User Name Availability Web Site

It is important to brand yourself or your company consistently across the major social network websites. That means getting the same username identity/URL as often as possible. It makes it easier for others to find you, but it also builds a cohesive marketing strategy that eventually does make it into the main search engines. It also keeps others from tapping into your success and hijacking your brand's efforts and identity.

Ever wanted to sign up for a social site, but the one username you want is taken after signing up for five pages? Annoying, huh? I came across this great new site, Namechk.com, that allows you to find out if your special username is already taken on dozens of different social sites. Cool, huh?

What can you use the application for?
NameChk is an interesting application which can be used to search for the availability of usernames on 106 sites in one go. This is a wonderful idea because searching and finding usernames that aren't taken is becoming extremely difficult. NameChk allows you to check 106 sites all at the same time which will help you to choose a good username which can be used on all of the sites. NameChk can be useful to promote your brand by registering the same name on every single site, or help you find usernames which are still available on most of the sites. It's an extremely quick service and it only takes around 8 seconds to return the result. If you did all of this manually it would take you hours!

What is the history and popularity of the application?
The application was founded in April 2009 and, although still very new, it is becoming increasingly popular. Namechk is a useful and very quick solution to find usernames which are available.

How does the application look and feel to use?
Namechk has a very simple design; there is a search box at the top and results down at the bottom. You simply put the username that you are interested in having in the search box and then click the button. It will then run a very quick search and return with the results. Then registering accounts at any one of the social networking sites is just a matter of clicking the name and filling out the registration form safe in the knowledge that your chosen username is already available.

How does the registration process work?
It's not possible to register for an account since it works just like a search engine. There are no accounts available on the site.

What does it cost to use the application?
NameChk is completely FREE to use, it seems to be supported by Google Adsense adverts, but these are small and don't get in the way. It's a very useful website and a real joy to use!

Who should use namechk.com?
NameChk is perfect for anyone that struggles to find good usernames on a number of the social networking sites. It is becoming more difficult every day, so this is a great idea. It is also good for companies who are trying to build their brand image; they can use this tool to find a name which is available on most of the platforms and then register it to promote their products.

Namechk Features
  • Check usernames on 106 different social networking sites
  • Register by clicking on the buttons
  • Find usernames which are available on all platforms
  • Build your brand image


A Minutes Matter "Lock Down" at Mayor's Mansion Inn!

Casey and I just returned from a week long "lock down." We made the decision a couple of months ago that we had to get away for a week of uninterrupted time to work on our new Power of I marketing book for the interior design industry. A "lock down" for us means no phone calls and NO EMAIL. Yikes!!! That's really hard for me.

WOW! We accomplished so much during our "lock down."

The Power of I is authored by Casey, Jackie, and myself. Since we had already spent considerable time on our content, this past week we worked on additional text, graphics, and Studio templates. Not only will it include never before heard of marketing ideas but we are also developing a supplementary Studio Marketing Module with actual templates to create your own marketing materials within Studio. The templates will include electronic storyboards, numerous unique postcards, brochures, door hangers, gift certificates, request for testimonials, and magazine articles, just to name a few. This book is guaranteed to help you implement a marketing plan that works, looks professional, and will also help you establish processes to systematize all your marketing efforts. Look for more information on our exciting new project in the upcoming months.

About the Mayor's Mansion Inn . . .
For our "lock down," we knew that we needed a quiet place to be creative. We thought a bed and breakfast would be the perfect environment to keep us focused and inspired. We didn't want to spend a lot of time driving, so Casey found a B&B in Chattanooga, TN, called "The Mayor's Mansion Inn." We made sure our room had a large table so we would have plenty of room to spread out our work. We took two 22" external monitors and external keyboards, which made our work so much easier. My laptop served as an extended monitor; I loved it. We worked on the book for twelve hours each day of our six-day stay.

I took all the photos below with my iPhone. Hmmm, I couldn't seem to correct the back light issue when Cindy, the owner of the mansion, took the photo of Casey and I.

All the rooms at the mansion had custom made window and bed treatments.

The bathroom had the longest shower curtain I have ever seen, I couldn't capture the shower curtain in one shot. I think the ceiling was almost 12'.

