eink's new touch functionality. The Simple Touch Reader (TM) offers a full touch screen that is eink. So a lot of the great reading functionality you get in tablets and the Nook Color (TM), you now get with an eink display. And at $139 releasing around June 10th . . . it's a great deal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flagler County's Budget Wins Award Second Year in a Row

Flagler County’s Financial Services Department has received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the second year in a row...

Flagler County's 2010-2011 budget document has been selected again by the Chicago based Government Finance Officers Association for the current 2010-2011 budget document.

Judging is based on the budget as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and as a communications device.

Stephen Gauthier, Technical Director of the Government Finance Officers Association:

This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and represents a significant achievement by your organization.

We are pleased to receive this award for the second year in a row,” Kristi Moss, Flagler County’s Budget Manager said. “It is a result of the hard work the members of the Financial Services team put into creating a document that is both functional and presents the material in a manner that is easy to use and understand.”

Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said the award is a reflection of the caliber of professionalism of the Financial Services Department and Director Tom Klinker.

To be recognized by the Association for their work and to receive the only national awards program in governmental budgeting two years in a row is quite an accomplishment.

The budget document is below (also available on line

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Final Week For American Idol: Scotty or Lauren?

Yup, I'm an American Idol fan.  I haven't watched all 10 seasons, but I have to say this has been the best season yet.  Unlike past seasons, this one has had the widest range of musical talent in my opinion making it even more difficult to choose a favorite.  Casey and his upright bass made Jazz fun.  Paul brought the folkise style.  James, the "rocker", showed how great rock voices are.  And then there is Scotty and Lauren.

Scotty and Lauren are by far the most interesting in my opinion.  I like country and was really surprised when I heard Scotty's low country voice especially for a teenager.  I liked it, but didn't think it would a popular enough style to get him too far.  Amazingly enough . . . it got him to the final round.  For the country labels, that kid is a dream come true.  When it comes to young people in country, females usually can make waves (i.e. LeAnne Rimes, Carrie Underwood, etc.); but there really never has been an older sounding young male.  What's even more interesting is that this kid is making country cool for a younger generation.  Amazing stuff.

Do I have a favorite or a choice of who wins?  I don't know.  It's really tough between these two.  In either event, I think both have amazing careers ahead of them.  And it should definitely be an on the edge of your seat final week to see who wins.

Who do you think will win this week?

Lauren's journey

Scotty's journey

Monday, May 23, 2011

Controversial "Banned" Florida History Book Brought Back As an eBook

The "banned" book is nothing new.  Books have stirred a great deal of controversy over the years, and in the print world . . . if no one would sell it . . . it went "out of print".  Such was the story of one Florida history book by Florida author Jack Owen entitled "Palm Beach Scandals - An Intimate Guide".  As a international journalist, Palm Beach investigative reporter, and local  newspaper editor; Jack worked with an area historian to research some of the "naughtier history" of "The Island", prominent people, and topics not discussed beyond society's "inner circles".  As Jack mentions in the synopsis,

It's a romp through rumours and records which circulated in newsprint and cocktail conversation - to this day. The rich little island was making headlines long before its latest villian - Bernie Madoff - plunged so many into financial depression.

When Jack released the print version in 1993, launched in New York on "The Joan Rivers Show" to acclaim - the book was not met with "enthusiastic local fans".  Some "socially correct" outlets refused to sell the book and it was soon "gone" into the publishing graveyard  known as "out of print" shortly after.  As Jack states, used copies have circulated for more than 10 years ranging from $1.00 to $159.  But, thanks to ebook publishing, "Palm Beach Scandals - An Intimate Guide" is back and available to all to read at a very reasonable price too.

The question becomes whether the book was written to be damaging to others?  I spoke with Jack the other day and the answer is, "no".  He merely wrote the book to share some those things that often get overlooked in Florida's history.  "Some of the best stories never get into print. As far as the "Old Guard" is concerned, Birth, Marriage and Death, is the only time one's name should appear in print," he said.

