First Class -- All the Way!

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Yesterday marked the last day of our inaugural Studio Coaching Program. These jam-packed six week courses have been structured to give Novice and Advanced users an intense program of supervised, interactive study, including homework, critiques and focused topics.

It was so gratifying to me to work with our twenty designers and observe how they progressed. Many had no experience at all with the Studio Graphic Design software. Over the weeks, they became familiar with the tools and functions of the software and created beautiful elevation renderings and designs on photos. The advanced group learned innovative techniques to produce faster, more refined drawings, including perspective views. Both groups developed polished looking logo templates to brand their businesses and add a professional finish to their projects.

Above and below are two examples of the drawings that were submitted as part of the weekly assignments.

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We were thrilled with the feedback we received from an anonymous survey; here are some of the comments:
“I like the entire concept of the on line webinar. I like the homework critiques, very helpful. I like the pace; allows me enough time to “get it” and jot down a few reminder notes. Also, love the ability to listen to the recordings in order to refresh my overloaded brain!”

“This advanced coaching class is worth every penny!”

“Reviewing information, such as when other students experience similar difficulties.”

“I am very pleased with the novice coaching program. So far it has met all my expectations.

“Being able to play it back to supplement my notes. I do hope we’ll have access to those for a bit.”

We have scheduled two new sessions beginning in August for both Novice and Advanced Studio Designers, and will also offer a 90 minute computer class for those who need to learn more about operating their computer in preparation for working in Studio. The Coaching Program class size is limited to 10 to provide individual attention with coaching via email, private forum on The Lounge, and phone calls in addition to the on line presentations.

Call the office or visit the website for more information or to register.
Click here for the Novice class
Click here for the Advanced class

Our “First Class” was just that – first class all the way. They will be a hard act to follow. We look forward to helping you take your Studio skills to the next level!


High Point Spring Market Video Highlights

Jerry and I are finally getting a chance to catch our breath from High Point Furniture Market last week. Everyone loved our slick design and new colors for our booth. Check out our earlier blog to see more photos and descriptions of our new booth. We have seen a big shift in designers being more receptive to using a graphic design software to do their renderings. Of course, we are the perfect company to help them get started!

Minutes Matter booth

Joy is a huge fan of Jackie Von Tobel's books. She said it is one of her best resources for design inspiration. Click on the arrow in the picture below to listen to our interview with Joy. Visit Jackie's Blog to read more about what Jackie is doing.

interview with joy

High Point Furniture Market - Suites of Market Square

With the massive renovation that the Suites of Market Square underwent, I decided to tour around our building to highlight a couple new vendors with my Flip Video.

I met Austin Bunch from Kalalou at breakfast one morning in our hotel lobby. He was so personable that Jerry and I decided that we just had to visit his space. They have a lot of great accessories at great prices. Check them out! Click on the picture below to see our interview with Austin.


On the top of my "To Do" list was a visit to the new Salon area to see Kristin Drohan's new furniture collection. Kristin used Studio to create her entire furniture line! She has also just completed our Advanced Coaching class. To find out why she decided to create her own furniture collection and to hear her incredible story, click on the arrow on the picture below.


Below is Kristin's Studio image as well as the actual photo of her Anthony Ottoman.

The chaise below is Kristin's Studio rendering for her newest piece to add to her collection. The Andrew Day Chaise is currently in production.
It's that time of year again! In two weeks, Jerry and I will be back on the road and headed to the IWCE Vision 10 Expo in Atlanta. Grace and her staff at Window Fashions have some exciting things in store for all attendees. Of course, we will take our Flip Video again to give you highlights from the exhibit floor.


Minutes Matter Booth Redesign was a Big Hit in High Point!

In High Point last week, we debuted our new booth redesign. We definitely stood out from the crowd. We moved to the ground floor of the Suites of Market Square (G-4029.) The new colors and sleek design attracted lots of people and lots of compliments.

Six weeks ago, Jerry asked what color(s) do you guys want to paint the booth. Casey got right to work on the design which included the new colors and our shopping girl. Ten days later Casey and I had a total redesign. It seems when you change one thing it ALWAYS leads to another. All of us that worked in the booth felt more efficient and l more organized with all of our new storage.