I didn't realize Casey had never stayed at a B&B until we were eating our first gourmet breakfast on Tuesday morning when she mentioned to another guest that this was her first stay at a B&B. At one point, Casey said "I am never leaving here." I can certainly understand why she made that statement. The staff waited on us hand and foot and our wish was their command. We were both amazed and loved every minute of our stay!

Everyday, we were served a three-course breakfast. I know you are thinking, "A three course breakfast?" First, we were served an appetizer (fresh fruit in a stemmed glass on a doily), the second course was the main course (French Toast with Banana's Foster), and finally the last course was a dessert (one day was Strawberry shortcake; shown below). Casey and I never knew we should be having dessert for breakfast. Getting back into reality after our fairy tale life at the B&B will be a difficult adjustment for the first couple of days. Who is going to bring my hot tea and Casey's coffee on a silver platter? We need to book another trip soon!


Studio 3.0 ~ Second update is now available!

We are excited to announce Studio's second update is now available! Click on above image for a larger preview. This update includes:
  • The second release of Jackie Von Tobel's Module Collection from the her renowned book, The Design Directory of Window Treatments. Click here to view the new images in the second JVT Module. (If you would like to purchase one or all of Jackie modules click here.)
  • We've made it easier to recognize Jackie Von Tobel images which now display as blue text; now you can quickly distinguish Jackie's modules from the other images inside Studio. (Note: All Studio users can view Jackie's images, however, only those who have purchase JVT modules will be able to drag them onto the workspace.)
  • Components for Tied Back Draperies, Swags, and Valances have been included for FREE!

If you already have Studio 3.0 installed, you will receive a pop-up window notifying you of an available update. When the update dialog box appears, click "OK" to allow the update to install.

For more in-depth information, click HERE to read this week's ezine.


Taking Extraordinary Photographs

What is the difference between a good photograph and a bad photograph? Usually just two things! First, proper lighting is the biggest culprit for a bad photograph. Once you learn how to properly light a room the rest is easy. Second, is the ability to edit/correct a photograph with a photo editing software. Even professional photographers edit their best shots to make them even better.

About Your Camera:

Of course, you need a good camera! Those of you that have been reading my E-Zines for the past several years know I highly recommend a SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera. A digital SLR camera is very similar to a 35mm camera. SLR cameras offer the advantage of a detachable lens and faster shutter speeds. When purchasing a SLR camera, you can purchase the camera body and the lens separately. The advantage for our industry is the option of purchasing a good wide-angle lens when room shots are desired. I don't necessarily have a favorite brand; what matters to me most is how it feels in my hand and the number of MegaPixels. I recommend you purchase a camera with at least 8 MegaPixels. I currently have a Nikon D80 with an external Speedlight flash that can tilt and swivel. In all of my seminars, I recommend that people purchase a camera from Ritz Camera or Wolf Camera. My reason is these companies include free photography classes and the cost of the camera is about the same. I also think the extended warranty is a wise investment since cameras are expensive to repair or replace.

External Flash:

An external flash is a must when taking interior room shots! Regular digital point & shoot cameras with built-in flashes cannot produce enough light to fill a room. All SLR cameras include a hot shoe which allows the addition of an external flash. There are many times I can use my Speedlight flash and tilt it straight up toward the ceiling and the lighting is perfect. External lights with umbrellas also produce ample lighting without the harshness of a direct flash.

camera flash
Editing Photographs:
Learning how to edit/correct photographs is easier than you think. For the cost, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is one of the most powerful photo editing software I have seen. You can straighten, lighten, crop, color correct, erase unwanted objects and so much more. Once you know the simple techniques you can produce professional results in minutes.

Photoshop Elements 7 460x60

Learn More:
If you would like to learn more about how to use Photoshop Elements, purchase our Learning CD "Working with Photoshop Elements." We also offer a course, "Create a Fabulous Portfolio," that goes into detail about taking photographs. Don't forget that we have a forum dedicated to questions and answers for Photoshop Elements on The Lounge - Studio's online forum.

Learning CD

Promote Yourself:
Once you have great looking photographs, it is easy to create marketing materials such as websites, portfolio books, etc. Here is the portfolio of Anna Davis. Her website was created by Simplified Websites and comes highly recommended by us!