Not only is the content intriguing, as I told Jack . . . what a great example of the possibilities for authors today with ebook publishing.  Bringing the book back in print would have been very costly and probably met with the same barriers as over a decade ago.  Today, an author can bring the title back with a simple upload and make it available to all in a matter of hours.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 18-20: Expect Traffic Delays on US 1 | Palm Coast & Bunnell

Installation of traffic light arms at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Royal Palms Parkway in the border of Bunnell and Palm Coast, will cause the intersection to be closed to traffic at various intervals Wednesday, May 18th to through Friday, May 20th.

A Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy will be at present the intersection while overhead work is being conducted.

Motorist who usually travel on U.S. 1 are advised to choose a different route for the three day period to avoid delays. Alternative routes include Belle Terre through Palm Coast, or I-95.

Announcement is based on the Flagler County News Release.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Preparing For College: Laptop, Tablet, or Both?

So your son or daughter is starting college and you know they need a computer.  Laptops have been the common decision, but this year is a bit different as tablets enter the market.  Many are wondering if they could go the tablet (i.e. iPad, Xoom, etc.) route instead.  It's a good thought and good question.  There are several things to keep in mind with this decision.

  1. Check with the campus first.  The college will most likely have "basic requirements" concerning computing needs.  Ask them about tablets and see what their recommendation is.  You may get some shrugs and don't be alarmed by this.  Many many people are still trying to figure out how these fit in and how to best use them.  Some campuses also use specific software for the campus or courses (i.e. Blackboard).  
  2. Keep the course discipline for the student in mind.  It's not always just read books and write a paper.  Some courses require certain levels of web access and software.  Find this out.  The other thing to keep in mind is that students need to store a lot.  Tablets are more designed for web access and not so much storage.  Unless the student is comfortable with and set up for "cloud computing" such as Google Docs or DropBox, they will have issues.  
Could a laptop and a tablet be beneficial?  Yes!  Tablets provide for a great deal of things and can be used in the following way:
    1. Organization - Contacts, calendars, note taking, etc.  Some schools use applications like Blackboard.  This is a great system for organizing classes and student/professor communication.
    2. eBooks - Tablets allow students to easily get ebooks they may need for their courses or personal reading.  Plus they can take notes, add highlights, etc. in the books as they read also.  They can access their ebooks on both devices.  Companies like Barnes and Noble have free applications for both and the libraries and books stay in sync without having to transfer files at all.  
    3. eTextbooks - This publishing area is growing, but the selection isn't stellar just yet.  When it comes to eTextbooks you have a few options.  One option is CourseSmart which provides access to purchase or "rent" (timed access) to eTextbooks and has apps for mobile devices as well.  Barnes and Noble offers NookStudy which is a free laptop application that organizes classes, ties in with one's existing Barnes and Noble ebook library, and will handle eTextbooks.  
    4. Writing papers.  This is where "cloud computing" really comes in handy because storage capacity on a tablet is very limited plus you don't want to have to worry about crashes and losing files.  Using things like Google Docs can be great, but you have to be connected to the internet.  Likewise you'll want to get a keyboard for the tablet.  
The bottom line in my opinion is that a tablet on it's own is not the way to go right now, but a tablet as a supplement can have great advantages for students especially with the ever increasing selection of ebooks and etextbooks which can offer huge savings and convenience.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where can you walk your dog on the beach in Flagler Beach?

City of Flagler Beach produces brochure for walking your dog on the beach, outlining three rules:

Keep your dog on a leash at all times

The leash must be shorter than eight feet.

Clean up after your dog

Carry plastic bags for this purpose and dispose of them in the trash cans located at the crossovers.

Where are you allowed to walk on the Beach?

Walk your dog only North of North 10th Street and South of South 10th Street
Download the Walking Your Dog on Flagler Beach brochure (PDF).

These rules are part of Flagler Beach’s Code of ordinances. The City of Flagler beach says that the ordinance is enforced by the Police Department and by lifeguards when they are on duty; and that violators will be cited and fined.

Are you a dog owner in Flagler County? Do you follow the rules?

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