The attendees loved our mini theater. They could rest their feet and eat popcorn while they watched our seven minute video showing how Studio is the perfect visualization and marketing tool for their business.

Casey had a sofa in the original design, but we decided we had to stop somewhere. I did see several white leather sofas that would be perfect. Maybe in 2011!

All the kiosks and cabinetry were custom built. The TV kiosks were a quite the conversational piece, one vendor asked for Jerry's AutoCAD drawing. The TV kiosks were 48" wide x 96" tall x 10" deep and did I mention really heavy? As we lifted the kiosks up into place, I was so scared I would let my side slip and the whole thing would fall, damage the kiosk and/or break the TV. Jerry did some research on the Internet and discovered that Craters and Freighters would pickup, crate and ship our custom cabinets to High Point and promised they would be delivered in perfect condition. We were blown away with how well our cabinets were packed. They arrived without one scratch. The new polished concrete floors made it very easy to move the cabinets into place.

We loved the white stools and pull out trays for our keyboards and extra storage.

Jackie had lots of fans stop by to see her and get their Design Directory of Window Coverings book autographed.

Come see us in High Point at the fall market October 16 - 21, 2010.


Studio's Anniversary Webinar

Wednesday, April 14th, was a big day for Minutes Matter. We celebrated Studio 3.0's anniversary with a special webinar. If you missed the webinar, you can view the recorded version. Merlyn, did an outstanding job that day. You won't want to miss a single minute of this Anniversary Webinar.

That same day, Jerry and I left Nashville to drive to High Point for the Spring Furniture Market. Sandy Cruz was kind enough to allow us to join the Anniversary Webinar at her place. After the webinar, I took a few photographs to share. Check out all the computers in her office! I thought I was bad, but she definitely is worse! She has everything you can image when it comes to technology.

Sandy used her talents to decorate every room. Every room had beautiful custom window coverings and, of course, every room was neat as a pin.

Her workroom had every tool or piece of equipment any workroom could want. For some reason, I only took a photograph of half of her workroom.

Thank you, Merlyn and Sandy, for a great day!

SPECIAL NOTE: While we were in High Point, we heard from numerous people that stopped by our booth that they could not join the webinar that day and wanted to know if we would be giving away the bedding template again. Good news! We have decided to give the template away again during the May 19th webinar. The only stipulation is that you have to attend live.


Minutes Matter is Moving to the Clouds!

We have been busy this month moving our office. After spending lots of time reading and watching numerous videos, we decided we were ready to pack our office files and move to the Clouds. For some time now, we have worked with Google email and Google Docs. Working with Google Docs was one of the main reasons we decided to make the switch. Having documents, images, spreadsheets and other files online and available to everyone, anywhere and on any computer creates infinite possibilities for a business. We have already found so many things that have totally amazed us. We didn't even realize some of these features would be available to a small business. In fact, I am presenting a FREE seminar on Cloud Computing at the IWCE Vision10 show in Atlanta in May.

Take a little time to read this entire ezine and watch the video to get an understanding of how Cloud Computing works. At Minutes Matter, we upgraded to Google Apps. Google Apps is the business side of Google and costs $50 per user per year. Another compelling reason for us to move was the Google Apps Marketplace, which is similar to apps that you would add to your phone. Keep an eye out for future articles from Minutes Matter on Cloud Computing.

What exactly is Cloud Computing? The Cloud is a platform - the Internet platform. Traditionally, we would buy hardware (like a desktop PC or laptop, for example) and install some software on it. With Cloud Computing, however, the software runs on the Internet. To put it simply, the cloud is the Internet, so we can say that any software or hardware running on the Internet is Cloud Computing. In other words, instead of using your own personal computer to carry out your work, you use the software on machines 'in the cloud'. This is what we mean when we talk about Cloud Computing. Most of you are probably already using Cloud Computing without realizing it. Instead of installing an email software program on your local machine, you might be using a service like Gmail or Hotmail. The cloud is like one huge collective 'computer' (the internet) and everyone connects to it in order to get their work done.

But what's the point of using Cloud Computing and what are its advantages over the traditional way of installing software on your own computer and using that? Read on and I know you'll get excited about Cloud Computing!

Simple Technology

There's no need to install any software on your own computer. All the software is installed on a remote machine somewhere on the Internet and you use it. There's no need to install hardware or software. This means that you don't have to worry about different versions of the software, compatibility (since everything runs from your browser), maintenance, etc.

Quick Startup

How long did it take you to get your Gmail account and send your first email? Now apply that concept to other software models. You can start creating todo lists, send messages, upload files, chat, and a whole lot more in a mere minute.

Low investment
Instead of paying a crazy amount of money to buy a piece of software (not to mention the hardware required to run it), with Cloud Computing you often only pay a small subscription fee. Sometimes there are also free-for-life versions of the software, so you only pay for what you (and sometimes that means you pay nothing). Instead of investing in a software program that does everything in the hope that one day you will need all the features, you can start off with the lowest plan and then upgrade when the need arises. Low investment means low risk. Imagine buying an expensive software program only to realize that you hate using it after a few days!

A comparison you will often find of Cloud Computing is that it is like plugging into an electricity grid. A century ago, companies stopped having to produce their own electricity and they could plug into the national grid. In the same way, individuals and organizations can now just connect to the Internet to use lots of applications without having to install their own software or hardware.

The low investment also applies to the computers that you use to connect to the Internet. Previously, you would need expensive PCs to be able to get your computation done. With Cloud Computing, since the bulk of the computation is done by the servers in the Cloud, you can get away with machines with lower specs. In fact, you can often use your laptop, netbook, or even mobile phone to connect to the software in the Cloud.

No Maintenance
Software that runs in the Cloud is updated by the vendors - that means that you won't need to download and install every few months. When's the last time you 'updated' your Gmail software? You just log in as before and see all the new and improved features automatically.

The same goes for hardware. What happens when the hard drive fails on your machine? You'd have to buy another drive, install the software all over again and then try to restore your data from your backups (you did backup, right?) With the Cloud, it is the vendor's responsibility to backup your data. If something fails, they have to sort it out.

No IT Specialist Required
Since all the maintenance and updates, etc, are handled by the vendor, all you need is to be able to get online and use a browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. Then, you hop over to the vendor's site and away you go. Did you need an 'IT guy' to 'install Gmail' for you? OK, maybe some of you did! But did he have to continue 'maintaining' Gmail for you once you started using it? Or did you find you could use Gmail anywhere from any computer that is connected to the Internet without him having to install software or hardware?

Since the Cloud is 'everywhere', so is the software that runs in the Cloud. Just as you can access Gmail anywhere you have access to the Internet, most software in the Cloud is the same.
This means that you can work from the office yet have access to the same data and software when you're at home.

Scaling on demand
One of the biggest reasons for companies to move to the Cloud is for scalability. Say your inbox reaches 50gb (OK, unlikely I know - but let's say you're Bill Gates and everyone wants to send you large zip files called 'Click here to view my photo.zip')? Then what? What if your hard drive is only 55gb? Uh oh, need to buy a new hard drive! And then all the hassle of installing it and making sure your email client uses the new hard drive and and and....

With Cloud Computing, the underlying hardware is not your problem - that's the vendor's problem. If you need more space, just upgrade for a small increase in the monthly fee. No upgrading, no restore.

What if the server goes down?
This is an age-old argument against Cloud Computing. Seriously, what's more likely to go down, a server that is being maintained by the professionals or your own personal computer? Ever got a virus and had to reinstall? Ever had a hard drive failure or your mother board went kaput? Internet servers are, more often than not, much more secure than your personal computers. The data on them is usually backed up and there are often redundancy checks and failure mechanisms in place (e.g., if one server goes down, another takes over).

Is it safe?
It is known that employees often store company data on their private computers. Laptops may get stolen and data is often lost or can get in the hands of others. With Cloud Computing, as I said earlier, data is backed up. This also means that you can always delete data from your own machines (although it's always good practice to have your own backups as well). What happens when one employee leaves? With Cloud Computing, her data would be online in one place so another employee can take off from where the first left.